In this VPN Gate review, I answer the following questions:
- How fast is VPN Gate?
- Does VPN Gate work with streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video?
- Is safe is VPN Gate?
- How much data does it collect on its users?
- Does VPN Gate work in China?
If you’re short on time, you can take a look at my summary below. For all the details, go ahead and read the full review.
You can also read more on the criteria I used to test VPNGate and our wider VPN testing methodology.
VPN Gate Summary
VPN Gate is a free VPN service operated by volunteers around the world. The service was launched in 2013 and run by the University of Tsukuba in Japan — which prohibits it from being a profit-making venture. Most, though not all of its servers are located in Asia, and yes, some servers work in China.
Another plus is that VPN Gate works with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But that’s where the positives end (aside from the zero dollar price tag). The speeds are very bad, which can sometimes result in laggy streaming. VPN Gate only provides a native SoftEther VPN client for Windows, which isn’t very pretty or user-friendly. And the service collects a lot of data on its users – which is less than ideal for user privacy.
If you’re really strapped for cash, there are free VPNs available from the likes of CyberGhost, Proton VPN and Atlas VPN that provide greater privacy and are easier to use.
VPN Gate Key data
|OVERALL RANK: #0 of 76 VPNs|
|Average Speed*:||1.6 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||HD|
|Other Streaming Services:||Amazon Prime Video|
|Encryption Type:||128-bit AES|
|Log Policy:||Collects a lot of data|
|Protocols:||OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSL-VPN|
|Value for Money|
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||It's free|
|Money Back Guarantee:||It's free|
How does VPN Gate compare to other popular VPNs?
Here’s how VPN Gate compares to ExpressVPN and Surfshark.
|Website||vpngate.net/en/||ExpressVPN.com||Surfshark.com||Average Speed (Mbps)||1.6 Mbps||193 Mbps||189 Mbps||OpenVPN data encryption||128-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||Kill Switch||Desktop only||Allows Torrenting||Connection logs||Collects a lot of data||Some aggregated data||Effectively none||Unblocks Netflix US||Unblocks Prime Video||Unblocks Hulu||Unblocks BBC iPlayer||Lowest monthly cost||Free||$6.67||$2.21||Money back guarantee||30 days||30 days||Overall rating||2||9.3||9.6|
|Best deal (per month)||Free|
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
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VPN Gate pros and cons
- It’s free
- Works with streaming services
- Works in China
- Very slow speeds
- No features beyond the VPN service itself
- No native clients (except clunky SoftEther Windows client)
- Vulnerable to IP leaks
- Poor privacy practices
- Collects a lot of data on its users
Speed: Is VPN Gate fast?
In one word: nope. It’s slow. Very slow. So slow, in fact, that my speed test app thought I wasn’t connected to the internet…
Here are the average speed results of my tests, by region:
- North America: 0.73 Mbps
- Europe: 2.2 Mbps
- Asia: 1.9 Mbps
Global average: 1.6 Mbps
All my tests were performed using the OpenVPN protocol. VPN Gate supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSL-VPN, and SSTP.
Web browsing was frustratingly slow and things like Youtube videos would take forever to load – and that’s when they would load at all.
I also tested VPN Gate while gaming online. I made sure to connect to a server that was as close as possible to my actual location. And while it did work on most occasions, many times it failed and I wasn’t able to connect to the other players. When I did, there was a noticeable lag. Not a great gaming experience.
See also: Fastest VPNs
Apps & devices
VPN Gate supports the following platforms:
That’s not much but it’s the basics. And I will say that there has to be a limit to how much one can complain about a free service’s offering. So we won’t knock VPN Gate for not supporting more platforms, but we will say that this is not impressive coverage.
VPN Gate provides instructions on how to connect to its network for each supported platform. Based on your supported device, VPN Gate provides instructions on how to use a third-party client or how to connect through the native VPN support of your device.
Then there’s VPN Gate’s native SoftEther Windows client, which is less user-friendly than the OpenVPN Windows client we were using (which isn’t the prettiest or the most user-friendly client we’ve seen, either…).
SoftEther is a multi-protocol VPN software. It allows you to establish VPN connections using either SSL-VPN, OpenVPN, L2TP, EtherIP, L2TPv3, or IPsec. However, using SoftEther with VPN Gate will enable you to use SSL-VPN, OpenVPN, or L2TP/IPsec, as those are the VPN protocols that VPN Gate supports.
There’s a simple Settings pane in VPN Gate’s Windows client that you can access to somewhat customize your app but it’s extremely limited due to the fact that VPN Gate is essentially devoid of features beyond the VPN service itself.
