With the sheer number of VPNs on the market, it can be very hard to decide which best fits your needs. As one of the few options with a free subscription plan and an inexpensive premium plan, I wanted to know if Kaspersky VPN was a viable option for people to use. Would it be a sleeper hit, one that should be better known than powerhouse ExpressVPN? Or would Kaspersky VPN be a let-down, one that delivered the basics, but didn’t excel in any areas?
Owned by well-known technological company Kaspersky Lab, Kaspersky VPN is just one of the Russian cybersecurity firm’s product offerings – they also provide anti-virus software, secure clouds, and more. The company was founded over two decades ago, in 1997 by Eugene Kaspersky after developing his cybersecurity skills working in military intelligence. The company has grown to become the third largest vendor of consumer security software in the world.
Over the course of a few days, I tested the speed and reliability of Kaspersky VPN, and dove deep into the mechanics of their privacy policies and security features. I put the VPN to the test, trying different servers, and pushing it to the limit, all in an attempt to find out the honest truth about the website’s claims.
Overall, Kaspersky VPN was severely lacking. There were connectivity and speed issues, and the company doesn’t have significant security measures included in the VPN to protect your devices. On top of that, while the company claims you can connect multiple devices at once, doing so only exacerbates the already existing issues.
A common use for VPNs is to unlock various streaming services while travelling, so I put this to the test.
Both Netflix US and Netflix UK unlocked without any issues. I also tested other international Netflix sites, and while every European country tested worked without issue, outside of Europe and North America, not a single site worked properly. If you’re looking for a VPN solely for Netflix US or Europe, Kaspersky can handle it, but if you’re hoping to catch up on your favorite Australian sitcom, know that you likely won’t be able to watch it.
Hulu connected without an issue, and I faced no issues playing a few of the shows. Kaspersky VPN gets an A+ rating on this feat.
However, those two sites are the only streaming successes. Disney+ and HBO Now wouldn’t even load as long as the VPN was activated, and while Amazon Prime Video did load, pressing play on a movie earned me an error message acknowledging my VPN usage.
Kaspersky VPN had no issues unblocking Hulu. I was able to sign in without an issue, a pleasant surprise since Hulu can be very sensitive to the use of VPNs. It took mere seconds for the page to load and there were no issues streaming.
Netflix US was not an obstacle for Kaspersky VPN. The site loaded quickly, and I was able to stream a tv show for a couple of episodes without an issue. The same was true with various European Netflix sites. When I tried to pull up Australian Netflix, or a few Asian countries’ versions, the success was much more hit or miss. It generally took trying a few times over the course of a couple of hours to find success.
Kaspersky VPN easily unblocked Youtube, unsurprising since the platform isn’t very restricted. There were no real issues with streaming, although there was a fair amount of buffering.
Like Youtube, Vimeo doesn’t have many restrictions, so it’s no surprise that the platform worked well with Kaspersky VPN. Again, speed caused some problems, but you can watch videos at will.
France’s country-specific channel did work on Kaspersky VPN when using a France-based server. There were no glaring issues while watching the news broadcast or Les Z’Amours.
Australia’s public service channel had no issues with Kaspersky VPN. I easily watched a few episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale with minimal glitches.
Kaspersky VPN was no match for Amazon Prime Video. The site was aware of the VPN usage and refused to play any Prime shows. If you’re hoping to catch up on The Boys, try ExpressVPN instead.
Disney Plus was also a failure on Kaspersky VPN. After multiple attempts, I never even got the page to fully load – it always stalled on a black screen. I even turned off the VPN to check that there was no other issue but the page loaded easily as soon as the VPN wasn’t involved. CyberGhost VPN is much better for Disney+, especially since it has a dedicated server just for that streaming service.
HBO is another streaming service that simply doesn’t work with Kaspersky VPN. As soon as I tried to load the page, I received an error message. I checked again multiple times over the course of a day, but to no avail.
Kaspersky VPN couldn’t unblock BBC iPlayer. While it allowed me to log in, I ran into issues while trying to play shows, the screen going black or giving the error message:
BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK? Here’s some advice.
ESPN+ detected VPN usage while using Kaspersky VPN. Even after trying various server locations, ESPN was always aware of the VPN. This is the message I kept seeing:
“Sorry, ESPN+ is not available in your region.”
As far as speed, Kaspersky VPN is inconsistent. At times, it feels just as fast as no VPN at all, loading pages in the blink of an eye and providing smooth streaming. Five minutes later, it might be running so slow that a basic webpage won’t load at all.
When the speed was at its height, I tested an online MMORPG game, and found no issues. However, approximately thirty minutes in, the VPN slowed, and gameplay was impossible due to lagging – the 3D game was more like a stop-motion graphic. Even a simpler 2D online game was slower than is really functional. If you are interested in gaming, be sure to check the speed of the VPN before you start to make sure the servers aren’t overloaded.
