VyprVPN is a Texas-based VPN service. The provider is an integral part of a versatile portfolio of online security tools that were developed and owned by its parent company Golden Frog. In addition to personal VPN, the company offers an encrypted messenger called Cyphr.
In this review, we will take a look under the hood of VyprVPN, to analyse what this well-known VPN provider has to offer in terms of server range, privacy, encryption, applications, speed and price.
VyprVPN runs a large server network, with currently over 700 endpoints and 200,000 unique IP addresses available.
As for countries, the provider has vastly extended its international reach over the last year, resulting in all users gaining access to servers in locations including United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Kingdom, to name but a few. The full list of locations can be viewed on its website.
To round up our fairly exhaustive summary, customers can choose between the Basic, Pro and Premier packages, each one offering various levels of accessibility to its wide range of features.
As a rule, this information is retained by many VPN providers, although the timeframe for keeping such logs varies between companies. In Golden Frog’s case, this information is kept for a month, and is used to deal with questions concerning billing, troubleshooting, settlement of misuse disputes and to manage any potential criminal activity on the network.
More importantly, the provider strictly states that it does not store any traffic logs. This also applies to its DNS servers (VyprDNS). Likewise it does not run any DPI nor shallow packet inspection, unless specifically requested by individual customers.
The company is registered in the United States and therefore does not have to retain customers’ data by law. Like any officially registered business, however, it is obliged to cooperate with authorities if any user of the service became subject of a civil or criminal investigation. The provider maintains its right to be able to release “minimal information reasonably calculated to identify” a perpetrator of extremely serious cases. In reality, all VPN services have to comply with local and international law in order to operate their business and tend to include this disclaimer in their privacy policies.
Firstly, we’ll jump to the most effective one – OpenVPN. This open source protocol is the recommended option with VyprVPN and most other providers. It can be configured to use either 160-bit or 256-bit AES keys. L2TP/IPsec protocol with 256-bit ciphers is likewise available.
VyprVPN does offer PPTP, though this protocol is easily penetrable, and is thus disregarded for security purposes. It is, however, pretty useful when you only need to unblock geographically restricted websites; otherwise we recommend sticking to OpenVPN.
VyprVPN’s custom-built protocol Chameleon is based on OpenVPN. It uses 256-bit keys and is specially optimised for bypassing Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) – often used by ISPs to curb the flow of traffic that demands a lot of bandwidth; for instance torrenting and streaming. DPI is commonly enforced during peak hours.
Normally, most VPN protocols would allow the user to bypass this bandwidth traffic jam, but in countries with strict censorship firewalls, like China and Iran, internet users face tougher and more advanced DPI implementation.
Together with port blocking, DPI is used to thoroughly scan data packets (including at HTTP level), specifically targeting VPN traffic. It then signals to the firewall to block the connection over local servers.
VyprVPN developed Chameleon specifically for these circumstances, having tested it using algorithms of multiple top DPI vendors.
Now, although Chameleon is the recommended protocol for China, it still isn’t guaranteed to be foolproof 100% of the time. Particularly as China continues to implement more advanced measures within its firewall. Intensified sporadic attacks on VPN connections, such as the one in January, 2015, are a good example of why anti-firewall technology will continue to evolve going forward.
We did notice a couple of threads on the Golden Frog community forum, where customers complained about Chameleon connection issues and CPU overload on Mac OS X Yosemite systems; though the last time this was raised dates back to December, 2014.
In all instances, the forum moderators promised to raise the issue with tech support, and judging by the service’s update logs (dated January, 2015), the issues were addressed and fixed.
By default, we already use our ISP’s DNS servers via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to translate standard web hostnames (for example bestvpnz.com) into a computer-readable IP address. This is how an initial request to visit a website is fulfilled. However, even with an active VPN connection, the user’s original IP address can be prone to DNS leaks. This particularly affects Windows OS.
To help avoid potential leaks, it is recommended to change your DNS servers to private, non-logged addresses. Publicly available options like OpenDNS or Google Public DNS are known to log.
VyprVPN offers its own DNS servers in the form of VyprDNS, access to which is available only to paying customers. The provider does not retain any requests, in accordance with its ‘no traffic logging’ policy.
According to the provider’s website, VyprDNS uses the closest available resolvers to the selected VPN server, helping prevent erroneous DNS redirects.
