Golden Frog VyprVPN review

The security of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is usually seen as a perk for business users. Golden Frog's VyprVPN puts the same protection in the hands of consumers.
Photo of Golden Frog VyprVPN

VyprVPN from Golden Frog easily protects your online activity from digital snoops and hides your geographic location. Your computer and mobile devices communicate with Websites and other systems online by sending and receiving data packets. Anyone with a packet sniffer—your Internet Service Provider, the owner of the WiFi network you are using, or someone up to no good—could intercept that data stream and see what you are up to. Businesses rely on the Virtual Private Network to protect remote employees and their networks; a VPN service such as VyprVPN extends that protection to end-users. VyprVPN supports all major operating systems and provides users with varying degrees of protection.

When the VPN service is active, all the packets travel through a protected tunnel between the user’s computer and Golden Frog servers. The servers handle all communications with the destination site, and responses are sent back to the PC through the same encrypted tunnel. Sites that try to identify you by your IP address see one of Golden Frog’s IP addresses instead.

VyprVPN has servers in the U.S. (Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Austin, TX), Europe (London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Paris), Canada (Toronto), and Asia (Hong Kong).

Pricing Plans
VyprVPN comes in two flavors, basic and Pro. Plain VyprVPN, at $14.99 a month, is available only for Windows and Mac OS X systems. It uses the PPTP protocol standard 128-bit encryption for its VPN connections. PPTP is widely deployed as it is built into most desktop and mobile operating systems, making it easy to set up. Since it uses basic encryption, it is the fastest among VyprVPN’s options.

Users who want to use the VPN service on their iOS and Android devices must sign up for VyprVPN Pro, at $19.99 a month. The Pro version supports PPTP, OpenVPN SSL, and L2TP/IPSec. While PPTP uses 128-bit encryption, L2TP/IPSec uses 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN offers both 160-bit and 256-bit. L2TP/IPSec relies on the highest encryption so it has slower performance. OpenVPN, which relies on digital certificates, is reliable and performs very well. However, OpenVPN is not available for iOS.

Both Pro and basic versions offer users free 5GB online storage on Golden Frog’s cloud storage service, Dump Truck. With Dump Truck, users can securely upload and share files with others. Unlike many of its competitors, Golden Frog does not offer free trial or ad-supported versions.

Getting Started
Users sign up for a Golden Frog account after buying either the basic or the pro version. An account confirmation email contains the link to the dashboard and to setup instructions. When I logged into the portal, I saw a well-laid out dashboard with information about VyprVPN on the left side of the screen and the Dump Truck cloud storage service on the right.

While you can use the VyprVPN credentials on multiple devices, only one device can be connected at a time. I can see if a device is currently using the service on this dashboard. Suppose you left your home PC connected and now you want to switch to your tablet. I can just log in to the dashboard and disconnect the PC. It would have been nice to be able to use devices simultaneously, the way Norton Hotspot Privacy does. At least VyprVPN sends a notification to the disconnected PC the connection has been dropped.

Users download the client applications for VyprVPN for Mac and for Windows from the dashboard, or for Pro users, click on links back to Google Play and iTunes for the Android and iOS apps. I can just use the client applications or follow the set up instructions to manually configure the VPN clients that came with my operating system. This means that as long as the device supports VPN, I should be able to configure it with VyprVPN credentials. If my router has DD-WRT firmware, I could just install VyprVPN and protect all users on the network in one step. I like this uncommon feature; I’ve seen it in only HideIPVPN and PrivateInternetAccess so far.

Installing the client application took only a few moments. Since VyprVPN also supports the OpenVPN protocol, the installer adds the TAP-WIN32 adapter, in the same way as competitors VPN Direct and HideIPVPN

Starting the software for the first time opens up a settings window where you enter the login credentials and select the connection settings, such as the geographic location of the server and the connection type. By default, the VPN settings are set to PPTP. There are also other settings, such as automatically reconnecting if the connection ever drops and automatically enabling the VPN service whenever the user connects to an unsecured wireless network.

