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VPNBook Review 2021 - Keep This in Mind Before Buying

Author Image Ben Lawson
Ben Lawson | Cybersecurity Researcher
Updated on 21st September 2021

VPNBook is a free Swiss-based VPN that claims to unblock streaming platforms while keeping you anonymous, but its lack of apps is problematic. Complex manual setup using an OpenVPN client app, Outline VPN, or a PPTP connection doesn’t make it a user-friendly choice.

To verify its performance and to see what the service offers, I put the VPN through a series of tests. I examined the VPN’s privacy policy to find out if rumours of activity logging are true. In addition, I assessed the VPN on speed, unblocking capability, security, and more.

With a lack of security features like a kill switch, and speeds that slow your connection to a crawl, it can’t compete with more robust premium VPNs. It hits the mark on some levels, like preventing leaks, but I can’t recommend VPNBook due to its unreliability and potential privacy issues.

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

VPNBook Features — Updated in September 2021

Price $0/month
Money Back Guarantee 30
Does VPN keep logs? No
Number of servers 10
Number of devices per license 5
Kill switch No
Based in country Switzerland
Support Via Email/Ticketing System
Supports torrenting No

Streaming — Unable to Unblock Popular Streaming Platforms

Although VPNBook claims it can unblock Netflix and more, it was easily detected and blocked during my tests. The US1 server was down despite being shown as “online” on the website. The US2 server didn’t help with streaming either. I was constantly getting an “NSES-404” error message when accessing my US Netflix account with the servers.

Image showing VPNBook failing to unblock Netflix

Netflix US instantly blocked VPNBook

Blocked By: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Hotstar, and Voot

The VPN failed to unblock other streaming services, including Amazon Prime and Disney+. The UK server is only a basic proxy server, so I wasn’t too surprised that BBC iPlayer managed to detect the VPN.

Even if you do manage to bypass a streaming platform’s geoblocks, prepare for severe buffering. The speeds are so slow, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to watch in HD.

When I tested the US server, I could barely load Hulu’s homepage and even had problems getting YouTube to work. This is a common caveat of free VPNs, which is why I recommend looking at alternative providers for streaming.

Speeds — Painfully Slow

The speeds were so slow that I struggled to even run a speed test when connected. Browsing websites took up to a minute or more to fully load on all the servers I tested.

Most free VPNs take a performance hit in terms of speed, and VPNBook is no different. I carried out my speed tests using Ookla with an OpenVPN setup.

The main measurements of speed are:

  • Download speed, measured in Mbps. This determines how quickly you can download data, and indicates the quality of streaming you can expect. Usually, at least 5Mbps is needed for HD streaming and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD or 4K.
  • Upload speed, also measured in Mbps, is how fast you can send internet traffic. A minimum of 5Mbps is a desirable upload speed.
  • Ping, measured in ms. Ping is the response time for your connection, and it’s important for gaming — the lower the ping, the better. Anything above 100ms may affect performance.

Local Speeds

I compared my base speed without a VPN to connection speeds via a nearby VPNBook server. This provides the most accurate measure of how internet performance is affected by the VPN.

It’s normal to expect some slowdown when connected to a VPN, as it works to encrypt your internet traffic — but, with good VPNs, the decrease in speed should be barely noticeable.

Connecting to a VPNBook server in France reduced my speed by over 96%. My upload speed also took a 98% hit, and ping time increased to 8x more than my base rate.

Image showing base speed vs speed when connected to VPNBook, with poor results

My connection took a colossal hit when using VPNBook, with speeds slowing dramatically

During most of my speed tests, the test site couldn’t even go beyond connecting to the server. These speeds are poor and will prevent you from enjoying most online activities, like streaming in HD, torrenting, or even browsing.

Long Distance Speeds

I struggled to get any usable speed from most long-distance servers, too. The servers I tested in Germany, Poland, the US, and Canada all failed to provide a stable, fast connection. When I was able to connect, on average my speeds dropped by over 90%.

Unfortunately, this poor performance persisted whether using the OpenVPN, Outline VPN, or PPTP connection methods.

For reliable, fast connections, I’d recommend you take a look at some of these super-fast premium VPNs. You won’t have to compromise on speed.

Are VPNBook’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? No

I had trouble browsing web pages, let alone playing games with VPNBook. The speeds on most of its servers aren’t adequate to support lag-free gaming. For decent performance, you need a ping that’s ideally below 100ms, or 50ms for the most competitive gamers. I tried playing Asphalt 9: Legends on the US server and got the following error.

