AdGuard VPN Review (2022) – Lightning-Fast VPN With Always-On Stealth Mode
AdGuard VPN has come a long way from a simple Chrome extension to a fully-fledged VPN service. Its parent company, AdGuard Software Limited, was founded back in 2009 in Russia but moved to Cyprus in 2014.
AdGuard is primarily known for its top-tier adblocker. In 2020, the team decided to use their experience in privacy protection and released their very own VPN.
Is the final result as good as its adblocking counterpart? Can AdGuard compete with other top-tier VPNs?
Find out in our full AdGuard VPN review below.
AdGuard VPN – A Short Review
|Proprietary stealth protocol||No dedicated IPs|
|Servers in 52+ locations||No live chat|
|AES-256 encryption||No crypto payments option|
|Split-tunneling||No free trial with base plan|
|Automatic kill switch||Past controversy|
|Easy to install & use|
|Works with Netflix|
|Torrenting is allowed|
|Free limited version|
|Zero harmful logs|
AdGuard VPN is beginner-friendly yet powerful. The VPN app is intuitive and easy to use, without any misleading menus or hard-to-grasp options. Its proprietary protocol provides excellent speeds paired with always-on camouflage.
It uses AES-256 encryption and allows reliable geo-unblocking anywhere in the world. AdGuard VPN offers servers in 52+ locations. It keeps zero harmful logs and never shares your information with third parties.
Power users will find a number of advanced features that will cater to their needs perfectly. We’d like to see the addition of live chat and crypto payments in the future, but that seems like a long way away at the moment.
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Zero logs
- Credit card
Speed – How Fast Is AdGuard VPN?
Speed is one of the most important aspects of any VPN. The fastest VPNs are the ones that manage to mitigate speed losses caused by heavy encryption. If your internet speed is decent, you’ll hardly even know that you’re using a VPN.
However, this problem can become more prominent on slower encrypted connections. That’s why we test VPN speeds across a number of select servers in different destinations. This way, we can gauge how encryption affects overall performance and see speed fluctuations between different locations.
We first begin our speed tests by determining our benchmark speed (without the VPN). We then compare it to the results gathered on different servers. Furthermore, we check for any daily fluctuations to see whether providers throttle bandwidth. Based on our results, we give AdGuard VPN 9/10.
Here are our main observations regarding the AdGuard VPN speed test:
- Speed dips are minimal, so you can expect almost your original connection speeds.
- We haven’t experienced any major speed fluctuations during daily use.
Speed test results for AdGuard VPN
For this AdGuard VPN review, we tested the speed of its Windows client from the US. Based on your location and connection speed, you might get different results. Therefore, this table should be viewed as an indicator of potential speeds.
With that in mind, here are the results of our AdGuard VPN speed test:
|Server||Download (MBPS)||% Download||Upload (MBPS)||% Upload||Ping (MS)|
As you can see, AdGuard VPN dishes out great speeds. Connecting to any server (no matter how far) was almost instantaneous. Naturally, as we moved further away from the US, the pings were increasing, resulting in greater speed drops.
AdGuard VPN affected our upload more severely than our download speed. It wasn’t that great, to begin with, so if your upload speed is poor, you might experience some lag due to speed drops.
After our speed test, we can conclude that AdGuard VPN is an excellent choice if you require sheer speed. Online gaming, streaming in full HD, and downloading content shouldn’t be a problem. Keep our upload caveat in mind, though.
Speeds during daily use
Using AdGuard VPN day-to-day was an absolute pleasure. It offered smooth browsing, fast downloads, and seamless streaming sessions. We watched YouTube clips, a few animes on Crunchyroll, and a lot of shows on Netflix without a single buffer circle.
For bandwidth-heavy online gaming sessions, we recommend going with the servers with the lowest ping. These will usually be the ones closest to your physical location. If you use privacy-focused browsers, however, your speeds may dip a little further due to additional encryption.
Safety – How Secure Is AdGuard VPN?
The main task of any VPN is to encrypt your private information. It achieves this by masking your real IP, encrypting your traffic, and refraining from harmful logging. AdGuard VPN performs rather well in that regard so we gave it an 8/10 for online security.
