Panda Dome VPN 2021 Review
Reviews score: Very good
Panda, a world-class cybersecurity brand, has created one of the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested. That is not surprising, as it uses Hotspot Shield‘s servers, which are some of the fastest.
- Ultra fast: Panda belongs to the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, beating the well-known ExpressVPN with a big margin.
- Maximum privacy: Panda does not collect any information on you and your online activity (zero-logs). You are 100% anonymous.
- Highly secure: Panda uses the fastest VPN protocol (Catapult Hydra) and most secure encryption standard (AES-256).
- Excellent user reviews: Panda receives very high scores from users in Trustpilot and the Google Play store.
- Works with Netflix & Torrents (P2P).
- No kill switch: Panda’s VPN does not feature a kill switch.
- Servers in 23 countries: Although servers in 23 countries is enough for 99% of all users, some users might want more.
- Best deal: $ 2.96 / month
- Refund Policy: 30 days
- Customer Support: 24/7 Live chat
- Devices per account: 5
- Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android and iOS
- Works with US Netflix: Yes
- Works with Torrents: Yes
- Works in China: No
- Speed: 89 Mbps
- Servers in: 23 countries
- Server count: Unkown
- IP Addresses: Unkown
- Jurisdiction: Spain
- Data leaks: None
- Logging policy: No logs
Privacy and Security
The Good: Panda Dome VPN has a clear zero-logs policy, which means that is doesn’t track your online activity (browsing history) or store any personal identifiable information on you (originating IP address). It uses Hotspot Shield’s VPN protocol (Catapult Hydra), which is much quicker than the VPN protocol (OpenVPN) used by most other VPNs. Finally, Panda Dome VPN uses the top-of-the-line encryption standard AES-256.
The Bad: Panda Dome VPN does not use its own DNS servers and does not feature a kill switch. Because its VPN protocol, Catapult Hydra, isn’t open source, we can’t be sure if it’s equally as secure as OpenVPN.
What elements concerning privacy and security do we test for?
- Logging Policy
- Own DNS Servers
- Kill Switch Test
- Leak Test
1. Logging Policy
What is a logging policy and why should it matter to you?
When you use any app, the publisher may gather some personal information to find out how the app is being used, who uses it, and how they can improve its features or functionality. Although you might not think that would be the case, VPN providers also gather data about their users. This data is kept in logs.
While most VPN providers that keep logs do so to improve server performance and optimize their overall service, some also do it to prevent abuse of the app.
The information VPN providers could keep about you usually falls into one of the following brackets:
- Service-related information: This includes the address of the VPN server you use to browse the internet, the operating system you have installed, and the version of the app you’re using.
- Connection-related information: This includes the dates and times of your browsing sessions, their duration, and the total amount of upload and download per session.
- IP-related information: As the name suggests, this shows VPN providers your actual IP address, which also reveals the physical location from which you access their service.
- Activity-related information: Some providers go as far as to collect your searches, browsing history, and the list of online services (like Netflix and Hulu) that you use with the VPN on.
The fact that some VPNs collect service-related and connection-related information shouldn’t worry you too much. After all, this information is typically anonymous and bundled together with info from all other users, so it cannot be used to identify you or reveal your physical location.
Some VPN providers go a step further and also collect your IP address. This is isn’t ideal from a privacy perspective, as it allows them to track your physical location.
However, the fact that some VPNs also keep track of your complete online activity – including the websites you visit, your search history, and unencrypted communication – is certainly a cause for alarm.
This is most often the case with free VPNs, which is why we recommend using a paid service. Not only do most free VPN not disclose that they’re collecting sensitive data but many go on to sell it to data collectors. Thankfully, none of our top-rated VPN providers store any of this information.
What is Panda Dome VPN’s logging policy like?
Panda’s VPN features a very clear zero-log policy. None of your identifiable information, such as your IP address, is stored. On top of that, Panda does not keep any type of activity logs on you, such as your browsing history.
What is a jurisdiction and why should it matter to you?
