WHAT’S IN THIS REVIEW?
Whoer VPN is a provider which offers a simple free server to go along with their premium software. It was impossible to pay for, there were a couple of questionable links to Russia, it was confusing to research, and left a lot to be desired. Underneath it all, there is some potential, but it is worth the risk?
Here’s everything you need to know about Whoer VPN, as we take a deep dive into what to expect from the lesser-known service.
This was a strange review. Take Whoer VPN’s ‘supported payment methods’, seen below:
PayPal is what I’d normally use, as it’s easy to cancel a subscription through their platform. Despite being listed, it wasn’t there as an option when it came time to pay up. Then they refused to process my credit card, as well as Google Pay.
As I was saying, it was a strange review.
After all, if it’s that difficult to sign up and make a payment, can they be trusted to run a VPN server that is in care of your personal data?
Anyway, Whoer VPN also offers a free version of their software, with various limitations. Given the payment issues seen above, we’ll be looking at how it compares to other free providers such as Atlas VPN, and why it would probably be best to give it a miss.
About Whoer VPN
Whoer VPN is a budget-friendly provider that appears to be based in Cyprus. They’ve been around since 2008 in some shape or form, which is an eon compared to many other VPN services on the market.
A cursory scan of their LinkedIn page shows staff split between Cyprus, Russia, and Ukraine, and that isn’t the only link they have to the federation. My payment was processed via a Russian portal, while they also have servers located in the region. If you check the language settings in the app, the first option is ‘Pyccknn’. (In case you hadn’t guessed, Pyccknn directly translates to Russian.)
Russia has some of the tightest controls in the world in terms of what its citizens can access on the internet. In 2019, they blocked nine of the biggest VPN providers who declined to use their content-filtering system.
Consider NordVPN’s blog post at the time:
“Connecting to NordVPN servers in Russia may no longer be safe. To prevent any service disruptions or malfunctions, we will be shredding all of our Russian servers and removing them from our service. Connecting to them will be impossible.”
The point is, most providers understand the difficulties that arise when operating in Russia. In comparison, Whoer VPN doesn’t seem to mind.
While there is an address, there’s no phone number that I could find on their website. In an age of online transparency, the lack of information about the company is a definite red flag.
Pros & Cons
We’ve looked at Whoer VPN with a fair and impartial lens, and we’ve condensed the review into a range of pros and cons that can be found below.
For what it’s worth, Whoer VPN does come with a few advantages users may find helpful:
- Free tier with limited speeds and one server location
- Affordable pricing – if you can make payment
- Double VPN functionality
- Responsive customer service
When sifting through Whoer VPN’s capabilities, we came across a handful of red flags worth noting:
- Smaller server network
- Possible Russian links
- Hard to claim a refund, or make payment
- Limited protocols to choose from
- Mediocre speeds with the free version
Whoer VPN does come packaged with a couple of nifty features which are worth mentioning.
Aside from quicker speeds, more servers, and priority technical support, the Free tier is essentially the same as the Premium version, so I was able to test them out properly.
Free Trial version
Before signing up, you can make use of a free trial, which gave me a total of 1,415 remaining days of access. As they explain;
“By connecting to the free Whoer VPN you get a working free VPN with all the functions, without restrictions on traffic, time, and without any advertisements. The free version of Whoer VPN service provides access to the Netherlands server at a speed of 1Mbps.”
1 Mbps is slower than Internet Explorer, and you might have trouble if you plan to stream content. Despite the server being located in Holland, it connected me to the French version of YouTube. It took a while to load, and struggled at anything better than 360p.
However, there’s no bandwidth cap, and it could be useful if you desperately need to unblock a website that is available in Holland.
Double VPN capabilities allow a provider to route your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one, encrypting your data twice in the process. Doubling up makes sense, unless you’re already noticing an impact on connection speeds. Many providers don’t bother to offer Double VPN capabilities, despite the numerous benefits it can give.
Whoer also deserves bonus points for allowing free users to access their Double VPN feature, as many would hide it behind the paid version of their software.
