Private Tunnel Review (2019)

Private Tunnel Highlights

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  • Country: USA
  • Logging:  No (Traffic), Yes (Connection),  No (IP address)
  • Bypass VPN Block (DPI):  Obfs proxy, HTTP proxy, obfs proxy alternative
  • Pricing: $2.91 (per month)
  • Allows P2P/ Torrent: No
  • Simultaneous connections: 3
  • Live Chat Support: Yes
  • Custom clients/apps: Yes
  • Alternative website: N/A
  • Trustpilot rating: N/A

My First Impression

It is not the first time I am going to use Private Tunnel. I have used their VPN service back in 2017, when they had very good prices like 10 devices for $30 (now it is 3 devices for $35). After using their service for a year, I have switched to another one, both because of the price increase and their obfsproxy stopped working in my country. A lot has changed since then, and I hope that their obfuscation has improved.

The website has dramatically changed, and now looks polished and professional. Private Tunnel VPN service is provided by the people behind famous OpenVPN and has been around since 2011. The website is available in English only, and has a live chat support.

Does Private Tunnel keep logs?

Private Tunnels logging and privacy policies are not the VPN providers’ strongest side. On the Privacy Policy page, it is mentioned, which information is not logged. The only log type that is mentioned here, is user traffic (traffic logs). No information given about IP addresses, bandwidth usage, timestamps, connection, etc. logs. After connection live chat, I was informed that connection time and bandwidth usage is logged and stored for 2 weeks.

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Private Tunnel VPN Logging Policy

To sum up, Private Tunnel VPN does not store:

  • traffic logs (i.e user activity)
  • IP address
And, they keep connection time and bandwidth usage logs.

 

There are several VPN providers that claim that they have no logs to give, if law enforcement orders personal identifiable information of the users. That is not the case with Private Tunnel. The VPN provider fully cooperates with law enforcement agencies when ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

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Private Tunnel VPN Privacy Policy

Does Private Tunnel VPN bypass Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and similar firewalls?

Countries like China, Turkey, Russia implement firewalls that block access to VPN services. As an example, China uses the Great Wall of China (GFW) system to block most VPNs and proxies. Some VPN services use extra protocols so that users in those countries can bypass VPN block.

In addition to standard OpenVPN, Private Tunnel offers HTTP proxy, obfs proxy, and obfs proxy alternative anti-DPI protocols. Normally, obfs proxy is available on most platforms except for iOS on most VPN providers (NordVPN, VyprVPN) due to Apple’s regulations. In this case, live chat support agent Veronica informed me that Private Tunnel also has obfuscated connection option on iOS devices. It is amazing, if that is true. And, the best part is anti-DPI protocol settings are configured in the Private Tunnel apps, so there is no need for manual configuration. 

 

Obfsproxy definition given by the TOR community:

Obfsproxy is a tool that attempts to circumvent censorship, by transforming the Tor traffic between the client and the bridge. This way, censors, who usually monitor traffic between the client and the bridge, will see innocent-looking transformed traffic instead of the actual Tor traffic.

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Private Tunnel Live Chat

Testing Private Tunnel VPN

As usual, I test Mullvad on a Windows 7 PC, and an Android phone running Android 6.0.1. I am testing on an ADSL internet provided by the local telecom company, and cellular internet provided by our local mobile operator.

Private Tunnel offers HTTP proxy, OBFS proxy, and alternative OBFS proxy. I started my test with Windows. The software has still the same design that it had a couple years ago (alternative OBFS proxy is named as OBFS-hybrid proxy). At the beginning of the test, Private Tunnel had problems with connection, regardless the protocol I chose. The VPN either stuck in  “connecting” or showed the message “no proxy servers available at the moment”. At last, the VPN connected by OBFS proxy.

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Private Tunnel Windows test
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Private Tunnel Windows test

Similar tests were performed on my Android phone. When connected to a wireless connection, Private Tunnel bypassed the block without problems using OBFS and OBFS alternative proxy, whereas HTTP failed to connect. On the other hand, none of the anti-DPI were able to evade firewall when my device was connected to the cellular network. 

This time, I had a chance to test the VPN on an iOS device on the wireless network. The log-in was problematic as it is the case with most VPNs, the ISP blocks log-in to the VPN app. The OBFS proxy and OBFS alternative proxy worked like a charm, however the HTTP proxy failed to impress.

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Private Tunnel Android test

To sum up, in the tests Private Tunnel managed to bypass the deep packet inspection in my country on Windows (OBFS proxy) and Android/iOS platforms (only on Wi-Fi, OBFS and OBFS alternative proxies).

If you are not sure whether Private Tunnel is for you or not, you can try 7-day free trial (it requires a valid payment method), to check how the VPN performs in your country.

Is Private Tunnel VPN affordable?

Private Tunnel offers monthly plan, which is rather expensive ($2 per device per month), and yearly plan, which is affordable ($0.97 per device per month). Although, the VPN provider has a very expensive “add more users” function,  where you can add a user for extra $35 per year. On the other hand, they have very good user management panel, which gives possibility to share your account without sharing your credentials. Every user has his/her own login and password.

Private Tunnel Pricing

Private Tunnel accepts major credit/debit cards and PayPal. 

Private Tunnel offers 7-day free trial, which requires a valid payment method. Also, the VPN provider does not offer a money back guarantee.

 

What features are offered by Private Tunnel VPN?

– Supported Platforms

Private Tunnel supports Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, with standalone softwares for the platforms. Also, the VPN can be configured on some routers. Torrenting/P2P is not allowed.

– Supported Protocols

Private Tunnel VPN offers OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), OBFS PROXY, HTTP PROXY and OBFS PROXY ALTERNATIVE options. 

– Number of Servers

Private Tunnel has 22 servers in 12 countries.

Conclusion

What I liked:

  • Does not store traffic and IP address logs
  • OBFS Proxy, HTTP Proxy and OBFS proxy alternative (anti-DPI protocols)
  • Pricing, $0.97 per device/month
  • Has user management panel

What I didn’t like:

  • Keeps connection time and bandwith usage logs
  • Pricing, expensive if you want to use more than 3 devices
  • Torrenting/P2P not allowed
  • Only 2 payment options
  • Not a big choice of servers
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