Clients are an important matter to discuss in the case of VPN.ht. Despite being specialized so heavily, the company does not have its own client to boot. Instead – like many other VPN providers – they rely on the prime open source software for VPN connections, namely the OpenVPN client. Usually, this is only a minor setback, as you just need a bit more time to set the client up and change servers along the way. However, VPN.ht makes things a bit more complicated than other providers. Just like in any other case, configuration files are required to connect to a location, With VPN.ht, they can only be downloaded individually, on a server-to-server basis.
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What is even worse is that a user can't just generate configs after logging in; first you have to figure out a way back to the main page somehow and then realize that the “step-by-step” button (which is not even highlighted, it's a minor option after scrolling down) is actually the setup guide. Yes, you can also generate config files via displaying the server list, but there is literally no indication there that it needs a client. The website is a bit of a jumble, and a newcomer to VPN will have a hard time understanding this. Of course once you get connected to a VPN network, everything works in order – it is getting there that is trickier than usual. There is also a separate Popcorn Time VPN client available.
Popcorn Time Optimization
Whenever the Popcorn Time client and the VPN.ht client are both installed on your device, the former will always display a connection icon, signaling you to connect to a safer internet. Essentially, this is it; all you need to do is log in – which can also be done from inside the Popcorn Time client – and then off you go. If any examples exist of such close integration between a free streaming service and a VPN provider, it is good to see. Your other option is to simply download the Popcorn Time client from the official website of VPN.ht. That version will automatically have a VPN button with the icon of a lock.
VPN.ht offers connections across 16 countries and 120 servers. The former is not that much in our opinion, but the latter is quite an impressive number, especially in the light of how little the number of accessible locations is. All of them support four security protocols and also proxies.
The SmartDNS service of VPN.ht works in an interesting manner. When generating configurations for your OpenVPN client, the official website offers a “SmartDNS included” box. When running Popcorn Time or any VPN connection, SmartDNS will thus automatically apply to them, as all of them support proxies (SmartDNS is a specific type of proxy).
In terms of speeds however, we were not that much satisfied. We conducted our tests on the default connection type offered: 128-bit AES encryption and UDP. This is not even the slowest configuration, but download speeds were below expectations when compared to other VPN and SmartDNS solutions.
There is great variety in the security options of VPN.ht. Several protocols are available: PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN on both UDP and TCP are all possibilities. However, we do not recommend PPTP: it is the least safe solution of the four. For your client, you can generate configuration files by encryption type (64-bit blowfish, 128-bit AES or 256-bit AES) and also port type, with two apiece for TCP and UDP.
VPN.ht’s log policy is an interesting one. The Terms of Service states that “VPN.ht does not as a matter of ordinary practice actively monitor user sessions for inappropriate behavior, nor do we maintain direct logs of customers' Internet activities. However, VPN.ht reserves the right to investigate matters we consider to be violations of these Terms”. This is curious, as even though logs are not maintained, the ToS does not disclose the possibility of monitoring for reasons other than “inappropriate behavior”. Since it is not clarified otherwise, we presume the standard procedure; that is monitoring bandwidth used, for example.
OS, Device Support
Being closely tied to Popcorn Time, VPN.ht has device support more or less similar to its main partner in crime. Next to Windows, Mac OS X and Linux are supported in terms of operating systems. Mobile devices are also welcome, with Android and iOS available. Furthermore, as far as VPN.ht’s software goes, client and app support is good for mobile devices. Operating systems – as you can read above – suffer a bit more, as next to Windows’ lengthier setups, Linux and Mac also need manual work.
Prices are good with VPN.ht. However, because of the intricate and close connection with Popcorn Time, there is no free trial offered.
For the first month of your VPN, you only get charged $1. For subsequent ones, you are charged $4.99 each month only. It gets even better with the annual package: if you opt for 12 months, your monthly fee is only $3.33, an overall of $39.99. This is 33% off compared to the monthly price. This is pretty advantageous in return for free and safe streaming and general VPN usage. With every purchase, you also get a similarly generous 30-day refund offer.
Payment options include MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and Bitcoin.
VPN.ht’s cstomer service offers limited, but effective options. The good news is that support is 24/7; you will be able to reach out to the company at all times. Your methods to get in touch are few, however. A live chat provides instant access, and very fast response. For general information, this form of contact is recommended. For more specific problems, we advise you to fill the contact from of VPN.ht. Next to specifying your problem, you can also attach files for further clarification. For additional troubleshooting, VPN.ht has its own knowledgebase. The company also has social media presence; Facebook and Twitter are the two participants of this area of contact, with good activity and coverage of VPN related news. The best news though is that you can enlist remote desktop help via TeamViewer.
Overall, VPN.ht is good for streaming as they are specialized for work with Popcorn Time. However, they still need to take a few steps to become a great VPN next to this. The lack of a personalized client admittedly hurts us a bit. We were similarly not convinced by the results of speed tests. Both are major components necessary to provide a convincing full experience. On the positive note, you get an extra layer of protection to a free online streaming service with VPN.ht. This is extremely useful, and so is the SmartDNS protocol employed by the company. We hope for a bright future.
- Free streaming synergy
- High escurity
- Great prices
- 30-day refund
- Lower speeds
- Lack of own client
- Few locations