ClearVPN review: is it any good?
ClearVPN is a small VPN service owned by the Ukrainian software development company MacPaw. Focused on accessibility and ease of use, its app design is unlike that of most VPN service providers. With it, you can get more streaming options, block ads, and change IP addresses with just one click.
However, ClearVPN lacks some essential VPN features, like the WireGuard protocol or split-tunneling. Also, the available kill switch did not prevent IP leaks when changing servers.
Although ClearVPN is not as secure as industry-leading VPN like NordVPN, it offers unique design solutions we're going to talk about in this review. Furthermore, the unlimited premium version is available for free for all Ukrainians with a valid Diia.Signature (government-run digital signature app). There's also a universal free version that allows connecting to Ukrainian servers with unlimited bandwidth.
Let's see all that ClearVPN offers and whether it's worth buying it.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#1 out of #42||#24 out of #42|
|🖥️ Servers:||5,900 + servers in 60 countries||70 + servers in 40 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Price:||From $2.99/month||From $3.50/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordVPN coupon 69% OFF||Cybernews VPN Coupons|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard (NordLynx)||OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Max, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||6||6|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat|
ClearVPN pros & cons
Is ClearVPN safe?
No, ClearVPN is not safe for online activities that require strengthened privacy. Its kill switch does not prevent IP leaks when switching servers. We also noticed ClearVPN occasionally leaking its own DNS address, which means they are hiding browsing activities from ISPs but exposing that the user is connected to a VPN.
|Tunneling protocols||OpenVPN and IKEv2|
|Kill switch||✅ (does not prevent IP leaks)|
ClearVPN uses industry-standard AES-256-bit encryption, although it does not specify the exact block cipher. Most secure VPNs use AES-256 to encrypt users' traffic and make it undecipherable to cybercriminals and data mining agencies. Unsurprisingly, ClearVPN also chose this method to protect its users, which is sufficient for private browsing.
This VPN offers only two tunneling protocols: OpenVPN and IKEv2. Furthermore, it does not allow choosing between TCP or UDP network protocols for OpenVPN, which significantly differ in session security, speed, and stability.
- IKEv2/IPSec – this is a secure mix of the older IPSec protocol suite with the newer IKEv2 VPN protocol that's optimized for faster and more stable connection. Lower device resource consumption makes IKEv2/IPSec a preferable choice for ClearVPN mobile apps.
- OpenVPN – a widely used VPN protocol that's open-source and utilizes Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to safeguard user online privacy. Sadly, ClearVPN doesn't allow choosing between TCP (more secure) or UDP (faster) OpenVPN protocol types.
But it also utilizes the user's real IP address to provide a personalized app experience, increasing user comfort at the expense of privacy. For this, ClearVPN inspects some device-specific information, like operating system version, device model, and language settings.
ClearVPN has a straightforward pricing model common in the VPN market: the lengthier the subscription, the lower the price. It also offers a free version with unlimited data – a very welcome and infrequent feature.
Regarding paid plans, here are the options:
|Version||Price per month|
ClearVPN is rather expensive, considering its limited features. For example, the Standard NordVPN subscription costs less but offers more servers and even includes real-time malware protection.
Whichever ClearVPN plan you choose, you'll have to pay the entire sum upfront. There's only the credit card payment option on their website, and you can also get this VPN on Google Play or Apple's App Store. ClearVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you run into some issues.
Is there a ClearVPN free trial?
Yes, ClearVPN offers a 3-day free trial to test its paid version. The premium version unlocks the full list of specialty streaming servers, all worldwide server locations, and AdBlock.
In comparison, the universal free version only allows connecting to Ukrainian servers with access to regional over-the-top streaming service MegaGoGo. Remember that Ukrainians can use the premium version for free with Diia.Signature.
Although the free trial VPN is great, it has some strings attached. ClearVPN asks for credit card details before activating it to prevent free trial abuse. There are no instructions on how to activate it and customer support advised me to proceed with choosing a subscription plan, but it will not be charged until three days later. They also promise to inform the user about the upcoming payment, which sounds like an unnecessarily complicated way to test the service out.
Streaming: Does ClearVPN work with Netflix?
ClearVPN has an amazing way of handling VPN streaming capabilities. Once you launch the app, you can select the Streaming option. It will open the full list of servers optimized for different streaming services, like Netflix, Disney+, ESPN, Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. Let's see how they perform.
|Platform||Does it work?|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes|
|YouTube TV||✅ Yes|
We got excellent results accessing US and UK Netflix libraries. We didn't notice any noticeable slowdowns, video quality issues, or buffering screens. Hulu servers worked almost just as well, sometimes reducing video quality for a short time to avoid lagging. ClearVPN also unblocked various sports streaming services from the US.
On the other hand, we couldn't access BBC iPlayer connected to BBC-optimized servers. Sometimes, the website didn't load at all. Other times, it showed that the service is unavailable outside of the UK, hinting at a possible IP or DNS leak.
