SaferVPN Review: is it really that good?
We like SaferVPN’s usability and its award-winning customer service. Coupled with its low rates, we can forgive some of the features issues. More serious, though, is a reported DNS leak for some users. Check out more below.
Look over our “What is a VPN?” page to learn about how VPNs work and why so many internet users flock to them.
A VPN is a network of servers spread across various locations around the world. Through the use of a VPN, online users can hide browsing history, internet activity, IP addresses, and personal data. That extra level of security is important to many users. Additionally, VPNs are often used for streaming and torrenting (also known as peer-to-peer or P2P, this basically means sharing files between groups of users). The main goal of a VPN is to increase a user’s privacy and anonymity so that internet users can rely on security.
SaferVPN is a decently sized service with more than 1,300 servers in over 50 locations across the planet. That’s more than some competitors like TunnelBear, but fewer than those offered by industry leaders ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Pros & Cons
It’s important to weigh the positives and negatives of any VPN before deciding which one to choose. We’ve collected our thoughts on SaferVPN for quick reference.
- Simple interface, easy to use
- Lots of apps and clients for various devices
- Browser extensions available
- Robust 256-bit encryption
- Cheap plans
- Decent network size of over 1,300 servers
- Works with:
- Limited on features
- Serious failures of its kill switch
- Reported DNS leaks for some users
- No independent audit
- Only unblocks some of the most popular streaming sites
The pricing is on the lower end of the spectrum of VPNs for long-term plans, with the most value coming for the three-year subscription priced at $2.50 per month. That’s about 10 bucks cheaper than IPVanish’s one-year plan.
Contrast this with the industry average, which is typically between $10-$13 per month, and you’ll see that these plans are pretty cheap. That’s great, but it also should be noted that there are fewer features here than in other VPNs, and significant reported issues with the kill switch.
3 Years$250Per Month
Best Seller - $89.99 billed every 36 monthsSave 80%
Also, its no-logs policy is unverified and may be a bit misleading (more on that later).
When you use the internet, you don’t want to be bogged down by slow speeds. Unfortunately, VPN networks can often have spotty speeds or rates that are difficult to predict, since the speed may depend on the location you connect to.
SaferVPN’s speeds are, frankly, pretty awful. Some users report speeds of as low as 5 Mbps in the UK, which is absolutely abysmal. This problem seems to persist as well, though some server locations have decent speeds. Again, you get what you pay for, and SaferVPN is, well, cheap.
SaferVPN has an okay amount of servers in its network, with over 1,300. That’s pretty good, but some of the big players in the industry average at between 3,000 and 6,000 servers, with PIA having nearly 25,000. Yes, you read that number right. In this context, 1,300 isn’t all that much.
|30-day money back policy||useful to test it out|
|Simple installation||streamlined interface and website for beginners|
|No logs||SaferVPN has a no-logs policy, but has not been audited to verify this|
|Security measures||uses 256-bit encryption and is compatible with: IKEv2 OpenVPN PPTP L2TP|
|Subscription packages||one, two, and three-year limits, all quite cheap|
|5-device limit||up to five simultaneous connections|
|24/7 site support||online resource knowledgebase and email options|
Plus, the usability is a bit weird when it comes to connecting to the server. The interface doesn’t allow you to select within countries, and it reportedly connects to strange locations at times (like connecting to Albania when the user is based in the UK… why?).
SaferVPN provides an easy to use client for desktop and laptop, compatible with MacOS and Windows, and Linux. It also has browser extensions for several browsers so that you don’t have to open the client directly via an app every time you want to use it. However, selecting servers is bit wonky. For starters, you can’t select specific servers off the interface’s map. But it does allow you to create a list of favorite servers, which is good.
Overall, the VPN is easy to use and shouldn’t prove a problem even for beginning VPN users. Its interface is quite intuitive, with specific buttons to Connect, automatic connection to available servers, and quick connection times in the 2-6 second range. However, you aren’t able to select between protocols at will, which could be an issue for some.
SaferVPN provides decent mobile functionality, with an interface that will familiar to most VPN users. Namely, it opens with a map of available server locations. It’s available on both iOS and Android devices, and it uses OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP protocols. We’d prefer to see WireGuard here, but that’s not the case. Also, we’d like the company to drop outdated and potentially vulnerable protocols like L2TP and PPTP, which other VPNs have done.
As far as user experience goes, though, there are much bigger issues with SaferVPN (hint: its kill switch doesn’t work reliably and it did not pass DNS leak protection tests, which is ironic given its name).
