Are you looking for a fast, free VPN with decent security features? Browsec claims to provide speeds up to 100 Mbps and a secure browsing experience. So, I put Browsec through a series of tests. Does it stand up to its claims? Yes, but with some caveats.
Browsec is a lightweight VPN that works through an extension on your desktop’s browser, with a customer base of approximately 8 million users worldwide and more than 4 million downloads and 25,000 reviews on Chrome. You can also add it to Firefox or Opera, and it has mobile apps for Android and iOS devices available on the Play Store or App Store.
Looking for a good VPN to keep you safe while browsing isn’t always easy, but my testing showed that Browsec provides decent connection speeds and security. However, the legal concerns and the fact that it is based in Russia shatter some of the promises regarding privacy.
After performing a series of tests, I can say Browsec VPN is easy to use, but streaming Netflix US and other platforms weren’t possible even on the premium servers.
36 Locations with 400 Servers and Growing
Server count and the amount of location available offers a lot of room for flexibility and different features. This is because of certain media outlets such as Netflix and Hulu offering different products from one location to another.
Now, Browsec has a free version. That version only offers 4 locations:
- United Kingdom
The premium version, on the other hand, has 36 server locations for you to choose from including the ones listed above. Browsec also claims that its total server count is growing. This could offer more room for different networks to be available. Browsec users will have to wait for said growth, but the current number available is already pretty good.
Speed and performance
Good speeds can partially rescue VPNs with slightly rocky privacy credentials. Is this the case with Browsec?
The VPN promises a “high connection speed” of up to 100 Mbps – although if you delve deeper, you’ll see that this refers to the Premium product, not the free Browsec add-on, which guarantees just 1Mbps.
When we loaded up the app for a speed test, our fears were confirmed. With the free app, few of the 4 servers managed anything above pedestrian speeds. Things improved with the Premium package, but not by much. Peak download speed rarely topped 10 Mbps, and upload speed struggled to get over 30 Mbps.
Moreover, signing on to Browsec took a huge chunk out of our normal connection speed. So we’d have to advise against using the VPN if speed really matters.
Ease of Use
The Browsec website makes it easy to install the browser client and sign up for an account. In fact, if you plan to use the free account, you don’t even need to sign up at all. Simply installing the extension and turning it on gets you access to a free VPN, which is a nice way to introduce people to the service.
The extension itself is easy to use, but that isn’t saying much, considering the utter lack of features. You can connect to the VPN by either clicking on a toggle switch in the bottom-right of the extension or by clicking the large “protect me” button in the middle.
The overall design of the extension is fine, but there are some glaring problems, as well. Namely, that you cannot choose a server before connecting. The list of servers only comes up after you are connected, forcing the VPN to disconnect and reconnect to the new server.
That said, the VPN does connect very quickly. However, it does not offer a notification or show any sign at all when it connects, which is unexpectedly concerning. The lack of any confirmation that the VPN has connected (or disconnected) after you click the button lends to feeling unsure at times about the VPN’s status.
Simply offering the choice of server before connecting and adding in some kind of confirmation or notification when the VPN connects or disconnects would go a long way toward improving the user experience.
Privacy and encryption
To protect your online privacy, Browsec deploys IPSec/IKEv2 connection protocol with AES-256 encryption on mobile and HTTP Proxy over TLS with AES-256 encryption when using its browser extensions. Despite these strong security and privacy mechanisms, torrenting isn’t supported as Browsec currently operates via browser extensions and mobile apps only.
We’d still love to see an independent report published on what information is and isn’t logged, as some of competitors have already done.