MacPaw’s ClearVPN proclaims itself as the effortless VPN that offers a personalized and secure online experience. Since MacPaw has produced design-friendly and popular software solutions, I wanted to see if ClearVPN would be truly effortless as it claims. Not just that, I needed to verify ClearVPN’s other claim of being “the only VPN you’ll ever need.” So I put the VPN through extensive testing.
I was impressed to see that ClearVPN features personalized shortcuts, quick actions, secure connections, and a DynamicFlow. These are shortcuts to services like unblocking streaming, quick actions like watching Netflix US, military-grade VPN security, and connection to the fastest servers. Despite all these fantastic features, ClearVPN slows down Internet speed significantly, is expensive, and appears to have only a few country server options. With fewer server options, its services may become laggy as servers become crowded.
Luckily, you can test ClearVPN yourself using the free plan, which offers a few shortcuts for social media and secure browsing. If you need more options like unblocking streaming services, you can use its 30-day money-back guarantee on the premium plan. This way, if you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund and try the top-tier VPNs on the market that offer specialized servers like ClearVPN.
Although I unblocked all popular streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, I wouldn’t recommend ClearVPN because its speeds are too slow to stream lag-free. You can unblock the streaming services with the normal US server or the specialized shortcuts (servers) and stream your favorite shows. However, my team couldn’t unblock BBC iPlayer even with the specialized server.
Instead of using country servers for unblocking services, ClearVPN claims that its shortcuts are optimized for the fastest available servers. Yet, while using this, I generally experienced slow speeds and laggy connections. You can access all of its shortcuts for gaming, secure browsing, secure content streaming, social media, and torrenting with a subscription. However, if you’re using the free plan, you get access to a limited number of shortcuts for social media, secure browsing, and an ad blocker.
ClearVPN seamlessly unblocked all the streaming services I tested, but I experienced slow speeds even with the servers optimized for streaming. Unblocking Netflix with ClearVPN was easy with the US server. I didn’t experience any issues accessing my Netflix US account. However, while using the optimized Netflix shortcut, it couldn’t unblock the streaming platform. I also asked 3 colleagues of mine in the UK, Germany, and France to help me test ClearVPN servers in their respective countries to see if it could unblock content in those Netflix regions. I was pleased to learn that it unblocked the content there, but they experienced slow speeds too.
ClearVPN also quickly unblocked Hulu’s content and allowed me to access my account with its Hulu shortcut. However, I couldn’t unblock Hulu using the normal US server. Yet, I experienced slow speeds and laggy streaming because ClearVPN reduced the speed of my network significantly.
I had no issues unblocking Disney+ when I used its US server. While traveling, I was able to access my account. I watched The Falcon and Winter Soldier and didn’t experience any lag or buffering. Even though they didn’t have a shortcut for Disney+, its US server worked seamlessly and unblocked the streaming service with ease.
When I tested ClearVPN with HBO Max, it unblocked it seamlessly. I quickly connected with its US server and streamed different shows from my account lag-free. However, I had trouble connecting with ClearVPN’s HBO Max shortcut. I encountered slow speeds and difficulty loading the website.
ClearVPN effortlessly unblocked Amazon Prime Video when I connected to its US server with my account. I didn’t experience buffering on any lag while I watched my favorite shows. Even though they didn’t have a shortcut for Amazon Prime Video, their US server worked seamlessly and unblocked Amazon Prime Video.
It was disappointing to find out that ClearVPN couldn’t unblock BBC iPlayer even with the specialized shortcut. I asked a colleague in the UK to try their BBC iPlayer account with ClearVPN; unfortunately, neither the UK country server and BBC iPlayer shortcut could unblock the streaming service. It gave an error message with all the UK servers tested.
“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”
I found it frustrating that the BBC iPlayer shortcut doesn’t just work. If you’re disappointed with this like me or traveling and need to catch up with a new episode of your favorite BBC iPlayer shows, I recommend using Cyberghost. You can try Cyberghost yourself as it offers specialized UK servers for unblocking BBC iPlayer that work.
Except for a handful of servers, I was overall disappointed with ClearVPNs speeds. I experienced slow speeds across most of ClearVPN’s servers during my tests. I got such slow speeds that the speed test website couldn’t load at some points. The slow speeds I got weren’t even close to the recommended speeds for streaming (Ultra HD 25Mbps, HD 5-10Mbps), gaming (less than 100ms ping), and video chat (2-10Mbps).
My base internet speed was around 23Mpbs before I connected to ClearVPN servers. I expected a speed drop because internet speeds usually decrease when connected to a VPN tunnel. So, when I connected with the US server, I got speeds up to 8Mbps, a 65% drop in speed. But I couldn’t attain 1Mbps on most of the other servers. This 96% drop in speed affected me so much that most servers were too slow even to load a lightweight web page.
