AirVPN Review Overview
- P2P friendly
- Military-grade encryption
- Strict no logs policy
- Not good for beginners
- 36 month plan - $3.06 per month ($110.27 total cost)
- 24 month plan - $3.67 per month ($87.99 total cost)
- 12 month plan - $4.55 per month ($54.58 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $7.80 per month ($7.80 total cost)
As we continue testing different providers, we thought it was high time to do an AirVPN review.
Some VPN review sites rave about AirVPN such as ProPrivacy, while others are less than flattering in their feedback.
Is this just down to misused affiliate marketing, or is the provider really that polarizing?
This is exactly what we make clear in this no-BS review.
How does AirVPN Compare to the Competition
Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!
Not a Great Location (But A Favorable Origin Story)
AirVPN is an Italian-based VPN.
Italy being a 14 Eyes nation that shares user information with the intelligence agencies of other UKUSA Agreement members automatically means an exception needs to be made for us to recommend it.
Fortunately, right off the bat, we can tell AirVPN stands a chance at being an exception.
Because AirVPN boasts a rather favorable origin story.
It all started when a group of privacy-oriented white hat hacktivists got together with the help of two lawyers who were well-versed in privacy, data protection, and intellectual property.
With the help of privacy-conscious company Iridium, AirVPN was born in 2010.
In late 2012, operation handling was transferred from Iridium to the new, dedicated company, Air, with the same individuals still involved.
As per their About Us page:
“Today, AirVPN is operated exclusively by activists, privacy, data protection and security issues aware persons, [and] law experts with the help of the same lawyers… The solidity of the infrastructure is enhanced literally every week.”
This gives us hope. But of course, we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here.
There’s still more to investigate!
Strict No-Logs Policy
Unlike many companies, AirVPN doesn’t resort to confusing language to hide what they’re actually doing, nor does it lie about its logging policies (unlike some VPNs, such as PureVPN).
Instead, this is what we found in AirVPN’s Privacy Notice and Terms:
Translation? Zero-logging other than for technical/diagnostic purposes – and that data is permanently deleted as soon as the technical issue is resolved.
As a strict zero-logs VPN, we’re satisfied AirVPN isn’t going to pose a threat to users’ online privacy.
But what about external threats?
To answer that question, we need to look at their security features.
Military-Grade Encryption & the Best VPN Protocols
First up, as always, is the encryption and VPN protocol standards AirVPN uses. These tend to work together, so it’s no surprise AirVPN lumps them together here:
Looks like a bunch of random gibberish to most people, right? Let us explain.
AirVPN only uses the OpenVPN protocol. This might sound limiting, but OpenVPN is the best VPN protocol available (though WireGuard is likely to become a strong contender for that title).
We typically recommend only using OpenVPN anyway, so not allowing users to put themselves at risk by offering less secure options is actually a smart move on AirVPN’s part.
One of the reasons OpenVPN is so strong is because it uses 256-bit AES-GCM and 256-bit AES-CBC encryption. Or, in less-techy words: “military-grade encryption.”
Top that up with the 4096-bit RSA and 4096-bit Diffie-Hellman keys, and you can rest assured AirVPN’s servers and connections aren’t getting hacked anytime soon.
This is one of the reasons AirVPN being founded and run by hacktivists is actually one of its strengths.
Who better to know whether something can be hacked than the guys actively trying to hack it (for ethical reasons, anyway)?
Kill Switch, Split Tunneling, DNS Leak Protection
A couple more important VPN security features include a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
We also like to see split tunneling available, but it’s more of a “nice-to-have” for advanced users.
AirVPN does offer a kill switch… sort of.
To use their own parlance:
This is basically what a kill switch is supposed to do – however, per AirVPN, “the Network Lock is based on strict firewalls rules.”
Basically, they have a very robust version of the kill switch feature. So robust, in fact, you might need to specify which connection routes are allowed.
All-in-all, it’s overly complicated and needs to be manually activated in order to work.
The same is true for their sort-of split tunneling feature, whereby you need to manually specify which IP addresses are allowed to bypass the VPN server connection.
Honestly, the only security feature that won’t be a headache to get working is the DNS leak protection…. And that’s because AirVPN uses its own DNS servers that automatically protect against leaks.
This, unfortunately, is where having a team built exclusively of hacktivists is one of AirVPN’s weaknesses.
There’s no one sitting with them pointing out how the general public making up the majority of their users need such features simplified.
If you’re familiar with our site, you’ll know we’re a big fan of The Onion Router (TOR); a proxy browser that obfuscates your location by re-routing your internet traffic through 3 remote servers.
You’ll also know we’re a fan of using the TOR over VPN method for boosting our online privacy.
But not all VPN providers allow TOR over VPN.
Luckily, AirVPN isn’t one of them.
There are a few complicated ways to go about it, but the simplest is to establish a connection with an AirVPN server and then run TOR.
Small Server Network With No True Double VPN Feature
One of the biggest problems with using TOR is it slows your connection speed quite drastically.
Not always, but typically.
So when a VPN offers the so-called “Double VPN” or “Multi-Hop” feature, we default to using that instead.
