The past few decades have witnessed a change in how people perceive security and privacy on the web. As a result, VPNs have become one of the most commonly used utilities out there. Therefore, if you spend a considerable amount of time on the internet (duh), it is not a question of whether you need a VPN service, but rather, you have to pick something that suits your specific needs.
However, we have noticed that most VPNs leave the decision-making process to the users. For example, users have to select the best server, protocol, and other variables to suit their needs. Therefore, the idea of an intuitive UI that is easy to use sounded impressive. That is why we decided to try out ClearVPN from MacPaw.
In this ClearVPN review, you will find everything you need to know about the VPN service. Our focus, however, was on how the latest ClearVPN 2 differs from conventional VPN apps in the market. Please note that we tested the macOS version of the app, and the features may vary slightly on other platforms.
What is ClearVPN 2
ClearVPN 2, also known as ClearVPN, is a privacy-focused yet easy-to-use VPN service from MacPaw. MacPaw is one of the most popular app developers, known for producing a number of high-quality apps and services for Mac and PC. ClearVPN is no exception.
Aside from its obvious features, ClearVPN stands out from other VPN services in a few ways:
- ClearVPN aims to simplify the process of using a VPN on your Mac, PC, iPhone, or Android smartphone. It wants to make VPNs accessible to everyone, not just technical experts. In fact, ClearVPN calls itself a “VPN you’ll love using.”
- The user interface of ClearVPN is also different from other VPN services. Instead of giving you a list of servers and metrics you may not understand, ClearVPN helps you make the right selection in a single click.
- The VPN service has diversified the UI based on different needs. For instance, you can have additional options in some cases, such as when you want to stream geo-restricted content or change your location to a specific place.
- On top of all these features, the VPN service also prioritizes user privacy. It uses a number of features to ensure that your data is safe, regardless of the VPN mode you use.
While these claims are impressive, we need to see whether ClearVPN lives up to them. But don’t worry, we’ve tested all aspects of this versatile VPN service.
Setup & getting started
We found no surprises here. Downloading and installing ClearVPN on your Mac is an effortless task. You can obtain the installation file from the official website, and the installation process will be completed in a few seconds. You can download the official apps for Android and iOS from the Play Store and the App Store, respectively.
Once you have signed into your ClearVPN account, you can immediately enjoy all the benefits of this VPN. However, depending on your device, you may need to grant some permissions. For example, on macOS and iOS, you need to grant permission to create and modify VPN configurations.
In short, you do not have to worry about the setup process at all, especially if you use an iOS or Android device. And, as soon as you have logged in, you can enjoy the intuitive UI that ClearVPN comes with. Now, we will talk about the user experience aspect.
Based on a week’s experience with ClearVPN, we are really impressed by how it performed. First, we did not face any hassles while using different modes of the VPN service. Second, we actually loved how ClearVPN has arranged these modes. There is an appreciable amount of gamification within the macOS app.
As mentioned earlier, ClearVPN offers three main options when you open the VPN app, and each of these options has multiple choices. Let’s talk about the Smart connection mode. You can choose between three options within the Smart connection mode:
This mode works great when you want to avoid web restrictions. Many countries tend to block websites, and you can use the No Restrictions option to unblock most of these sites.
As the name suggests, this option lets you prioritize speed over other aspects like security. In this mode, ClearVPN detects your current location and finds the server closest to you, retaining speed while adding at least one layer of protection.
ClearVPN lives up to its name with this option within the Smart connection mode. It has been designed to block ads and ensure the highest level of privacy. To do so, the VPN service connects to servers located in select countries, even if transmission speeds are affected.
Similarly, you can choose two other modes, namely Location Changer and Streaming, and we will talk about these features in a bit. However, one thing clear here is that ClearVPN has optimized the UI based on what people want from a straightforward VPN service.
Now, we shall look at some features that make ClearVPN different from other VPN apps we have tried in the past.
Although we have seen intuitive VPN apps in the past, ClearVPN takes things to the next level. It has been designed in such a way that you do not need to worry about aspects like latency or server locations. Instead, you can tell the VPN app what you want, and it will make an informed decision for you.
