Private Tunnel is headquartered just outside Silicon Valley in Pleasanton, CA.
They are the lead developers of OpenVPN, the cutting-edge VPN protocol used by all of today’s top companies.
That’s a big deal.
James Yonan, Private Tunnel’s CTO, is credited as the original author of OpenVPN. It was initially created 16 years ago in May 2001, and has been downloaded over 50 million times since then.
To say we had high hopes going into this Private Tunnel Review is an understatement.
So we purchased a paid plan and ran it through a battery of tests.
Here’s a data-backed, unbiased look at how they performed.
Private Tunnel General Info
|OVERALL RANK:||32nd out of 74 VPNs|
|SPEED:||3rd out of 74 VPNs|
|LOG FILES / JURISDICTION:||Minor logging / U.S.|
|COST:||$6/month or $35/year|
What Does Private Tunnel Do?
Private Tunnel hides your real IP address and locks-down your connections. That means you can securely connect to any public WiFi, without exposing any personal data.
They also will make sure all of your devices remain squeaky-clean of malware and viruses. Their site proudly boasts that they “prevent more than one million cyber attacks per day.”
You can also gain access to any network around the world. Not only will your private information stay private, but you’ll also get access to unrestricted content from around the globe.
Private Tunnel VPN Cons
1. Some Logging of App Usage
There are good news and bad news about Private Tunnel’s logging policy.
The good news is that they don’t track individual sites you visit or content you download. And they are pretty transparent.
The bad news is that they do log the time you spend connected to their service, plus the bandwidth you use. All of that data is dumped after two weeks, though.
We even confirmed this with a support rep:
They will also turn over aggregate information to “other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.” Those parties won’t be able to get their hands on your individual usage or anything like that. But they might still spam the crap out of you.
Private Tunnel’s Terms of Service also goes into a little more detail.
They warn you against using the service for any illegal activity. They admit they’ll send you newsletters and other marketing materials. And they also say that you might have to authorize your identity through a mobile device.
So even though they’re not going to specifically track the individual sites you visit, they are on top of many other facets and discourage any illegal activity (or else).
2. US Jurisdiction
Private Tunnel is technically owned by OpenVPN Inc., which operates out of Pleasanton, CA.
On the one hand, you know they’re legit.
They created the gold-standard protocol. And both California plus U.S. regulations are stiff.
But that’s also part of the problem.
Because on the other hand, a Northern California address means they’re in right in the heart of the 5 Eyes Surveillance Alliance.
The U.S. is one of the founding members of this worldwide espionage group that freely shares information.
That means along with the other four founding members (Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand), plus the extended 14 Eyes, your data could be shared with half the civilized world.
Private Tunnel’s terms already warn that they’ll hand over data if questioned by authorities. So this scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
3. Doesn’t Seem To Work With Netflix
Winter isn’t coming. It already came back in January 2016.
That was when Netflix started blocking VPN servers in droves, cutting off access for millions of people who were trying to bypass geo-licensing restrictions.
Dismally, Hulu also jumped on the bandwagon around the same time.
One by one, different streaming services started to get tough with VPN IP’s they recognized. Logically, they started going after most of the big players in the market because they had the most users.
That included Private Tunnel.
We tested Netflix on five different servers and found that all of them were blocked.
- New York blocked
- Chicago Blocked
- London blocked
- Canada blocked
- Netherlands blocked
They also explicitly say there’s a good chance geo-restricted services, like pretty much all streaming services, won’t work. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu are specifically named.
If you need a VPN that works with Netflix, take a look at this list.
4. Torrenting Is NOT Allowed
The short answer is no.
The longer answer is that they don’t restrict it on all of their servers. But they don’t recommend it.
P2P traffic is not allowed on most of their existing servers. And for the ones where it’s not, they warn (a) that you’ll probably have issues, or (b) illegally downloading copyrighted material is against their TOS.
5. Only Handful of Servers, No Kill-Switch
Private Tunnel offers access to over 50 servers in 12 different countries.
That’s VERY low compared to many other VPNs.
So if this VPN gets crowded, you should expect some decline in speeds.
Furthermore, there was no kill switch in sight, either.
That means you could be at risk if your connection unexpectedly drops, exposing your real IP address.
This was one of the biggest drawbacks I found.
Private Tunnel VPN Pros
1. Very Fast VPN Servers
I’ll admit it:
There was A LOT riding on this speed test.
First, they’re the technical geniuses behind the industry-standard technology.
Second, they’re openly boasting about using a lower encryption standard to strike a balance between security and performance.
But they didn’t let us down.
Private Tunnel is the third fastest VPN we’ve tested.
Yes, they’re slightly cheating with a lower bit encryption. However, you still can’t take much away from their results.
We chose two of their servers at random, one in the Netherlands and another in the U.S.
First up, the EU:
EU speed test:
- Ping: 35ms
- Download: 90.59 Mbps (6.6% slower than 97 Mbps benchmark)
- Upload: 46.37 Mbps (12.6% slower than 53 Mbps benchmark)
Those EU speeds are awesome. This was the fastest EU server we tested out of 74 different VPN services.
Admittedly, though, the U.S. server performed a little worse:
US speed test:
- Ping: 121ms
- Download: 69.29 Mbps (28.6% slower than 97 Mbps benchmark)
- Upload: 24.62 Mbps (53.6% slower than 53 Mbps benchmark)
That gave Private Tunnel a combined download total of 159.88 Mbps, placing them number three in the fastest VPNs list we compiled.
