iTop VPN review 2023
iTop VPN is a virtual private network service hailing from Hong Kong. It gained popularity by marketing itself as one of the best free VPNs on the market. The company behind this service offers many other digital products and claims its customer base tops 20 million users.
While the number is impressive, it’s vital to know if these netizens are using a genuinely high-quality service or scraping by with an adequate VPN. To find out, we tested the VPN in a wide range of categories, such as speed, security, privacy, ease of use, and summarized our findings in this iTop VPN review.
We discovered that iTop VPN definitely has room for improvement, particularly regarding device compatibility and streaming performance. That means you may want to consider an alternative if your priorities include protecting many devices and easily unlocking geo-blocked movies and TV shows.
Check out this side-by-side comparison between NordVPN and iTop VPN and you’ll see the key differences between the #1 service and the subject of this review.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#1 out of #40||#25 out of #40|
|🖥️ Servers:||5,800+ servers in 60 countries||1,800+ servers in 41 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $3.19/month||From $1.66/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordVPN coupon 68% OFF||-|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard (NordLynx)||OpenVPN, HTTPS|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Max, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||6||5|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, FAQs, email|
iTop VPN pros and cons
Is iTop VPN safe?
Yes, iTop VPN is considered safe for the average user. It offers the standard security suite necessary for any worthwhile VPN provider. That means customers gain strong encryption, reliable tunneling protocols, a no-logs policy, leak protection, ad-blocking tools, and more. Additionally, iTop VPN has a few noteworthy extras, such as a VPN-powered web browser, typically not included with other providers.
However, this service is by no means perfect nor does it deserve a spot among the best VPN services available yet. In the following sections, we’ll outline a few security drawbacks we uncovered during our VPN testing procedure.
iTop VPN is powered by industry-standard AES-256 encryption. It offers a good balance between security and performance. Generally speaking, it’s all you need to gain privacy against most third parties, such as your ISP (Internet Service Provider), Wi-Fi network administrators, and other unwelcome onlookers. Furthermore, you’ll be protected from man-in-the-middle attacks and other hacking attempts.
Your actual location won’t be well hidden without a reliable VPN kill switch. Thankfully, iTop VPN includes one with every app it offers (Windows, Mac, iOS). When enabled, this tool cuts off internet access whenever the VPN connection fails. This ensures your actual IP address doesn’t accidentally slip through when turning off the app or switching servers.
The kill switch did its job and masked our IP address during testing. However, we noticed that local DNS addresses leaked when switching between VPN servers, meaning DNS leak protection isn’t 100% reliable.
Jurisdiction and no-logs policy
iTop VPN is somewhat reliable regarding data privacy. The service operates from Hong Kong, a special administrative region in China. This can be considered a red flag because China isn’t well-known for respecting privacy.
On the contrary, the region is one of the most surveillance-heavy areas in the world. But you can argue this only applies to Chinese citizens. Plus, at least Hong Kong is not part of the Fourteen Eyes alliance.
Additionally, the service’s no-logs policy is pretty solid and doesn’t store any activity logs. iTop VPN only collects the bare minimum it needs to improve overall service and doesn’t share that information with third parties. However, it lacks any assurances from independent third-party audits.
iTop VPN compared to other VPNs
Here’s a comparison of iTop VPN against some of the secure VPNs on the market. A glance should immediately highlight the areas where iTop VPN needs improvement.
|Price (lowest price per month)||$1.66/month||3.19/month||2.30/month||2.99/month||$6.67/month||$2.19/month|
|Free version||Yes||Yes, 7-day||Yes, 7-day||No||Yes, 7-day for mobile devices||Yes, 1-day on a desktop, 3-day on Android, and 7-day on iOS|
|Servers||1,800+ in 41 countries||5,800+ servers in 60 countries||3,200+ servers in 100 countries||2,200+ servers in 52 countries||3,000+ servers in 94 countries||9,400+ servers in 91 countries|
|WireGuard tunneling protocol||No||Yes||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, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+|
|Logging||No logs||No logs, independently audited thrice by PwC||No logs, independently audited by Cure 53||No logs, independently audited by Leviathan||No logs, independently audited by Cure53||No logs, independently audited by Deloitte|
Plans and pricing
iTop VPN is a freemium service, meaning it offers a free plan alongside paid subscriptions. First, let’s overview the available paid options.
