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WeVPN review

A brand new, fast and feature-packed VPN, with some serious caveats

WeVPN
(Image: © WeVPN)

Our Verdict

Consistent speeds and leading-edge unblocking performance make WeVPN a great value Netflix-watching VPN. Major glitches like the faulty Windows kill switch mean we wouldn't use WeVPN for anything serious right now, but these are early days for WeVPN, and hopefully any issues will be fixed soon.

For

  • Unblocks Netflix, Amazon, iPlayer, Disney+
  • Very low prices
  • Consistently good speeds
  • Bitcoin support

Against

  • Poor website
  • Windows kill switch didn't work
  • Multiple other Windows app issues
  • No security audit

Launched to the public in March 2020, WeVPN is very much the new kid on the VPN block, and there are signs of that in the service specs. 100+ servers isn't many, for instance, no matter how fast or well-connected they are (it might be 400 – the website quotes both figures – but that's still not many), the Mac app is in beta, and Linux, Chrome, Firefox and Android TV support are all flagged as 'coming soon.'

But there are also some more welcome features: 40+ locations; Windows, Android and iOS apps; support for up to seven simultaneous connections; private and encrypted DNS; plus P2P support. There’s also 24/7 customer support if anything goes wrong.

Pricing is very low, too, at $5 billed monthly, dropping to an equivalent $3 on the six-month plan, or $2.49 over a year. Although you might be able to save a little by signing up elsewhere for longer-term contracts (Surfshark's two-year plan is just $1.99), WeVPN looks to be offering great value at less than half the price of some competitors.

WeVPN

WeVPN gives you a decent range of payment options, and a money-back guarantee (Image credit: WeVPN)

There is a 7-day trial but it's restricted to mobile devices only, although with a month of service for just $5, it's hard to complain much about that.

WeVPN supports payment by card, PayPal, Amazon Pay and Bitcoin, and if the service doesn't work for you, there's a no-strings 30-day money-back guarantee.

WeVPN

WeVPN claims to have a 'zero log policy' and that privacy is paramount (Image credit: WeVPN)

Privacy and logging

WeVPN claims to have a 'zero log policy', but what does that really mean?

The company gets off to a good start with its registered place of business, the British Virgin Isles, outside the 14 Eyes group of countries and where there are no data retention laws.

The privacy policy spells out more details: 'We do not keep any logs related to which VPN servers or IP addresses our customers are utilizing, when they’re utilizing a specific IP on our network, or what they are doing while connected to our VPN servers.'

As the company has so little information, the policy says it's 'unable to assist any third party under any circumstances with respect to acquiring any information pertaining to our customers and their usage of our network.'

The policy states WeVPN's apps include diagnostic and crash reporting via Google's Firebase Crashlytics, which may transfer information about application usage to the company. This doesn't relate to your browsing history, though. It's also anonymized, and if you're still unhappy, you can tell the app not to share this information.

While that's not unusual, we noticed that although the Android app includes Crashlytics, the Windows version doesn't. The precise technical details aren't important, but if the privacy policy contains incorrect information, for whatever reason, that's a concern. If WeVPN got this detail wrong, what else has it forgot to mention?

The reality is that while it's good to read these reassuring words, right now there's nothing to back them up. WeVPN says it's planning to have its systems independently audited by fall 2020, though, and we'll be interested to see the results.

WeVPN

We encountered some odd glitches in the startup process (Image credit: WeVPN)

Getting started

WeVPN doesn't seem to have a lot of website experience, and that briefly confused us when we tried to sign up. The company blog is hosted on Medium, for instance, but the site design means the only immediate indicator of that is a small 'M' logo top-left. If you don't notice that, or you don't recognize it, and you click the 'Getting started' button on the blog page, you might be confused to find you're asked to create an account with Medium, rather than WeVPN.

Clicking the Getting Started button on WeVPN.com, the site launched its real signup process, which worked much like every other VPN you've ever used. Choose a plan, enter your email, pick a password and hand over your cash in the usual way.

After paying, the website offered custom installation instructions, while a Welcome email included download links.

We grabbed the compact Windows installer, just 6.5MB, and this set up our test system within a few seconds.

The WeVPN email included the links we needed to download the mobile apps, and that proved more useful than we expected. We first tried accessing the apps by clicking the website buttons 'Get It On Google Play' and 'Download on the App Store', but with no success. Why? The buttons pointed to the WeVPN site, not the app store pages, another surprisingly basic glitch.

WeVPN

It’s somewhat perplexing to see the app immediately push marketing messages on you (Image credit: WeVPN)

Apps

WeVPN's Windows app annoyed us instantly by displaying a 'Your Account is renewing in 29 days!' desktop notification as soon as it launched, then displaying the same message on the console, with an 'Extend your plan' link. We'd only paid for the service minutes earlier: couldn't the company hold back on the marketing, just for a day or two?

The app interface was otherwise very familiar, with a large Connect button, the name of the current location (your closest server, by default), and a menu button with a handful of options (Settings, Help).

WeVPN

The location picker is a simple list of cities and countries, with no extra trimmings (Image credit: WeVPN)

The location picker is a flat list of countries and cities, with no server load or latency figures to indicate relative speeds, and no favorites system. There's both a Search box and a Recent Locations list, though, so it shouldn't take long to find whatever servers you need.

What's interesting is the locations aren't just presented in a drop-down list which disappears when you choose something; rather, they appear in a separate window, alongside the main app, which you can position independently. If you'd like to switch servers, there's no need to close the current connection first, then click the console to open the server list – just double-click any server in the Location window and the app reconnects immediately. Much easier.