The software is extremely lightweight, so it is easy to forget it is running. Like Private Internet Access, VyprVPN did not have an actual application window when I launched the program. All I got was a tiny lock icon in the system tray, and when I right-clicked on the icon, I saw a menu listing my current network settings and the option to go back into the Settings screen.

Golden Frog offers NAT Firewall as a separate add-on for $5 to block unrequested inbound traffic, such as bots scanning for open ports to exploit. Most wireless routers use Network Address Translation to share the single Internet connection across all connected devices, and when it receives unrequested inbound scans, it doesn’t know which device it is for and blocks it automatically. Since VyprVPN bypasses the router and establishes a direct connection with the Golden Frog server, users aren’t protected from malicious inbound traffic via the router’s NAT. The NAT Firewall add-on protects users from these scans while connected to VyprVPN—Next: Using VyprVPN, Performance

I tried out VyprVPN on a trip, as well as from a local coffeeshop and on our testing network. Performance was on par with most of the services tested recently. Since OpenVPN is commonly used by other VPN services, I tested with the OpenVPN protocol when measuring connection speeds. I also used PPTP as it is commonly used, but did not include those figures in the below table. PPTP was consistently faster than OpenVPN.

Speed and Performance
I didn’t notice any discernible lag with VyprVPN while on the road for a one-week period. I was able to view Hulu and YouTube videos without any difficulty while connected.

To measure network speed, I ran the speed tests available on SpeedTest.net once I was back at my test bed. The tests are designed to measure download and upload speeds when connecting to servers in different cities. I determined my location by looking up the IP address and then looked for a city closest to that location to run the test. I ran the test twice with the VPN service turned off, and again when turned on, and picked the best measurements. The figures below are over a wired connection, not wireless.

Performance was consistent and fast. Golden Frog likes to boast that because it controls its networking infrastructure, it can deliver faster speed than many of its low-cost counterparts. While it isn’t the fastest VPN service, if speed matters that much to you, VyprVPN is definitely a contender.

VyprVPN Holds Its Own

VPN services have transformed dramatically over the past few months. We first looked at VyprVPN a little over a year ago, and since then, the service has added Dump Truck and mobile device support. Back then, the primary differentiators among VPN services were performance, number of servers, and whether or not there were ads. Performance is becoming less of a differentiator, and many of the services now have mobile support.

Since the company controls the hardware and the network routes, Golden Frog claims its service is faster and more secure than competitors, and uses that explanation to justify its slightly higher price tag. In this increasingly crowded market, there are plenty of services that control their own infrastructure, offer more features, and are still cheaper. The NAT Firewall, while great for security layer, doesn’t help with the overall price, either.

VyprVPN has great performance, but its list of features doesn’t justify the price tag when there are so many other competing products that deliver comparable speeds for less. With increased mobile usage, mobile device support is becoming a “must have” feature, and not an “advanced” one. At first-glance, VyprVPN comes off as a basic VPN service, which is an injustice because the NAT Firewall and support for different levels of encryption and protocols set it apart from others. Our current VPN Editors’ Choice, Private Internet Access, still has the most amount of advanced features and gives users the most amount of flexibility in deciding how to surf safely online. VyprVPN is a strong service and offers plenty of reasons to be the VPN service of choice, but it does not match the sheer volume of advanced features and the performance boost Private Internet Access offers.

VyprVPN reminds me the most of Norton Hotspot Privacy from Symantec. The prices are similar, they both focus on delivering solid performance, and both have multi-platform and multi-device support. I would recommend VyprVPN for users who need the 256-bit encryption or want to use other connection protocols.

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Specifications
Tech Support 24/7/365 support
human response within 15 minutes.
OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS, Windows 7, Windows 8
Type Personal, Professional

Verdict
Golden Frog has updated its VyprVPN service to support more platforms without compromising speed and ease-of-use. While extra encryption options are attractive, the price tag feels high for what is essentially a basic VPN service.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc