During the Second World War, American soldiers coined the term "swiss army knife" from an inability to pronounce the word offiziersmesser. Those were the dark days of the Second World War with warring states, alliances, armies, and weapons, eventually resulting in global death and destruction. The world we live in now sees a new face of warfare which is subtle, covert and is carried out behind closed doors. This war has no bloodshed, but it is a war on civil liberties, privacy, and freedom. The Swiss-American connection is back to save us, and this time, in the form of a VPN service called VyprVPN. Let's see how well a job they are doing in this VyprVPN review.
VyprVPN Review Summary
VyprVPN Review: The Company
Company Rating: 4.5/5
Golden Frog GmbH is registered in Switzerland, which has superb privacy laws. However, it's founders, VPN servers and operations are all based out of the US. There is a blot on their otherwise impeccable record, in the form of an allegation on Giganews from an ex-employee. However, it is worth noting that the allegations were never proved to be true. The founders are involved in empowering the privacy community, take a stand on various privacy issues and are seen at public events. They also count trusted names like Reddit and Canonical as their business customers. Golden Frog gets a superb 4.5 stars in our company rating.
VyprVPN is owned and developed by Golden Frog GmbH, a company founded in December of 2009 by Ron and Carolyn Yokubaitis. This Lithuanian family has a diverse history of starting Internet companies (Giganews, and Golden Frog) and takes pride in founding Texas.net (now Data Foundry), which was one of the first 50 ISPs in the United States.
What is the Story Behind the Golden Frog Name?
During their time as Peace Corp volunteers in 1970, the founders Ron and Carolyn Yokubaitis were traveling through Panama. Golden Frog Coffee Bar was a popular local tourist spot during those days, and this name stuck with them from the visit. Nearly 40 years later in 2008, the Yokubaitises were back in Panama. Sadly, the cafe was no longer in business, but they discovered that the Golden Frog, which is incidentally the national animal of Panama, communicates with other frogs by waving at them. Intrigued by this piece of trivia, they decided to name their next Internet company Golden Frog.
Although all of it's employees works from offices in the US, Golden Frog GmbH is incorporated in Switzerland. Switzerland protects the right to privacy through Article 13 of the Swiss Federal Constitution [link to PDF], and VyprVPN keeps all its logs in Switzerland. Golden Frog has an interesting lineup of products which includes Cyphr, an encrypted messaging service and (now discontinued) Dump Truck, an encrypted online storage solution. All their products are geared towards creating a world where the end-user has increased control over their personal information and communications.
VyprVPN Review: UI and Features
UI and Features Rating: 4/5
VyprVPN has an impressive list of features. Besides all the common features of kill-switch, stealth mode and protocol switching, VyprVPN goes the extra mile in providing secure DNS, personal cloud VPN servers, and additional OpenVPN tweaks. However, it shows little interest in maintaining the anonymity of its users. That was a massive turn off for us. VyprVPN is a secure VPN service but does a half-baked job with privacy.
VyprVPN greets you with a simple and friendly UI. There is an easily noticeable Connect/Disconnect button placed quite well. A graph displays your uplink/downlink speed, and a panel below the graph displays additional connection details like the VPN protocol and connection uptime.
On their official website, VyprVPN claims to have over 200,000 global IPs, and more than 700 servers spread across 70 worldwide locations.
The server selection is intuitive. In addition to choosing or searching for a server location, you can filter servers by region and also see their ping time in realtime. Ping offers a quick and approximate estimate of server speed.
Personal Cloud Servers
In addition to the list of servers that are available to you by default, VyprVPN also lets you add personal cloud servers. This is particularly beneficial if you want to watch Netflix (Netflix's regional content is accessible through VyprVPN at the time of writing this post), which is currently engaged in a futile blocking game with VPN services. Besides, your personal cloud server lets you be the only one using that server at any time, which roughly translates to blazing fast VPN speeds.
To run VyprVPN cloud, all you need is a public IP. You can either obtain this by buying a server host from Digital Ocean or Amazon AWS, or get a public IP from your ISP and install a Virtual Box instance on one of your home-network devices. VyprVPN also provides detailed setup and troubleshooting guides for VyprVPN cloud, and their support fills the gap if you encounter any unknown issues during installation.
VyprVPN cloud's protocol support is limited to OpenVPN (256 and 160 bit), Chameleon and IPSec (only on the iOS app). It does not support L2TP/IPSec or PPTP.