My initial speed test from a United States server came back with a download speed of only 1.93 MB per second, a dismal result.
Next, I tried a server in Australia – and the test couldn’t even be completed because the VPN kept losing the connection. After half an hour, I attempted the test again on the Australia server, and got results of only .35 MB per second.
Two hours later, I tried the speed test again for the American server but the results had worsened. I was only netting about 1.57MB per second.
A week later, I had somewhat better results, but still, the upper limit of speed was only 47 MB per second – not terrible, but not particularly impressive.
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.
Kaspersky VPN has over 2000 servers in more than 30 countries, but those numbers don’t really compare to some of the major players in the VPN market. For instance, Express VPN has 3000 servers in nearly 100 countries, providing a lot more options for you to connect to.
Kaspersky servers are available on every continent except Antarctica, but again, you may have issues connecting to some, particularly those outside Europe or the United States. It should also be noted that outside of Europe and the U.S., servers are limited – for instance, African servers are only located in South Africa, and the only South American countries available are Argentina and Brazil. Cities with servers are not disclosed, nor is the number of servers in a specific country, so you can’t really predict which country’s server is going to provide a smoother, faster experience.
The Kaspersky product umbrella includes a number of well-respected security products, so it’s surprising to find that the VPN is actually lacking. The service does use military-level encryption to protect your data, and offers DNS protection, but it lacks ad blockers and anti-malware tools, which are fairly basic features that any VPN should be including in 2021.
It’s possible the lack of features weren’t overlooked so much as not included because Kaspersky does offer them in different products. Some clients prefer to purchase the individual products they need. Regardless, be aware that if you use this VPN, you’ll want to have your own antivirus program on your computer. While a VPN protects your personal information – name and location, for instance – an antivirus program protects your computer from corrupted files and websites.
Anti-malware software is also worth investing in, since it’s not included. Purchasing some will protect your computer from malware and ransomware – important for anyone, but particularly if you ever use your devices for business purposes.
You’ll also need to manually tweak some settings to improve security. The kill-switch isn’t on by default, so you’ll need to go into settings to switch it on in case the VPN connection drops. In settings, you should also switch off the collection of additional data.
Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Catapult Hydra VPN protocol is used by Kaspersky on PCs and Mac computers. Although the amount of information about this protocol is quite small, others like OpenVPN or IKEv2 have had much more time to prove their efficacy. At the same time, Catapult Hydra has had several issues arise concerning privacy, which makes me question how secure Kaspersky’s rented servers are. On mobile devices, both Android and iOS based, Kaspersky VPN uses OpenVPN protocols, which is more proven and transparent than Catapult Hydra. The protocols are set and can’t be changed, unlike other VPNs. Wireguard isn’t an option, regardless of platform and device.
Kaspersky VPN doesn’t include split-tunnelling or multi-hop servers, which means you can’t connect to two servers for added protection, or use some internet traffic through the VPN while using other sites without improving your speed. While not all VPNs offer these features, Kaspersky Lab’s reputation as a cybersecurity giant makes the lack of these measures more glaring.
An audit of Kaspersky Secure Connection that was conducted by SOC 2 (Service and Organization Control) measured how the company controlled cybersecurity risks. The audit looked at availability, protection, process integrity, confidentiality, and privacy, and found nothing of concern.
DNS leak tests, WebRTC leak tests, and IP leak tests all came back clean, which is a good indicator of privacy and security.
Despite claims to the contrary, Kaspersky VPN does not excel on the privacy factor, especially compared to better known VPNs, such as ExpressVPN. While the website claims in large print that no logs are kept, the terms and conditions indicate that some information is, in fact, kept, and can be turned over to the government if required – including your name and location, as well as the make and model of your computer, your operating system, and your subscription.
It’s unknown how long this information is retained. In the EU, your information is deleted when you delete your account, but in other countries, regulations can vary. Since the servers are rented from Hotspot Shield, there’s also a second company and their privacy policies to consider, and Hotspot Shield has had reports of violation of privacy recently.
On top of that, Kaspersky VPN is based in Russia, and Russia is notorious for demanding user data. However, Russia isn’t in the 14 Eyes Alliance – a major plus for some people.
There is a kill-switch option, but it’s not on by default. Instead, to activate it, you’ll need to use the menu of the application to turn on kill-switch features in the settings. You should absolutely do so, because if the connection goes down, the kill switch is what prevents your information from being transmitted during the outage.
Kaspersky VPN is not a great choice for torrenting. Between slow speeds, mediocre privacy, and lack of security solutions, torrenting is a risky activity with this product. While technically it is a possibility, torrenting opens you up to potentially having your information handed over to the government on even the possibility of your downloads being pirated content.
Additionally, since servers are not owned by Kaspersky, but rented from Hotspot Shield, there’s the additional risk of another company also monitoring your activities. Neither Kaspersky nor Hotspot Shield have strong and protective logging policies, so there is certainly a significant privacy risk with torrenting.
