One of the main ideas that standout after testing AirVPN is how cleverly the development team was able to combine some of the advanced features that experienced users demand with the simple maneuverability that beginners need. This is seen even before starting to use the program, as AirVPN’s official website allows anyone to download the program in a handful of ways depending on the device chosen. The most comfortable is the desktop client, where everything is clean and tidy but also has the option to configure it using command lines, disk images, package installers and many more.
AirVPN likes to do things differently, particularly when it comes to baptizing its components. Further down we’ll talk about how this applies to the different servers but for now it’s time to meet Eddie, which is neither a person nor an animal but instead the name of the desktop client. While he may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, Eddie works like a charm and can start a VPN session in seconds simply by connecting to the recommended server from the start. The rest of the server list is also accessible and provides a lot of information about them – such as their load or latency – which isn’t very common to see.
In fact, Eddie is very helpful in other aspects, too. When connected to a server it’s possible to access real-time speed reports alongside all the stats and logs of the session. Likewise, when accessing the protocol settings, for instance, there’s an extensive list with all the ports available and a brief description of each of them. The choice of which to use is totally up to the user, though there’s an ‘automatic’ option for those that don’t want to mess with it.
The help that Eddie provides to less tech-savvy users doesn’t mean that everything is automatic. Actually, there’s a great level of customization on top of other options as well. Users can alter and configure their personal DNS settings, manually dictate traffic routes (port forwarding), customize the so-called ‘network lock’ that is essentially an IPv4/IPv6 leak prevention that works even if the VPN disconnects, and much more. The proxy tab deserves a special attention here, since AirVPN has one of the deepest levels of customization for TOR over VPN.
AirVPN’s collection of servers is a curious case. On the one hand, it’s not particularly vast and is certainly behind the company’s most direct competitors with only 19 countries available. Given the company’s age and experience in the VPN market this is a rather low number and there are some areas of world map that are completely untouched, such as the African and South American continents. Nonetheless, there are over 200 servers in the available countries and curiously all of them have been given different names, from Acamar (Miami, U.S.) to Zuben (Prague, Czech Republic). But the best news is that the VPN performance is right up there with the best.
Multiple tests were run on different servers and all of them produced very positive results. Norway had the best speeds, which is not a surprise as we tested from Europe, however distant countries such as Canada, the USA or Singapore were almost on par with this location. In addition, tests demonstrated that AirVPN can deliver consistent speeds even in the most crowded servers. Though these busy servers take a bit longer to connect to and sometimes to fully load web pages, it was a surprise to see no significant speed losses.
Another positive aspect of AirVPN’s performance is the fact that its IPv4/IPv6 and DNS leak protection work perfectly, which is very important considering the torrent-friendly nature of the company.
AirVPN’s connections are trustworthy as the tools available work as they should to keep users safe and anonymous. Moreover, the fact that the service is based on OpenVPN must be accounted for, since protocols TCP and UDP are the only options available on top of SSL and SSH. Though this limits the choice and prevents users from controlling the speed and security of their connections, it shouldn’t really be considered a downside as OpenVPN’s security and reliability has already been proven. In terms of encryption, AirVPN uses AES 256-bit.
No logs are kept on users’ activities either, and in that regard AirVPN is headquartered in Italy, which forces it to obey the country’s laws and, more importantly, the strong legal framework of the European Union regarding online privacy and handling of customer data.
OS, Device Support
The device support of AirVPN is truly amazing, even putting this provider in front of many direct rivals. As mentioned before, Eddie can be configured in a handful of ways depending on the platform in question, but this is not limited to computers and mobile devices. In fact, Eddie doesn’t discriminate and is friends with both Windows 7+ and macOS X, as well as several versions of Linux computers. Android and iOS mobile devices are also welcome, though they will need to have OpenVPN software installed, too. ChromeOS is another supported operating system and anyone looking for router configurations can be satisfied with AirVPN’s support of DD-WRT, Tomato and AsusWRT devices.
Router protection is rather important for families and offices that want to extend the range of the VPN’s coverage to devices not supported natively, but also to add more connections, too, since the maximum number is rather limited with only three being allowed with a single account.
As with any good VPN provider, there are several plans to choose from and the only difference between them is the period that they’re available for, meaning that there is no need to subscribe to the most expensive plan in order to access more servers or functionality. There are offers to suit everyone, including both short- and long-term plans. In fact, the cheapest option lasts for only three days and costs $1.16. For longer subscriptions the most affordable is the annual subscription at a total of $62.54, translating to only $5.21 per month. However, there are also in between offers that are quarterly and semiannual costing a total of $17.37 and $34.75, respectively.
But before paying for anything, it’s possible to obtain a free trial period. You’ll need to log into the client area, submit a ticket to AirVPN requesting one and wait between one and three days for a reply. Once conceded, you’ll have three days to test the service, though with restrictions on bandwidth levels. In addition, it’s also possible to obtain a risk-free trial for the same amount of time using the money-back guarantee.
To apply for a refund, you cannot have used the service for more than three days nor exceeded the global traffic volume of 5GB. In turn, since there are no restrictions on servers or features on any of the plans, this means that the first one can be used without any risks or limitations as is the case with the most expensive ones.
Note that the company only deals in Euros and instead the costs are automatically converted to U.S. dollars by AirVPN’s official website, and as such they can vary according to exchange rates. Payment methods include the usual credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
AirVPN encourages all their customers to submit tickets with their concerns and requests as this is the main form of direct contact with the staff. Nonetheless, it’s always advisable to look around the FAQ page first for any minor or general problems since all of the most basic questions are answered there. AirVPN is also very active on the forum, which becomes very helpful for getting in touch with other people or with customer support, too. Unfortunately, no other direct forms of contact are available, though the company’s Facebook and Twitter profiles are often updated with relevant news and articles and can also be used to get some feedback.
AirVPN describes itself as a “tiny VPN if compared to the giants of the sector, but a small ‘miracle’ in consideration of the no-security-compromise policies,” a statement that we partially agree with. It’s hardly “tiny” as the performance demonstrated comfortably puts it in the upper portion of the VPN providers table. There’s nothing to point fingers at when it comes to the speed of the connections and, most importantly, their reliability, which is all that really matters. The decision to leave out more vulnerable VPN protocols and the inclusion of the many security features in place – such as the IPv4/IPv6 and DNS leak prevention – prove to be good decisions for a VPN that needs to become more popular.
But on the other hand, some efforts should be made to enlarge the VPN network since the current count is not the greatest, even if the support for P2P and TOR will surely grant some more subscriptions. Speaking of which, families of four or more are quite common and so it’s a shame that if the option for configuring a router is not possible, then they will need to have two subscriptions to overcome the maximum three connections. Fortunately, AirVPN’s pricing is competitive and the fact that the desktop client termed Eddie can be configured on a wide range of devices means it can be everyone’s best friend, whether for beginners or VPN experts.
- Suitable for beginners and experienced users
- Big emphasis on security
- Good speeds even on distant servers
- P2P/TOR and Proxy support
- IPv4/IPv6 and DNS leak prevention
- Attractive pricing
- Limited server network
- Limited number of connections