As you can see, the lengthier subscriptions give greater discounts, up to 86% off to be exact. All plans unlock the same features and only vary in duration and discount. Customers also gain a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Meanwhile, the free version is stripped of all perks and is further held back by a 700 MB daily data cap. It’s a good way to get introduced to the user interface and maybe hide your IP address while browsing the net. However, don’t expect it to grant fast speeds, access to geo-blocked content, or even essential security.
It’s worth noting that sometimes the pricing page prompts you with alternative deals if you hang around long enough without purchasing anything. For example, we encountered a 3-month deal costing $6.00/month while perusing available plans. Another strategy for finding the best deals is checking various VPN coupon code pages.
How to download and use iTop VPN
- Visit the official iTop VPN website and download the app for your OS
- Install the software once it finishes downloading
- Open the app and log in. Create a new account if you didn’t sign up before
- Pick a server and connect to it
- Continue using the free version or sign up for a premium plan to unlock all benefits iTop VPN has on offer
Speed performance: is iTop VPN fast?
iTop VPN has three VPN tunneling protocols available:
- OpenVPN UDP
- OpenVPN TCP
In theory, OpenVPN UDP is the fastest option of the bunch, but not nearly as swift as modern alternatives, such as WireGuard. On the other hand, the TCP variant is touted as more stable and reliable, while HTTPS is the provider’s security-centered protocol.
Theory aside, we had to conduct some practical speed tests to determine if iTop VPN has what it takes to be considered a fast VPN service. After all, you’ll need top-quality connections for a pleasant experience while streaming, torrenting, or doing anything else on the web. Below is a summary of our speed test research results.
|Baseline:||270.3 Mbps download speed, 297.8 Mbps upload.|
|Protocol||OpenVPN TCP Upload||OpenVPN TCP Download||OpenVPN UDP Upload||OpenVPN UDP Download||HTTPS Upload||HTTPS Download|
|US (New York)||145||134||164||90||83||25|
|Average retention rate||26%||55%||29%||58%||25%||51%|
On average, iTop VPN retained around 55% of download speeds, while upload speed retention stayed about 27%. And as you can see, the tests confirmed that OpenVPN UDP is indeed the fastest protocol iTop VPN offers.
These results are a far cry from what the fastest VPNs on the market can muster, but it’s good enough for lag-free web browsing and streaming.
iTop VPN servers and locations
The iTop VPN network spans roughly 1,800 servers across 41 countries, which are further split into 100 locations. This is a pretty good selection of options considering the provider’s affordability.
Another noteworthy aspect of iTop VPN’s server fleet is the inclusion of categories for specific use cases. This makes achieving certain tasks more convenient, such as unblocking a particular streaming service or playing your favorite online video game with minimal speed loss. The four main categories are:
The last three options have separate servers for various products from that category. For example, among Streaming servers, you’ll find options for Disney+, Hulu, and Max, while gaming includes popular titles like Minecraft and Roblox. Meanwhile, the Downloading category offers a mere five server choices.
Is iTop VPN good for streaming?
|Platform||Does it work?|
|Amazon Prime Video||❌No|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes|
|YouTube TV||✅ Yes|
You’d expect iTop VPN to be an excellent VPN for streaming because it includes a variety of streaming-oriented servers. Unfortunately, our tests painted a slightly different picture. Naturally, you should take our findings with a grain of salt because streaming performance can change over time (for better or worse).
Regarding successes, iTop VPN managed to unlock Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV, and Max. Connection speeds were good enough for lag-free viewing of HD movies and TV shows.