Even though the ClearVPN app makes things easier, it does not take away the options for customization. For instance, there are times when you need to select a particular server location. You get to have these options when you choose the Location Changer mode or the Streaming mode.
Understanding that people rely on VPNs for streaming, ClearVPN has dedicated an entire section for optimized content streaming. In this mode, you get to select server locations that will unlock specific streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, etc. In our experience, these selections were 100% functional.
Despite all the effortless options it has, ClearVPN remains one of the most secure options out there. For instance, it maintains industry-standard encryption across the server locations. This way, you can be sure that no one has access to what you are browsing on the internet. It works great with the no-logs policy of the service.
We also loved that ClearVPN does not restrict torrenting. You can pick the option for torrenting-enabled servers from the collection of major shortcuts. The best part is that you can choose between over 20 servers that come under the category. However, we cannot say that ClearVPN has the best torrenting speeds.
Please keep in mind that it is not an exhaustive list of features. We have not talked about basic features like an internet kill switch, either. But it is important to note that ClearVPN checks all these essential boxes.
Speed & performance
We conducted over a dozen speed tests under different circumstances to evaluate the speed and performance of the ClearVPN app. Here are the key takeaways:
- We found that ClearVPN offers reasonable download and upload speeds, regardless of the server you select. However, it’s important to note that these speeds are relative to your location.
- As shown in the screenshots, the speeds you can achieve through ClearVPN are impressive. They may be sufficient for basic browsing needs, but you should be more selective if you plan to use the VPN for torrenting or specific downloads.
- It’s worth mentioning that ClearVPN is not necessarily one of the fastest VPNs. Instead, it uses innovative technologies to ensure a balanced VPN experience. This is also the case in terms of stability.
Overall, the speed and performance from ClearVPN do not disappoint. But you may want something more specific if you are determined to get the maximum speeds.
Privacy & security
There is no doubt that ClearVPN is a privacy-friendly VPN service. In fact, we have already mentioned that it comes with a strict no-log policy. This means that the VPN service will not maintain a record of what you have done while connected to one of its VPN servers. This policy also means that the company does not store any information that could put you in a dangerous position later.
However, it is worth noting that these claims are from the company itself. We would love to get the opinion of independent auditors, especially regarding how no-logs-friendly the servers are. Some customers have also noticed that ClearVPN apps require more permissions than typical options.
On the one hand, ClearVPN needs these permissions to enable all its features, including the smart connection. That is, the VPN needs to know how you use system resources before it can make an intelligent decision about the location. On the other hand, you can turn off these permissions if you find them problematic.
It is also worth noting that ClearVPN comes from MacPaw, which is headquartered in Ukraine. While it may not sound problematic, Ukraine is not as privacy-friendly as locations like Switzerland or the British Virgin Islands. Therefore, if you are concerned about how your data is handled, ClearVPN may disappoint you a bit.
With all that said, we have to appreciate ClearVPN for the balance it brings to the table. You do not have to make any major compromises in terms of privacy!
We also need to discuss how optimized ClearVPN is for streaming. Given that the VPN app has a dedicated section for streaming, it is no surprise that the company wants to focus on this aspect of VPN use.
In our experience, ClearVPN was able to unblock all the streaming platforms it claimed to. For example, we could access BBC iPlayer, which is not available in our original location. The same was true for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max.
We also appreciate that you can select what you want to unblock and make the right decision. Overall, ClearVPN delivers on its promises in the content streaming department. While it may not be the fastest VPN for unblocking these platforms, it definitely works for most people.
Once again, we must commend the well-balanced structure of the ClearVPN service.
This is an area where ClearVPN has disappointed us a little.
For what it’s worth, ClearVPN offers official apps for the following platforms:
As you can see, it does not offer a browser extension or an option to set up the VPN across a router. Therefore, if you need a VPN that you want to set up throughout a network, ClearVPN may not be the best choice.
However, we love that ClearVPN’s apps for all these platforms are well-built and optimized. You do not have to worry about lags or glitches while using the service.
