X-VPN Review

Awesomely simple. Borderline cheap. But is it safe?

X-VPN logo
SecureScore™: 7.9 / 10 This rating is derived from our editorial team's research, hands-on product testing, and customer surveys.
Derek Prall https://www.safehome.org/author/derek-prall/
7.9 SecureScore™
Value
7.5
Features & Technology
7.1
Ease Of Use
9.5
Reliability
8.8
Network Speeds
6.7
Private Web Browsing
8.1
Data & Identity Protection
7.7
SecureScore™
7.9

To us security experts, the 2020s are the decade of the virtual private network (VPN).

Figures for VPN usage are notoriously difficult to pin down, but VPN providers do keep track of downloads. Those numbers are concrete. In 2020, providers logged 277 million VPN downloads. In 2021, that number had jumped to 785 million, per Atlas VPN.1

So it’s no surprise to see new VPNs popping up all the time to claim a slice of that pie, which is exciting. Even if you’ve already got a good one, VPN technology is always getting better, faster, more secure.

A relative newcomer based out of Hong Kong, X-VPN is touting a product that sounds great on paper: 8,000-plus servers in 50 countries, a dashboard with zero learning curve, and a relatively competitive price — $4.79 per month if you commit for a year.

Personally, that’s all you need to convince me to take a VPN out for a weeklong test drive! Here’s my full report on X-VPN. I’m going to start with a basic breakdown of X-VPN’s pricing options and then cover features, security, and customer support.

Understanding Servers, Part 1: The more servers you can choose from generally means faster connections. VPN traffic is spread out this way. But server security is extremely important too. The best VPNs stake their names on faultless DNS server security. When it comes to bulletproof servers, ExpressVPN is king of the hill. Here’s my experience testing ExpressVPN’s security features and everything else this top-rated VPN service has to offer.

X-VPN at a Glance

The X-VPN Android app — 10 million downloads and counting.

The X-VPN Android app — 10 million downloads and counting.

There are VPNs that feel like they’ve been put together by the CIA, with hundreds of switches under the hood and glowing green buttons on stark black backgrounds. X-VPN is not that VPN. In fact, the creators of this lightweight, blue-on-white VPN have gone out of their way to make a product that looks and feels as friendly as possible.

Some of that friendliness comes at the expense of tools even first-time VPNers will be looking for. There’s no information at all about connections, for instance, and familiar protocols are given names like A, B, C, D, etc. That might be going too far in the name of simplicity.

Then again, X-VPN did pass all our security tests, and it boasts over 8,000 servers and an awesome server menu. (It has seven servers in the U.S. built just for streaming video!) On top of that, pricing is more than reasonable: under 5 bucks a month on the year. So no question about it — X-VPN merits a closer look.

Understanding Servers, Part 2: How many servers is too many? NordVPN boasts over 5,400 brick-and-mortar servers they personally maintain. This is good. (For an in-depth look at Nord’s server situation, check out my NordVPN review.) There are VPNs claiming to operate as many as 30,000 servers, however. That means a sizable chunk of those servers are virtual, rented from data centers, so they can’t vouch for their security. This is not necessarily good.

X-VPN Pros and Cons

PROS
  • Very easy to use
  • Relatively cheap
  • User-friendly server menu
  • Dedicated video and gaming servers
  • Fast chat support

CONS
  • No connection data
  • Protocols are hidden
  • No split tunneling on Macs
  • Questionable server security
  • Some logging

Registering and Purchasing My X-VPN Plan

X-VPN payment screen. I could have purchased my X-VPN plan with Starbucks gift cards.

I could have purchased my X-VPN plan with Starbucks gift cards.

X-VPN is serious about one thing: payment options. If a currency or payment option exists, I could pay with it.

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure why I could buy my X-VPN subscription with Starbucks gift cards. I’ve written about holiday gift card scams, and they’re generally bad news. But maybe that works for some of you. In any case, I had a lot of payment options with X-VPN. And also 30 days to cancel if I didn’t like it. That’s always a good start.

FYI: X-VPN does have a free plan, but you get only 500MB of data, and it comes with ads with trackers and cookies that may compromise your privacy. You can read the nitty-gritty in X-VPN’s privacy policy,2 but for privacy-minded users, this probably isn’t a great choice.

