Let us start this review with a look at the history the BolehVPN company. BolehVPN is a Malaysian VPN service that was started in 2007 as a means to circumvent local ISP blocking and throttling of content. Despite being smaller than some providers, they have grown to be a major player in the Asian VPN market due to their belief in a free internet, total commitment to anonymity, and personalized customer service. This belief has led to their no-log policy and open support of P2P. Additionally, this belief has also fueled their development of privacy enhancing and censorship defeating technologies which has led to their emerging prominence in the international VPN market.
Pricing and Special Offers
As this review shows, BolehVPN simplifies their pricing by offering their VPN as a single plan. When you sign up for a paid plan, your subscription includes access to all of their servers, various services or protocols, and unlimited access to their network. That means your bandwidth usage is not restricted. Additionally, BolehVPN provides members two simultaneous logins and an extra L2TP login with a single paid account. This gives you protection at home while allowing you the same protection when traveling.
They offer a 7-day trial account for $3.70 that is best used to try out the service and see if it suits your needs. Their basic 30-day plan sells for $9.99 with discounts offered for bulk purchases. This means you can get a 60-day plan for $16.99, a 180-day plan for 44.99, and a 365-day plan for $79.99. Enjoy BolehVPN from just $6.50 a month which is like getting four months free.
BolehVPN supports a wide range of payment options. They support Paypal, credit and debit cards, online banking, and BitCoin (via Coinbase) and DogeCoin and DarkCoin via CoinPayments. They also support many prepaid credit cards. Malaysian customers can use bank-in (online and and ATM cash deposits). Credit cards, debit cards and online banking are handled through MolPay or NetBuilder. You only need to have a valid email address and payment gateway to subscribe to their service. Paying by Bitcoin or prepaid cards will allow total payment anonymity.
Risk Free Trial Period
BolehVPN has two different trials: a one day free trial and a 7-day no obligation paid trial subscription. To request approval for their one day free trail, you must send an email with a brief description of your intended VPN use to their sales department. However, I recommend that you subscribe to their 7-day, no obligation trial plan if you really want to evaluate the true performance of their service.
Trial packages are normally not refundable unless the VPN cannot be used where you are. A refund is available for subscriptions of 30 days and over within the first 14 days of service. However, the refund must be due to technical problems that their support staff could not resolve to your satisfaction in a timely manner and they have determined it is a genuine refund request. No refunds for non-technical issues will be given. Consequently, BolehVPN recommends that you take advantage of one of their trials to determine if you are happy wit the performance of their VPN before subscribing to one of their longer term plans.
BolehVPN Network and Server Locations
When it comes to size BolehVPN may not have the largest network. Still, they have developed an excellent reputation in the VPN space by creating a customer-centric VPN service that protects its members privacy, helps them overcome censorship, and provides a safe and secure environment for them to anonymously surf the internet.
|OpenVPN and L2TP
BolehVPN has servers in the following countries:
Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
BolehVPN provides truly unlimited data usage for all their members across their entire network. This is a bonus for those who travel or those who want to access geo-restricted streaming media content. Additionally, they have embraced P2P and even optimized their service to support it. Case in point, their VPN helps remove ISP throttling and traffic shaping of P2P/torrent activity by modifying the data packets and disguising the data traffic to make it harder for ISPs to identify it.
Privacy and Security
The logging policy is very important to many people who are seeking a VPN. BolehVPN makes it pefectly clear that they have a no-log policy. This information is pulled directly from their website FAQ on privacy:
No we do not keep logs. We’re a Malaysian incorporated company which is not subject to any mandatory data retention laws. As we don’t keep logs, there is not much information to share even when requested.
…depending on the payment method, all that is required is a valid e-mail address. Any personal information received will only be used to fill your order. We will not sell or redistribute your information to anyone.
We do not monitor any traffic of our customers nor will we willingly share customer details.
These three statements illustrate BolehVPN’s total commitment to your personal and internet privacy. As a very last resort, they will however turn on logs temporarily to identify abuse of their services (DoS or spamming), identify and terminate the offending user, and wipe the logs. They say this has only happened a handful of times in their years of service and is necessary to maintain the integrity of their service.