Like many other VPN services today, VyprVPN too allows simultaneous connections. Based on which plan you choose, you will get either three (basic plan) or five (premium plan) simultaneous connections. This means that you can use the same VyprVPN account across devices and operating systems. However, VyprVPN does not allow sharing of accounts between multiple people, so all those multiple devices should belong to you.
Simultaneous connections with VyprVPN did not affect our VPN speed in any way. We are not sure if that is a feature, but it's nice to have nonetheless.
Security and Privacy Features
VyprVPN supports four VPN protocols- PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, and Chameleon. We have an excellent article where we talk about all these VPN protocols in detail. Coming to Privacy and Security, while VyprVPN offers some pretty strong security protocols, its privacy policies are weak.
VyprVPN's privacy policies are a curious mix of technical wizardry and risk mitigation for Golden Frog.
- 30 Days Logs- VyprVPN retains logs for 30 days. The contents of these logs are a) The user's source IP address, b) The VyprVPN IP address used by the user, c) Connection start and stop times and d) Number of transferred bytes. That is a lot of information, and can uniquely identify anyone. Although Golden Frog claims that it does not log the contents of any communication, it already logs enough information to defeat the purpose of using a VPN service if you are looking for a high degree of privacy.
- No Anonymous Payments- VyprVPN does not support anonymous payments. This too was a little disturbing. They offer payments only through Credit Card, PayPal, and Alipay, which are easy to trace back to anyone. While Bitcoin payments can be traced too, they divulge much less personal information than traditional payment methods.
- Dynamic IPs- VyprVPN uses dynamic IP addresses from its vast inventory of 200,000+ IP addresses. Sadly, this IP is tied to your account and can identify you uniquely because you are the only one using this IP at any given time. Again, that makes it pretty easy for VyprVPN to trace things back to you.
- DNS Leak Protection- VyprVPN comes with VyprDNS, an in-house secure DNS service, which, in addition to encrypting your DNS requests, also claims to be zero-log. This is some relief from the gloom that VyprVPN's privacy roundup has been so far in our VyprVPN review.
- Privately owned servers- VyprVPN claims full ownership of all its servers. There are no third parties involved in VyprVPN's VPN server setups. All its VPN servers are transit servers, and all connection logs are retained in Switzerland. That offers some much-needed relief.
Using a secure VPN alone is not enough these days. Your Operating System should be equally strong and secure. Read our complete guide on How to Protect your Online Privacy on Windows 10.
We asked VyprVPN
VyprVPN retains logs, and there is no anonymous payment method either. These are two anonymity conditions that many people look for in a VPN service. What are your thoughts on this and on anonymity (however limited it be) achieved with VPNs?
VyprVPN believes that no one can be truly anonymous on the Internet, and it claims that no VPN service can offer true anonymity either. They have even put up an article about this on their official blog. While this is true as a tautology, it does not warrant VPN services to go down a pessimistic path voluntarily. We expect more and better from VPN services.
VyprVPN has a dedicated page to talk about its device support, and it supports quite a few devices.
PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, Chameleon
AES 160-bit, 256-bit
Mac OSX 10.9 and higher
L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, Chameleon
AES 160-bit, 256-bit
However, what impressed us even more, was the number of platforms it supports. VyprVPN is not just available for phones and computers. You can also install it on routers, NAS (network attached storage) and QNAP (quality network appliance provider) devices.
They have also curated a supermassive list of VyprVPN manual installation guides for all their supported platforms.
We asked VyprVPN
Does VyprVPN perform deep packet inspection or shallow packet inspection on its network? How else does it send DMCA notices to its users?
While VyprVPN does talk about encryption strength, protocol, and device support, there is no disclosure of the authentication method or key-exchange. But we don't shy away doing some digging of our own.
We captured VyprVPN's SSL packets to look for this information and found that VyprVPN uses an Elliptical Curve Cipher Suite with AES 256-bit encryption and SHA-384 authentication in GCM mode (TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384). From a Cryptography 101 viewpoint, it uses a Diffie-Hellman key exchange (ECDHE) and 384-bit SHA for message authentication. This technical detail might cause a stir in my engineer's mind, but what it means for you is really strong encryption, faster initial connections, and faster subsequent VPN speed.
We asked VyprVPN
Who Hosts VyprVPN's Tunneling Servers?
Golden Frog owns and operates our own dedicated server clusters housed in premium Data Centers across the world.
We don’t operate individual VPN servers. Instead, we run VPN server clusters each consisting of hundreds of VPN servers. For example, other VPN providers offer uk1, uk2, uk3 server addresses, but we offer only one server option – uk1. Our VPN cluster is a group of individual servers optimized for performance and scalability regardless of the number of simultaneous connects.