Choosing my X-VPN Plan

Plan Premium
Monthly $11.99 per month
Half-yearly $9.99 per month
Yearly $4.79 per month (with 3 months free)

X-VPN keeps it basic: one plan, three payment options. The longer you commit, the cheaper your bill will be.

In cases where VPN providers offer generous test drives, like X-VPN, I have no problem paying the more expensive monthly rate, because I know I’ll get my money back if I’m not happy.

If I am happy, I can just convert my monthly plan to a yearly plan. By the way, if you’re going to use X-VPN — or any other VPN — for the long haul, you’ll want to pay by the year, not by the month. That’s because, like X-VPN, many VPN providers offer discounted yearly or multiyear subscriptions — see Surfshark’s dirt-cheap two-year plans ($2.05 per month), for example, or CyberGhost’s ultra discounted subscriptions ($2.03 per month). I guess it’s Black Friday all year round over there.

X-VPN’s pricing is actually more in line with mid-range VPNs like IPVanish and VyprVPN (one of my favorite VPNs for privacy, FYI). IPVanish’s yearly plans go for $3.99 per month. VyprVPN costs $5 monthly. Read the full story on Vypr’s privacy and pricing in my complete VyprVPN review.

As for me, I went with X-VPN’s monthly $11.99 rate. I got to test all of X-VPN’s features that way with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pro Tip: As you might have guessed by now, pricing VPNs isn’t always black and white. We’ve created a VPN pricing guide for precisely that reason — so you can see through the smoke and mirrors and make better decisions about your next VPN subscription.

Testing the X-VPN Desktop App

X-VPN’s system kill switch cuts my internet traffic if my VPN fails

X-VPN’s system kill switch cuts my internet traffic if my VPN fails.

First things first — I always toggle my kill switch on before I connect to a VPN (see above). Activating the kill switch muzzles my internet connection if my VPN fails unexpectedly, which, let’s face it, is a fact of life. Weak Wi-Fi connections are the main culprit, but unstable settings within our VPNs could occasionally cause them to misfire, exposing our search history and data.

In the fraction of a second X-VPN was busy changing servers, it shut my connection down, as it should have done

In the fraction of a second X-VPN was busy changing servers, it shut my connection down, as it should have done.

I checked X-VPN’s connectivity in a time-stamped test with the kill switch on, simulating an Ethernet failure and then changing servers, because sometimes while our VPNs are reconnecting, our actual IPs slip through. Neither scenario left me exposed, so X-VPN’s kill switch appeared to be doing its job. Now that I knew my connection was secure, I could see what X-VPN was capable of.

X-VPN has a very user-friendly controller with three buttons — on_off, server, and protocol.

X-VPN has a very user-friendly controller with three buttons — on_off, server, and protocol.

Connecting with X-VPN was a piece of cake. The controller is comfortably wide with two elements I wanted at arm’s reach: servers and protocols. Let’s take a closer look at those tools.

Did You Know? Servers are the nodes (physical or virtual) that replace an internet service provider’s network and mask your IP address when you use a VPN. Protocols are the operating manuals for a VPN tunnel, governing how it behaves and how fast it is. Protocols come in a few different varieties.

X-VPN’s unique take on protocols didn’t win me over.

X-VPN’s unique take on protocols didn’t win me over.

When I hit X-VPN’s protocol button, I found this rather odd setup. It was odd because VPNs usually provide a set of options. WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 are the usual suspects. I can either let my VPN configure my protocol for me or, if I’m feeling adventurous, I can set it up myself. X-VPN gave me A, B, C, D, etc., instead.

I get that X-VPN is trying to be as user-friendly as possible by eliminating all geek speak from its apps, and I applaud the company for that, but at the end of the day, this felt a little black-boxy to me. Whether it’s a VPN or a toaster oven, things have names so we can refer to them. The server menu (below) was a little better.

X-VPN’s server menu features dedicated video streaming and gaming servers.

X-VPN’s server menu features dedicated video streaming and gaming servers.

Despite giving no distances or lag times, X-VPN’s server menu was very well organized and simple to use, with a nice filtered search at the top and stars on the side so I could favor servers I wanted to use again.