What did catch our attention was that Golden Frog claimed that VyprDNS servers are solely owned company. But having run some basic DNS tests, the results showed that the servers were outsourced to third party companies based in the locale of our VPN endpoint. We won’t disclose details because VyprDNS is, after all, a private service. However, as much as we recommend using VyprDNS over public or ISP DNS, we cannot place it under its claimed Tier-1 category.
Software and Apps
VyprVPN shows little restraint when it comes to designing simple, user-friendly VPN clients. The service has bespoke applications for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android operating systems.
Desktop clients are available to download through the customer control panel, while smartphone and tablet versions are available from the Apple and Google app stores respectively.
VyprVPN can also be run through third party VPN clients including OpenVPN, Feat VPN (Android only), Tunnelblick or Viscosity (Macs), Boxee, Synology NAS as well as routers and games consoles.
Note that the Chameleon protocol and VyprDNS are available only through native VyprVPN software.
VyprVPN desktop client (Windows example)
Installation of the VyprVPN Windows client was fairly straightforward. Upon launching the .exe file and following the setup procedure, the application requested to install VyprVPN’s own TAP drivers (Mac users will be prompted to install the analogous TUN driver).
These particular adapters have been modified by Golden Frog and are unique to VyprVPN and its desktop client. According to service upgrade logs on its website, a software update dating back to September 2014 included the release of TAP-Vypr, which now acts as a replacement to the standard TAP-Windows driver. The substitute has since been included in all subsequent versions of the desktop client with the chief aim of eliminating a common (6004) error.
During our own installation, the TAP-Vypr adapter did not initially conflict with the existing TAP driver on our machine, but after its completion we did notice that a previously installed TAP driver was missing altogether, and had to be reinstalled once more.
Luckily, no more clashes were encountered along the way, and we were able to launch the Windows app alongside other VPN clients.
We did raise this via live chat support, but unfortunately the assisting agent did not provide much more information other than “The VyprVPN install should not have deleted any previously installed TAP drivers”.
Having launched the software, we were prompted to enter our login details.
By the way, unlike with many other providers, the VPN account login is the same as the one used to access the customer dashboard on the website. On one hand, it is convenient, so people have less passwords to manage. But on the other, it’s not too ideal in terms of security.
Once logged in, we could see that the app had prepared its default settings for a quick connection. The suggested server was chosen based on our own IP location. The default protocol is OpenVPN with 256-bit ciphers and NAT firewall was enabled (we will touch on this later).
Before connecting, it’s recommended to explore the app’s settings to fully customise your VPN connection. Having clicked on the settings icon, and then on Options, the client opened a separate window containing five tabs: Connection, Protocol, DNS, General and Account:
This tab lets us modify some basic connection settings, toggling ON/OFF on the following:
- Automatic Reconnect
- Connect on Start
- Kill Switch (i.e internet killswitch)
- Connect on Untrusted Wi-Fi – when on, this lets us to list untrusted networks, over which the client will be prompted to automatically connect
Here, we have a choice between four VPN protocols: Chameleon (256-bit), OpenVPN (256-bit or 160-bit), L2TP/IPsec (256-bit) and PPTP (128-bit).
Both OpenVPN and Chameleon include the option to tweak encryption levels between 160-bit and 256-bit ciphers.
Below Encryption Level, we can also configure port settings. The choice is out of Automatic and Manual, with a range between ports 443 and 15001-20000.
Automatic will tell the app to determine the best available port for your connection, factoring in location and any possible network restrictions
By default, the app is configured to use VyprDNS, and as VyprDNS servers are optimised for use alongside its VPN, we suggest having it selected. Granted – some of you may already be using preferred third party DNS servers. The client accommodates for this by allowing the user to enter another set of DNS addresses.
Out of third party DNS server options that do not log, we recommend OpenNIC.
The last field is a toggle switch for additional DNS leak prevention. According to the provider’s support team, this option acts as a ‘kill switch’ for DNS packet transfers in the event that Windows (and occasionally other operating systems) leaks your IP.
Here, we can alter settings for notifications. It’s quite nifty that we can even upload our own audio files from our computer for the sound notifications.
The app’s language can also be changed, and other available languages include French, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, German, Turkish and Mandarin.
The last options in this tab control which app stats and usage logs you would or would not prefer to send to the provider. Golden Frog states that this data is used strictly to improve development of the software.
Lastly, we have the Account tab. Here, you will find basic for-reference information like your Golden Frog username, account type and app version number.