We investigated this a little, and noticed in our packet captures that all our traffic was destined for IPs in the US that were owned by YHC Corporation, no matter which location we chose. YHC Corporation is part of Golden Frog's network of companies. The public IP address you get on the client app is simply a dynamic IP address assigned to your connection. Internally, VyprVPN has a complex mechanism of geolocating the dynamic IP in a particular region and load-balancing your connection through their datacenters. The destination IP in our packet capture was the IP address of the load-balancer, which is where our packet enters VyprVPN networks.
At times, you might lose connection to your VyprVPN server when your Internet connection disconnects and reconnects automatically. The Automatic Reconnect feature reconnects you to VyprVPN automatically in such a situation, without you having to intervene every time. This is a very useful feature and saves you from the nuisance of having to reconnect manually on an unreliable Internet constantly.
A kill-switch is a crucial part of any VPN service. Even if you are secured with a VPN for hours, a single leaking IP connection for a few seconds can defeat the purpose of using a VPN altogether. This kill-switch allows the VyprVPN client application to block your entire Internet connection until the time VyprVPN reconnects. This is an excellent failsafe feature and should be used with Automatic Reconnect.
VyprDNS: The Secure DNS
No matter how much of obfuscation, encryption and IP masking we do, our requests still have to resolve to IP addresses. This destination IP is fetched on the Internet through what is called a DNS query and that query has our actual public IP in it because the DNS query response has to come back to us. This causes a DNS leak. The only solution to this is a secure DNS service, and VyprVPN has just the right thing for this- VyprDNS.
Chameleon: The Stealth Mode
Chameleon is VyprVPN's proprietary technology based on OpenVPN. It uses strict 256-bit encryption and uses the unmodified OpenVPN underneath, with a scramble on top. This is a highly useful feature for use in China, and many users are known to have bypassed the Great Firewall of China using VyprVPN and its Chameleon protocol.
We asked VyprVPN
How does the Chameleon Protocol work? What additional security measures are added to OpenVPN? Does it use Obfsproxy? How is Chameleon different from other pluggable transports?
Chameleon is proprietary technology developed by Golden Frog which scrambles OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it's not recognizable through deep packet inspection (DPI) with minimal impact on performance. Chameleon uses the unmodified OpenVPN 256-bit protocol for the underlying data encryption. Though the Chameleon technology users are able to circumvent government, corporation, and ISPs that block or throttle VPN traffic.
VyprVPN is one of the few VPN providers which supports Bit Torrent protocol over its network. However, they make it clear in the ToS that illegal torrent downloads are not allowed. This means that you can only use VyprVPN to download legal torrents unless you want to be slapped with a copyright infringement. VyprVPN will also block your account and make you sign an agreement to refrain from such activities in future.
As we can see, VyprVPN boasts of an impressive list of features, and they deliver on those features. We especially liked the fact that VyprVPN gives you a proper warning, and disconnects you from the VPN server when you change the VPN protocol.
However, VyprVPN does not show any notification when you are already connected to a server and flip the kill-switch. This gives a false sense of security, a problem we found in our review of TunnelBear VPN service too. Warnings like these need to be loud and clear.
VyprVPN Review: Speed Test
Speed Rating: 4.5/5
VyprVPN has a huge list of servers in its inventory, and our speed test results revealed good consistent speeds from quite a few of those servers. Overall, this is a fast VPN network. Do not expect speeds same as your bare Internet connection, but you can rely on their servers for consistent good speeds.
VyprVPN Speed Test Results
As part of our VyprVPN review, we tested its speed across all its server locations at various times of the day. The extensive list of servers does not fit our speed test method accurately, so we have applied our test to each continent and taken day averages for each location. Here are the results.
Fastest VyprVPN Servers and Speed in Mbps
The top five VyprVPN servers are spread across continents in Asia and Europe.
We also computed the day average speed for these locations as percentages of our base ISP speeds.
Average Speed as Percentage of Base Internet Speed
Besides, here are the best one-time speeds we got from VyprVPN servers in the course of our tests.
Best Speed in Mbps
All our speed tests were conducted with OpenVPN protocol, which is the industry standard for VPNs. In addition to the above speed test, we noticed two additional features that can affect VyprVPN speed.
- L2TP/IPsec- Connections on L2TP/IPSec were 20% faster than OpenVPN connections
- PPTP- Connections over PPTP were 22% faster than OpenVPN
- Chameleon- VyprVPNs proprietary stealth mode was 35% slower than OpenVPN
Are you getting slow speed using VyprVPN? Read our guide on How to make your VPN connection faster.