If you’re planning on travelling to China, Kaspersky VPN is not an option for you. China has some of the strictest laws for VPNs, so it’s rare to find a VPN that is allowed there, and Kaspersky VPN isn’t one of them. This information is hidden under their pricing structure, so make sure you check that you’ll be travelling where the VPN is authorized – there’s a few countries where it’s illegal to use Kaspersky VPN.
Beyond China, Kaspersky VPN also does not work in Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, and Qatar, each of which has strict regulations on what VPNs are permitted due to control of citizen internet access.
Russia generally has some strict requirements for VPNs to be authorized, and changes to tighten these laws resulted in several VPNs pulling their servers from the country. However, since Kaspersky VPN doesn’t just have servers in Russia but is actually headquartered there, the company chose to comply rather than relocate. The Russian restrictions on VPNs include tighter logging laws, so there is an increased risk of your information being documented and handed over to the Russian government.
Since Kaspersky VPN isn’t all that fast or consistent to begin with, it’s no surprise that the inconsistency is exacerbated when being used on multiple devices. The strain of the VPN just slowed both of the devices I tested simultaneously, and I lost access to the internet altogether. On top of this, Kaspersky VPN limits your account to only five devices. In contrast, IPVanish offers unlimited device connections and has a much better response to simultaneous use.
A five-device limit on simultaneous connections is typically implemented with separate but simultaneous connections – however, Kaspersky VPN tracks and connects all five devices. This is acceptable if all of the devices are yours, but it’s poor for security if you share the VPN with a friend or coworker. This also splits your data limit across devices.
This is an area in which Kaspersky can hold its own. The VPN is available on both Windows and Mac computers, and there’s applications available for both Android phones and iPhones. The downside is Kaspersky VPN does not have any compatibility with routers, which means you cannot use it on objects, like smart TVs, and there is no option for Linux users.
It’s also not possible to use on consoles. The VPN does have a browser extension, but installing the complete application ensures that you’re protected no matter what program you’re using.
Connecting other devices is easy – simply install the application on your other devices and log in to your MyKaspersky account. If you need to remove a device, the application menu has a tab for other devices, and you can just choose the device you’re removing from the list.
This was likely Kaspersky VPN’s strongest point. It was very easy to download the installation file, and took only a minute to install. A first time user could be connected to a server within minutes, with no issues or questions as to the installation process.
The user interface for Kaspersky VPN is clean and minimalist, which makes it easy to use. The main screen displays only the on/off button and a drop-down menu with server country options – all other features and information are tucked away in a menu on the left-hand side of the window.
Support is a definite strength of Kaspersky VPN. They have a knowledge base on their website with common issues and troubleshooting guides, as well as a community forum and an option to email the support team – although there is no option to call.
I messaged them a few times and received responses within three hours. Each time, they were polite and helpful, and messaged me the next day to ensure the issue had been completely solved. If you have issues with the VPN, know that you can get help from the support team – just click the support tab at the top of the website and choose the option best suited for your issue.
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.
Kaspersky VPN offers 3 payment options, including a free plan that provides 200MB a day and one server (you can increase the daily limit to 300MB per day if you connect to your MyKaspersky account). From there, you can upgrade to a monthly plan for $4.99 per month, or $29.99 per year. 5 devices are included in the plan, so you can watch television on your tablet while scouring the internet on your laptop.
Kaspersky accepts both Paypal and credit cards as forms of payment, making it easy to purchase. Refunds can be requested within 30 days of purchase, and you will be notified of a decision within 48 hours, with payment following in another day or two if the refund request is approved.
Out of dozens of VPN options, Kaspersky just fades into the pack. There are many better options out there that are faster, more secure, and with servers in more countries. Kaspersky VPN may have an easy installation process, but everything goes downhill after that.
With Kaspersky VPN, you need to rely heavily on separate software to protect your privacy and the security of your computer, which is a downside, particularly for people who are using the VPN while working with confidential information or for business purposes. Additionally, the lack of choice in servers, since you can’t choose a particular server or even city, means very little chance of speeding up the VPN.
Other options in the VPN market provide more included security measures, faster and more reliable speed, and can unlock more streaming services, so all in all, despite Kaspersky’s free plan, I just can’t recommend it as your best option.
No. While Kaspersky VPN is less expensive than ExpressVPN, the savings certainly don’t justify the loss in quality. From inconsistent speed to the lack of streaming availability, it is well worth the money to subscribe to a better service.
Yes. Kaspersky VPN has a free option, although it is severely limited in comparison to their
paid plan. You only have one server available, and that server won’t connect to the
streaming services at all. If all you’re looking for is a bit of privacy while you work in a coffee shop, the free version may fit your needs, but there are other free VPNs that provide more freedom.
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