DotVPN is a free offering from Smart Security Ltd., based in Hong Kong. The product is installed as an extension on Chrome or Opera web browsers. The service tested as very fast. It’s free, it’s fast, what could be the drawback? With any free service, there are always additional considerations for your privacy. There are some big questions here, and it’s simply impossible to believe that this product was encrypting our traffic, given the speed test results you’ll see below.
Pricing and Plans
While you can use DotVPN for free, there are some benefits to paying. The Premium level of service allows you to connect to a smaller pool of servers, to get up to 8192-bit encryption and to take advantage of a zero-logging DNS.
You can sign up for the Premium service for $0.99 for the first month. After the first month, the cost goes up to $4.99 per month.
You can pay with credit cards or PayPal.
Free Trial / Money Back Guarantee
If the service doesn’t work for you, you can get a refund if you file your request within thirty days of signing up.
Privacy & Anonymity
This is an area where semantics really comes into play. DotVPN says that it protects your “browsing” data. That doesn’t include your torrenting data or other data that you transfer between your computer and a remote server, however.
It’s important to keep in mind that the zero-logging DNS is part of the premium service, but you’re not offered that as part of the free service.
There doesn’t appear to be any restriction on using torrents with this service. However, given that this is a browser plugin and not a standalone VPN service, we can’t recommend torrenting with DotVPN.
Customer support is available over the DotVPN Internet site via a ticketing system.
We installed the Chrome version of the DotVPN extension from the Chrome store. Installation was painless and the extension fired up right away. Enter your email address, a password and your name and you’re ready to go.
The client is simple and straightforward, but only accessible from inside your browser.
Windows, Mac OSX, Android, IPhone, etc.
There are currently extensions available for Google Chrome and the Opera Internet browser.
While we did get impressive speed results, see below, it’s important to remember that these speeds will not be maintained for users that don’t go for a Premium package. The results are accurate, but take them with a grain of salt and realize that you’ll have to buy the service to get the highest speeds available.
As a note, it’s hard to believe that our data was encrypted at all. Any VPN is going to slow down traffic to some degree, as it takes time to connect to the server, encrypt the traffic, pass it along and reverse the process on the trip back. While this service claims to offer the best of both worlds where being a VPN and a proxy is concerned, it seems much more like a proxy and it’s hard to believe that there was any encryption at all on this connection.
These speed tests are extraordinary, but they tend to indicate that there isn’t any encryption going on here, and we cannot recommend assuming otherwise.
IPCheck and DNS Leak
DotVPN gave us a server location in New York by default. DNS testing traced back to Digital Ocean, successfully hiding our DNS servers.
- Free, but see “Pricing and Plans”
- Browser extension based
- Fast speed
- Low introductory price
- Free proxy service
- Easy to use
Areas for Improvement
The website for this provider, frankly, seems a bit dodgy. There’s a lot of information that doesn’t seem to be entirely clear. For instance, they claim not to log, but the no-log DNS server is only available with the premium service.
This service also offers speedy free access for a time, but then slows down. Users around the Internet have reported issues with the service, as well.
Subscribing to a paid service seems preferable. With a paid service, you know exactly what you’re getting and, in the end, the support and information provided by the service is usually much more comprehensive.
Between the rather unbelievable speed results, the lack of information on exactly what the free service entails and the general feel that the free VPN is just a sales pitch, it’s hard to recommend this provider, particularly if you’re in a nation where your privacy protection is paramount to ensuring your safety. If that’s your situation, don’t risk it; get a paid service.