Dedicated gaming and streaming servers were another nice touch. That let me zero in on a server that would, in theory, help me sneak past Netflix’s georestrictions. Did it?

X-VPN has seven video streaming servers in the U.S. alone.

X-VPN has seven video streaming servers in the U.S. alone.

X-VPN’s dedicated server menu actually worked well. (I unblocked U.K. Netflix easily.) If I was looking for streaming servers in a certain location, like, say, New York, I could find them easily too by toggling down the U.S. server submenu — another nice touch. Without server locations, I might have ended up connecting to L.A. instead, 3,000 miles away. Covering that kind of distance will sometimes give you a bumpy connection, especially during peak streaming hours.

Now that we’re on the subject, most VPNs give you a peek under your connection’s hood. It could be as simple as showing you how long you’ve been connected. But it can get a lot more detailed than that. TorGuard VPN, for example, is one VPN with CIA-level connection tools — and I got to test them all in my TorGuard VPN review.

I couldn’t find any connection data on my X-VPN dashboard, which left me feeling a bit … naked. I jumped on the horn with customer support to see if I’d missed something. The answer came almost immediately. Keep reading to see what happened.

FYI: Streaming services don’t like VPNs because they help us flout their georestrictions. VPN servers built for streaming video have protocols that evade internet filters by mimicking ordinary internet traffic.

X-VPN’s Five-Star Customer Support

X-VPN customer support was fast, friendly, and knowledgeable.

X-VPN customer support was fast, friendly, and knowledgeable.

You can see how customer-focused they are at X-VPN just by looking at my dashboard. Two of the five tabs are for help. When I posed my connection data question, live human support came almost instantly. And unlike plenty of human helpers I’ve talked to, Kaylee knew her stuff. Unfortunately, that didn’t help me get the connection data I was looking for. The Mac app, it turned out, didn’t support that feature.

Pro Tip: One nifty feature X-VPN does have is a connection log. (It’s on the mobile app.) You can see when, where (server IP), and how (protocol) you connected to your VPN. If you want to use the same server again, there’s a big orange button.

X-VPN Android Mobile Experience

1The X-VPN mobile app had a few more features than the desktop app.

The X-VPN mobile app had a few more features than the desktop app.

The X-VPN Android app was slick and easy to move around, but it was still pushing “simplicity” to the outer limits with its generic protocols, absence of connection info, and lack of features. One feature I was happy to find was Application Control, aka split tunneling, for filtering apps I didn’t want going through my VPN.

X-VPN also had a private browser, which I had to admit was intriguing. After playing with it for a half hour, I understood that it erased my browsing history at the end of each session, like Firefox, if I wanted. But I wasn’t sure what else it did, because I couldn’t open any web pages with it.

FYI: Split tunneling lets you divide your VPN tunnel into two lanes. One lane is for the traffic you want to keep hidden (most of it). The other lane is for apps with their own built-in security or georestrictions that don’t want you using a VPN. Think banks and streaming services.

X-VPN: Is It Safe to Use?

X-VPN’s privacy statement is crystal clear on paper, but what about in action?

X-VPN’s privacy statement is crystal clear on paper, but what about in action?

Do you see X-VPN’s privacy statement? Transparent statements like this are just what I want to find when evaluating a VPN’s intention to keep my data safe. They also get my Spidey sense tingling. Here are some concerns I had with X-VPN.

X-VPN doesn’t store or log my IP address or how I use my VPN connection. It does, however, log a bunch of other things. (You can find them all in their privacy policy.) And what about the owners of the servers it rents? X-VPN has 8,000-plus servers. What are their logging policies like?

X-VPN is based in Hong Kong, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes data-sharing agreements. However, the Great Firewall is very close and creeping closer. Do I want to entrust my privacy to a VPN provider so dangerously close to the biggest surveillance state in the world? Just food for thought.

DNS Leaks

X-VPN didn’t leak my IP address.

X-VPN didn’t leak my IP address.

X-VPN passed my DNS leak tests without breaking a sweat. Its server IPs were airtight. If you’re curious, these tests are basically pinging X-VPN’s servers to see if they can get them to “break under pressure” and reveal my IP address or the address of any other servers that don’t belong to X-VPN.

