We mentioned before that controversy draws us like a moth to a flame. This is exactly what brought our attention to SaferVPN, an Israeli-based provider.
Some VPN comparison sites rank them rather favorably. Others have SaferVPN in a gray zone where the service isn’t quite on the “avoid” list, but it falls short of a recommendation. So of course, we wanted to test the VPN ourselves.
After all, in a world where so many VPN “reviews” are really just native advertising, we prefer to develop our own, unbiased opinions. Read on for our in-depth SaferVPN review.
SaferVPN Review Overview
- Varied streaming capabilities
- User-friendly app
- Military-grade encryption
- Small server network
- 36 month plan - $2.5 per month ($89.99 total cost)
- 12 month plan - $5.49 per month ($65.88 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $12.95 per month ($12.95 total cost)
How SaferVPN Compares to the Competition
Israel – A Good Location?
We admit, the fact SaferVPN is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, raises a bit of a question mark.
But truth be told, Israel does have favorable data retention laws, though some have called it an outdated model. This doesn’t necessarily make us overly-cautious, but it does mean SaferVPN’s logging policy needs thorough investigation.
SaferVPN, like many of its competitors, has a whole page dedicated to declaring themselves a No Log VPN.
But as you probably know by now, there are a lot of VPN providers that lie through their teeth while making the same claim.
So we pored through the SaferVPN Terms of Service, including addenda such as their Data Processing Agreement. In that second page, under Section 2: Processing of Personal Data, we found a lot of legal jargon that basically translates to, “We do log some diagnostic data.”
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it’s not unique to SaferVPN. Diagnostic data is non-personal information they need in order to provide relevant support and maintain a quality standard.
If you go back to their Terms of Service, under Restrictions on Use (Section 8), it clearly states “If SaferVPN becomes aware of content with child pornography, we will report it to the appropriate authorities.”
We’re 100% in agreement with a ban on stuff like child pornography, but this does make us wonder how SaferVPN would “become aware” of such content if they’re not monitoring user data.
Again, we don’t think this is much of an issue, but it does mean we’re a little more skeptical of the provider’s no-logs policy.
Military-Grade Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols
On a wholly positive note, SaferVPN does make use of the best encryption standards currently available: 256-bit AES, the same used by military organizations and intelligence agencies around the world.
It’s virtually impossible to decrypt – a hacker would need to successfully decipher 1.2 x 10^77 combinations for every encryption key.
The provider hasn’t taken any shortcuts with their VPN protocols either.
Although they erroneously suggest IKEv2 is the most advanced (and therefore the best) available, you can also switch over to the OpenVPN protocol (which can run on both UDP and TCP ports), L2TP/IPSec, or PPTP.
We highly recommend you stick with OpenVPN as your default and avoid PPTP like the plague. Take a look at our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Protocols to understand why.
Kill Switch, Automatic WiFi Security, DNS Leak Protection
One of the most basic features all VPNs should have is a kill switch.
Very briefly, a kill switch will end your internet connection if there’s any interruption between your device and the SaferVPN servers.
This helps prevent data leaks and makes sure your IP address is always 100% hidden from your ISP, the government, and even the sites you’re visiting.
SaferVPN goes the extra mile here by including an Automatic WiFi Security feature. As long as you have the SaferVPN app installed, as soon as your device connects to an unsecured WiFi – such as public hotspots – the feature kicks in to reroute your connection via a VPN server.
Another important feature offered is DNS Leak Protection. SaferVPN does fall a little short of the mark here, as they’re using the Google Public DNS service rather than their own.
But this is somewhat understandable, as private DNS servers are expensive to set up and maintain.
Thankfully, the Google DNS servers aren’t traceable. We ran a few tests and can confirm there were no DNS leaks.
No Split Tunneling or Double VPN
One fairly big issue we do have with SaferVPN is they don’t offer split tunneling or a Double VPN feature.
Split tunneling can be very important for many users. What it does is split your internet traffic so some of it goes through the VPN servers and others through your normal connection.
A Double VPN, which is also known as Multi-Hop, is an extra layer of security that works by connecting to 2 VPN servers. Basically, you connect to Server 1, which then redirects your traffic through Server 2.
When we asked SaferVPN’s support team about this, they told us they’re planning to introduce this feature in the future.
We will admit the lack of a Multi-Hop feature isn’t a major issue for us, as we don’t consider it a crucial option and there are ways to get around it. But the lack of split tunneling is definitely a huge disappointment.
SaferVPN doesn’t have their own application on The Onion Router (TOR) network – but then again, most VPN providers don’t.
The good news is SaferVPN does work in conjunction with a TOR connection. This helps you achieve the closest possible thing to true online anonymity, so given the lack of a Double VPN feature, it’s reassuring to see the provider isn’t slacking off here.
As always, if you’re going to use TOR and SaferVPN at the same time, you need to connect to a VPN server before opening your TOR browser.
Server Connections 101
If you’ve read any of our other VPN reviews and guides, you’ll know we’re big fans of VPN providers with a huge server network.
The more servers available, the better – it helps avoid network overload (where too many people are using the same connection and you start experiencing lag).
SaferVPN doesn’t quite meet the standards here, unfortunately. While its more reputable competition boasts thousands of servers, SaferVPN only has 700+.
They’re also low on server locations. We generally prefer somewhere in the region of 50 to 60+ countries. SaferVPN only has servers in 34 countries.
Most of them are in Europe, while the entire continent of Africa only has 1 server, as does the Middle East.
Like many, if not all providers, SaferVPN makes the bold statement of being the fastest VPN.
We’re always highly skeptical of such claims, not least because it’s an impossible metric to quantify. There are too many factors that affect your internet speed for anyone to legitimately say they offer the fastest VPN service.