Image showing VPNBook unable to load an online racing game

Attempting to use VPNBook to play online games only resulted in an error message

I can’t recommend VPNBook for gaming of any sort. OpenVPN might increase your protection against DDoS attacks and other security risks, but even casual gamers will struggle with the high ping and low speeds (or lack of any connection at all). Have a look at these top gaming VPNs instead.

Server Network — Small and Limited

VPNBook’s server network only has 10 servers in 6 countries. This consists of 8 servers in the US, Canada, France, Poland, and Germany, 2 proxy servers in the US and UK, and an Outline VPN server in Canada. This is more or less what I’d expect from a free VPN, although it would be better if there were more than 3 options for the dedicated VPN service.

I reached out to VPNBook to ask if the servers were physically located, or virtual, but as yet I haven’t had a response. I could calculate RTT time to have a guess (round trip time for data to go to the server and back), but this isn’t always a reliable solution as it can be influenced by network congestion and other factors.

Region Countries
Europe UK (proxy only), Poland, Germany, France
North America United States, Canada

Free server options are split into OpenVPN, OutlineVPN, and PPTP, with a handy display that shows you which servers are online and any relevant updates (like password changes). You’ll also see login details and confirmation of which servers support P2P under each tab.

Image showing VPNBook server availability

The network is small, but you can quickly determine each server’s status

There aren’t any servers in Asia, Africa, or South America. If you’re located in places like Australia, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, or Saudi Arabia, you won’t find a server near to you — further impacting reliability and speed.

The service hasn’t disclosed its total number of IP addresses, but given the poor speeds, I don’t expect too many. A wide range of servers is helpful for bypassing geoblocks for streaming, so if you need more options, consider these premium VPNs instead.

Security — Not Enough Features to Keep you Safe

VPNBook lacks key security features, like a kill switch. However, it did pass my leak tests and carries high-spec encryption with its OpenVPN setup.

Encryption and Protocols

There are various setup options with differing security. The manual setup through PPTP (point-to-point tunneling) is easier to install and use, but it isn’t as safe.

The second configuration option involves using VPN server accounts with Outline VPN or OpenVPN software. Only the OpenVPN configuration uses 256-bit AES encryption which is military-grade level.

The absence of a kill switch is a problem, as even with OpenVPN your real IP address would be exposed if the VPN suddenly disconnected. Find out why kill switches are so important.

Leak Test

I couldn’t find any IP, DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks when testing the service. This is a very good outcome, but — as I mentioned above — there is still a risk that your data will be exposed should your connection drop.

Important things to look for in a leak test include:

  • IP address — if your IP address is leaked it can expose your location, and make you vulnerable to malicious online threats.
  • DNS information — like IP leaks, DNS leaks can reveal your location and allow your private internet traffic to be intercepted.
  • WebRTC — WebRTC is the peer-to-peer communication between your browser and the web pages you visit; this data can slip outside the safety net, revealing your IP.
  • IPv6 — IPv6 data sometimes travels outside the VPN “tunnel”, allowing exposure of sensitive information. Most VPNs disable it entirely.

I used ipleak.net and connected to the French server with the OpenVPN setup. Here are the test results.

Image showing VPNBook leak test with no IP, DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks

I was confident that VPNBook prevented any data leaks using OpenVPN

While this is a good result, I’d like to see more security features to further safeguard my privacy. VPNBook could really benefit from having a kill switch and additional layers of protection, like malware blocking or IP hopping.

You may want to consider these VPNs with extra security measures at a low cost.

Privacy — Vague and Contradictory Policy

VPNBook claims to be based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, but its policy isn’t very reassuring. Switzerland isn’t subject to the 5, 9, or 14 eyes jurisdiction, and so it’s much less likely that your privacy will be compromised. This is provided you are using the VPN legally, as more recently Switzerland can and will cooperate on legal matters concerning VPN use.

However, on examining the policy, there’s no guarantee that the VPN itself safeguards your privacy. The privacy policy is short and vague. It claims that the service doesn’t log internet data or collect your personal information, but also proceeds to say that “the only thing we log is the IP address and time the connection was made.”

This does seem to suggest that VPNBook could inadvertently leak — or purposefully hand over — your private IP address.

The VPN says it keeps connection logs to reduce, what it calls, “abusive activities.” It strongly advises users against using the service for “doing evil” to avoid an IP ban, although it’s not at all clear what the policy means by this or what it defines as “evil”.

That being said, lots of VPNs (rightfully) include a clause indicating that the service shouldn’t be used for illegal purposes — it’s just unusually worded here. Plus, the policy notes that your records are removed automatically after a week.

