VPN.AC is what the newest addition of our VPNs database is called. Its name holds the magic formula (i.e. VPN) so that you know what type of service it provides you with right away.
Despite our best efforts to reduce the contents of this review to a pulp, so you can learn only the essentials, there’s a lot of content that we simply can’t skip, content that might not be of interest to you. However, we leave this table of contents here, for your convenience.
- Company information
- Romanian Jurisdiction
- Terms of service analysis
- Legal information
- A quick introduction to VPN.AC
- Creating an account
- Downloading the app on your PC
- Checking the installer for malware
- Installing the application
- Running VPN.AC on your computer
- Changing the settings
- List of servers
- Services unlocked
- TOR and torrenting support
- Customer support
- Security check-up results
- Speed test results
- Paid trial
- Pricing plans
The company behind the VPN.AC project, called Netsec Interactive Solutions, is specialized in cybersecurity and has been established in Romania, in the year of 2009, comprising members with 14+ years of experience in the cybersecurity field. The company also provides public and private customers, including military institutions or banks, with penetration testing and security audits.
They claim that their pen-testing and security auditing expertise gives them a solid advantage when it comes to keeping their VPN infrastructure secure, since, as they put it, “it is often the infrastructure implementation which is the weakest link of a VPN service.”
Alright, so the company was established in Romania. How does that affect you, the customer? Well, for starters, VPN usage is perfectly legal in Romania, as there are no laws within its jurisdiction that would restrict VPN usage.
Internet access in Romania is generally unhampered, but certain websites with questionable content (child pornography) and gambling sites are either blocked and/or regulated by the Romanian government.
Another fact worth mentioning is that Romania is not a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances, so technically they can’t be persuaded into providing digital information (including your personal data) to intelligence agencies or government institutions from other countries (e.g. 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances member countries).
Terms of service analysis
Although the Terms of Service documentation isn’t exactly short, it is a well-organized and straightforward one. However, we will still give it the default treatment of extracting its essentials and bring them to you here.
- You are not allowed to use VPN.AC if you plan on engaging in unlawful behaviour, including but not limited to spamming, obtaining illegal or unauthorized access to other devices or actions that might resemble hacking, distributing viruses or other types of malware, take part in fraudulent operations, transmit child pornography content, transmit copyrighted material, promote or distribute materials promoting terrorism, use P2P programs on servers other than supported ones or generally engage in unlawful actions;
- There is no bandwidth limit imposed, but the amount of bandwidth you use is subjected to the terms of the Acceptable Use Policy. Therefore, excessive bandwidth usage that may lead to the service becoming unusable is not tolerated;
- If you commit any acts that are against the law or against the terms of your agreement with VPN.AC, your service might be suspended or terminated. These penalties will be determined at the discretion of the company;
- Automated checks and manual checks will be used to prevent fraudulent sign-ups;
- VPN.AC won’t ask for proof of identity, but will decline offers that they believe to be suspicious;
- VPN.AC claims not to log user activity (sites you visit, DNS lookups, email messages and passwords);
- Your access to the service will be logged only for troubleshooting, security purposes, and service improvement;
- Your IP address, VPN session connection and disconnection times as well as the amount of traffic that you’ve transferred are logged on an encrypted server in a non-disclosed location and are deleted on a daily basis;
- Your personal info won’t be handed to any third parties and VPN.AC claims not to cooperate with any such requests unless they’re forced to do so through Court Orders or similar legal documents;
- The VPN.AC team reserves their right to change the pricing of their service without prior notice and at any time;
- A 7-day money-back guarantee is provided to you but only if you notify them in the first 7 days after your account has been activated. It applies if you can’t use the service or if you’re not satisfied with it;
- If you use BitCoin to pay for the service and request a refund, you’ll receive the same amount of BitCoin you’ve initially paid;
- If you sign up with VPN.AC more than once and request a second refund, your solicitations might be declined;
- The service is provided “as is,” meaning that no guarantee, conditions or warranties regarding its quality or suitability for various purposes will be provided to you;
- They (VPN.AC) are not to be held responsible for your or, generally, their customers’ activity;
Despite the fact that the info they log about you is stored on an encrypted server in a non-disclosed location, it’s still a bit concerning that they log your IP address and the timestamps of your connection to their service.
