FrootVPN

FrootVPN is a Swedish VPN provider owned by Edelino Commerce, the group behind Anonine VPN, VPNTunnel, BoxPN and more.

The FrootVPN network looks good, with 80 servers in around 30 countries. These aren't just the usual locations in North America or Europe, either. The company has servers in Brazil, Russia, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and more.

The service allows up to five simultaneous connections. There are no bandwidth limits, and torrents are allowed on all servers.

FrootVPN has a Windows client, but that's it, with nothing else for desktops or mobile devices. There's support for PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN, though, and an Installation Guides page has tutorials for Windows, Macs, iOS, Android, Linux, Synology NAS and more.

The standout feature has to be FrootVPN's price. A single month costs just €5 (£4.40, $5.90), dropping to €4 (£3.50, $4.70) if you sign up for three months, and €3 (£2.60, $3.50) on the annual plan. Payment options include Bitcoin, as well as PayPal and cards. There's no free trial, but FrootVPN does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Privacy

The FrootVPN website states upfront that there's "no logging of your activity". Sounds promising, although we wouldn't expect them to say anything else.

A 'No Logging' page gives a little more information: "We don't keep any logs of any kind such as User Info, Timestamps, Bandwidth, IP Address, DNS Queries and Log sessions on any of your activities…"

This seems to be implying that the company doesn't maintain any form of session data – connection times, bandwidth used, incoming or outgoing IP address – but it turned out not to be entirely true (we’ll discuss this more later in the review).

The privacy policy is too short to offer much help. We're not fans of lengthy jargon-packed contracts, but FrootVPN goes to the other extreme, with barely 250 words to cover the website, payments and VPN.

The terms and conditions are also very brief, and can mostly be summed up as 'don't use our service to do illegal stuff.'

We noticed one interesting point in the refund policy. Although the website calls this an "absolute money-back guarantee", the small print says "if the user had reasonable expectations on the service which Frootvpn.com was not able to fulfil, a full refund would be performed."

In other words, this isn't an unconditional refund which you can get just by asking. You must report some kind of problem with the service, and the company has to agree that this is ‘reasonable’ before you get your money back.

Performance

Signing up with FrootVPN is simple and straightforward, with everything happening on the same page. Pick a plan, enter your email address and choose a payment method. You can even decide whether to enable a subscription (an automatic renewal) or just make a one-off payment, a welcome choice which you don't often see elsewhere.

A few moments after payment we were sent a couple of welcome emails and a receipt. Clicking a 'verify your email' link took us to a signup page where we could enter a username and a password. There's even a simple password generator on the site.

Logging in took us to an impressive console, more like a web hosting control panel than the usual VPN site. A Home page displays account status and provides download and help links. 'Server Info' provides details and OpenVPN configuration files for FrootVPN's servers, and a 'Diagnostics' page runs ping tests on your preferred locations.

We were interested to see a 'Usage information' chart, which plots your bandwidth use for the past six months. That might be handy for some people, but the real story is it tells us FrootVPN logs at least some information: bandwidth use by month. That means it is recording bandwidth use by session, and our later tests showed this happens in real-time. Download a large file, keep refreshing the page and the bandwidth total increases.

If this is all FrootVPN does, that may not matter very much, but our problem is that the company isn't being transparent with its users. If a VPN provider records the bandwidth used per session, it needs to say that, and not make blanket 'no logging' statements which don't tell the whole story.

Setting up FrootVPN can take a while, depending on your device. Mac, iOS and Android users must set up their systems manually, following instructions on the site. Windows users get a custom client which will do all this for them, although bizarrely it's barely mentioned on the FrootVPN site. If you go to the Installation Guides page, the client isn't even mentioned, with tutorials suggesting you download and set up OpenVPN, instead.

We installed the Windows client, and initially it looked promising. There's a list of servers, a favorites system for commonly-used locations, a choice of protocols, even a connection log to help with troubleshooting.

Unfortunately, the interface didn't always work as we expected. There's something which looks like a country filter, but isn't – you can't click a location in the list to select it, and you can't double-click to connect. There are separate Connect buttons for every location, instead of a single button which connects to the currently selected item.

The FrootVPN client has no significant configuration options, either. There's no kill switch, no DNS setup, nothing on WebRTC leaks, little more than a 'start with Windows' setting and an option to automatically reconnect if the connection drops.

Basic operations seem simple enough, and once you've set up a few favorites, you'll often be online in a couple of clicks. This isn't always the case, though. We regularly found ourselves unable to connect to particular servers, and lengthy timeouts meant we could spend an age staring at a 'waiting…' message.

One server was labelled as enabling connection to the BBC's iPlayer, but the BBC site displayed a warning that it was only available from the UK, presumably because it had detected the VPN.

When we did get online, performance was excellent in our tests*. Short distance UK to UK connections gave us download speeds approaching 40Mbps. Connecting from the UK to nearby European cities – Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt – still gave us a very creditable 25-35Mbps.

UK to US speeds are a little more disappointing, ranging from a maximum of 20Mbps from New York, to 12Mbps in California. That's average at best, though still enough for many applications.

Connecting to FrootVPN's more distant destinations saw speeds plummet. India was usable for browsing at 5-10Mbps, but Brazil was closer to 4Mbps, Japan 3Mbps, Argentina barely reached 1Mbps, and Australia couldn't even manage 0.5Mbps. That's not the performance we would expect from a quality VPN, although it may still be just about acceptable for sending emails or simple browsing.

Final verdict

This provider is great value and impressively speedy in Europe. More distant connections are much slower, and FrootVPN needs more and better apps, but overall the company gives you a decent service for a bargain price.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

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