Image showing VPNBooks vague privacy policy

VPNBook’s logging policy is contradictory and unusually worded

The VPN isn’t independently audited, so you also have to take its word that it’s not logging your internet data. However, that’s not unexpected for a small, free VPN.

If you’re after a more well-known VPN with regular audits or find VPNBook’s policy concerning, some of these top no-logs VPNs might be of interest.

Torrenting — Very Few Server Options and Slow Speeds

VPNBook supports P2P traffic on its servers in Poland and Germany, as well as the paid dedicated VPN option in Canada. However, you’re likely to run into several problems if using this VPN for torrenting:

  • Connecting to the servers optimized for torrenting can be a frustrating experience, especially with so few options
  • The speed is incredibly slow, making it useless for fast downloads
  • Lack of kill switch can make your connection vulnerable should the VPN disconnect

The privacy policy states that “P2P applications are fine”, but as is standard for most VPNs, warns against misusing the service. This may allude to downloading copyright material, which is illegal and I certainly don’t condone.

Also bear in mind that torrenting may be illegal in some countries regardless of copyright status, so always check this first.

Considering some of these issues, I wouldn’t recommend VPNBook for torrenting. There are better VPNs out there for reliable P2P connections.

Does VPNBook Work in China? — No

The not-so-reliable security makes VPNBook a poor choice for China. I contacted VPNBook to ask if it would work, but as yet haven’t received a response.

With its inability to unblock streaming platforms, I’m very doubtful it would have the advanced obfuscation needed to work in China. Even if it did, I wouldn’t recommend this VPN because the lack of a kill switch could be a major flaw, leaving you blocked anyway. The privacy policy isn’t quite reassuring enough, either.

For some tried-and-tested alternatives, check out these VPNs that work in China.

Simultaneous Device Connections — Plenty of Connections

One advantage to VPNBook’s free manual configurations is that, in theory, you should be able to set it up on as many devices as you like. However, this isn’t particularly user-friendly to achieve.

If you want to pay for the dedicated IP option, VPNBook gives you 5 simultaneous device connections. However, there are better VPNs for multiple devices that give you more for your money.

Device Compatibility — Works with all Popular Devices

VPNBook doesn’t offer any custom VPN apps for devices. The only option is to manually configure the VPN, which isn’t the easiest process. There are 3 setup options that support the following devices/software:

  • PPTP — less secure, and works wherever PPTP is supported, including Windows, Android, Mac, Android, PS3, and Linux
  • OpenVPN — a 3rd party app that works with Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, and even your router to use the service on any device
  • Outline VPN — works with major platforms including Windows, Chrome OS, iOS, macOS, Android, and Linux
Image showing OpenVPN and PPTP setup guides for VPNBook

You can set up VPNBook on multiple device types, but it’s not easy

Though you can use the VPN on a wide range of devices, you have to jump through hoops to get there. It’s a free service, but I was still frustrated that I couldn’t simply install an app for Windows.

If device compatibility is a must, there are better, affordable VPNs out there — take a look at these easy-to-use VPNs with dedicated Windows apps, for example.

Ease of Use

7.8

Set-Up & Installation — Lengthy and Tricky Process

The VPNBook installation process is a bit tricky and not user-friendly at all. It involves downloading and installing several server files, certificate bundles, and a third-party app. For beginners, I don’t recommend choosing such an elaborate VPN setup. The only advantage of this is that there’s no requirement to register.

Besides the free web proxy (which doesn’t need any setup, but doesn’t give you the encryption you get with a VPN), you’re going to need to put some work into setting up VPNBook. The process differs slightly for each configuration method depending on the device, but the steps are broadly the same. I chose to set it up via Windows.

How to Set Up VPNBook

OpenVPN

  1. Download Connect client. OpenVPN is the preferred connection method because it incorporates AES 256-bit military-grade encryption. You’ll need to download the OpenVPN Connect client software before you can set up VPNBook. Go to OpenVPN’s website and download the open-source client app for your platform.
    Image showing OpenVPN download options

    I found the Connect software easy to locate on the OpenVPN webpage

  2. Install the client. From here, it was easy enough to install the software. This may vary depending on what platform you’re installing OpenVPN on.
    Image showing OpenVPN Windows installation process

    Once I’d downloaded the file, installing OpenVPN was very straightforward

  3. Download the config files. Next, I went to VPNBook’s website to download the server files. You can find them in the OpenVPN tab on the home screen. I selected the CA222 Canada server and downloaded the certificate bundle.
    Image showing list of VPNBook OpenVPN server options