Here are the main points to keep in mind:
- AdGuard VPN uses a proprietary stealthy protocol called “AdGuard VPN protocol.”
- It doesn’t log any risky information that could trace your traffic back to you.
- It comes with an automatic kill switch.
- The registration only requires your email and payment info.
AdGuard VPN employs only one protocol, simply called the “AdGuard VPN protocol.” Instead of picking one of the ready-made VPN protocols, the company has opted to create its own from scratch.
AdGuard was looking to solve a couple of problems with its in-house VPN tunnel:
- App incompatibility: AdGuard’s mobile apps didn’t play well with other VPN apps. So, they had to develop an in-house VPN with a custom protocol and their own VPN to solve this problem.
- Speed drops due to obfuscation: The main point of obfuscation is to mask your VPN traffic to look like regular traffic. It’s an ideal tool for bypassing geo-restrictions and for dealing with online censorship. Obfuscation reduces speeds significantly, and AdGuard wanted a viable solution that didn’t leave a major impact.
In our opinion, AdGuard has painted itself into a corner when it comes to VPN protocols. The eponymous AdGuard, which is one of the best adblockers we’ve tested, was incompatible with other VPNs on mobile devices so they had to create their own VPN.
However, it would’ve been pretty awkward if their own adblocker and VPN couldn’t work together.
So, they had two options: investing a lot of work into adjusting one of the existing VPN tunnels or creating one from scratch. That’s how we got the AdGuard VPN protocol.
Its main advantages include:
- Impossible detection: AdGuard VPN tunnel uses HTTPS/2 protocol, which makes it virtually impossible to flag and block. This makes it ideal for anything from unblocking Netflix or bypassing restrictive firewalls, especially in censorship-heavy countries like China.
- Future-proofing: The company is planning a switch to HTTPS/3 and QUIC in the future for even better server communication.
- Optimized performance: Without getting overly technical, AdGuard deals with data instead of packets. TCP connection does something called “data confirmation” (or acknowledgment) for each data packet, which can cause significant slow-downs. AdGuard can buffer data from several packets into one, saving time (and speed) on confirmation packets.
AdGuard uses HTTPS (TLS) to encrypt your traffic. TLS encryption supports many ciphers, including AES, Camellia, and ARIA. AdGuard has opted for AES-256 since that’s the best encryption method we currently have. It’s a virtually unbreakable cipher used by the military, banks, and hospitals.
Creating a VPN protocol with built-in obfuscation gets a huge thumbs up from us. However, many renowned VPNs offer stealthy servers paired with amazing performance.
For example, Surfshark is faster than AdGuard, even with obfuscation. Don’t get us wrong, AdGuard is plenty fast, just not that fast to become unique.
Apart from its proprietary protocol, AdGuard also supports SOCKS5. This is just a proxy usually used to disguise your IP address without any extra protection. It’s helpful if your IP is blacklisted on Netflix or you get an IP ban in your favorite online game.
Note that SOCKS5 doesn’t encrypt your traffic so don’t count on VPN-level protection. It’s also blocked quite easily by proxy filters. As such, we wouldn’t recommend using it for torrenting or geo-unblocking in censorship-heavy countries like Russia, for example.
Logging and privacy
The first thing we need to cover is AdGuard VPN’s location. They were initially headquartered in Russia but have since moved to Cyprus, which is a clear improvement. Cyprus is outside of the Eyes alliance and a member of the EU. This means that AdGuard as a company has to ensure GDPR-compliance.
With all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at AdGuard’s logging policy. Here’s the information recorded by their VPN:
- Personal info: AdGuard VPN only logs your email address and password. This is required for communication with you and allowing you to reset your password.
- Billing information: Depending on your payment method, you’ll have to provide some additional information (your name, credit card info, billing address). AdGuard uses Paddle as a payment processor for all their transactions.
- Usage data: Your traffic volume and subscription duration. This allows AdGuard to impose and monitor traffic limits for free users.
- Diagnostic data: This information is not collected by default. However, if you’re having problems with your AdGuard VPN client, you can turn this on and allow the company to record anonymized diagnostic info for crash reports.
Unfortunately, the company doesn’t accept crypto payments at the moment so you can’t exactly achieve complete anonymity.
