VPN Gate Review

UPDATED: February 17, 2016

Overall Score:

Price

5
out of 5

Features

3
out of 5

Speed

3.5
out of 5

Customer Service

2.5
out of 5

This is the most detailed VPN Gate review you will find online. All information you need to know about VPN Gate is included in this review from pricing and performance, to device compatibility and customer support. Also included is a step-by-step setup guide to help you get VPN Gate setup quickly.

Company Summary

VPN Gate is a free and non commercial VPN service. It's an open source project that was developed by the University of Tsukuba, Japan. The service and VPN servers are run completely by volunteers but overall we were pleased with it.

Homepage Snapshot

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Operating System Compatibility

Pricing Summary

VPN is a non-profit / Free Service

VPN Protocols Offered

L2TP

PPTP

OPEN VPN

NAT Firewall

Pros

  • It's free
  • It's open source
  • No usage logs

Cons

  • will hand over your IP to authorities 
  • Not completely private
  • servers go down quite often

The Verdict

If you're extremely paranoid about privacy then VPN Gate is not for you. However if you're looking for a fun and open source VPN project that you'd like to try out, VPN Gate might be for you. It's not an entirely out of box solution but it's free and you get what you pay for... in this case you're paying nothing!


Pricing & Plans

PRICING

A completely free service, VPN Gate is simply the result of an academic experiment conducted by individuals from the Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan. Thus, you pay absolutely nothing to use this VPN service.

PLANS

Unsurprisingly, there are no 'plans' to choose from when you get started with VPN Gate. You simply join the service, setup the VPN and start using it. No minimum or maximum subscription is required to use VPN Gate. 

Feautures

Protocols
- OpenVPN, SSL-VPN, L2TP/IPsec and MS-SSTP.

Free, open source
- Allows and encourages contribution and involvement by any and all users around the world.

The Software

Going into reviewing the software/setup process for VPN Gate, I of course chose not to compare it against the VPN service providers I have reviewed that charge users, since such paid VPN service providers have significantly more time and resources to put into developing their software and setup process. 

With that in mind, I went ahead and setup VPN Gate on my Macbook. I will go ahead and walk through this process now:

DOWNLOAD

To begin the download process, you simply select a server from the list displayed clearly on the main home page of the VPN Gate website, which looks like this:

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As you can see, this is a simple table that is easy enough to navigate and figure out. You choose the server you want based on location, preferred connection type (protocol-wise) and operating system you wish to setup the VPN on. 

I went ahead and selected a UK-based OpenVPN server, so clicked the OpenVPN configuration list link in the above table. This took me, as hoped, straight to the download link for the .ovpn file for the exact server I just selected:

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A very helpful and clearly laid out installer/setup guide is offered at this point, which I highly recommend referencing throughout this process, as I did. This massively helps to quicken the setup process, especially if you're not the most technically-minded. Here's a quick glance at this guide:

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So to connect to the VPN Gate relay server I had downloaded the .ovpn file for, I was prompted to download a piece of software called Tunnelblick, which eases this setup process for OS X devices:

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Tunnelblick downloaded very quickly, and installation was a one-click process, which was great. 

Once installed, I launched Tunnelblick and was promptly given answers to any and all questions I may have wanted to ask in order to understand how it works with the .ovpn configuration file I wanted to use:

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This was brilliant, as I had no idea what to expect with this setup process and Tunnelblick anticipated all my queries without prompting. 

SET UP & CONNECT

To connect to the VPN Gate server through the .ovpn configuration file I downloaded, I simply double-clicked the file and it automatically opened and connected through the Tunnelblick software. Simple:

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Users operating from a Windows system device are given an even easier download, setup and connecting process by using the free SoftEther open source VPN platform to connect to VPN Gate servers via. 

With my Android device close to hand, I went through the same process as above to see how efficient and effective it was to have a VPN Gate connection setup on my smartphone. Here is an overview of this process:

DOWNLOAD

I went ahead and used the OpenVPN Connect free app for this, since I already had this app on my smartphone from previously conducted VPN service provider reviews. If you don't already have this app on your device, then simply go to the Google Play store and download it there:

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Once downloaded and installed, it is simply a case of navigating to the VPN Gate website, locating the server you wish to connect to and downloading the according configuration file:

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Then it is simple a case of opening the OpenVPN Connect app and importing the downloaded configuration file to the app. No login username or password is required to connect to the .ovpn file, which means you just hit connect and you're on the VPN:

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There you have it. All in all, for being an open source and free VPN service, setting up the VPN Gate connection on your devices is very straight forward, efficient and effective. 


