Banana VPN—it’s hard to forget such a creative name and such an obvious corporate symbol (yes, a bunch of bananas). However, the company is no monkey business and has been rapidly growing since 2007. The company is based in the Cyprus, and was founded by Johnny K, who provides a direct email address to interested customers. The company offers anonymous and secure VPN, as well as Internet browsing. Banana VPN adheres to ethical business standards, and thus states that it will not tolerate illegal activity on its network, including P2P. Banana VPN has already attracted the attention of major publications, including PC World, ZDNet and PCM.
The company offers membership for $14.99 per month, and only categorizes payment plans by terms, not features. One account gives you access to all types of VPN in all their countries. If customers pay in advance, in terms of six months or twelve months, they will receive discounts; $60 is the total for six months and $100 is the total for a year.
The company offers fewer servers than the average, about nine VPN servers in major locations such as Texas, Washington, the UK, Germany, Canada and Hong Kong and Singapore. Most unusually, the company states that it does not accept logins or orders from users in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Nigeria where encryption is actually illegal. This is also because of current relationships with aforementioned countries and the US, where the service and payment processor is based.
Banana VPN offers practically every technology available, including OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSEC and SSTP and is difficult to block. The company works with static shared IP addresses so anonymity is greater. The technology allows users to be protected from DNS phishing, and offers DNS bases Botnet/Malware protection. Users can easily watch blocked sites and use modern programs like Skype while VOIP applications will need their Dedicated IP plan.
Banana VPN offers a ticket system, live chat and email. The president himself states that the company will “respond to all emails as soon as possible and usually within the hour.” He provides his company email address for complaints or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regular customer support is available every day from 10:00 – 22:00 GMT UK Time, through email. There is also an online support forum for users to assist each other.
The company does proclaim on their site that they have a 100% money back guarantee policy. It is a 3-day refund policy and is available for any reason, longer periods available if service doesn’t work. Since accounts are subscription based, the refund policy works a bit differently than with other plans. The company automatically bills users until cancellation.
There are no limits on bandwidth, downloads or uploads, nor are any activity logs kept. Traffic is anonymous and secure thanks to superior 128-bit encryption. The company does place a ban on P2P usage and related sites, which is not a practice banned by most of the competition. Other companies simply require using overseas servers, or paying more money. However for Banana VPN, file sharing ports, protocols and sites are blocked and monitored. The company claims it does this because of legalities, and to maintain its servers. This is a bit troubling, since practically every other competitor will not warn users that it monitors usage.
The US and UK servers have a one Gbit connection. However, company servers in other countries have 100mbit, which is a significant difference in speed. According to independent testing, the speed is actually quite good and unnoticeable when it comes to encryption-based slowdowns. The service was compared to other VPN providers in terms of performance and frequently ran over at a 50 Mbps download rate and a 1.5 Mbps upload rate. The slight speed drop was not deemed enough to affect sites like Hulu and Pandora. However, the company does monitor server loads every day, in an attempt to keep them at a minimum.
Supported devices include modern mobile systems such as the Nokia S60 w(SymVPN), the Android (2.1 or greater) and Windows Mobile. In addition, it works on all iPhone, iPad and iTouch devices. Any system that uses Windows PC and Mac OX can probably work with this VPN service.
Supported operating systems include Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Mac OS X is also supported, though Linux is not. No additional software is required, as the system uses the VPN software that is already installed in your OS. Supported applications include most mainstream web browsers, email clients, instant messengers (MSN, Yahoo, ICQ) as well as Skype and Google Talk.
The company does not offer any free trial at this time. However, they do have the 100% money back guarantee, though it’s for a short period of time.
Other thing stated in this review is that the company accepts payments from credit cards or from Plimus.com, a secure method of online payment. The service can be cancelled through customer support or through Plimus. PayPal is accepted, but customers must email the company first and attach proof of ID. This may include a driver’s license or a credit card, though the full credit card number does not have to be given. One distinct advantage is that the company can provide either dedicated IP or shared IP, and this is something that not a lot of VPN hosts allow. However, despite its many benefits, the company appears to be more invasive and restrictive than other sites, given its views on P2P sharing and the like. The fact that it does not currently have a free trial period is problematic, though the 100% money back guarantee may placate users who want to evaluate the system. This is an ideal plan for some users, but perhaps not the best decision for users hoping to download huge files, or do anything questionable, since the company monitors downloading rates.
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