Anonymizer is a popular US-based service that has been protecting the privacy of its users for more than 20 years.
The Anonymizer website lists some appealing features: it works on just about every platform, there’s absolutely no logging, plus support for up to 6 devices. It’s not so up-front with the list of locations, probably because there are only two: San Diego and Amsterdam.
The service offers what it calls a 14-day trial with no payment details required, but there’s a catch. You can only use the Amsterdam server, which is no help at all if you’ll mostly be connecting to San Diego.
Anonymizer does give you the security of a 45-day money-back guarantee, but even that is spoiled by another catch. There’s no single month payment option where you can try the service at minimal cost, so you must pay a year up-front for $6.67 (£5.40, AU$8.80) a month.
You don’t have to look far to find Anonymizer’s logging policy, as it’s proudly displayed on the VPN plan summary: “ZERO Logging – None, no records of ANY of your online activity”. No ambiguity there.
Searching for further detail in the small-print takes a while, mostly because it’s around 13,000 words long. A lot of this is because Anonymizer includes OpenVPN, OpenSSL and other licence agreements in the text, but that’s little consolation when you’re scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling down the page wading through it all.
When we did find privacy references they generally confirmed the no logging policy: “Anonymizer keeps no record of internet protocol addresses visited attributable to your account”, and: “Anonymizer cannot correlate other than in real time any individual user with a visit of any individual website.”
There was one unusual ‘disallowed uses’ clause which may affect some: “You agree not to use a robot, such as ReGet, GetRight, Go!Zilla, or any similar programs, to download content continuously…”
The small-print also points out that the service is for personal, non-commercial use.
On the plus side, the refund policy mentions no bandwidth limits or other restrictions. If you want your cash back, just email and ask within the first 45 days.
Setting up Anonymizer wasn’t difficult, at least on our test Windows system. We downloaded and installed the client and it took care of the tricky bits itself.
The client’s interface was awkward to use. The main window looks like a regular Windows dialog, but can’t be moved – it’s always in a fixed position at the bottom right of the screen. If you click away on another desktop window the client minimises to your system tray, even if you were doing something. And when you initially connect, your status gets displayed in a separate window which stays on top of all the others (fortunately you can make this disappear).
You do get some handy settings, including the LeakBlocker (blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops) and Access Control lists (define which sites you can visit, and which you can’t, when the VPN is active).
In our testing*, Anonymizer’s performance was difficult to assess. As mentioned, there are only two locations, but we couldn’t use our regular tests, as for some reason the Speedtest.net site wouldn’t deliver usable results when connected.
Turning to other sites suggested we were getting download rates from 12Mbps to 28Mbps, depending on the location and time, but we have less confidence in those figures than usual. Be sure to run your own in-depth speed tests if you trial the service yourself.
Anonymizer’s unusually lengthy trial and money-back guarantee are strong points, but most of that enthusiasm disappeared once we realised there were only two locations, and overall there aren’t enough reasons to keep using the service once your trial is up.
*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.