TOUCH VPN REVIEW: Could have been one of Top 10 free VPNs but…
|Pros of Touch VPN||Cons of Touch VPN|
Touch VPN is one of the weirdest VPNs I’ve seen. Is it bad or good? It depends on what you want to use a Virtual Private Network for.
In this review, I will tell you how this obscure VPN service became a part of a huge corporation as well as an equal of such giants as Hotspot Shield and Betternet.
You will learn why Touch VPN may become one of the best Free VPNs very soon and what stops it from being one right now.
Here, you will also find tips on how to use Touch VPN. I’ve created them based on the thorough tests of security and performance claims truthfulness.
You can read this article in order or skip forward to the section you want by using the quick nav:
- What differs it from other VPNs
- Free use of Touch VPN
- What can Touch VPN do?
- What are the reasons to choose Touch VPN?
- What are the advantages and prices of the premium subscription?
- History of Touch VPN and information about the owner
- My conclusion
Here are the main characteristics of Touch VPN:
|Supported platforms||PC, Android, macOS, iOS, Chrome|
|Encryption standard||Supposedly AES 256|
|VPN protocols||Hydra VPN, OpenVPN, IPSec|
|Servers||Servers in 28 countries|
|Logs||IP addresses are logged|
Other than that, Touch VPN offers rather good conditions. The most valuable thing about Touch VPN is that 28 countries are accessible at the speeds acceptable for comfortable web-surfing and there are apps for all major platforms.
What differs it from other VPNs
I called Touch VPN weird for a reason or, in fact, three:
- There’s no mention of Touch VPN using the advanced superfast HydraVPN protocol anywhere on its website.
- Its apps for PC and Mac are 100% free, don’t show any ads and don’t have any significant limitations, which is usually not how freemium providers roll.
- The Windows app stopped connecting to the VPN on the third day of using it. I was unable to find an explanation.
The following three points describe the major differences between Touch VPN and its rivals:
- Higher speeds thanks to using the Hydra protocol (developed by AnchorFree for Hotspot Shield VPN);
- Comfortable use on desktops without ads or signing up;
- It has technological issues. For example, the PC app issue made its use impossible.
Other than that, Touch VPN is similar to other freemium VPNs that have both free and paid subscriptions.
Experienced users may notice an extra similarity between Hotspot Shield and Touch VPN, and it’s not a coincidence. Both services are owned by the same company, which I will tell you about in the chapter on the history of Touch VPN.
Free use of Touch VPN
The majority of users are interested in Touch VPN, first and foremost, as in a free VPN, and rightly so. Compared to most other free providers, Touch VPN doesn’t limit connection speeds too much and doesn’t impose any time limits.
What do you need to correctly use Touch VPN for free?
You only need to download and install their app or Google Chrome extension (only the browser traffic is going to be protected in the last case). The name of Touch VPN fully reflects its implementation: you just need to push the button once and the app will determine the best settings and VPN server location on its own. Given its pretty good choice of countries (28 popular locations as of this day), the automatic settings are quite effective.
If you want to choose a country manually, you can do it before or after a connection takes place. And all of it is completely free!
There’s a great edge that Touch VPN is different from many other free VPNs is that you don’t need to set anything up in the system of your device or install third-party software.
There are significant differences in how apps for various OSs work. While they all allow using Touch VPN for free, each app has settings specific to it:
|Supported protocols||Has premium settings||Has ads|
During my tests, I encountered a problem I couldn’t solve. On the third day of its use, the Windows app stopped connecting to any server. Even reinstalling it didn’t help.
By the way, Touch VPN is the first VPN I know about that doesn’t offer an installer for Windows but is only available in Microsoft Store.
I have run into one serious problem as well as multiple smaller ones while testing this service. I was surprised and distraught by how complicated it was to install the Chrome extension but I will tell you about it in the next chapter.
Generally speaking, I reckon Touch VPN an average service that emphasizes ads and marketing. The developer team has made a nice looking but empty thing rather than a high-tech product, though it does have some advantages its competitors don’t.
What can Touch VPN do?
In this chapter, I will tell you about all the characteristics of Touch VPN I have tested and give advice on how to use it as comfortably and securely as possible.
- Security of Touch VPN
- Tests of Touch VPN
- Touch VPN for Windows
- Touch VPN for Android
- Touch VPN for iOS
- Touch VPN for Mac
- Touch VPN for Chrome
- Usage recommendations
Security of Touch VPN
Before I started testing all the features of this provider, I had to determine which VPN protocol is used on Windows. The official website Touch VPN doesn’t mention it at all. As a matter of fact, the whole website is just one page with marketing content. Many parameters important for professionals had to be specified by testing.
So, the first thing I did was checking the matters of security and privacy. I used the powerful network monitoring utility called Wireshark to see:
- if all traffic is indeed encrypted;
- if there are any IP address leaks;
- how the VPN behaves when the server connection is unstable.
