‘A free to use browser with a built in ‘VPN’ delivers on unlimited data but not much else’
Originally launched on the 10th of April in 1995, the Opera browser has had several iterations and recently launched a web-browser VPN (which is technically a proxy) and a mobile app that was discontinued.
As of March 2020, the Opera browser VPN is now available on Android.
Let’s take an in-depth look at speed, privacy, usability, and if you should consider it as a viable option in our Opera VPN review.
Table of Contents
Price and plans
Opera VPN is free to use within their own browser which may initially sound great but it’s worth noting that if they are not charging you to use the service, Opera must be generating revenue from somewhere else including personalised ads or selling browser history as examples. When you take a closer look at their privacy statement, things start to become clearer.
For people looking for a quick and free VPN, this may be fine but for anyone who is even slightly privacy-minded this should immediately throw up red flags.
Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Opera make it abundantly clear they will be sharing some of your data with third parties.
Privacy - is Opera VPN safe?
Although headquartered in Oslo, Norway, Opera was recently purchased in 2016 by the Chinese security and software firm Qihoo 360 which itself has a chequered history of privacy and controversy, most notably when they were accused of stealing confidential information from hundreds of millions of users.
It’s difficult to tell whether or not the VPN aspect of Opera is under Qihoo 360’s control but even if that’s not the case, Norway is still under the 14 Eyes Alliance, whereas a VPN provider like Nord is Panama-based and far removed from the spying surveillance.
It’s also worth noting that Opera VPN is technically a proxy and not a true VPN. This means that the connections are secured using HTTPS making Opera VPN a HTTPS proxy and doesn’t encrypt traffic.
What is concerning is that while dnsleaktest confirmed no leak, both dnsleak and doileak both returned possible DNS failures. For the average user who’s more than likely just looking to browse securely or unblock websites, this shouldn’t be an issue but it is worth taking into account.
Opera VPN is about as featureless as a Saharan desert.
Really, you don’t get anything.
Outside of the 3 locations available (Europe, Americas, and Asia) don’t think you’re getting anything else.
Is it wrong to want something, anything more than what Opera offers? I don’t think so. Not when the free version of ProtonVPN features Tor and P2P servers with the security credentials to back it up and unlimited data.
Zero Logs Policy
While other providers ensure a detailed logging policy report aimed to satisfy any privacy concerns, Opera’s lack of anything robust doesn’t help if you’re looking for additional information.
What makes Opera different from other VPNs, as Opera is a proxy and is essentially masquerading itself as a VPN, is that you don’t need an email address or payment details to use the service. Just download the browser and use the VPN / proxy.
With only 3 servers available, the speed differential between them is vastly different:
Standard internet speed
Opera connection (Europe)
Opera connection (Asia)
Opera connection (Americas IP)
Even though the speeds from Europe were great in comparison to our standard upload and download rate, the ‘America’s’ fell short on download speed and ‘Asia’ performed poorly in both. If you need a Europe based VPN then great and the same can be said for Netflix access in America.
Opera VPN does a better job than some paid services in providing consistent access to Netflix which is a real bonus. It must be said that Netflix and other video streaming services such as BBC iPlayer are working tirelessly to ensure VPNs can’t grant access and what might work today might not work tomorrow.
Torrents are not supported on Opera VPN which hardly comes as a surprise for a free to use service but it also means that there should theoretically be more bandwidth available for everyone else.
Support - what is available if Opera VPN is not working?
One of the great things about Opera VPN is they have a thriving and active community that can be found here https://forums.opera.com/. With forum threads covering everything from mobile, GX and computer-based browsing, if you were to give the VPN a try and needed a question answering then it’s more than likely been asked before or the knowledgeable team will be happy to provide their input.
They do not, however, offer a live chat feature.
Opera VPN isn’t a bad free service for basic browsing and surprising consistency in unblocking Netflix / streaming access and would be fine for anyone wanting to do just that. However, if you have security and privacy at the forefront of your mind when making a decision, which it always should be considering VPNs, then Opera VPN is not for you.
For a free VPN, I’d definitely suggest Proton. It’s just as easy to set up, with better speeds, and is incredibly focused on privacy and security.