VPNArea has developed its own Windows client called Chameleon with up to 5 simultaneous connections allowed across 51 countries and 190 servers. It is full of great features and seeing this variety in one place is rare. The only thing we are missing is automatic connection. Individual server ping times are available information to help you make a better-educated choice about where do you want to connect. The “Show Server Load Information” option helps you view how many users are on a particular server currently. Because of the sheer number of servers and the relative lack of crowds, you are bound to find a suitable place. Changing TCP and UDP protocols is done with the press of a button.
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Kill Switch and Anti-DNS Leak
The client also boasts a built-in kill switch. This is also easily enabled and only activates when your connection runs into trouble. To further prevent unwanted attacks or surveillance from your Internet provider, the client has a separate section for its anti-DNS leak feature. They only work once you are connected to a VPN server – they cannot be used without it. There are over 10000 DNS server to get lost with, which is an ample amount of support. Yet another great addition is the auto IP-changer that changes your IP address from time to time. In fact, the address swapping can be set by you on a minute-to-minute basis. This is a two-edged sword, as for the extra safety your IP address – your original one – is always visible during the few seconds of the auto-IP swapping.
The official website is also a bit dodgy. Information of all kinds – membership, pricing, the forum, FAQ, customer service, the server list and even software to run VPN with their corresponding guides – all of them are available directly from the main page, without the need to scroll down even. Things are arranged beautifully, but what is not so pretty about the website is the way they are presented. The usage of scientific stereotypes – a researcher closely resembling Albert Einstein – and even more stereotypical symbols of tourism like the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera, the Coliseum and so on – are very vague and oversimplified representations of a certain location. These cartoonish visuals contradict the seriousness of the logo that signals safety, creating a mixed picture.
IP addresses are available on over 190 servers in a little more than 50 countries nicely spread over the globe. VPNArea is firm on the fact that it doesn’t oversell its service by continuing to scale its server network as it grows its customer base. It’s also one of the few VPN providers to honestly advertise when a certain server location is temporarily available, showing that it also keeps a good pulse on its different VPN servers.
VPNArea’s famed, so-called majestic speed showed a more grim face to us during testing. Connections were stable, quick to establish and easy to oversee. It’s the speed that moved at around the maximum of 10 Mb/s. We have to note that we chose more rare locations on purpose, though. Popular country servers have a bit more support. Furthermore, some “exotic” countries – in terms of VPN service of course – were not online at all.
There are two main divisions of connection options for VPNArea. Both TCP and UDP-based protocols are available, resulting in different qualities of service. Inside TCP, there are three options available: OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP. These are safety options of course; but we feel like they are important to mention here, because the client itself does not allow swapping between these TCP connection types. Your only option is ticking in a box, selecting TCP or UDP. All of this is important to state because on the official pricing screen all products are advertised with an AES-256-bit encryption. The only protocol that supports both AES and 256-bit encryption is OpenVPN. This is good news, because you automatically get the best available. But as far as networking options, it is bad news as you have a thinner selection available. UDP is a lot simpler, as it is one standard type of connection, with no subtypes to choose from. You also have access to VPNArea’s list of over 10,000 DNS servers to help fix any DNS leakage issues. P2P downloading is allowed on certain servers.
VPNArea does not keep information about your VPN activities. Amongst others, this includes bandwidth, and the websites you visited – these are not taken into account. Another thing that further supports your privacy is the usage of shared IP addresses, making you as an individual user extremely hard to identify. We also have to note that Bulgaria as a location is quite advantageous. Switzerland wears similar shoes, as both are not members of the EU. Thus, they are free of any restrictive sentiments that otherwise affect the 28 countries.
In terms of security protocols, VPNArea makes two available: both L2TP and OpenVPN (that also comes with AES) have the capability to use 256 bit encryptions.
