VPNArea is a small, Bulgarian-based VPN company that was founded in 2012. It’s owned by an off-shore company called Offshore Security EOOD.
According to their website, they have 212 server locations in 70 countries. Their LinkedIn page shows 11-50 employees, so it seems legit first pass.
They claim themselves as “High-Speed VPN service rated #1.”
Sounds good on the surface, but let’s see what we’re going to find out in this VPNArea review.
First, the basics.
|OVERALL RANK:||#24 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Easy to use|
|LOG FILES:||No Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||70 countries, 230 servers|
|SUPPORT:||Live Chat, Good response times|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||256-bit AES, OpenVPN|
What Does VPNArea Offer?
VPNArea prides itself on speed.
That includes their 200+ server network, which spans across 70 different countries. The vast majority of which are located in the U.S. and Europe (with a few sprinkled around in Asia, South America, along with a couple in the Middle East and Africa).
When you compare that number to some other networks like ExpressVPN (2000+) or PIA (3000+), it’s not very big. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
VPNArea is quick to point out that their ‘customer-to-server’ ratio is among the best in the industry, which should translate to better performance and speed for everyone.
Specifically, they have one server dedicated for 250 customers, which results in a “13 times better members:server ratio” than their competitors. What does that mean?
In other words, they don’t ‘oversell’ their servers that end up just jeopardizing performance for everyone else. They keep a watchful eye on the number of customers they have relative to available servers. Instead of just jamming as many people as possible on their servers and jeopardizing performance for everyone else, they purposefully monitor each so you’ll only have great performance experiences.
They also have a feature that will show you how many users are on a server currently. That even means you can search and select a server with zero users to ensure the best results possible. (In addition, you can search by speed too if that’s the primary concern at the time.)
VPNArea has applications available for every single major device, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can connect up to five different device connections at a single time.
You should have unlimited access when using these devices, because there’s absolutely no throttling, downloading, or other restrictions.
And you might be able to get unlimited devices with your unlimited access by connecting through one of their FlashRouters partner setup. These pre-configured routers make it super easy to setup DD-WRT firmware and lock-down your entire internet connection.
You can also use this workaround to encrypt both smart TVs and game consoles, too.
If your VPN connection suddenly dropped and disconnected, there’s a kill switch feature that will protect against your IP address popping up all of a sudden.
There’s also an “Auto IP Changer” feature that will automatically switch your IP address however often you’d like (often down to minutes).
And on top of that handy feature, is an “Anti-DNS Leak” to protect your real IP address. Here’s how it works.
Whether you like it or not, internet providers can still gain access to see which domain names you’re visiting (even when your VPN connection is running). The reason comes down to how your devices will use DNS servers of your internet service provider to change hostnames into IP addresses (when accessing).
So this Anti-DNS Leak feature will allow you to go into your DNS servers and select different ones based on available countries.
If you’ve already read enough to like what you see, VPNArea offers a 7-day money back guarantee.
VPNArea Pros +
1. They use OpenVPN and it comes with many perks
VPNArea’s primary VPN client is called Chameleon, which is an OpenVPN-based program.
While they do support a few other protocol options, they don’t recommend them. Here’s why.
OpenVPN is the ‘industry-standard’ protocol, relying on the rock-solid SSL encryption that’s used by SSL certificates to lock down all major websites you use on a daily basis. There are currently no known security vulnerabilities and it’s standard encryption algorithms (more on that in the next section below) are among the best in the business.
Now, compare that to other protocols, like PPTP, which only feature the most primitive (if any) security encryption. So while they might do the trick for bypassing or re-routing IP addresses to change your ‘visible’ location, they still pose a tremendous risk for anyone worried about their session data getting hijacked.
That extends to popular cloud-based, file management services like Dropbox or Google Drive. These don’t require you to login each and every time you want to sync what’s on your device and what’s in the cloud. Instead, you have a “synchronization token” which will keep an open connection between the two.
The problem, is that if someone gets their hands on this sync token, they can automatically intercept every single thing being passed through the connection. As well as inject malware and cause all forms of havoc.
There are also known issues with options like WebRTC and IPv6, which could inadvertently unmask your true IP address (even when connected to a VPN).
2. VPNArea has a solid 256-bit encryption by default
Every reliable VPN uses 256-bit encryption by default. Private Internet Access also offers 126-bit encryption (optionally).
In short, 256-bit encryption is used by top governments around the world. And it’ll make sure your VPN connection is safe and secure.
That number (256) refers to the level of strength and required combinations to eventual unlock the encryption.
In short, it’s basically brute-force proof.
3. No-Logging Policy
VPNArea couldn’t even keep logs if they wanted to (which they don’t).
Their Bulgaria-based location means a strict “No Logs” law. And their day-to-day servers and emails are headquartered in the beautiful and notoriously secretive Switzerland.
Some VPN providers will keep logs of basic activities for a temporary amount of time in order to better improve the service. For example, they’ll track how many people are using the service over the course of the thirty days and monitor when people are logging in or out.
But VPNArea takes extreme precautions here.
In addition, some of their plans will offer a dedicated, shared IP address that’s used for all members, so that your individual actions will be indistinguishable from all other users.
4. Very affordable ($2.99/mo)
VPNArea’s pricing plans are mostly the same.
The primary difference comes down to plan length; so you can get discounts when opting for a longer commitment of six months to one year.
But there’s also one disadvantage that their true ‘monthly’ plan has: no dedicated IP option.
That means if you don’t want to prepay for a few months, you won’t get access to their shared IP that is spread across all users to hide or mask your actions.
Here’s a complete breakdown of the pricing table:
- 1 month= $9.90/mo
- All features except Dedicated IP option
- 1 year=$4.92/mo
- All features included
- 36 months=$2.99/mo
- $107.64/ 36 months
- All features included
Payment methods include all major debit and credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, WebMoney and Alipay.
5. Their app works with Netflix (and they allow torrenting)
One of my ranking criteria is the possibility to stream content on Netflix and use the VPN software for torrenting. After my second try, I managed to get into Netflix and they do allow torrenting as well, but they advise you to use P2P servers for it.
Here’s a list of servers for torrenting with VPNArea
6. Their app is sleek and easy to use
One of the things I love most about VPNArea is that they have software available on so many different devices, including:
- Windows 7 or newer
- Mac OS (Yosemite or newer)
- iOS (iPhone, iPad)
- Numerous routers
You can use the app on up to six devices all at the same time. Account sharing is also permitted.
The desktop app’s user interface is sleek, easy to log into, and very simple to navigate. You can use the search bar to find a specific server or simply just select one of their servers off the list and hit “Connect.”
For each server, you can view the current load, distance from the server to your location, and the server’s current speed.
VPNArea’s mobile app is even more user-friendly.
I tested the iOS app and was pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to choose a server and speed, rate the app, report a problem, and more (all from the main menu).
The server list is easy to scroll through and also includes current speeds for each location.
Once you select a server, you can toggle between “Connected” and “Disconnected” with the press of a button.
7. Customer support
VPNArea offers live chat.
That means around-the-block, 24/7 chat support. Someone, somewhere, should be available at any moment to help you out.
At least, that’s the theory.
Their FAQ page reads: “Response time is normally never more than 4 hours and most of the times you’ll reach us on Live Chat right away.”
Let’s put this theory to the test and see how they actually do.
All you have to do is enter a username or nickname and your email address and click “Start Chat” to get started.
When I tested their support in 2017, it took 16 hours to get a reply. Today, I got a response within 15 seconds. Talk about an improvement, huh?
So I started digging for info right away.
Zack’s replies were quick and concise, it kind of felt too good to be true, but upon further investigation, he was an actual human being, not a super well coded AI.
I continued asking questions and he delivered answers almost instantly.
I got my replies and I was really happy with the experience. I don’t know for sure how they fare with technical difficulties, but getting answers to questions is definitely not a problem. Excellent support.
Got my answers, thanked him and we said our farewells.
All in all, I’m impressed how their customer support quality has improved since 2017. From 16 hours reply time to less than a minute.
VPNArea Cons –
1. VPNArea speed: 39% slower than competitors
To make this review accurate, I went ahead, connected to one of their servers and opened speedtest.net
While performing the test, I used a 100 Mbps Internet connection.
After connecting to EU, US and ASIA servers, I found out that VPNArea is kinda slow.
US Server (New York)
- Ping: 114ms
- Download: 10.05 Mbps
- Upload: 7.18 Mbps
EU Server (Amsterdam)
- Ping: 42ms
- Download: 47.36 Mbps
- Upload: 23.81 Mbps
Asia Server (Hong Kong)
- Ping: 366ms
- Download: 6.99 Mbps
- Upload: 2.63 Mbps
While their EU speed was OK, the US download and upload speeds were too slow. This software throttled my Internet speed by more than 80%.
Do I Recommend VPNArea?
The short answer is yes.
There’s a lot to like about VPNArea. They offer all major protocols, along with the best encryption methods money can buy. Good start!
That whole ‘server-to-customer’ ratio isn’t a bunch of hot air, either. Too many customers becomes a problem when you’re all vying for the same pool of resources. Jam-packed servers mean slower performance.
Their lower-than-average pricing is tempting.
And their VPN client interface is solid. Plus, the VPNArea app is available on up to almost every type of device out there.
The features pack a punch, too: there’s a built-in speed test, kill switch, anti-DNS leak, and auto-IP changer.
VPNArea is a Bulgarian VPN provider hosted in Switzerland. They are well-known for maintaining a pretty healthy balance between solid security and user-friendliness. The company was launched in 2012 and they have been regularly updating their software ever since. On top of impressive privacy measures, they also offer a decent amount of unique features, so keep reading our VPNArea review to find out whether it is a hidden gem in the world of online security.
VPNArea client is pretty straightforward and requires just a couple of clicks before you’re completely protected. All you have to do is enter your username and password, choose the desired server, and click connect.
Everything is well-organized and clearly labeled, so you shouldn’t have any problems with finding the options or settings you’re looking for.
Performance And Reliability
VPNArea provided pretty impressive speeds during our testing circuit. With closer servers, it was literally like we weren’t even running a VPN. We didn’t experience any speed drops or sudden disconnects, meaning the company really provides what it promises. On the US servers, however, we regularly experienced higher upload than download speeds, which is something that doesn’t happen all that often. All in all, excellent performance without disconnects and little to no speed drops.
VPNArea supports all the major platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Chromebook, Android, and Linux. The client is almost identical across platforms, with iPad and iPhone having an additional OpenVPN Connect App.
VPNArea is, as we mentioned at the beginning of this VPNArea review, ripe with useful features. Here are some that caught our attention during testing:
- Incorporated speed test – This will allow you to test your ping and download speed and identify the fastest server for your location;
- 6 simultaneous connections – This is quite a pleasant surprise since we mostly see up to 3 simultaneous connections offered by VPN companies. You also have the option of sharing your account with a friend;
- Server load monitor – This feature allows you to check how busy a server is before connecting to it;
- Ad blocking and proprietary DNS servers – You will be able to block ads and hide the visited addresses from your ISP;
- Unlimited bandwidth – There’s no need to monitor your data consumption with VPNArea;
- Torrent-friendly – VPNArea is one of the friendliest services when it comes to P2P traffic and torrenting;
- Unlimited server switching – You’ll get unlimited access to VPNArea servers and you can switch between them as many times as you like.
VPNArea currently operates approx. 200 servers spread across 70 countries. This is by no means a large network compared to bigger VPN providers with 1000+ servers, but the company is constantly expanding it, so we don’t think they will linger around this number for long. Their network covers the “standard” locations (US, UK, Canada, Australia…) but also some not-so-common regions like South Korea, South Africa, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. This makes it a truly global network able to cater to the majority of VPN users in search of a good VPN.
Security And Privacy
The owner of VPNArea is a company called Offshore Security LTD, which is registered in Bulgaria and falls under its jurisdiction. However, the company hosts its emails and servers in Switzerland. This gives rise to a peculiar situation. Since they’re not an Internet provider, they’re not subject to European data retention laws. However, they could fall under Swiss data retention laws due to their hosting location. This could potentially compromise the security levels of the service, but VPNs in Switzerland are somewhere in the gray area, without a proper legal stand on how data retention laws affect them.
