VPN.ac is a VPN service owned by Romania-based Netsec Interactive Solutions. Its parent company specialises in IT security auditing and penetration testing. And although it might not be the most well-known provider on the VPN market, it’s nonetheless regarded as one of the most diligent and innovative services out there — meaning there’s plenty that can be said about them in this VPN.ac review.
The reason why you may be hearing about VPN.ac for the first time — the company historically markets itself as a low-key provider. Its motto is to provide a ‘secure, reliable and fast’ service for a core base of ‘loyal customers’.
In this review, I took a close look at VPN.ac to figure out what makes it a good choice for shoppers. I also wanted to find out if the service has room for improvement.
Let’s jump in.
How much does VPN.ac cost?
VPN.ac has four plans to choose from, depending on how long you want to sign up for.
|Subscription||Monthly price||You pay|
|3 months||$8 (save 11%)||$24|
|1 year||$4.80 (save 46%)||$58|
|2 years||$3.75 (save 62%)||$90|
As it seems, the longer you subscribe for, the more you will save. For example, signing up for a full year will snag you the same service at nearly half the price. While a two-year subscription will save you a whopping 62% on the usual monthly price — working out at $3.75 per month.
VPN.ac offers a 7-day money-back guarantee should you change your mind after signing up. Essentially, you can claim a full refund in case of unresolvable technical issues. To cancel the subscription, you’d need to contact Support. You can do this by opening a ticket from your account dashboard.
|Other methods: Credit/Debit Cards, Unionpay, Alipay, Gift Cards, Webmoney, iDEAL, Giropay, mobile/SMS plus other options specific to location|
|Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, Dogecoin, Monero, Ripple and others|
|BitPay: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash|
I love discounts. I rarely make online purchases without first searching for available coupons. And if you were looking for a VPN.ac special offer — you’ve found it!
BestVPNz.com readers can take advantage of this 20% Lifetime Discount on any VPN.ac plan. To claim this offer, just enter the code below at checkout and enjoy -20% from your costs for the entire duration of your subscription.
Premium, Gigabit servers with consistently high speeds.
As part of this review, I ran some speed tests to measure this VPN’s average download speed. For my tests, I selected servers in the UK, Netherlands, US East and West coasts, Hong Kong. I also tried out a ‘multi-hop’ setting that automatically switches between two servers.
Each node was tested over OpenVPN with Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates. You can learn more about ECC in the security features overview. The only exception is the China-optimised node in Hong Kong. What’s different about it is that it specifically uses XOR obfuscation. On the whole, the results were extremely consistent throughout the entire week. Average weekly speeds between all locations did not fall below 20 Mb/s.
The US East Coast server was the only location I felt slightly underperformed.
But every other option, including California and Hong Kong nodes scored excellently. Bearing in mind, these two are both far away from my own location. The double-hop UK-Netherlands server even peaked at 36 Mb/s.
Is VPN.ac good for privacy?
No logs and no data retention, thanks to a privacy-friendly jurisdiction
Does VPN.ac keep logs?
VPN.ac keeps no user activity logs. And historically they’ve been very strict about this. Users will enjoy the fact this provider doesn’t store data on your visited websites. This includes messages sent, videos watched — you get the picture. Basic connection logs — capturing your source IP address and traffic volume — are kept for security and support cases. But, they’re stored on a standalone, encrypted server for a most of 24 hours. It’s worth noting that many VPN providers store session logs for up to a month, if not longer. I really like that VPN.ac is consistently transparent about storing basic logs. Actually, this plays a major role in keeping their infrastructure secure from brute-force or MITM attacks.
Which jurisdiction is VPN.ac registered in?
Most member states of the European Union are obliged to follow the EU Data Retention Directive, which requires local ISPs to retain user IP addresses for up to two years.
But, in 2014, the Romanian Constitutional Court ruled the legislation ‘unconstitutional’. In brief, it failed to fall in line with citizens’ rights to ‘intimate personal life and privacy of communication’.
It’s safe to say that VPN.ac is registered in one of the more favourable jurisdictions in Europe.
Does VPN.ac have DNS leaks?
While on the topic of privacy, I tested VPN.ac for DNS leaks using the resource IPLeak.net.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the test showed browser default IPv4 address to match the IP shown in the client. IPv6 was correctly blocked.
The DNS lookup successfully picked up VPN.ac’s own, private DNS resolvers. For my VPN connection, they were located in three countries – Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
What features does VPN.ac have?
Innovative encryption, intuitive apps and premium server infrastructure.
Apps and platforms support
VPN.ac has built slick, native apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android operating systems.
Each app is equipped with a bundle of features — from the basics of one-click VPN connections to a wide selection of encryption protocols.
Aside from server and protocol selection, you can also tweak your settings to match for your specific needs.
You can set it up to launch and connect automatically as soon as you switch on your computer or mobile device.
You can also set the app to cut off internet access should the VPN connection drop for any reason. One thing to note with this feature — it might cause an error with the Windows 10 TAP adapter (for OpenVPN) after waking the computer up from sleep mode.