OS, Device Support
There is a wide range of devices compatible with VPNArea’s services. There are two main types of usage: either with a personalized client or with an open-source OpenVPN client that does not run under VPNArea’s name. In terms of operating systems Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP use the company’s own Chameleon client. For Mac OS X Yosemite, Lion and Mavericks the same client’s OS X version is available. For Yosemite, there is also a separate Tunnelblick application, both solutions are eligible; and for Mac Lion and Leopard a Viscosity app can also be a helpful aid.
As for OpenVPN-based connections, a good number of devices are supported by either the open-source OpenVPN software or application. iPhone and iPad users get to enjoy their own application, while those who favor Android require additional software. The latter is true for DD-WRT router, Tomato router, Chromebook and Ubuntu and Debian Linux users. With a further addition, VPNArea’s connections on Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP can also be ran via the OpenVPN client. Now this is a bit dodgy: it is great to see such a wide selection; however, forcing customers to use potentially two clients or applications (depending on which devices they want to connect to their account) is less favorable. We are referring to the fact that while Chameleon and other personalized software are easy to setup and use, the OpenVPN open-source software is harder to understand and master. Of course, for every single variation and device, VPNArea provides detailed guides, complete with pictures to assist you in setting up your VPN connection.
VPNArea offers three almost identical plans that only differ in subscription duration. All of them include an extensive list of benefits: access to all countries’ servers, unlimited bandwidth, the anti-DNS-leak and anti-WebRTC leak systems, AES 256-bit encryption and a good number of other features. The 1-month package of $9.90 monthly is the only plan that includes all features with exception of the dedicated IP option. This option grants you the possibility to purchase a personalized IP address for a one-time payment of $15, essentially granting you your own server. This is the only difference between plans – they are identical in every other property. This option is missing from the 1-month package.
The 6-month plan has an overall price of $50, which is $8.35 monthly. To reiterate, this package already includes all features. The last option, the annual plan, fares at $59, a mere $4.92 monthly. This is a huge change compared to the biannual or monthly prices – VPNArea clearly searches for long-term investors with this pricing structure, while shorter durations suffer in prices. This left us with a bit of sour in our mouths, but VPNArea’s overall VPN service is good, so we can somewhat understand the need for funding, though it is an aggressive strategy. Regardless of which plan you choose, there is a 7-day refund policy applied to it. This means that at any from within the first week of your purchase you are guaranteed to get a full refund if you are unsatisfied by any of the aspects of VPNArea’s service. This refund is also in essence their trial version of the product, since there is no free trial available. In order to test the service, you must make at least one payment.
Payment methods are not that numerous, but include most of the essentials: Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Payza and Bitcoin are available.
Customer service is a strong side of VPNArea. Before testing, we actually ran into some problems: the account we were supposed to work on expired without explanation. This is a bigger technical problem; therefore this was a perfect opportunity to probe the effectiveness of the company’s helping abilities. We tried out two main areas: e-mail and the live chat. Our problem eventually got resolved in a few hours via e-mail. The live chat also provided good technical information, but since this was a major holdup, an official, e-mail based report was suggested. We had begun testing in a satisfied mood. Next to these, VPNArea also has social media presence of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and even its own forum. Yet another interesting service is the Skype chat option, therefore customer service can be enjoyed through remote desktop as well. And by the way, customer service is 24/7 available.
There is not much to say that has not been said. VPNArea is a prime quality VPN provider with a state of the art set of features with plenty of security options and software solutions to run the service. Though VPNArea states a firm promise that it doesn’t oversell its service to avoid any slowdowns, we sadly did have to go through slow connections on some of their servers. We have to add that prices are pretty strict on shorter timescales, especially the biannual plan. But if you are looking for a complete service with both TCP and UDP-based security options, excellent OS clients and good customer service, VPNArea is one competitor you should consider trying out.
- Good speeds
- Log policy
- Easy to use
- Lot of servers and locations
- High prices
- More connections at once cost money
- No Linux support
- No free trial