BlackVPN Review Overview
- Zero Knowledge DNS
- Works on/off with Netflix and iPlayer
- Military-grade encryption
- Small Server Network
- 12 month plan - $9.17 per month ($110.07 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $10.56 per month ($10.56 total cost)
BlackVPN is a provider who seems to get a lot of good press in general, often ranking in the top 15 for some review sites. Of course, we don’t trust most VPN review sites, as they often base their “reviews” on how lucrative an affiliation partnership the provider is offering.
But that doesn’t mean we dismiss good press by default – we just prefer to practice critical thinking over blind faith. (This is also why we aim to be as transparent as possible at all times).
So naturally, we decided to test BlackVPN. In this 100% objective review, you’ll discover everything the provider does right… as well as what it gets wrong.
How BlackVPN Compares to the Competition
Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!
Located in a Questionable Jurisdiction
When it comes to BlackVPN’s location, there’s good news and bad news alike.
First, the good news: as a VPN provider based in Hong Kong, it doesn’t fall under any of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes jurisdictions. This means the provider isn’t subject to a government who actively spies on its citizens and shares personal data with other nations’ intelligence agencies.
This means Hong Kong is far from being an ideal location for VPN providers. Still, exceptions are sometimes made, so we haven’t ruled BlackVPN out entirely just yet.
Strict No-Logs Policy
Right off the bat, the provider touts itself as being a no-logs VPN:
Most of this is good stuff. BlackVPN doesn’t log very much, and what they do log is primarily diagnostic data needed to keep their service functioning. Plus, everything they log is strictly anonymous.
The only cause for concern is the provider openly admitted they’d hand that data over to the government if approached with the right paperwork. This is fair and we can’t really fault them on this, especially as the data being handed over is anonymous.
Military-Grade Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols
BlackVPN is using 256-bit AES encryption with 4096-bit RSA keys. This is the highest level of encryption currently available, so it’s definitely a relief to see BlackVPN taking advantage of this fact.
However, there’s a caveat: that encryption level is apparently only available with the OpenVPN protocol (which we always recommend using anyway).
BlackVPN also offers L2TP/IPSec and PPTP (which you should never use). Their encryption standards are never specified, however, and we haven’t heard back from their support team as of yet.
Zero Knowledge DNS – but No Split Tunneling? And What About A Kill Switch?
A few other security features we always look for are the kill switch, split tunneling (more of a “nice-to-have” than necessity), and DNS leak protection.
BestVPN.com claims “all BlackVPN clients [apps] have a built-in kill switch that’s activated by default.” However, we (and others) found BestVPN.com to be less than trustworthy as a source of information – PC Mag actually published an article calling BestVPN.com a scam.
We couldn’t find anything about a kill switch anywhere on BlackVPN’s website. The only mention we did find was in a FAQ on dealing with a DNS leak in the Linux app – which not only suggests BlackVPN doesn’t have robust DNS leak protection, but that users need to manually add a kill switch feature themselves.
We were unable to test the beta app and the Android app, meaning we were unable to confirm if they offer a kill switch. As for the OpenVPN app, there was nothing suggesting a kill switch was being used.
This is not great news. We opened a ticket asking whether or not BlackVPN has a kill switch, as well as whether there’s a split tunneling feature available (once again, nothing on the website).
Unfortunately, all we heard from the provider so far is their support agents “will be reviewing [our] request and will send [us] a personal response, usually within 24 hours.”
Fortunately, despite their questionable FAQ above, BlackVPN does run their own DNS servers to optimize the highest privacy and security possible.
TOR Capability (but No Double VPN/Multi Hop)
One piece of good news is, even though BlackVPN doesn’t have a Double VPN (or Multi Hop) feature, the VPN does work with The Onion Router (TOR).
Don’t get us wrong – a proper Double VPN feature would be preferable. As a proxy browser, TOR is a great work-around that reroutes your internet traffic via 3 remote servers, but it doesn’t match the encryption levels of a true Double VPN feature.