VPNArea claims a strict no-logging policy and we couldn’t find any cases including handed over or exposed user info.
VPNArea supports OpenVPN and PPTP protocols. As always, we recommend OpenVPN since it’s by far the most secure protocol you can use. PPTP is a very basic VPN protocol with generic encryption and easily breakable by a trained individual.
Talking of encryption, VPNArea uses AES-256 cipher with 4096-bit RSA keys and SHA-256 algorithm. This is the strongest encryption configuration available to the public. Keep in mind that it is light years ahead of any existing decryption technology. VPNArea also supports forward secrecy.
This VPN also features an Anti-WebRTC system, which patches the WebRTC leak on Windows. This means that your browser will not be able to give your true location to the sites you visit. VPNArea also features an Anti-DNS Leak system. This will prevent your ISP from seeing the names of the sites your visit.
Lastly, VPNArea features an auto kill switch and a very neat little security feature called Auto IP Changer. Once you turn it on, you can set your desired interval (let’s say, 5 minutes) and your IP address will change to a random server every 5 minutes.
VPNArea is all about options and their user support also follows that pattern. You can contact their support staff via email, Skype, and live chat. They usually answer within one day. Unfortunately, the live chat option doesn’t operate 24/7, which is somewhat disappointing.
VPNArea currently offers 3 different pricing plans with lower monthly prices for longer subscriptions. The plans available at the moment include:
- 1 month – 9.90$
- 6 months – 50.00$ (8.33$ per month)
- 1 year – 59.00$ (4.92$ per month)
The only difference between the subscriptions (except the price) is the lack of a dedicated IP option with the 1-month plan.
Note that there’s no free trial period, so you won’t be able to test the service before buying it. There is, however, a 7-day money back guarantee, but we still prefer to be given the opportunity to test the VPN before any money changes hands.
One of the things we really appreciate when it comes to VPNArea subscription is the fact that they do not impose auto-renewals on their users. Some of the companies will renew your subscription without even warning you that they’re about to charge you for another year or so.
VPNArea is also very flexible when it comes to payment methods. They support MasterCard, Visa, Discover, UnionPay, American Express, Maestro, JCB, PayPal, Webmoney, and Payza. For users with optimal anonymity in mind, Bitcoin is also an acceptable payment option.
VPNArea Pros & Cons
Finishing off this VPNArea review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- Excellent security and privacy features
- No-logging policy
- Unlimited bandwidth
- P2P allowed
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Various contacts for user support
- Live chat not available 24/7
- Uncertain security levels
Over the last three years, our experiences with VPNArea have gone from pretty bad to impressively respectable. There has been a general trend of improvement in all aspects of the service, but what we noticed most in our previous VPNArea review was the vastly improved speeds and security with the addition of some new servers and features like double VPN and Stunnel.
In today’s VPNArea review, we’re looking at a continuation of that trend. VPNArea’s speeds have improved greatly yet again, the streaming servers work on Netflix and Hulu, and the pricing is as competitive as ever.
However, we wanted to see if all of that could outweigh some of the remaining issues, such as the ugly interface and minor technical issues that still linger and hold VPNArea back from being at the very top level of the VPN market.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- U.S. streaming servers work on Netflix & Hulu
- Impressive speeds in any location
- Solid security
- Double VPN & Stunnel servers
- Great long-term pricing
- UK streaming servers did not work
- No free trial
- Ugly interface
Alternatives for VPNArea
Diving into VPNArea’s settings doesn’t reveal anything that would interest the average user too much. There’s an ad and malware blocker that helps keep you safe online by blocking the IPs that are known to host this kind of content. However, our best antivirus software list or even our 99 free tools to protect your privacy articles have better options for ad and malware blocking.
Looking further down in the settings shows that VPNArea also has options for launching the client automatically on Windows startup, as well as connecting to the last server used. This, along with a kill switch, are features that we’d expect every VPN to cover because they have a direct impact on security.
VPNArea does this well and even offers users the choice of two kill switches. The first kill switch option uses the standard Windows firewall to prevent your IP from being exposed while connecting and blocks internet traffic if your VPN disconnects.
The second kill switch option, labeled the “nuclear option,” cuts off all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects by actually disabling your computer’s WiFi and ethernet.
At the bottom of the menu is a text field where you can manually enter commands and settings. This requires some advanced knowledge of VPNs and networking, and it is far beyond the scope of this article — or most users’ interest — but it is admittedly nice to have for those who are knowledgeable tinkerers.
The final thing worth noting that VPNArea offers are some specialized servers. One of these dedicated server types is for streaming, which we’ll talk more about in the “streaming” section shortly.
Needless to say, these servers are configured to help you access streaming content, such as Netflix and Hulu, and they work fairly well. VPNArea also offers another kind of special server option: dedicated IP servers, which let you have the same IP address every time you connect.
There are also a few Double VPN and Stunnel servers available. We’ll look at these in more detail in the “security” section, but in short, both of these server types add an additional layer of protection to your connection.
Finally, to top this list off, there are a couple of Tor over VPN servers that can help you safely browse the deep web. Check out our Torguard vs. PIA article for another service with Tor over VPN capabilities.
Although VPNArea does a good job of covering the basics and has some functional features packed in, we just can’t give it too much credit. That’s because the features it does support are either beyond the scope of what people want or, like the ad blocker, are simply a-dime-a-dozen plugins that everyone probably already has.
Providing something like split tunneling — which you can read about in our ExpressVPN review — or some interesting protocol and encryption options would push it into a higher grade. However, for now, without something with a little more flair, it sits at a B grade.
VPNArea Features Overview
Starts from$ 299per month
PayPal, Credit card, UnionPay, Alipay
Worldwide server amount
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Can be installed on routers
Can access Amazon Prime Video
VPN protocols available
Enabled at device startup
Malware/ad blocker included
VPNArea’s pricing is solid, for what it offers. Starting with the monthly time frame, you’ll be paying $9.90 per month, which is about average for a decent VPN, but less than a top-shelf option like ExpressVPN. The one-year time frame brings the per-month price down by about half, at $4.92 per month, making VPNArea a great deal.
Where VPNArea’s pricing really shines, though, is in the long term. The three-year plan brings the cost down to only a few dollars per month. This is competitive with even some of the best VPN pricing out there. You can check out our CyberGhost review for another VPN service that also offers excellent long-term pricing.
However, VPNArea does not offer a free trial. Instead, VPNArea offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with the 12-month and 36-month plans, and a 14-day money-back guarantee with the monthly option. This allows users to try the VPN relatively risk-free.
VPNArea accepts a wide variety of payment methods, including standard credit or debit cards, as well as several cryptocurrencies and some third-party options, including Alipay and UnionPay.
Ease of Use
To put it bluntly, VPNArea’s user interface won’t be winning any beauty pageants any time soon. The server list itself is hard to look at, with the servers having names like “USA-0-NFLX-EU-Hub,” rather than just being labeled as something like “U.S. Netflix.”
The blue and white color scheme is very common these days for VPNs and software in general, as it gives an airy and lightweight feeling to things, yet somehow VPNArea’s interface still manages to feel a bit claustrophobic and cluttered. Take a look at our NordVPN review to see an example of a blue and white interface that’s done well.
VPNArea’s interface offers a lot of information, such as your distance from the server, ping time, different sorting options, your IP address and even whether you have the ad blocker on or off.
However, the general layout of the software causes all of this information to become a bit of a mess. The tabs at the top also don’t feel like the best way to manage the different lists of servers, but at least the search bar makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Ultimately, nothing about VPNArea’s interface or website impedes its efficiency or ease of use. It’s still intuitive enough to use, with clearly labeled buttons and options so that practically anyone can install the software and hit the ground running.
That said, it’s a pretty ugly layout that could use some tweaking, both for visual appeal and optimization. Certain little things — like the tab layout at the top for the servers and settings, or the strange way distance seems to be measured (according to the software, here in the U.S. we are 334km from the U.S. as well as from Germany) — make the layout a bit more confusing than they have to be.
In our previous VPNArea reviews, we found that speed was something that VPNArea was lacking in pretty heavily. It looks like things have changed, though, and that significant investments and improvements have been made into VPNArea’s server network.
Starting off with our most nearby server here in the U.S., we found that VPNArea actually gave us a higher upload speed than our initial control test. Moving outside of the U.S. to more distant servers, upload speeds remained very high, most of the time near or above 200Mbps.
Even on the slowest server we tested, Japan, the connection still felt fast and responsive. We were able to go to streaming sites, like Twitch and YouTube, and videos would load in with almost no hesitation at 1080p and 60fps with no stuttering at all.
Although it might not be the best speed test results we’ve ever seen — look at something like our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN article for better numbers — VPNArea has still shown significant improvement since our past review. The servers all have decent speeds that offer VPN users a responsive and enjoyable web browsing experience.
As we briefly mentioned in the “features” section, there is not a lot to talk about when it comes to security with VPNArea. You have no choice when it comes to protocol or encryption; you’re stuck with OpenVPN paired with AES-256.
This isn’t really a problem, though. If you read our description of encryption and VPN protocol breakdown articles, you’ll see that this combination is the ideal setup and offers outstanding security while still having solid performance.
With the anti-DNS leak settings turned on, we did some leak testing with VPNArea and were not able to find any leaking DNS requests or IP addresses from our VPN connection. There’s also the option in the settings to use custom DNS servers for even more security.
Although the basic features — such as the kill switch and custom DNS servers behind AES-256 encryption — is enough to make most people feel safe online, VPNArea offers some specialized VPN servers for those users who can never feel too safe.
Namely, there are Double VPN and Stunnel servers. Double VPN servers do exactly what the name implies: your connection takes two hops to get to your desired location, instead of just connecting directly. This makes tracking your online activity much harder and dwindles any hope of cracking the tunnel.
The other type of specialized VPN server, Stunnel servers, make it much more difficult for websites — or a nosy government — to tell that you’re using a VPN. The only thing that we could ask of VPNArea’s security setup is to have more protocols included.
For example, if you read our VyprVPN review, you’ll see that VyprVPN offers its own proprietary protocol that helps break through firewalls and geoblocking. Despite the lack of options, though, VPNArea’s security uses a reliable setup and has some excellent features.
The policy also includes a section where it states that VPNArea does not sell or disclose your information to third parties and, even more importantly, it cannot disclose information it does not have. VPNArea does not record or maintain identifying logs of your activity while you’re connected to the VPN.
For maximum security, you can use bitcoin or ethereum as your payment method, which reduces the information that VPNArea has on file about you to only an email address. It’s quick and easy to set up a throwaway email address for this purpose, as well, making this a very private and discreet way of getting your hands on a VPN service.
VPNArea has dedicated servers for streaming that are labeled with names like ”USA-0-NFLX-EU-Hub.” We first tested the normal servers, which are labeled as “P2P” servers, to see what would happen. Netflix and Hulu were both able to detect these standard servers and block us from watching anything.
This was an unsurprising finding, though, so we pushed on and tried the dedicated streaming servers. Those servers were able to get us through to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, but all three took much longer than normal to load.
Netflix would take about 15 or 20 seconds before starting to play, while Hulu and Amazon would take about 10 seconds. We ran a speed test on the streaming server to see if anything was noticeably amiss and found that we had a 79ms ping time and had only 35.58Mbps download speed. This is a far cry from the U.S. server we tested in the “speed” section earlier.
This was giving us enough bandwidth to watch HD content once it got going, but the relatively high ping time and middling download speed caused the videos to take much longer than usual to start playing.
Next, to see if VPNArea could let us access BBC iPlayer, we switched over to the UK-NFLX server. However, we couldn’t get this server to work for us at all.
Every time we connected to the UK server, it would take around 30 to 40 seconds before telling us there was a DNS error that had been corrected, but then, our internet would be bricked anyways until we closed the VPN software. This makes us think that the software was not actually fixing the DNS issue.