Their VPN uses a robust OpenVPN framework to provide better security and compatibility across a variety of platforms. It also has L2TP support for those whose devices do not have native OpenVPN support. These protocols should be more than sufficient for the average VPN users needs. They do not support PPTP because they do not feel that it is secure.
BolehVPN has custom software for Windows, Mac, and Android devices. Their Windows and Mac clients install with just a click and have simplified graphical user interfaces. Many of the technical details are automatically handled by their software so no technical expertise is required to use the BolehVPN-GUI. A few simple clicks and you are connected and using their service. They also have a custom Android app. They have a guide to walk you though downloading and configuring the OpenVPN Connect app from OpenVPN Technologies, Inc. for iOS devices to use their service. Additionally they provide step-by-step illustrated guides to manually configure OpenVPN on Linux, Sabai Technology Routers, Asus-WRT Merlin Routers (RT-N66, AC66, AC56, AC68), and DD-WRT Routers. They also have guides to configure their L2TP/IPSec VPN for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.
Connecting with the Windows Client
Let’s take a close look at the BolehVPN Windows client. When you first start the client, the login screen will appear where you enter in credentials you obtained when you subscribed. The client screens show your connection status, upload and download speeds for the current connection, and social icons to share. In addition to the regular minimize and close Windows buttons, the client screen also includes an extra shield icon containing a question mark. Clicking this icon will open the BolehVPN customer support page where you can open tickets and check the status of current tickets. After you log in, you will see a screen similar to the one shown below. A quick review of this screen shows that it has five tabs: Dashboard, VPN Log, Settings, Proxy settings, and Service status. The Dashboard tab is selected by default.
The Dashboard (shown above) is divided into four sections:
- Allows you to select the Protocol (OpenVPN or L2TP)
- Allows you to choose a server a server for connection
- Allows you to connect or disconnect from a server
- Also has buttons to open the customer support page and the FAQ page on the BolehVPN website.
- Shows you the data transferred (upload and download) for today and for the month
- Allows you to reset the statistics
- Current Session Details
- Shows your public IP address and the IP address of your current connection server
- Shows the country of your current connection
- Shows you the data transferred (upload and download) for the current session
- Account Details – Shows you current account username and expiration date
When you select a server from the drop down list under connection you will notice that they are named by six configuration types. It is important to understand these configurations to take full advantage of the BolehVPN service. Here is a list of the configuration types, along with a brief description, and a review of the pros and cons of each.
- TCP Server – This is used to bypass corporate/campus firewalls. This is combined with other configuration types.
- Proxied – This configuration is best for routing secure traffic but requires SOCKS proxies to be set up so has more overhead.
- Does not slow down traffic not going through the VPN like gaming and general internet surfing.
- Can be used for well peered P2P.
- If properly configured, it will not leave you exposed if VPN drops.
- It requires the program you wish to pass through the VPN to have proxy support.
- It is not fully connectable and appears firewalled.
- It does not provide complete privacy.
- Fully Routed – All internet traffic is encrypted and tunneled through the VPN (your general all inclusive VPN service).
- Provides a high degree of privacy and security.
- Requires no extra setup once connected.
- It works well with poorly seeded trackers.
- It slows all internet traffic.
- xCloak – This cloaks traffic to hide VPN use. This mainly used to bypass the strict internet firewalls in countries like China and Iran.
- BolehGeo – This is for streaming/accessing sites that are restricted to US address without the use of a VPN.
- Pro – No slowdown since the traffic is not encrypted.
- Con – Supports only a few channels at the this time (Hulu, Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, Pandora, Fox, Crunchyroll, CBS, Youtube)
- Surfing/Streaming – Same as BolehGeo but with more locations and encrypted
The second tab is VPN Log and it is mainly used to troubleshoot a user connection issue by the BolehVPN support staff. The third tab which is shown below is settings. It is divided into three sections: Application Settings, Manage Configuration, and Update Application.
