SaferVPN Review – Unblocking Capabilities
One of the most common practices while using a VPN is to get around regional restrictions.
In fact, it’s used among users for that purpose more than it’s used for enhancing their privacy and security.
Streaming channels apply what we call geo-blocking, a mechanism enforced to secure digital rights in certain locations.
The user’s IP address is examined to determine his/her location. If it’s not within the channel’s broadcasting area, an instant block is certain.
To assess its channel-compatibility, we performed a couple of tests on major streaming channels around the world.
Netflix is a magnet for online streamers and it applies geo-blocks as we mentioned above. However, since it’s almost available everywhere, it’s geo-restriction method is different.
Netflix applies the mechanism on its content, not the service itself. In other words, each region has a different catalog to stream.
But that’s not the main problem. If any VPN can access Netflix, we wouldn’t have run this test, to begin with.
Netflix also has one of the strongest VPN blocks in the world. Not all VPNs are capable of unblocking the channel, let alone the US catalog.
A lot of top VPNs have failed, including SaferVPN’s sister-company, IPVanish. However, SaferVPN did not fall victim to streaming giant’s VPN ban and was able to access its US catalog from the first try.
We were able to stream Star-Crossed (US-Only title) by connecting to an American server provided by SaferVPN.
As seen above, the screen is pitch-black. That’s because Netflix doesn’t allow screenshots. However, we were able to watch the show with ease.
No ban message popped up and it’s clearly shown in the image above. However, it’s also clear that the service disconnected while streaming the show, which solidifies our experience with the app.
Hulu is another major challenge for VPN providers as it applies a similar VPN block. The service also figures out whether its subscribers are using VPNs or not.
We stayed connected to the same US server used on Netflix and the results were positive.
SaferVPN was able to bypass Hulu’s blocks and access its content outside the United States.
As we mentioned in the App Interface section, the client logged out while streaming the channel.
However, the service did indeed unblock Hulu before signing us out of our account.
Again, we remained connected to the same American server we used on the previous channels.
Amazon Prime also assigns certain catalogs to its supported regions and the US happens to be the richest among them.
The streaming giant also enforces a tough VPN block, which was easily circumvented by SaferVPN.
We were able to get this done before SaferVPN decided to log off again. But so far so good when it comes to unblocking content.
BBC iPlayer & Disney+
Here’s where SaferVPN’s luck ran out. Despite its ability to unblock top streaming services (as seen above), one channel managed to slip, BBC iPlayer.
We tried BBC iPlayer on two different platforms, its application, and the browser. None of them worked with SaferVPN’s UK server. We got two results, both negative:
- The App: “This content not currently available.”
- The Website: “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”
In the website image, it’s clear that the service disconnected while trying to stream the content. But the error message came before the disconnection occurred.
Now, on the other hand, there’s the newly popular service, Disney+. Apparently, SaferVPN wasn’t up for the task using specific servers, but it managed to unblock it using US Streaming.
Basically, we can say that SaferVPN is a good unblocker, despite the fact that it wasn’t able to get BBC iPlayer to work outside the UK, which most VPNs do.
However, being good is not enough if it keeps on disconnecting. So, for unblocking purposes, we do not recommend SaferVPN.
Smart DNS is a technology that can replace VPNs when it comes to unblocking streaming channels.
It doesn’t reroute the entire traffic, it just reroutes the traffic that highlights their actual location.
On the plus side, it doesn’t tamper with the connection speed as there’s no encryption present.
However, SaferVPN doesn’t offer this option to its users. We searched the whole website and couldn’t find anything about it.
Then we asked their support team for assistance, and they replied in the weirdest way ever.
Our question was clear, we don’t know where the answer came from. They only help with SaferVPN queries? It just doesn’t make sense.
However, when we asked again, they provided the right answer.
So, basically, the answer is pretty straightforward. They don’t offer Smart DNS, only support for VPN.
Torrenting has become a very popular activity among internet users. However, there are countries that don’t like such acts at all, blocking every single torrenting website in the region.
On the other hand, downloading a torrent file without proper precautions is not recommended.
Whenever a user is sharing a file, his/her IP address is shown to whoever is downloading the same file.
That’s why it’s always recommended to use a VPN to hide their IP address while torrenting.
SaferVPN has P2P friendly servers in select countries. So, if the users are looking to download files using BitTorrent and the likes, they’re advised to do so while connected to Netherland, Canada, and Spain locations.
