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VPNArea review

A full-featured P2P-friendly VPN from Bulgaria

New Hero
(Image: © Offshore Security EOOD)

Our Verdict

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.

For

  • Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon, Disney+
  • Good value
  • P2P-friendly
  • Wide platform support

Against

  • 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

VPNArea's website highlights the fact that it doesn't keep logs, and the company’s privacy policy provides much more detail than usual.

"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.

Apps

VPNArea offers apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux (Image credit: Offshore Security EOOD)

Apps

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.)

Main

This is the user interface of VPNArea's Windows client (Image credit: Offshore Security EOOD)

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.

Locations

VPNArea has servers in over 100 locations across 65 countries (Image credit: Offshore Security EOOD)

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.

Apps

VPNArea's settings pane allows you to turn on a kill switch, set custom DNS servers, change your connection type and more

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.

Netflix

VPNArea was able to unblock US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ in our tests

Netflix

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+, putting the service right up there with the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

SpeedTest.net

We use several different speed tests to determine the performance of each VPN we review (Image credit: Ookla)

Performance

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.

Final verdict

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, but may not affect everyone, and shouldn't stop you giving the VPN a try.