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BTGuard – what you need to know about a dedicated VPN

Updated: August 6, 2021 By Dean Chester

BTGuard claims to specialize in securing torrent connections. It is a medium-sized Canadian VPN service with servers in Canada, Europe, and Asia.  

What is it known about this VPN?

BTGuard was launched around 2011 by Toronto-based Netcrawled LLC, but there is doubt that this is a real company. The sent correspondence to its address has returned.

To date, there is any evidence indicating that Netcrawled LLC was involved in any significant development or research in the field of security.

The stated technical characteristics of a VPN service show an average service level.  

I tried to understand the peculiarities of BTGuard to give a comprehensive assessment of the service. To do this, I tested its capabilities and identified its strengths and weaknesses. I was faced with a very limited choice of countries, the lack of convenient software, but first things first.

What can BTGuard do?

BTGuard website

The official website of the service is quite neat. There are no descriptions of its functions. There is only a brief listing of the main features - the presence of Bittorrent proxy and VPN and dry figures of encryption parameters and the names of the VPN protocols used.

Based on what I saw, using my experience, I was able to determine that BTGuard greatly exaggerates that it specializes in anonymizing torrenting. It is quite obvious to me that they are using the usual classic traffic encryption technology. They don't offer any specific features.

Analysis of information about their VPN also showed the presence of only average capabilities - the use of AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN protocol.   

These are reliable features, but they are the same ones you will find on any free VPN service.

Brief testing result  

The result of the study didn’t surprise me. Even upset.

The fact is that on the home page of its website, BTGuard claims compatibility with three OSs and three BitTorrent clients. An inexperienced user may decide that it’ll be enough to sign up, download the app for their platform, and launch the VPN.

But no.

BTGuard has no native apps.

Actually, it just lists the platforms from which it is possible to connect to its VPN or proxy.

This means that to use BTGuard, you either need to install a third-party VPN software or manually configure the system settings.   

Stop!

In 2021, even free VPNs have their apps. For example, VPN Gate.

Probably, I wouldn’t have focused so much attention on the negative sides of BTGuard, if only its price were lower. For everything I've listed, they want $6.69 for a proxy and $9.95 for a VPN.

It is expensive. For 3 servers in three countries, mediocre speed, and only basic features without providing software - too expensive.

Take a look at Surfshark for example. For $1.99 a month (yes, with a two-year subscription, but BTGuard doesn't have that) provides access to more than 1,700 servers in 63 countries around the world, has high speed, offers multifunctional convenient apps for all OSs, supports Netflix, bypasses Internet censorship and much more.

I rate VPNs, compare them, and I see the weakness of BTGuard.

Streaming support

BTGuard is unsuitable for unblocking geo-restricted content from popular video services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, iPlayer, and others.

First, BTGuard has no servers in the United States. This makes it impossible to watch the American video services Hulu and HBO. The situation is similar to the English BBC iPlayer.

But other streaming video providers and channels in 100% of cases calculate a proxy or VPN and issue appropriate warnings.

Conclusion: BTGuard doesn’t support streaming.

Security

When testing privacy protection and data security, we used the interception and analysis of traffic in and out of the network using a Wireshark packet analyzer.

The result of the study proved the presence of encryption and the use of the OpenVPN protocol, but the degree of protection of the addresses of the visited sites (DNS queries) and the presence of data leaks depends on the VPN client used.

For example, when using the OpenVPN client on Windows, there is a DNS leak, and if the connection with the VPN server is unexpectedly lost, confidentiality is completely lost.

No leaks were found when using the Tunnelblick client on macOS, but due to the use of third-party DNS servers by BTGuard, there is a risk of interception by a third party of information about the requested resources.

There are no complaints about encryption.

Conclusion: The provider has an average level of security.

Torrenting support

As I said before, BTGuard offers standard P2P security. But do they work efficiently enough?

Security testing has identified problems with unexpected disconnections from the server. This compromises torrenting activity when using BTGuard's VPN.

As for their proxies, I didn’t find any problems, except for an insufficiently high maximum speed.

Conclusion: The provider is really suitable for torrenting, but only when using a proxy.

Servers

BTGuard offers locations in three countries - Canada, the Netherlands, and Singapore.

It's modest enough. Most VPNs I know offer servers in more countries. For example, ExpressVPN supports 90 countries.  

I tested the speed at all three locations and got the following data:


  CA NL SG
Average speed, Mbps 12 25 15

Speed ​​measured using BTGuard with an OpenVPN client.

Proxy connection speed measurements showed 10-15% higher rates.

Is it a lot or a little?

This is a common metric for mid-tier and lower-tier services. Good VPNs have speeds of 50-150 Mbps or more.

Price

BTGuard has two types of subscriptions - proxy and VPN

BTGuard Pricing Plans:


  Proxy VPN
Monthly cost $5 - $6.95 $7.5 - $9.95

The pricing policy isn’t flexible at all and doesn’t allow saving on long-term use. In comparison, many cheap VPNs have long-term subscription plans of more than one year with 70% off or more.

BTGuard offers only a 25% discount on purchases for a year.

But excuse me, $7.5 per month with an annual subscription is more expensive than the absolute majority of services I know.

Conclusion: BTGuard is an expensive VPN service.

Owner company information

The BTGuard website identifies the Canadian company Netcrawled LLC as the copyright holder.

There is no information about its activities in the field of data protection and participation in any developments.

Moreover, the Better Business Bureau has a message that paper mail sent to the specified postal address of Netcrawled LLC has returned to the sender:

Mail Return Message sent by Netcrawled LLC

Thus, BTGuard cannot be classified as a high or premium service.

User reviews

We don't have enough feedback on this service, so I’ve reached out to Reddit for more information.

In the screenshot below, you can see that almost all messages received by the request of “BTGuard” contain complaints about failures in its work:

Reporting issues with BTGuard on Reddit

By the way, there are a few messages. This indicates the low popularity of the service.

Conclusion

As I’ve said at the beginning - BTGuard's research results allow it to be classified as a mid-range VPN.

On the one hand, it is effective for protecting BitTorrent clients, but only partially when using a proxy.

VPN packages are too expensive when compared to packages from other services that provide an order of magnitude better quality of service.

It is also worth noting a suspicious situation with possibly invalid information about the owner company.

Therefore, I cannot recommend using this VPN. Today there are many convenient and strong services with a proven impeccable reputation.

Senior Researcher
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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