When an update becomes available, the app displays a notification at the top, prompting the user to install the changes. This process was slightly inconvenient though, as the update prompted a full reinstall of the software. It would be much more convenient if minor updates could be installed locally the existing app.
Back at the server selection, we have multiple filters for sorting through the extensive list of endpoints. Sorting tabs include By Region and Favourites. Locations can be bookmarked by highlighting the star icon next to each server.
Back in the first tab, we are able to run an essential ping test, which gives us an idea about the fastest responding nodes relative to our location.
Having run the test, the app pushed the most suitable servers to the top of the list. As expected, the servers nearest to us – United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, France and Germany – all had the shortest ping response, ranging from 45 ms to 55 ms. This feature can really help users out when traveling. When the nearest locations aren’t the most obvious choices.
For this test, we connected to the nearest location – UK.
It’s worth noting that each VyprVPN app is configured to dynamically switch servers with each location in order to prevent overloading and avoid connections to unavailable nodes. Though it would be even better if there was an option to manually select individual server, as opposed to getting ferried around a local cluster.
Having click Connect, the app proceeded initiate the connection.
After a little over ten seconds, the VPN was up and running, and our original IP address had changed to a new VyprVPN IP. Also, after the connection was established, the app was measuring the speed of inbound and outbound traffic.
iOS and Android Apps
VyprVPN has applications for both iOS and Android mobile operating systems. The apps closely resemble their desktop counterparts, however the options choice differs between Android and its Apple counterpart.
For example, the iOS version only runs with L2TP/IPSec connections, whereas Android users have an advantage in that OpenVPN and Chameleon protocols are both available. In functionality and security, the Android version ranks on par with the desktop software.
VyprVPN on iPad
After installing the iPad app and then logging in, the application prompted us to install two of Golden Frog’s verified VPN certificates.
This made VyprVPN visible in the built-in iOS VPN client, but unlike some of the other providers, it didn’t require importing individual server profiles. This is convenient, as some of the other services tend to install profiles of every server, which in future would need to be deleted individually.
The interface looks no less than awesome. In fact, this is one the nicest looking iOS apps that we’ve come across to date. In its entirety, the screen is filled with an interactive world map, with which we are able to view and select out of various regional node clusters.
On the left side lies the connection status window, displaying either our original IP or the new IP when connected.
To bring up the full server list, we had to tap the pin located on the right side of the obvious Connect button. Similarly to the desktop client, we have the option to bookmark preferred locations and to run ping tests to find the fastest responding servers.
Once decided on the location, we had to tap the server to initiate the connection, and after a few moments, it was live.
The successful connection was confirmed on the main screen, where the new IP address is displayed and the connection timer had begun counting upwards. Plus, the native iOS VPN icon was now displaying at the top, right next to the wifi icon.
The one downside is that most iOS VPN applications currently do not support OpenVPN (including Chameleon). Therefore, the maximum grade encryption you can get without resorting to third party clients such as OpenVPN Connect is L2TP/IPsec with 256-bit keys. This is why VyprVPN have set this as the default protocol in the app.
Expecting more in Advanced Settings, we only saw three, relatively arbitrary options: switches for enabling crash reporting and a toggle for local connection logging. Not much of a variety.
Although not mentioned in the app, the company confirmed to us that VyprDNS was being used by default. Third party servers can be assigned manually in your iOS device’s settings, but not through the app itself.
VyprVPN on Android
Much like the desktop client, the Android client is packed with options including protocol selection, with the choice between significantly more secure OpenVPN and Chameleon protocols.
VyprDNS is selected by default and we are likewise able to use any other DNS addresses.
The app’s settings include the option for automatic connection. There are multiple sub-options within this field, including Connect When Android Starts, Connect When App Launches and Connect on Cellular data.
Back on the main Settings page, we can let the app know about trusted and untrusted wifi networks, and can set the client to automatically connect when using non-trusted networks.
Moreover, and this is a neat feature, we can even define which apps can prompt VyprVPN to connect automatically. For the sake of this overview, we selected Twitter, Viber and Chrome. This means that whenever any of these apps are launched, VyprVPN will automatically connect.
Back at server selection, we once again bookmarked a few preferred locations; this time France, Germany and USA (Texas). The ping test correctly indicated that the first two results (France and Germany) are closer to us, with responses under 100 ms (over a 3G data connection), while the south USA cluster responded in 180 ms.
There is also a choice to connect to the fastest available server, also based on the fastest ping response identified by the app.