While there’s no official router support, it is possible to configure an OpenVPN client connection on an OpenVPN-capable router. You can find all the information you need in the OpenVPN configuration files that VPN Gate makes available on its website. Running VPN Gate over Linux should also be possible this way.
However, VPN Gate’s speeds are really bad, so I’m not sure why you’d want to set it up on your router. But it’s possible.
I recently wrote a guide on how to set up an OpenVPN client in pfSense. If you’re familiar with OpenVPN, you should be able to adapt the instructions to your router.
If you’re eager to use a VPN on your router, companies like NordVPN, Surfshark and ExpressVPN make it easy for anyone to configure connections that are fast enough for all connected devices.
Does VPN Gate work with Netflix? Yes, it does. I was able to access Netflix US, as well as Amazon Prime Video. I wasn’t able to access BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, or 4All, as I wasn’t able to find a single UK server in VPN Gate’s server list. Disney+ didn’t work either.
Now, while I was able to access Netflix over VPN Gate, the streaming experience was sub-par. Films and TV shows would take forever to load. So long, in fact, that a few times I just gave up. Other times, the show would finally load only to stop and buffer every few minutes. The experience was frustrating more than anything else.
If streaming is your thing, there are several VPN providers that specialise in providing straightforward access to numerous international platforms, and speeds fast enough for watching content in 4K. However, these services are subscription-only. As a general rule, free VPNs are not a good option for streaming.
Does VPN Gate allow torrenting?
VPN Gate does allow torrenting on all of its servers. But, again, the speeds are terrible, so if your experience is anything like mine, it will be less than ideal… So while it works, the downloads are going to be very slow indeed.
Plus, as we’ll see a bit further down, VPN Gate collects a lot of user data, so even if you’re willing to accept significant slowdowns in order to enhance your privacy, VPN Gate may not be your best choice.
Take a look at our recommended VPN providers for torrenting
Does VPN Gate support split tunneling?
Nope. VPN Gate does not support split tunneling at this time.
Split tunneling is a popular feature among many VPN providers today. It enables you to choose which traffic to send through the VPN and which traffic to send through your default ISP connection.
With split tunneling, you can, for example, send your P2P traffic through the VPN while sending the rest of your traffic out from your ISP connection. Alternatively, you could send everything through the VPN, except your Netflix traffic. Split tunneling is very flexible and can pretty much accommodate any scenario.
If split tunneling is an important feature to you, have a look at our recommended VPN providers for split tunneling.
Security, privacy, and logging
And, unfortunately, it’s not good. Digging into the details, we find the following:
That’s a truckload of data… And did you notice the last element on that long list?
“Log records of destination HTTP/HTTPS hostnames (FQDNs), IP addresses, host names and port numbers of VPN Gate communications through VPN sessions”.
That basically means: we keep tabs on everything you do while connected to VPN Gate. In this case, it looks like VPN Gate is using its position to collect everything its users do while connected to the service. And that essentially negates any privacy enhancements typically associated with VPNs.
In regards to the encryption used by VPN Gate, it can go up to 256-bit AES and RSA 4096-bit keys. However, VPN Gate server locations are run by volunteers and it’s the server that determines the encryption used. All of the servers I connected to were using 128-bit AES. However, to be fair, 128-bit AES is more than adequate.
In testing VPN Gate for any leaks, I found that it was vulnerable to WebRTC IP address leaks.
IP Test – Without VPN
IP Test – With VPN
Notice that my original local and public IP addresses are still listed. Now, this may not be the case on every server, because VPN Gate’s network is run by volunteers. But it was the case for the three servers I tested.
DNS Test – Without VPN
DNS Test – With VPN
Thankfully DNS wasn’t leaking. But VPN Gate provided me with 47 DNS servers… Why?
I did scroll through them to confirm none of the DNS servers listed when connected to VPN Gate were my original DNS servers.
Like most VPN providers, VPN Gate provides its users with shared IP addresses — which is better for privacy than a dedicated IP address for each user. It’s much more difficult to correlate internet traffic to an individual user if all users share the same IP address.
If you do need a dedicated IP address, there are VPN companies able to provide them — for a fee.
VPN Gate server locations
This was a difficult one to answer, again, because VPN Gate’s website isn’t the most informative out there. Other reviews of the service claim it provides 3000 servers in 230 countries. I’m not clear on how they obtained that information and here’s why:
VPN Gate doesn’t publish its full list of servers. The server list I saw listed maybe eight or nine countries. And because the list is partial, I can’t know how many servers are in VPN Gate’s network.