While the speeds of ClearVPN servers dropped significantly, especially with servers far away from me, I was surprised to get fast speeds with the specialized gaming server. I got speeds up to 11Mbps with its personalized gaming server — a server located in Spain (not far from my location). This fast speed is made possible by the DynamicFlow feature that optimizes for an available server with the fastest speeds, in this case, the gaming server. However, even with this fast speed, I experienced high latency of up to 400ms at some point. This high latency, unfortunately, meant I could experience lags occasionally while gaming. Apart from that, the gaming experience worked well.
Even though ClearVPN’s free plan has speeds fast enough for securely surfing the internet and accessing social media, it’s limited to just one server and not suitable for unblocking streaming services. On the other hand, the paid plan, except for a few servers, isn’t fast enough for buffer-free streaming. Since streaming without lag requires high-speed servers, I usually prefer to use VPNs that offer super-fast speeds for UltraHD streaming. For example, ExpressVPN allows you to stream in UltraHD with its super-fast servers across the globe.
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
ClearVPN has about 40+ servers based in 20 countries, including 18 optimized servers. ClearVPN calls its optimized servers shortcuts. These shortcuts feature quick access to activities like streaming, torrenting, and browsing securely. ClearVPN also offers a personalized touch to your VPN experience by learning your browsing pattern and providing shortcuts unique to you while optimizing for the fastest servers.
How the small network of servers ClearVPN offers may result in overcrowded servers, leading to super-slow speeds. This is why I usually prefer a VPN that has a large number of servers. This way, I don’t have to worry about a particular server getting overcrowded. My go-to server, in this case, has always been PIA. You can try PIA and select from thousands of servers that ensure you don’t ever have trouble finding a fast server.
I was impressed to learn that, for a small VPN, ClearVPN uses top-grade security protocols and encryption methods. On the Windows and Android client, it uses OpenVPN along with AES 256 CBC data encryption. OpenVPN is a military-grade security protocol trusted by top-tier VPN providers around the globe for its uncrackable security, while AES 256 CBC is an unbreakable data encryption method. This combination of OpenVPN and AES 256 CBC encryption ensures that your internet traffic is completely protected from hackers who may intend to break in to steal your data.
On the iOS and macOS client, ClearVPN uses IKEv2/IPSec, which is also a popular security protocol, and AES-256-GCM for data encryption. IKEv2/IPSec and AES-256-GCM also work to provide unbreakable security for your VPN connection. OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec are both popular military-grade security protocols proven for enhanced speeds. They ensure that your data is protected from theft and hacking attempts. ClearVPN tries to make the use of its service simple for everyone by automatically selecting the protocol you connect with depending on the device you’re using.
ClearVPN adds a layer of encryption by chaining the VPN connections through Multihop. While a normal VPN routes your internet traffic through a single VPN server, a multihop VPN allows you to cascade or route your internet traffic through multiple VPN servers simultaneously. This provides extra security and hence, extra encryption.
ClearVPN uses SHA2-384 to ensure data integrity by hashing the data exchange. This means your data exchange is encrypted with a string of keys that cannot be broken so your communication is kept secret. ClearVPN also uses PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy) to route your internet traffic through multiple servers simultaneously for an extra layer of security. Although ClearVPN has a no-kill switch, it plans to implement a kill switch in future app releases.
ClearVPN maintains that it has a no-log policy, but it collects information such as email, username, Device ID, and device name if you permit it. Although it is easy to turn off the permission in the settings tab, your default settings will give ClearVPN permission to collect your personal information. To me, this means that ClearVPN is not zero-logs as it claims to be.
ClearVPN has an office in the US within the Five Eyes Alliance. This means that if asked to, ClearVPN has a legal obligation to hand over the customer’s data. This makes it even more important to make sure you turn off the permission to collect your data, so ClearVPN has nothing of yours to share.
Although its DynamicFlow feature analyses users’ network status to pair the user with the fastest server, it doesn’t collect or store information regarding internet usage and visited websites/services. ClearVPN also doesn’t leak user’s IP addresses. When I tested for DNS leaks, my actual IP address was never compromised.
If you’re looking for a VPN outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes Alliance with a no-exceptions zero-logs policy, ExpressVPN is the top choice. It is located in the British Virgin Islands.
