If you want a virtually invisible VPN-like connection, you should try the Opera browser’s built-in service. It requires no software or even an account, offers unlimited data, and streams Netflix from abroad quite well.
However, in our latest tests, it performed the worst of all the free VPN-like services we’ve seen and was well below the results of a similar test of the same service over a year ago.
Although Opera Browser VPN is completely unrestricted and free, we can only recommend it as a video streaming proxy service, as its network performance is simply terrible. Even ProtonVPN intentionally slow speed is faster with the unlimited free service. However, for a faster free VPN service, there is a data cap of 10 GB per month.
We’ve already mentioned that Opera VPN offers low, but usable speeds. How low are they? Let’s take a look at the speed test results.
We are in Europe. Our initial connection speed was 49.46 Mbps download and 45.28 Mbps upload.
First, we connected to the best place, whatever that is. The download speed dropped to a shocking 7.20 Mbit/s download speed and 5.18 Mbit/s upload speed.
Well, maybe the best location isn’t the best location after all. So we decided to go with the European site. The download speed was 9.21 Mbit/s and the upload speed was 7.12 Mbit/s. Slightly better than the best location. But still nothing to be proud of.
Let’s now move on to the “US” side. We prepared for the worst. But the speeds haven’t changed much. Our download speed is 9.31 Mbps and our upload speed is a strange 0.44 Mbps.
The last location – Asia. We didn’t expect much from it. And Opera VPN managed to meet our expectations quite well. The device we used could not connect to the server and we saw the error message.
Yes, the speed was low. But if you are just loading a simple website, you won’t feel too uncomfortable. So if you don’t have high requirements for Opera VPN speed, you can deal with it.
Price and Features
The VPN bundled with Opera is 100% Free to use with no data limits. This alone makes it one of the most generous free VPNs out there. Of course, whether Opera will continue to offer this service is questionable.
Five VPN server locations – VPN servers in Canada, the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Singapore. That’s more limited than most commercial VPN services, but hey… It’s free! It also covers a good range of popular VPN servers, although the UK is conspicuously absent.
This means you won’t be able to watch iPlayer with Opera. Those who want to access the US version of Netflix are unfortunately also out of luck… When I tried, Netflix could tell I was using a “proxy” and refused to play. However, this VPN can unlock YouTube videos that are restricted in your area.
When you try to connect to a server, you have four options. Best (the server closest to you), America, Asia, and Europe. We did some research and found out that there are actually five countries where Opera has servers. These are
- United States
Unfortunately, you cannot select a specific server, only the continent.
The VPN servers are well placed, but the United Kingdom is missing. This means that you won’t be able to watch BBC iPlayer or Channel 4 On Demand.
As for geo-spoofing, Opera is fine. The Google DNS server in the same country as the VPN server handles DNS resolution.
This means that if you connect to a Dutch VPN server, the Dutch DNS server will also do the DNS resolution. Simply put, the DNS requests come from Opera and not from your real IP address.
We have investigated possible IP and DNS leaks, but have not found any that have been reported.
The VPN specifications are limited to the statement, “When you use our integrated VPN service, we do not record information about your browsing activities or your original network address. This is good to know, but not entirely specific or comprehensive.
The policy on the browser page explains, “When you install an Opera application, a random installation ID is generated. We may collect this identifier as well as your device ID and hardware specifications, operating system and environment configuration, and feature usage data.
Elsewhere, the policy talks about collecting your general location so we can provide targeted messaging and advertising, and the crash notification system may log “some information about your browser version, operating system, platform, and some storage data related to crashes.”
There’s obviously a lot of opportunity here to set up user profiles, log locations, use VPNs, and perhaps bind to devices.
On the other hand, there is already an opportunity for any browser vendor to log more sensitive data than the last time you logged into a particular US VPN site. At least with Opera, you don’t have to provide an email address, payment details or other personal information. That alone puts it ahead of many other VPNs.
Opera is its own browser, not a browser extension. However, it works like a browser extension, in the sense that it is a proxy – just like a browser extension.
This means that your IP address is hidden, but not encrypted. This means that your data is not effectively protected. This is something that you should keep in mind. For this reason, I always recommend using both a desktop client and a browser extension, not just one or the other.
Although Opera VPN doesn’t work with proxy-blocking sites, it can unblock video content in all three available regions and, importantly, in the US.
In this Opera VPN review, I found that the customer service is terrible. There is no direct way to contact Opera VPN. You can’t contact them via live chat or even the email ticketing system.
They only have a FAQ section to help users. Opera does have a forum, but it is dedicated to the entire browser, not just the VPN.
So if you find that opera VPN is not working properly, there is no customer service to contact. For quick troubleshooting tips.
Pros and Cons
- Completely free
- No bandwidth limitation
- Works with Netflix
- Easy to set up and use
- Records all information
- Canadian jurisdiction
- Not a standalone product
- IP leak detection
- Slow speed
- No torrents
- Only three server options
- No customer support
After reading this review of OperaVPN thoroughly, I cannot recommend this service. The data collection policy is terrible and destroys the privacy benefits of encrypted browser traffic.
This once again proves the old adage true: if something is free, it’s probably the product. This is indeed the case with Opera VPN, as the “free” service you pay for with your private data is monetized by Opera, advertising companies and third-party partners that host it.