WebRTC Leaks

X-VPN secured my RTC connections.

X-VPN secured my RTC connections.

WebRTC is the tech we use to run video communications in real time. Most of it needs WebRTC. So we want it to work, but we don’t want it leaking our IP addresses because attackers and snoopers are waiting in the wings to hijack our connections and gobble up our data. Again, X-VPN did just fine here. (Disregard the warning in the image. The “suspicious” IP belongs to one of X-VPN’s servers in Arizona, which is fine.)

Did You Know? The three fastest-growing VPN markets are UAE, Qatar, and Russia. Go figure.

X-VPN Performance

Explosive speed isn’t the primary benchmark for a solid day-to-day VPN. Granted, if a VPN has a reputation for demon speed like, say, Hotspot Shield, it’s sort of fun to rev up the engines and watch them burn rubber. (For the curious, here’s our complete Hotspot VPN guide.)

But generally, I’m just looking for a pack mule that can do my heavy lifting and handle my day-to-day browsing and streaming needs without breaking a sweat.

There are times when looking at the numbers can shed some light, however. Here’s what I found with X-VPN.

X-VPN really hobbled my connection speed the first time around. Protocol unknown.

X-VPN really hobbled my connection speed the first time around. Protocol unknown.

This is pretty abysmal — considering that this was X-VPN’s choice for “fastest server” and that my wired connection without my VPN was 558 MB download and 338 MB upload. In other words, I’d lost 95 percent of my speed!

My guess is that X-VPN chose OpenVPN for a protocol, maybe even the more stable but slower TCP variety. But that’s only a guess since my actual protocol was hidden in a black box called “Protocol B.”

When I switched gears and tried one of X-VPN’s dedicated video streaming servers, the numbers were a lot better, but nothing to write home about. At least X-VPN had chosen the right protocol this time.

On the second go, connecting to a video streaming server, X-VPN picked up speed.

On the second go, connecting to a video streaming server, X-VPN picked up speed.

My Verdict

Simple is great. Friendly is great. And $4.79 is more than great for an out-of-the-box VPN that requires no maintenance.

But even customers without a computer science degree might want a little more control over their connections than X-VPN gives them. And not being able to identify protocols may leave beginners and pros alike feeling a little blind, not to mention struggling with severely hobbled connections.

On the other hand, X-VPN’s mobile app offers a bit more customization, but not much more.

In either case, I’d still be wary. X-VPN’s ambiguous logging stance and server situation are worrisome. I tested three of their servers, leaving 7,997 more to go.

If that thought makes you as nervous as it makes me, I’d recommend checking out Surfshark. Here’s my complete Surfshark review. If you’re looking for something a little cuter and have a few more bucks to spend, you can’t go wrong with a TunnelBear plan.

X-VPN FAQs

How much does X-VPN cost?

Month-to-month plans cost $11.99. If you subscribe for a year, it’s $4.79 monthly with three months on the house.

Is X-VPN safe?

X-VPN passed all our security tests, but the sheer number of servers it uses (many of them virtual) means it can’t guarantee ironclad security.

Where is X-VPN based?

X-VPN is headquartered in Hong Kong.

Does X-VPN have a free plan?

Technically, yes, but you get only enough data to try the service (500MB).

How fast is X-VPN?

Sometimes our X-VPN connections were excruciatingly slow, and other times we could get by. But the numbers aren’t great.

Citations
SafeHome.org only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Atlas VPN. (2023). Global VPN Adoption Index.
    https://atlasvpn.com/vpn-adoption-index

  2. X-VPN. (2022, Jul 7). Privacy Policy.
    https://xvpn.io/?n=best.free.xvpn.PrivacyPolicyPage

Author  Image
Written By
Derek Prall
VPN & Identity Theft Expert

With a decade of experience as a journalist, Derek Prall has been covering cybersecurity for seven years. He has spent more than 1,000 hours researching digital privacy and has covered almost 100 topics related to VPN and identity theft protection. Previously, Derek has covered tech issues at American City & County magazine, where he won numerous national awards for his cybersecurity coverage. His areas of expertise included network security, big data analytics, and AI applications in public safety. Derek graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in English and Communications from Furman University and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and two cats.