Opera Free VPN Review

June 22, 2018

11:52 am

Rating

60%

Ease of use:4 stars
Features:2 stars
Privacy:2 stars
Speed:4 stars
Help & Support:2 stars
Value for Money:4 stars

Pros
  • Free to use, without any ads or nagging
  • Easy to enable from within the browser
  • Good performance
Cons
  • No mobile version
  • Little choice of server locations
  • Not the best choice for privacy or anonymity
  • Only works inside the browser

Simple, free but ultimately limited

Want a VPN, but don’t feel like paying for it? With Opera Free VPN, you can enjoy online privacy without spending a dime. It’s not the most sophisticated VPN service we’ve tested, but as a free taster, Opera VPN is a good start. It may even persuade you to consider paying for a full VPN service.

Since its launch in 1995, Opera has been one of the most innovative, feature-packed browsers around, yet it’s always struggled to get much attention in a world dominated by Internet Explorer, Safari, Edge, Firefox and Chrome. In 2016, however, the makers added a killer feature that boosts privacy and security: a built-in VPN.

Enabled with just a couple of clicks, this creates a kind of tunnel between your computer and Opera’s VPN server, through which you connect to the wider Internet. All the data in this tunnel is encrypted and so safe from prying eyes, while the VPN also disguises your real IP address, identity and location. Opera claims this gives users improved security when they connect through a public WiFi network, plus the ability to access websites that might otherwise be blocked in the country that they’re connecting from.

Opera VPN Menu and OptionsWhy Use Opera Free VPN?

There are two good reasons. Firstly, it’s built into the Opera browser, so you only need to download and install the browser, then enable the VPN to switch on the service. That’s it!

Secondly, it’s free to use and offers unlimited bandwidth. That’s pretty rare for any free VPN – most free services will cut your bandwidth down to a couple of gigabytes, making them less useful for streaming video or heavy downloading.

So, using Opera’s VPN won’t cost you a single cent. Beyond that, it’s very easy to use – and Opera is a great browser with some brilliant features in its own right.

Getting Started With Opera VPN

As we said, there’s no need to sign-up for anything; you simply visit the Opera website, download the latest version and install it.

There are versions of Opera for Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Once the browser is installed, it’s time to turn on the VPN service. To do this, go to Settings (or Preferences on the Mac version), select Privacy and Security, then turn the Free VPN option on.

From here on in, a small VPN icon appears in the address bar, and you can click on this to turn the VPN off and on. The control panel is deliberately simple, with just a switch to enable the VPN and a drop-down menu with a handful of locations, plus a bandwidth meter to tell you how much data has run through the VPN recently.

Select a Server on Opera VPNOpera Browser VPN: The Good

Free VPNs are often rather limited, and the cons can run further than the pros. But, Opera VPN is pretty respectable for a free service.

Effortlessly Simple

It’s very easy to use the Opera VPN service – mainly because it gives you so few settings to dabble with. You can also see at a glance whether the VPN is active just by looking at the icon in the address bar.

Strong Encryption

Provided you’re using the Opera browser, a more secure connection is only ever one click away. Opera uses 256-bit AES encryption – translation? That’s good. In fact, this level of encryption is every bit as good as the big commercial VPNs.

Surprisingly Good Speeds

It’s also speedy. Speed tests we ran over the Optimal location weren’t significantly slower than speed tests ran without a VPN.

Opera VPN: The Not-So-Good

Now, onto those limitations we mentioned before.

No App Versions

Opera has reduced its level of support for the VPN and has also halted work on its free mobile VPN apps, which are no longer available to download. That means Opera VPN is only usable on a laptop or desktop, not a smartphone or tablet.

Few Server Choices

The list of locations is tiny, with just Optimal (chosen for you), Europe, Americas and Asia, and when you pick Americas as your location you just get a VPN link to a server within Europe, making the Opera VPN useless if you want to undo region locks on US video streaming services, or unlock, say, the BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.

Privacy Leaks

And while Opera gives you the improved security of an encrypted VPN connection, your privacy doesn’t seem to be so well protected. Leak tests threw up warnings about potential DNS leaks – a serious red flag for a VPN. While these won’t pinpoint your identity or location, they do indicate that you’re connecting through a VPN.

Browser Only

One other thing to make clear: the Opera VPN only works for what you do inside the browser – it doesn’t help at all with any apps that run outside it.

Opera Free vs Paid VPN Prices

Opera is free and there’s no paid-for, upgraded VPN service. on the plus side, this means no nagging messages or even adverts. If you like the Opera browser already, then the VPN is a fantastic option to try out, but we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who’s serious about using a VPN with all the trimmings.

If you’re serious about your online privacy, and want the flexibility of a VPN that will work with any of your apps, or on your phone or tablet, then it’s worth spending some money to upgrade to a paid-for service. This can be as little as a couple of dollars per month. Our top-choice VPN for 2018 is PureVPN – read our full PureVPN review to find out why we rate it so highly.

The Verdict

Opera’s built-in VPN doesn’t offer the best protection for your privacy or anonymity, and also doesn’t do anything for you outside the Opera browser. It’s good, though, as a quick, easy option when you connect through a public WiFi network, but it won’t keep you or your activities as safe or private as a proper, paid-for VPN.

Tags:

Did you like this article?

Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!

Sorry about that. Try these articles instead!

Stuart Andrews has been writing about IT and consumer technology for over twenty years, working across many of the UK's biggest specialist titles. While specializing in PCs and related technology, software and cloud-based services, he also writes about IT in education, video games and internet security

  • Shares

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)