Image from Disconnect
With Facebook and Google being dragged through the mud by the media for privacy concerns, more consumers are turning to VPNs to protect themselves. Likewise, companies are popping up all over the place, offering competing services. One of those is Disconnect VPN, founded by ex-Google engineers and a privacy lawyer in California.
Their promise is simple; they want to give you the freedom to move around the internet without somebody looking over your shoulder. They believe that there is a disconnect between what companies and governments are doing with consumers data and what the people want. They are trying to solve this issue with their service.
What they offer is nothing unique. There are hundreds of VPN service providers across the globe. Disconnect is neither the cheapest, nor the most extensive, or the one that big corporations and leaders trust. However, it is an option, and some consumers prefer to work with smaller businesses because they believe it gives them greater flexibility and communication.
Disconnect offers three products, a free browser protector, a mobile app and finally their VPN service. While their free options might be comparable and worth considering, in this Disconnect VPN review, we’re going to look at their VPN. In doing so, we’ll compare it to the alternatives and let you know if it’s worth the money.
Features and Service
When you’re comparing VPN services, you’ll need to consider the service that they offer as well as the features available. VPN’s aren’t overly complicated, but they become increasingly effective at scale. With more servers to choose from, there is less load on any individual machine, allowing for faster speeds and less lag or buffering.
Likewise, with servers spread across the globe, you as a customer have more flexibility. If you want to stream movies, for example, different nations have unique access to certain titles, meaning that the more servers a VPN has, the more content you can access. For these reasons, going with a reliable and built-up service can have huge benefits.
When looking at VPN’s you should consider:
By the nature of directing your traffic through intermediary servers, you’re going to see a hit to your performance. No matter how efficient a server is, or has fast your internet network, using a VPN is going to make your download speeds slower and significantly increased latency. However, the difference between the best and worst services can be enormous.
During the Disconnect VPN review, we wanted to look closely at performance. We know how big of an impact it can have, especially on those of you who play video games or are wanting to use a VPN to access a geographic location for streaming. In our research, we found that Disconnect had a passable, but not a good performance.
They only offer four locations and a handful of servers, presumably, which will impact speed as the number of customers increases. One report averaged only 25% of the rate that they had before enabling the VPN, meaning that you will just get a quarter of the download speed and much greater latency as well.
Likewise, another study found that speeds were about half that of without using the network. Both of these results are passable and won’t severely hamper your daily usage. However, for online gaming, it’s a significant impact. It’s also worth noting, alternatives like Nord and Express don’t hamper your speed as much.
Depending on your usage, Disconnect may or not be a good choice for you. For daily internet usage like browsing Facebook and reading the news, speed isn’t a big component, especially in Western countries where the average internet speed is high. However, online gaming latency can be the difference between winning and losing.
If you’re streaming videos also, speed is essential. With a fragile connection that is up and down, you might find that buffering is common, which can be frustrating. A quarter of the speed you normally get could also mean that you can’t watch movies at a high bitrate, which could make the image more pixelated than usual.
Privacy and Security
If you’re using a VPN, you understand the need for privacy. Many users use these services to bypass geographic or political locks, but often anonymity is the secondary benefit. You don’t need to be doing anything illegal or shady either, to benefit from being anonymous. You never know who is trying to log or track your online activity.
Even big corporate leaders like Tim Cook from Apple probably use VPN’s. It allows them to have security and privacy. How would your colleagues or family look at you if they knew every site you’d ever visited? Probably not nicely, which is why privacy is vital.
Disconnect VPN takes your anonymity seriously. All of your data is encrypted, and it masks your location. This process prevents hackers and governments from looking at what you’re doing on your machine.
Disconnect VPN has three tiers of service, with the free version only encrypting the data through your browser. This method is effective and will give your privacy while you’re browsing. But it won’t help when you’re downloading files, playing video games or using online chat applications.
Their premium service offers you complete protection. By masking your location through a VPN which bounces your requests through other servers around the globe, companies and hackers will never know where you are. Likewise, they encrypt all of your data, preventing people from looking at it during transmission or intercepting it.
The problem with Disconnect VPN is that there is practically no information available. Despite extensive research, we were not able to find out nearly anything about the company. They don’t openly list the number of servers they have, or where they are. Given this, it’s impossible even to begin to guess at the geographical possibilities of this service.
The only information we could find about the servers was on an article by PC World. Hence you should take it with a grain of salt. They claim that the service offers four different geographical locations. The United States, Germany, Europe, and Asia. These aren’t particularly specific, and we think that’s a huge issue.
Many people choose to use a VPN because they want to access the web through a particular nation — for example, streaming content in France. By connecting to their European server, you won’t know whether it’s in France or Austria, making it hard for you as a potential customer to make a purchasing decision. To us, this is a big red flag.
The server location is one of the more important factors when deciding on a VPN service. With only four locations, half of which are continents rather than countries, it’s not particularly compelling. Many competitors offer servers in over 60-countries, giving you more protection, security, and access to location-blocked content and streaming services.
The compatibility of the application to your devices is critical. Otherwise, you won’t get any of the benefits of using a VPN. Disconnect VPN works on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to work properly for Linux users, who will need to find an alternative service for their machines.
By working on all four platforms, you’ll get coverage, privacy, and protection across the internet no matter what device you are using. More people than ever before are browsing the web and streaming on mobile and tablet devices, making iOS and Android capability incredibly important. These devices are often easier to hack, so protection is critical for all of us.
For mobile users, there is also the Pro iOS. Despite its name, it’s free and also available on Android as well as for iPhone users. It offers tracker protection for your phone, preventing people from figuring out who you are calling, texting and what websites you are visiting. This protection is key if you want to maintain your privacy.