Kill Switch and Proxy
Additional security measures come in the form of a Kill Switch, and a proxy service. The Kill Switch is a security feature that protects your IP in case you unexpectedly lose connection to their servers, while the web proxy is a quick and free way to change your IP address, unblock sites, and gain anonymity on the Web.
However, you will need the premium version if you want access to more than one server.
- One month: $9.90
- Six months: $6.50
- 12 months: $3.90
Pricing is split between three tiers, depending on the amount of time you’re willing to commit to. You can decide between one month ($9.90/mo.), six months ($6.50/mo.), and 12 months ($3.90/mo.) contracts, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory.
In terms of making payment, it was more difficult than I expected. PayPal wasn’t an option, and they wouldn’t accept my credit card information. For some reason, it kept sending me to a .ru payment portal, including a Russian helpline at the bottom.
PayPal is listed as an option on their website but it was nowhere to be seen, and it was no different whether I was accessing their desktop or mobile site. In any case, I kept trying, going so far as to attempt to make the purchase via Google Pay with a different card. I got the same error, forcing me to stick with the Free version for the purposes of this review.
I did contact their support staff, who couldn’t help me, or answer why the portal was Russian, with no UK payment options.
It’s not too often that I test a VPN that refuses to let me sign up to a premium tier. If you do manage to make an account, be aware that their refund policy also differs from the norm. (Most providers now offer a hassle-free money-back guarantee.)
The Whoer VPN policy states:
“Refunds are provided in the event of problems directly related to our product. If there is direct evidence of problems with our software, such as error messages or screenshots provided by [the] customer, and our support department cannot solve these problems, the customer has the right to return.”
They go on to clarify; “The absence of the desired country and city in the server list is not a sufficient reason for a refund.”
It’s simply not up to the industry standard.
“Whoer VPN does NOT store the originating IP addresses of our users when connected to our VPN service, and thus cannot identify users when provided the IP address of one of our servers. We are also completely unable to disclose any information about the applications people use, the services they employ, or the websites they visit while using our VPN. We simply do NOT store this information.”
However, it’s not like the VPN has been audited by a third-party firm, and there are a number of questions surrounding their ownership and location. Essentially, you’re forced to take their claims at face value, which isn’t recommended from a privacy standpoint.
They also collect personal data “when you access the websites or use the services related to Whoer VPN, including www.whoer.net, or contact us regarding our services. We process your personal data in order to provide you our products and services, to send you direct marketing, optimize and improve our products and services, and to comply with our legal obligations.”
As I couldn’t purchase the full version, I was forced to stick with their free ‘Dutch’ servers for the testing phase. I headed over to speedtest.net to see exactly what they had to offer. In the first image, you’ll see my connection stats while using Wi-Fi.
Having switched on Whoer VPN, I ran the test again. Results while connected to their Amsterdam server can be seen below:
As promised, Whoer VPN has throttled the connection speed, which comes in at just under 1 Mbps. It’s not generous by any means, but should allow for basic browsing, or streaming in low quality.
You can do far better if you’re looking for a free VPN provider.
Server Locations & Network
The Whoer VPN server network is tiny, with options found in just 18 countries. They are:
It’s one of the smallest collections of server locations you’ll find, with a significant cluster based in Europe. It’s also worth noting that Whoer doesn’t supply any information about the number of servers they currently use, which would indicate that it may be on the lower side.
The lack of server locations hints to a small network, which could have an impact on speeds seen with the Premium version. I can’t say for sure, as I was locked out, but it could certainly be the case.
Fewer locations will also lead to slower speeds for users in far flung regions. Take Africa, South America, or even Australia. Users are going to struggle to see good speeds, or even a server anywhere near them.
One aspect that is of interest are the servers found in Russia, given the majority of larger providers have pulled out of the region. It’s a bit suspicious, especially given how small the network actually is.
Streaming & Torrenting
The trial version isn’t meant for streaming, due to the cap and the single location on offer. It *might be handy for anyone trying to access services based in the Netherlands, but how would it fare in reality?