In order to run their operations legally, every VPN provider must be registered in a country. This country is referred to as jurisdiction. Providers must also ensure that their business is in accordance with local laws and regulations on online safety and privacy.
The United States, Canada, Australia, and most members of the EU have strict data retention regulations. According to these regulations, internet service providers (ISPs) are required to keep records of their users’ personal information, which can include their search history, browsing activity, and emails.
To avoid this, many people opt to use VPNs, which encrypt their data and thus make it invisible even to their ISPs. There is some concern that the same data retention rules that apply to ISPs also apply to VPN providers. However, this is not the case because the rules only apply to public network providers. Unlike ISPs, VPNs are private network providers and are thus excluded from these regulations.
Despite that, some VPNs keep logs for their own benefit and refuse to share it with third parties. That doesn’t stop governmental agencies from seizing these logs – and even physical servers – using secret subpoenas such as National Security Letters.
In 2013, one such subpoena forced the email provider Lavabit to cease operations after they rejected to provide the NSA with the encryption keys that would give them access to Edward Snowden’s emails. Three years later, the popular VPN provider Private Internet Access had to shut down all their servers in Russia to avoid having to operate in accordance with the country’s severe data retention policies.
To ensure that your sensitive information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, you should:
- Pick a provider that is incorporated in a country that isn’t a member of intelligence treaties like Five Eyes or the UKUSA Agreement and doesn’t require VPNs to retain their users’ personal data.
- Pick a provider that has a zero-log policy and doesn’t keep records of your personal information.
What is Panda Dome VPN’s jurisdiction?
Panda Security is a Spanish multinational. Being incorporated in Spain, means that Panda is part of the EU which has been pushing for EU wide data retention schemes to fight serious crimes.
Moreover, Spain is part of the fourteen eyes surveillance agreement which are known to abuse online privacy in their “war on terror”.
So should you be worried?
No. Panda’s strict zero-log policy means that it doesn’t store your online activity, such as your browsing history. So even in the case that a governmental agency would demand that Panda hands over its logs or servers, there would be no information to share. You are safe with Panda.
What is a protocol and why should it matter to you?
A VPN protocol is a technology that determines how the data sent and received via the internet or a local area network (LAN) is formatted and transmitted. Different protocols provide different degrees of platform compatibility, encryption, speed, and security. The general consensus is that OpenVPN is the safest, although protocols like L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2 are also in use.
What protocols does Panda Dome VPN use?
- The connection to the server is much faster, allowing you to establish your VPN connection quicker.
- The connection speed for long-distance connections is 2.4 times quicker than using an OpenVPN tunnel, allowing you to have faster download speeds over long distances.
Simultaneously it must be said that Catapult Hydra, in contrast to OpenVPN, is not an open-source protocol. So it’s difficult to run independent security checks on the protocol.
What is encryption and why should it matter to you?
Encryption is the process of transforming perfectly readable data into a string of random characters for transmission over the internet. Data is encrypted using an encryption key, which both the recipient and the sender need to have in order to access the encrypted information.
The majority of VPN apps nowadays incorporate one of the two types of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The main difference between the two is the length of the encryption key. AES-128 uses 128 characters to encrypt data, while AES-256 uses 256 characters. Although AES-128 is assumed to be impossible to decipher, AES-256 is even safer.
What encryption standard does Panda Dome VPN use?
Panda uses the safest encryption standard: AES-256.
5. Own DNS Servers
What are DNS servers and why should they matter to you?
Did you know that every website on the internet has two addresses?
Upon registration, each website is assigned its own IP address consisting of a long string of numbers. To save you from having to remember them, each website also has a domain name, which is the address you type into your browser’s address bar (for example “Twitter.com”) when you want to visit it.
Think of websites as telephone numbers on an old switchboard and a DNS server as the operator that connects you to the number you want to dial. DNS servers index all the domain names on the internet together with their IP addresses. When you type in a domain name and hit enter, a DNS server will redirect you to the corresponding IP address in under a second.