ClearVPN has shortcut servers for torrenting, but I still experienced slow speeds. MacPaw, the parent company of ClearVPN, has offices in California (within the Five Eyes countries) and Ukraine. Its torrent shortcut connects to a server in Ukraine — a torrent-friendly jurisdiction. But you can still choose to torrent with any of the 20 country servers. That said, my team and I don’t support illegal file sharing. Please check with your country’s laws to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules while using a VPN.
ClearVPN uses top-grade encryption such as OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec to protect your data while torrenting. I tested the servers to see if there were any DNS leaks while I was torrenting. I was pleased that my real IP address was never compromised. But despite having top-grade security for torrenting, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get speeds fast enough to torrent speedily.
I couldn’t personally test Atlas VPN in China since I don’t live there. So I reached out to the support via email, and a support agent informed me that ClearVPN wouldn’t work properly in China.
Whenever I travel to China, I rely on ExpressVPN to surf the internet safely. You can try ExpressVPN to browse securely in China. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to buy confidently.
ClearVPN connects with 6 devices per license. I connected an iPhone, two Windows computers, and two android devices all at the same time. I didn’t have any issues connecting to my account on these devices.
I tested the shortcuts for streaming and torrenting on multiple devices. I used the services, although I experienced disconnections for some devices when my internet connection was unstable. However, it reconnected after a few seconds.
If you want to expand your choice and connect more devices, then you’ll be pleased to know that during my tests, IPVanish let me connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously.
ClearVPN works with popular devices such as Android, macOS, iOS, and Windows if you use the latest software updates. You will need to have Windows 10, macOS 10.14, Android 6, or iOS 13 to work well. There were some glitches on the Windows and iOS devices I tested. It disconnected several times and automatically tried reconnecting to the servers. If you use anything less than Windows 10, ClearVPN will not work. To solve this, you can check out these VPNs that work well on Windows.
I tried to install ClearVPN on a Windows 10 Intel Core 2 Duo processor device, but it kept crashing the web installer. Even with another 64-bit ARM processor, it still didn’t work. I had to use the Windows device with an Intel Core i5 processor before it worked to carry out my tests. While it won’t crash for everyone, it has the risk of doing so for some. Installing and setting up ClearVPN is pretty straightforward and seamless if your devices meet the system requirements.
ClearVPN has a 24/7 support channel with email and live chat. The live chat response time was less than 2 minutes, and I got a friendly and helpful response to my questions. The email support, on the other hand, is not as fast. I sent two emails. I got one reply on time, in less than 24 hours, but didn’t get a response for the second email even after 48 hours. I followed up with another email and didn’t get any answer.
In the support section of its website, ClearVPN has a helpdesk categorized into four titles — FAQ, About ClearVPN, Apps, and connectivity, and Manage your ClearVPN account and subscription. This helpdesk allows you to search through questions and get answers that will help you use the app efficiently. However, the information available isn’t detailed enough. For example, I could find any information about the VPN working in China or if it supports torrenting.
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
ClearVPN offers a free plan with limited features and three premium plans. The premium plan gives access to all the shortcuts, country servers, and quick actions. However, the free plan only allows you to browse securely and access a shortcut for social media. They accept payment through Paypal, credit/debit cards (Visa and MasterCard), UnionPay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
ClearVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you try the paid features for yourself. I tried it for 15 days and requested a refund through the contact support tab on the website. I got my money back after 12 days.
ClearVPN offers top-grade security features, shortcuts for streaming, torrenting, and gaming; however, these features are not unique enough to justify its high prices. I also didn’t like that you had to opt-out of sharing your personal information with ClearVPN while also finding its speeds disappointing.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend ClearVPN with its handful of servers, abysmal speeds, and privacy concerns. Even its core selling point of specialized servers isn’t unique. For example, other top VPNs like CyberGhost offer a huge list of optimized servers, faster speeds, and lower prices.
It’s good but not worth the price! While ClearVPN offers specialized servers for various internet needs like streaming, torrenting, and gaming, it lacks a large number of servers, and its speeds are slow on most servers. Not just that, it’s too pricey for the limited features it offers when compared to the likes of PIA that provide advanced features and a massive roster of servers for a fraction of ClearVPN’s costs.
Yes! ClearVPN has a free option, although with limited options. The free version allows you to browse securely and access the shortcut for social media. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for its premium subscription that provides access to all the personalized shortcuts and unblocks geoblocks. If you want to see some other VPNs you can try for free, check out these free VPNs.
For 100% safety, I prefer a VPN that isn’t with the Five Eyes countries and maintains a strict no-logs policy. This is why I always use ExpressVPN. You can try ExpressVPN yourself for full privacy protection, so you don’t need to worry that your data may be given for surveillance purposes. It’s even backed by a 30 days money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free and buy in confidence.
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