VyprVPN review: Security Test
Our Rating: 4.5/5
VyprVPN has one of the best security capabilities in the entire VPN industry. It has a scrambling technology to bypass censorship, a secure DNS service to encrypt your DNS requests and perfect forward secrecy with secure key re-negotiations. However, not all the changes in VyrVPN's settings enforce a VPN server reconnect. Additionally, the Chameleon protocol could have been open source and open to peer-review and scrutiny. Still, we will give VyprVPN a good 4.5 starts for its toughened security implementation.
Tom's VPN Security Lab Tests
- We noticed a successful CHAP with PPTP protocol and also saw that it uses 128-bit encryption in the PPP CCP (Compression Control Protocol) packets.
- With L2TP/IPSec, we saw a quick key-exchange over ISAKMP packets and then the connection was encrypted and encapsulated with this key inside ESP packets.
- VyprVPN uses UDP and QUIC protocol for all data communications over the OpenVPN and Chameleon protocol. We noticed the same case in our review of TunnelBear VPN too.
Overall, VyprVPN passed all our encryption tests successfully.
TLS Handshake Test
The Chameleon mode hides TLS handshakes beautifully, and this feature makes it harder to block VyprVPN in countries like China. Moreover, all further key re-negotiations were conducted over the tunnel enforcing perfect forward secrecy in VyprVPN.
VyprVPN allows the use of BitTorrent over its network, but only for legal downloads. This criteria is something you should be careful about, because VyprVPN forwards DMCA notices to it's users for illegal downloads over their network.
In our packet capture test, BitTorrent connections through VyprVPN were all encrypted and went through the tunnel. However, there is a brief period after connecting to a VPN server when we saw BitTorrent packets arriving at our host machines from IPs all over the world. This is unavoidable for the very distributed nature of BitTorrent, but one should be careful about not jumping to using VyprVPN immediately after connecting to a server if you were using BitTorrent earlier.
VyprVPN has a perfect kill-switch that stops outgoing traffic completely. We took a packet capture with the kill-switch turned on, and saw that there were no packets being exchanged when we disconnected from the VPN server. The only time that our Internet connection was allowed to transmit was when VyprVPN was connected to a server. This is perfect and desirable.
However, the kill-switch does not work if you are already connected to a server. For the first time, turning on the kill-switch will require a VPN server reconnect.
Destination IP Test
When using a VPN, our packets should all go to our VPN server, and in no case to the website directly. This was true for VyprVPN. There was no direct connection to any website, and all our packets had the VPN server as the destination IP address.
Other online Security Tests
VPN security comes in two parts. The entire security protocol of a VPN service should be designed based on the expertise of their users because users can do unintended things that will break the best possible technical security measures. Once that is covered, hardening security with good encryption makes things better.
IPv4, IPv6, DNS and WebRTC Leak Test
To conduct these standard leak tests, we turned to our favorite online tool Doileak.com. Doileak is an excellent test of a VPN's leak protection capabilities, and VyprVPN tested negative for any IP or DNS leaks. This is a secure VPN service.
VyprVPN takes care of this but fails to do it completely. They have notifications for protocol changes. They have DNS leak prevention, and they do not leave anything to the user's vigilance. Their security and encryption standards are the strongest we have seen so far. But they failed to show any reconnect warning or notification when we were connected to a VPN server and turned the kill-switch on.
VyprVPN Review: Support
Support Rating: 5/5
VyprVPN has done a good job with support. A responsive live chat on the website, traditional support over email, and a contact form in the app provides easy support options for VyprVPN users. Full five stars here, perfect.
As part of our VyprVPN review, we went back and forth in communication with VyprVPN support over different kinds of issues. Their responses are prompt, professional, crisp and helpful. VyprVPN has three support options:
- Live-chat- Live Chat is the fastest way to reach VyprVPN. Live chat really works, is responsive and we got to talk to an actual support representative in under 5 minutes over live chat. We also tested dropping our live-chat session midway, and VyprVPN followed up via email the next day.
- Support over email- Email support is another way to reach VyprVPN support. VyprVPN replies to emails within a day.
- Contact Support from VyprVPN App- This is another option which also lets you send your application log; useful when support needs to investigate connection issues. We got replies from VyprVPN within an hour of contacting them using the support contact form on the app.
Overall, VyprVPN has all possible support options covered. They are not the most cheerful support team out there, but get the job done.