SecureProxy — encrypted proxy for web browsers
At one time or another, most of us have used a shady, free proxy to change our IP address location.
That wasn’t a great idea.
Not only are free proxies notoriously slow, but they’re also a serious security risk. It’s not uncommon for hackers to set up or even hijack public proxies. And just like with VPNs, it’s essential to know who’s running the service, and how.
With its premium SecureProxy add-on for web browsers, VPN.ac truly levelled-up.
The proxy is available as a browser extension on Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
SecureProxy uses TLS to encrypt all of your browser activity. It brilliantly evades tough firewalls.
It’s pretty versatile too. You can keep accessing any website with your original IP while the rest of your browser traffic can flow through the proxy server.
You can use it with or without the VPN. And there are 30+ country locations to pick from.
VPN.ac works with DD-WRT, Tomato, Advanced Tomato, OpenWRT, AsusWRT/Merlin and pfSense routers. These are all viable options if you’d like to run your VPN connection through a custom router.
VPN.ac provides VPN access to 20+ countries, while its browser proxy, which I mentioned earlier, gives access to over 30 countries.
Multiple nodes are available in popular locations, like US East, UK. This allows for better load distribution should any servers experience heavy usage.
You won’t find over a hundred country locations to pick from but the service still covers most regions. This includes North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
South America is currently only supported with one server in Brazil. This is a potential area for expansion, and I think it would be a big step forward if VPN.ac started deploying more nodes on the continent.
On the plus side, though, it has an entire category of China-optimised servers. Most are running with the trusty XOR cipher — capable of bypassing the Great Firewall.
And as the speed test showed, the ‘double-hop’ option is also truly worth exploring. The feature — first released in 2016 — lets you encrypt your web traffic through two VPN tunnels instead of one.
These connections are also known as ‘double VPNs’, and they’re advantageous to enhancing privacy as they make it practically impossible for ISPs to associate web traffic with specific accounts.
On some occasions, as seen in my own speed test, you can even get faster connectivity. Though, this depends entirely on server quality and the combination of geographic locations.
Streaming and P2P
A huge plus for Netflix viewers is that the Netflix US library is accessible from any VPN.ac server, including non-US.
Torrent traffic is allowed but only on designated servers that are clearly labelled in the app as ‘P2P optimised’.
Encryption & infrastructure
VPN.ac implements the following encryption protocols across its network of servers:
- OpenVPN: 256-bit AES-CBC, 128-bit AES-CBC or 128-bit BF-CBC
- For AES (128 or 256-bit), VPN.ac uses RSA-4096 and Elliptic Curve (ECDHE) with secp256k1, SHA512 HMAC
- WireGuard: At the time of writing, VPN.ac is still gradually rolling WireGuard support across its service, but is transparent about the protocol’s inherent privacy flaws
- All OpenVPN certificates get generated offline, on a secure machine, and with several entropy sources
- IKEv2: Currently available for manual connections; coming soon soon to its apps
- L2TP/IPsec: 256-bit AES or 128-bit AES – varies by operating system (soon to be phased out)
- PPTP: 128-bit MPPE (soon to be phased out)
- SecureProxy for Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers: AES 128-GCM with 4096-bit RSA certificates
All of its VPN nodes run on bare-metal servers, through dedicated network ports.
If you’re wondering what this means — simply put, the team behind VPN.ac configures each server form the ground up.
This option is much more expensive and secure than simply leasing virtual servers with shared network ports.
In fact, this is the main reason VPN.ac doesn’t offer hundreds of server locations.
It’s a clear indication that this provider opts for quality over quantity.
Managing your subscription
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get access to the Client Area accessible from the VPN.ac website.
It’s here that you can manage everything related to your account including your subscription and support tickets.
If you encounter technical issues or need some help with getting your VPN up and running, you have two options available. One of them is the comprehensive knowledge base. Think of it as a Wiki where you’ll be able to find a broad range of help topics on things like resetting your password. Furthermore, you can also use the knowledge base to find instructions on how to test for DNS leaks. This will ensure you’re getting the most out of your VPN.
Alternatively, if you have an urgent case, you can raise it by opening a support ticket. Now, with the absence of live chat, it’s important that email response times to active tickets are quick. This is where VPN.ac demonstrates its ‘customer-first’ approach. Having opened a support ticket, I received a prompt reply — within a grand total of 20 minutes — to my query.
Do we recommend VPN.ac?
VPN.ac delivers exceptionally well on most crucial aspects of virtual private networking. These are — security, speed, reliability and good user experience. Moreover, it’s cheap.
Yes, it has some areas for improvement. And I think as it continues to grow, VPN.ac will expand its server network to more locations. I wouldn’t be surprised if live chat was also eventually introduced as a measure to cope with a growing userbase.
But for what it offers as of today, and based on my own VPN.ac review, I’m confident this provider will cater to the needs of most people on the lookout for a new VPN.
Plus, you’ll be dealing directly with actual security experts and technicians.
I can confidently recommend VPN.ac to anyone who:
- doesn’t want to pay for an expensive VPN
- is tired of generic and unhelpful copy & paste responses from support
- is looking to become serious about online security and privacy