On the flip side, iTop VPN failed to unlock exclusive content from a good chunk of foreign Netflix libraries, including the USA, Canada, and Japan. This is pretty frustrating because the platform is one of the most popular streaming services worldwide, boasting massive content variety, meaning a good Netflix VPN is a cheap way to gain enormous entertainment value.
Another iTop VPN drawback for streaming connoisseurs is that the service isn’t compatible with various home entertainment systems. For example, it doesn’t have dedicated Android or Amazon Fire TV apps. Most importantly, you can’t install the VPN on a router to unblock content on smart TVs and other gadgets.
Is iTop VPN good for torrenting?
iTop VPN has some potential as a solid VPN for torrenting. For starters, it offers the dedicated Downloading server category, which is suitable for P2P (although it isn’t apparent initially). We tested them while transferring a few torrent files and were surprised at the impressive 75% download speed retention rates.
If that wasn’t enough, the iTop VPN app warns you if it detects P2P traffic when you’re not connected to the specialty downloading servers. This feature is quite helpful if you tend to forget to enable the VPN while torrenting.
Interface and ease of use
The iTop VPN user interface is relatively straightforward at first glance and shouldn’t cause issues for the average user. There are a few differences between the various versions of the software depending on your OS, so let’s overview each separately.
Once you launch the Windows iTop VPN app, you’re taken to the Home screen. Here, you’ll quickly notice its most prominent feature – the large Connect button in the middle. Below is some general status information – your current IP address, VPN server location, and the tunneling protocol.
The left side of the app is the designated navigation area. That’s where users can pick server categories and then scroll through available options in the middle screen. Besides that, the menu also houses the Privacy Protection and Quick Access tabs.
You’ll notice that various menus and settings are denoted with the VIP emblem. These features are nothing special except that they’re exclusive to premium subscribers. They’re also visible to free users, perhaps to tease them by showcasing what is unavailable on the free plan.
Finally, you can reach general settings by returning to the home screen and clicking the hamburger icon in the top-right corner. Here you can manually select your preferred tunneling protocol, adjust notifications, and enable auto-connect.
Unsurprisingly, the iTop VPN Mac version differs very little from its Windows counterpart. Firstly, the Home screen is once again the residence of the large Connect button and a few tidbits of information below it, including general settings.
Meanwhile, the left menu contains all the other tabs you need. Another noteworthy difference is the arrangement of the menus, although it isn’t particularly drastic.
It should come as no surprise that the iTop VPN iPhone app is entirely different from its desktop counterpart. At the same time, it’s pretty standard compared to other VPNs for iPhones.
The navigation menu is relocated to the bottom of the screen and is split into five parts. The left side contains menus for picking servers and enabling ad blocking, while the right side is for other tools and reviewing your account details. The final fifth piece is the slightly-larger home button in the middle.
While most menus are named appropriately to clarify their purpose, that’s not the case with the nebulous Tools tab. This compartment houses a fair bit of neat extra features (Speed test, IP Checker) and essentials, such as the kill switch.
Ultimately, iTop VPN should be easy to use for customers of all skill levels. The app’s parts are named appropriately, although some lack further explanation to accommodate VPN newcomers.
iTop VPN features
Besides the essentials, iTop VPN has many extra features for added security and convenience. The most notable ones are the ad blocker and privacy-focused web browser. Let’s take a closer look at these and a few other boons.
iTop VPN Ad blocker
The ad blocker is integrated into all iTop VPN apps and is active whenever a VPN connection is enabled. Sadly, it lacks many customization options and only includes a whitelisting setting. Moreover, our test results highlighted that this tool isn’t particularly compelling, either.
The Can You Block It extreme test showed that iTop VPN couldn’t nullify push notification requests, video ads, most banner advertisements, or direct link ads. However, it did block native banner ads, pop-under ads, and page push ads.