Connection times are quick, and the app console displays some welcome status information: time connected, data uploaded and downloaded, your original and virtual IPs. There are even 'Copy' buttons to copy either IP to the clipboard, a thoughtful touch we've not seen before.

WeVPN

Settings include a WeBlock feature that prevents ads, trackers and malware (Image credit: WeVPN)

The Settings box covers all the main features you'd expect from a quality VPN, and more: automatic connection when you access insecure or untrusted networks, along with split tunneling to define which applications use the tunnel, and which don't, and a kill switch aims to block internet access if the VPN drops. There's an option to use custom DNS servers when you're using the VPN, and you're able to choose from IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP or UDP protocols, and a WeBlock feature blocks ads, trackers and malware.

While that sounds great, we found significant issues during testing. The kill switch didn't seem to do anything useful when connecting via IKEv2, for instance. When we forcibly closed the connection, internet access wasn't blocked, and our real IP and data remained unprotected. This could last for as little as a couple of seconds, the time it took to reconnect, but it's still a vulnerability you won't see with the best VPNs.

Sometimes, we found the app refused to connect via IKEv2. There was no obvious reason why, but then we tried turning off the kill switch and suddenly the app was successful. It could be that our testing played a part in that – we put the app through some extreme situations, and it lost track of its internal state – but again, it's not an issue we expect to see.

We had some technical issues with WeVPN's IKEv2 network connection, too.

TCP/IPv6 was enabled, for instance, increasing the theoretical opportunity for IPv6 leaks. That shouldn't make any real-world difference as the app blocks IPv6 at the adapter level, but we're struggling to see why it's not disabled here, too.

By default it also enables 'File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks', a first step in allowing local computers to access resources you've explicitly shared on your system. Any resulting attack opportunities are very limited and this won't make the tiniest difference to the vast majority of users, but we prefer settings like these to use the most secure option by default.

The connection is set up to remember your login credentials, too. These are the login details for the server, not your WeVPN account credentials, so this isn't as big a deal as it sounds (especially as these change regularly), but we would still prefer they're not exposed unnecessarily.

WeVPN

The mobile apps have a very similar interface to the desktop client (Image credit: WeVPN)

Switching to the Android app, it installed easily, this time asking us whether we'd like to send crash and diagnostic reports back to WeVPN. The default is 'Yes', but pay attention and you can disable the feature with a tap.

The app interface looks and feels much like the desktop version, just mildly rearranged to suit the different form-factor. Learn one build and you'll immediately know how to use the others.

There are one or two missing options – the Android app doesn't support IKEv2, for instance – but essentially you get everything you do with Windows, with one or two bonus extras. 'Aggressive IPv6 leak protection' does its best to reduce data leaks, for instance, while a 'vibrate on connect' option gives an easy and more mobile-centric way to let you know when you're protected.

Netflix

WeVPN proved to have excellent unblocking skills, so we didn’t see any pesky errors when trying to view streaming content (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix

Our WeVPN unblocking tests got off to a good start, as the UK server immediately got us into BBC iPlayer.

US Netflix is usually even more of a challenge, but not here – we were able to stream content from the three locations we tried.

Amazon Prime Video? Another success. Disney+ defeats many VPNs, but WeVPN allowed us to browse and stream whatever we liked.

If you find you can't stream the service you need, WeVPN claims its WePLAY feature can help. The website makes it sound like this is a really big deal, too: 'WePLAY is a service introduced by WeVPN to help meet the worldwide streaming needs of our customers.'

In reality, it's just a system where you send the company a message with the name of a service you'd like supported, and they look into it for you. Does that really need a special name and a trademark? Probably not.

There's no arguing with the results, though, and right now WeVPN does a great job of unblocking many of the top streaming platforms.

TestMy.net

Our VPN performance tests involve using sites like TestMy.net (Image credit: TestMy.net)

Performance

Measuring VPN performance is tricky, but to get a feel for what a service can do, we run multiple tests using the benchmarking sites SpeedTest.net and TestMy.net in both UK and US locations.

UK download performance averaged a capable 67Mbps on our 75Mbps test line. That's around 5-6% down on regular speeds with the VPN turned off, fractionally worse than the average 4% drop we see with the top providers. But the difference is very, very small, and unless you're also running in-depth speed tests, you're unlikely to notice.

US speeds were good at 200-230Mbps on a 600Mbps test connection. Some VPNs are faster – VPN Unlimited hit 200-300Mbps in very recent tests, Speedify reached 275-400Mbps, current speed champion Hotspot Shield soared to 460-580Mbps – but WeVPN performs better than most, and is remarkably consistent, too.

If you have any performance issues, you might be tempted to head over to the support site and look for advice. Right now, you're probably wasting your time. There are a handful of articles, mostly basic FAQs with little low-level or troubleshooting information. Even these are harder to use than they should be, because although the support site has a search box, it didn't appear to work, and never returned any hits during testing.

You can get in touch via a Discord channel, a Live Chat button or email. The Chat dialog only invited us to leave a message, though, then asked us to wait for an email notification of a reply. This arrived seven hours later, which isn't bad for email, but will probably disappoint if you were expecting real live chat support. Still, the service is very new, and as WeVPN gains experience, hopefully response times will improve.

Final verdict

WeVPN is a promising VPN: speedy, seriously cheap and it unblocks almost anything. A pile of technical and service issues shows there's plenty of work to do, however, and although it's great for streaming, we wouldn't choose WeVPN with anything privacy-critical just yet - stick to the likes of ExpressVPN for now.

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