- English (US)
- English (UK)
- English (AU)
SaferVPN has a no-logs policy, but we’ve got some significant worries here. The fine print in its user agreement says that it can turn over data about your activity to authorities if you are in violation of the law. Some people may not balk at that, thinking that they won’t be doing anything illegal. That’s not the issue, though. The problem is that you can’t say you don’t log user data and then turn around and say you’ll give the data to authorities. That means you must be logging it somewhere, or else you wouldn’t have it.
To add to our fears, SaferVPN has not been audited by outside agencies, so there is no way of knowing what its actual practices are regardless of how much it promises not to log user information. Getting an external audit would go a long way to assuaging privacy fears here.
Split tunneling is a feature many VPNs offer that allows you to hand-select which apps or websites will go through the VPN’s services and which will use your usual ISP. Often, many veteran VPN users like this feature as it provides a measure of control over data and speeds.
SaferVPN does not appear to offer split tunneling.
SaferVPN uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. For reference, that is the same level of security that many modern militaries and financial institutions use, and it would take even the world’s fastest supercomputer literally millions of years to stumble upon the key by brute force alone.
It doesn’t use the effective WireGuard protocol, opting instead to use the next level down in protocols: OpenVPN and IKEv2. However, it also makes use of some outdated protocols like L2TP and PPTP that could leave you vulnerable.
The Chrome and Firefox browser extensions have the same encryption measures. Other than the protocol issue (not having WireGuard and keeping some older, outdated ones), we don’t really have a problem with SaferVPN’s encryption. The next section, though, is where the real trouble lies.
A kill switch cuts you off from the internet if you lose connection to a VPN server. It’s a standard feature among most VPNs, as it prevents your computer from reconnecting to the internet via your ISP when you think you’re still protected by the VPN’s server’s security measures. Thus, it keeps you from being exposed to outside threats without being aware.
SaferVPN has a kill switch. However, it doesn’t always appear to do anything. It might tell the user that the connection to the VPN has been lost, but it doesn’t seem to automatically sever the connection to the internet. In other words… it’s not a kill switch. This is serious, as it could leave you open and exposed to cyberattacks when you think you’re protected by the VPN’s encryption.
Some VPNs have upgraded their servers to RAM-only disk drivers. This means that any data stored about user information or activity is stored as Random Access Memory, which is automatically erased whenever the server is booted or taken offline. In theory, this should prevent any collection of logs whatsoever.
SaferVPN has not upgraded to RAM-only. Coupled with the fact that its fine print talks about giving data to the government, and you have a recipe for serious doubt regarding its supposed no-logs policy.
SaferVPN is based in New York. The United States is not particularly friendly to privacy, being one of the founding Five Eyes surveillance alliance nations. Worse, SaferVPN does nothing to offset any heebie-jeebies this might give users, as its fine print says that it is totally willing to supply the authorities with user information if it finds that your usage is against the law. This seems to imply that, despite the promise of no logs, the company actually does keep a record of user data.
As we’ve stated above, the firmware you use for your router needs to be able to support OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. Like most other VPNs, you’ll need to get a DD-WRT router to be sure it will work. Unlike other VPNs, SaferVPN actually allows you to purchase a recommended router right on its own website, making the process as clean and simple as possible.
SaferVPN has not been externally audited to confirm its security and privacy measures. Given that its kill switch has fatal flaws, it fails at least some DNS leak tests some of the time, and its own legal copy seems to imply that it breaks its no-logs promise, we imagine that an audit would fail this VPN. It would signal that the company is serious about fixing these problems, though.
ExpressVPN is a competitor of SaferVPN that has developed a new protocol called Lightwave. It is reportedly more secure than OpenVPN or WireGuard, but some users have suggested that it tends to be slower on average than VPNs that use the older protocol. Regardless, only ExpressVPN is using Lightway at this time.
Streaming and Torrenting
Streaming is one of the major reasons users are flocking to VPNs. Services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and others block specific shows and features depending on where you live, and that can be annoying and unfair. By using a VPN, you can trick these services into thinking you’re in a different location and effectively unblock those features.
SaferVPN is okay for this purpose, unblocking major services like iPlayer and Netflix reliably. However, it doesn’t work well for unblocking Disney+ or Amazon Prime, so this is quite a mixed bag.
