The OkayFreedom free service is handy, but its premium version isn’t worth the upgrade. MySteganos Online Shield has a brilliant free trial, but its sluggish performance and detection by Netflix mean that it won’t appeal to power users who prioritise either speed or streaming, while German data retention law will unnerve serious privacy enthusiasts.
- Clear description of log metadata handling
- 2GB free per month through OkayFreedom
- Generally slow transfer speeds
- Limited device support
- Review Price: £29.95
- UK pricing: MySteganos: £41.97 per year, £35.04 per six months, £6.68 per month
- UK pricing: OkayFreedom: Free (2GB per month), £29.95 per year, £40.31 per two years
- Boxed copies available for physical purchase
- Supports OpenVPN, IPSec (for iOS)
Steganos operates two VPN brands, both of which use the same infrastructure and have the same basic security policies: mySteganos Online Shield VPN and OkayFreedom.
MySteganos Online Shield allows five simultaneous connections from a variety of devices, while OkayFreedom is a low-cost single-device VPN service for Windows PCs, which is also available as an ad-supported, 2GB per month free service. (See our round-up of the best free VPNs.)
MySteganos Online Shield and OkayFreedom – Features and usability
Formerly known as Steganos Online Shield, the mySteganos VPN client has seen a little polish since I last took a look at it, as well as an upgrade to 23 endpoint locations from its former list of 15. Now branded as mySteganos Online Shield, the client automatically connects to either the nearest or the most recent VPN endpoint country you used.
Additional sliders allow you to quickly enable and disable adblocking, tracking, automatic cookie erasure and browser ID string anonymisation. A handful of advanced settings allow you to control whether the client connects at logon time, add exceptions to the cookie-clearing tools, add VPN exceptions for outgoing email, and disable the on-by-default VPN killswitch to prevent unencrypted traffic from being sent across your standard internet connection if the link to the VPN endpoint drops.
Note, though, that you’re limited to using Steganos’s official Windows, macOS, Android and iOS apps on up to five computers, tablets or smartphones, with no support for other operating systems or devices.
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MySteganos Online Shield and OkayFreedom – Performance
Related: What is a VPN?
|MySteganos Online Shield HTTP||53.36Mbps||43.20Mbps||17.84Mbps|
|MySteganos Online Shield FTP||n/a||55.69Mbps||n/aMbps|
By comparison to the speed test results above, the average HTTP download speeds for the January 2020 VPN group test, measured from a test system in the UK with a high-speed fibre connection, were 81.41Mbps from UK endpoints, 89.42Mbps for the Netherlands and 43.02Mbps from the US.
Steganos has always been one of the slower VPN services around and, as these comparative figures illustrate, that’s not changed. It’s fast enough for web browsing and HD video streaming, but downloads will be a little slow and more challenging streaming tasks may not perform adequately. I was also frequently unable to connect to FTP servers when using its endpoints.
Surprisingly, however, neither All 4 nor BBC iPlayer detected my VPN connection, although Netflix in the US did. This may be down to a relatively small pool of UK TV-watching users, but is a notable improvement on previous results from the service, and is handy if you’d rather not compromise your security by disconnecting your VPN just because you want to catch up on EastEnders.
Related: What is a VPN?
Should you buy mySteganos Online Shield or Okay Freedom?
Steganos is one of only a handful of reputable VPN providers that still offers a full seven-day free trial without any need for registration. This is particularly worthwhile if you’re setting up a system and need a VPN in a hurry, as you can simply download Steganos’s installer, run it and you’re immediately ready to go.
Germany isn’t the best country for a company to be headquartered in legislative terms but mySteganos and OkayFreedom advertise themselves as privacy-focused and have a no-logging policy.
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.” German law requires ISPs to retain traffic metadata for 10 weeks, but the implication here is that no useful metadata can be extracted.
For extra privacy, physical boxed keys are available. The default currency that Steganos is priced in is now euros, which means that, for UK buyers, the service has recently become a little more affordable due to a strong pound. An annual subscription costs £41.97, with a six-month subscription at £35.04 and a monthly option for £6.68.
OkayFreedom only gives you 2GB per month in exchange for displaying some adverts in your browser, but you can use it whenever you like. You can also subscribe for €29.95 (£25.19) per year or €47.92 (£40.31) every two years for a single device. That’s not a horrible price, but you can subscribe to Private Internet Access for a much faster multi-device service for the same money.
The OkayFreedom free service is handy, but its premium version isn’t worth the upgrade, and Windscribe and ProtonVPN’s free services are much more generous.
MySteganos Online Shield has a brilliant free trial, but its sluggish performance and detection by Netflix mean that it won’t appeal to power users who prioritise either speed or streaming, while German data retention law will unnerve serious privacy enthusiasts.
While it’s easy to use and clear in its intentions, Private Internet Access’s faster and more feature-packed annual subscription is much cheaper at £30.25, while streaming media fans should consider NordVPN or – if they like a solid security reputation – ExpressVPN.
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