These cannot be used to identify you as an individual or trace your online traffic back to you.
SetApp removal controversy
In March 2022, SetApp, a Ukrainian platform that grants access to a growing collection of macOS and iOS apps, removed AdGuard from its roster. According to their claims, they were certain that AdGuard’s services connect to Russian servers.
AdGuard Software Limited has denied these allegations claiming that they never used any servers in Russia (even while being headquartered in Moscow).
According to AdGuard, it was always their plan to keep their servers in a different jurisdiction (their network is located in Frankfurt, Germany). AdGuard’s full response goes into deeper detail about this.
We’d also like to mention that AdGuard Software Limited is in the process of phasing its staff out of Russia. They still have an office there but the staff is currently migrating to Ukraine, Cyprus, and other countries.
According to their statements, they’ll either maintain a small presence in Russia or abandon it altogether, depending on future developments.
A kill switch will effectively block your internet access until the VPN manages to reconnect. AdGuard VPN comes with an automatic kill switch that activates the moment your safe VPN tunnel becomes compromised.
Basically, the kill switch won’t allow you to access the internet directly (without VPN protection). You can find this option in the “General Settings” tab.
What information does AdGuard VPN need?
Every VPN will need some information from you in order to provide its service. Ideally, this will be just your email address and billing info. Many VPN providers request more data under the excuse of “providing you with better service.” However, we always prefer a minimalistic approach to account creation.
To sign up with AdGuard VPN, you’ll only have to provide your email and payment info. If you decide to go with the free version, you can omit the billing information too.
Usability – How User-Friendly Is AdGuard VPN?
AdGuard VPN strikes a fine balance between beginner-friendliness and advanced features. Even if this is your first VPN ever, you’ll have no problem navigating the app and getting them to work. That’s why it gets 8/10 for usability.
Here are the main points to keep in mind:
- AdGuard VPN’s website and apps are simple and easy to navigate.
- The installation is quick and effortless.
- It offers good value for the price (there’s also a limited free version).
- Customer support is good but lacks live chat.
AdGuard VPN website and installation process
AdGuard VPN’s website is simple and easy to navigate. Clicking the “My Account” button in the top-right corner will open a simple registration form. The homepage offers some essential information, including a short FAQ section.
Once you’ve created a personal account, you’ll be granted access to your personal dashboard. Here, you can pick your language (out of 30), enable two-factor authentication, check your licenses, access customer support, and review your purchase history.
The installation of AdGuard VPN was quick and effortless. They have native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS paired with browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
For this AdGuard VPN review, we primarily tested its Windows client. Here are the steps you’ll have to go through:
- Go to AdGuard VPN’s official website.
- Click on “My Account” in the top-right corner.
- Sign up with your chosen credentials.
- Go back to the homepage and download the installation file.
- Wait for the app to download.
- Click on the downloaded file and the installation will begin.
- Follow the instructions on-screen.
After the installation, all you’ll have to do is log in to your AdGuard VPN client. You can use your chosen credentials or connect via email service providers or a social network. We never recommend using your social media accounts to log in to other services.
Unless you’ve already purchased an AdGuard VPN subscription, this will install a free version with a 3 GB data cap. 3 GBs will disappear really quickly so you’ll have to buy a premium plan for any substantial use.
AdGuard VPN appearance and ease-of-use
AdGuard’s VPN client mirrors the user-friendliness of their website. It’s simple, clean, and easy to navigate. Some advanced options might look overly technical, but those are reserved for power users anyway.
The main screen features a prominent connect/disconnect button with a server list on the right-hand side. You can also view ping indicators next to each of the servers. This is very useful when you’re trying to squeeze as much speed as possible from your VPN connection.
The menu bar at the top allows you to pick AdGuard VPN’s operation mode, access customer support, apply updates (when available), and access settings.
The settings menu includes the following options:
- General Settings: App language, kill switch, auto-updates, auto-launch, auto-connect on app launch, theme, DNS servers, advanced settings (only for tech-savvy users).
- Split-tunneling: Exempt apps from VPN protection.
- About program/license: Information about your version of AdGuard VPN and your current license/subscription.
