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Cryptostorm VPN Review 2021: Is it trustworthy?

Updated: July 12, 2021 By Dean Chester

Cryptostorm VPN Review

Cryptostorm is a VPN service based in Canada (or maybe Iceland – we can’t tell). The VPN was initially known as CryptoCloud, and it has been around for around 10 years. It is a service is that focuses on privacy and anonymity and uses a unique token-based network access system.

Here’s a highlight of the VPN:

  • Superb anonymity measures
  • Good security features
  • Tor & I2P sites
  • Only 1 custom client app
  • Small server network
  • Not easy to use
  • Ownership concerns

The bulk of the highlights already shows that Cryptostorm VPN won’t top our list of recommendations. But is it still a good option for users that are only interested in securing their data and remaining anonymous? Let’s find out in this Cryptostorm review.

What can Cryptostorm VPN do?

Unfortunately, there’s isn’t much you can do with Cryptostorm. The VPN doesn’t offer or even promise much apart from privacy and security. You won’t be able to unblock any streaming service or benefit from any perks. If you are looking for an all-rounded VPN, we suggest that you look at  ExpressVPN.

Is Cryptostorm VPN Secure?

Cryptostorm is a secure VPN. Here’s our analysis of the VPN in terms of privacy and security.

Privacy

One major plus for Cryptostorm VPN is how transparent it is in operations and its commitment to privacy. However, the said transparency does not apply to the company's identity. The VPN operators have chosen to remain pseudo-anonymous, apparently to avoid harassment by government entities.

This can be a good thing in that it makes it hard for surveillance entities, but it can also mean that the company does not take responsibility for its services. On various forums where the operators have talked about registration, they have associated the VPN with both Iceland and Canada, a member of the 5-eyes alliance. Third-party reports indicate that the VPN is based in Canada, which is not ideal.

That said, Cryptostorm VPN takes several measures to ensure that you can remain private and anonymous. First, they run a site on the dark web (stormgm7blbk7odd.onion & kzaeunogz6s75ptgy6ifjzwwy75xdfenenswvrczd7mewxgrad5a.b32.i2p), which allows users to access the website anonymously. You can then register with a pseudo email and pay using cryptocurrency.

In terms of logging, the VPN states, “While connected to Cryptostorm, none of the log files will ever contain any data that could be used to identify a customer.”

Having gone through the entire Cryptostorm’s privacy policy, we can say that the VPN is transparent and committed to anonymity. However, they do not say that they don’t monitor activities on their servers, just that you can’t associate any activities with a particular user.

Apart from logging, the VPN also has an anti-leak privacy feature that protects users from DNS and IP leak leaks. We carried several tests to establish how effective it is, and we were glad to see that there were no leaks.

Cryptostorm didn’t leak any information during our tests

Note: It's important to mention that Cryptostorm is a reincarnation of CryptoCloud, a VPN associated with Douglas Spink. Spink was sentenced to 3 years in prison for smuggling cocaine in 2005. He was taken back to the US and has been in jail several times, and this has led to concerns that Cryptostorm VPN is a honeypot operated by the FBI.

Security

Cryptostorm does well in terms of security.

The VPN uses AES-256 cipher with an RSA-2048 handshake and HMAC SHA-1 hash authentication. Perfect forward secrecy (PFS) is implemented through Diffie-Hellman exchange (DHE). These are however laid out in a technical manner both on the app and the website.

Overall, the security standards used are reliable.

Cryptostorm VPN Features

Cryptostorm has various features and functionalities.

  • DNS Crypt: This is a feature in the Windows Widget that encrypts your DNS queries before you connect to the VPN. This helps hide the fact that you are connected to Cryptostorm servers from your ISP. You can also use it to connect to other servers.
  • Ad-blocker: Cryptostorm uses DNS-based adblocking to block ads from hosts that are known to use intrusive tracking methods. This method of blocking ads is quite effective as it doesn’t break sites that prevent the use of adblockers. The feature aims to prevent correlation through cookies when you go back to a site without the VPN, which helps in anonymity.
  • DNS Leak Protection: The VPN has a feature that prevents your DNS from leaking out in case you connect to a server that isn’t configured well.

The above are good features, but they only focus on privacy and anonymity. Surfshark VPN offers more features that can help improve your overall internet experience.

Cryptostorm server network

Cryptostorm runs a small server network that consists of 49 servers spread across 46 locations in 29 countries. The servers share a total of 657 IP addresses.

By all standards, this is quite a small server network. The small number of servers means that you can easily get clogged with hundreds of other users in the same servers, which will ultimately affect the entire VPN performance. In comparison, NordVPN has a total of 5,500 servers in 59 countries.

In terms of distribution, the provided servers are mostly found in Europe and North America. This means that you won’t be able to connect to other regions, and if there are no servers near you, you will have to endure poor speeds. In that case, ExpressVPN may be ideal as it provides 3,000+ servers spread across 160 locations in 94 countries. It will give you an “all-access pass to global content.”

Does Cryptostorm support torrenting?

Cryptostorm allows users to use P2P and BitTorrent traffic on their network. However, the VPN’s speeds mean that it doesn't make it in our suggestion of best VPNs for torrenting.

Pricing & Plans

Cryptosystem’s pricing system is as complicated as it can be when you first look at it. First, the company doesn't sell subscriptions directly. Instead, it redirects you to buy tokens from one of its vendors. You will then receive your unique token in your email.

Here are the three main subscription plans:

  • 1-week Access: Costs $1.86, works with 1 device.
  • 3-month Access: Costs $6, works with 1 device.
  • 1-year Access: Costs $52, works with 4 devices.