Overall, ClearVPN does work well with Netflix, and we admire the unique approach towards streaming server layout. However, there's still room for improvement, like the BBC iPlayer support and SmartDNS feature.
Is ClearVPN good for torrenting?
Simultaneously, ClearVPN's kill switch does not prevent IP leaks when switching servers. In case you change servers or your connection drops during a P2P session, your real IP might be exposed, resulting in potential legal troubles where torrenting is not allowed.
ClearVPN also allows peer-to-peer traffic only in countries that do not restrict torrenting, which is but a few. Overall, the service should not be used for private file-sharing.
Speed performance: Is ClearVPN fast?
To analyze ClearVPN’s speed, we compared our baseline upload and download speeds with the results connected to ClearVPN's servers. We tested both protocols with nearby and faraway servers and got mixed results. The OpenVPN protocol struggled to maintain decent results the farther we connected. On the other hand, IKEv2 maintained excellent download speeds throughout.
Below are more test results.
- Baseline speed: 1ms/488 Mbps download/489 Mbps upload
|Location||OpenVPN Download Speed (Mbps)||OpenVPN Upload Speed (Mbps)||IKEv2 Download Speed (Mbps)||IKEv2 Upload Speed (Mbps)|
Overall, only the IKEv2 protocol maintained excellent download results, with OpenVPN dropping significantly on faraway servers. Here are the average download/upload results:
- OpenVPN: 118/101 MbpsIKEv2: 377/81 Mbps
- IKEv2: 377/81 Mbps
On average, the IKEv2 download speed dropped only 23% and maintained excellent results on all servers, except the UK, which dropped nearly in half. The upload speed was more impacted, maintaining just 16% of the original and going down significantly the further we connected.
OpenVPN failed to produce satisfactory results, on average dropping to 24% of the original speed, with servers in Japan operating on barely 3%. The upload speed was slightly better, maintaining 20% original speed. Because ClearVPN does not allow choosing between TCP and UDP OpenVPN protocols, it's difficult to tell the exact reason for the slow performance.
Overall, only IKEv2 download speeds were satisfactory and worthy of competing with the fastest VPNs in the market. Furthermore, we experienced technical problems speed testing the IKEv2 protocol that a more stable OpenVPN TCP protocol could solve.
|Provider||Average speed retention rate|
It doesn't take long to notice that ClearVPN is an emerging VPN service still in development. Although it's not as feature-rich as VPN old timers, it offers innovative solutions that might set it apart. Here are some of them.
ClearVPN aims to provide a VPN service that is fast and easy to use. A simplistic and intuitive app design is their trademark, resulting in a unique product.
Instead of bombarding the user with lots of technical options, ClearVPN provides shortcuts to the most essential features. On its home screen, you can choose a location changer to connect to a different country, select the streaming option for more online content, or use smart connect to get the best speeds or protection. Many VPN apps require manually choosing the correct server in the necessary country, but ClearVPN does it all for you.
Dynamic Flow Technology
This is what ClearVPN calls its personalized server selection. It will “take a look” at (without storing and collecting) the user's IP address to determine the best VPN servers for their needs. For safe browsing, it will connect to a country with a speedy connection and the best online privacy laws. To Access ESPN or Fox Sports streams, it will automatically connect to the country where they're available. Although inspecting the real user IP doesn't sound appealing, a personalized app might be a step forward if it maintains genuine no-logs policies.
To enable AdBlock, you must choose the Smart connection settings and activate Top protection at the bottom if you've subscribed to the ClearVPN premium plan.
We tested the AdBlock on Can You Block it, where it blocked all ads and popups except the push notification requests. On AdBlock Tester, it scored 49/100 and failed the Google Analytics, Yandex Direct, Flash banners, and a few other tests.
Lastly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cover Your Tracks test showed that ClearVPN neutralizes tracking ads and invisible trackers but does not prevent fingerprinting, which is common even among the most secure VPNs.
Multiple device support
Whether you're using a free or paid ClearVPN app, it allows securing up to 6 devices simultaneously. Currently, the app is available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. You can easily connect new devices once you log in to your account on their website. All connected devices will be listed in the ClearVPN app system settings.
Although the ClearVPN app has a kill switch option in the app system settings, it does not prevent an IP leak during a server switch or disconnect. Even with the kill switch on, my device immediately rolled back to its original IP address, compromising my online privacy.
ClearVPN does not disclose the exact number of owned servers, but various online publications estimate it to be around 70+. It might seem insufficient compared to CyberGhost's colossal 9000+ server network, but ClearVPN claims quality over quantity, focusing on speed instead of number.
Here are ClearVPN’s worldwide server spread statistics:
|Regions||Number of countries|
|Middle East and Africa||3|
ClearVPN servers are located in 40 countries. Although only five countries are listed under Americas, all US states are listed as one, and we didn't encounter a server shortage connecting there. The selection in South America is somewhat thin, but ClearVPN covers all major European regions.
