|$1.99 a month
SkyVPN is a “freemium” VPN product. That means they offer a free version as well as a premium version. Usually, services like this offer a small and more crowded network of servers. While some reputable companies use that pricing model, a great many of them are not reputable. Often, companies that offer that structure make us wary. However, this Hong Kong-based company states they do not keep usage logs and they tout themselves as a “no-logs” VPN. They also boast of having 20 million users. This service is available for the four major operating systems including PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. If you look at the Android version, you will see it has more than 10 million downloads and an overall star rating of 4.3. Our rating for the VPN is much lower.
If you decide to go with SkyVPN premium, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Even though that kind of guarantee is common in the community, it is not common with freemium products. We are going to dive down into SkyVPN, explore the features, and see how it holds up to our testing.
About the Company
The company first registered its website in 2009. SkyVPN is based in Hong Kong, but some of our concerns are grounded in reality. Even though they are technically independent of Mainland China, recent actions show that that is not the case. We expect China to continue the crackdown on Hong Kong in the months and years to come. Beyond that, according to this report, the parent company of SkyVPN is Chinese company Tengzhan Group.
As far as pricing goes, this service is unusual. If you are in the premium mode without a subscription, the service limits you to 600mb. Although that is not much, the website says you can earn premium data by completing “in-app tasks”. We found that interesting and looked up what that meant. You get extra premium time through Daily Check-in, Feeling Lucky, Watching Videos, Inviting Friends to use SkyVPN, or getting special offers by completing questionnaires, etc. That type of approach reminds us more of the free to play video game companies than VPN providers.
If you decide to get a subscription, they charge more monthly than some premium providers. As you see in the image, you can get the service for $10.99 a month. If you get a year, that price drops to $4.99 a month. Clearly, the best value is their 3-year plan for $1.99 a month. As with all of them, you have to pay upfront, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. They accept credit cards, PayPal, BTC, Top, iDeal, UnionPay, and AliPay.
Another big question we have about free services is the number of servers available and locations. In total, SkyVPN has about 27 locations and just a bit more than 500 servers. If they have 20 million users as they state, that means the service can be expected to be slow. Let’s take a look at the server locations they currently offer.
- United States
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic
Features are often big factors in VPN decisions. It is good to see that SkyVPN has some of the features we like to see on the premium brands. However, we do not see any place where it lists the encryption or protocols it uses. Some of the options we like are:
- Kill Switch – As you can see in the image to the right, this feature stops your internet traffic if you get disconnected from the VPN. That helps by stopping you from being vulnerable while the VPN reconnects.
- Prevent IP leak – This feature is on by default. It prevents your IP address from being detected while connected. However, you will see if it works for SkyVPN in the next section.
- Split Tunneling – When using this feature, the system allows you to select which programs or websites you want to run through the secure tunnel. Others will bypass the VPN.
- Launch on Startup – With this feature, it will start protecting you as soon as you start your computer or device. It stays on until you turn it off.
Hands-On Testing and Operation
This is the category where we start to run into issues. Whereas some of the servers we tried connected quickly, others failed to connect with the Windows version. We had the same issues with the Android app. SkyVPN designed their console to be consistent across all platforms. After getting everything connected, we performed three different types of tests. Those are the DNS Leak test (if your DNS leaks when connected to the VPN, you are vulnerable) speed test, and streaming test. No matter how good a service sounds or what they promise, you need to make sure it meets your needs.
DNS Leak Test
As we mentioned, a DNS leak means you are vulnerable to others finding out your true location. Since streaming services also check DNS, you may have an issue viewing geographically restricted content. In the image below, we performed the test at doileak.com. we cut out the non-essential parts of the test to show the leaky parts. Even with the “Prevent IP Leak” feature on, you can see we still had DNS leakage issues.
SkyVPN Speed Test
As expected, speed should be a big determining factor in your VPN selection. If you are going to stream any content online, performance is important. When we tested the speed, you can see there is roughly a 96% drop in the numbers. When you compare that to premium services, you can expect only a 25% drop or so, due to encryption overhead. Since SkyVPN says on their website that they do not throttle, this VPN was quite slow.
Netflix and BBC iPlayer Test
The last test we like to perform is a streaming test. We connect to Netflix and BBC iPlayer to see if those services can detect the VPN. Sadly, this one failed both tests. We could not defeat the geo-restrictions of either service. That means SkyVPN is not suitable for unblocking geo-restricted content.
If you want to get in touch with the company for any reason, there are several ways to contact them. That includes an FAQ section, email option, and a chat feature. We attempted to use the quickest way, the chat feature. Unfortunately, it took them more than 24 hours to respond. For a company that charges users a premium price for a service like SkyVPN, we would expect a faster response time.
Now, we will go over what we have learned from testing this service. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong, has slow speeds, few servers, DNS leak issues (despite a switch that is supposed to prevent them), and will not unblock popular streaming services. You may have issues connecting to some of their servers. They do not tell you what kind of encryption they use, nor do they tell you what protocols they use. Given all of those points, there are much better alternatives available.