We especially like the addition of “Dark mode.” This feature is always a welcome sight if you’re spending plenty of time in front of your computer.
AdGuard VPN is a beginner-friendly service with some advanced features for power users. In our opinion, it’s an excellent gateway option if you’ve never used a VPN before.
Pricing and payment methods
AdGuard VPN offers good value for the money. It’s not the cheapest VPN out there but its top-tier features definitely justify the price tag. Longer subscriptions also come with a full 30-day money-back guarantee so you have a month to test the software and see if it works for you.
AdGuard VPN offers the following premium packages:
- 1 month: $11.99/month + VAT (billed $11.99 monthly)
- 1 year: $3.99/month + VAT (billed $47.99 every year)
- 2 years: $2.99/month + VAT (billed $71.76 every two years)
If you want to test AdGuard VPN for longer than a month, you can download their completely free version as well. However, this free VPN comes with some severe limitations, including:
- Traffic capped at 3 GB per month
- 20 Mbps speed limit
If about three hours of Netflix US sounds like your monthly fill, this option you’ll definitely enjoy the free version of Adguard VPN. You’ll have to purchase a premium plan if your want unlimited traffic and higher speeds. Both versions can be used on up to five devices.
AdGuard accepts the following payment methods:
- Credit cards
At the moment, you can’t buy an AdGuard VPN subscription with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. We hope that they include (at least) Bitcoin payments in the future since they offer a privacy boost unavailable with traditional payment methods. This is why most top providers allow you to pay for their VPNs with crypto.
While gauging the quality of AdGuard VPN’s customer support, we were interested in three things:
- The quality of the support material on the official website
- The diversity of the communication modes (live chat, email, phone)
- The response times and expertise of the support team
AdGuard VPN offers a decent knowledge base on its official site. It covers some of the basics and complements that with useful setup guides. The FAQ section feels a bit lacking, though, and could definitely use some extra work. There’s also a forum but most of the topics only discuss AdGuard’s adblocker.
Our main gripe with AdGuard’s support structure is the lack of live chat functionality. You can contact their 24/7 customer support either via email or the phone number provided on the site.
You can also access customer support through a dedicated client tab. In our experience, chat is the best support option, which is lacking here. We hope that AdGuard will include this functionality in the future.
Having said that, the support team was very forthcoming and knowledgeable. They have provided us with all the extra information we needed for this AdGuard VPN review.
Important note: A large part of AdGuard’s support structure is located in Ukraine. The current crisis might cause delays and prolonged response times.
Server Network for AdGuard VPN
The bigger, the better is our main rule when it comes to VPN server networks. Having more server locations allows you to bypass geo-restrictions more consistently. It also prevents server crowding and the resulting lag. With its current network setup, AdGuard VPN gets a 7.5/10.
With that in mind, let’s go over some of the key factors here:
- AdGuard VPN operates servers in 52+ locations.
- Dedicated IP addresses are currently unavailable.
Number of servers and locations
As mentioned, AdGuard VPN offers servers spread across 52+ locations worldwide. The company doesn’t disclose the exact number of servers, though.
The list of the available locations is easy to access from the client’s home screen. Apart from the countries, you can also see the individual cities, which allows for extra choice and precision. A handy ping indicator is present next to each of the locations so you can know which servers will perform better for you.
At the moment, AdGuard VPN offers servers in the following countries:
- Americas: Canada, Brasil, United States
- Europe: Finland, France, Germany, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Serbia.
- Asia: Vietnam, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Philippines, Turkey, UAE.
- Oceania: Australia
- Africa: South Africa, Egypt
The client won’t pick the best server for you automatically, but it will show the fastest servers for your location. It will also indicate the last server you were connected to.
Just note that while switching servers, you’ll be left unprotected for a short instant.
Dedicated IP address
Having a dedicated IP address simply means that your VPN will assign you the same IP every time you connect. It’s tied to your personal account and nobody else can use it.
This option helps you circumvent CAPTCHA popups and IP blacklisting (by Netflix or Hulu, for example), and facilitates online payments. Payment processors might get suspicious if you’re using a different IP every time you log in.