I was satisfied with the results. I found that the Windows version has the safe IPsec protocol while the one for Mac has Hydra VPN.
However, I’m bothered by the fact that on some locations an IP and the country where a server I connect to is located are not the same as the ones that are shown at the exit from the VPN channel.
Here’s the explanation:
As you can see in the picture, the IP address determined by the Whoer.net online service is in Russia (shown at the top inside the frame). However, Wireshark shows that all the traffic encrypted with Hydra (a kind of TLS, in the lower rectangle) is sent to 188.8.131.52. This IP address is from the Netherlands (the rectangle in the center of the pic).
Unless you really reside in the Netherlands, it’s hardly a problem for everyday use of the VPN. However, it’s not something a safety-conscious user would want. Essentially, the VPN connected to the Netherlands instead of the location I chose. The Russian IP I got was most likely caused by IP spoofing (Internet set tinkering).
In other words, it is probably a fake location.
I’d like to also mention the absence of the modern kill switch function which ensures extra privacy when the VPN connection fails.
To summarize, Touch VPN provides basic security features, really encrypts traffic and uses safe VPN protocols. Not all of its locations, however, are physically in the same place as they claim to be. Besides, it doesn’t protect you when you change locations or have an unstable Internet connection.
Tests of Touch VPN
But it’s time to resurface and test some of the features that are equally in-demand for modern users.
Neither Netflix nor Hulu works with Touch VPN. Moreover, if most providers at least allow me to visit the websites of the corresponding services, this time I couldn’t open Netflix.com:
The situation with Hulu is similar: only the main page of its website is accessible.
It means that Touch VPN won’t unblock geo-restricted content. If you’re looking for a VPN for streaming, make use of our best VPNs for Netflix ranking.
Despite some reviews saying that free Touch VPN doesn’t support torrenting, I don’t agree with that.
Using qBittorrent, I easily started downloading a file via P2P:
As you see, the download started without a hitch. The speed being low is something most free VPNs that allow torrenting have.
Nevertheless, I don’t recommend using Touch VPN with torrents because, without a kill switch, your ISP can learn that you torrent sooner or later. Just one second is enough.
3. Google search and the use of Gmail
Few people want a VPN to use Google search with it but that’s not really what I was testing. It often happens a low or average-level VPN causes problems during a search and often, the search engine asks for a confirmation that you are a human.
Another problem is Gmail access. The mailing service simply won’t let you use it if your IP address is “dirty”.
Unfortunately, Touch VPN failed at both tests. The search engine made me solve captcha while Gmail displayed an error message:
4. IP leak tests with an unstable connection
I decided against performing a test that simulates an unstable connection of mobile devices. Such a test lets you check how well an app hides your IP even when the VPN is off. However, Touch VPN doesn’t have a kill switch. Without this function, such a test is impossible.
Thus, the provider doesn’t maintain privacy and security when the VPN connection breaks.
5. Other issues of Touch VPN
Other errors, critical and not, appeared from time to time during my tests.
For example, I soon encountered an unknown error on macOS:
And, as I have said, in 2 days of using it, the PC app would no longer connect to the VPN:
No matter how many times I pressed the “Connect” button, a connection attempt was short and unsuccessful.
So, one the one hand, tests have confirmed the basic features of the VPN technology. On the other, they have concluded that Touch VPN isn’t good for streaming and when you require privacy and data protection 100% of the time. I also don’t recommend using it for torrenting.
Touch VPN for Windows
Pros of using Touch VPN on Windows:
- Unlimited and free
- Good speeds for a free VPN
- Good choice of countries
- Fast connections thanks to the IPsec protocol
- Supports torrenting
- No settings and extra features but the choice of locations
- Stopped working after 2 days on Windows 10
- Can only be installed from Microsoft Store
The PC version is the most limited one in terms of functionality. You can’t even get a paid subscription on it. The only things you get are the country selection and the “On” button. This VPN app may have the fewest features I’ve ever seen.
Touch VPN for Android
The Android version is quite the opposite as it has the biggest number of features (additional to those that are present in the Windows version):
- VPN protocol choice (OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, and HydraVPN);
- Apps Control (allows choosing apps that you don’t need to run the VPN with and apps to auto-start the VPN at launch);
- Can transfer to the premium subscription.
- Too many ads;
- Many users complain about ads being displayed full-screen even when the app works in background mode or is paused.
You can download Touch VPN for Android from Google Play Market by following this link.
Energy efficiency can be described as good. Android devices consume a lot of energy when they perform complicated calculations related to encryption and other relevant tasks. However, the use of the efficient HydraVPN protocol allows you to lower the CPU load.
Touch VPN for iOS
The pros and cons of using this app on iPhone or iPad are the same as on Android. The only difference is that here, there’s no Apps Control function and the only protocols to choose from are Hydra VPN and IPsec.
You can download Touch VPN for iOS from Apple App Store by following this link.
Touch VPN for Mac
The functionality of the Mac version is limited. However, it has, at least, some kind of menu unlike the Windows app even if it just gives you the ability to sign up and give feedback.
