BlackVPN is a Hong Kong-based company that provides VPN services. It was founded back in 2009 “with the ambition to be one of the most private and secure VPNs available .” The founders – who describe themselves as “IT geeks who are passionate about Privacy and Digital Rights” – say they are inspired by the Pirate Bay founders, Ladar Levison (Lavabit founder), and Edward Snowden (who blew the lid off the US NSA).
BlackVPN was based in USA until 2012 when the founders decided to shift their base to Hong Kong, a move they say was aimed at avoiding secret court orders to install backdoors as well as monitoring. Read more about their views here.
Servers and locations
BlackVPN doesn’t explicitly say how many server it has, and as for their worldwide presence, their official website just displays a list of countries which is presumably the list of locations where their servers are located. These regions include the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Estonia, Romania, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Singapore, and Australia.
Supported VPN protocols
BlackVPN supports all the major OS platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, as well as DD-WRT and pFsense routers.
While manual setup/configuration guides are available for all platforms, dedicated clients are only available for Windows, Mac OS X and Android.
Pricing and payment methods
BlackVPN offers a total of five subscription packages, including Global, TV, and Privacy packages, as well as the US and UK Server packages. The Global Package – as the name suggests – covers everything that the service has to offer (see image below), and costs €9.50, €27, and €99 on monthly, quarterly, and yearly-basis, respectively.
The TV Package, which doesn’t include P2P, costs €7.50, €20, and €75 for monthly, quarterly, and yearly subscription. On the other hand, the Privacy Package, which doesn’t include the UK and US TV service, costs €5, €13, and €49, respectively. Finally, the US and UK Server packages cost the same as the Privacy Package.
Sadly, there aren’t any free trials, but BlackVPN does offer a 14-day money back guarantee, which applies to both new and renewal purchases.
“If you contact us within the first 14 days of your first purchase then you are entitled to a full 100% refund, regardless of the reason for your cancellation. However if your account is suspended or terminated due to a violation of our Terms of Service then we will not refund any remaining account balance,” their official website says.
As for the supported payment modes, BlackVPN lists PayPal, BitPay, credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Union Pay and more), bank transfers (Sofort, iDeal and more), as well as Gift Cards and e-Wallets.
Limit on simultaneous connections
Although BlackVPN doesn’t restrict you to any particular device, it doesn’t allow you to simultaneously access your account from more than three devices.
Please note that BlackVPN’s ToS say, “you may use the service from as many computers and devices as you like, however you will not be able to connect from more than one computer or device at the same time,” but their website’s home page clearly advertises the ability to “connect 3 devices at the same time.”
Further investigation reveals that they maintain the 3 device limit in their FAQ section as well, and there they also say that “each device can be connected to a separate VPN location.”
We reached out to the team behind BlackVPN with a list of questions about their service. Here are their answers to some of our privacy-related queries:
Q. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time-stamp to a user of your service? If so, what information and for how long?
A. No. We purge this information when the user disconnects from the VPN. Read more about their no-logs policy here.
Q. Is BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic allowed on all servers? If not, why?
A. It is only allowed on our Privacy VPN locations, due to stricter enforcement of these notices in the USA and UK.
Q. Which payment systems do you use and how are these linked to individual user accounts?
A. PayPal, Bitcoin and PaymentWall (for Credit Cards and Bank Transfers). The transaction details (ID, time, amount, etc) are linked to each user account.
Q. What is the most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm you would recommend to your users? Do you provide DNS leak protection and tools such as “kill switches” if a connection drops?
A. We always recommend OpenVPN and our VPN servers enforce AES-256-CBC encryption and use 4096 bit RSA and Diffie Hellman keys. The open source OpenVPN client can now be configured for DNS leak prevention and not to leak any traffic if VPN the connection drops. We package the Windows OpenVPN client pre-configured this way for our users, and we also package the OS X Tunnelblick app to prevent IP leaks too.
Additionally, the company also makes it clear in its ToS that users will not be allocated a fixed IP address.