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Very fast connection
Extremely easy to set up and use
It’s a proxy, not a VPN
They keep logs and tracking data
The encryption is very weak
There are only three servers
Opera VPN isn’t really a VPN. It’s a simple web proxy. The service is completely free, and it’s very easy to use, so if you’re already using Opera as a web browser, there isn’t much reason not to give Opera VPN a try.
Opera VPN isn’t going to keep you safe online or protect your privacy, but it may help you bypass a firewall or content filter. That’s probably its best practical use.
Maybe you’ve heard the Opera web browser comes with a free VPN, or possibly, you’re already a fan of Opera, and you want to know how their VPN stacks up. Either way, you’re probably going to be disappointed to learn the Opera VPN isn’t a VPN at all. It’s a proxy masquerading as a VPN.
The servers that Opera user are owned by a Canadian VPN company, but everything else about the connection more closely resembles a basic web proxy rather than a full-fledged VPN.
With all that out of the way and upfront, the question remains; is Opera VPN still worth using? Take a look at our testing and impressions to decide for yourself.
When you bake a VPN (proxy) connection directly into a web browser, chances are, your goals are simplicity and ease of use. On that, Opera VPN absolutely delivers. Even though there isn’t much of a dedicated interface for the VPN, since it’s a small part of the larger browser, it’s still clean, well-integrated, and about as intuitive as it gets.
You can switch Opera VPN on through the Opera browser’s settings. You’ll find the controls under the Advanced Settings in the Privacy and Security tab. There’s no need to dig that deep, though. There’s a VPN icon to the far left of Opera’s address bar. Select it to reveal the full VPN menu.
In the VPN menu pane, you can easily enable and disable the VPN connection with a switch. Below that, you’ll find your bandwidth usage for the week and a menu to select a location to connect. At the very bottom, Opera will show you your current IP address through the VPN.
Opera VPN is embedded in the Opera web browser. Install the browser, and you’ll get the VPN.
Opera VPN is embedded in the Opera web browser. Install the browser, and you’ll get the VPN. From there, you can select the VPN icon in your address bar, flip the switch on, and start browsing. There’s nothing more to it. The VPN is available in Opera browsers across multiple platforms, including mobile.
Opera VPN is one of the faster VPNs out there. In testing, the loss in total speed with the VPN, as opposed to without it, was relatively minimal. Every VPN causes some loss in connection speed. The key is always to minimize that loss. With Opera VPN, that doesn’t appear to be a concern at all. The test connection started at an average of 150Mbps without a VPN and dropped to right around 110Mbps with it.
There may be a less-than-ideal reason for Opera VPN’s minimal losses in speed: It uses weak encryption. Opera VPN’s connection is secured with SSL encryption, the same type that’s used for visiting websites over HTTPS. Even though HTTPS is great for what it is, it’s not a strong enough encryption standard to protect a VPN connection.
How does that impact speed? Encryption is one of the factors that slow down a VPN’s connection. It takes time to encrypt and decode traffic, and the stronger the encryption is, the longer it usually takes. So, weak encryption speeds things up, but it comes at the price of security and privacy.
Earlier in the very same privacy statement, Opera admits to logging browsing data to provide targeted ads and news recommendations. Even though they claim that the data is only tied to a randomly generated ID, it’s not hard to put it all together. If the browser is tracking you, so is the VPN, and the service isn’t really private.
If you needed another reason not to entirely trust Opera’s statement, the VPN company that Opera relies on for the VPN is based out of Canada, a Five Eyes country. Chances that your data isn’t being logged or tracked in any way are fairly slim.
Opera VPN encrypts your traffic using SSL encryption and bounces your connection from their server to your destination.
There really isn’t a lot of information available about Opera’s security features. Search around their website, and you’ll be hard-pressed to turn up anything other than marketing.
Unlike dedicated VPN services, Opera VPN doesn’t employ strong encryption standards, perfect forward secrecy, or any of the typically trusted methods of keeping your data safe. Instead, they encrypt your traffic using SSL encryption, just like you’re browsing to an HTTPS secured site and bounce your connection from their server to your destination.
This is what distinguishes their proxy service from a real VPN. There is no private network part. There’s only a server bouncing your traffic to a different place. It’s good for masking your IP address and making it look like you’re located elsewhere, but that’s about all.
To make matters worse, Opera VPN has virtually no-leak protection at all. Your actual DNS information is available to any site that tries to get it. In short, Opera VPN doesn’t protect you against the sites that really want to track you.
Opera VPN is completely free to use forever. There is no trial period, sign up, or exchange of payment information. It’s just free. So, if you need to obscure your IP quickly and for no cost, Opera can be a good option. That said, there are other free options that provide much more protection.
When you’re talking about free VPNs, there aren’t many that have a great reputation. The whole notion of a free VPN is on the shady side to begin with. After all, if you’re not paying them, how are they making their money. The answer usually isn’t good news for you.
That said, there’s a newer name in the marketplace that’s already earned plenty of respect: ProtonVPN. If you’re familiar at all with e-mail security, you’ve heard of ProtonMail. These are the same people behind ProtonVPN. In fact, you can even bundle the services with some of their paid plans.
ProtonVPN does have a free plan that allows one device connection on a limited number of servers. That free connection benefits from ProtonVPN’s full set of security measures, including military-grade AES256-bit encryption and leak prevention.
ProtonVPN is available on a full range of platforms, including mobile devices, and it protects the entire device, not just the web browser like Opera. So, if you wanted to use ProtonVPN with the Opera web browser, you absolutely could.
There is one area where Opera beats ProtonVPN, and that’s speed. ProtonVPN is a true VPN service, meaning it’s not going to be quite as fast as a proxy. The free plan from Proton is somewhat limited on its speed as well.
Altogether, if you’re looking for real security, there’s no contest. Go with ProtonVPN.
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