Launched in June 2015, SecureVPN is a US-based VPN provider which can be used on just about any device and network.
The company grabbed our attention immediately with its free plan. This has notable restrictions – a maximum 20 minutes per session, 1000MB data transfer per month, and it only allows one device to be connected at a time – but this could easily be enough for occasional emailing or browsing on Wi-Fi hotspots.
The commercial Premium plan drops all these limits, and adds support for five simultaneous connections, far better than most of the competition.
Prices are a fraction higher than average at $7.99 (around £6.50, AU$11) per month, $5.83 (around £4.70, AU$8) if you pay annually ($69.99 total – around £55, AU$95), but that’s still far cheaper than many. Is the service worth your cash? Time to dig deeper…
The content of the policy isn’t quite as reassuring. There’s a clear statement that the company “does not collect or log any traffic or use of its VPN”, but it does collect the external and internal IPs for every service connection.
Another clause says “we may collect and disclose personal information, including your usage data, to governmental authorities or agencies… at their request or pursuant to… legal process, if there is a good faith belief that [this] is required by law.” In other words, they won’t necessarily wait for a court order to hand data over: if an agency asks, and SecureVPN thinks they have a good case, that’s enough.
The terms of service page also caught our attention for a couple of lesser issues. Bandwidth may be scaled back or throttled for specific resource-hogging accounts, or if the entire network is under heavy load. And the company reserves the right to close the account of any user at any time, without giving any notice or reason. Other services have sort-of similar clauses, but SecureVPN’s seem notably more in favour of the company, rather than the end user.
SecureVPN provides apps for Windows, iOS, Android and Mac. It can be set up to work on other devices, too, although the website doesn’t have much detail or support on this.
We grabbed a copy of the Windows client. Installation took a little more work than usual, as we negotiated some Windows driver and firewall-related alerts, but it wasn’t a difficult process and we were ready to go within a minute or two.
Getting online was easy, because the client has no settings beyond its very short list of just five locations: Luxembourg, India, Netherlands, Singapore, US. Choose one, click Connect and you’re online within seconds.
In our tests*, SecureVPN’s performance was a little below average, with latency anything up to twice what we’d get normally, and transfer rates falling by up to 60% compared to our normal speeds.
We also noticed that speeds were very inconsistent across our various tests. That’s annoying if you’re browsing, but may indicate other problems, including a shortage of bandwidth. It’s a definite case of ‘buyer beware’.
The free plan is definitely an interesting option for light users, plus SecureVPN’s support for five simultaneous connections is welcome. But there are issues here on the performance front, with limited locations, and indeed with the outfit’s terms and conditions – plus this isn’t a cheap VPN, either.
*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.