Even so, we’re glad BlackVPN is TOR-compatible. For some users, it’s definitely a “nice-to-have,” but for those in restricted areas with draconian censorship laws, it can be a life-saver.
However, if you’re going to use TOR, we always strongly recommend using the TOR-over-VPN method. This is where you connect to a VPN server before opening your TOR browser, ensuring you get all the benefits of using TOR and a VPN.
Small Server Network
Unfortunately, BlackVPN loses more points for having such a small server network: only 31 servers spread over 20 locations in 18 countries.
This is far, far below the ideal standard. We much prefer VPN providers with a server network of at least 1,500 servers – and even better if they have 2,000+. For a provider who’s been around since 2009, it’s almost unfathomable to us that BlackVPN only has a mere 31 servers available.
Compare this to some of the best overall VPNs, such as CyberGhost (5,684 servers), ExpressVPN (3,000+), and NordVPN (5506 servers).
That said, a small server network isn’t always a problem. So long as there’s a server location near you (or in the country whose location you want to use, typically for streaming) and the network load isn’t too heavy, it shouldn’t be an issue at all.
But with only 31 servers in 18 countries, this is likely a common issue for BlackVPN users.
The reason server network load and location are so important is both factors can negatively impact your internet speed while connected to a VPN.
There are also a few other things to consider: device type, operating system, and original internet speed, for example. A truly standardized speed test for VPNs is practically impossible, but there are ways around this.
When testing a VPN, we always use the same devices, internet connections, and server locations. We also run more than one test per VPN server (at different times of day) to get a more holistic view of the service’s performance.
We didn’t have high hopes for BlackVPN. Most reviews (from VPN review sites and other users) mention drastically slow speeds, and the provider’s small server network does nothing to alleviate these doubts.
But, in the spirit of fairness, here are the speed results we got:
Overall, BlackVPN’s server speeds were barely above average – which was honestly to be expected.
Device Compatibility and Connections
BlackVPN doesn’t do too bad on the device compatibility front, but there is a lot of manual configuration necessary. According to their website, there are setup instructions and apps available for the following devices:
Fortunately, the router setup (albeit a lengthy manual configuration) means you’re able to protect your gaming consoles and Smart TVs with BlackVPN too.
You also get 7 simultaneous connections per BlackVPN account, which is a little ahead of the industry standard.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
When it comes to pricing, BlackVPN is simultaneously overly complicated and limited:
- Privacy Plan – €49 per year (about $54.48 at time of writing)
- TV Plan – €75 per year (about $83.39 at time of writing)
- Global Plan – €99 per year (about $110.07 at time of writing)
There are monthly and 3-month options available as well, but you need to choose a subscription plan before being able to see them. And you’re almost forced to opt for the most expensive option.
We say this because the Privacy Plan only offers 16 VPN locations (excluding the US and UK) and the ability to use Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing (more on this later). You won’t be able to stream Netflix with this subscription plan.
The TV Plan, on the other hand, only gives you access to the US and UK (London) servers. You’ll also be able to stream Netflix USA, Netflix UK, and BBC iPlayer, of course… but no torrenting.
So really, if you want to stream and torrent, or even if you want to stream Netflix Netherlands (for example), you need to cough up for the BlackVPN Global Plan.
Given all of the above, and to save space for other important info, here are the monthly and 3-month prices for the Global Plan only:
- 1 Month – €9.50 (about $10.56 at time of writing)
- 3 Months – €27 (about $30.02 at time of writing)
You also only have 14 days to request a refund. The only plus side here is BlackVPN is at least willing to issue refunds on renewals, not just your initial payment.
On the other hand, a major bonus is BlackVPN gives you loads of payment options, starting with PayPal and credit cards and branching off to BitCoin and 40 alternative cryptocurrencies.
Being forced to give your email address when signing up might seem to negate the advantage of an anonymous payment method like cryptocurrency. However, you can easily create a free, anonymous, and fully encrypted email account with ProtonMail for the purpose of signing up.
There’s also a free 3-day trial if you sign up on the Google Play or App Store. However when we tried the Google Play store app, it didn’t work. We kept getting “No connection to the server. Try later.” We tried later. Still got nothing. Maybe you will have better luck.