    The certificate bundles are the setup files for VPNBook, found on the OpenVPN tab

  4. Import the files. There are some setup guides, but I didn’t find them to be very clear. The simplest method of installing the files involves importing the files individually from within the app. Simply open the app and tap the “import profile” in the sidebar, or the “+” button at the bottom of the screen.
    Image showing OpenVPN app setup

    The easiest way to install the configuration files is from within the app

  5. Add the profile. Select “files” and browse for the config files to upload them to the app. You will need to enter the username and password provided on the webpage, and click “add” in the top right corner to complete the process.
    Image showing OpenVPN app with completed VPNBook setup

    Once you’ve added the profile, you’ll be able to connect

    VPNBook publishes profile credentials for servers on its website but changes them every few weeks. Be prepared to face glitches though, as I had issues connecting to various servers despite entering the correct username and password.

PPTP and Outline VPN

These setups are not as secure as OpenVPN, so I wouldn’t recommend them. Again, there’s a guide for PPTP, but it could be more user-friendly.

To install PPTP you need to enable port-forwarding on your router first, and then add a new connection on your device. You don’t need any 3rd-party apps to do this; it’s just a case of adding the connection using the details provided on the VPNBook webpage.

Once your VPNBook connection is added, you may need to select PPTP as your VPN type. This is usually under the security tab in the connection properties menu. It wasn’t clear if I needed to do this on Android (or other devices), but there was no option for it and it worked regardless.

Outline VPN uses Shadowsocks socks5 protocol and doesn’t actually establish a VPN tunnel. In that sense, it’s not a true VPN. That said, if you want to try it you’ll need to download the Outline VPN client software, and use the string command provided on the VPNBook webpage to set it up.

Image showing VPNBook's Outline VPN installation instructions

First install the Outline VPN client, then manually add the connection string provided

Dedicated VPN

VPNBook provides a dedicated premium VPN option. It’s best to set this up via the above OpenVPN route again, but you’ll need to sign up and provide your payment information first. You can choose between 3 locations.

Image showing VPNBook's dedicated VPN subscription page

Before setting up the connection, you’ll need to select a location and payment option

Bear in mind that it will take a short while for VPNBook to set up your dedicated VPN server, so I’d recommend signing up during business hours. The email sent out once it’s established assumes that you have some knowledge of manual setup, which isn’t too helpful if you’re new to OpenVPN. All you get is OpenVPN and PPTP login credentials, and the OpenVPN profiles for UDP and TCP.

While it’s mostly a free VPN, I’d still like to see VPNBook expand its support offerings. This is particularly the case for the paid dedicated VPN option — I feel some in-depth guides are deserved here. Setting it up manually wasn’t ideal and I ran into problems on my Android device. A basic dedicated app would have made a world of difference. There are plenty of inexpensive VPNs that provide user-friendly apps.

Compare VPNBook with the top alternative VPNs

9.9
9.5
9.3
9.3

Pricing

10.0
Free VPN
$0 /month
1 Month
$7.95 /month

VPNBook offers free OpenVPN, PPTP, and Outline VPN connections, as well as a paid dedicated VPN option.

The VPN might be unclear about other things, but it’s quite clear about its business model. It makes money through on-site advertisements and accepts donations to keep the service afloat. In addition, you can just use the free proxy on the webpage with no setup required.

The dedicated VPN service provides dedicated CPU & Memory, 500GB+ bandwidth per month, and 5 simultaneous device connections. Given its confusing privacy policy and tricky setup, the monthly cost seems expensive compared to its competitors. However, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

The following payment methods are accepted:

  • PayPal
  • VISA
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Discover

There is currently no option to pay via cryptocurrency, which may disappoint if you prefer using this secure payment type.

Image showing VPNBook's free services

The webpage details the free setup configurations, with an option to donate to VPNBook

While a free service has its appeal, I’d recommend looking into some low-cost competitors. You get an ad-free, reliable service, with dedicated apps and lots of server options for very little per month. Take a look at these alternative cost-effective VPNs for some better options.

Reliability & Support

7.6

  • Email support
  • Web-form ticket submission
  • FAQ section
  • Social media presence: Facebook and Twitter

VPNBook’s support is minimal. You can only contact them via email or an online form. There is no support offered at the weekends, either.

I reached out via email, but have yet to receive any form of response. Although you can use the service anonymously without registering, you need to provide your details to request help — another downside when it comes to maintaining your privacy and anonymity.