We now proceeded to connect to the UK cluster. Once connected, the app displayed familiar indicators about our active connection, including information on our newly assigned IP, a real-time speed graph and a local connection log.
VyprVPN on Linux
VyprVPN offers downloadable Command Line Interface (CLI) for Linux (Ubuntu and Mint) systems. These can be found on the dedicated Linux setup instructions page on its website.
There are two installation packages, including for 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. Once the relevant package is downloaded, the user needs to install it using GUI or gdebi, after which the following command lines need be used to set up and connect:
- Log in to CLI with vyprvpn login
- Connect using command line vyprvpn connect
- Server locations can be viewed with command line vyprvpn server set
Testing out of Minnesota, United States with a 75Mb/s cable broadband connection:
- Chicago, USA with OpenVPN 160-bit: 29.86Mb/s
- Chicago, USA with OpenVPN 256-bit: 28.80Mb/s
- USA to Hong Kong with OpenVPN 256-bit: 6.29Mb/s
- USA to Sydney, Australia with OpenVPN 256-bit: 14.92Mb/s
Testing out of London, United Kingdom with a 17Mb/s ADSL connection:
- London, UK with OpenVPN 160-bit: 14.94Mb/s
- UK to New York, USA with OpenVPN 160-bit: 12.87Mb/s
- UK to Austin, Texas with OpenVPN 256-bit: 13.32Mb/s
- UK to Perth Australia with OpenVPN 160-bit: 10.80Mb/s
On its website, Golden Frog features a resourceful Knowledgebase section:
There is email and round-the-clock live chat support. Having submitted a query, the chat system loads up suggested forum topics.
During the writing of this review, we resorted to using live chat support on a few occasions. Each support assistant left slightly different impressions on us. Perhaps it was down to the volume of inquiries, but every answer is generally short and ‘crisp’. To the point where quite a lot of their responses were narrowed down to one-word answers.
On one hand, the answers were correct and down to the point, but on the other, newbie customers might have a hard time getting sufficient details to satisfy the full depth of their inquiries.
Saying that, there were a couple of agents who were that bit more detailed in their answers. On the whole, it never hurts to have live help at hand at any time of the day. Particularly as most other VPN providers have limited working hours for live chat support. In this case, it’s a plus for VyprVPN.
Dump Truck secure online storage
As a bonus, all VyprVPN accounts come with free, secure cloud storage; beginning from 10GB and going up to 50GB, depending on the chosen subscription.
Dump Truck is an alternative to services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Much like them, it allows users to share folders through permission management.
In terms of security, Golden Frog implements 256-bit AES encryption on all file transfers, storing three contingent copies of every uploaded file. Dump Truck is accessible through the Golden Frog web app – accessible through the client control panel. Files can also be managed on the go through the Dump Truck Android and iOS applications.
Update: As of November, 2015, Dump Truck has been discontinued by Golden Frog.
We have teamed up with Golden Frog to offer our readers an exclusive 50% discount off the first month on any of the VyprVPN subscription packages. To get this discount, just follow the link above.
VyprVPN offers three straightforward packages. You can choose between the Basic, Pro and Premier plans.
VyprVPN Basic [$9.99/month or $6.67/month when billed annually]
VyprVPN’s basic plan only includes PPTP encryption. Although sufficient for unblocking sites and achieving good connections speeds, the PPTP protocol is generally regarded as the weakest in terms of security. If you are after better privacy, we suggest considering the next two packages.
VyprVPN Pro [$14.99/month or $8.33/month when billed annually]
An upgrade from the Basic plan, VyprVPN Pro offers three simultaneous connections and all available encryption types.
VyprVPN’s website claims this is the most popular choice among customers, thanks to its mid-range price band and availability of all offered features.
VyprVPN Premier [$19.99/month or $10/month if billed annually]
The Premier plan is more expensive, but essentially, you would be paying for the option to connect to five devices at the same time. All other features are the same as on VyprVPN Pro.
This one’s regarded as the most exclusive package, though most of its features are identical to those offered with the Pro subscription.
Perhaps not known to many, VyprVPN actually offers registered users a free trial – a kind of a taster of the service. It comes with 500Mb per month and does not require you to enter any card details before purchasing one of the premium accounts.
To make use of this, you would just need to head to their website and create a free VyprVPN account, which will then be credited with 500Mb. Note that this option only comes with PPTP encryption.