IronSocket Review

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IronSocket Review

UPDATED: February 16, 2016

Overall Score:

Price

4
out of 5

Features

4.5
out of 5

Speed

4
out of 5

Customer Service

4.5
out of 5

This is the most comprehensive IronSocket review available online. In this review you will find all information you need to know about IronSocket from price plans and encryption performance, to device compatibility and customer support. Included is a detailed step-by-step setup guide to help you get IronSocket setup quickly on your device.

Company Summary

Originally named "Hide My Net", this Hong Kong based VPN service provider offers some of the best high-level encryption available today. It is fast, offers zero usage logs, and is a very transparent company in regards to their privacy policy. The servers they provide are also of fantastic quality and variety. A very alluring VPN provider that we highly recommend trying out.

Homepage Snapshot

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Operating System Compatibility

Pricing Summary

$6.99 for one month account

$5.99 p/month for six month account

$4.16 p/month for one year account

VPN Protocols Offered

L2TP

PPTP

OPEN VPN

Pros

  • 7 Day Money back guarantee
  • Very affordable
  • Very fast speeds
  • Accepts Bitcoin!
  • High-level encryption
  • Hong Kong based, so not affected by majority of international legal pressure

Cons

  • Not "zero logs" so some data is gathered
  • Does not come with add-ons now as standard in competitor VPN service (kill switch, etc.)

The Verdict

IronSocket is a fast and reliable VPN service. Although not the prettiest or "sleek", it does a really fantastic job of what matters most - encryption, transparency with users and high-speed servers all over the world. The pricing is very competitive, so we highly recommend trying out their 7 day free trial to see how you like it.


Full IronSocket Review


Pricing, Plans, & Payment Options

PRICING

IronSocket offer very competitive pricing for their VPN service. Their price ranges fall right in the sweet spot of not being too expensive, while still charging a fair price for the level of service they provide users with. 

All pricing is in US dollars, but users can of course purchase their VPN service from wherever they are located in the world, in their own currency. 

PLANS

IronSocket are no different from their main competitors when it comes to their pricing plans. 

They offer a three-tiered pricing plan subscription model, with each plan costing the user less per month the more they initially sign up for:

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What IronSocket do best, in comparison to their closest competitor VPN service providers, is that they display a very detailed breakdown of exactly what each pricing plan gets you, right there below the prices. Most VPN service providers show a few bullet points that go over the main features, but very few offer such a clear, transparent breakdown of what each pricing subscription gets you.
 
PAYMENT OPTIONS

IronSocket cover every major payment option you would hope for. Credit cards and PayPal are covered as standard. 

Importantly though, IronSocket also support payment via BitCoin. This is not so common an option for users, so it is fantastic that IronSocket have put in the time and effort to allow users this option:


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In addition to these payment options, IronSocket offer a very unique way to protect user anonymity via a method I have never seen another VPN service provider offer before: through gift cards:

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This is actually quite genius, as it utilised a form of currency that many people may have laying around their home that they would otherwise let expire - various high street gift cards. 

IronSocket offer this smart payment option as another way of protecting customer anonymity when performing the online transaction for purchasing IronSocket. There is, just like with BitCoin, total anonymity maintained when paying via gift card. Very impressive!

Money back Guarantee 

It is definitely expected of every VPN service provider to offer at least some level of money back guarantee to new customers as a way of both incentive to try out their service as well as demonstrate how confident the VPN provider is with their VPN quality of service. 

IronSocket is no different; offering new customers a full 7 day money back guarantee. I have seen 30 day versions of this offered by other VPNs that are of the same quality level as IronSocket, and I do believe it makes a difference by offering a longer guarantee. However, it is great that IronSocket offer one at all.
 

Feautures

Smart DNS Proxy
- The most secure and stable way to access blocked content anywhere in the world via IronSocket's globally located servers.

Torrent optimised servers
- IronSocket pride themselves on offering servers that are specifically optimised for torrent activity, while protecting user identity by keeping it completely untraceable. 

Fully supported device integration
- You can setup IronSocket VPNs on any device you have that has an internet connection: laptop, smartphone, smartTV, PlayStation, XBox, eReader, router - you name it.

IPSec VPN benefits
- By using SSL (known as IPSec) VPN technology, user privacy is protected to a high level.

Zero-logging policy
- IronSocket employee a complete zero-logging policy, so even they cannot monitor or track your online activity when using the VPN. 

The Software

The IronSocket software is arguably the most disappointing of the whole service that they provide. 