Compatibility

VPN Gate is compatible with Window, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux. Being that it is completely open source, it has the capability to work with all devices you expect i.e. laptop, smartphone, smartTV, games consoles, routers, etc.

Speed & Performance

I ran a standard speed test both without the VPN connected then with it connected to see if and how great the difference in speed was between the two connections.

It took me going through three different Europe-based server configurations to realise that these are generally very poor, giving either a timed-out connection or no very, very low speeds. 

Settling on connecting to a US-based server, I ran the speed test and was actually very impressed with the results. As you can see below, even though on as US-based server connection (I was UK-based at the time of this review) the speed only dropped ever-so-slightly:

Without VPN:

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With VPN:

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Support

VPN Gate offers users a comprehensive FAQ section as well as a relatively well-populated online forum on the website. I was not expecting to find any actual email or live chat support of course, given that this software is an open source project and completely free to use. 

So it was actually great to see the FAQ section be so detailed and all-encompassing. I'm confident that I could find a solution to any issue I may have while using the software. 

The Website

The VPN Gate website is what you would expect from a free service. It has clearly been designed with function and structure in mind, neglecting aesthetic design in leu of this. 

Here's a quick snapshot of what users can expect to see on the main home page:

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As you can see, although not the prettiest, the site definitely gives the user exactly the most important information they need immediately and clearly. The top navigation and footer menu offer users quick access to further important info throughout the entire site. 

Security & Privacy

The developers of VPN Gate state very clearly that they keep connection logs for every user that connects to their servers. This is to support their anti-abuse policy, which I can respect. There are just as many paid VPN service providers that also keep connection logs of users. However, it is worth noting that VPN Gate keep such logs for up to 4 months (as opposed to paid VPN service providers that keep these logs for maybe up to 48 hours max), and if any criminal activity is suspected of a user on VPN Gate, these logs will be openly given to the authorities. 

With the servers being volunteered for VPN Gate, each server owner is able to choose the length of time they each keep user logs. These appear to be up to two weeks on average, from what I can see, however there is always the chance that a server owner may keep logs longer than stated. So there's a lot of trust required with this. 

For these big reasons, I would highly recommend not using VPN Gate for any user searching for an increase in privacy or activity anonymity, but rather use this VPN service for simply changing their IP address in order to access blocked content or break-through IPS censorship. 

Again, with regards to using VPN Gate for P2P torrenting, there is a lot of trust with the volunteer server owners. Seeing as torrenting (especially VP2P) is illegal in many countries, it is pretty inconsiderate to do on the server that some generous volunteer has offered up. So I would imagine if the volunteer server operator is contacted by the authorities regarding VP2P torrenting activity, they would likely just handover the incriminating IP addresses to the inquiring bodies. So be wary of this when downloading P2P in countries where this is illegal.

Users of VPN Gate that opt for the SoftEther (i.e. use the VPN via a Windows device) are given solid 256 AES bit encryption, which is a great level of encryption used by most paid VPN service providers alike. 

Conclusion 

Overall, I would say that VPN Gate is a fantastic project for what it sets out to achieve. As mentioned throughout this review, it is quite incomparable to any of the top performing paid VPN service providers, so any comparison is simply irrelevant. 

With that said, users that are looking to simply change their IP address and thus get past firewalls, content geo-blocks, and any restrictions placed on their ISP or public WiFi connections could very easily use VPN Gate to great success. A little effort is required for setup, and finding a server that works best for your current location may take a little time, but for a free service it functions great. 

So we definitely recommend trying out VPN Gate if you are not too concerned about using a VPN to protect your privacy and online anonymity, and are not too fussed about having super fast network speeds while on your VPN connection. 

Give VPN Gate a try for yourself now. It's completely free, so there's no reason not to!

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
VPN Gate
Author Rating
3
Chris Beattie
 

Managing Director & Editor in Chief at Fried.com -- I live for tech, fitness, autonomy, music and purpose.

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