In this app, you will only find the choice of countries and the “On” button for practical use, just like on PC.
Besides the country choice, the app shows the amount of incoming and outgoing traffic. There is no protocol selection.
Touch VPN for Chrome
It wasn’t very easy to install the Touch VPN extension for Google Chrome. When you follow the link to it, you get to the Google Play Market page of its Android app. Only once you install that, you can enable the browser extension on desktops from its menu. However, the user of the Chrome version must be the same as the Android user.
Too complicated? I can’t argue with the truth! I too think that the Chrome extension is too hard to install. It’s much easier to install the app for the entire OS with just one click.
If you are using a VPN connection, your IP address is hidden from ad networks and replaced with the IP address of our VPN servers
But what if you aren’t using a VPN connection? Many users complain that ads are displayed to them even when the app is inactive. The conclusion seems obvious: in those cases, the real IP address is freely available to ad networks, at least, sometimes.
And the most important thing:
I will explain in case it isn’t very comprehensible: Touch VPN collects device identifiers that contain a lot of data including the IP address of the device.
So, it is evident that Touch VPN logs the user’s real IP address. Whether it does it on its own or in collaboration with advertising networks is not so important.
Touch VPN is quite a simple VPN that has almost no useful settings but changing the protocol in its apps for mobiles.
However, here are three pieces of advice that can be useful to you in certain circumstances:
- Keep an eye on the activity of the Android app because with the default system settings it can stop or shut down entirely while the device is in sleep mode.
- Choose popular locations (US, UK, etc.). This will lower your chances of the incoming and outgoing IP addresses not matching (I’ve talked about it in one of the previous sections).
- You can only stop the influx of ads on mobile apps by clearing the Touch VPN cache (works until the next launch).
What are the reasons to choose Touch VPN?
While Touch VPN isn’t one of the best free VPNs, many customers put it above others. What is the reason for it? Besides the obvious ones related to marketing and search, there are, in my opinion, two main reasons to use Touch VPN:
- Relatively good speed
- Good country choice
Many other free VPNs have enormous issues with these.
In any case, you need to remember that Touch VPN also has a lot of important drawbacks and furthermore, keeps logs. It affects, first of all, privacy and security of the service. Moreover, it is based in the US where there are laws that allow the government to get access to private data in some cases. Additionally, the USA is a member of the 5 Eyes alliance.
It means that there are reasons to use Touch VPN only if you are not very concerned about your privacy.
What are the advantages and prices of the premium subscription?
I have mentioned Touch VPN’s premium subscription several times. What is it and what are its benefits? Maybe it gives you premium features like those of Surfshark VPN?
Alas, but no.
TouchVPN has 2 paid plans. Both are premium but their lengths are different:
- 1-month subscription costs $9.98
- 1-year subscription costs $5.99 per month ($71.88 per year)
Firstly, these prices are significantly higher than those of most VPNs on the best paid VPNs list.
Secondly, the only things that money buys you are some extra settings for VPN locations and access to faster servers. However, I haven’t found any proof that the speed is increased by any meaningful margin on the paid plans or at least, I haven’t noticed it. Buying a subscription also gets you rid of ads.
Is it worth paying for? I don’t think so.
History of Touch VPN and information about the owner
Touch VPN was founded in 2014 but sold to a large IT company called AnchorFree just a year later. This company has developed it to be what it is today.
It’s not a secret that the ads embedded into Touch VPN is broadcasted with the help of the same technology.
Can you trust such a company with your sensitive secrets after all that? It’s up to you to decide, of course, but I wouldn’t use a VPN service with built-in ads at all.
Let’s proceed. In 2018 and 2019, AnchorFree raised more than $300 million of capital. Today, the company name has changed to Pango. Based on the small research I did, I can conclude that this company is going to use the investments in a meaningful way. Pango has been actively hiring developers of various programming-related professions lately. The time will tell if it’s going to release a new competitive product.
Anyway, the company is developing and its plans to popularize and mainstreaming the VPN technology for security protection on the Internet are a promising task.
Address of Pango:
Pango Inc. / Betternet LLC / TouchVPN, Inc.,
1800 Sevort Blvd
Redwood City, CA 94063
Website of Pango: pango.co
To sum my tests of Touch VPN, I’d like to share my impressions about using this VPN as a regular customer.
The only version I liked was the Mac one. It’s free, quite fast, stable, and convenient.
I had issues either with installing it or using it for more than a few days on all other platforms. Alternatively, ads were simply driving me bananas.
So, Touch VPN is an okay freemium VPN with average characteristics and a promising owner.
- Provides an average level of privacy,
- Simple to use,
- Has a wide choice of countries though not all of them are real,
- Can stop working on Windows,
- Suitable for torrenting if it’s allowed in your country.
If you have some experience with using Touch VPN or you have any questions related to the topic of the article, feel free to leave your comments. Thank you for your attention to our work.