Torrenting is another popular reason for purchasing subscriptions to VPNs. It’s a way of sharing files and downloads between users anonymously and safely. SaferVPN has a few decent servers for torrenting, and it clearly labels them so that users can select them for that purpose: namely, servers in Canada, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Gaming and Consoles
SaferVPN doesn’t really advertise itself especially for gaming. However, it does provide manual router and device installation guides, so it’s feasible that someone could try to use it for this purpose. Given its failure in the speed arena on multiple reviewers’ tests, though, we wouldn’t recommend it for this purpose.
Desktop and Laptops
The desktop and laptop version of SaferVPN can be used with operating systems MacOS and Windows as well as Linux. It’s also very simple to use, though its map of servers doesn’t tell us everything we’d like to know when selecting a server to connect to. We can’t recommend the server due to its various issues detailed below, but if those security problems were fixed in the future, we’d recommend its interface for beginners rather than users who want ultimate customizability.
SaferVPN offers browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, which is pretty standard among VPNs. Using an extension is especially useful for people who don’t like to have multiple running apps on their computers, or who find the client’s interface cumbersome. Once you configure the extension with your favorite servers and enable automatic location, you should be able to connect to the VPN with a simple click, which is nice.
Mobile and Tablets
Not much functionality is lost on mobile apps versus the desktop or laptop versions. The user experience is largely the same, and you’ll likely want to connect your mobile devices, given the five-simultaneous connection restriction. SaferVPN works with Android and iOS, using OpenVPN and IKEv2 as well as older protocols like L2TP and PPTP. For tablets and non-smartphone mobile devices, there are online resources for manual installation though there is no dedicated client.
SaferVPN allows up to five simultaneous connections via the same subscription, and some users will be tempted to connect through a router for this purpose. You can order a new, DD-WRT router directly on SaferVPN’s website, which is a touch we really appreciate. It advertises Netgear Nighthawk, its own SaferVPN Netgear, and a Linksys router. The company also has plenty of information and resources online regarding why you need to get a new router for this purpose and how you can install the VPN through your router.
How to install
SaferVPN is easy to install and has a one-click, one-step procedure. Download the version you need, click install, and then it should open right up in the client interface to show you a map of available server locations. However, its interface does not allow you to see load figures or ping rates, so you’re flying somewhat blind when selecting servers to connect to.
Also, its automatic location feature is supposed to connect you to the nearest server, but that’s not always the way it works. Again, there are some issues here that need to be sorted out if SaferVPN wants to get recommended or compete with the big dogs.
Customer support is available around the clock by phone or email, and SaferVPN also provides users with online guides and FAQs for troubleshooting problems.
Even better, it offers live chat with team members, so you can get answers to your questions sooner rather than having to wait hours or days for an email response or return call.
SaferVPN is low on features, but that is not its major issue. Quite frankly, the performance of its kill switch, its shady legalese regarding logging policies, its location in the United States, its failure to undergo an external audit, its retention of old and outdated protocols, and its failure to pass DNS leakage protection tests are all bigger red flags.
The VPN does some things well, and its interface isn’t difficult even for beginning VPN users. Its encryption is respectable, at 256-bit AES, but it won’t provide the configurability that veteran users would want. Also, veteran users would probably stay away anyway until it announces a fix for the problems listed above.
We don’t recommend SaferVPN in its current form, but it does seem to have a significant customer support side. We hope that signals a desire to appease client wishes and provide a workable, efficient and effective user experience. If so, we expect SaferVPN to make the necessary adjustments and come back stronger in the future. If not, we expect SaferVPN to fall by the wayside as more consistent VPNs surpass it.
Does SaferVPN help unblock Netflix?
Yes, it does unblock Netflix as well as some other popular streaming sites like BBC’s iPlayer. However, it isn’t perfect and doesn’t work well when unblocking Amazon Prime Video or Disney+.
Is SaferVPN free?
SaferVPN is not free, but its long-term plans are on the cheap side. It also allows users a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out for the first month to see if it meets your requirements and get rid of it without losing money if it doesn’t.
Is SaferVPN good for torrenting?
A few of SaferVPN’s servers are good for torrenting, specifically the ones in the Netherlands, Canada, and Spain. Other than that, its servers do not support P2P file sharing. Also, it seems to collect at least some user data, hasn’t undergone an independent privacy or security audit, and admits that it is willing to supply legal authorities with information regarding illegal usage. So that should be a big red flag for anyone thinking about using this VPN for torrenting.
Is SaferVPN legal?
VPN services like SaferVPN operate legally and are legal services. However, some countries restrict or ban the use of VPNs, so its legality for you is largely based on where you live. You’ll need to check your local laws regarding the use of VPNs and internet privacy to be sure, but SaferVPN as a company is doing nothing illegal.