For a VPN service to build a relationship with its users, it needs to offer complete privacy at fast speeds.
This includes a secure network, fast server connection, and top-notch encryption. It needs to give you a reason why browsing the internet with privacy is worth your money.
Bitdefender VPN dresses like a service that can go head-to-head with big-name VPNs since it comes from a big player in the antivirus market.
However, it falls short on speed, customer support, and privacy policies.
In a nutshell, Bitdefender VPN offers a free version with the data capped at 200mb a day and strong tunneling protocols such as OpenVPN instead of PPTP.
The good stops there, however, Let’s start with the pros and then head over to the cons.
BitDefender VPN Pros
1. No IP Leaks Found
The biggest reason why you’re getting a VPN service is to browse the internet with privacy. Without that, what’s the use of paying for one in the first place right? Thankfully, Bitdefender VPN is quite secure.
I put the VPN provider through a number of tests by using its United States server:
- https://ipleak.net/ (none found)
- https://www.perfect-privacy.com/check-ip/ (none found)
- https://ipx.ac/run (none found)
- https://www.perfect-privacy.com/dns-leaktest/ (none found)
- http://dnsleak.com/ (none found)
It had Zero DNS leaks, which is good:
The VPN also did a good job hiding my IP address and geolocation:
So far, this product takes its private networks seriously for its users to take advantage of. A secure VPN network means that you can use a public wi-fi with an anonymous profile.
2. Almost Clean Installer Files
It would be a shame and quite ironic that the VPN app of an Antivirus company would come riddled with red flags. This is not the case, however, as the app does not contain a single virus for you to worry about.
I ran the Windows installer through VirusTotal Scan and here are the results:
Note that one scanner flagged the file red but don’t worry about this. Cases in which one scanner found a “suspicious” file while all the others did not is called a false-positive. It simply means that said scanner doesn’t know about the file and flags it as a virus.
The VirusTotal scan for the Mac app came clean as well:
3. Romanian Jurisdiction, No Data Retention Law
Bitdefender VPN is based in Romania (headquarted in Bucharest) which means it’s far from the reaches of the 14 eyes.
The 14 eyes is a coalition of different countries that have the power to take data and information from those under them.
As for Bitdefender VPN, the service is not obligated to hand over information of any kind. Their data protection method remains tightly secured.
Just remember that even Bitdefender VPN will give out specific data to cooperate with ongoing investigations and the like. This can happen to any VPN service regardless of location.
4. Unblocks Netflix
Netflix wants to entertain its users, but it doesn’t like those that use a proxy server or a VPN. Well, not for the case of Bitdefender VPN.
The front page of the product mentions that it “unlocks media all over the world” and it looks like Netflix is part of it.
I tested out six random servers and 3 out of 6 unblocked Netflix.
- Hong Kong (blocked)
- United States (blocked)
- Australia (blocked)
3 servers blocked may sound worrying, but do remember that you have the option to change the server location.
This is great news for most users because they don’t have to compromise entertainment for their security needs.
5. Easy To Use App
Installing Bitdefender VPN is a pain in the neck especially if you’re not too tech-savvy.
However, once everything is up and running, the overall usability of the product is pretty simple.
Once opened directly or through the main Bitdefender Dashboard, you’ll notice that the app window is small and the interface takes on a minimalist look. You can click on the “Connect” button and that’s it.
The premium version offers you a number of server locations to choose from. The locations are named by country and not by the city. There is a total of 27 server locations.
The app also offers access to its settings but the functions present are quite bare with options to disable launch on startup and securing your wifi if you’re in public. The “Support” tab will send you directly to the customer support page on their website.
The free version of the VPN will not allow you to pick your location.
6. Allows Torrenting
Bitdefender VPN doesn’t really say much about the important features that a VPN should offer. Instead, it uses terms like “access media” which is a very broad and vague statement. I had to go through their customer support to confirm whether or not they do allow you to torrent and if it limits P2P access.
Their customer support states that:
“It should not block torrenting.”
This is generally good news for most because torrenting plays a big part in a lot of users; the premium version’s unlimited bandwidth also helps reinforce this feature.
BitDefender VPN Cons
1. Very Slow Speed Performance
A number of VPNs that come from Antivirus companies always fall on their connection speed. Bitdefender VPN shares the same fate. I tested their connection speed on six random servers and all were well below 70%. That’s not very good.
This is my base internet speed without the VPN:
- Ping: 10ms
- Download: 50.51 Mbps
- Upload: 48.79 Mbps
These are the six servers I tested it on:
- United States
- Hong Kong
The fastest that the VPN got to was on its United States server which also happened to be the most optimized:
- Ping: 178ms
- Download: 10.11 Mbps (80% slower)
- Upload: 45.42 Mbps (7% slower)
Japan had the best results in their Asian server, but was still pretty bad:
- Ping: 264ms
- Download: 4.68 Mbps (90.7% slower)
- Upload: 19.82 Mbps (59.4% slower)
The Netherlands server came out on top on their EU servers but it’s nothing to brag about:
- Ping: 476ms
- Download: 3.81 Mbps (92.5% slower)
- Upload: 1.68 Mbps (97% slower)
Overall, Bitdefender VPN failed to even break a connection speed that’s near 50% of my base speed. I tested out a few more random server locations and they couldn’t even beat the ones listed above.
2. Lack of Information
I mentioned at the beginning of the review that Bitdefender uses broad words in describing the features that it has. They don’t exactly go into detail on what the product offers.
- The server count and country coverage.
- If the product allows Torrenting.
- If it unblocks Netflix.
- The tunneling protocols that it uses and whether or not you can change them.
- Its logging policy.