However, we must state that it’s not recommendable to use this VPN for P2P actions. Why? Well, since it disconnects regularly, it means that users’ activities will be compromised no matter what server they connect to.
SaferVPN – Privacy
Moreover, Israel is a country that’s deeply embedded with the Five Eyes data-sharing partnership, which also gives us a warning sign about their privacy measures.
So far, no reports have been issued, considering breaches in the VPNs privacy or anything. Apparently, after some digging, we found that Israel might be one of the best jurisdictions for a VPN to settle in due to their privacy laws.
On the other hand, the provider is keen on maintaining its user’s security, SaferVPN avoids keeping logs of its users’ browsing history.
This gives us a bit of hope that our data won’t be ending up in the wrong hands while connected to SaferVPN’s servers.
SaferVPN – Security
SaferVPN offers a range of security protocols that will ensure your Internet use remains private only to you. They include PPTP, IKEV2, L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN.
Out of all these, the most effective one is OpenVPN, since it has a very powerful AES 256-bit data encryption, 2048 bit SSL/TLS handshake encryption, and uses SHA256 for control messages. These protocols are safe, and also do not slow down the speed of your connection.
If users wish to look into SaferVPN’s privacy policies and read more about them, you can do so on their website. Moreover, SaferVPN offers a kill switch feature that cuts off internet access if a sudden drop in the VPN connection occurs.
Based on our tests the VPN malfunctioned several times, which ensures the need for a kill switch. On the other hand, aside from the features above, we conducted some tests on the provider’s client.
We have to see that it’s credible in every territory. Here’s what we did:
A virus scan is totally necessary, not just for VPN providers, but for every single app users install on their devices. Malware is a tricky thing, and if the device gets infected, who knows what would happen.
Some hackers disguise themselves as legit apps on official Stores and prey on those who don’t have the technical background, installing every app they come across.
We went ahead and assessed SaferVPN’s Windows and Mac clients. Both of them showed great results.
The image above clearly shows that SaferVPN’s Windows app is completely clean. No sign of infection is reported by 70 credible sources. The same goes for their Mac app as well.
DNS Leak Test
Now, this part was very disappointing. DNS leaks are a dangerous thing, and if they occur, everything users were doing is exposed to their ISPs and whoever is monitoring their traffic.
In other words, a DNS leak shows that the VPN provider isn’t doing the job it exists to do. With SaferVPN, it was obvious from the first test that it was leaking our data.
We connected to an American server and performed the test. Our DNS servers are clearly shown on the bottom of the screen, which highlights our actual location.
Our IP address is clearly the one provided by the VPN, but it’s the DNS servers that are leaking. It’s very bad since we tried several others on different platforms and the results were the same.
Getting evaluated by security experts is a way of showing customers complete transparency. Many VPN providers have gone through third-party auditing regarding several factors such as their no-log policy, web browsers, and even their protocols’ efficiency.
It’s sad to say that SaferVPN is not among those. We couldn’t find any independent auditing of their service, but so far, no reports questioning their no-log policy have been issued.
Canary Programs are open declarations that a VPN service has not yet received any subpoena from the government. In fact, it’s illegal to inform users that the company has been hit by a gag order, required to submit user info.
That’s why it’s a way to notify the customer in an in-direct way. Of course, it’s not that important if the VPN abides by its zero-logging policy, but it’s an added pro.
SaferVPN does not have one, but it should. As we saw, privacy isn’t the best quality SaferVPN has, so adding a Warrant Canary to their arsenal may at least give their customers the trust they need to continue with the service.
SaferVPN provides a 24/7 Live chat platform that allows users to connect with their customer support team whenever a problem comes about.
We had a technical issue with both the Android and the Mac client. As we contacted their support team, they weren’t helpful at all.
In spite of their effort, nothing worked. The Mac app did not connect to any server and the Android one wouldn’t even let us sign in.
First, we were asked to turn off our location services, still not sure why. Second, they told us that the website is going through maintenance! What? Most of their replies didn’t make sense.
To rub more salt into the wound, the support agent suddenly left the conversation. By far, this was the worst customer support experience we’ve ever encountered.
If that’s not enough, which it isn’t according to our experience, users can plug into the community through their blog and get to see if anyone else experienced the sort of problem they might have, and how they were able to resolve it.
Our customer support experience was very bad. Maybe they have their reasons, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.