Overall, VPNArea is suitable for Netflix or Hulu viewing, but it will certainly not be making it onto our best VPN for streaming list any time soon. If you’re looking for another cost effective VPN option for streaming be sure to take a look at our NordVPN vs. CyberGhost comparison.
VPNArea gives its users no shortage of options when it comes to servers, thanks to its specialized servers. These include servers for buffed-up security, streaming or general purposes.
All of these servers are spread out across 65 countries, which gives a pretty decent coverage of the most trafficked areas of the world, including Europe, Asia and the Americas.
However, it has a weaker presence in Africa and the Middle East, which is common for many VPNs that lack a massive server network, like HideMyAss does. Check out our HideMyAss review for more information on its network with 290 locations in 190 countries.
VPNArea offers 24/7 support through live chat as well as with email representatives. You can find the live chat by clicking on the blue bubble in the bottom-right corner of the screen. The chat representatives got back to us very quickly and offered helpful information for our questions.
The 24/7 support makes up greatly for VPNArea’s knowledgebase, which is severely lacking. There are only 22 articles in the knowledgebase, which mostly cover only some of the most basic aspects of paying invoices and using the VPN.
The site’s FAQ section contains an additional 18 questions, but again, many of these cover very basic information, such as “what is a VPN” and “who needs a VPN.” If you look at our PIA review, you’ll see an example of a great knowledgebase with over 100 detailed articles, but it lost credit for not having live chat support.
The customer support experience is streamlined and effective, but the self-help aspect, such as the knowledgebase and FAQ, need some padding out and refinement.
VPNArea is a solid overall service that has gotten better and better over time. Although the user interface could use a facelift, the network is fast and the security offered is top-notch when you account for the Double VPN and Stunnel options.
The pricing also makes it a very tempting option for those who are okay with a simpler VPN that doesn’t offer things like split tunneling but can still perform at a high level.
Have you used VPNArea in the past? We’d love to hear in the comment section below how your experiences measure up to ours in this VPNArea review. As always, thanks for reading.
With so many big name VPNs out there, is there any reason to stray from the crowd? VPNArea will certainly be hoping so.
You may not have heard of it, but VPNArea claims to be able to do it all: a secure service that keep you private, beats online barriers, unlocks streaming content, and more.
But does it really?
We tested VPNArea to find out:
- Does VPNArea work with Netflix?
- Does VPNArea allow torrenting?
- What is VPNArea Chameleon?
- How much does VPNArea cost?
- Does VPNArea have any DNS leaks?
After hours spent putting it through its paces, our key conclusions on VPNArea are listed below.
VPNArea Pros & Cons
- Very impressive speeds
- Dedicated streaming servers
- No-logs policy & No IP, DNS & WebRTC leaks
- User-friendly apps for PC, Mac, iOS, & Android
- Connect securely to 65 countries
- Short refund period
- Apps can be glitchy
- Small server network
VPNArea Key Summary
|Logging Policy||No Logs|
|Jurisdiction||Bulgaria (EU Member)|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$2.99/mo over 36 Months|
Still not sure if VPNArea is the right VPN for you?
That’s okay – you can read on for our full review where we cover everything in much greater detail, starting with connection speeds.
Who is VPNArea?
About & Logging
VPNArea was founded in 2012 and is owned by Bulgarian-based company Offshore Security LTD. Its headquarters are currently in Varna, Bulgaria, which would usually be a bad choice for a VPN service given it’s subject to intrusive EU surveillance laws and data-sharing agreements.
However VPNArea’s strict no-logs policy means that its jurisdiction is nothing to be concerned about, as even if a third party requested your personal information, VPNArea would not be able to hand it over.
Most VPNs will claim not to collect any logs, but VPNArea is one of the very few VPN services we’ve reviewed that is truly no-logs.
It does not monitor, record or store “any login dates, timestamps, incoming and outgoing IP addresses, bandwidth statistics or any other identifiable data of any VPN users.” This means nothing you do while connected to VPNArea can be traced back to you.
Consistently fast same-country speeds
Speed & Reliability
VPNArea is a very fast, reliable VPN service if you’re mainly planning on connecting to the same country or one nearby – downloads of around 90Mbps are more than quick enough for streaming on multiple devices at the same time.
However, VPNArea isn’t quite as consistent if you’re going to be connecting internationally on a regular basis. It’s still speedy, but its speed reliability just doesn’t compare against the current fastest VPNs.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using VPNArea:
When connected to VPNArea:
Download speed without VPNArea: 93.57Mbps
Download speed with VPNArea: 90.29Mbps
Our download speed loss when VPNArea is running: 4%
VPNArea is a strong choice for gamers, too, thanks to its quick same-country latency of just 8ms. It also produced very fast upload speeds of around over 90Mbps in some locations, which is ideal for torrenting. Even better, VPNArea’s connections were incredibly reliable with no drops at all.
Here are the average speeds you can expect from VPNArea from a handful of popular locations (connecting out from the UK):
USA: 48Mbps (down) & 36Mbps (up)
Germany: 77Mbps (down) & 80Mbps (up)
Singapore: 12Mbps (down) & 6Mbps (up)
Australia: 4Mbps (down) & 2Mbps (up)
For more information on exactly how we measure VPN performance, take a look at How We Test VPNs.
Over 120 cities spread over 70 countries
VPNArea has one of the larger VPN server networks we’ve seen in our testing, and is present in 70 countries around the world.
There are city-level server options in a handful of VPNArea’s locations, with the broadest range of choice in the US. Users located in the US can choose from 42 VPNArea servers spread over 11 different cities, which is great news for performance.
Other countries with city-specific server choice include Australia (five), Canada (four), Italy (three), Spain (two), South Africa (two), and the UK (three).
As usual, Europe and North America have the best server coverage, however there’s a lot of choice outside of these regions too, which is refreshing to see. There are no obvious gaps in VPNArea’s server network, but it would be nice to see some more city-level options in the future.
We really like that VPNArea owns and operates its own DNS servers, however we were disappointed by the total number of servers at just 200. There’s also only one shared IP address per server, which can mean bad news for performance, but is also excellent for privacy.
Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer & P2P
Streaming & Torrenting
Thanks to VPNArea’s optimized streaming servers, it was easy watching Netflix through both the US and UK servers (USA-0-NFLX and UnitedKingdom-0-NFLX).
VPNArea’s excellent speeds mean that the video and audio quality is great, too.
VPNArea also has a dedicated UK server for streaming BBC iPlayer, but it’s very unreliable and doesn’t always work. Unfortunately, VPNArea wasn’t working with BBC iPlayer in our most recent streaming tests.
We asked VPNArea’s live chat agents when they expected the issue with BBC iPlayer to be resolved, and they told us they didn’t have a timeframe but would be notifying users of the problem. BBC iPlayer fans should therefore use one of these tested and working VPNs instead.
VPNArea also unlocks the Canadian and Italian Netflix libraries, and has a dedicated server for streaming Sky Go in Italy.
Torrenting is permitted on all VPNArea servers, with many optimized for P2P activity.
Combine this with fast download and upload speeds, no IP or DNS leaks, and a VPN kill switch and you have a very appealing VPN for torrenters.
VPNArea’s solid no-logs policy is another bonus for torrenting, and it works well with Kodi too (here’s their kodi setup guide).
Good for China (desktop-only)
VPNArea is a good choice for China, if you’re planning on using it on your desktop computer.
It has X-Stunnel VPN servers in a ton of locations worldwide, which will disguise your connection as normal HTTPS traffic and allow you to bypass the so-called Great Firewall of China.
VPNArea offers these servers in China, Japan, Singapore and the US (as well as a few other countries), so you can connect to a nearby location for the best possible speeds, too.
These X-Stunnel VPN servers are only available on Windows and Mac devices, though, and there are no manual workarounds for iOS or Android, so mobile users should avoid.
VPNArea’s obfuscated servers mean that it’s also a reliable VPN service for those in other countries with oppressive censorship regimes such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the UAE.
Can be used with tons of different devices, including routers
Platforms & Devices
VPNArea offers custom VPN apps for a ton of popular devices, including:
- Microsoft Windows
- Linux (including Ubuntu).
You can also set up VPNArea manually on a handful of other platforms, including routers – there are instructions for all of these on VPNArea’s website.
If you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty, you also have the option of buying a pre-configured VPN router, either direct from VPNArea or through an independent company.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Amazon Fire TV
VPNArea can be used with loads of different games consoles and streaming devices by connecting them to a router running the VPN, as this will automatically protect all of the internet-connected devices in your home.
VPNArea can be installed on Amazon’s Firestick and on Kodi too, with some manual configuration. If you want a simpler setup, take a look at our recommended VPNs for Firestick and Kodi.
VPNArea isn’t the best option if you’re looking for a plug-and-play solution for your games console, but it’ll do the job well enough. If you’re looking for something a little more straightforward, take a look at our ExpressVPN review – its MediaStreamer service makes life a lot easier.
If you’re going to be installing VPNArea on individual devices, you can use it on up to six of them at the same time – that’s about the average we see from most VPN services.
Unfortunately, VPNArea doesn’t currently offer any kind of browser extensions.
If you want to use a VPN through your web browser, read our dedicated guides to VPNs for Chrome and VPNs for Firefox.
Strong privacy features will protect you online
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
Supports TCP Port 443
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
VPNArea will keep you very safe online. The desktop app uses OpenVPN, the most secure VPN protocol, and you can even toggle between UDP and TCP. There’s also the option to connect using IKEv2. VPNArea’s encryption is via the most secure cipher, AES-256.
As well as the essential VPN kill switch feature, protecting you from any potential connection drops, VPNArea also prevents DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leaks. Even better, it operates its own zero-log DNS servers to keep your personal information private.
What we saw on browserleaks.com while connected to VPNArea’s New York server
Additionally, VPNArea operates Double VPN servers, providing you with an extra layer of privacy when you’re connected to the VPN. There’s also a built-in ad-blocker and malware protection.
Port forwarding is available on VPNArea – but you’ll need to get in touch with support to request it be enabled on your account. You can also get a VPNArea dedicated IP for an extra annual fee.
Cluttered apps with some usability flaws
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up VPNArea
It's easy enough on the website to find where you can download the right software for your device.
The VPNArea installation wizard will guide you through the process from start to finish.
This screen will give you a good indicator of how much longer the installation is going to take.
Once the installation is complete, you'll be prompted to enter your login details before you can connect to the VPN.
The main screen is the full server list - you can view your new IP address here too.
The on/off button will light up in green to let you know that you're connected.
You can organize the servers by location and there's even a tab for 'special' servers optimized for streaming or additional obfuscation.
We like the contextual help in the settings screen that explains what each feature does.
You can even select your preferred port - although there's no additional info here as to which one is best for what purpose.
VPNArea’s desktop app has some excellent features but also a few annoying quirks that ruined the experience for us a little. There’s no main screen as such, so you’re just redirected to the VPN server list once you’ve logged in.
The VPN server list is split up into useful tabs such as torrenting, streaming and obfuscated – you can sort the servers by distance, speed or percentage load too. The VPN settings all come with simple on/off toggles and we particularly like the contextual information that’s provided.
VPNArea doesn’t currently offer any kinds of browser extensions.
If this is the kind of thing you’re looking for, consider ExpressVPN, which offers full-featured extensions for all popular browsers, or NordVPN which provides less-secure (but quicker) proxies.
24/7 live chat makes up for limited resources
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
VPNArea’s customer support is good enough for a provider of this size but we don’t like that some of the resources (such as setup guides) are limited to paying customers only.
On the website, there are loads of in-depth FAQs covering a variety of topics from encryption to the security of different VPN protocols.
We were pleasantly surprised that VPNArea offers a genuinely 24/7 live chat feature with friendly, helpful agents. We always received a response within a matter of minutes, too.