Unlimited Streaming? Not Quite…
As mentioned above, you need to pay for a Global or TV subscription plan if you’re hoping to stream Netflix and/or BBC iPlayer (or any other streaming service, for that matter).
This can not only limit your choice of locations right off the bat, but you’ll find yourself frustrated with the lack of success too. BlackVPN’s US East Coast server seems to be blocked by Netflix’s proxy detection software – as well as most of their other servers too.
The only server we could get working with Netflix was the US West Coast.
We had the same frustration with trying to get BBC iPlayer to work on the UK server. Sometimes we got through, other times we didn’t.
Limited Torrenting (Despite What They Say)
BlackVPN says you’ll get unlimited torrenting (P2P file-sharing) with the Privacy and Global subscription plans…
But if you read the fine print, you’ll see this 100% excludes all US and UK servers.
There’s absolutely nothing anywhere on their website to explain this, including their FAQ section. When we tried reaching out to their support team, we got the same response as with our previous questions – that is to say, no response whatsoever.
The closest thing we could find was this excerpt in the Terms of Service:
That last part is just BlackVPN covering their bases on a legal front – they aren’t really going to try and stop you from torrenting.
So we’ll give BlackVPN the benefit of the doubt by guessing they’ve had enough issues with torrenting complaints on those servers that it’s easier for them to restrict P2P use on them.
This does mean BlackVPN is wholly unsuitable for most users, however – even those purely interested in 100% legal file-sharing. We recommend taking a look at our guide on the Best Torrent VPNs for better options.
Usability and Support
BlackVPN’s installation process is a little more complicated than we’d prefer.
One option is the BlackVPN beta app, however we had a lot of issues trying to open the app. Eventually, we gave up in favor of finishing this review.
Another fault with the beta app was needing to disable Windows Defender or other anti-virus programs to run the setup.
This is highly concerning, as various users reported the files contained trojans and firmware.
So, for the purpose of this review, we tested the BlackVPN OpenVPN “app” instead.
The biggest problem with the OpenVPN app was the interface – it’s not user-friendly and there’s a strong lack of settings to choose from.
Fortunately, connecting to a server does work – and you’re able to choose which server you want to connect to as well.
As for BlackVPN’s support…
We didn’t have any luck getting a response via their email ticketing system or their live chat feature. In fact, we struggled to even find the live chat button. We had to disable our Ghostery and Privacy Badger browser extensions (both of which are there to protect our online privacy) and refresh the website home page before it appeared, and even then, it was showing an unhappy face…literally.
How to Cancel BlackVPN and Get Your Money Back
As is, we do not recommend BlackVPN. However, we recognize the VPN has a lot of potential. If they ironed out the kinks and improved their service – specifically their app – we might reconsider recommending them.
If you bought a subscription in the past 14 days, here’s how to get your money back:
- Contact BlackVPN’s support team and request a refund
- After providing the requested account details (including your reason for cancellation), your subscription will be cancelled and a refund issued
BlackVPN says they aim to process refunds within 24 hours, but that it may take up to 30 days to complete.
How much does BlackVPN cost per month?
The Global Plan costs €9.50 per month (about $10.56 at time of writing).
Does BlackVPN work for Netflix?
Only when connected to the US West Coast server.
Is BlackVPN legitimate?
Yes, though there are issues with DNS leaks and potential viruses in the installation files.
Is BlackVPN a good VPN?
As is, BlackVPN is missing too many security features and functionality to be a “good” VPN.
Does BlackVPN hide my IP address?
Yes, though the provider admits to struggling with hiding IPv6 addresses.
Does BlackVPN charge monthly?
Yes, though you can also pay quarterly or yearly.
Is BlackVPN a zero-logs VPN?
Yes, BlackVPN has a strict no-logs policy.
Can you cancel BlackVPN anytime?
Yes, but refunds are only issued if requested within 14 days of payment.
Is BlackVPN safe in China?
No, BlackVPN is not safe to use in China.