AirVPN comes from a unique place as it was created during the Pirate Festival held in Rome in 2010. There, a small group of hackvisits, including specialist digital privacy lawyers, created the first iteration of AirVPN. The service was first set up as a free service for those in censored countries. The free side still remains in a limited form, while robust paid plans keep everything funded.
The provider is hyper-focused on privacy, and has delivered with innovative features like their differing IP address entry and exit feature, allowing peer review of their service, and their keeping of databases off their servers. While they have many ideals and ideas, what they don’t have is a large network, or an established reputation in the industry. They are small-time, with a small team, which may or may not be appealing to users. Overall, we recommend them if you’re looking for a boutique-style VPN provider with a small and dedicated team.
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AirVPN have been focused on building privacy and security products right from their inception, and were actually brought together at a festival dedicated to privacy. They have developed a number of unique features to meet their own high standards for online privacy:
- All physical access of servers is restricted to a small core of the team.
- Separate entry and exit IP address on every VPN server.
- Peer-reviewed accessibility for their infrastructure, and bandwidth allocation guarantee.
- Re-keying every 60 seconds, known as “Perfect Forwarding Secrecy.”
- An advanced kill switch they call “Network Lock,” which they claim is better than the standard kill switches.
These may not seem like much, but they do set AirVPN apart from the average provider as these are not common features at all. Having separate entry and exit addresses is something we’ve only seen with this VPN provider, making it a very unique feature and selling point.
Servers & Countries
AirVPN have focused themselves on only providing their services in countries where their servers are guaranteed a certain level of privacy, net neutrality, and quality of infrastructure. This means that they are available in fewer countries as too many have laws and attitudes which are contrary to online privacy.
They currently have servers in 20 countries, with a total of over 220 servers. While this number is far below the top VPN providers we review, they still manage to have servers in key countries for geo-blocking. This is a provider which believes in quality over quantity, which is an attitude with benefits. We’ll see what happens when they grow even more.
Reliability & Speed Tests
AirVPN is quite honest about speed on their website. They claim that while their goal is for every server to always be capable of 1 Gbps, they also plainly state that this is not always possible due to server loads.
Reliability is another point of pride. Back when they first started in 2010, a data centre that they used in France was completely shut down without warning or explanation provided to them. They had everything back up and running, essentially starting over from nothing, within 4 days. While what happened to them was unfortunate, it did give them a chance to show what they’re made of when it comes to keeping their customers happy. They could’ve walked away, but they’re committed to providing this service.
Pricing & Payments
AirVPN has a very diverse pricing range, offering packages from three days to three years in length:
- Three days: €2
- One month: €7
- Three months: €15
- Six months: €29
- One year: €49
- Two years: €79
- Three years: €99
For those in America, the Euro remains their standard currency regardless of your location, so you’ll have to do a little calculating as the Euro is worth more than USD as of this writing. For their best price, €99 for three years, that’s approximately $3USD per month. This makes them one of the better deals in the industry. Their three day trial period is also notable as many VPNs do not offer anything this length.
Their payment options are commendable. They offer the standard PayPal and major credit cards that everyone does, while also offering the widest assortment of cryptocurrencies we’ve seen: 25! If you thought Bitcoin and Litecoin were it, they accept cryptocurrency you haven’t even heard of without the use of an intermediary.
What really sets high-quality service providers apart from average providers is customer support. With AirVPN, you definitely see the limit to their service as they do not have the most responsive customer support team. They have no live chat support, as almost all of the top providers do, and getting answers via email can take hours.
Other options for support include:
- Forums: This is divided into a forum which AirVPN uses for FAQs and guides, and a separate forum for users to post questions. Both forums are full of answers to questions you may have.
- FAQ: Their limited FAQ section exists just to be a tab someone could click on, and should be integrated into the Forums section. It feels like a throwaway as it’s even set up like a forum rather than a true FAQ section.
- Status: This tab on their website shows how well all of their servers are performing, and shows their load. This can be helpful when you’re having an issue with a server you want to connect to and confirm if it’s down or not.
- Social media: They are active on Twitter and Facebook, and typically reply within a day or so. Neither is particularly effective for customer support.
Customer support speed is not a strength of AirVPN. We tested them via email and their fastest response time was 5 hours, and you could tell that it wasn’t a person versed in the nuances of talking to strangers. Not that the answers weren’t accurate, they just felt impersonal. This is likely due to the fact that they keep all support in-house, and whoever answers is whoever is available, which can be seen as a positive if you’re paranoid about third-party involvement.
Their support window to contact them via email is embarrassingly ancient:
It has a very ‘Windows 95’ feel to it, and they need to start upgrading customer-facing points like this in order to be taken seriously.
Policies & Logging
With their focus firmly on privacy, you be sure that they do indeed have a no-logging policy on all traffic. They also claim that it is impossible for anyone, even your ISP, to ascertain your traffic type or protocol. These are bold claims which show their dedication to privacy.
Their customer-centric policies include:
- Bandwidth allocation: They openly show the bandwidth available and being used for every server they operate. The information is shown simply in a diagram form to understand at a glance, with the numbers which back it up displayed as well for deeper analysis.
- Terms of service: Their terms of service spend a good deal of time talking about how they comply with all privacy regulations granted under the European General Data Protection Regulation. They also go into their refund policy, which states you must make your request in writing within three days of paying. Refunds may take up to 30 days.
- Privacy notice: They state that all servers located outside of the EU will be treated with at least the level of privacy afforded by the European General Data Protection Regulation or higher, never lower. They also state all of the measures they take to prevent data leakage, which are quite extensive and impressive.
The policies written and enacted by AirVPN show that they are indeed serious about user privacy, perhaps more so than any VPN provider we’ve come across. They have a short refund policy window, and that hurts them a little. Given the fact that they do offer a free, and very limited, service, users should try that before stepping up to a paid plan.
AirVPN is definitely a VPN provider to keep an eye on as they’re quite serious about privacy, constant network improvement, and innovation in the online privacy world. They have really set themselves apart with their feature set of tools that other VPN providers simply do not have. They also have an interesting pricing structure, made all the better by a free VPN offering (though it is very limited).
What keeps them from ranking higher is their lack of world-class customer support, and their smaller network size. For those who are looking for something a bit more privacy-focused, or want a bit more of a one-to-one feeling with their VPN provider, AirVPN is a great choice. They’re not a heavyweight, but they’re definitely a worthy contender working up the ranks!
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