Longest plan is excellent value for money
VPNArea offers loads of different payment options, including all major credit and debit cards, PayPal and Bitcoin. You can also pay using a ton of international methods, such as WebMoney, Alipay and Hipercard, which is great for those living abroad.
VPNArea doesn’t provide a free trial, but instead offers a ‘no questions asked’ money-back guarantee, which is a different length depending on the plan you signed up for. The 12-month and three-year subscriptions come with a 30-day refund period, whereas the 1-month option is 14 days.
In order to apply for a refund, all you have to do is contact VPNArea via live chat or email, and your refund will be sent to you within 48 hours (VPNArea claims that 98% of users receive their refund within just 15 hours).
Do We Recommend VPNArea?
The Bottom Line
VPNArea is something of a hidden gem. It’s far from the most popular VPN on the market, but we have no hesitation in recommending VPNArea.
It’s not perfect (the app can be awfully frustrating at times), but VPNArea’s excellent list of features and super-secure logging policy are real highlights.
VPNArea is a Bulgaria-based VPN provider that does very well in the areas of performance and privacy. It is one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tested recently, nearly maxing out my baseline speed of 160 Mbps with nearby servers in Europe.
VPNArea is also a good choice if you want a VPN for streaming Netflix, as it offers various Netflix streaming hubs with 24/7 access. It’s also a great VPN for torrenting, with numerous P2P-designated servers that offer excellent performance for large downloads. And for those that want it, you can also get your own designated (static) IP address at a very reasonable price in various locations.
- No logs
- Excellent speed and reliability
- Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming services
- Anonymous payment options
- Strong security features, with self-hosted DNS
- Ad blocking
- Dedicated IP addresses available
- Large server network
- 24/7 live chat support
- Apps can be a bit buggy
- Limited number of Netflix streaming servers (but still works well)
Company information and jurisdiction
VPNArea has been around since 2012 and is under the parent company of Offshore Security EOOD.
The parent company (Offshore Security EOOD) is registered in Bulgaria. From a legal perspective, that puts VPNArea under Bulgarian laws.
Bulgaria is a good privacy jurisdiction and it is not a close partner with any surveillance regimes, such as the US and UK. (See the 5 Eyes and 14 Eyes surveillance guide for more info on this topic.)
From a legal jurisdiction and privacy standpoint, VPNArea is a good choice.
VPNArea price and refund policy
VPNArea offers three different pricing tiers, with the best deal being offered with the three-year plan, at only $2.99 per month.
This makes VPNArea one of the best cheap VPNs for 2019. It’s comparable to NordVPN with the long-term plan, but also cheaper with the monthly and annual rates.
When it comes to features, all of the accounts are the same. The one exception is that dedicated IP addresses are only available with 6-month or 12-month accounts.
When purchasing a subscription you only need to provide an email and can choose your own username and password. VPNArea gives you lots of different payment options, including anonymous payment methods, such as Bitcoin.
Note: One unique benefit you get with VPNArea is the ability to share your account with others (most VPNs prohibit this). This will potentially allow you to split the cost with others.
Refund policy – VPNArea offers the following refund windows:
- 14-Day money back guarantee on 1 month plans
- 30-Day money back guarantee on 1 year and 3 year plans
VPNArea has a nice lineup of VPN applications for all major devices and operating systems. The layout is intuitive and user-friendly, while at the same time offering lots of great features and unique settings.
6 connections – VPNArea gives you six simultaneous connections to use with your subscription.
VPNAre’as website provides you with step-by-step installation tutorials for many devices and platforms. In the member’s area you can access guides for:
- Mac OS X
- iOS (iPhone and iPad)
- Routers (Asus, DD-WRT, Tomato, GLI, Asus Merlin)
- Streaming services and other devices (Amazon Fire Stick, Kodi, Netflix, etc.)
VPNArea’s main application is called Chameleon. We’ll take a close look at how it performed with both Windows and Mac OS.
VPNArea on Windows
VPNArea’s Windows did pretty well in testing, although it was a little bit buggy. It offers you a user-friendly layout that also incorporates the numerous privacy and security features. Here you can see a few of the features and settings in the Windows app.
The new VPNArea Windows app is very polished. Changing the settings and connecting to a VPN server is simple and intuitive.
Here are some of the main features and settings you will find:
- DNS leak protection
- IP address leak protection
- Kill switch (to block traffic if the VPN connection drops)
- Startup options for full-time, always-on VPN use
Overall the Windows client performed pretty well in my testing and daily use, with stable connections and no leaks:
The one main drawback is that I did run into an occasional bug where the client would not connect. However, this was quickly solved by just restarting the application.
VPNArea has also launched their own VPN leak test website. You can use this to check any VPN for leaks and vulnerabilities.
VPNArea on Mac OS
Just like with Windows, VPNArea also has a newer version of their Chameleon application (version 2) for Mac OS. It offers all of the important features and leak protection settings that you will find with the VPNArea Windows app.
Here is the VPNArea Mac OS client I tested for the review:
Just like with the Windows client, I was not able to find any major issues with the Mac OS client after running it through a number of different VPN tests.
The Mac OS client comes with all of the standard leak protection settings, kill switch, and configuration options. VPNArea is currently featured among the best VPNs for Mac OS.
VPNArea for Netflix, streaming, and torrenting
VPNArea is an ideal choice for anyone wanting to stream media and/or torrent (P2P downloads).
They offer dedicated servers for various streaming services. There are a few different regional hubs that provide access for:
- BBC iPlayer
- Amazon Prime
- SkyGo Italy
VPNArea is one of the best VPNs for Netflix because it continues to provide good access to the service without getting blocked. Regardless of where you are located in the world, there are different Netflix streaming hubs you can connect to for full access to Netflix.
Within the VPNArea app you can find a large number of servers that are designated for P2P (torrenting) downloads. These servers are optimized to provide plenty of bandwidth for large downloads.
Unlike with many VPN providers, VPNArea does not limit or restrict torrent traffic. This is another advantage of using VPNArea for torrenting, in addition to their offshore jurisdiction and zero logs policy. Considering all factors, VPNArea is currently one of the best VPNs for torrenting and P2P filesharing.
VPNArea server network
VPNArea has a large server network which should provide you with a fast and reliable server no matter where you are located in the world.
They currently have servers in 70 different countries.
Another benefit of VPNArea’s server network is that there is plenty of available bandwidth. You can see bandwidth and server stats in both the applications and in the member’s area of their website.
VPNArea’s server network now also supports the IKEv2 VPN protocol.
While IKEv2 is not open source, like OpenVPN, it is still considered secure and can be used on most operating systems without third-party apps. Another benefit with IKEv2 is that it is less CPU-intensive in comparison to OpenVPN.
You will likely experience the best performance with the IKEv2 protocol, which is easy to setup with most operating systems.
VPNArea Stunnel servers – VPNArea also has a great selection of obfuscated servers which use Stunnel to obfuscate VPN traffic behind HTTPS. This is a simple solution for anyone needing a realible VPN for China, restricted work or school networks, or any location where VPNs are blocked.
VPNArea = no logs
No Log Files.
We do not monitor, record or store logs for any single customer’s VPN activity. We do not monitor, record or store any login dates, timestamps, incoming and outgoing IP addresses, bandwidth statistics or any other identifiable data of any VPN users using our VPN servers.
After reading through all of VPNArea’s policies, I did not find anything alarming.
If you are looking for a no-logs VPN service that checks all the right boxes with customer privacy and data security, then VPNArea would be an excellent choice.
VPNArea speed tests
I tested a number of different servers for this VPNArea review and overall the speeds were great.
My baseline connection speed for testing was about 160 Mbps and my physical testing location was in Western Europe.
VPNArea speed with nearby servers
First I tested servers close to my location. Here was a server in Berlin, Germany: 137 Mbps
Next up was a server in Amsterdam at 154 Mbps:
Finally I also tested a VPNArea server in the UK, which had the best speeds of all at 155 Mbps:
VPNArea is certainly a fast VPN for the UK, if you are looking for the best speeds.
With all of the VPNArea servers I tested in Europe, the speeds were excellent. With some nearby servers, the speeds essentially maxed out my baseline connection speed.
I also ran some long-distance speed tests were servers in the United States. Once again, speeds were very impressive.
First up was a server in New York, which gave me around 150 Mbps.
Perhaps it was a fluke. I then tested a VPNArea server in Dallas, Texas: 152 Mbps
I also tested a few servers in Canada, and the results were great.
Montreal, Canada: 154 Mbps
I found lots of capacity and bandwidth on Canadian servers, once again making VPNArea a good choice if you need a good VPN for Canada.
Overall these are very impressive speed test results. I’ve been testing VPNArea for the past three years and these are the best speeds I’ve ever gotten with their servers.
Support and website
One great new addition to VPNArea is the 24/7 live chat support. You can get instant access to support through the VPNArea website in the bottom right-hand corner. I tested this out for the review and was connected to a support technician in under a minute. In all interactions I found the support staff to be helpful and professional.
In addition to the live chat support, VPNArea also offers support via email (ticket system).
VPNArea’s website is simple and easy to navigate. You can see the server status page from within the member’s area. There is also a user forum where you can post general inquiries or suggestions.
Overall, VPNArea is a good VPN service for privacy-conscious users that also does well with performance (speed) and streaming content.
It seems that VPNArea has made some good improvements with their network speeds as I verified with the latest round of testing. The Windows and Mac OS apps performed well.
And if you are someone who likes to stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other services, VPNArea remains an excellent choice. While it doesn’t offer as many Netflix servers as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, VPNArea still gets the job done with their regional hubs in Europe and the US.
If you value performance, privacy, and the ability to stream your favorite content, VPNArea is worth a try.
VPNArea is founded in Bulgaria and has the right building blocks to provide the security that is necessary and has tools to support the needs of any user.
Why Choose VPNArea
VPNArea does not log your information; anything you do or search or any data that is sent across their networks is immediately deleted and gone so there is no trace that the data has ever been there. For me, this was paramount. If any of the data I was transferring to and from our server got out and if any of our clients were exploited because of it, the entire company would be put in jeopardy.
Best VPN for
- Netflix, Hulu, and streaming online
- Torrenting and downloading
- The cell phone app worked seamlessly
- Customer service seemed genuinely interested in helping
- 24/7 Live Chat
- Privacy is protected; they’re not part of the 14 eyes and don’t log data
- Fully autonomous iOS app for iPhone/iPad on App Store
- Desktop app for Mac and Windows (no always-on-top, no leaks, new design)
- Download instructions confusing; must be followed closely for program to work
Pricing and Plans
VPNArea offers 3 tiers of service: monthly, 6-month subscriptions, or yearly subscriptions. When you select a higher tier, you pay less; the monthly plan is $9.90/month but if you choose the 12 months plan you'll pay less ($4.92/month) and where you get the best deal is at 36 months for $2.99/month. The only downside, though, is you have to pay the full year/s in advance.
Don’t worry, though. VPNArea offers a 7 day money-back guarantee if you decide that you are not happy with the service.
The other nice part is that they honor their policy of anonymity by offering both traditional payment methods alongside anonymous methods such as Bitcoin.
Another great feature the AreaVPN offers is a free dedicated IP and server at no charge. You have a handful of countries to choose from for your server and, though they’re only available for a few months, it is free. Most people wouldn’t need that option but it is definitely nice to know that if you did need a dedicated IP address and server it would be available to you.
In an attempt to provide this tool to everyone, VPNArea has created a whole host of different program iterations. Not only do they have the major, current operating systems but they also have older versions and less common platforms such as Linux and Ubuntu.
When you’re first downloading for your computer, you’re presented with 17 platform choices, which is wonderful. Be sure to check your operating system so that you’re installing the correct iteration. Then hit the "Setup File" button. This downloaded the .dmg file to my downloads and I double clicked to open it... From there, things got very confusing. The file opened a window asking you to drag the VPNArea Chameleon to the applications folder...
