VPNs are now a common feature of internet life. Today’s consumer is increasingly aware of the risks of data leaks and wary of third parties spying on them online, and a utilizing a VPN is one of the best weapons you can have in the fight to keep your information secure.
The letters stand for Virtual Private Network, and having one on your device allows you to hide your IP address and internet activity from anyone who might be interested in seeing them, whether that’s a government, businesses, or cyber criminals.
In this review, we’ll be looking at iTop VPN – is it the right VPN for you and your needs? Let’s find out.
iTop VPN is probably best known for its free VPN service, but some people don’t realize that there’s also a paid version as well. We’ll examine both in this review, including the pleasantly surprising number of extra features that the paid version has to offer.
Since VPNs exist for the main purpose of keeping information about your online activity hidden from prying eyes, the security features that any VPN offers is, inevitably, going to be one of the most important considerations.
While most VPNs use one or more of several open-source VPN protocols like WireGuard or OpenVPN, iTop VPN uses another protocol of its own making.
This may or may not be just as good as any of the more common, open source ones, but it’s hard to judge because there’s not enough information about it that’s publicly available.
For those who like to know everything about how their VPN works, this might be a problem.
There is also something else that’s perplexing about iTop VPN’s order form in that it asks you for your full name and address, not just your email address.
iTop say that this is so that they can contact you in case anything goes wrong with your order, but it’s not clear why they’d need anything other than your email address for this.
Unfortunately, these aren’t the only privacy concerns. The company claims to have a no logging policy, meaning that they promise not to collect information such as IP addresses, bandwidth used, internet history, and more.
However, since the free version of the VPN has a bandwidth limit, that must mean that they do at least keep records that can identify your device with how much bandwidth has been used.
One other feature it does offer is a kill switch, which not all VPNs do. This is a useful safety feature that automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection is lost, meaning that there’ll never be a time when your browsing is unprotected.
However, iTop’s kill switch doesn’t seem to work in every instance – it doesn’t always kick in if the app is crashed, for example, and also won’t give any notification about it, meaning you’re not likely to notice the problem right away yourself.
On the other hand, it does offer split tunneling, another thing that not all VPNs can boast. This allows you to channel only some of your online activity through your VPN rather than all of it. This enables you to keep the important stuff hidden while keeping your internet speeds high.
It also offers DNS protection, meaning that your DNS settings won’t be able to be altered by any kind of malware.
Aside from security, one common reason for wanting to use a VPN is to get around region locking restrictions. As you probably already know, most streaming services region lock at least some of their content, meaning that it can only be accessed from certain countries or regions.
A VPN is the easiest way to bypass these restrictions, so if you want to access another country’s Netflix library to watch something that’s not available where you are, for example, a VPN is what you need.
Not all VPNs are equipped to do this, though, as streaming services are always trying to find ways to stop it from working.
Our tests showed iTop to be a bit of a mixed bag. It managed to access BBC iPlayer (usually only accessible from the UK and often quite hard to get into with a VPN), which is an excellent start.
However, it was less successful with one of the biggest draws, Netflix, failing to unblock region-locked content libraries there.
It got into Disney+ with no problems, but stumbled when it came to Amazon Prime Video. This puts it ahead of some other VPNs but behind others when it comes to streaming services.
Speeds for iTop VPN are generally pretty good, though of course it’ll vary depending on where you are and where the server you’re connecting to is.
Predictably enough, the speeds for both downloading and uploading are worse if you’re connecting to a distant server, but in our tests they stayed within acceptable ranges the whole time.
This means you’ll be able to use them to stream things without difficulties, even in 4K, particularly if you’re using a server that’s near your actual location. Latency also didn’t prove to be much of an issue, meaning that it’s a viable VPN to use for online gaming as well.
iTop can boast around 1800 servers spread out across 100 different locations around the world. This is, whilst not quite at the same level as some VPNs with over 5000 servers, still a very decent number. They’re also nicely spread out, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a server close to where you are.
Subscription Plans And Pricing
As we mentioned earlier, there are free and paid versions available, and they’re quite different in their functionality. The main difference between the two is that the free version has a data limit of 700 MB per day and 21 GB per month.
The free version also only allows you access to 16 of the 1800 servers that the paid version can offer. While limits like this can be frustrating, it’s not too bad for a free service, and is actually one of the better free VPN services out there.
If you want the full version, however, you have the option of buying 1, 2, or 3 years at a time. As is common with VPN subscriptions, the longer the subscription you buy, the less you pay when the cost is broken down month by month, even though the overall figure is higher.
Aside from the price, there are no other differences between the three paid subscription plans.
On the subject of the price, though, you might notice that the base prices for the VPN are actually somewhat on the high side.
While we wouldn’t say that the VPN justifies this overall, it seems that the company is regularly offering some deal or another (often involving considerable discounts) on subscriptions, meaning that in practice, you’re not likely to have to pay full price anyway
There is also a 15 day, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for a couple of weeks first. Some companies offer longer guarantees than this (sometimes a whole month) but 15 days will probably be enough for most people.
iTop VPN does not currently offer a free trial of the full version of the VPN (unlike, say, TrustZone). There is still the aforementioned free version, and the 15-day money-back guarantee, however, so you can use these ways to test the waters if you like.
You can pay for iTop with any major credit or debit card, via PayPal, or with a bank transfer. This is a pretty standard selection, although some other VPNs also let you pay using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
One nice feature is that you can choose an option to switch off auto-renewals, meaning that you won’t forget and then be charged for another subscription you might not have wanted.
iTop has apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, although these differ from each other in some ways. While the app sometimes organizes the servers in a bit of an unusual way, with no obvious pattern to it, it also includes a neat way to get around this.
You have the option to choose one of several different reasons for using a VPN (e.g. “watch Netflix”, “unblock WhatsApp”, “Play PUBG”, etc.). You can simply click one of these and be connected to the most appropriate server. I’ve always considered this to be an elegant solution to a common VPN problem.
You can contact iTop for customer support from within the app. They mention that you can usually expect a response within 24-48 hours. This doesn’t quite measure up to some other VPN services that offer live chat customer support and quicker response times.
Overall, whilst iTop does have many features that make it worth considering, it’s hard to recommend it if privacy is of paramount importance to you.
There are too many unanswered questions about its encryption protocols and data gathering practices, not to mention other problems like the kill switch that doesn’t always work.
However, if these things aren’t much of a concern for you, then it might be worth a look, especially if you can time your subscription when iTop offers one of their steep discounts.