Disney+ refused to load, while YouTube decided to open up a French version, rather than the Dutch website I was expecting.
Note the FR at the top
I was a bit confused, so I decided to do a quick test. I loaded up another VPN provider, accessed their Amsterdam-based servers, and opened YouTube in a new tab. The result?
YouTube NL. In other words, Whoer VPN wasn’t being entirely truthful in terms of the location of their free server, or it wasn’t working as it should be at the very least.
(I went on to test Amazon and eBay, as they have international websites for almost every country. As you can see in the image below, the Netherlands were correctly shown in both cases.)
In case you’re wondering, the same is true for Netflix, although speeds are still too slow for it to be anything other than a short-term option.
Censorship is a difficult one. Would I personally trust a provider with servers in Russia, that boasts about being ‘the best VPN for Crimea’? It doesn’t seem like a great idea, especially if you’re worried about government intervention.
This isn’t to say that their software doesn’t work, although results were mixed in terms of the free tier during testing.
On the other hand, the fact that they offer a free tier will undoubtedly help some users facing online censorship, even if there are better options on the market as of now.
Platforms & Devices
Whoer VPN is available on a range of platforms and devices, including a trio of browsers. It’s a good selection, and it’s more difficult to find tech that isn’t compatible with their software.
The app itself isn’t bad, giving you basic info such as your new IP address, as well as current upload and download data.
My Mac gave me a malware warning when I was installing the app, which is never a good sign, but there were no real issues that I found with the software during testing.
Options to use UDP or activate the Kill Switch are found in the Settings menu, but it’s still a fairly basic experience.
Encryption & Security
Given their lax attitude to getting information out there, it was tough to find out anything about their encryption protocols directly.
“With Whoer VPN, your data is protected by AES-256 encryption.”
That’s literally all they have to say on the matter. It’s astounding that they expect users to trust them with their personal data. As I had the ability to switch to UDP, it’s safe to assume that the software uses a version of OpenVPN. The open-source protocol is a good choice, although it would be nice to have WireGuard support, or a couple of different options to choose from at the very least.
The Kill Switch is a feature that helps in terms of security, although it’s turned off by default. That’s a small flaw that could easily be remedied with a minor update. Using Double VPN could also be useful, as it will provide a second layer of protection. Both are available with the free tier, so they deserve extra marks in that respect.
Whois is a service that “allows you to retrieve information about the location of IP addresses, servers or websites. You can find out the owner of an Internet resource and its contact details.”
Lastly, a DNS leak test is handy for any VPN user, but it didn’t work when I was using a different VPN to mask my location.
Despite a few positives, there’s no way we can knowingly recommend Whoer VPN in its present form. Privacy and trustworthiness are almost non-existent – unless it’s their privacy, rather than yours. It shouldn’t be so difficult to find out who owns a company, where it’s based, or basic information such as the number of servers they have on offer. Everyone else does, so why should you bother with the elusive Whoer?
It is a usable app, while the free tier is certainly better than nothing. However, 1 Mbps is too slow in 2021, even if they ask for nothing in return on the surface. Given the few locations on offer, it’s unlikely that top speeds are going to be amazing. We can’t say for sure either way, so the final score is based on the free version of their VPN.
Pricing is a strong point, although it’s useless if you’re unable to buy the premium tier in the first place. Why would they list payment options that aren’t actually available? It doesn’t make sense, but maybe it’s only purchasable in specific regions. I wasn’t able to get a straight answer from their live chat agent, in any case.
Transparency is a must in the present day, and you’ll find that it’s sorely lacking with Whoer VPN. The irony is, I just don’t know Whoer they are. (Sorry.) There are so many capable providers out there, with none of the issues found with the ‘Cyprus-based’ VPN.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are more expensive, but they offer a true premium service, and both have been audited by third parties. We’d recommend an option like Atlas VPN if you need a free provider, but nothing is going to beat paying a company to look after your data properly. For a mix of strong privacy and affordability, you can’t go wrong with Mullvad VPN.
Basically, we’d advocate using any other provider first, at least until Whoer VPN begins to live up to its name.