VyprVPN Review: Pricing
Pricing Rating: 4/5
Compared to other VPN services, VyprVPN is slightly pricey. But you get a large list of servers, good speed and strong security for this price, so it may be worth it if you are looking for all three of those features. There are no refunds- a trend found across the VPN industry, and you have to be vigilant in discontinuing your own three-day trial account. Considering all these factors, VyprVPN gets a generous 4 stars in our price review.
Unlimited Data Usage
3 simultanious Connections
US $3.75 / month
or US $9.95/mo billed monthly
3 Days Free Trial
Unlimited Data Usage
5 Simultanious Connections
Vypr VPN Cloud
US $5.67 / month
or US$12.95/mo billed monthly
3 Day Free Trial
VyprVPN used to have multiple plans with different pricing schemes, but have recently consolidated all of them into two, and it takes away a lot of confusion. As of today, VyprVPN comes in two usage plans for personal use. You can try both the packages for free for 3 days before deciding on any of them. This is clearly laid out in VyprVPN's Terms of Service.
- $9.95 per month, $3.75 if billed annually
- 3 simultaneous connections
- Access to all basic features
- Access to all VyprVPN servers
- $12.95 per month, $5.00 if billed annually
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Access to Chameleon stealth protocol
- Access to personal VyprVPN cloud servers
VyprVPN accepts payments from major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, JCB and Diners Club. Payments through PayPal and Alipay are supported too. However, there is not option to pay through Bitcoins, and VyprVPN has no intention of supporting Bitcoin payments as evident from this VyprVPN ideas forum thread.
We asked VyprVPN
Are there only two VyprVPN subscription plans as of now? Are there any mobile-only plans? Is there a difference in speed between the regular and the premium subscriptions?
VyprVPN was recently condensed into two plan types back in Mid-February to simplify our plan options and allow people to select our Premium level subscription if they desire additional encryption methods such as our Chameleon protocol method, and access to VyprVPN Server. All current plan types for VyprVPN give users access to all standard protocol options with no limitations to sever usage or speeds. We also have a VyprVPN Free option that allows users to sign up and test VyprVPN through a data cap, which can only be done directly through the application. Once a user runs out of data, they must upgrade to a paid subscription to continue using VyprVPN.
Although VyprVPN has simplified its packages into two, it does not offer refunds on either of the plans. Some customers claim to have gotten refunds from their Credit Card company through chargeback, but chargebacks are subject to further investigations, and this is not an ethical practice.
VyprVPN Review: Our Verdict
Overall Rating: 4.4/5
We have spent more than a month digging through a lot of information and performing repetitive tests for this VyprVPN review.
VyprVPN is an excellent VPN service and has an impressive list of features. From a proprietary VPN protocol that bypasses the Great Firewall of China, to a secure DNS service, to support for personal cloud VyprVPN servers- VyprVPN has perfected its game over the last seven years. This VPN service has aged well, like a good wine. They use really strong encryption and good optimizations for a fast VPN network. Their support is prompt and gives timely replies.
However, VyprVPN does come with its fair share of shortcomings. It retains logs for 30 days, does not accept anonymous payments, does not offer refunds and is a little more expensive than other players in the market who offer similar (or better) services.
Is VyprVPN Worth Paying For?
VyprVPN clearly mentions in its ToS that it only allows legal BitTorrent downloads. However, it does not penalize users for illegal BitTorrent downloads immediately. Instead, it waits for a few violations and then starts forwarding DMCA notices asking offending users to refrain from illegal torrent downloads. Is that a privacy leak? Absolutely.
If VyprVPN can identify you uniquely, it does not do a good job with its users' privacy. Privacy cannot be an "I see (and note down) everything, but won't tell anyone" deal. If you agree to use VyprVPN, (agree to its ToS), you agree to this kind of an arrangement.
Having said that, not everyone uses a VPN for privacy. Sometimes, people are just interested in unblocking that location-restricted video, or accessing that location-restricted service while in another country. For them, VyprVPN is great. It offers some splendid, fast and reliable servers, and their support team is pretty responsive. Their device support blew our mind. Last we heard from their team, Netflix is unblocked with VyprVPN and if it isn't, you can always install Vypr on your own cloud server and unblock Netflix's region-blocked content.
We recommend VyprVPN for:
- Basic web-browsing
- Streaming videos and geo-unblocking
- Usage across multiple devices
- VPN use during travel
Do you already use VyprVPN? Are you planning to give it a spin? Did we miss something in our VyprVPN Review? Do share your VyprVPN experience with us in the comments section.