- The refund policy (found in the main Bitdefender website)
Most of the information that’s missing is quite important, leaving them blank leaves more questions than answers.
I was forced to ask their customer support for the info listed above. Speaking of their customer support.
3. Disappointing Customer Support
Bitdefender VPN’s customer isn’t entirely bad, it’s just underwhelming and really disappointing. A weak customer support department just further degrades the overall quality of an already bad VPN service.
Let’s start with their Chat Support, which is probably what most users would go straight for.
Slow and Ill-Informed Chat Support
To get to customer chat support, you can access it at the footer of their website.
Click “Support” and you’ll be taken to a separate page that groups home support and businesses support users. Click on the group that you belong to; most of the time it’s as a home support user. Once there, you’ll have access to their chat support.
The first thing you’ll notice is the big “Ask Luna” that pops up when you choose the aforementioned option. Luna is a virtual assistant that can answer basic questions regarding the product e.g. How do you install the VPN, Upgrading your subscription, etc. You can get a live agent if you want to by asking Luna.
Unlike Luna, however, their live agents may take a very long time to get through. It may take a few minutes or nearly an hour before a live rep is finally available.
I asked about their protocols first and the support rep present wasn’t able to answer it. Instead, I was told that my question would be forwarded to their “colleague from the second level of support”. My question would be answered via email a day and a half later:
The same goes for most of the questions I asked about their product.
On the bright side, the questions they failed to answer didn’t require me to ask it again via email. All I had to do was wait.
Average Email Support
Their email support did a lot better than I expected.
Questions usually take a day to be answered. However, I did start to notice that their first reply will always be a link that leads to their FAQ page.
You can reply to the email to get a better and more direct answer to your problem or question.
4. Powered by Hotspot Shield
The first time I opened the VPN app, I noticed that it was powered by Hotspot Shield.
What does this mean exactly? Well, this could mean that the VPN itself uses a lot of the features of Hotspot Shield or it could simply be a reskin of the said VPN.
Why is this bad? It’s bad because Hotspot Shield VPN has a suspicious logging policy and it’s had its fair share of controversy in the past years.
The biggest one being the allegations that Hotspot Shield is abusing user data by redirecting traffic from their free service. In layman’s terms, it’s not following its own logging policy.
Speaking of their logging policy.
Suspicious Logging Policy
CSIRO has conducted a study revealing Hotspot Shield to collect and sell their users’ information to advertisers. The service is free which means it’s already partnered with third-party advertising companies that allow it to remain free.
5. Allows TOR but has Limited Tunneling Protocols and No Kill Switch
A lot of VPN providers today use different tunneling protocols. Each protocol is a lot better at doing one thing over another; some favor speed over security and vice versa.
Allowing their users to switch between different protocols provides flexibility that caters to different types of usage. The same cannot be said for this VPN.
The VPN provider only uses two protocols. This information comes straight from their “second level of customer support”:
- OpenVPN for Windows and Android.
- HydraVPN for iOs and macOS.
That’s it. They only have two protocols for encryption available. Granted, OpenVPN is very secure unlike other protocols such as PPTP but having only OpenVPN limits your flexibility.
There is no option to change or switch protocols. You are simply left to rely on their encryption. In the event that it fails, you have no other choice but to be vulnerable.
No Kill Switch
Another feature missing from Bitdefender VPN is the absence of a killswitch. A kill switch is essential if you’re trying to protect your privacy, it basically cancels your internet connection if the VPN cuts out thus protecting you from exposing your public IP address.
There is no such feature or mechanic present in Bitdefender VPN. I asked customer support and all they had to say was “you can always connect and disconnect from the VPN.”
The lack of a kill switch is only made worse because they only have two protocols that are not interchangeable.
6. It’s Not A Standalone App
I commended Bitdefender VPN for its overall easy usability. However, getting to that can prove to be a bit difficult because the VPN is not a standalone application. In order for you to install it, Bitdefender Total Security must be installed first.
If you’re installing it on your desktop computer or laptop, you are required to uninstall your current antivirus software. Depending on what it is, you might have to do a few digging on how to properly uninstall it in the first place.
After it’s set up, you’ll have to activate your Bitdefender VPN subscription separately.
Having to install another app is quite cumbersome to people who just want to use the service immediately after purchasing it.
Pricing, Payment Plans, Payment Methods
Bitdefender Premium VPN offers two types of payment plans:
- Monthly: $6.99
- Yearly: $39.99
If you want to buy but you’re unsure, there is a free version of the VPN. It has a data cap of 200mb a day and it doesn’t allow you to pick a server location.
Take note that you will see the option to buy the product on the front page of the website. However, this option covers the purchase of Bitdefender Total Security as well, the number of devices you want it to be available in, and the type of subscription. There is a detailed comparison of each payment plan below it.
Bitdefender Premium VPN offers different payment methods:
- Credit Card
- Wire Transfer
As for their refund policy, the product has a 30-day money back guarantee. You can get the refund through their customer support.
Do I Recommend Bitdefender VPN?
No, I do not.
There are just too many drawbacks from using the product. It’s quite clear that its ties to Bitdefender Total Security make it more of a supplemental service. If you’re looking for the right VPN, then this ain’t it, sadly.
Yes, it’s cheap, secure, and even easy to use, but it’s also slow, lacks a lot of essential features, and it’s powered by a different VPN that has a shady history. Furthermore, it’s not a standalone app, you’re buying something else alongside it.
My advice? Save up for a more high-quality VPN service like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or Private Internet Access. If you can’t afford those, then know that there are a lot more VPN providers that are better than Bitdefender VPN in almost every way.
P.S. I’m always interested in hearing your own opinions on the product. If you are or have used AVG Secure VPN, then leave a review! Let us know how your experienced differed.