Bullguard VPN review: A great service with a problematic price
- 16 May, 2019 20:30
Bullguard VPN in brief:
- P2P allowed: Yes
- Business location: United Kingdom
- Number of servers: Uknown
- Number of country locations: 16
- Cost: $85 per year
- VPN Protocol: OpenVPN
- Data encryption: AES-256-CBC
- Data authentication: TLS 1.2 with 2048-bit DH
- Handshake: SHA2 -512
Nearly every major antivirus maker offers a virtual private network service. A few create their own networks, but typically, AV makers rebrand white-label services provided by third parties. Bullguard is one such AV maker, and it offers its rebranded white-label VPN service as a standalone product, called Bullguard VPN.
Let me say right off the top that Bullguard VPN is not a bad service. In fact, it’s quite good. The speeds are top-notch, and while the number of country connections isn’t vast, the major destinations are covered. The app is also really easy to use making this a good choice for VPN newbies.
That’s all very well and good, but is this service worth the money? If you ask me, the answer is a resounding, “No.” Why? Let’s dive in, and I’ll explain.
Note: This review is part of our best VPNs roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.
Features and services
Bullguard VPN offers 16 country connections including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the bigger countries in Europe, Japan and Singapore, and Australia. It’s a good country selection and supported by infrastructure from NordVPN. That suggests that BullguardVPN should work with Netflix just as Nord does, and in my tests it did.
Beyond the country selection, BullguardVPN features an App Kill Switch that will automatically stop certain programs from running if the VPN connection drops. There’s also a more general internet kill switch that stops all internet access when the VPN connection disappears. Both are good privacy guards if you need them, though these kinds of automated blockers aren’t always 100 percent effective at preventing your true IP address from being exposed.
You can also launch Bullguard VPN on startup with Windows, and make your computer invisible to others on a local area network (LAN). There are also options to add your own custom DNS instead of using the defaults with BullguardVPN, and the option to switch between TCP and UDP for OpenVPN.
That’s pretty much it for the app. There are no options for double-hop VPN connections, or the VPN-over-TOR servers that NordVPN has.
Bullguard also doesn’t add any of its own security magic to the VPN like other providers do. F-Secure’s Freedome, for example, scans your connection for malicious attacks and files, though that does entail giving up a little bit of privacy.
The fact that Bullguard VPN doesn’t offer as much as its infrastructure provider or add some extra security wouldn’t be so bad if the price were better, but it’s not. Bullguard VPN will set you back $85 for a year of service with six simultaneous connections. That’s very close to what NordVPN charges. In fact, it’s about a dollar more expensive, as NordVPN’s annual charge is around $84.
Privacy, anonymity, and trust
BullguardVPN accepts payment via credit card, PayPal, or wire transfer. You must also sign up for a Bullguard account to use the VPN.
In our tests, BullguardVPN was fast and performed similarly to NordVPN. Overall, Bullguard hit about 43 percent of the base speed, brought down largely by slow speeds in Australia. Everywhere else speeds were hitting 30- to 50Mbps when the default speed on testing days was around 85Mbps. The bottom line is you shouldn’t have any trouble getting great speeds with Bullguard VPN no matter what you’re doing.
Look, Bullguard VPN works just fine, and it’s easy to use. But you can pay the same amount of money for NordVPN to get all the added features that NordVPN has and the extra countries too. If you’re already a Bullguard antivirus user, then perhaps BullguardVPN makes more sense, but even that’s a hard sell.
I’d like to see Bullguard do something extra with its VPN to earn its $85 a year. Some malicious filtering would be good—NordVPN also supports this on its own service with an opt-in feature called CyberSec—or perhaps add its home network scanning capabilities to the VPN app.
The fact is Bullguard needs something extra to justify that high price, or to drop to a more reasonable $60 per year or so. As it stands right now, I’d look at NordVPN itself (even with its problems) or find a PC security company that has its own VPN infrastructure such as Avira or F-Secure.
Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.