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AirVPN review

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AirVPN is a lesser-known VPN service that caters to privacy-focused users who want extensive control over their connections. Launched in 2013 and based in Italy, AirVPN positions itself as a no-logs VPN that aims to combat censorship and surveillance while defending net neutrality principles.

In this AirVPN review, we’ll examine the provider’s background, features and services, performance benchmarks, user experience, target audience, and overall strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to determine if AirVPN matches up to its promises for those seeking an uncompromising approach to privacy.

I. Introduction

Unlike mainstream VPNs that promise easy setup and broad compatibility, AirVPN very clearly gears itself towards tech-savvy users who demand granular control. The provider offers desktop VPN clients packed with hundreds of tweaking options, advanced features, and detailed network diagnostics.

However, this power comes at the cost of convenience. AirVPN’s barebones user experience requires comfort diving into settings most customers would never touch to optimize performance. The provider also caps simultaneous connections at 3 devices.

But for those focused strictly on privacy, AirVPN delivers unique advantages. Based in Rome outside 14 Eyes jurisdictions, independent audits verify the company’s no-logs policies and technical safeguards. AirVPN provides robust encryption paired with an extensive list of servers across 20 countries.

While falling short for typical consumer usage, AirVPN excels at serving the needs of the privacy diehard. This in-depth review will analyze who that target user is.

II. AirVPN Background

AirVPN was founded in late 2013 by a small team of Italian cybersecurity experts and ethical hackers. The founders included Fabio Pietrosanti, Davide Deian, and other contributors to the Italian hacking collective CyberGuerrilla alongside privacy activists.

Several key principles drove AirVPN’s creation during an era of growing government censorship and unchecked surveillance:

Combat Censorship

AirVPN’s founders experienced censorship firsthand both in corporate settings restricting worker communications and from repressive regimes limiting free speech. AirVPN aimed to provide a secure channel protecting freedom of communication.

Uphold Net Neutrality

Deian and other founders believe strongly in net neutrality, arguing ISPs should not restrict access or discriminate against content. By encrypting traffic, AirVPN prevents third parties from throttling or blocking communications.

Reduce Data Collection

AirVPN also takes direct aim companies like Google or Facebook that conduct mass surveillance and data harvesting. AirVPN encrypts user activity to minimize large-scale tracking and monetization without consent.

Today, AirVPN continues operating as an activist-driven provider upholding foundational principles around privacy and freedom of information.

III. AirVPN Features & Services

Unlike most VPNs offering simple one-click apps, AirVPN caters primarily to Windows and Linux users willing to manually configure more complex desktop clients for greater control.

Eddie Software Client

AirVPN’s standard VPN software client is called Eddie. Developed fully in-house, Eddie provides granular-level toggles and settings spanning hundreds of options related to encryption, protocols, connection handling, diagnostics, and more.

For expert users, Eddie delivers an unparalleled degree of network management and customization. But for average customers, the myriad complex options prove overwhelming.

Emphasis on Transparency

Eddie also grants full visibility into exactly how traffic gets handled, including extensive logging and debugging tools. AirVPN emphasizes transparently showing users exactly what’s happening under the hood at a code level.

Small Server Network

The main downside of AirVPN is its very small server fleet of just 232 VPN servers scattered across 20 countries. Large providers like ExpressVPN offer 3,000+ servers. AirVPN’s tiny network leads to more congestion and limits options for location spoofing.

However, AirVPN owns all servers in-house rather than using third-party datacenters. This increases security assurances that traffic stays completely anonymous.

IV. AirVPN Performance & Security

AirVPN reliably provides robust encryption and an independent third-party confirmed no-logs policy. However, the tiny server network impacts network performance and limits account sharing:

Military-Grade Encryption

All AirVPN traffic is secured via AES-256 bit encryption with a 4096-bit RSA key, considered unbreakable by modern computing standards. Various protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard are supported.

No-Logs Policy

AirVPN operates under a strict no-logs policy for both usage data and metadata. No IP addresses, DNS queries, timestamps or any other identifiers are kept. Independent audits commissioned from German penetration testers Verifytest confirm that no logs exist.