- Your email address – used to provide you with their service and for correspondence;
- Your payment information – used to provide you with their service and prevent fraud;
- Your IP address – used to provide you with their service, prevent fraud and for security reasons;
How they use the data they collect:
- Your email address – for providing you with their service, receiving the VPN login credentials, receiving communications regarding their service, receiving payment confirmations support inquiries, payment reminders, and important notifications;
- Your payment information – processing service orders, cancelations, renewals and for checking for fraud attempts. Payments are not processed directly by VPN.AC and, as a result, credit card information isn’t stored by them. Payment processors handle the payment process and if you want to know what type of data they work with, VPN.AC advises you to check their privacy policies;
- Your IP address – they claim to collect it from their web site’s visitors for security and statistical purposes, as they don’t rely on third-party website statistics services such as Google Analytics;
- Your IP address through the app – we’ve mentioned above that VPN.AC logs your IP address. They claim to do it for troubleshooting, security and service functionality. As mentioned above, the logs also include VPN connection timestamps and the amount of data you’ve transferred;
The legal document lets you view a bunch of key actions you are or aren’t allowed to engage in, as well as some pieces of advice, as follows:
- You’re not allowed to use the service in an unlawful manner. As VPN.AC puts it:
“We are providing a security & privacy service, not a “bullet-proof” solution to protect criminal activities.”
- You’re not allowed to engage in activities that attract DDoS attacks;
- The country you’re located in is required for accounting and tax purposes;
- Fraudulent payments (stolen credit cards, hacked PayPal accounts) are not tolerated;
- You are not allowed to share your VPN account with other people;
- You are not allowed to place orders from proxies or VPNs, as payment processors usually block these transactions;
- You are advised to use strong passwords for your accounts;
- Since the initial VPN account password is generated randomly, you are advised to change it as soon as possible from the “Client Area”;
- You are advised to use a different password than the ones you use for other purposes (email account, social platforms);
- IM conversations, file transfers, web browsing and the such are not logged by VPN.AC, although connections are logged for support and troubleshooting purposes. The logs are automatically deleted on a daily basis;
Again, it’s a bit disconcerting that they log your IP address and connection timestamps since there are a lot of VPN providers that don’t engage in this type of activity and still manage to offer a decent service, as well as troubleshooting it.
A quick introduction to VPN.AC
As we’ve discovered by taking a look at the “About” page on their website, the VPN.AC service was launched at the end of 2012 and was fully developed in-house.
The team behind the project has a background in pen-testing and security audit services, which gave them a boost in this business. They offer self-hosted DNS services and, according to their website, “up to AES-GCM 256-bit encryption with Elliptic Curve and/or 4096-bit RSA authentication, SHA512 HMAC, and PFS.”
They don’t use third-party tracking services such as Google Analytics, like buttons or tracking beacons on their website. On the feature page, they make a “No logs” mention, which we now know is not true since they’ve admitted to it in the “Terms of Service” document.
Their DNS queries are reportedly encrypted through AES 128-bit to prevent third parties from hijacking or monitoring DNS requests. Furthermore, the service generates millions of DNS queries per day and combines them with legitimate ones from their VPN users, to render the potential monitoring of said requests useless.
Their app is designed to work on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS and provides you with several protocols, including OpenVPN, PPTP, pure TLS, and IPsec (IKEv2 and L2TP).
Creating an account
Since it’s a premium VPN service, you can’t get away with using VPN.AC without registering for an account, but doing so is really no big deal if you follow our steps:
- Navigate to the landing page of the product;
- Locate the blue “Get it now” or the “Pricing” buttons and click either one of them;
- Choose one of the subscription plans displayed on the newly-opened page;
- Select the “New Customer” tab;
- Select your country from the dropdown menu;
- Type your email address in the designated field;
- Type and confirm your password;
- Select the payment method of your choice;
- Click the “Complete Order” button;
- Provide the app with the payment details, depending on your choice;
After you perform these steps, you should be the proud owner of a VPN.AC account AND a subscription plan, as well.
Downloading the app on your PC
Getting the VPN.AC installer on your computer might feel like a hassle, especially since there are no large, intuitive buttons leading you to it, but you have to do a little treasure hunting instead.
- Navigate to the landing page;
- Click the “Client Area” button located somewhere at the top-right of the screen;
- Type your credentials in the designated fields and hit the “Login” button;
- You should now be logged into your account, facing the “Home” section of the dashboard;
- Scroll down;
- In the “Quick links” category, spot the “VPN Client Software” section;
- Click the device you’re interested to install VPN.AC on;
- Assuming that “Windows” was your choice, click the “installer” or the “zip archive” hyperlinks, according to your preferences;
You should now have the application’s executable or its ZIP archive on your computer. Moving on.
Checking the installer for malware
Usually, the next step after downloading an application would be installing it on your computer, right? Wrong. If you didn’t do it already, we urge you to perform a check for malware components on what you just downloaded on your PC, since it could be riddled with malicious code fragments.
