Namecheap VPN (aka FastVPN) is a steal for the price point. Stay tuned as we take you inside out this newborn VPN service.
Namecheap started as a domain registrar in the year 2000. Since then, it has added web-hosting, cybersecurity products, and a whole lot more to its portfolio.
Its latest offering is a virtual private network: Namecheap VPN (now known as FastVPN).
Namecheap VPN is a curious case of a rookie trying to beat veterans.
Let’s analyze its case. But first things first.
What’s a VPN?
I’ll start with the same graphic to illustrate a VPN I’ve used with my HideMyAss VPN review.
You see, a VPN attempts to change your digital identity by disguising your IP address. It happens through a strongly encrypted data tunnel.
This way, a VPN helps you to:
- Keep Your Browsing Activities Private.
- Safely Conduct Online Transactions on Public WiFi
- Exercise Internet Freedom in Countries like China, Russia, etc.
- Unblock Geo-Restricted Content on Platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, etc.
- Share Files through P2P Transfer Mechanisms Such as Torrenting.
We’ve tested Namecheap VPN on various parameters like privacy protocols, geo-unblocking, network speed.
Conclusively, it’s hard not to recommend what Namecheap VPN has to offer for the amount it bills.
But let’s keep that for the last and better start conventionally.
Namecheap VPN Trial
Namecheap VPN trial gifts a free fully-featured VPN for a month.
Just register with Namecheap and verify your preferred payment method–credit/debit cards, PayPal, or Bitcoin. Notably, you don’t pay anything at checkout for this trial.
Namecheap VPN gives you unlimited connections, which is rare elsewhere. Besides, you can use it on almost any platform: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and WiFi router.
Please note that this review of Namecheap VPN is based on the Windows application.
Let’s go through some features before starting with the testing.
The UI is very straightforward, such that a first-timer will be at ease. The middle portion brings forward the functions listed on the left panel while the rest remains unchanged.
The good thing about the interface is nothing is hidden underneath. So, there is a negligible chance that you would miss out on any available feature.
The default screen has the option to connect to the available servers. As of this writing, there were 1000 in 50+ countries.
You can click the Best Available at the top to connect to the nearest server. This option will give you the fastest available speeds.
However, the server load (listed as Load % against the server name) also affects the rendered speeds. You can mark your favorite servers and then filter them to have them on the top.
Marking a country with several servers again auto connects you to the best one. Or, you can also search through the list to mark a specific location within a country.
Kill Switch defends your IP address from getting exposed whenever a VPN connection terminates. It can be due to switching between the servers, forgetting to turn on the VPN, or any technical glitch.
So, there won’t be any internet with the Kill Switch turned on if the VPN is disconnected.
VPN Protocols are the network conventions you use via a VPN application to go online.
There are many VPN protocols, each having certain attributes and use cases.
For instance, the IKEv2 is best for mobile devices. It reconnects quickly when you switch between various networks.
And the OpenVPN protocol strikes a perfect balance between privacy and speed.
This further uses TCP or UDP network protocols. TCP mode is slightly slow but highly secure and efficient in breaking through firewalls. UDP supports speedy connections but puts security on the back seat.
You can check our VPN protocols guide to go deep about this.
Make sure this is turned off.
No matter the promise, using a VPN with this turned on kills the fundamental idea–privacy–behind using a VPN.
Let’s move on to real-world performance.
The encryption and the distance between you and the VPN server takes an inevitable toll on the network speed. While no VPN service provider can completely offset the speed throttling, a minimum impact is obviously better for the end-users.
Here are the results for tests done with OpenVPN TCP protocol:
|Server||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Load (%)||Approx. Distance (KM)|
While it looks pretty clever to discuss speed test results, they are very condition-dependent. You would be lucky to get similar outputs for two tests done on the same server consecutively just seconds apart.
Conclusive, these are just for reference and can fluctuate as you blink.
I’ve used Wireshark to verify that the data packets actually go encrypted.
While the Without VPN Encryption details may not be a big deal for a layman, hackers can use these bits of information to wreak havoc.
Conclusively, the random data on the right side of the preceding image attests to the encryption.
DNS Leak Test
A DNS leak test will tell you who is handling your DNS requests. Sometimes, for inefficient VPNs, these requests are used to identify your ISP’s DNS servers (and thereby you) even when connected via VPN.
Check out these results of DNS leak test with a VPN mishandling DNS requests or without a VPN connection:
With the VPN:
DNS Leak test suggested that the DNS requests are going to the VPN servers, and there isn’t any leak.
That’s one more (and sometimes the only) reason a user subscribes to a VPN service. In short, Namecheap VPN passed this test with flying colors.
Although there aren’t any listed streaming optimized servers, and you have to try country-specific locations, regardless–it worked for all: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime USA.
Here are the screenshots:
This is the before image. I searched for Final Account, a US-only show, and the results suggested relevant titles but skipped over the exact search term as I don’t live in the US.
I then connected to the (United States) Ashburn server and hit refresh. The new suggestions gave the desired output as the first result this time:
Similarly, BBC iPlayer locked me out for The Tourist.
And again, Namecheap VPN to the rescue, this time with their Maidenhead server, UK.
Amazon Prime US
I had similar success with unlocking Amazon Prime US:
Hulu proved a lot smarter. Their systems check twice for your US location. First, I was able to bypass and create an account with them.
But, I was stopped at the payment page as I didn’t have any US-registered payment option.
Fret not. You can still own a legit prepaid US credit card without a US social security number. Just Google USA credit card for non-residents to get started.
Namecheap VPN is good, especially for streaming apps. Even the privacy features are nothing to complain about.
That being said, split tunneling could be a great addition, along with a list of a dedicated streaming and P2P-optimized servers.
But the dirt-cheap amount it charges nullifies all those issues quite effortlessly.
You should also go through some features to consider before buying a VPN.
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