 Apart from the recurring subscriptions, there are 10 one-time subscription plans ranging from one week at $1.86 (1 device) to a lifetime plan at $500 (6 devices). Other highlights are bundles for 1-month subscriptions: 5 tokens cost $25, 11 tokens cost $48, and $25 tokens cost $97.

Cryptostorm subscription options

Overall, the VPN is affordable, although the small number of devices allowed is quite small. Surfshark allows users to make unlimited simultaneous connections.

Payment methods

You can pay for your tokens using PayPal, bank cards (through CCBill), and cryptocurrency. Note that the plans may vary depending on the payment method. For example, when using a bank card, you can only choose from a selection of four non-recurring plans.

Does Cryptostorm VPN have a free trial?

There’s Cryptostorm free VPN known as Cryptofree. The free VPN speeds are capped at about 160kbps down and 130kbps up. It also doesn't include any non-essential features such as .onion/.i2p access or port forwarding.

Does Cryptostorm have a money-back guarantee?

The VPN has a refund policy that applies if you have used 50% or less of your token's duration. Lifetime tokens aren’t refunded.

Getting started with Cryptostorm

The Cryptostorm website is not appealing, although tastes differ. It also uses a lot of jargon that an average internet user will have trouble understanding.

Clicking the buy button will scroll the main to a section where you can choose a plan, and you will receive a token alongside information on setting up the VPN. However, this isn’t easy at all.

The VPN only provides a widget (not really an app) for Windows users. This means that you have to set up the VPN manually using OpenVPN if you use any other device. This is quite disappointing as most VPNs at least provide a custom VPN for Android.

Ease of use

The Windows widget isn’t the best either. After downloading it, our browser protection system informed us that the file can be a threat to the computer.

The Cryptostorm app is perceived as a harmful software

After bypassing this security feature, we also had to bypass Window’s unknown app installation security feature. We were then able to install the app, and here’s how it looks like.

Cryptostorm Windows Widget

From there, you need to paste your token, click save, then click update. You can then close your app and open it again to save and encrypt your token for convenience. After that, you can click the options button to open the settings.

In the Security tab, you can enable DNS leak protection (important – Cryptostorm leaks DNS without it) as well as the kill switch.

Cryptostorm widget settings

Once you are satisfied with your settings, you can then select a server from the drop-down menu, and you’ll be connected to the network.

Cryptostorm widget connected to the network

To use the VPN on other devices, you have to rely on open-source software. Here are our recommendations for the best VPN for Mac if you are a Mac user.

How fast is Cryptostorm?

After configuring the VPN using OpenVPN, we tested its speeds using several nearby and distant servers. Our base connection was 50 Mbps.

The VPN performed poorly, averaging a 22 Mbps for nearby servers and 15 Mbps for distant servers. The upload speeds were even worse in both tests, capping at about 7 Mbps.

Cryptostorm Customer Support

Cryptostorm doesn’t have live chat support. The only way to reach the team is through their email address, and you should be prepared to wait.

Apart from that, there’s an online community forum that provides all sorts of information about the VPN. There’s also an unofficial IRC chat where you can post questions. The latter was particularly useful during our Cryptostorm review.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good privacy & security
  • Several anonymity features
  • Has a Kill switch
  • Has DNS leak protection
  • Encrypted DNS
  • Ad-blocker

Cons

  • Small server network
  • Poor speeds
  • Doesn’t work with streaming services
  • Lacks custom apps for most operating systems
  • Not suitable to non-technical users
  • Based in Canada
  • Questionable ownership

FAQ

What is Cryptostorm DNS?

Cryptostorm DNS is the VPN's encrypted DNS that hides from ISPs that you are using the VPN.

Can I use Cryptostorm DNS?

Cryptostorm’s encrypted DNS is available for use by anyone.

Is Cryptofree Cryptostorm?

Cryptofree is the Cryptostorm free VPN, not a different product.

Is Cryptostorm CryptoCloud?

Cryptostorm is a reincarnation of CryptoCloud.

Conclusion

Cryptostorm is not a conventional VPN, and it’s not one that we particularly liked either. The VPN is not user-friendly, and the jargon on their website confirms that the VPN is only suitable for hardcore techies. Apart from that, the fact that the Cryptostorm is associated with Douglas Spink makes it untrustworthy.

If you are new to VPNs or looking for a top-class VPN, we would not recommend Cryptostorm. There are better alternatives such as Surfshark VPN that are easy to use, more trustworthy, and offer better value.

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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1 comments for Cryptostorm VPN Review 2021: Is it trustworthy?

niihm's picture
Cryptostorm - Not worth the hassle

Dear cryptostorm, I bought your service and regretted doing it very very much, what I found particularly annoying is first of all your app, or "widget" as you call it.
It is bad not because it has windows 98 graphics, which is perfectly fine and preferable than bloaty and fancy new designs, but because it doesn't work well, it freezes, it doesn't display clearly if you're connected or not or if the connection drops, you can't change server without first disconnecting, overall it doesn't make the user feel sure and well aware about what is going on and whether the connection is on or off which I found that by changing server you are unprotected.

Your kill switch doesn't look safe as there is no way to tell if it actually works. Anytime your app start it asks for permission (UAC prompt) and options seem to not stay selected and app keeps asking about the killswitch settings.

Some websites are not reachable while using your vpn but they are reachable even with tor, so it is really a problem of your vpn.

Speed is ok.

It is too much hassle to set up your app and also the alternative apps available (wireguard), and after having done it there are absolutely no advantages in using your vpn.

I just wish you to improve first of all your app and your service which isn't cheaper than others. I just lost my money buying your service and switched back to my old vpn.