Nowadays, attacks are getting more and more creative, so you simply can’t afford to take the risk of installing anything on your device without performing a thorough check for malware. For this task, we’re using VirusTotal since it packs a lot of antivirus engines that scan our content at the same time, so the chance of picking up something wrong with your documents is significantly increased.
We found nothing wrong with the VPN.AC installer, but now at least we know for sure that it’s clean. As usual, you can take a look at our results and also see our screenshot below.
Installing the application
Since we have two different Windows files in the download section of VPN.AC, we’ll include instructions for both situations, for your convenience.
Option #1 (installer):
- Assuming you already have the installer ready on your PC, double-click it;
- Customize the application’s destination path on your computer;
- Choose whether or not the installer should generate a desktop shortcut;
- Check to see if the installation parameters are alright;
- Hit the “Install” button;
- Wait for the setup process to finish;
- Choose whether or not the VPN.AC client should be launched after you exit the installer’s window;
- Hit the “Finish” button;
Option #2 (ZIP file);
- Assuming you’ve already downloaded the ZIP file on your computer, extract it anywhere you like;
- Navigate to the location where you’ve extracted the contents of the archive;
- Open the folder that was contained by the archive;
- (Optionally) Create a desktop shortcut of the executable or pin it to the taskbar by right-clicking it and choosing the appropriate option;
- Double-click the “vpnac-launcher.exe” executable to run the app;
Note for Option #2: If you don’t have the TAP driver already installed, navigate to “data\TAP\” in the folder you’ve just extracted, and install it manually.
The version of VPN.AC we’ve installed on our computer is 4.1.2.
Running VPN.AC on your computer
As you probably figured it out already, the zip folder carries a portable edition of the VPN app. Regardless of which version you’re going to use, you’re still going to need valid credentials to connect to a VPN server.
That being said, after you launch the app, you should be able to see its main window, which consists of a large “On/Off” switch, a location selection menu, a connection status section that also lets you view your current location and IP address, as well as perform an IP leak check or view a connection log and several smaller buttons at the bottom of the screen.
If you didn’t already, you’ll notice that attempting to connect to a server will prompt you with a login section, where you’ll need to input your credentials to be able to use the app as it was intended. After you do that, you’re good to go.
The servers are organized by continent, optimization mode, and double-hop feature. The IP leak check will lead you to IP X, a tool that we’re already using to test various other VPN services (VPN.AC will make no exception).
Changing the settings
You can use the multiple buttons that I’ve mentioned before to access various sections such as “Preferences,” “Advanced,” “News” and “Help.”
- Preferences – here you can change the VPN username and password, set the app to minimize instead of closing, start minimized, auto-connect on app launch, launch on system start or auto-connect when choosing a new location and choose between a dark theme and a light one;
- Advanced – you can choose the protocol and port of your choice, make the protocol/port selection visible in the “Connect” tab, toggle a kill switch, activate an “I am in China or other censored country” option, block IPv6, disable DNS on physical NIC on-connect, set the app not to change the DNS on-connect, lower the MTU (maximum transmission unit), use LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL, include a detailed debug in log and use an alternative graphics rendering engine;
- News – pretty straightforward, lets you view service-related news;
- Help – again straightforward, lets you access various helpful materials, view a changelog, access the ticket system and view the support contact methods;
List of servers
We’ve found a complete list of servers that VPN.AC can provide you with and we’ve included it in this section, for your convenience. More so, if you feel like establishing the VPN connections manually, you can do so, since the server list also has an address for each entry.