In comparison to every other VPN software that I have reviewed, the process of purchasing, setting up, and installing the IronSocket VPN service to your device, not to mention actually connecting the VPN, is incredibly arduous and laborious. I was pretty shocked by how much time and how many steps you have to go through to get this setup. 

Here's an abridged look at this process, in its entirety...

PAYMENT PROCESS

When you select the price plan you want to subscribe to, you are taken through a 3-step payment process, that looks like this:

Enter your personal details...

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Select the add-on of your choice (you can pay more for additional VPN logins)...

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Choose your preferred method of payment...

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SETUP PROCESS

Once payment has been made, you are redirected to the first stage of setting up your VPN. 

This is where it started to become an unnecessarily long process for me. In my experience with other VPNs of IronSocket's quality and price level - the moment you make payment, the next screen you are presented with is a selection of devices and operating systems. You simply then just download the according VPN software that matches to the device you're on. 

This was not the case with IronSocket. You are instead directed to a page that gives you three choices:

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I knew once this was the first screen I was presented with for the setup process, that IronSocket is definitely a VPN service that is geared toward the more 'hardcore' techie user that likes to have real control over what they are setting up in every way, which historically equals a longer setup process. 

After selecting the top option, to "Set Up a VPN Connection", I was taken --as expected-- to a page that had even more detailed information. I feel that this page could have just been skipped entirely, and instead had the user be taken directly to the next page, which you get to by clicking the "Click Here" text at the bottom:

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This next page finally got me to the part where I was able to select my operating system and device to download the IronSocket VPN software to:

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After selecting the Mac OS X option, I was taken to a very densely text-filled page, that gave me a whole bunch of useful technical information, but for the average user this was wholly unnecessary. Most users would just like a "download IronSocket VPN Mac OSX software now!" button. Instead, you get this:

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I downloaded the OpenVPN Connect software and clicked it open to begin the installation process.

I once again hoped that this process would be like it has been with almost every other VPN software I have installed before, which was a case of double-clicking the application and having it install in a few moments, then open automatically for me -- showing me the main home screen of the software. 

However, once again I was taken through a rather lengthy installation process. The IronSocket team even acknowledge this by presenting you with a 26 step (!!!) guide on how to install your OpenVPN software and get connected to a server. 

After following the first section of the setup steps, I finally had the software installed and open. There was no home screen like I am accustomed to experiencing with all of IronSocket's main VPN service competitors, so I instead had to once again reference the 26 step setup guide on the website that explained how I needed to click a link within the guide that took me to a section of the website where I could select the servers available to me:

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I went with a UK London server to connect to, which would --with 99% of other VPN software-- usually consist of clicking "connect" beside the server location. 

This was not the case with IronSocket. Instead, I was once again directed to a new window, that gave me three options to download a file onto my device:

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Again, this seemed wholly unnecessary, especially for the average VPN user that just wants to 'connect' to their VPN and have their online activity be privacy-protected and have content unblocked. 

I of course selected the "Strong" .ovpn file. Once it was downloaded, I then had to re-reference the 26 step guide on the website to see how to connect this file to the software, since as mentioned, there is no main home interface to interact with. 

This was how you finally connect to the server you chose...

You click on the OpenVPN application symbol > Import > From local file...

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Again, click OpenVPN symbol > file just imported > Connect...

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Allow connection to the file...

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Then you must enter your username and password to connect...

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This meant going to my emails and then having to click a link that finally showed me my username and password information...

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Once I entered those details in, I was at last connected to my IronSocket VPN on my device.


MOBILE SOFTWARE

I also tested out the IronSocket VPN service on my Android device to see how it felt and functioned on mobile. The process was just as arduous as the aforementioned Mac OS X setup. 

You can find the OpenVPN Connect app in the Google Play store, which is what IronSocket uses as they have not developed their own mobile app:

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Once the app is downloaded and installed, you are automatically taken to the main interface, which looks like this:

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Here is where it got quite arduous once again. After having to find the setup reference guide on the main website, I again had to go to the specific section of the IronSocket site and select the server I wished to connect to and download the file (the page for which was not fully mobile-optimised as you can see):

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Once the file was selected and downloaded to my device, I then went back from the browser to the OpenVPN Connect app, and clicked the top right for settings > import to get the file:

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With the file connected to the app, I then had to get my login details and login to the app before being taken to the 'connect' screen. This meant going to my email to retrieve said login info, which was annoying:

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Finally I then clicked "connect" and was swiftly connected to the server I had chosen through the app...

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So all in all, I have to be quite brutal here and conclude that the entire process from payment, to download, to install, to setup and connect -- was definitely one of the worst I have experienced with the many VPN service providers I have reviewed. 