The applications settings section will let you set you own preferences:
- Hide on successful connection – This hides the icon once the VPN service is connected.
- Connect to boot – Automatically connect to the service when the VPN service starts.
- No sound – Turn off the sound in the client.
- Enable lockdown – According to BolehVPN support, this is a “superior kill switch” which disables the default route, forcing all traffic (even LAN) out over the VPN. This persists until you manually hit disconnect in the BolehVPN client.
- Run at system startup – Run the client on system startup.
- Auto reconnect – Reconnect automatically if VPN drops.
- Enable DNS leak protection – This is used to guard against public IP exposure to protect your privacy.
The Manage Configuration section allows you to choose the VPN server configuration that you want to load on boot, set when you want to update it, and manually update it. The last section lets you check for client update, change users, and save settings.
The forth tab is the proxy settings tab which you will need to set up if you choose a server with a proxy configuration to funnel specific traffic through the VPN tunnel. It allows you to choose the following:
- Protocol – Options include No proxy, HTTP or SOCKS.
- If proxy type is HTTP or SOCKS, then enter the proxy address and port number.
- Authentication required – Toggle off or on.
- If authentication required, then enter the Username and Password
- Save proxy settings
The service status tab lets you check the status of all servers in the network. Specifically, you can check the ping response time and the packet loss rate for each server.
Connect with the Mac VPN Client
In addition to their Windows software, BolehVPN also has a custom Mac client to connect to their VPN servers and retrieve configuration files automatically. It has much of the same functionality of the Windows client.
It will only work for Mac OS X Leopard (10.6.0) and above. If you are using OS X Leopard (10.5.0) and below, you will have to use their Tunnelblick guide to establish an encrypted connection between your system and their servers and manually add the configuration files. They provide a guide to walk you though this.
Connect from iPhone or iPad
BolehVPN has a guide to help you install the OpenVPN Connect app from OpenVPN Technologies, Inc. on your iOS devices and configure them to work with their service. The OpenVPN Connect app requires iOS 6.1 or later. The app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Connect with the Android App
BolehVPN also has an Android app for their VPN service. They have a nice guide to help install and configure the app. The proxy configurations are not applicable to Android devices. Once setup the app will let you easily tap to connect to their servers. The app requires Android 4.0 and above.
BolehVPN Speed Test
No review would be complete without a performance speed test. I tested the BolehVPN service to see how it affected the connection speed. I had some trouble connecting to some of their closer VPN servers the day I conducted the speed test. However, I did not have any problems connecting the following day.
As you can see there was a 43% difference in speed between the connection directly to my ISP and the connection to a server in Los Angeles. As you expect their is some loss in connection speed from using the fully encrypted service but the loss is acceptable. With a speed of nearly 38 Mbps I do not think you will have any problem using their service for most applications.
BolehVPN Review: Conclusion
BolehVPN is a small VPN service who has built their reputation on customer service and the belief in a free internet. Although originally started as a local private project, they have grown to have an international presence in the space. Their open acceptance of P2P, commitment to privacy, and customer-centric focus have fueled this growth. They have virtual locations in 15 different countries. Their default is to provide full protection and hide your IP address by tunneling all data to and from your machine through the virtual tunnel created by their service. They also provide other configurations to help bypass censorship, overcome firewalls, and access geo-restricted streaming media.
What I liked most about the service:
- Easy to use Windows and Mac software
- Mobile app for Android
- Discounted pricing for term plans
- Transparent no-log policy
- OpenVPN protocol for secure encryption
Ideas to improve the service:
- A better free trial that is easier to get
- The option for more protocols with their service
- Support for L2TP for more than just the US and UK
- Custom app for iOS devices
- Unblock more streaming media sites for their BolehGeo
BolehVPN provides a resonably fast service for the size of their network. If you are looking for a VPN service that believes in true internet freedom, has individual customer focus, and takes privacy seriously, BolehVPN is for you. Sign up for their no obligation paid trial and test it for yourself.