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Opera VPN Review: The False VPN

With the announcement of a free VPN on their Opera browser, the VPN world was set alight. The excitement over the announcement, however, wasn’t warranted. Sorry, but this Opera VPN review is not going to be a gushing thank you. First and foremost; the Opera VPN is not a VPN

Opera VPN review: A good try, but not enough

What I saw in the first Opera VPN review I read, and which continued in a few others, is that people don’t seem to understand what a VPN is. Opera is, as far as we can tell and have been told, actually closer to being a proxy server than a VPN.

opera vpn settings

All we know about the Opera VPN is:

  • It allows you to change your IP address, getting you past some cases of geo-blocking… if you luck out as they don’t allow you to choose specific countries. A qualityVPN will allow you to choose a specific server in a specific city.
  • opera vpn reviewsIt only allows you to use it through Opera, none of your other Internet traffic is protected.
  • We have absolutely no details on their encryption protocols. Nowhere are you allowed to select what you use, and you’re never even told what you’re using.
  • There has not been any sharing on the status of their data collection, sharing, or willingness to work with authorities. Given that it’s ‘free,’ and they’re a free browser, you had better believe that they are collecting and selling the hell out of your data – the opposite of what a quality VPN should do.

Knowing all this, the Opera ‘VPN’ is little more than a proxy server with a misleading name, and likely an intent to be another ‘free’ service which only costs your data.

Other facts about the Opera VPN

Ok, we know that it’s free. Everyone loves free. Facebook is free. YouTube is free. Twitter is free, but …how do those entities make money? They collect and store data about you and sell that to advertisers, and they show you ads. Lots of ads. That’s how.

opera vpn settings panelIs this how Opera ultimately looks to make money off of their VPN? Are they collecting data off of users to routing through their VPN to sell to advertisers? That’s my worry with every ‘free’ VPN I come across. Everyone out there needs to stop and think about who is actually paying for their ‘free’ service, because at the end of the day someone has to pay the bills.

A few other details to consider:

  • The Opera VPN currently only lists “Optimal location,” Asia, Europe, and the Americas as your options for locations to connect to. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to know that you’re selecting a European server in England so you can watch some BBC iPlayer? You won’t with the Opera VPN.
  • There are no data limits imposed, or time limits. Again, that’s a lot of data that someone, somewhere, has to pay for in some way.
  • Problems have been reported of IP leaks via the WebRTC bug. It can be fixed with a complicated workaround which the average user, those who will want a free ‘VPN’, will struggle with. Many will likely never test the VPN to see if it leaks, and won’t even enjoy a true VPN experience.
  • The VPN only operates within Opera. Those trying to do torrenting or p2p will have no protection of their downloads. Anyone trying to do secure file transfers, to their lawyer, doctor, or workplace, will also have no protection.

These are not 4 small problems. Each one underlines the fact that you can’t trust Opera’s VPN to be a true VPN. At best, you can trust it to be a proxy server which you use to unlock some, but not all due to their very limited servers, web content.

Is the Opera VPN any good?

It’s good if you want a proxy server, and even then it’s not that great at being a proxy server as even the most basic one will allow you to select a country. If you want a VPN you’re going to have to either use a real free VPN, which is supported by paid subscriptions and will have limits, or spend as little as $2.91/month on Private Internet Access to have a complete VPN experience.

I don’t have any problem with Opera itself. I’ve used Opera off and on for several years before stability issues with advanced web tools broke it, but until then it was a very reliable browser that will work for most people just fine. Calling their new browser-based proxy service a VPN, however …isn’t exactly what I’d call accurate. More than anything, my hope is that this brings morel ight to the need for VPNs and that more people actively seek out quality VPNs, such as those above.


2 thoughts on “Opera VPN Review: The False VPN”

  1. It’s kind of obvious when a web browser is offering free VPN that it’s going to be something terrible.
    It just shows us how many people are susceptible to a fake sense of security.

  2. I don’t that much about privacy, I am more interested in bypassing ipblocks from both our ISP and the server, I use Hide My Ass (HMA) and I am pretty satisfied with it, sometimes using their VPN works faster without, less ping in some games, faster youtube, also playing some IP restricted games, Vindictus EU and PSO2 (Asia), Dark Souls 2 had issues with our ISP firewall as well, using VPN worked like a charm.

    My ISP sucks, but I can’t change it, it is the only one available in my area, the other ISP also uses the same infrastructure and partially owned by the first, a ruse to hide monopoly existence.

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