When I did that only a shell of an application opened. It asked you to log in on the right and had the menu on the left but none of the sections had any content in them. I went back to the install page and noticed that there were detailed instructions on how to properly install the application. They weren’t far different from what I had done but they did say to transfer the downloaded .dmg file to the applications folder before opening it. So, when trying to give it another go, I couldn’t replace the Chameleon application with the newly installed version because it said the application was open.
I tried to delete the application manually and it gave me the same error, but there was no icon on the toolbar of my laptop. In the “Force Quit” no corresponding application appeared either. From there, I gave up and went to my desktop computer to install it there. I was able to follow the instructions and properly install the program and I even got it up and running! The interface is attractive and simple, with a menu on the left that allows you to toggle between the current VPN connection, a list of servers and their current speeds, an optional Kill Switch, Anti DNS Leak, Auto IP Changer, and Settings.
The “Home” screen is where you can see your connection and change to a different server. The text box below it logs all actions taken so you can review that if you wish.
There are no shortage of servers available, either. Each of the countries shown is represented as having server connections in each.
The servers are listed alphabetically by country initially but offer a header bar that lets you organize the list, however, suits you best. Additionally, on the bottom of the page, you can run a speed test for a few or all of the networks. Once the speed test is complete, you could organize the list by fastest ping speed or highest upload rate, depending on what you need at that moment.
The “Kill Switch” functions is an optional security measure that allows you to authorize the program to shut down any sensitive programs when it disconnects from the network and subsequently the server protecting your IP Address. If you’re handling sensitive material, this can be a very helpful tool, as it serves as a guard dog against information slipping out in the case that the VPN got disconnected and you didn’t notice
DNS leak protection
The Anti-DNS Leak function allows you to run DNS Leak tests on servers before you connect to them, which provides another layer of security. Another additional layer of security can be found by using the Auto IP Changer function, which allows you to select which servers you want to utilize and how often you want your ISP to change. Once you get it going, it automatically changes your IP address for you every once in awhile.
I have to stop here and make note of a few oddities that I encountered. When I opened the application for the very first time I did not see an icon appear on my toolbar of my laptop. The application floated on top of every other application running and there was no way to minimize it, only move it, so I moved it to the lower right corner of my screen while I wasn’t using it and pulled it back into the middle when I needed to check or change something. The major problem came in when I was done for the day and closed the screen out. When I tried to open it back up nothing happened; nothing at all. Again, no icon, but this time no window, either. I struggled for a while and then decided the best route was to uninstall and reinstall the program but there was no uninstall function. When I tried to “trash” the application I was returned with an error saying the application was still open and could not be thrown away. Upon looking in the “Force Quit” tool, no application was found. I was basically stuck in the mud and unable to do anything. The same thing happened on my desktop, too.
Speed is an essential quality most VPN users are looking for, so I decided to test the service on my desktop computer. The results I got are as follows:
The VPN showing to be the “fastest” has very similar speeds to my network connection, which is great. No muddied waters, not sluggish speeds but still all the protection I wanted. The USA Netflix server, however, was significantly slower on the ping speed and download speed, which could be due to the server being heavily used at the time, though there was no way of knowing the capacity usage. You will also notice that there are no tests for any far away locations. This is because every time I tried to connect in the UK or South America or Japan I was unable to successfully run a speed test without the test crashing and the WiFi connection disconnecting. Also, any connection I was able to get that was far away would essentially stall out and not connect. I was unable to do even a simple google search when connected to an international server.
Because of my connection issues with international servers, I was interested to see if the problem was from a leaking connection with some of the DNS servers. Unfortunately, the DNS Leak Test came back with less than stellar results. This is just one example but multiple servers reported similar results.
I switched to a US-based server and tried again and it showed no leak. Just to double check, I ran a TorGuard leak test and came up with no leaks.
Just for peace of mind, I ran an IPV6 Leak Test which showed that it was not leaking.
Testing on mobile
Because I use an iPhone, I downloaded and tried the app, just to see how it worked. It wasn’t the most intuitive app I’ve ever seen but you have to take into account that it was probably developed by a bunch of technologically savvy people, a group which I am not a part of. The idea is to help make coffee-shop browsing safer and emails while on-the-road secure.
The VPNArea app downloaded very quickly and I was able to log into it using the same login and password as the desktop application. However, I was a bit confused at first when I chose a server and it popped up a request to open an app called OpenVPN. I went back to the App Store and downloaded the OpenVPN app and, again, had to sign into it using my credentials from VPNArea. Once I opened the link to the server from the VPNArea app in the OpenVPN app I was able to get the VPN to connect and protect my phone. Note, though, that it asks you to sign in every time you change servers, which is a bit tedious. Essentially, the VPNArea app is where you go to find a server that suits your needs and then you open that server in the OpenVPN app and connect to it.
Of course, I had to test to see if the app was secure so I ran an IPLeak.net test, which showed that there was no DNS leak found. What this means is that the DNS server is solidly protecting your information.
Once connected, I ran a series of SpeedTest.net tests. I ran each test both on the 3G network and on the WiFi network. The speeds were all over the place and didn’t really seem to have a whole lot of consistency. The download speeds on 3G were significantly slower at a nearby server (about 25mbps less) when on the 3G network but when on WiFi the speed increased on the VPN connection by almost 13mbps! The fastest connection I could find was in Detroit, Michigan. Though the ping speed slowed, the upload and download speeds were only slightly diminished from the non-VPN connection. Not surprisingly, when I connected to a server in London, UK, halfway across the world, the speeds slowed significantly.
BBC and Netflix
When I'm traveling, I need to watch movies and tv shows on my phone or iPad, so I was curious to see if I could connect to content on the BBC iPlayer , which is normally restricted from those outside the United Kingdom. I was happy to find that, although the VPN was flagged on Safari, both Firefox and Chrome browsers were able to connect and view the content. As an added bonus, I was able to view Netflix and Hulu in various countries across the world which allowed me quite a significant diversity in content available to me.
Something worth noting is that when you transfer from WiFi to 3G and back again, the VPN has to disconnect but the app is designed to immediately reconnect you to the server again. I doubt that much data could be transferred in that few-second gap of time but it would be better if the app mimicked the kill-switch option that is given in the desktop program, killing internet connection to apps while they’re unprotected to the VPN.
If I’m being honest, it was very inconvenient that, when I was having trouble with the application, there was no one to help me on live-chat. This was on a Friday morning at around 10am EST and I did not receive an email in response until Monday evening, three and a half days later. Both the weekend and the distance to the home office might come into play on this issue but, as most any everyday user might, I was ready to move on to a different VPN service. Their response was very open and willing to help but they asked for error codes and I couldn’t even access them because my screen had closed and would not reopen.
Privacy is incredibly important in the world of VPN users and that is why VPNArea is acclaimed to be one of the best. They have a no-logs policy and none of the information on who their users are or what they are doing is even stored. Because they aren’t part of the 14 eyes coalition, they don’t have to. The government cannot force them to provide information, even with a subpoena. Another important feature is being able to maintain anonymity while paying so there is no trace. They even let you pay anonymously using Bitcoin.
From what I could tell, there was no legal controversy surrounding VPNArea nor did anyone else have much negative to say about it, barring some comments on slow speeds.
One of the most important security features a VPN service can offer is an SSL Certificate which allows the user the confidence of a secure tunnel between VPN servers. VPNArea offers that security with the boost of a 256-bit encryption. When it comes to hacking, a 256-bit encryption exponentially increases the difficulty for decoding information, making it virtually impossible to get at the data being transferred.
Of course, the additional security tools within the application only enhance this security. The DNS Leak testing definitely goes above and beyond anything I’ve seen on other services and the ability to automatically change your IP address at a specified interval of time blew my mind. I may not do anything that needs that level of protection but if you were handling sensitive information that would really make you feel safer.
As I mentioned earlier, I love to watch a little BBC when I’m traveling and I enjoy perusing media from other cultures around the world so getting access to blocked websites is a significant perk for me. I’m sure many people utilize VPN’s as a way to connect to data or websites that might otherwise be made unavailable to them for a variety of reasons. Because of connection issues on the desktop application, I was unable to see if this was possible. However, on the mobile app, I was able to connect pretty quickly and only one of my browsers was flagged. It was really nice to be able to connect quickly and succinctly without a bunch of trouble. For reference purposes, VPNArea offers many networks that are geared toward users looking to utilize services such as Netflix. Specifically, they have a USA server with a Netflix EU-hub and another that is just for Netflix, a UK Netflix server and another UK server for BBC content.
Ultimately, I was not very happy with the services offered by VPN area. The desktop application caused me a lot of trouble and I spent more than a full day trying to navigate a way to fix it. I ended up utilizing 3 computers and each time I still experienced the same issues. Yes, the application works when installed correctly but it hovers over the top of every other program and gets in the way and if you close it the program cannot be reopened. The mobile app was the redeeming factor because it worked seamlessly. I felt confident that my information was secure and didn’t notice any trouble with speed. True, I do not do anything that requires a speedy connection such as gaming or P2P file sharing but VPNArea has networks specifically geared toward them. After my experience, I will be canceling my subscription to this service and pursuing a refund as it does not work on my laptop and that is my primary need when I travel.
- Comparatively strong speed test scores.
- Numerous server locations.
- Advanced security features.
- Allows P2P and BitTorrent.
- Few servers.
- Confusing interface.
- Sketchy-feeling website.
To protect your web traffic and your privacy, you need a virtual private network to secure your internet connection. VPNArea has all the makings of a great VPN service, with unique features, such as multi-hop connections and IP address rotation. It also includes specific servers for connecting to streaming video services that block VPN use, and it even racks up some impressive speed test scores. On the other hand, it's hampered by a subpar user experience that extends from the company's website to its VPN client, and there are only a scant number of servers available. I see potential in VPNArea, but for now you are better served by one of our Editors' Choice winning VPNs, the friendly and capable NordVPN or the robust Private Internet Access.
What Is a VPN?
Once activated, a VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a server controlled by the VPN company. Your web traffic travels through the tunnel, and then exits onto the wider internet from the VPN server. This is why you need a VPN.
It's simple, but has several important effects. For one thing, no one on the network you're using—not even the person who controls it—can intercept or read your web traffic. If you frequently use the airport or coffee shop Wi-Fi, this is a critical level of protection.
For another, a VPN makes it much harder for your ISP to see what you're doing online. There are many reasons to want that level of privacy, but foremost should be the fact that Congress has (foolishly) given ISPs the green light to sell anonymized metadata from their users. The ISPs argue that companies like Facebook and Google do the same thing, which is true, but someone could conceivably decide not use Google or Facebook. Most people have precious little choice when it comes to selecting a company to get access to the internet.
VPNs can also unlock restricted content on the web. If you live in a country with particularly restrictive laws regarding internet access, you can connect to a VPN server outside your country, and breathe the free air of the public internet. Journalists and political activists have used VPNs for just this reason.
By the same token, you can connect to a far-flung VPN server to spoof your location. If you connect to a UK-based VPN server, you'll be able to access BBC video streams which are available only to users within the UK. This works because your true IP address, which is closely correlated to your actual location on Earth, is hidden behind the VPN server's IP address. It's also how a VPN will also help anonymize your internet experience, and make it harder for advertisers to track your movement between websites.
Unfortunately, using a VPN won't solve all your problems. An adversary willing to target you specifically, and invest adequate time and money, can probably work around any VPN's protections. Plus, VPNs sometimes create problems of their own, since some services simply won't work while a VPN is active. Occasionally it's a technical issue, but not always. Streaming services often block VPN use, which is the case for Netflix and Hulu.
Pricing and Features
Subscriptions for VPNArea start at $9.90 per month, $50 for six months, and $59 for a year. That's a bit lower than the average price for a VPN service on a per-month basis, but there are more affordable options. Private Internet Access (3 Months Free with 1 Year Subscription at Private Internet Access) , for example, costs just $6.95 per month, while KeepSolid VPN Unlimited offers a remarkably flexible pricing system that includes a $3.99 per week plan. VPNArea plans can be purchased with a credit card, PayPal, or BitCoin transaction, or with prepaid gift cards from other merchants, such as Subway sandwich shops.