2. Safe and Secure
Unsurprisingly, Private Tunnel uses their own OpenVPN protocol.
This technology was built on top of the very same TLS protocol that HTTPS uses.
Except it goes one better, by always creating a new TLS session each time it’s used. So you get the same security level SSL, but without the potential vulnerabilities.
Curiously, Private Tunnel only opts for a 128-bit AES-GCM encryption.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still very secure. But it’s not technically as secure as the 256-bit option employed by other VPN’s we’ve reviewed.
Private Tunnel even addresses this distinction.
They claim the difference is negligible because most hacks don’t go after the encryption algorithm. Instead, they go after “the way encrypted data is processed.”
The other added bonus a 128-bit encryption is that your connection should be much faster.
It requires less resources, so you should see a bump in performance.
Just for good measure, we also tested this speed claim. The results are down below.
3. No DNS Leaks or Malware Found
Bad VPNs will often ‘leak’ your personal data without you even realizing it. For example, up to 70% of VPN Chrome extensions might leak your DNS.
That would not only give up your session data, but also your location.
That’s why we put every VPN company through a series of six tests.
Private Tunnel passed with flying colors:
- https://ipleak.net/ (none found)
- https://www.perfect-privacy.com/check-ip/ (none found)
- https://ipx.ac/run (none found)
- https://browserleaks.com/webrtc (none found)
- https://www.perfect-privacy.com/dns-leaktest/ (none found)
- http://dnsleak.com/ (none found)
We also ran their desktop app install files through VirusTotal.com and they also looked spotless.
4. Multiple Devices Supported
Private Tunnel has native apps for all of the major platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS.
They also have an app for the Amazon Appstore, too. So you can protect all Kindle Fire devices and presumably SmartTV’s using a Firestick.
Private Tunnel works on Linux, but you’ll need a little technical know-how to get it running. You’ll need to use the command-line OpenVPN client with the config file from their site.
OpenVPN’s pervasive use means it will also work well on routers. Currently, that list includes Vyatta, pfSense, DD-WRT, OpenWrt and Tomato.
Unfortunately, no other game consoles or SmartTV’s (outside of Amazon-enabled ones) are compatible.
I also tried using the Tor Browser while connected to the VPN and it wouldn’t let me.
So it looks like you’re unable to double-up on privacy.
It’s also worth mentioning that Private Tunnel allows a maximum of 3 devices.
5. Simple to Use
Installing Private Tunnel on a desktop device was painless.
The app is simple and user-friendly. When logging on and connecting for the first time, you’re guided through the process in just a few seconds.
There is a giant “Connect” button. And after you’re connected, it changes to a giant “Disconnect” button.
Changing servers takes only two mouse clicks. You can set the app to auto-start, while also setting a connection timeout for when the app will move on to the next server in case of an unsuccessful connection attempt.
I cycled through a few servers and it was near flawless.
The app seemed pretty stable and didn’t lag at all. It also didn’t crash the entire time I used the VPN.
6. Quick and Helpful Customer Support
Private Tunnel provides the full gamut of support.
- 24/7 Emails
- Live Chat Support
- Knowledge Base
- FAQ section
There currently is no phone support. And email tickets are only answered during normal Pacific Time business hours (9am-5pm).
I sent them an email just to test and it only less than two hours for them to respond. Not bad!
Otherwise, their chat support agent was also fast, friendly, and knowledgeable.
Pretty good all around!
Private Tunnel VPN Cost, Plans & Payment Options
The Private Tunnel pricing plans are simple.
They each start at the same price point of $6/month or $35/year.
I like that they offer a true month-to-month option. But at six bucks, it puts them around the middle of the pack.
Otherwise, the $35 for a full year is a pretty good deal.
The main difference in plans is that the second one (“Flexible”) lets you continue adding as many devices as you want to pay for.
You also get a seven day free trial with both. Neither requires a credit card upfront.
Currently, they accept everything from major credit and debit cards to PayPal and even Apple gift cards (through their iOS app).
They currently don’t accept any cryptocurrencies or other anonymous currencies.
Private Tunnel uses external payment processors, though, so none of your bank or account details are kept on their servers.
We did, however, find one tricky statement in their Terms of Service. Basically, it says that their service is provided on an ‘as-is’ basis and that they’re not liable for any losses or damages. Refunds also won’t be given.
Admittedly, I’m not exactly sure how they’re going to enforce that. So keep it in mind before moving forward.
Do We Recommend Private Tunnel VPN?
No. Here’s why…
Private Tunnel is a solid company with legit experts.
You can trust the reputation and expertise behind the company.
What you can’t trust, however, is their U.S. jurisdiction for starters.
Comparatively, they’re sacrificing security a bit to deliver quick speeds. So it’s not really a fair fight with most of the 256-bit connections we’ve tested.
There’s no kill switch. They don’t really allow torrenting or connecting to TOR. And all five servers we tried were blocked from streaming Netflix.
Hence it’s not listed as one of the best VPNs.
Add your own review:
Have you used Private Tunnel? Or maybe using it? Don’t hesitate to leave us an honest, unbiased review. Do it below :).