Unfortunately, AirVPN doesn’t offer a Double VPN feature at all, saying Tor over VPN (or the more complicated OpenVPN over TOR option) is their go-to solution.
However, this isn’t entirely surprising.
For a provider to offer a robust Double VPN feature, they need a fairly extensive server network – something AirVPN doesn’t have
It was a little tricky figuring out just how many servers AirVPN offers.
The provider says they count “more than 200 servers… in 35 data centers across 19 countries in 3 continents.”
By looking at their status page, on the other hand, you’ll get a more exact number: 247 servers.
The problem is… that’s about 12% the size of a server network we prefer seeing (2,000+). Still, so long as the network load is manageable, this is another area we’re flexible in.
VPN speed is a surprisingly controversial topic.
Almost all VPN providers tout themselves as the fastest – and almost all VPN review sites tout one or another VPN as the fastest.
Here’s the thing: you can’t really measure speed. It’s a completely misleading metric.
What you can do (and what we do when reviewing VPNs) is mimic a standardized speed test by always using the same devices, internet connection, and server location.
You’ll generally want to run several tests spread out over the day to account for network load too.
At the end of the day, you won’t end up with a 100% infallible result. But you’ll get as close as humanly possible.
Here are our results for AirVPN:
Luckily, despite AirVPN’s small server network, their speed results were better than average, by far.
Device Compatibility & Connections
AirVPN does pretty well on the device compatibility score:
- Chrome (browser extension)
- TOR (browser configuration – one of the more complicated TOR compatibility options I mentioned earlier)
- pfSense (firewall configuration for routers)
- SSH and SSL tunnels
The only notable exceptions are Windows Phones, BlackBerry, and gaming consoles. But you can still protect them with AirVPN via your router!
You also get a maximum of 5 simultaneous connections, which is the industry standard.
Subscription Plans & Pricing
You need to create an account (for free) before you can access the subscription plans and pricing.
After logging in, head to the “Buy” page and click “Subscribe:”
- 3 Days – €2 ($2.21)
- 1 Month – €7 ($7.74)
- 3 Months – €15 ($16.58)
- 6 Months – €29 ($32.05)
- 1 Year – €49 ($54.16)
- 2 Years – €79 ($87.32)
- 3 Years – €99 ($109.42)
There’s also a 3-day free-trial available, but you need to request access via the contact form.
Additionally, you only have 3 days to request a refund, should you want one, as per their Terms of Service.
Luckily, you have a variety of options for making payment, most notably credit card, PayPal, and various cryptocurrencies:
Not Good for Streaming
Unfortunately, AirVPN isn’t so great for streaming media from platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
This is part of the problem with having such a small server network and being very selective about adding new servers.
However, the issue mostly lies within Netflix, as it has very robust proxy detection software identifying (and blacklisting) VPN servers.
Their many competitors use the same technology.
Once a server is blocked, VPN providers ideally replace it with a new one that isn’t blocked. Even more ideally, they set up a few servers specialized for streaming.
Sadly, this is a no show with AirVPN.
On the other hand, AirVPN is pretty great for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) connections!
It’s again a little overly complicated and you’ll need to do some manual configuration in the AirVPN app (“Eddie”), as well as your chosen torrent client (such as uTorrent).
But once you crack it, you can establish P2P connections to your heart’s delight.
An important caveat: we don’t endorse torrenting activities violating copyright laws. If you’re using P2P connections, we hope it’s for sharing large files within your company and/or with clients.
That said, we’re not here to judge – and if you don’t feel like wading through a bunch of manual configuration exercises, check out our guide on the Best Torrenting VPNs.
Usability & Support
While we were super enthusiastic about AirVPN when we first started working on this review, that enthusiasm ebbed.
The installation, at least, went off without a hitch (and quickly, at that).
We were able to connect to a server within a few minutes.
Unfortunately, we found there were way too many settings needing to be tinkered with to get the ideal service.
Fidgeting with the Network Lock settings, for example.
We also found their support standard to be severely lacking.
Not only is there no live chat support (you have to rely on a contact form), but you also need to physically check their website to see whether you received any response.
And the response you do eventually get is pretty dismissive and unhelpful.
If the answer is hidden somewhere on their website or community forum, you’ll get a link and very little else.
The FAQ section itself is also pretty slim – and a lot of the staff answers on the forums are oddly defensive.
How to Cancel AirVPN and Get Your Money Back
All-in-all, we wish we could recommend AirVPN. It has the potential to be a really great VPN, but there’s a lot of work needing to be done for that to happen.
Still, for advanced users who like complexity, AirVPN is probably the best choice (if you don’t mind missing out on streaming and a large server network, that is.)
If you recently purchased a subscription, here’s how to cancel it and get your money back:
- Unless you paid via PayPal, you can simply discontinue use of all AirVPN products; uninstall the app and your subscription will expire naturally
- If you paid via PayPal, follow the following steps to cancel automatic payment renewal; your AirVPN subscription will automatically expire through non-payment
- You can request a refund within 3 business days of purchase via the contact form (click “Support” in the top-right corner of their website)
Not overly complicated at least, and AirVPN promises to have your refund processed within 30 days (which, admittedly, is a little long).