But a light bank account should be no obstacle to obtaining a VPN's protection, and there are many free VPNs available. TunnelBear, for example, limits users to just 1GB a month, but is otherwise an excellent free choice. The browser plug-in versions of AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite have no restrictions at all, but offer less protection since they only secure browser traffic. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that the Opera browser ships with a surprisingly fast and powerful VPN built-in.
Each VPNArea subscription lets you protect up to six devices, one more than the average provided by other VPN services. The company has native apps for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows, so you'll have no trouble securing most devices in your house. On the company's website, you'll find numerous sets of instructions for extending VPN protection to more exotic devices, like the Amazon Fire Stick and even several routers. Putting VPN protection on your router extends protection to all the devices on your network, which is especially important for smart lightbulbs and other IOT products that can't run VPN on their own. If that sounds appealing, consider that TorGuard VPN sells routers that have been preconfigured to use its service, with no setup required.
The backbone of VPNArea's service is its 220 servers spread across 69 locations. This is one of the most comprehensive lists of server locations, and includes regions often ignored or underserved by the competition. VPNArea has servers in countries with notably repressive internet policies, including China, Russia, Turkey, and, the only time I have yet seen it supported by a VPN service, Iran. But while the locations are impressive, the number of servers is not. The company assures me it does not allow its servers to be overloaded, but the best VPN services typically offer at least 500 and often more than 1,000 servers. Private Internet Access is the most robust VPN service I've yet tested with 3,000 servers at its disposal.
These server numbers matter. The more server locations there are, the more likely it is you'll find a server near your physical location, which generally means better speeds. The more total servers a VPN provides, the more likely you are to find a server that's not overstuffed with other users, which means you get a bigger slice of the bandwidth pie.
NordVPN ($3.49 Per Month at NordVPN) has long ruled the roost thanks in part to its robust service, but also its unique server offerings for connecting to Tor over VPN, among others. VPNArea has a few tricks of its own, including multi-hop connection options that route your VPN traffic through an additional VPN server. This adds an additional layer of security and anonymization, similar to how Toroperates (although Tor uses many more than two hops). VPNArea also has servers specifically for accessing Netflix and Hulu, which is great for frequent streamers. This is perhaps VPNArea's best asset, and one that lets it compete with the best VPNs I've reviewed.
Fans of file sharing will be happy to know that VPNArea allows P2P and BitTorrent on most of its servers, excepting those in Australia, France, Iceland, the Isle of Man, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK. TorGuard has built its entire reputation on serving BitTorrent users, offering valuable subscription add-ons like access to a high-bandwidth network and static IP addresses. VPNArea will also provide a dedicated IP address, if you are so inclined. These cost between $13 and $60, depending on location, and are only available for 6 month and one year subscriptions. That's much more restrictive than other VPN services that provide these add-ons.
Under the hood, VPNArea uses its own Chameleon protocol for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Chameleon is based on the industry standard open-source OpenVPN protocol that I prefer. (Note that Golden Frog VyprVPN also offers a Chameleon protocol, but VPNArea says the naming is coincidental.) I am skeptical about how well a custom protocol performs, but I'll leave that judgement to the professional security researchers. VPNArea also supports regular ol' OpenVPN, too, and the older, less-secure PPTP on a few servers. A representative for the company explained that VPNArea also supports stunnel obfuscation, which helps users in countries that attempt to block VPN connect successfully.
Note that VPNArea does offer ad-blocking, but in a rather roundabout way. The blocking occurs at the DNS level, which is great, but you'll have to follow the company's instructions to activate it on your computer. It's much too arduous a task, and I doubt most people would even think to try. TunnelBear offers a far friendlier experience with a browser plug-in that gives you a lot of control over how and when ads and trackers are blocked.
Trusting a VPN
Like any security product, using a VPN requires a certain degree of trust between you and the VPN company. After all, a VPN company potentially has great visibility into your online activity while you're connected. In general, VPNArea presents itself as being in a solid technical and legal position to protect your privacy.
The same representative also said that VPNArea is based in Bulgaria, with company email and administration servers hosted in Switzerland. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's list of mandatory data retention policies does not include either of those countries, unfortunately. VPNArea's representative explained that the company is not subject to any mandatory data retention laws. That's a good thing, and means your privacy is better protected.
Hands On With VPNArea
VPNArea has the right technology in its product and the right policies regarding user privacy, but its website leaves something to be desired. You might, as I did, get the sense that VPNArea is a fly-by-night company (It's not; it was founded in 2012) from the site's confusing interface and unusual credit card processing system. In fact, I couldn't determine whether I had successfully purchased a subscription. Worse yet, VPNArea limits you to only letters and numbers when you create a password for your account. Any decent password manager would balk. A bigger investment in its web presence would go a long way toward making VPNArea not just friendlier, but feel more trustworthy.
While it's cleaning house, VPNArea should take a moment to spruce up its Windows client as well. I was able to install it on my Lenovo ThinkPad T460s laptop running Windows 10, but the app has a Janus-faced experience I found bewildering.
At first, you'll see a fairly modern looking window that seems friendly enough, if a bit pixelated. From here you can select or search for a particular server and connect. Separate tabs let you filter down to servers recommended automatically by VPNArea, and servers you've marked as a favorite (or, rather, "favourite"). I like that it clearly shows your connection status, current IP address, and the distance to the VPN server, but I would like to see still more information. NordVPN has an excellent interface, which is easy to use and packed with really useful information like VPN server load, among other critical stats.
If you want to do more with VPNArea, you'll need to click the Show Dashboard button. This opens a new and painfully overwhelming window where you can get more information about server speed, type of connection (UDP vs TCP), DNS tools, and much more. A speed test tool gives you a bit more information about server performance, but requires a bit of heavy lifting on the part of you, the user.
One feature that stands out is the auto IP changer. This is handy if you're keen to maximize your privacy, since it changes your IP address at set intervals. It's a rare feature, and I'm glad to see it in VPNArea, even if it is buried in this vibrant blue user interface monstrosity.
Regardless of which half of the app you use, you'll probably notice that the app uses some rather lengthy names for its servers. I think this is a bit confusing, and that a simpler approach would help immensely. The confusing server nomenclature also hides the specially tweaked servers for accessing Netflix and Hulu via VPN, one of VPNArea's best features, and one rarely seen in the competition.
Speaking of Netflix: You can absolutely connect to the video streaming service via VPNArea and the you won't be blocked. It took me some trial and error in testing, however, moving through servers with names like USA-0-NFLX before I found a "NFLX" server that worked. Turning this into a more user-friendly tool, which is what PureVPN and KeepSolid VPN Unlimited ($199.99 at VPN Unlimited) have done, would help enormously.
VPNs have been around for a very long time, but have become very popular in recent months. For many people, this may be the first security tool they've ever used. Moreover, prizing technical prowess over user design is something of a stereotype for security products, and one I'd like to see less of. But even user experience can take a back seat to outstanding performance. Private Internet Access has one of the worst designs I have ever seen for any product in any category, but it offers excellent technology and an unmatched server infrastructure. All that being said, VPNArea needs to get both much more robust and much cleaner before I can fully recommend it.
Speed Test Results
Because VPNs route your traffic through more fiber and machines, you'll typically see a negative impact on your web browsing experience. Usually this comes in the form of increased latency and decreased upload and download speeds; problems that worsen depending on your distance from the VPN server.
In order to get a sense for the impact of each VPN, I perform a series of trials using the Ookla speed test tool, both with and without the VPN. (Note that Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, which also owns PCMag.) I then discard the highest and lowest results, average what remains, and find a percent change between the two. In the first round of testing, I select a nearby server, to get the best speeds that a VPN can offer. In the second round, I select an Ookla test server in Anchorage, Alaska, and a VPN server in Australia. The great distance between these two points stresses the VPN, giving a sense for how it performs when you're spoofing your location.
VPNArea started strong in the domestic tests by increasing latency by a mere 6.2 percent, one of the lowest scores I've recorded for this test. Avast SecureLine bested the competition, however, by actually decreasing latency time by 29.9 percent. Unfortunately for VPNArea, its performance in the download test was decidedly lackluster; it reduced download speeds by 17.4 percent, the second worst score so far. PureVPN is by far the leader in this test, improving download speeds by 346.4 percent. Redemption was had, however, when VPNArea snagged the best upload score by reducing upload speeds by only 3.2 percent.
In the international test, VPNArea again started strong, increasing latency by 252.9 percent. That's in the best three results for this test, led by AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite, which increased latency by 155.4 percent. Again, the download test proved to be a stumbling block for VPNArea, which reduced download speeds by 14.2 percent. PureVPN, on the other hand, actually improved download speeds by 403.8 percent. In the upload test, it took second place by reducing upload speeds by 2.8 percent. That's not a big impact at all, but Hotspot Shield Elite eked out a victory by improving upload speeds by 1.4 percent.
VPNArea deserves credit for its speed test scores. It didn't always win, but scored very well in multiple test categories—a remarkable feat in its own right. Personally, I don't think speed should be the only or even the most important consideration when buying a VPN (value and a quality experience wins every time). But if speed is your main concern, PureVPN ($69.12 at PureVPN) has shown that it is the fastest VPN by far.
The VPNArea of Effect
Our connection issues are a concern, but VPNArea's top-notch unblocking performance and interesting features mean it's worth a look anyway. Check it out.
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon, Disney+
- Good value
- Wide platform support
- Some connection problems
- Underpowered mobile apps
- No choice of protocol
- No trial
VPNArea is a popular and well-established VPN run by the Bulgarian-based firm Offshore Security EOOD.
The service has a lengthy list of appealing features. It covers 100+ locations in 65+ countries across the globe, has support for six simultaneous connections, P2P, a kill switch to protect your identity if the service fails, and there's 24/7 live chat support if anything goes wrong.
The company offers custom clients for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, and includes detailed setup guides for routers and other devices.Prices are fair at around $9.90 per month, dropping to a reasonable $4.92 with an annual contract, and just $2.99 if you sign up for three years.
The company has a ‘dedicated IP’ option which it says provides your own private VPN server from $20 (£15.38) a year extra.
There are a handful of providers with even lower prices - Surfshark asks just $1.99 a month on its two-year plan - but VPNArea looks better value than most.
VPNArea no longer offers a trial, but very few providers do, these days, and there is one small compensation: the company has increased its money-back guarantee to 14 days with the one month plan, 30 days if you sign up for one or three years.
Privacy and logging
"We do not monitor, record or store logs for any single customer's VPN activity. We do not monitor, record or store any login dates, timestamps, incoming and outgoing IP addresses, bandwidth statistics or any other identifiable data of any VPN users using our VPN servers. We do not log or track any DNS requests sent to our DNS servers."
The company is saying all the right things, although as it's not had a public privacy or security audit, there's no independent evidence to back this up.
VPNArea's policy on disclosure of personal information is encouraging. Many other providers say they'll hand it over if they believe it to be a legal requirement, which could just mean they're persuaded by whoever is asking. VPNArea says it won't do anything until it gets a court order, and will "fight every legal request for compliance with the law". Although as the company also says it hasn't received any requests yet, it doesn't seem like much of a risk.
While scouring the small print we also noticed that VPNArea allows account sharing with friends, family or colleagues, something explicitly forbidden by most providers. The company also says it recommends no more than two users connect at the same time, and although it probably won't accept both of you downloading torrents 24/7, this is still much more flexibility than you'll usually see elsewhere.
Choosing your VPNArea plan is unusually easy, as the company crams everything onto a single page: a comparison table for the various plans, the form for creating a user account, a choice of payment details (card, PayPal, Bitcoin, more), even a FAQ to clarify some important product issues.
The signup process largely worked as expected. After we'd paid, the website redirected us to its excellent web dashboard. Download links pointed us to apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, and there were manual setup guides for routers, Kodi, Amazon FireTV and more, and instructions on setting up other clients (OpenVPN, Viscosity.)
