Steganos Online Shield/OkayFreedom Review

Pros

  • Clear no-logging policy
  • Cheapest annual subscription (OkayFreedom)

Cons

  • Mediocre connection speeds
  • Limited range of endpoint countries
  • Limited range of configuration and privacy options
  • Doesn't work for Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  • Limited range of supported platforms

Key Features

  • Review Price: £35.25
  • SOS: $49.95 (£35.25) per year - 5 devices ($29.95/£21.14 for license extensions)
  • OkayFreedom: $24.95 (£18.75) per year - 1 device, Windows only
  • Boxed copies available for physical purchase
  • Supports OpenVPN

What is Steganos Online Shield and what is OkayFreedom?

Steganos operates two VPN brands, both of which use the same infrastructure and have the same basic security policies. Steganos Online Shield (SOS) allows five simultaneous connections from a variety of devices, while OkayFreedom is a low-cost single-device subscription, which is also available as an ad-supported, 500GB per 30 days free service.

Related: Best VPN

Steganos Online Shield – Features and usability

Steganos Online Shield’s client has a simple interface and, by default, it opts for the fastest connection. You can also select your endpoint country of choice via a pull-down menu. Other options on the main client screen enable ad and tracker blocking, anonymise your browser ID string and automatically erase cookies.

There aren’t many extra settings, but you can configure it to automatically connect to a VPN endpoint when Windows starts, enable an extra layer of protection to prevent your real IP address from potentially leaking via the WebRTC API, and add VPN exceptions for your outgoing email server in case your email provider isn’t VPN-friendly.

Steganos Online Shield only gives you 15 endpoint countries to choose from, but the available options are useful and include the UK, the Netherlands, the USA, Japan and, unusually, Russia.

Steganos Online shield

Steganos Online Shield – Performance

Unfortunately, its performance, although somewhat improved over previous years, hasn’t kept pace with the fast speeds we’re seeing from most of its rivals, with throughput of 1.5MB/s to the USA, 4.8MB/s to the Netherlands and 3.9MB/s to the UK.

We weren’t able to access any streaming media services apart from region-locked YouTube videos.

Related: What is a VPN?

Why buy Steganos Online Shield?

Both Steganos Online Shield and OkayFreedom are privacy-oriented and backed by a no-logging policy. Steganos is based in Germany, which requires ISPs – but not VPN providers – to retain traffic metadata for 10 weeks.

The company states that “both services interweave metadata of a huge number of users in a way that cannot be untangled. Therefore, an individual user cannot be identified with one IP-address and personal data can neither be determined nor passed to state or police.”

For extra privacy, physical boxed SOS keys are available. The default currency that Steganos is priced in is now Euros, which means that, for UK buyers, the service has become a little more expensive. An annual subscription works out to £43.75, with a six month subscription at £36.53 and a monthly option at £6.96

Why buy OkayFreedom?

If you just need a single VPN connection for one Windows PC, OkayFreedom theoretically costs a flat $29.95 (£22.51) per year, but is currently available for $24.95 (£18.75) via a pop-up that appears if spend more than a couple of minutes on the OkayFreedom website.

That works out to £1.56 a month and is the cheapest annual fee we’ve seen from a VPN provider. Remember, though, that you can only connect one device to it at a time and that it’s only available for Windows PCs.

Verdict

The OkayFreedom free service is extremely handy, and if you’re after the cheapest annual VPN subscription you can find, it’s a solid no-frills option.

Steganos Online Shield, is less of a bargain, though you can connect up to five devices at a time with your annual subscription. However, Private Internet Access’s faster and more feature-packed annual subscription, at £30.02, provides a lot more by way of features and endpoints.

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