|Brazil, Sao Paulo||br1.vpn.ac|
|Canada, Toronto 2||ca4.vpn.ac|
|Canada, Toronto 2||ca4A.vpn.ac|
|Canada, Toronto 2||ca4B.vpn.ac|
|Switzerland, Zurich 2||ch2.vpn.ac|
|Czech Republic, Prague||cz1.vpn.ac|
|Germany, Frankfurt 2||de2.vpn.ac|
|Hong Kong, Fanling||hk1.vpn.ac|
|Hong Kong, Tseung Kwan O||hk2.vpn.ac|
|Hong Kong, Tseung Kwan O||hk2A.vpn.ac|
|Mexico, Mexico City||mx1.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 2||nl2.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 2||nl2A.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 2||nl2B.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3A.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3B.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3C.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3D.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3E.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3F.vpn.ac|
|Netherlands, Amsterdam 3||nl3G.vpn.ac|
|Poland, Warsaw 2||pl2.vpn.ac|
|Romania, Bucharest 2||ro2.vpn.ac|
|Sweden, Stockholm 2||se2.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, London||uk1.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, London 2||uk1A.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, Coventry||uk2.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, Coventry||uk2A.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, Portsmouth||uk3.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, Manchester||uk4.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, London 3||uk5.vpn.ac|
|United Kingdom, London 4||uk6.vpn.ac|
|US East, Atlanta||us1.vpn.ac|
|US West, Los Angeles 2||us10.vpn.ac|
|US West, Los Angeles 2||us10a.vpn.ac|
|US West, Los Angeles 3||us11.vpn.ac|
|US East, Miami||us12.vpn.ac|
|US West, San Francisco||us13.vpn.ac|
|US West, San Francisco||us13a.vpn.ac|
|US West, Las Vegas||us14.vpn.ac|
|US West, Los Angeles 4||us15.vpn.ac|
|US Central, St. Louis||us17.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Denver||us18.vpn.ac|
|US West, Seattle 2||us19.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Chicago||us2.vpn.ac|
|US East, New York||us21.vpn.ac|
|US West, Los Angeles 7||us22.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Dallas 2||us24.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Chicago 2||us25.vpn.ac|
|US East, Atlanta 2||us26.vpn.ac|
|US East, Miami 2||us27.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Chicago||us2A.vpn.ac|
|US West, Los Angeles||us3.vpn.ac|
|US East, New York||us4.vpn.ac|
|US East, New York||us4A.vpn.ac|
|US West, Seattle||us5.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Kansas City||us6.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Dallas||us7.vpn.ac|
|US Central, Dallas||us7A.vpn.ac|
|US East, Ashburn||us8.vpn.ac|
|US West, San Jose||us9.vpn.ac|
Well, the server count is far from being impressive, since other servers have thousands of servers available, compared to the 117 VPN.AC has to offer, but let’s hope they’re fast and secure ones since that’s what matters most.
You know how VPN services advertise their ability to unlock various entertainment services, much like Netflix, Hulu and the such, everywhere they can, on their homepage and not only? Well, VPN.AC doesn’t do that.
But they should! VPN.AC has the ability to unblock Netflix, its U.S. version, along with Hulu, Spotify, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. However, the loading speed of the said services might have to suffer, since, during our tests, we experienced some slowdowns when we attempted to access them.
However, note that this fortunate situation might change for the worse in the future since many of those entertainment service providers are constantly trying to cut the access of VPN customers to their services. My advice? Enjoy it while it lasts.
TOR and torrenting support
Naturally, when we saw the “(P2P optimized)” mark on several servers in the location selection menu, we’ve decided to give it a try and see if VPN.AC really does work with torrenting or is just pretending to.
The good news is that VPN.AC features support for torrenting, as we’ve attempted to download a file through a torrent client (legally, of course) and we’ve experienced no slowdown, no throttling and no issue whatsoever. Note that we’ve engaged in P2P file-sharing activities only on P2P-optimized servers.
Regarding VPN.AC’s ability to work in conjunction with Tor, you’d probably want to sit this one out. And not just with VPN.AC, don’t get us wrong, but adding an extra layer of security will make your connection so slow that you’ll be barely able to use it properly.
More so, if you’re unlucky enough to land on a malicious TOR exit node, your traffic will pass through it unencrypted, so it’ll be probably be monitored, as well. Just a heads-up.
Unfortunately, VPN.AC doesn’t seem to have any live chat system except for Skype, which, as they put it, should be used by customers who live in restrictive countries (such as China), where most other communication channels are not available.
However, they do let you contact them via email and even provide you with a GPG key if you want to keep your conversation private and secure. More so, they provide you with a ticket system and also have a contact form where you have to put your name, email address and message.
If you’re not really a fan of the whole customer support thing, you can take a look at their “Tutorials” or “Knowledgebase” sections, as they hold a wide variety of articles that could help you get out of a sticky situation.
Security check-up results
We’ve heard enough about VPN.AC and its features, now it’s time to get down to business and see whether or not it can provide you with the level of security they promise.
And by that we mean if they can prevent IP, DNS, WebRTC and Flash IP leaks from happening while we’re connected to the service and using it actively. We’ve chosen a server in Los Angeles, U.S.A. and the testing procedures will unfold as described in this article.
Conclusion: Our series of security tests revealed that VPN.AC doesn’t leak IP, DNS, WebRTC and/or Flash IP requests. More so, there were no inconsistencies regarding server location, compared to other similar services. Good job!
Speed test results
Now that we’ve finished running our security tests and concluded that VPN.AC is a secure VPN service, we can start focusing on how fast its servers can go. For this test, we’ve chosen multiple servers, as opposed to the security tests, since we’re going for a widespread in order to see how speed is affected depending on the location.
