Founded way back in 2008, Perfect Privacy is a Swiss VPN with a strong set of high-end, premium features.
The service doesn’t have any annoying bandwidth or traffic limits, for instance, and there are no restrictions on the number of connections you can use. Set up as many devices as you like, just as long as you’re the only person using them (as with all VPNs, Perfect Privacy forbids sharing your connection with others).
The company offers its own Windows and Linux clients. It’s OpenVPN-compatible, allowing you to set it up and use the service almost anywhere else. And there are a pile of technical extras, including proxies (with .onion support), IPv6 addresses on most services, and cascading through up to four VPN servers (in other words, you can pass your traffic through a sequence of servers to be even less traceable).
There’s also torrent support, port forwarding, tracker-blocking and anti-phishing, multiple layers of IP leak protection, and – well, you get the idea.
Catches? You ‘only’ get locations in 23 countries, and the service is around twice the cost of some very capable competitors at €13.49 ($14.50, £11.60, AU$19.20) for one month, €10.40 ($11.20, £8.90, AU$14.80) if you pay for a year – and further savings if you sign up for even longer.
There’s no trial, and only a very basic refund policy (the service needs to be unusable, and you must complain within the first week of usage).
Perfect Privacy has a very short and clear logging policy: “We do not monitor, review, log or store your communication/connection data.” There’s no logging of your activities online, or of any session data (times you’ve connected, bandwidth used and so on).
The company holds reassuringly few details about an account: just the username and password, email address provided and expiration date.
The website didn’t tell us much about procedures regarding subpoenas and when it might hand over any data, but when it barely holds anything in the first place, and is based in privacy-conscious Switzerland, there doesn’t seem much to worry about.
Browsing the rest of the small-print led us to an excellent ‘fair and reasonable use’ policy. Instead of the usual vague “don’t use too much bandwidth” statement, Perfect Privacy makes practical suggestions like “use the server status page to pick a server with currently low traffic” – and “not to use servers with less than a 50Mbit/s connection for… extremely large downloads or… P2P file-sharing”. Simple, helpful advice, and no ‘or we’ll terminate your account’ threat at the end? Now that makes a refreshing change.
Perfect Privacy’s setup process is very straightforward. The company only asks for your email address, payment works as usual, we were directed to the Windows client (and instructions for other platforms), and our credentials arrived via email within seconds.
The client itself is a little clumsy. Initially, the location list seems to be in a strange order (not just by country, or alphabetically), you can’t click or double-click a server to select it, there’s no single connect button (every server has its own), and there’s a greyed-out search-type icon with no tooltip to explain what it does.
Still, spend a few minutes exploring and you’ll begin to figure it out. The ‘plug’ icon connects an individual server. The search-like icon actually means ‘show’, and displays a live connection log. And if you don’t like the main interface, you’re able to choose a server, and connect/disconnect direct from the system tray icon.
Experienced users will love the Settings dialog, which provides a huge amount of fine control over the firewall and DNS options, IP and port settings, cascading and properties features, and more.
You get plenty of tweaks for the program, too. By default it shows the fastest servers on top, sorting them and everything else by name, but you can also place them in a single list, and sort them by country, ping or traffic levels.
The story is even better when it comes to performance, with Perfect Privacy roaring through all our tests* at high speed. UK-UK connections gave us downloads approaching 40Mbps as a minimum; switching to Los Angeles still saw us get 30Mbps or more. Even UK-Melbourne connections consistently achieved 15-20Mbps.
Finally, Perfect Privacy managed a perfect record in our privacy tests, protecting us from DNS, WebRTC and other leaks. And even if this doesn’t work quite as you’d like, no problem – the Settings dialog has a host of ways to tweak it to suit your needs.
Perfect Privacy is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve seen recently, and highly configurable, but it’s expensive. Try it if you need this level of power, but otherwise there are very capable VPNs around for a lot less money.
*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.