Having said that, AdGuard VPN does offer dedicated IPs at the moment. The company is taking the route that increases your privacy, which means they’re offering shared IPs.
This is excellent news if you’re using your VPN primarily for torrenting. With shared IPs, your traffic will “get lost” among hundreds of users with the same address. It makes it impossible to pinpoint the origin of P2P traffic. You can also take a look at our list of the best VPNs for torrenting for some more reliable options.
On the other hand, if you own a business with a website, you’ll probably want a VPN with dedicated IPs.
AdGuard VPN’s Features and Options
AdGuard VPN offers a decent list of extra options. We can see a lot of effort put into its geo-unblocking capabilities. This makes it a true powerhouse if internet freedom is your main concern.
AdGuard VPN’s extra options include:
- Unblocking Netflix US (and other streaming platforms)
- Fast and anonymous torrenting
AdGuard VPN and streaming (Netflix)
With its Netflix-unlocking potential, AdGuard VPN could give our best VPNs for Netflix a run for their money.
We tested AdGuard across multiple regional versions and here are some of the ones we were able to run:
- The US
- The UK
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
Apart from Netflix, AdGuard can also unblock Hulu, Crunchyroll, and other streaming platforms. We were always able to play content on our first try and didn’t experience any lag or interruptions.
AdGuard VPN and torrents
AdGuard VPN allows anonymous P2P downloading on all of its servers. So, if uTorrent is one of your favorite tools, this VPN should meet all your torrenting needs. However, note that the company doesn’t condone illegal downloads.
Split tunneling is a great nice-to-have offered by AdGuard VPN. You can find it in the “Settings” menu on the client’s main window.
Split tunneling allows you to protect some apps with your VPN while letting others access the internet without protection. For example, you can route your uTorrent client through AdGuard VPN while keeping all other apps outside of the VPN tunnel.
This feature offers a couple of important benefits:
- Speed boosting: Encryption will always lower your connection speed to an extent. Therefore, you don’t have to encrypt traffic coming from trusted apps. This allows you to run reliable applications faster while protecting traffic that could put you in harm’s way.
- Bandwidth conservation: Encrypted traffic also uses more bandwidth. This is especially relevant if you’re running a free version of AdGuard VPN. 3 GB is not a lot and split-tunneling allows you to save as much of it as possible.
Our Experience With AdGuard VPN
During our testing for this AdGuard VPN review, we discovered an exciting new VPN with a lot to offer. AdGuard VPN offers blazing fast speeds with instant connection times. This raw speed is backed up by a good security package headlined by AES-256 encryption.
The connection is stable, with servers in 52+ locations to pick from. We really liked testing the company’s proprietary protocol, simply named “AdGuard VPN Protocol.” It’s quite promising and works very well.
It acts as an always-on camouflage mode, which prevents deep packet inspections from flagging and blocking your VPN traffic. We also like the addition of split-tunneling and the option to exclude trusted websites from VPN protection.
P2P filesharing is also allowed on all servers. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a fast and secure VPN with a good money-to-value ratio, you can’t go wrong with AdGuard.
We are excited to see how this service develops in the future since it definitely has the potential of challenging the best VPNs out there.
Have more questions about AdGuard VPN? Simply click on one of the FAqs below to expand the answer.
Yes! AdGuard VPN offers solid security paired with amazing speeds. Its proprietary VPN protocol disguises your VPN traffic to look like regular browsing. This makes AdGuard VPN a true geo-unblocking powerhouse (from Netflix US to censorship in China). Read more about this rising start in our full AdGuard VPN review.
AdGuard VPN offers a free limited version that should satisfy the needs of light VPN users. It’s capped at 3 GB per month and 20 Mbps. Its premium plans include a monthly subscription for $11.99 per month, a yearly package for $3.99 per month, and a 2-year plan for $2.99 per month. If you’re looking for affordable services, you can check our list of the cheapest VPNs on the market.
Yes! AdGuard VPN is currently located in Cyprus, which is subject to GDPR. The company doesn’t log any harmful data that could identify you or trace your online traffic back to you. Even if the authorities request user data from AdGuard, they would have nothing to hand over. If you’re looking for more high-quality services, check our list of the best VPNs for some amazing options.
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