Unusually, the dashboard also recommended the servers to use for Netflix USA, Amazon, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, as well as advising you which settings give you the best chance of getting online from China. It's good to see a VPN which aims to keep its customers informed, rather than leaving everyone to guess which servers to choose for any particular task.
After asking us to log in, VPNArea's Windows client displayed its very comprehensive location list. This opened with a list of all servers, sorted by country, with figures for server load, ping time, and even the approximate distance from your current location. You can sort by any of these, too, for example ordering the list by ping time with a click.
Tabs allow you to view particular groups of servers. 'Recommended' displays the fastest servers for you; 'P2P - Torrents' includes the best torrent-friendly servers; 'Special' offers servers for specific tasks (DoubleVPN to improve security, Netflix to unblock streaming, X-Stunnel to bypass VPN blocking), and the 'Favorites' panel stores your most commonly-used locations.
Although this makes for a bulkier interface than the more streamlined competition, it's easy enough to use, and a versatile search box speeds up server-finding even further. Just type P2 and the client displays P2P-friendly server; typing IP is enough to find the BBC iPlayer server; LOS gets you Los Angeles, New highlights New Zealand and New York, and so on.
A Settings pane gives you access to a lot of tweaks and options. There are a couple of kill switch options, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, the ability to set custom DNS servers, change the connection port and type (UDP or TCP), enable blocking ads and malicious websites, and more. This doesn't have all the features we'd like to see - you can't change protocol, or ask the client to automatically connect when you access an insecure network - but it's far more comprehensive than most competitors.
VPNArea's mobile clients are a little basic, by comparison. The location picker is a highlight, and much the same as the desktop edition, but there are only a handful of options and settings (TCP or UDP protocol, connection port, an option to use your own DNS servers.) These all work well enough and the apps aren't bad, overall, but there's scope for them to be a lot better.
VPNArea clearly commits to unblocking popular services on its website and in its clients, which is good to see - but does the company really deliver?
We were worried to see that VPNArea's special BBC iPlayer was no longer in the location list. But that's okay, because iPlayer now works with the regular UK servers, no need to choose anything else.
VPNArea has three specialist servers for Netflix: one in the US, one which gets you in to US Netflix but is physically located in the EU (and so faster, in theory, if you're in Europe), and one for UK Netflix. We couldn't connect to the second, for some unknown reason, but the others worked just fine in our tests.
And the good news kept coming as VPNArea successfully unblocked everything from US YouTube to Amazon Prime Video and even Disney+, a great result.
Running performance tests on VPNArea gave us broadly positive results. UK to UK connections were inconsistent but always acceptable at 45-65Mbps on our 75Mbps test line. UK to US speeds only dropped a little to 35-40Mbps. Even when we deliberately chose the server with the highest latency and maximum load (Sydney, Australia), VPNArea still managed 4-5Mbps.
But we also noticed that connection times could be long (up to 15-20 seconds), and some servers wouldn't connect at all, a real annoyance when you just want to get online. That's not some temporary issue, either - we had the same problem in our latest review.
We completed our evaluation with some privacy tests, and these were more successful. VPNArea correctly shielded our identity at all times, blocking DNS and WebRTC leaks without any extra effort on our part.
VPNArea is a likeable service with decent desktop apps, interesting features and the ability to unblock every platform we tried. The mobile apps are a little underpowered and the connection issues are a concern (it lacks the overall sheen of better providers like , but may not affect everyone, and shouldn't stop you giving the VPN a try.
This Bulgaria-based provider may be relatively small but it has a lot to offer. Whether you’re looking to browse, stream, or torrent, VPNArea promises to have you covered.
We’ve been testing out this VPN service to find out if it really lives up to its claims of being a fast and secure VPN, and if it’s worth the money. In this review, you’ll find out everything you need to know to help you decide if this is the right VPN for you.
VPNArea plans give you access to more than 200 servers in 69 countries, with some specialized for specific tasks such as double VPN or streaming particular services. This provider offers apps for all the major operating systems, including MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. It can also be set up with Linux and some routers, although there isn’t a lot of support documentation available for manual configuration. For router setup, you might consider buying a pre-configured VPNArea router through FlashRouters.
A single plan enables you to connect six devices simultaneously, which is one better than the industry standard of five. VPNArea even encourages account sharing, so you don’t have to worry about your account being closed if you decide to share it with friends or family.
This provider keeps things simple by offering just one plan, although prices vary depending on the term you sign up for. If you pay on a monthly basis, the price is $9.90 per month which is about average in the industry. If you pay for six months upfront, the price drops a little to $8.33 per month, a total of $50. But for just $9 extra, you can get a year’s worth of service, which works out to $4.92 per month.
This isn’t bad when you compare it to other top-rated providers we’ve reviewed in the past. Although, some do offer longer terms with even steeper discounts, with two- or three-year terms costing as low as $3 per month.
When you purchase a plan, you’ll have the option to add a dedicated IP for the same term. There are nine countries to choose from with prices varying depending on location. Prices start at $18 for six months and $20 for a one-year term.
Once you’ve chosen your plan, you have a range of payment options, including major credit cards, PayPal, bitcoin, and payment platforms such as AliPay and WebMoney. The ability to pay with cryptocurrency is a plus for privacy-conscious users who would like to sign up as anonymously as possible.
Most providers guarantee their service with a promise to return your money if you’re unsatisfied. VPNArea gives you seven days to take advantage of this guarantee, which is pretty tight compared to the 30-day trial periods offered by many competitors.
READER DEAL: Sign up for the annual plan and save $59. This comes with a seven-day money back guarantee.
Servers and performance
VPNArea operates a relatively small network of more than 200 servers spanning almost 70 countries. Although the overall number is small, the number of countries is decent and the list includes locations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia/Oceania. There are even server locations in China, which you don’t see too often.
You have several options when choosing between servers in the desktop client, and can organize them in terms of favorites, special servers, and more. In the iOS app, you can view them alphabetically or listed in order of speed.
We tested out VPNArea servers while performing various everyday tasks. We did some general browsing, streamed HD video, played online games, and downloaded files for speed tests.
Overall, the connection was reliable. Switching between servers was mostly painless, although we did have some issues, specifically when trying to connect to geographically distant servers in the UK. The connection attempt would take a long time, to the point (after about a minute) where we would give up and try a different server.
We also had problems when trying to connect to US servers within the mobile app. Three were shown to be available, but connection attempts failed after a few seconds. We contacted customer support through live chat but had to be moved to an email conversation. We were eventually able to connect, albeit after having to download two more apps (more on that below).
We tested several US and UK servers and were able to browse without any noticeable slowdowns and stream HD video with no buffering. We also played online games without issues on all of the test servers.
VPNArea speed test performance
When we run our speed tests, we try to be as empirical as possible. The tests are run in Toronto and involve downloading a 100MB file from a server in Oregon. We test VPN servers in three different locations (usually in the US West, US East, and UK) at three different times during the day.
For every time point, we run a control test with no VPN connection. You can see the results shown in the boxplot below, alongside other VPNs we’ve tested in a similar manner. The median speed for each provider is shown by the line where the light and dark blue boxes meet. Lower is faster. The spread in results is indicated by the overall box size. Smaller means more consistent.
As you can see from the plot, VPNArea pegs some great speeds. For geographically close servers in the US, speeds were only about 25% slower than the control. Things did slow down quite a bit for the UK, but this is a common observation, even with top-rated VPNs, and even then, the speeds weren’t terrible. The relatively small box size means that results are fairly consistent, so you know what you can expect.
We should note that these results can only serve as an approximate indicator of what you might actually experience when using the service. The volatility of the internet adds a factor of randomness, so the tests should be taken with a grain of salt. They were run while using a 60Mbps connection, so you may see longer wait times with a slower connection, and potentially smaller or larger discrepancies.
Does VPNArea unblock Netflix and other popular streaming sites?
Yes, VPNArea can unblock Netflix and other streaming sites. For streaming, we test various servers for unblocking notoriously strict sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
When it comes to Netflix US, you should have no problem accessing content with VPNArea’s desktop client. It marks specific servers for certain streaming platforms, so it’s easy to identify which one to use. In the desktop app, you can go into the Special tab of the servers list and choose from several streaming options, Netflix US being one of them. This worked seamlessly for us, but we also tried a few random US servers and were still able to unblock Netflix with no issues.
You’ll notice a Netflix UK server, too, and this one worked to unblock the British Netflix library. Most providers only focus on the US catalog so it’s refreshing to see the British one up there too.
We were able to unblock Netflix in the iOS app as well, but only after some lengthy troubleshooting with customer support.
Unblocking BBC iPlayer was no issue using the specially marked UK server, and we accessed Amazon Prime Video with all of the regular servers we tested (in the US West, US East, and UK).
Does VPNArea work in China?
Yes, VPNArea should work in China. We mentioned the “Stunnel” servers earlier, and these are basically stealth servers that obfuscate your traffic so that it can bypass even the strongest firewalls, including the Great Firewall of China.
By switching to one of these servers, you should be able to enjoy access to the free web while living or traveling in China. These servers can also be used in other situations where stealth mode is appropriate, such as in schools or offices where network administrators attempt to block VPNs.
Note that due to the extra encryption, these servers will be slower than normal, so should only be used if absolutely needed.
Security and privacy
VPNArea is based in Bulgaria, a country where the government has access to real-time internet activity through internet service providers (ISPs). However, since VPNs fall outside of the data retention rules that must be followed by ISPs, there is no need for concern if the provider has a solid no-logging policy.
As it notes on its website, VPNArea doesn’t have to log any metadata whatsoever. Indeed, this provider maintains a strict and clear no-logs policy: “We do not monitor, record or store logs for any single customer’s VPN activity. We do not monitor, record or store any login dates, timestamps, incoming and outgoing IP addresses, bandwidth statistics or any other identifiable data of any VPN users using our VPN servers.”
This means you don’t have to worry about any of your activity being tracked, or any metadata logs that can be tied to your real IP address. What’s more, VPNArea enables you to pay with bitcoin, which is another plus for privacy.
This service uses “military-grade” 256-bit AES encryption on the default OpenVPN protocol. This is in conjunction with a SHA256 hash, 4,096-bit RSA keys, and perfect forward secrecy. The other protocol offered is IKEv2 which uses 256-bit encryption, and a SHA512 hash. This one offers a fast and secure alternative to OpenVPN and is often used on mobile devices.
Even the strongest encryption doesn’t offer full security if there’s the chance of leaks. Thankfully, VPNArea provides IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. These are enabled by default in the desktop version. The company owns its DNS servers which is another plus for privacy.
There’s a kill switch in the desktop apps, which will kill the internet connection if the VPN connection happens to drop, preventing any of your information from leaving the encrypted tunnel. It can be toggled on and off in the desktop client, but bear in mind it’s disabled by default.
Additional security features
We mentioned the Stunnel (stealth) servers earlier, but there are a couple more additional security features worth mentioning. VPNArea offers double VPN, which sends your traffic through two VPN servers, offering an additional layer of privacy.
You can also turn on ad and malware blocking using the toggle in the settings screen of the desktop client. Finally, an Auto IP Changer feature (which should be available in the desktop clients) lets you control how often your IP address is changed. However, this feature appeared to be unavailable in the Windows client and so far, customer support has been unable to help us.
Setup and interface
To get started with the service, once you’ve signed up for an account, you can download the relevant app for your device and install. When you’re logged in, you’ll find the apps easy to use, although a little less polished than those offered by other providers.
For the purposes of this review, we’ve been trying out the Windows desktop client and the iOS app.
Once you’ve installed and run the Windows client, you can enter your credentials and select the Server List button to be taken to the main screen. Here, you can choose to view various server lists in separate tabs, including All Servers, Recommended, Favorites, P2P Torrents, Special, and Dedicated IP. In all lists, you can see the load on each server, denoted by the percentage next to the server name.
While most of the lists are pretty self-explanatory, one notable one is the Special tab.
This shows you the servers suitable for specific streaming sites, such as a UK server for unblocking BBC iPlayer, and US and UK servers suitable for watching Netflix. Other special servers include Double VPN and Stunnel.