Here’s what we mean: when you connect to the internet, the speed of your connection is partially determined by the device you’re using, the browser you’re using, your ISP, your distance from the server you’re connected to, and that server’s current load.
When you’re connecting via a VPN, that distance is generally increased multiple times. And because it’s a shared server, the chances of network overload also rise.
To test VPN server speeds, we always use the same computer, internet connection, and server locations. It’s the best way to get a proper understanding of how different VPNs compare when it comes to speed.
Here are our results from testing SaferVPN:
Although SaferVPN definitely isn’t fastest VPN, they’re not the slowest either – by far. Their speeds are actually above average.
Device Compatibility and Connections
SaferVPN doesn’t have an app for every conceivable device, but they do cover the major ones:
By doing some digging around, we also found they work on gaming consoles and streaming devices such as Amazon Fire Stick, Kindle, and Smart TVs. However, they all require manual configuration.
A notable exception that’s something of a major let-down for us is they don’t have an installation option for Linux users. Their support pages have been saying a Linux application is “coming soon” since 2016 and updated to say the same every year since.
If you’re not very clued up about how to do manual configurations, this can be an issue. However, you can potentially get around this issue by installing the SaferVPN Router application – any devices connected to the router will then run through SaferVPN’s servers.
SaferVPN also allows for up to 5 simultaneous connections. This is something of an industry standard, but if you do need to connect more devices, we once again suggest using the router application.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
When it comes to pricing, we have to admit SaferVPN is more expensive than we think it’s worth, at least on a month-to-month basis.
Despite having fewer features and a drastically smaller server network, the provider costs the same as more premium options like ExpressVPN.
It’s common practice to offer discounts on longer subscription periods, so you definitely save by opting for a 1 Year or 3 Years plan:
If you’re balking at those prices, you’ll be happy to hear SaferVPN does offer a 24-hour free trial.
They don’t limit you in any way while using the free trial, so you still get all the available features and benefits, and you don’t need to provide any credit card details when signing up for it.
You also have a few different options for making payment: credit/debit card, PayPal, and Bitcoin. Having a cryptocurrency option is always a good sign, as it helps you stay as anonymous as possible.
Of course, you still need to give your email address when signing up, so it’s still not 100% anonymous.
All of SaferVPN’s subscription plans come with a standard 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee.
You have to go digging through the Terms of Service to find any information on it, though. In Section 3.5, SaferVPN informs us you need to send their support team an email to request a refund.
We’ll talk more about how to cancel your SaferVPN subscription in a later section.
Unblocking Websites for Streaming
One common reason many people want a VPN is to stream content that isn’t available in their own country.
At best, SaferVPN is mediocre at getting around geo-location blocks on streaming services like Netflix. They do have servers specifically optimized for streaming, which are automatically suggested when connecting, but they don’t always work.
As for using SaferVPN to get through the Great Firewall of China or dodge the draconian censorship laws of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), forget it. If you need to do so while traveling or relocating, you’re better off with one of the best overall VPN services.
Another increasingly popular use for VPNs is to torrent safely.
Unfortunately, SaferVPN fails rather dismally here too. In their Terms of Service, under Section 8.2 (Restrictions on Use of the Service), they explicitly forbid using “any torrent while using the Service and/or use the Service to generate, distribute and/or receive any torrent files.”
That said, they do have 3 servers optimized for P2P connections, in Canada, Netherlands, and Spain.
If you do plan on doing any torrenting, we strongly suggest sticking to one of our Best Torrenting VPNs.
Usability and Support
When it comes to SaferVPN’s usability, we give the provider full marks.
It only took 3 minutes to install the Windows application, which is quicker than other VPNs we’ve reviewed (most take about 5 minutes).
The application is also incredibly user-friendly and easy to navigate. We were quickly able to find everything we needed, including where to change default settings.
But the live support standard once again cements SaferVPN as a provider we suggest overlooking, though not necessarily avoiding altogether.
While we never waited more than a few minutes for a response, we definitely got the feeling one of 2 things was happening: either SaferVPN uses bots or their support agents are using auto-response software shortcuts.
It’s not necessarily a major issue, but we strongly prefer live support to be exactly that – live.
How to Cancel SaferVPN and Get Your Money Back
If you’re finding SaferVPN isn’t living up to your standards, you’ll be glad to know it’s fairly easy to cancel your subscription and get a refund:
- Log into your SaferVPN account
- Click on “Cancel” next to your subscription details
- Send SaferVPN support an email requesting a refund
It’s not 100% clear whether you can request a refund via live chat – in the Terms of Service, SaferVPN insists on an emailed request.
Regardless, you should be fully reimbursed within 10 business days.
How much does SaferVPN cost per month?
$12.95 on the monthly subscription plan, but you can get discounted rates with the 1- and 3 Years options.
Does SaferVPN work with Netflix?
Yes, but it’s not reliable. See our list of the Best Netflix VPNs for better options.
Is SaferVPN legit?
SaferVPN does appear to be a 100% legitimate VPN provider.
Is SaferVPN a good VPN?
Yes, though it lacks some of the features and capabilities we prefer to see in a VPN – especially at its higher cost.
Does SaferVPN hide my IP address?
Yes, when we conducted tests while connected to a SaferVPN server, we found no IP leaks.
Does SaferVPN charge monthly?
Yes, but only if you sign up for the monthly subscription plan. Longer subscriptions are charged accordingly (annually or once every 3 years).
Is SaferVPN a zero-logs VPN?
SaferVPN claims to be a zero-logs VPN. However, their Terms of Service suggests they might be recording browser history.
Can you cancel SaferVPN anytime?
Yes, you can cancel your SaferVPN subscription at any time.
Does SaferVPN work in China?
No. SaferVPN is not recommended for use in China or other countries with strict censorship laws.