VPN.AC in a Nutshell
VPN.AC offers a number of features that go above and beyond what you get from a standard VPN service — especially at the VPN.AC price points (discussed below). They include:
- Support for OpenVPN, LT2P/IPsec and PPTP protocols.
- Custom apps for Windows, Mac OS/X and Android. Other operating systems are supported via generic VPN apps. VPN.AC has good setup instructions for all major platforms.
- VPN servers in fifteen countries in Europe, North America and Hong Kong. That is somewhat less coverage than the typical VPN provider, but VPN.AC does have servers in the countries that are likely to be most appealing because of their liberal Internet access policies, such as the United States.
- “Virtually unlimited” bandwidth, by which the company means monthly data transfers are capped at 1 terabyte. Most people are unlikely to hit this limit, even if they share a lot of files.
- Up to three connected devices at a time — more than the standard two devices that most companies allow.
- BitTorrent is supported (although you have to use specific VPN servers).
VPN.AC makes strict guarantees regarding privacy. It promises that “we do not log/monitor any kind of user activity such as visited web-sites, emails, files transferred, instant messages, DNS queries, etc.” The only thing it does log, according to the company, is “some connection logs (to our VPN service) for security and support purposes.”
Most VPN providers claim to have a “no-logs” policy. But few are as specific as VPN.AC about what exactly they do log. (And it is unlikely that any company keeps absolutely no logs, since some types of connection logs are necessary for maintaining VPN servers themselves, as VPN.AC notes.) We like that VPN.AC is very open and transparent about its logging practices, and makes realistic promises.
The company also offers privacy protection by using shared IP addresses. That means that multiple users who are logged into the VPN appear to have the same IP address. As a result, associating online activity from a particular address with a specific person is essentially impossible.
VPN.AC also supports several private payment options. PayPal and Bitcoin are its main payment methods, but it also allows credit and debit cards, prepaid cards, wire transfers and payment by SMS. The range of private payment methods adds to the privacy features of VPN.AC.
Software and Applications
VPN.AC is notable for offering custom apps for not just Windows, which is most typical, but also Mac OS/X and Android. The apps are well designed and stable. They make it easy to configure different VPN options — such as which server to connect to and which protocol to use. These features are not usually available in generic VPN apps — so having them on OS/X and Android as well as Windows is a plus.
We found the performance of VPN.AC to be decent, but not excellent. On average, download speeds when logged into the VPN were as much as 40 percent lower than the bandwidth available while using a standard connection. That is a significant drop. Given that other VPN services usually provide download bandwidth that is only about fifteen percent lower than a standard connection, VPN.AC does not shine in the performance category.
That said, some VPN servers from VPN.AC offered much better performance than others. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the performance drop will be less significant if your base Internet connection is on the slower side (under about 25 megabits). In other words, unless you have a high-bandwidth connection from your ISP, the speed reductions when logged into VPN.AC are not likely to be very different from the performance you get when not using a VPN.
Lastly, note that some of the performance drops may be the result of VPN.AC’s relatively small network of servers. With locations in only fifteen countries, VPN.AC covers less geographic area than some of the larger VPN providers. That is not necessarily a bad thing for everyone. But it means that performance is likely to be lower if you are connecting from a region far away from the company’s servers, like South America and the Middle East. On the other hand, if you are in East Asia or Europe, VPN.AC is likely to deliver better performance because it has VPN servers designed to serve customers based in those regions.
Customer Service and Company Size
One of the ways in which VPN.AC tries to stand out from the competition is by keeping things small. The company says it offers “a better customer support experience: we do not externalize support. Here, you talk directly to those who designed and implemented the entire VPN service from A to Z.”
We did not need to contact customer support, since we had no problems. But the thoroughness of the documentation on the company’s website gives every reason to believe that the VPN.AC team is dedicated and competent.
Price and Cost
VPN.AC offers competitive pricing. It starts at $4.80 per month for a year-long plan. Per-month pricing is $9.
Also of note is that the company offers a seven-day trial period. That’s longer than most other providers, whose trials are usually in the range of one to three days. If you are attracted to VPN.AC but are worried about the performance drops noted above, the extended trial period is a good way to make sure the speeds will be acceptable before committing.