Moving on, by clicking Settings at the bottom of the client, you’ll be taken to a single list of options. You can either scroll down the entire list or navigate to a specific point by using the tabs at the top of the client. This setup is a bit confusing, and is a deviation from what we’re used to seeing in other apps, where there are usually multiple separate tabs. Nonetheless, some users might be happy to see everything in one place so that you don’t have to switch tabs.
The first setting you see is the Ad Block & Malware Prevent which is off by default. Then you have general settings that enable you to tailor your startup options. These include things like starting up the app when you start your computer and connecting to the last server used.
Next, you have some security settings, including the option to adjust the kill switches and DNS and IPv6 leak protection. You’ll notice there are two kill switch options — one uses the Windows firewall to block your internet connection, whereas the other “Nuclear” option disables your internet connection entirely.
You can also decide whether to switch your connection protocol from UDP to TCP. This can sometimes help speed up a connection or forge one that’s otherwise being blocked. Another handy feature here that can help with troubleshooting is the option to switch ports.
That just about wraps up the main options within this desktop client. As you can see, there is plenty to play around with, although it could be displayed in a more user-friendly manner. There are explanations provided for certain features, which will be helpful for beginners.
In the iOS app store, things are a bit confusing as there are two VPNArea apps: one named “VPNArea” and described as a “Productivity” app, and the other named “VPN: Fast & Unlimited VPN Area.” They appear to be basically the same app, although one looks slightly dated compared to the other. We asked customer support which one to use and they confirmed that the latter is the right option, but they couldn’t tell us why there are two.
Later, when we ran into issues connecting to a US server, we were referred to a tutorial that used the older app. Following the tutorial, we found that to connect to a server, we also had to install the OpenVPN Connect app and configure each server individually, which isn’t ideal. In short, while the new app was easy to use, there were no US servers available, so we had to use the older, less user-friendly version instead.
Moving on, once you log into the app, the main screen will tell you if you’re connected, which server you’re connected to, your IP address, and the session duration.
There’s not a whole lot going on in this app except for the server list. When you load the list, a speed test is run for every server. Those numbers indicate the round-trip ping time or, in other words, the amount of time it takes for a single piece of data to travel from your device to the server and back. While this latency test can be useful, it doesn’t actually indicate the amount of bandwidth and download speed you’ll get once connected. This happens each time you open the list, although you don’t have to wait for the tests to be done before you select a server.
You can switch to the Speed tab to view servers in order of speed. Within the lists, you will see special streaming servers for accessing content from sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, although you can’t view them in their own list as in the desktop client.
There is a menu within the app, but there are no actual settings options. All-in-all, this is lackluster compared to the desktop version and some advanced users will miss more options. Plus, in our experience, the latest version of the app had no US servers available, so will be useless to many users.
If you need help with the VPNArea service, you have a couple of options. There is a FAQ page, although there aren’t many questions answered here, so you might not find what you’re looking for. We couldn’t find guides or tutorials, which are typical offerings on VPN support pages. They may be available, but if so, they’re not easily located.
There is 24/7 live chat, which should be great if you’re looking for a quick response. However, live chat representatives were unable to answer basic questions about security features or to help us with server issues and a problem with a missing feature. In each case, we were referred to a “senior support colleague.”
Response times over email ranged from under an hour to nine hours, so taking into account our response times, as well as a lot of back and forth, it took a long time to troubleshoot the various issues.
The customer support was lacking overall, and the live chat could be vastly improved. Similarly, the apps could use a bit of an overhaul as they weren’t the most user-friendly and the mobile version was sparse. Finally, there were some connection issues with certain servers in both the desktop and mobile versions, which could become very frustrating.
Consumers can purchase VPNArea via three different subscription plans. The cost is reduced the longer the subscriber commits for. A single-month offering costs $9.90 per month, which is pricey but normal for a one month VPN plan. The cost reduces to $4.92 for an annual plan. However, subscribing for 3 years lowers the cost to just $2.99 per month, which is a hard price to beat considering what you get for your money.
Although VPNArea doesn’t provide a free trial, it does have thirty-day money-back guarantee (14 days on the 1-month account). That means you can test the service for a whole week and get a refund if you aren’t quite happy.
VPNArea provides plenty of different payment options. Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, UnionPay, JCB, and Maestro, are all accepted. And, users can elect to pay with Bitcoin or via e-wallets like PayPal, Payza, and Webmoney.
Supported Payment Platforms
When it comes to unblocking content VPNArea is superb. This service is a fanstatic VPN for Netflix as it can unblock the Netflix content from around the world. VPNArea lets you watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK. In fact, it is one of the few VPNs that unblocks rarer services like RTE Ireland, Italian SkyGo and Italian Netflix. What we like about VPNArea is that it listens to its subscribers and will go out of its way to ensure services are unblocked if they are requested.
|Bare metal or virtual servers||A combination|
|Routers Supported||ASUS GLi DD-WRT|
VPNArea has a full suite of privacy and security features that provide everything subscribers are likely to need including:
No logs policy
Servers in 70 countries worldwide
OpenVPN encryption and IKEv2 VPN protocol
Outstanding customer service
Excellent security features (DNS leak protection)
Killswitch (Windows, Mac OSX, Android)
Live chat is 24/7
6 simultaneous connections
Auto IP change
Stunnel obfuscated connections for bypassing firewalls and concealing VPN use
Dedicated IP addresses with private server add-on
Unblocks Netflix US and BBC iPlayer
We particularly enjoyed VPNArea’s generous six simultaneous connections allowance - which means that subscribers can protect all their devices with just one subscription. This makes VPNArea perfect for family homes where there are a number of mobiles, desktops, and tablets to protect.
What’s more, this is one of the few VPNs that provide dedicated IPs. Subscribers can pay as little as $15 a year to add on a dedicated IP with a private server to their existing subscription. Subscribers can get a dedicated IP in a number of hotspots including the UK, the US, the Netherlands, and Australia. This is great for people that play poker and other specialized groups (anyone who wants to run mail or gaming servers, for example).
Speed and Performance
We test VPNArea three times a day using our scientific server-based speed test system. We test servers located in the UK, the US, Hong Kong, and Australia for average and top (burst) connection speeds.
We found VPNArea download speed results to be well above average. With downloads averaging at just below 30 Mbps - it is easy to see why this VPN is great for streaming Netflix or other restricted HD streams.
Burst speeds of 70 Mbps aren’t necessarily blinding - but they do prove that this VPN has plenty of power and will always get the job done when it comes to more data-intensive tasks.
We tested VPNArea for leaks on IPv4 and IPv6 by using the excellent leak test tool ipleak.org. We are happy to report that VPNArea suffered no IP leaks, DNS leaks, or WebRTC leaks on either type of connection. This is extremely impressive because a lot of premium VPNs suffer some leaks on IPv6: VPNArea did not.
You can use ipleak.net to check for IP leaks, DNS leaks, and WebRTC leaks for yourself. Remember to always use a private browsing window in your browser to avoid cache problems!
When you connect to VPNArea, DNS requests are handled by third-party DNS resolvers run by Cloudflare. However, VPNArea always proxies those requests first - meaning that this VPN is completely secure in terms of privacy.
Perhaps the only downside of using Cloudflare DNS resolvers is that it does push up DNS lookup times a little, which means that page load times will increase slightly while VPNArea is connected.
VPNArea is great for privacy purposes because of its base in Bulgaria and Swiss central servers. This keeps its subscribers' data well out of reach of invasive jurisdictions such as the UK and the US. Add to this, the fact that it is a zero-logs VPN. This means that it keeps no data on their customers so they have nothing to pass to the authorities if requested.
What’s more, VPNArea has a killswitch on Mac OS X, Windows, and Android meaning that this VPN is perfect for people who want to download torrents safely. In addition, VPNArea uses bare-metal servers that it has full control over - even when it provides virtual locations.
All in all, we have no doubts that VPNArea is extremely good for privacy purposes and being able to pay with Bitcoins and without giving a name creates the possibility for relative anonymity.
VPNArea is a VPN that prides itself on providing strong up to date encryption implementation. It provides access to OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols; both which are considered military grade encryption.
Where OpenVPN is concerned, We awarded VPNArea was awarded five out of five for its implementation of the protocol VPN awards in Las Vegas.
Here is how VPNArea implements OpenVPN on the control channel:
256-bit AES CBC cipher
HMAC SHA 256 authentication
RSA 4096 handshake
Perfect Forward Secrecy with RSA + DH-4096
The data channel is protected with similarly high standards…
HMAC SHA 256 authentication
This is extremely robust OpenVPN implementation, which means that the VPN can be trusted to provide strong security.
What’s more, VPNArea even has a bug bounty on its website inviting white hat hackers to earn money for finding vulnerabilities in its clients. This is excellent and shows that the firm is open about wanting to ensure security on its platform.
When it comes to customer services there are few VPNs that we have ever tested that are in the same league as VPNArea. Subscribers and non-subscribers alike have access to 24/7 live chat support, and their agents are friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
In addition, subscribers get access to a ticket system for asking questions via email, a useful FAQ section, and setup guides for all Operating Systems and for DD-WRT and Tomato routers.
I tested their live chat thoroughly and found it to be faultless. When I had an extremely techy question regarding encryption implementation I was told I would receive the answer via the email ticket system. The answer was courteous and gave a direct answer to my question, with some additional information regarding both the dedicated IP addresses and their service’s security features.
Finally, VPNArea also has well managed social media accounts on both Twitter (@vpnareacom) and Facebook (VPN Area – Offshore Security EOOD). Consumers can also ask questions on those platforms.
The VPNArea website is a well laid out and useful addition to the service. Plenty of information is available in the FAQ section and once subscribers log in to the member's area they get access to useful setup guides and resources.
Signing up to VPNArea is extremely easy, and users do not need to hand over any invasive data such as names. An email address is needed for correspondence, however, you can elect to join using a burner email for added security if you wish.
The Windows app
As with all of VPNArea’s apps, the Windows VPN client is simply laid out and easy to use. The settings menu is easy to navigate and users can quickly alter any settings that they wish to enable the killswitch or obfuscation, for example.
Speeds on the Windows client are superb, and we were able to stream for hours without interruptions. We never experienced any crashes or other interruptions.
A killswitch is available to stop the VPN leaking data if the connection drops out, which means that this VPN is perfect for torrenting with privacy. DNS leak protection is also available in the client, which is great.
The Auto-IP Changer allows users to set a length of time before the IP is changed. Finally, users can set the VPN to run as soon as Windows starts, auto-connect to the last server they used, check for updates, and also to enable IPv6 leak protection.
VPNArea offers an excellent apps Mac OSX, iOS, Android, and a Linux VPN GUI on several distros. All of the clients provide a full suite of features. It is worth noting that their iOS VPN implements IKEv2 encryption by default and does not have a killswitch. However, OpenVPN can be used by connecting via the OpenVPN connect app.
Other than this, all the platforms are extremely similar and all provide equal efficiency in terms of speed and stability. Routers such as DD-WRT, Merlin Firmware, and Tomato are also compatible, and setup guides for configuring each platform can be found in VPNArea’s members-only area. We tested the iOS and Android VPN apps with an IPv4 connection and found them to be easy to use; neither suffered IP leaks. We also checked the Mac VPN client on both IPv4 and IPv6, again no leaks were discovered, which is excellent.
VPNArea is a highly secure VPN provider based in Bulgaria and hosted in Switzerland. It is a well-rounded service with excellent apps for all platforms. For the cost of a subscription, the no-logs policy, 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak detection, killswitch – and other additional features are truly outstanding.
Customer service could not be better with this provider, and it is always eager to help consumers to unblock content. What’s more, this is one of the few services that still unblocks iPlayer and Netflix US in 2020.
The availability of dedicated IP addresses with a private server is excellent and will be a selling point for some people. To conclude, this VPN is a great all-rounder that is definitely worth testing thanks to its 30-day money back guarantee. If you like the service, a three-year subscription is well worth the money.