Encrypt.me Review: Is it good this 2021?
Well-designed but not private enough
Encrypt.me has user-friendly client apps and is laudable for its commitment to accessibility, but it has more than a few security issues. The VPN service has good intentions, but its stance on P2P activities negatively affects user privacy. Lastly, it’s severely lacking in device support, updated support articles, and server coverage.
Privacy and Security
Encrypt.me reassured its user security with two audits by Security Innovation in 2016 and 2019.
In its 2019 audit, the well-respected third-party app security consultant found two vulnerabilities in the VPN provider’s Android and Windows applications, but both have since been fixed.
Still, it’s concerning that Encrypt.me is located in the US, a member of both the Five Eyes and Fourteen Eyes surveillance alliance.
Encrypt.me constantly checks any updates and vulnerabilities for VPN protocols like OpenVPN and IPSec. Likewise, it’s been migrating essential components from SHA-1 to the SHA-256, a more secure algorithm.
The OpenVPN endpoits (at least for the macOS client) use a custom 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman (DH) group to secure the VPN tunnel. Similarly, the IPSec endpoints for iOS devices employ the 1536-bit DH group by default.
An immediate red flag to Encrypt.me is its strict policy against torrenting and P2P file-sharing in general. The company prevents new users from using the VPN service for P2P activities, which means it has ways to identify such activity in the first place.
Encrypt.me stores information to catch users participating in “illicit activities”, and it’s alarming that the data is kept for two weeks — and 16 days at most.
The VPN service reiterates that its logs of outbound source ports and virtual IP addresses can’t identify a specific user, but it also says that its database of VPN sessions helps customer support and identification of VPN abuses.
Encrypt.me has at least 110 servers located in the following regions:
– North America
– South America
Users can expect between 110 and 115 servers being online on a given day. Unsurprisingly, many servers are based in the US.
Also, Encrypt.me has a Status page indicating the uptime for both the website and the VPN service. The former has 100% uptime in the last 90 days while the latter has 99.83%, which is normal for a top-rated VPN service.
Ease of Use
The Encrypt.me apps all worked well. They launch fast and feature an ergonomic design. Thus, the apps are visually clean and are easy to navigate.
Connecting to and changing servers is easy both on laptops and mobile devices. While we did notice a slight difference in speed between geographically close and remote server locations, neither led to bad in-game lags or constant video buffering.
Furthermore, we tried deploying private endpoints (with a Family plan), and its one-click deployment is seamless, made possible by the utilization of Docker container images.
Encrypt.me is committed to improving accessibility, specifically concerning people with visual, cognitive, hearing, and/or motor impairments.
In September 2019, the VPN for privacy announced its cooperation with Axess Lab. The audit took was based on WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 and included the following suggestions:
- Lower text contrast ratio
- Better screen reader navigation
- Icons with labels
The VPN service will continuously work on its accessibility features, but Encrypt.me being vocal about it alone is commendable.
Encrpyt.me has official apps on five platforms:
- iOS (10+)
- Android (4.4+)
- macOS (10.10+)
- Windows (7 SP1+)
- Amazon (Fire OS 5.0+)
It’s good to have official support for Amazon devices, but the absence of Linux is disappointing. Many people prefer the open-source OS because it’s more secure than Windows 10 and even macOS. Plus, many routers rely on Linux-based firmware to support VPN connections.
Lastly, Encrypt.me doesn’t have browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Encrpyt.me offers flexibility with its four general categories: Passes, Subscriptions, Families, and Teams.
Unfortunately, it has no introductory rates for any plan and doesn’t support anonymous payment modes like Bitcoin and gift cards.
Besides, the secure VPN service has a Mini Plan ($2.99/mo). It’s significantly cheap, but only because it has a 5GB data limit — and the average user will need more than that to last the month.
Passes and Subscriptions
Passes and Subscriptions have monthly ($9.99) and annual ($99.99) plans, but only the former has the budget-friendly Week Pass ($3.99).
Both categories have no data restrictions, but Passes exist not only for the weekly pass but also for users not preferring automatic charges on a monthly or yearly basis.
Thus, Passes allow people to easily skip a VPN the next month instead of having to cancel their monthly subscription and then resubscribing the month after next.
Downgrading to a data-limited subscription (like the Mini Plan) is easy to do — and the same goes for upgrading to unlimited plans.
The family plans are divided between monthly ($12.99) and annual ($149.99). It’s good to provide a longer billing option, but families save only $5 if they pay yearly instead of monthly.
As for their features, both plans allow up to five family members and have unlimited data and devices.
Encrypt.me differentiates itself from other top secure VPN services with its flexible plan for teams and entire companies.
The minimum charge is $15.98/mo for two members ($7.99/team member). So even if only one actually uses the VPN, they must still pay for the monthly VPN of two members.
Moreover, the monthly rate per member becomes lower depending on the total number of users:
- $7.99 (up to 24 members)
- $6.99 (25-99 members)
- $5.99 (100-249 members)
If at least 250 members will register for Encrypt.me, the group should contact the anonymous VPN for pricing.
Trial and Refund
Unlike many of the best VPN providers justifying their lack of free trials with their 30-day money-back guarantee, Encrypt.me has both — it’s never a matter of either/or. Other companies were just greedy.
Encrypt.me didn’t settle for the average seven-day duration: Its free trial lasts two weeks.
And while all secure VPN providers can’t refund purchases made from the Apple App Store, Encrypt.me encourages users to contact support to help them get their money back.
Encrypt.me has 24/7 live chat support and users can submit their concerns with help desk tickets. Sadly, the VPN service has no phone support even with its company being in the US.
Users can access the Help Desk on the official website. It has a search bar and has six general topics:
- Quick start guides
- App-specific queries
- Advanced user queries
Users can find over 150 articles, but the content generally feels lacking and inconsistent in their use of bullets and numbering.
Some have proper spacing while others have walls of text. Also, only five articles have videos — with a sixth one supposedly coming soon.
Encrypt.me has a lot to improve, particularly in terms of server coverage, user privacy, and pricing. The best VPN services must always provide industry-standard security, yet Encrypt.me lacks transparency. Anonymous payment options, Linux support, and a strict and genuine no-logs policy are non-existent.
It’s great that the VPN provider knows that individuals, families, and entire corporations alike do need VPNs. Likewise, its two-week free trial and accessibility features are game-changing. But even with its independent audits, Encrypt.me — with its US location and stance on P2P activities — isn’t worth it.