Image showing VPNBook's online support form

Customer support seems almost non-existent

The website’s FAQ section only contains short answers to 3 questions. VPNBook does provide setup guides for smartphones and various operating systems, but these aren’t always easy to follow.

Overall, VPNBook’s customer support seems non-existent aside from the setup guides. There is no live chat support and I didn’t receive a response to any of my email enquiries.

Considering the VPN is so difficult to set up, the lack of support is surprising. Check out this example of what good customer support should look like.

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict

VPNBook falls short on almost all the important features for a good VPN. It is neither beginner-friendly nor suited for experienced users. You’ll spend a long time setting it up, only to realize it wasn’t particularly worth it.

Limited servers, complicated setup, questionable privacy policy, streaming issues, and slow speeds don’t create a web-busting VPN. Even if you establish a secure connection, the absence of a kill switch means you could suddenly be exposed and blocked anyway.

Though VPNBook is free, and despite having no data and bandwidth caps, the lack of reliability and extra features makes it hard for me to recommend it.

  • Completely free VPN service funded by advertising and donations
  • Paid dedicated VPN option with 500GB bandwidth per month
  • Free web proxy to unblock webpages with no setup required
  • P2P-friendly servers
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Get started with VPNBook now

FAQs on VPNBook

Is VPNBook safe?

VPNBook provides decent encryption but is missing some basic security features. While its OpenVPN servers use AES 256-bit encryption, its PPTP servers use the less secure 128-bit. The OpenVPN setup prevented any IP, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks during my tests.

However, the lack of a kill switch raises concerns about the VPN’s security, as your connection could be exposed.

Does VPNBook keep logs?

Despite claiming to be “no logs,” VPNBook does log some of your information. It stores your IP address and login timestamps for a week.

The company is Swiss-based (outside of the “eyes” jurisdiction), but the potential for your IP address to be leaked or handed over is worrying.

Can VPNBook unblock Netflix?

No. VPNBook can’t unblock Netflix or other popular streaming services. I had issues connecting to the US1 server while the US2 server caused Netflix to constantly display NSES-404 error messages.

These errors usually appear when the content you’re trying to stream isn’t available in your country’s Netflix library.

Does VPNBook support P2P traffic?

Yes, but only on limited servers. You can only choose between 2 free servers in Germany and Poland, and there’s a Canada server option with the premium dedicated VPN service.

That said, the connections are so slow that you won’t get any meaningful torrent speeds, and the security concerns may put you at risk.

Will VPNBook slow my speeds down?

VPNBook will definitely slow you down. I could barely load the speed test page on an 18Mbps base connection with the VPN activated.

Most of the web pages nearly took a minute or more to load, and you can forget about streaming in HD. My speeds were wiped out by at least 90%.

Is VPNBook free?

Yes, VPNBook provides free use of its servers. It’s funded primarily by donations, and the additional paid service for a dedicated server. However, the choice of free servers is very limited and you may not find them reliable enough to achieve what you want.

Can I download a modded APK for VPNBook?

As there is no dedicated app, you can’t modify it. Even if you could, I wouldn’t recommend doing this anyway as APK downloads may be from unverified sources. This puts you at risk of viruses, trackers, and malware.

There are plenty of device options without the need to install or modify an app.

Does VPNBook have a browser extension?

There are no VPNBook browser extensions, but you can use the Outline client extension on Chrome OS with some additional setup. This is a proxy though, without the same level of security and encryption as a VPN.

I would recommend setting up VPNBook via the OpenVPN Connect app for maximum protection.

Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 30
Mobile app :
Number of devices per license : 5
VPN Plans: www.vpnbook.com

VPNBook User Reviews

8.3
Based on 8 reviews in 3 languages
Matt Davis
They're great - 10
Matt Davis

I've been using them for a few years now, they've always gotten me where I need to go. Really couldn't expect more out of a free service, now I'm considering upgrading (both to support them and hope for better speeds!)

tim
I wonder if vpnbook can be trusted. - 2
tim

Four weeks ago, Using VPNbook to browse around. Few day later and received a blackmail in my outlook account to ask to put some money to a bitcon account; otherwise, my password and some personal info (including videos) will be shared to my friends that will be randomly picked. and activated the vpnbook again just last week and few days later received a different blackmail with similar content in my outlook again. Now I didn't use VPNbook and no blackmail received so far. I wonder if VPNbook can be trusted.

Anonymous
VPNBook review - 10
Anonymous

Overall the vpn is very useful for me, i definitely prefer vpnbook for everyone because of the speed and the anomalous bandwidth are great and are free of cost, the only thing irritating thing is they change of password often.

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