Interface and ease of use
|Windows||Simplistic, easy to navigate|
|macOS||Similar to the Windows app|
|iOS||Feels unfinished, free via the Setapp app|
|Android||Slightly confusing, feels unfinished|
ClearVPN's macOS and Windows apps are quite similar, simplistic, nice-looking, and easy to navigate. Because ClearVPN emphasizes user experience, the Windows and macOS apps live up to the promise.
After downloading and installing it, you will be greeted by a quick introduction.
You'll land on the main screen that displays your current IP address, three VPN server selection options, and a verification of whether you're connected to one of them.
The Location changer allows you to select the country you want to connect to. The Smart connection leads to three additional options:
- The No restrictions option is optimized to bypass geo-blocks
- The Fastest server is self-explanatory
- Top protection enables AdBlock and connects to a country with the strongest privacy laws
Lastly, the Streaming option, which we particularly liked, displays all supported streaming services.
ClearVPN has a native app for macOS Big Sur and later versions, so it doesn't work on older Macs. Overall, both PC and macOS apps offer the same features with three main VPN server selections.
two server options: Location changer and Streaming. However, the third Smart connection option is hidden within the Location changer, and I had to search for the faster server option.
Although ClearVPN Android and iOS apps are quite similar with the same features, iOS users have one distinct perk. If you're using MacPaw's Setapp software to manage iOS and macOS applications, you can use ClearVPN for free. You can also log in to the VPN via a Setapp account to avoid creating a second one.
Unfortunately, the mobile app does not allow changing VPN protocols. There's a kill switch option that redirects to the smartphone's VPN settings, but the instructions on activating it are not clear.
Lastly, I noticed the Active enhancers option under the green light that shows the VPN is on. It listed ClearShield as an enhancement to protect from malware, phishing, and crypto-jacking. However, I couldn't find any information about this feature within the app or online, so it could be something that was in development but did not make it.
The ClearVPN mobile app feels rushed, and even though the design is smooth and you can get used to the slightly confusing navigation, the lack of features cannot be overlooked.
|24/7 live chat||✅|
There are several ways of contacting ClearVPN’s customer support.
Firstly, there's the 24/7 live chat support option that I contacted twice. The first time I asked about free trial activation. Although the agent advised on the procedures, the response time was more than thirty minutes. The second time, I asked a different agent about the mysterious ClearShield notification in the mobile app and was asked to email the tech team via email.
Because the live chat experience was south of average, you might have a better chance of submitting a request via email.
Lastly, there's a blog divided by topics like Cyber Threats, Privacy, News, and alike. It contains general yet valuable knowledge about online safety, privacy, and VPN guides. The blog has been actively running for just over a year, and we hope it builds on a good start!
ClearVPN compared to other VPNs
You'll find numerous high-quality VPN services in the market. But how does ClearVPN compare to the industry leaders? Let's have a look:
|Price (lowest price per month)||$3.50/month||2.99/month||1.99/month||$1.64/month||$6.67/month|
|Free version||Yes||Yes, 7-day||Yes, 7-day||Yes||Yes, 7-day for mobile devices|
|Servers||70 servers+ servers in 40 countries||5,900+ servers in 60 countries||3,200+ servers in 100 countries||1,000+ servers in 42 countries||3,000+ servers in 105 countries|
|WireGuard tunneling protocol||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Streaming||Netflix, Max, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more|
|Logging||No logs, not audited||No logs, independently audited twice by PwC||No logs, independently audited by Cure 53||No logs||No logs, independently audited by Cure53|
Is ClearVPN worth getting?
Like many emerging VPNs, ClearVPN has its ups and downs. Its focus on simplicity and unique app design will be attractive to some. Furthermore, ClearVPN is dedicated to providing a personalized service, which is rarely met in the VPN market.
However, this VPN still requires a lot of development. The kill switch should be fixed promptly, and additional features like WireGuard support, Smart DNS, and split-tunneling are a must to compete with the best VPNs, such as NordVPN.
Overall, this is a decent choice for a streaming VPN and can be a primary choice for Ukrainians living abroad because of a dedicated free premium version.
Read our other VPN reviews:
Is ClearVPN any good?
Yes, ClearVPN shows dedication to becoming a good VPN. Although it currently lacks advanced features, such as ad blocking, like NordVPN's Threat Protection, ClearVPN offers a unique app design that enhances user comfort. Furthermore, the abundance of specialty streaming servers can make it one of the best streaming VPNs in the industry.
Is there a ClearVPN Chrome version?
No, ClearVPN does not offer Chrome or any other browser extensions. Currently, it provides native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Whether ClearVPN plans on releasing browser extensions is undisclosed.
Is ClearVPN free?
Yes, ClearVPN has two free versions. Everyone can use ClearVPN for free to connect to servers in Ukraine and get a new IP address. However, Ukrainians can use a premium ClearVPN version for free if they sign up with governmental Diia.Signature.
Who owns ClearVPN?
ClearVPN is owned by MacPaw, a Ukrainian software development company that's focused on Apple products. MacPaw's other services include CleanMyMac X, CleanMy PC, Setapp, Gemini 2, Encrypto, and other apps.