Another reason why the number of servers can be difficult to assess is that most of VPN Gate’s servers are run by volunteers. That means that on any given day, the number of available servers will be different.
Another thing that I should mention is that many servers simply stop working after a few hours or sometimes, minutes. Presumably, because the network of servers is run by volunteers, servers can pop up and go down pretty much any time.
That being said, there are still many servers available. Most of them are located in Asia, but I also found servers in Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Estonia, Finland, the US, and Canada. The largest number of VPN Gate servers are based in Japan and South Korea, which makes sense as the service itself is based in Japan.
Does VPN Gate work in China?
Apparently, it does work. However, as I mentioned before, VPN Gate’s website isn’t the most informative I’ve seen. Looking through its support forum, I found this:
Remember what I wrote about VPN Gate’s server list being incomplete? So it looks like there are Chinese servers, but many times, they’re not included in VPN Gate’s server list. And so users apparently need to leave their email address and someone from VPN Gate will email them a configuration file. It’s not the best system I’ve seen, but if it works, it works.
Here are our recommended VPN providers for China.
How is VPN Gate’s customer service?
Normally, I prefer seeing either email support or chat support. But we can’t hold a free service to the same standard as a paid service. When you pay for a service, you legitimately expect some support if you run into issues. That’s only fair. But when you’re using a free service, what does the service provider owe you, really? Nothing.
Would it be nice if VPN Gate offered more support options? Sure. But for a free service, I think that having a support forum is appropriate.
VPN Gate Pricing
Zero. It’s free. There is also no limit on the number of simultaneous connections because, again, the service is free. Unlike most so-called “free” services, VPN Gate doesn’t use advertising to generate revenue. The service is part of a research project by the University of Tsukuba’s Graduate School in Japan. Rather than making money, the purpose of the research is to “expand the knowledge of ‘Global Distributed Public VPN Relay Servers’.”
Do I recommend VPN Gate?
As is the case for most free VPNs, I can’t recommend VPN Gate. And even if we lower our standards because it’s free, I still can’t recommend VPN Gate. And here’s why.
I can forgive VPN Gate for not providing any features beyond the VPN connection itself. After all, the service is free. We don’t expect any bells and whistles. But we do expect to enhance our digital privacy when connected to the VPN and we do expect the VPN to work properly and not leak data.
Also, VPN Gate is vulnerable to WebRTC IP address leaks. So not only does VPN Gate itself collect your internet traffic, but the service will also leak your real local and public IP addresses on the internet. Far from ideal for a service that’s meant to provide you with more privacy online.
VPN Gate alternatives
ExpressVPN is one of the larger players in the commercial VPN market and benefits from an excellent reputation. Its privacy and security practices are extremely good. All of the VPN servers run from volatile memory (RAM) and are booted from read-only disks. This setup essentially guarantees that no remnant data (logs) can exist on the system’s hard drives, which is great for user privacy. ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than most providers out there, but it’s fast, secure, it unblocks streaming sites, and it works in China.
Surfshark is another provider worth looking at. I believe it to be the cheapest VPN service I’ve seen, with subscriptions starting at only $1.99/month. Surfashark only supports secure protocols and works with streaming services. It adheres to its strict no-logging policy and works in China. Surfshark also allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. Definitely worth checking out.
Methodology used for testing
Below you’ll find the criteria used to assess the VPNs we review. It’s essential to be consistent across the board so that our reviews are reasonably objective and that we’re not comparing apples to oranges. For that reason, we want to expose our criteria.
- Speed – Speed is one of the most critical factors of any VPN. Aside from being frustrating, slow speeds can prevent you from streaming or even browsing the web. To make sure we address this issue, all of our recommended VPNs scored very high in our most recent speed tests.
- Apps & ease of use – More people than ever are using VPNs today. So app design and how easy it is to understand and use is critical. We look at the client apps’ UI, the features they provide, the supported operating systems, and their complexity.
- Streaming services – Accessing streaming sites over VPN is becoming rather tricky. But many VPN providers claim to work with streaming sites – with varying degrees of success. We test VPNs against a range of popular streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and more, before recommending a VPN provider for streaming.
- Torrenting – P2P file-sharing has been around for a long time, and it’s still going strong. But not all VPN providers allow torrenting over their network, while others go as far as providing dedicated P2P servers. We look at each VPN’s policy around torrenting and run tests on those that do to see how well they handle file-sharing.