Limited Simultaneous Connections

AirVPN only allows a maximum of 3 simultaneous device connections per account. They must all connect from the same country to prevent abuse. This restricts account sharing across families or large teams compared to 10 device limits offered by other VPNs.

80 Mbps Cap on Speeds

AirVPN throttles customer bandwidth usage to 80 Mbps across the entire provider shared network. This ensures fair usage across all users to prevent monopolization of resources. But it blocks achieving gigabit download speeds even on less congested servers.

V. User Experience

Configuring AirVPN offers unparalleled transparency and diagnostics visibility, but at the cost of simplified ease-of-use more casual VPN customers demand:

Manual Configuration Required

Unlike most VPNs offering one-click quick connect apps, AirVPN forces even basic OpenVPN connections to manually input certificates and authentication passcodes. Settings and preferences are buried across a huge range of toggles.

Text-Heavy Interface

The Eddie client also bombards users with editing configuration files directly and lengthy debugging-level network activity logs output to screen. Usability favors engineers over non-technical folks.

Privacy Audits

AirVPN has received favorable privacy audits from third parties like Verifytest confirming the no-logs policy and other Anonymous Internet claims made in the company privacy policy.

Warrant Canary

AirVPN also maintains a warrant canary still asserting that the provider has never been compelled into logging, monitoring or sharing user activity logs as of January 2023.

So while AirVPN delivers technically on privacy and security, it fails on user experience compared to polished mainstream VPN apps. Using AirVPN remains complicated over quicker alternatives.

VI. Who is AirVPN For?

Given its strengths and limitations, AirVPN caters to a niche audience prioritizing specific needs over broad public appeal:

Activists & Whistleblowers

The built-in TOR access, no-logs policy, and warrant canary provided by AirVPN suit the needs of activists, journalists, and whistleblowers involved in highly sensitive communication.

Tech Professionals

IT experts, network engineers and software developers comprise most of AirVPN’s user base thanks to the diagnostic detail offered around cryptography, IP routing, DNS, and troubleshooting.

Linux Users

With detailed Linux installation guides but fewer instructions for Windows or macOS, AirVPN clearly gears itself primarily towards the Linux community in both product development and user base.

At the same time, AirVPN fails to match the needs of some wider VPN user groups:

Entertainment Users

A tiny server network with more congestion makes AirVPN ill-suited for HD media streaming compared to entertainment-focused VPNs with thousands more servers.

Families & Teams

The 3 device connection limit also prevents larger households or work teams from sharing AirVPN accounts, restricting potential customer bases compared to more flexible 10+ device competitors.

So while AirVPN delivers the gold standard in opaque encryption and provable zero logs for its niche user base, it lags behind mainstream VPN convenience standards.

VII. Conclusion

AirVPN occupies a unique space in the privacy and security ecosystem. It caters specifically to an advanced technical audience across software engineers, Linux users, activists and whistleblowers who demand strict no-logs standards with an uncompromising degree of network control.

Eddie software offers hundreds of tweaking options with maximum network visibility that surpasses any other VPN on the market. Independent audits also verify AirVPN’s bulletproof no-logs policies backed by warrant canary declarations.

However, this comes at the cost of ease-of-use and speed. Manual configuration poses a barrier for entry to less technical folks. A tiny server fleet of just 232 locations impedes performance for streaming media enthusiasts exploring AirVPN usage. And capping accounts to 3 simultaneous connections limits broader team or family appeal.

So AirVPN ultimately delivers an impressive package for protecting sensitive communications among its target demographic focused on provable anonymity above all else. But limitations around usability and performance prevent AirVPN from attracting more casual privacy advocates.

In the end, AirVPN matches the needs of activists, journalists, whistleblowers and technologists dealing in sensitive data exchange to an unmatched degree out of any major VPN provider. But consumers and entertainment buffs face too many speed and software hurdles to enjoy a smooth experience.

Within its niche of users who prioritize provable no-logs encryption over all else though, AirVPN stands tall as an Editors’ Choice winner.

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