Some VPN providers use their own DNS servers to encrypt your traffic inside the same VPN tunnel as the rest of your internet activity. As such, not even your ISP will be able to know which websites you visit.
Does Panda Dome VPN use its own DNS servers?
No, Panda does not use its own DNS servers.
6. Kill Switch Test
What is a kill switch and why should it matter to you?
If your VPN connection breaks while you’re browsing, disconnecting from the internet is the only way to keep all your activity hidden from others. A kill switch is useful because it automates that process – it stops your connection and then resumes it as soon as it reconnects to the VPN server of your choice.
Does Panda Dome VPN use a kill switch?
No, Panda does not feature its own kill switch.
7. Leak Test
What is a “leak” and why should it matter to you?
Leaks happen when a piece of data manages to escape your VPN client’s encryption algorithms and becomes visible to others on the internet. Best-known examples of leaks include Windows login leaks, WebRTC leaks, IP address leaks, and DNS leaks.
Does Panda Dome VPN leak your data?
No, we found not data leaks using Panda’s VPN.
The Good: Panda is, together with Hotspot Shield, the fastest VPN we’ve tested. Where the average VPN slows your internet connection down by 40%, Panda had a mere 3% speed impact.
The Bad: –
What is a speed test and why should it matter to you?
VPNs encrypt and reroute your data to a server. This will slow down your connection to a certain extent, thus resulting in longer downloading and buffering times.
Although you can’t surf at full speed secured by your ISP, there are some things that you can do to ensure that the speed differences remain minimal. These include the following:
- Pick a VPN server close to your physical location. If you’re sending a letter to Australia from Paris, you can’t expect it to reach its destination as fast as the one you’re sending to the neighboring Brussels. The same rule applies to VPNs – the longer your data has to travel, the slower your connection will be. To ensure optimal download speeds and latency, you should always choose a VPN server that’s close to your current location.
- Don’t settle for the first server on the list. Most VPN clients automatically connect you to a server of their choice, but those aren’t necessarily the fastest. Connect to a few servers, test their speed, and choose the one that performs the best.
- Choose a VPN that provides a fast service. All VPNs will slow down your connection, but the difference may be less noticeable with some of them. For example, Panda is known for its fast performance while TunnelBear may cut your speed in half.
How did Panda Dome VPN score in the speed test?
We were testing from Europe on a base of connection of 90 – 100 Mbps.
The local speed tests that we conducted returned some very positive results. This was to be expected as the VPN takes full advantage of Hotspot Shield’s excellent server network. Based on a speed of 97Mbps without Panda Dome turned on, we experienced a minor slow down to 88Mbps together with a very minor ping increase.
This drop isn’t going to affect anything from browsing to streaming and torrenting.
Similar expectations were met with regard to international speed tests. The same 97Mbps baseline the speed dropped to 90Mbps on a Germany server.
The drop was more noticeable on the Australian server where the download speed went down to 58-60Mbps. The hit was significant as it came down to 15Mbps from a near 100Mbps without the VPN on.
US servers perform very well with a very small drop from 97Mbps to 92-93Mbps. But, it’s worth noting that some US servers are going to be slower than others. Los Angeles test results clocked in at 92Mbps but New York and its infamous unreliable internet came in at 60Mbps.
Still, all figures are more than acceptable. Browsing, HD and 4K streaming, and torrenting are unaffected. But, the ping variations and instances of high latency on some long-distance connections may impact online gaming experience.
The Good: Panda has servers in 23 countries around the world, covering all continents except Africa. The VPN allows you to connect 5 devices on a single subscription, works with Netflix and torrenting (P2P), and works in China.
The Bad: Panda currently only supports Windows, Android and Mac. iOS was still in development at the time of writing, but will likely be done by the time you read this.
What features do we test for?
- Server Locations
- Platform and Devices
- Number of Connections
- Streaming and Torrenting
- Bypassing Censorship
1. Server Locations
What is a server location and why should it matter to you?