The speed values seem good, there’s almost no slowdown at all compared to our default connection. However, we couldn’t help but notice that the Fast.com service that we were usually relying on to perform the speed tests wasn’t available, so we had to turn to Ookla’s Speed Test.
Although it might not be very obvious at first, since they’ve decided to be sneaky about it, VPN.AC also provide you with a trial version of their services, albeit it’s a three-day trial, not a full-month one, and you still have to pay for it.
It’s $2 for three days, but they don’t include it in their default collection of plans. Maybe it’s because purchasing a $2 plan for three days means that it’d cost $20 per month and your connections would also be restricted to a maximum of 3. So you’d pay more for less if my calculations are correct.
If you’re interested in this not-exactly-trial plan, you can find out more in the FAQ section of their website.
VPN.AC has four subscription plans in store, as follows:
|Plan||1 Month||3 Months||1 Year||2 Years|
|Price per month||$9||$8||$4.8||$3.75|
|Features||Multiple VPN protocol types
Innovative Elliptic Curve Cryptography and obfuscation support
No activity logs
No speed limit
Premium Gigabit servers
SecureProxy browser addon included
6 simultaneous connections (3 with trial)
Secure DNS services
No protocol restriction
Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android apps
Multiple countries: 21 (VPN), 32 (SecureProxy)
The monthly plan is a little bit pricey, but at least the discounts they provide for larger subscription plans are generous ones.
To sum it up, VPN.AC is, as its name suggests, a VPN service, based in Romania, developed and supported by the Netsec Interactive Solutions SRL at the end of 2012. The team consists of members with backgrounds in pen-testing, security audits and Linux administration.
Romanian jurisdiction is generally laidback, with almost no restriction on Internet usage, except for websites that promote or are linked to child pornography or gambling. Romania is also not a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances and using a VPN in this country is perfectly legal.
During our analysis of the company’s legal documentation, we’ve learned that although they claim not to log activity-related data from their customers, VPN.AC keeps logs of your connections, which include your IP address, timestamps of your connection and the amount of data you’ve transferred to and from your account. They claim to delete these logs on a daily basis, but the simple fact that they’re logging this kind of information in the first place is off-putting.
The application is nicely-designed and provides you with a set of intuitive controls, which are widely accessible even to computer novices. Furthermore, if you’re the tinkerer type, you’ll be happy to know that a lot of features are on the ‘advanced’ side, so you can toy around with them if you like.
The server count isn’t exactly impressive, counting a total of 117 entries in 21 countries, compared to other providers that hold thousands of servers in more than 50 locations worldwide. However, despite the low server count, VPN.AC is able to unblock Netflix and its U.S. version, Hulu, Spotify, and other similar services, the downside being that these services are kind of slow while you’re connected to the VPN.
Security tests have helped us conclude that VPN.AC doesn’t leak any IP, DNS, WebRTC or Flash IP data. Regarding speed tests, our usual ritual was disturbed when we learned that fast.com, the tool we’ve been relying on to determine how fast connections are, was inaccessible while we were connected to VPN.AC, so we had to turn to Ookla’s Speed Test instead. The values were good, not a lot of slowdown was detected.
Torrenting and TOR are both supported by VPN.AC. However, note that torrenting on servers other than ones that are specifically marked “P2P optimized” will probably lead to some penalties.
Furthermore, despite the fact that TOR is compatible with VPN.AC, you should think again whether or not you want to use it, since there are some risks involved, such as your traffic passing unencrypted through malicious TOR exit nodes and being monitored. This applies not only for VPN.AC in conjunction with TOR, but really for every VPN service in this situation.
A ‘trial’ is provided to you, but it’s not exactly a trial since you have to pay $2 for three-days’ worth of service and only half the connections available. You can learn more about this in the FAQ section on the VPN.AC website.
The prices of the subscription plans are not exactly cheap, but not expensive either, considering that the larger the package is, the more generous the discount.
Do we recommend VPN.AC? No. For the amount they charge on their monthly subscription plans, you could find another service that won’t keep logs of your connection that include your IP address and timestamps.
+ Works with TOR and supports torrenting; (3)
+ Can unlock Netflix and other popular services; (3)
+ Romania is not a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances; (5)
+ Good security, leak-free; (5)
+ Good speed values; (4)
– Connection logs (IP, timestamps, traffic amount) are kept; (0)
– $2 trial plan (1);
– Low server count; (2)
– Not exactly cheap for what they have in store (2)
VPN.AC receives a 2.77/5 rating.