Next, we pitted the tool against AdBlock Tester. iTop VPN garnered 58 points out of 100, making it barely above average regarding ad blocking effectiveness. It struggled dealing with Yandex direct script loading, Google Analytics script execution, flash banners, GIF images, and more.
On the bright side, Cover Your Tracks wasn’t the final nail in the coffin. The test showed that iTop VPN grants strong protection against web tracking by blocking tracking ads and invisible trackers. However, it couldn’t protect us against online fingerprinting.
iTop Private Browser
There aren’t many VPN services that include in-house web browsers for enhancing your online privacy. iTop VPN joins their ranks with the iTop Private Browser. It packs an impressive feature arsenal, such as VPN and ad-blocking capabilities, making it a worthwhile all-in-one solution if you prefer efficiency. Sadly, it’s only compatible with Windows computers. Now let’s see how it dealt with our tests.
In short, it performed surprisingly well. It accumulated better scores on the Can You Block It and AdBlock Tester platforms than the standalone ad blocker. However, Cover Your Tracks results were identical.
The improved performance can be attributed to the broader array of features included in the browser. As mentioned above, it consists of a VPN, ad blocker, anti-tracking, fingerprint protection, and auto-clean. Overall, it’s pretty good out of the box and a considerable browser for privacy.
iTop VPN customers can enable split tunneling to limit the VPN tunnel to specific apps or websites. This can result in marginally improved connection speeds because less traffic needs to be encrypted and routed through the VPN server.
The feature supports both exclusive and inclusive selection, meaning you can pick which apps should have exclusive access to the VPN tunnel or vice versa.
|24/7 live chat||❌|
|Guides or articles||✅|
iTop VPN’s customer support options are unremarkable. As expected, you can submit a customer support ticket, aka write an email requesting assistance, by filling out a form on the official website. Another approach is using the Feedback tab directly in your app for improved efficiency. The service claims you can expect an answer in 24 to 48 hours.
If direct communication is not your forte, you can peruse the FAQ and the user manual to troubleshoot issues yourself. The self-help sections are categorized by products, making it easy to find guides for the app you’re using. On the other hand, the guide selection and breadth of information are lackluster.
Is iTop VPN worth getting?
iTop VPN is definitely not a “top” virtual private network, as its name suggests. But it does have some potential, especially considering its solid performance in the torrenting category and reasonable price. It also gains points for including a wide variety of server categories, although it’s disappointing the streaming servers weren’t that great at unblocking foreign content. Plus, connection speeds are held back by the absence of modern tunneling protocols.
Furthermore, the privacy department is a mixed bag. Residing in Hong Kong and lacking an audited no-logs policy isn’t a great look if a customer prioritizes confidentiality. However, including an ad blocker is a good start.
Ultimately, iTop VPN is a decent free VPN, but its premium plan is nowhere near as effective as those of truly market-leading VPN services, such as NordVPN. Consider trying it out using the free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Is iTop VPN trustworthy?
Yes, iTop VPN is trustworthy, but there’s room for improvement. It follows a zero-logs policy, but it would be more reliable if an independent third party audited it. Furthermore, the service operates from Hong Kong, which isn’t ideal regarding privacy due to its ties with China. A more trustworthy and recommended option is NordVPN.
Does iTop VPN have a free trial?
No, iTop VPN doesn’t have a conventional free trial. Instead, it offers a free version as an introduction to the service. You can also use the 30-day money-back guarantee to sign up for a premium plan and get a refund if your expectations aren’t satisfied.
Does iTop VPN hide your browsing history?
Yes, iTop VPN hides your browsing history from your ISP and other snoopers using cutting-edge AES-256 encryption. It also doesn’t store any information about your online activities because it adheres to a no-logs policy.
How many devices can be connected using iTop VPN?
iTop VPN premium subscribers can connect up to 5 different devices simultaneously. Meanwhile, the free plan supports only one connection and imposes a 700 MB daily data cap.