But the VPN market is filled with hundreds of alternatives nowadays and the popularity of these tools makes the competition increasingly fierce: does Encrypt.me have what it takes to stand out?
VPN providers always need to choose who their preferred target audience is, and this choice usually affects the way the program is configured. For instance, a VPN that focuses on people that already know what they want from such a service is likely to be more open in the features department, and not only offer more tools but allow for greater control over the settings and other tweaks – all to make the program behave according to the user’s expectations.
Others, like Encrypt.me, clearly want to make everything as simple as possible and hide all the complicated aspects of a VPN under a simple ‘connect & go’ service that even those with the slightest knowledge of computers can use without any problems. In this regard, it’s too bad that these functions are not available for more advanced users looking for such tools. It’s not the first time that a company has taken this position and so it’s surely understandable, but many people will often feel that something is lacking from the service – unless of course this is exactly what they are looking for.
Connect & Go
The first time booting up Encrypt.me is a very pleasant experience. The app itself is very minimal in design and – though it can be expanded into a more in-depth program – displays nothing more than the list of servers available to access. In fact, other than checking the details of the user account and for program updates, the only other action that can be done is adding a trusted Wi-Fi network.
But this simplicity can also be a downside and it’s here where the focus on newcomers to VPNs is made apparent. Those that simply want to do nothing but connect to another city or country will be more than pleased with the modest setup of the program, but those that would like to have a little more control over the settings will likely be turned off to the service.
While the depth of functionality is important in a VPN, this isn’t as significant as its functionality. As long as it can deliver fast, secure and consistent connections to other parts of the world then most people will be happy with it, and this is where Encrypt.me shines the most. Actually, despite the fact that it is not exactly the largest VPN network, the company still delivers more than 50 locations in a total of 32 countries. This grants worldwide coverage, though the northern hemisphere is better represented than the rest of the world. However, it’s still possible to connect to South Africa, Brazil, Australia and others.
Tests were conducted from Europe and naturally the nearest countries produced the best results, but the global speeds are good if somewhat unpredictable. As a curiosity, Encrypt.me does provide an option that we always like to test whenever possible called “Fastest Available”, and sometimes there are some surprises as to where we end up arbitrarily connected to. This wasn’t the case this time, however, since the app picked the closest server to our physical location. A honorable mention should go to the New York server, which was still able to compete with the closest European connections despite being an ocean away.
On the downside, however, sadly some DNS leaks were experienced from time to time. It’s important to say that not all servers suffered from this and that different results were obtained using the same server more than once. Likewise, tests also demonstrated that IP addresses were attributed correctly most of the time, apart from a handful of exceptions in which the same address corresponded to a different country to the one selected. This means that Encrypt.me’s connections are not reliable, though general users likely wouldn’t feel any negative effects from this so long as they don’t use the VPN for P2P sharing – which is, in fact, not supported by the company to begin with.
While it is a concern that Encrypt.me doesn’t follow a no-log policy, it is at least honest about what data it collects from its VPN users and does delete this info after 16 days. According to the official website, Encrypt.me gathers time stamps and the amount of data transferred during any given period, along with both the IP address and source port of the outgoing connection and the virtual IP address that the company attributed to it. The website also explains that the “general behaviors inside the app” are also collected by third-party analytics services Fabric.io and Google Firebase, but that this can be opted-out from within the app – though we never found such option anywhere.
The good news is that when it comes to encryption there are no disappointments as Encrypt. me does justice to its name and uses the top-level AES 256-bit encryption. Protocols are automatically applied depending on the device that the VPN is running on, with OpenVPN and IPSec being the two available options.
OS, Device Support
Encrypt.me can be used on the key platforms and though some additional options would have been expected from a company that debuted in 2011, the decision to cater to just the most popular ones understandable. There are Encrypt.me apps for computers running at least macOS 10.10 and Windows 7, while iOS and Android mobile users can also make use of the service. And though it is not possible to use Encrypt.me on routers, at least Amazon fans can rejoice since there’s also an app for Amazon Fire devices with version 5.0 and above. The maximum number of connections using the same account is set to five.
VPN providers usually follow the same three-plan system where each tier increases the length of the subscription to affect the value of the service, the available features, or both. But Encrypt.me is completely different in this regard.
There are many different options to choose from: passes, subscriptions, family packs and business plans. Given that users can only upgrade from the first option to the following one and can never downgrade back to it this perhaps ends up making some sense, but the issue here is that people are essentially picking between the same full service with unlimited data and access to the entire VPN network regardless of the plan chosen. This division, therefore, seems a bit unnecessary, honestly.
For example, there are three passes: one that’s available for a weekly cost of $3.99, a monthly one that charges $9.99, and then the annual and preferred choice for saving some money with a total free of $99.99. This is where everything gets confusing since both the annual and the monthly pass can also be purchased as “subscriptions”; they even cost the same, so the only difference is that opting for this eliminates the ability to purchase one-time passes in the future.
The family packs are directed at those that need more connections, though they’ll pay more for it too – $12.99 per month or $149.99 per year – and it doesn’t end there, either, with plans available for business teams with a price on request.
But before purchasing anything consider making use of the 14-day free trial that Encrypt.me offers to fully test the program. In addition to that, anyone can apply for a refund within the first 30 days of using the service, the clock starting after upgrading to a paid account. Speaking of which, the only way to pay for the service is by using credit cards as the company doesn’t accept Bitcoin, PayPal or any other alternative payment methods, something that seems unlikely to ever change.
If any doubt arises before or while using Encrypt.me, the first place to look for assistance is the FAQ page. This is where most of the questions are answered, from basic concerns on how to use the service to more detailed explanations about advanced settings available with the program. For more direct contact with the company there is the option for a ticket submission or to ask a question directly via its social media pages on Facebook or Twitter, preferably the latter which is the most used one. There is also the company blog, where service updates are published.
Encrypt.me is a mixed experience from start to finish and while there are surely some very positive aspects about it, at the same time there is still much space for improvement. The app is too simplistic and though that makes it appealing for anyone looking to avoid wasting energy on figuring out a new program, it mostly feels that it’s lacking some important functions that a VPN of this level of experience should already be providing, even if it’s just valuable extras like a kill switch, for instance. Likewise, it’s still very good that Encrypt.me does justice to its name with its strong level of encryption and even delivers fast connections to many locations including some rather distant countries, but even this is let down by the unfortunate DNS leaks that occur.
The lack of proper configuration for routers is not so important since the majority of people use VPNs either on computers or mobile anyway, but it does support Amazon Fire devices as a rare bonus. However, considering the simplicity of the service, the price to pay for it is just too expensive, regardless of how many – and yet how similar – plans the company offers. At the end of the day, Encrypt.me is a mid-table VPN that is worth trying, at least until the 14-day free trial is over. Who knows, maybe you’re exactly the target audience that Encrypt.me is aiming for.
- Simple to use
- Worldwide server network
- Good speeds
- Good device support (except routers)
- Free trial and refund
- No P2P allowed
- Occasional DNS leaks
- Too minimalist and expensive