Psiphon is an open-source network censorship bypass tool that overcomes everything from simple corporate network restrictions to industrial firewalls for repressive systems.
The VPN service supports thousands of servers in twenty countries and provides additional proxy and protocol options to maximize the chances of successfully accessing selected websites.
Public networks are the backbone of any online business. Without them, businesses would soon go out of business. One of the biggest threats to today’s public networks is malware, which can infect a network in the same way it can infect a physical computer while it is on the network.
To give you an idea of how much speed was affected, we ran some speed tests for the Psiphon evaluation.
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As you can see, the speeds are pretty inconsistent and average at best. The Android version of Psiphon Pro should offer better speeds, but we’ve seen many complaints that the improvements are not significant.
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Psiphon is free to download and use on Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Mobile users, however, have the option to “upgrade” to an ad-free version that is not limited to 2Mbps and gives them a “top speed VPN“ of just 5Mbps.
The cost of this varies depending on the device and the length of the subscription – the longer the contract, the cheaper it is per month.
The ad-free plan costs $2.99 per week for iOS and $4.99 per week for Android. You can also pay monthly for both Android and iOS for $9.99. iPhone users can also save less than 20% by signing up for an annual plan for $8.33 per month.
Android and iOS users looking to upgrade to Psiphon Pro can only choose payment options accepted by the App Store and Google Play Store.
- Major credit and debit cards
Unfortunately, there is no option to pay with cryptocurrency for more privacy, and there are no international methods like Alibaba or UnionPay.
Psiphon is primarily a free service, but offers a 30-day free trial for those using Psiphon Pro for Android, or a three-day free trial for iOS.
Since this is in-app, you can avoid fees by making sure you cancel through the App Store or Google Play Store before the free trial ends. It’s a good opportunity to run some speed tests and see if the performance boost is worth the small extra money each month.
Psiphon also recently introduced a new way to enjoy the benefits of a subscription on iOS and Android operating systems: an in-app currency called PsiCash that users can use for temporary speed boosts. PsiCash can be earned simply by using the app or watching a short video.
Psiphon has about 1,000 servers in 21 countries, which isn’t a lot, but considering the price of 0, it’s not bad. They cover three continents, America, Asia and Europe, and the most popular countries like the UK, the US and Canada are also covered. However, there are no servers in Africa and South America.
Pshiphon said in a 2014 blog post that most of its server infrastructure is hosted by cloud providers. It uses a “one-hop” architecture between the client and the server.
That said, Psiphon goes into more detail about logging than you might think. This includes the protocol used for the connection, the city, country and ISP, the length of the session and the number of bytes transferred.
Psiphon can log the fact that you visit some popular websites, as well as the number of bytes transferred. The company emphasizes that it only logs the most popular domains and never the visited pages. So a single activity log might look something like this: “At a certain point in time, a user from New York City transferred 100 MB from youtube.com over a Comcast connection, for a total of 300 MB.”
This kind of data is kept for up to 60 days, then aggregated into general statistics: “On a certain date, 250 people in New York City transferred 200 GB from youtube.com over a Comcast connection, for a total of 500 GB,” and then deleted. If you use the free version, Psiphon warns, there’s another point to consider.
While this is far from a zero-log VPN, it’s also far from the worst we’ve seen. For example, the company doesn’t acknowledge the collection of assigned IP addresses; personal activity data is deleted after 60 days; and if you use the free plan, Psiphon has no personal information, not even your email address, and no idea who you are. Even if they do record information about your activity somewhere, it’s hard to trace it back to you.
Unfortunately, don’t bypass Netflix and report the following errors. Netflix has very strict restrictions. It has a robust VPN detection that can be bypassed only by some VPNs
Psiphon VPN also helps you avoid geo-restrictions when watching live TV shows on Curtin.
The website is fairly straightforward, with a focus on the download page and good user guides for both the Android and Windows apps.
There’s also a long FAQ that answered most of my questions. It also includes instructions on how to load the Psiphon page for Android and iOS devices, as well as a basic troubleshooting guide.
The site is available in an impressive 24 languages.
Pros and Cons
- Windows, Android and iOS support
- Transparent about logging
- Offers installation file delivered by email
- Logs session and usage data.
- Shares logs with third parties
- Does not disclose server location
- No possibility to manually select a server location
- Poor security
- Paid plans are expensive
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Psiphon a good VPN?
Psiphon is a respectable VPN, but not a great one. Yes, it’s free, but there are limitations to what you can do with it (especially compared to some of the very cheap VPNs that can do more). Psiphon doesn’t claim to offer ironclad privacy, for example, and it’s not a great VPN if you want to watch Netflix from another region.
Is Psiphon legal?
Psiphon is a legal VPN that can be used legally in most regions, including within the US. However, keep in mind that this does not allow users to do whatever they want with an enabled VPN – what is illegal without a VPN is also illegal with a VPN. Illegal activities, such as torrenting copyrighted files, cyberstalking or hacking attempts, are still illegal with a VPN.
Is Psiphon a VPN or a proxy?
Psiphon itself is described as a “circumvention tool that provides uncensored access to Internet content using VPN, SSH and HTTP proxy technologies.” In practice, it works pretty much like most other VPNs, although the setup is a bit technical.
Will Psiphon hide my IP address?
Yes, when Psiphon is enabled, your original IP address will be hidden and replaced with the alternate server address provided by Psiphon. This will change frequently during use, as the Psiphon client automatically discovers new Psiphon servers. However, Psiphon warns that “in some modes and configurations, not all Internet traffic is routed through Psiphon, for example, if your browser’s proxy settings are incorrect or if you leave your browser open after exiting Psiphon.”
It should be clear by now that Psiphon is more of a proxy service than a VPN service. Its popularity in the Play Store is due to the fact that it offers a rich selection of VPN servers and allows users to access a wide range of online content.
The security of the service is also average and nothing noteworthy. Accessibility is also limited, as the client is only available on three platforms.
Client support is also an exotic element on Psiphon. But all these anomalies and drawbacks are negligible since the service is free. On Windows devices it is absolutely free, while on the mobile app the service is available in exchange for advertising.
The product serves the purpose of providing access to online content. It was never intended to combine security and privacy, and if users want both security and privacy, they will have to choose another service.