It is worth noting that there was no issues with connection once connected to the few servers I tested out both on my Macbook and Android mobile device.

Compatibility

IronSocket is compatible with every operating system and device you would hope for, and then some. You can setup the VPN on Windows, OS X, Android, iOS and Linux operating systems, as well as every device you can imagine:

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Speed & Performance

I ran a standard speed test on both my Macbook without the VPN and then with the VPN connected. As you can see in the results below, the speed was great. Although dropping more than half the download speed when connected to the VPN, a download speed of 20+Mbps is still very good:

Without VPN:

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With VPN:

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Support

IronSocket offer support around the clock, but unfortunately you can only communicate with the support team via email. There is no live chat for immediate response, unlike other VPN service providers in the same price range and quality level as IronSocket. 

What IronSocket have clearly put a lot of effort and time into, are the massive catalogues of online FAQ, guides and various other help sections that look to serve and answer almost any issue a user may have. So one would imagine that such a plethora of online supporting help documentation will make up for the lack of online live chat support. 

The Website

The IronSocket website is designed to a standard that does not put it in the same level of professionalism as other hugely popular VPN provider websites. Aesthetically, it displays all the information a prospective customer would want to find out as soon as possible, right on the home page. This is fantastic and very important for not annoying users looking for the vital info fast.

Here's a quick snapshot of the homepage above-the-fold display: 

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As mentioned earlier in this review, when you navigate to the pricing options (which you can do clearly and simply at any time on the website via the top navigation menu) you are immediately presented with the prices, plans, and the specific features that define each plan. IronSocket clearly want to be as transparent and honest with their information and service offerings as possible on the website, and it shows.

My only negative from the website is the general design. Functionality and development-wise, it is a great performing website. It is fast and intuitive (for the most part) to interact with. However, the general design appears rather dated and definitely not on par with their competitors' websites. This may have a negative effect on new users who come to the site, as it may sway their trusting of the quality-level of the IronSocket VPN service. 

Security & Privacy

Being physically based in Hong Kong has IronSocket in a fantastic position for protecting its users' data, since Hong Kong Internet laws are of the least restrictive globally. 

I definitely like that they boast having zero 'usage logs', which means that all streaming, communications, browsing and downloads, etc that you get up to when connected to their VPN is not tracked or logged by IronSocket. However, this is slightly undermined by the fact that IronSocket do keep rather in depth details about your personal details, as well as keeping comprehensive session logs. They store data like the date/time you connect/disconnect; how many bytes you transfer in your sessions; the unique IP address of the server you used, among other details. This is a little disappointing. 

Even the IronSocket website holds on to quite a lot of information from each and every user that visits the site via tracking technologies and cookies. Such information may be used by advertisers, which is always annoying. However credit should be given to IronSocket in that they do not attempt to hide this fact, and even outwardly state on their site exactly what data they collect and what they subsequently do with it. 

Digging a bit more into the more technical security side of things -- this is where IronSocket definitely shine. They employee SSL with 256 AES bit encryption (also on L2TP), which is a truly top encryption standard. In addition to this encryption quality, IronSocket also allow users to connect out via TCP port 443, which to put it plainly, is near impossible for any firewall to block or restrict (yes, even China's Great Firewall!)

Lastly, protocol-wise IronSocket offer all the greats. SSL and L2TP as mentioned are on 256 AES bit, with PPTP also being offered on 128 bit encryption. 

All in all, IronSocket put a heck of a lot of time and effort into giving serious levels of privacy protection to users, and I really love that about them.

Conclusion 

So there you have it. If you went through this entire review you will know that I have quite mixed feelings about IronSocket and the VPN service they provide. 

On one hand, they employee fantastic levels of detail to the service and are completely transparent with everything they offer as a service. They also give the more technically-inclined users a great experience of really getting into the nitty-gritty to setup the VPN connection on their devices. This is great and definitely not a common setup for most other VPN service providers. 

On the other hand, if you are a user that is just dying to watch the US Netflix in Greece, or access some blocked content and heard that a VPN can do that for you while protecting your privacy, then IronSocket may not be the service for you, since there are many other VPNs in the same price range that allow you to purchase, download, install and be connected to a server of your choice 100x faster that the time it would take you to do so with IronSocket. 

Overall I would still recommend IronSocket, because the level of protection and privacy and speed that their service provides users with is ultimately what matters above all else, and they deliver this very well. Especially at the lower-end pricing that they offer it at. Plus, they have the 7 day guarantee, so there's no reason not to give them a go!

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
IronSocket VPN
Author Rating
41star1star1star1stargray

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