It also secures all of your HTTP and DNS connections. However, you should be aware that this isn’t the best security in the world, and is not comparable to their paid account which gives more better service. We would recommend that you purchase a professional plan with a service of your choosing because it offers you more servers, better security and customer support.
When it comes to affordability, you need to consider your financial circumstances. If money is no issue, you should opt for the best service possible, which is not a Disconnect VPN. Whereas if you’re on a tight budget, you might consider their free mobile app and browser protection, due to it having zero cost and being better than surfing with no protection.
The premium service they offer is $50 for a single year, which will cover three devices. When compared to other services, many of which are superior, this is relatively expensive. In comparison, signing up for long term contracts with NordVPN would be nearly a quarter of the cost, for more servers and over ten times the geographic location options.
Likewise, Disconnect VPN only covers three devices per license. Other companies will offer five, typically, with others giving you six or more machines for a single monthly payment. For this reason, we think that Disconnect VPN is not good value for money. The service is too costly, and the features that you get are lackluster.
The vast majority of users would benefit more from a cheaper and more effective plan. Nord VPN and Express VPN, in particular, offer excellent value for money, although they are not the most affordable plans. They have extensive servers, located in 50+ countries, offering you maximal protection and impressive download speeds to prevent buffering and lag.
A surprisingly important issue is the payment options available for those looking to purchase a VPN service. When using a credit card or other traditional payment options, you usually need to volunteer a large amount of information to hand over the money for the service simply.
The whole point of using a private network is to give yourself anonymity, and therefore many believe that it defeats the point if you need to pay with credit. While many of us disagree, those with real privacy concerns or in oppressive countries have valid points. Therefore, they often require the ability to pay using options like Paypal or using cryptocurrencies.
Top providers offer these options, but Disconnect VPN does not. They currently only allow you to pay through Stripe via a card. While they claim that all they need is your city, zip code, and country, it seems unlikely that a card would process without your name and date of birth. For this reason, we are skeptical about the level of anonymity.
If requested by the government, it’s possible that they might have to hand over customer details. And if they have your card info, this could be part of this information. We are unsure about this, but it’s a concern many have. Hence, some people only pay for private services like this using Bitcoin or other anonymous cryptocurrencies.
How to Use Disconnect VPN
The Disconnect VPN is simple. It works through an application, which runs on your devices, whether Mac, Windows, iOS or Android. It filters all of the web traffic leaving and coming to your machine, as well as blocking trackers as you surf the web or play video games.
Keep in mind; they don’t recommend that you use this service for P2P transfers or torrents. They block many trackers as well as ports that are typically for this kind of data. Therefore, you’ll often find that when using the Disconnect VPN application you won’t be able to download files from peers, which could interfere with some video games, too.
Inside the application, you can easily customize your settings. You’ll find that you can choose from the four regions; the United States, Germany, Europe, and Asia. Upon choosing it will take a few seconds to connect to the server and then you’ll be able to browse or play as normal, except under a shield of privacy.
Interestingly, the app also gives you a large number of statistics and data about what has trackers they block. It’s broken down by category, showing you advertising, trackers, analytics, content and social logs. You can also take a glance at the amount of data it has saved you, which is less interesting except for those utilizing mobile data plans which can be expensive.
When compared to NordVPN, which PCMag and CNET recommend, Disconnect VPN looks much more expensive and with fewer features and benefits. Nord is only $2.99 per month at its cheapest, whereas Disconnect retails for more at $50 per year. While not an enormous price discrepancy, the value offering is much less equal.
Nord has 5,400 servers, located in 61 countries around the globe. While we don’t know the number of servers that Disconnect offers, it’s almost certainly a tiny fraction of that figure. Likewise, they only give your 4-locations, although there may be a slightly larger number of countries, you don’t get the choice between them.
We also like that Nord offers you a 30-day money-back guarantee. While Disconnect offers a vague promise, which could be better or worse, the defined period is useful in our experience because it makes things definitive.
It’s also worth noting that Nord allows you to use up to six devices on a single license, over double what Disconnect grants. Therefore, you could easily make the argument that you get half the value, especially if you have a large family who will use all of those licenses within seconds!
The same story is true for Linux users, who are not catered for by Disconnect. Nord had a dedicated application for them, as well as offering a VPN for Android TV users, a niche bunch. We love this dedication to serving everybody, as well as possible. Plus, the sales page for Nord is incredibly detailed and informative, the opposite of the page for Disconnect.
Free Trials and Guarantees
While they do not have a free trial or a specific timeline for a guarantee, their payment page claims to offer you to “cancel anytime” to receive a “no questions asked refund.” This promise is ambiguous, which could be good or bad. On the positive, you can argue for a refund at any point. On the other, there is no timeline to give you comfort.
In general, we think this is a fair and competitive guarantee. Tech companies tend to stick by their warranties very carefully, knowing that a spurned customer could become a PR disaster within seconds. Therefore, we’re confident that Disconnect VPN would offer you a refund if you asked for one, as long as there is no evidence that you're manipulative.
It would be nice if they offered a short trial period, perhaps a week or two. Many of their competitors do this. Due to there being practically zero information about their service on their sales page, most customers are going to be wary about the quality of the servers and where they even are.
If this is your first time using a VPN and you are unsure about whether you want or need one, we’d suggest you get a free trial. Nord VPN and Express VPN both offer short trial periods, with a money-back guarantee. Being able to try these before buying allows you to test using a network with absolutely no financial risk to yourself.