As the name implies, server locations are the territories where your VPN provider owns physical servers. Almost all VPNs let you choose a country to connect to, but some also give you the choice of city or even a specific server. For example, instead of connecting to a random server in Germany, you could choose between, say, one located in Berlin and one located in Munich.
This matters for a very simple reason – the longer your data has to travel, the slower your connection will be. As such, it is recommended that you pick a VPN server that is close to your actual location. If, for example, you’re in France, your connection will be faster if you connect to a German or Spanish server than one located in Australia.
Where are Panda Dome VPN’s servers located?
Panda has 200 servers spread across 23 countries around the world. This isn’t a particularly high number, but it covers all major regions and corners of the world, including the United States, Brazil, Australia and various European and Asian countries. The only continent lacking servers is Africa.
2. Platforms and Devices
What are platforms and devices and why should they matter to you?
Platforms is a general term that denotes the operating systems, web browsers, and devices supported by your VPN provider. Most providers have dedicated apps for all the major platforms, including Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and even Linux. What’s more, some providers let you download VPN firmware that can be installed directly onto your router, as well as plugins for browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Chrome.
Despite what their authors claim, not all VPN browser extensions work like VPNs. Depending on the functionality they provide, these extensions are usually one of the following:
- Proxy servers: Your IP address is hidden from the websites you visit, but the data you send and receive remains unencrypted, which means that your ISP can intercept and/or censor it.
- Proxy servers with encryption: Both your IP address and your data are encrypted and thus invisible to others on the internet. This only applies to your browser, though. Any data transmitted via outside apps (like Spotify or Twitch) remains unencrypted.
- Real VPNs: In addition to surfing completely anonymously, you can control the main VPN app and change the settings directly through the extension without ever leaving your browser.
What platforms and devices does Panda Dome VPN support?
Panda’s main restriction is the platforms is supports. Currently, it only has apps for Windows, Mac and Android. iOS is still in development and there are no plans for Linux.
3. Number of Connections
What are connections and why should they matter to you?
With some VPNs, you can protect several devices at once without having to purchase a separate license for each of them. These devices are referred to as connections. Most VPNs allow at least 3 parallel connections, which is enough for your laptop, smartphone, and TV set. If you’re buying a VPN for the whole family, you should opt for one that supports 5 or more connections at once.
How many simultaneous connections does Panda Dome VPN support?
Panda allows you to connect 5 devices on a single subscription. This is enough for all individual users, and even most families.
4. Streaming and Torrenting
What are streaming and torrenting and why should they matter to you?
Let’s say that you’re in Hungary and you really want to watch a show that’s only available on Hulu in the United States. Or perhaps you’ve subscribed to Netflix, only to find that the documentary you wanted to see was only available to subscribers in Canada. In either case, connecting to a VPN server in the country where the service is located is a surefire way to bypass geographic restrictions.
Some VPNs also allow you to use P2P and BitTorrent safely. All your traffic is fully encrypted, so you can share files without worrying that your ISP will find out.
Does Panda Dome VPN support streaming and torrenting?
Yes, both torrenting (P2P) and all streaming servers are supported by Panda. You can stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO and many more, without a problem.
5. Bypassing Censorship
What is censorship and why should it matter to you?
Although the internet is perceived as the most liberal of all media channels, many governments around the world enforce rules that censor the internet for their citizens. Countries like Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela actively limit what their citizens can see on the internet, but the Great Firewall of China is still the most notorious example of this practice.
These regulations also apply to VPN services, which is why only a select few of them work in countries with strict internet surveillance. Considering the size of its population and the strictness of internet laws, we have used China as a model to determine if a VPN service is good at avoiding censorship.
For more information about online surveillance and censorship, visit the following websites:
- Access Now
- Center for Democracy and Technology
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Fight For The Future
- Freedom House
- Internet Defence League
- Open Media
Does Panda Dome VPN bypass censorship successfully?
Yes. Panda is able to circumvent the Great Firewall of China, and also works in others highly censored countries.
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