Today we’ll be looking at a provider that started off as a small addon to a well known file sharing client and grew in popularity until it became a full blown VPN provider. While it worked fine as a proxy, will it be able to stand up to the intense scrutiny of privacy aficionados? Here is our review on BTguard.
BTGuard basically comes in two flavors, BitTorrent Proxy (6.95 per month) and VPN (9.95 per month).
This is BTGuard’s original claim to fame, their proxy service for use with Bit Torrent. It’s been a scary time for US netizens given the “6 Strikes” rule has been in effect since February of last year. For those of you unfamiliar with the 6 strike rule it basically goes like this. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are the biggest lobby groups representing Hollywood and the Music industry. In February of 2013 this law became official effectively creating a framework for your internet service providers to punish you based on the interests of these two massive industries. It’s basically a demerit system for which you can get demerits arbitrarily based on the whim and conjecture of major corporations. Punishments can range from mildly annoying alerts, to throttling of bandwidth, to outright temporary disconnection depending on your provider. Check out the video below and check out our detailed explanation of the 6 strike rule.
OK, kind of went off on a tangent there; back to the subject at hand. BTGuard’s Proxy service will provide you with a specially configured BitTorrent client all set up to easily switch between different proxies. Their added encryption means you won’t be getting any of those annoying alerts detailed above. There are also instructions included detailing how to set up their services on other clients. For your typical torrenter you won’t need much more than this, with that said, there are comparable services available for substantially cheaper and full VPN suites available for the cost of their bare bones “premium” package. Speaking of which…
At 9.95 per month, BT Guard VPN is about middle of the pack in terms of price but appearances can be deceiving. This product will seem a whole lot more expensive once you realize just how little functionality is included when compared to competitors. BT VPN comes with just 2 connection types but thankfully one of those is a full 256-bit OpenVPN connection which is fully encrypted. The second connection type is one we’re always advising you guys to avoid if you have privacy concerns, this is the less secure, 128-bit PPTP connection. It’s also quite disappointing that they do not support simultaneous connections.
Again, at first glance BT Guard seems to earn high marks in security. They use a 256-bit OpenVPN connection by default for fully encrypted surfing and claim that they don’t perform any logging at all. Unfortunately, this is where the positives end. First and foremost, they are a Canadian company, and as we know from Edward Snowden’s recent interview, having your data in the hands of the Canadian Government is just as good as handing it over to the NSA yourself. Secondly there are some alarmingly lax security practices on display with BT Guard. Possibly the worst offense I’ve seen of any major VPN provider with recent revelations that they’ve been storing user’s passwords in plain text files and in some cases even e-mailing these unencrypted files to their customers. Needless to say, this is totally unacceptable from a company expected to protect your privacy. This level of incompetence or willful neglect is so shocking I’m tempted to just end my review here.
Speed & Stability:
During our testing we saw very respectable speeds typically falling no lower than 80% of our optimal download speed depending on the distance of the server. Some of the furthest servers showed further decreases Connection was more or less stable but we did experience a couple of lost connections over the week we tested it. With all this said, we have seen numerous reports online about users who experienced significant stability and speed issues. Normally we’d tell you guys to try out the service for yourself and decide but BT Guard offers no trial or money back guarantee, nor would we trust their customer service if there was (more on that below.)
We discussed the pricing at length a little earlier in the article so I’ll just give you guys a quick recap of the essentials. BT Guard comes in two flavors BitTorrent Proxy (6.95 per month) and VPN (9.95 per month). These price points basically slot them somewhere in the middle of the pack but frankly it’s way too much to be paying for what you get in return. The basic plan is really nothing more than a glorified IP Spoofer. The full VPN, while a substantial upgrade on the basic service, still does not deserve to be in consideration considering the many, vastly superior alternatives available. They offer no trial and no money back guarantee.
Where to start, where to start… BT Guard absolutely sets the bar in terms of customer service; for all the wrong reasons. Their system for receiving requests is a very basic ticket system done via e-mail. MANY customers are complaining that they are being flat out ignored when entering requests. Those that are lucky enough to get an answer are usually pointed to an online FAQ which is convoluted and unhelpful. The customer service is actually so laughably terrible that many users are suggesting this may be nothing more than a shell company set up as a scam. When you hear things like people aren’t even getting confirmation of receipt for their tickets, it makes you wonder. There is even a story of a certain gentlemen who they are still trying to charge monthly, on a since cancelled credit card, after repeated attempts from him to get them to cancel the account.
All things considered I must strongly advise against using this VPN provider for the numerous reasons listed above. Go check out some of our other reviews for better alternatives.