Like its competitors, ClearVPN offers VPN servers located in different parts of the world. The options are spread across Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, South America, and the Middle East. While some of these servers are multifunctional, others have been dedicated to maximum privacy or speed.
We found it impressive that ClearVPN has followed some tactics to bring its features to countries that have restricted the use of VPNs. For instance, if a country asks the VPN service provider to make logs available, ClearVPN will set up a virtual server, which may be physically located elsewhere.
This way, users can enjoy the benefits of geo-based content unblocking and anonymity without forfeiting their data to the authorities. In this aspect alone, we can appreciate what ClearVPN has done.
Like other products from MacPaw, ClearVPN also offers the benefit of high-priority and reliable customer support. In addition to the extensive Knowledge Base, which answers frequently asked questions, you can use email or live chat to get in touch with the customer support team.
Based on our experience, the customer support via live chat was not only courteous but also efficient. We did not have to wait for more than a minute, and ClearVPN support assures that a representative will be connected to a request within two minutes.
Overall, we are very impressed by the courteousness and effectiveness of the ClearVPN support system.
Pricing & plans
We need to discuss the free and paid plans of ClearVPN.
The free version of ClearVPN is one of the best in its category. Perhaps the best thing about ClearVPN is that it does not restrict bandwidth, unlike its competitors. This means you can use the internet without any hassle, even if you want to download large files. However, you will not have access to the entire collection of VPN servers. Most of the intelligent features, such as Smart connections, are also missing in the free plan. So, if you want these features and the entire range of privacy-focused servers, you need to get the paid plan.
As we mentioned, the paid version of ClearVPN offers the complete package. You do not have to worry about restrictions at all. As far as pricing goes, you can get the service for as low as $12.95 per month. You can also save a lot of money if you opt for an annual subscription, which will cost you $92.95. Kindly note that ClearVPN is now selling on an 30% off deal for TheSweetBits readers exclusively, simply apply the coupon 30OFF to get the deal now. Even better, you can get ClearVPN through a Setapp subscription, which is available for around $10 per month. This is definitely a great way to save money, as the Setapp subscription ensures access to hundreds of other macOS apps.
One thing we noticed about the pricing plan is that a single account can only be used on up to six devices. Upgrading to a premium plan does not change this number, which may be a limitation for some advanced users. If we keep this aside, we believe the pricing plans from ClearVPN are reasonable and worth what you pay.
Pros and cons
- An incredibly intuitive User Interface
- Multiple shortcuts and VPN profiles
- Unblocks popular streaming platforms
- Optimized apps for popular OSs
- A relatively accommodative free plan
- There is room for improvement in the security aspect
- It does not offer browser/router extensions
Is it safe to use ClearVPN?
Does ClearVPN work with Netflix?
ClearVPN works with Netflix and other popular streaming platforms. In fact, the VPN app lets you select the connection method based on the platform that you want to unlock. This way, you can unlock the region-specific versions of streaming platforms. For instance, if you want to access content that is only available on Netflix UK, you have an option to do so.
Is the ClearVPN free version worth it?
The free version of ClearVPN is one of the best free VPNs we have come across. First and foremost, the VPN service does not restrict monthly bandwidth, but you can only connect to a few servers. So, if you want a hassle-free way to protect your online privacy, the ClearVPN free plan is definitely worth considering.
Who owns ClearVPN?
ClearVPN comes from MacPaw, a Ukrainian company that has been developing popular software products for Mac and iOS devices. The ClearVPN app has been notarized by Apple and offers the best level of security.
The final verdict
In the end, we believe that ClearVPN is a great choice if you need a rather balanced privacy solution. As it claims, the VPN service focuses on ease of use and customer satisfaction. Multiple connection modes and a diverse collection of VPN server locations make this possible.
We also found that the apps do a great job of ensuring the best streaming speeds and reliability. Overall, even though ClearVPN does not offer the fastest transmission speeds, you should check it out. To make things more attractive, the free version of ClearVPN offers so much value.
At this point, if you do not already have a VPN, it is foolish not to try it.