Goose VPN full review
Goose VPN is a relatively new VPN service based in the Netherlands. It’s aimed squarely at the home user eager to access video content in other countries, rather than the serious privacy buff. (Find out more about VPNs and their uses here).
Goose VPN offers a 30-day trial and a no-quibble 30-day money back guarantee should you be unhappy. This usually applies to accounts that have used under 100GB in that period, but if you experience ongoing connection issues, the company should still issue a refund.
Payment can be made by credit and charge card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and GiroPay, along with lesser-known options for yearly plans. The most expensive plan the unlimited bandwidth 1-Month Plan, which comes in at £12.99 / US$16.60. This drops to £4.99 / $6.38 with the unlimited 1-Year Plan. If you're just dipping your toe in the VPN water, you can get a 50GB 1-Month Plan for just £2.99/$4.17.
At the time of writing, a 50% discount made all of these packages a lot more tempting.
The Netherlands is inside the “14-eyes” group of countries, so that’s one of the first things that you’ll need to consider. Though there is a strict no-logging policy, in a typically pragmatic Dutch compromise, when presented with evidence of serious criminal activity by the authorities (terrorism, for example), Goose will log just that user's connections. However, as it explicitly allows P2P, torrenting clearly doesn’t fall into the ‘serious’ category.
With 54 server locations in 25 countries, Goose VPN’s vital stats are on the low side, but the locations are most likely the ones you need, including the UK and USA. Also, these servers are owned and managed by the company – not rented. Because one of the “underlying principles” of Goose VPN is to “really listen to its customers” you can also request a server if one isn't available in a desired location.
To engage the VPN, you simply tap – or click - the slide switch at the top of the interface. The subsequent connection is established via what Goose VPN considers the most appropriate server in your country of choice. Deselect the ‘Smart Server List’ in the settings and you'll see the full server list, along with icons showing which servers are optimised for P2P traffic and media streaming (but it doesn’t display the ping time or how close is the server to capacity).
Select 'US, Streaming server' and access to shows we don't get in the UK is granted, including Netflix US and Comedy Central. Streaming servers are also provided for Holland and the UK and dedicated P2P servers are available in many more countries.
When not connected to the VPN, a pop-up appears every 15 minutes to remind you that your traffic is not cloaked. Luckily, this feature can be disabled when it becomes irritating. Sadly there’s no way to disable the constant adverts for referral rewards and requests to rate and review the service.
Previously we criticised Goose VPN for having no kill switch that would drop all connections should the VPN fail and leave you exposed, but this has now been added to the Windows, macOS and iOS versions of the app. It’s turned off by default, but it’s easy to find in the settings. Note that this is a system-wide switch which stops all internet traffic from your computer or phone if the VPN connection is dropped unexpectedly, not a configurable one where you choose which apps are affected.
One of the tabs in the settings is devoted to protocols. By default the encapsulation is automatically chosen, but if you know what you’re doing, you can pick this yourself, and OpenVPN is supported in Windows (but not Android). Usefully, the protocol being used is displayed at the bottom of the main interface.
As well as Windows, you can get Goose VPN for Android, macOS, iOS as well as some routers, Android TV and even Kodi boxes. Sadly there’s no Amazon Fire TV app but there is one in development.
On Goose’s website you’ll find setup guides for installing the VPN on a Synology NAS, ChromeOS laptops and PCs running Linux.
There’s an extension for Chrome, but that’s the only supported web browser.
The Android version is just as easy to use as the Windows version. Simply select your country and slide the switch to the right to begin surfing. The only setting is a toggle to ‘Use best server automatically’ which is the equivalent of the Smart Server list in the Windows version.
Sadly this is where Goose VPN came unstuck in our testing. We initially tried connecting to the US streaming server to access Netflix and, although we could log in ok, we were blocked from streaming anything as Netflix had detected we were using a VPN. The workaround is to disconnect and reconnect then try again, but we had success only about 50 percent of the time. Not ideal.
We tested for IP and DNS leaks and found that - using the default settings in the Android, iOS and macOS apps, that everything worked as expected. However, using the Windows 10 app, which defaults to the IKEv2 protocol, our home DNS servers were exposed. Only when we manually switched to OpenVPN were the VPN's DNS servers used and detected.
This sounds like a major problem, but in reality, our IP address was still hidden and activity still encrypted. Also, remember that this only applies to the Windows app. We didn't have any issues with any of the other apps that Goose offers.
Speed testing is tricky with any VPN, and we saw variable results just as we do with all VPN services. On some occasions we recorded a connection speed that was just a quarter of our uncloaked speed. But at other times, speeds were essentially just as fast as our usual internet connection.
What we can say is that connections to servers were fast and reliable, but we did experience very occasional issues when a connection couldn't be established, as well a temporary failure to reconnect to the internet after disconnecting from a server.
Goose VPN can’t quite compete with the big boys on features or server counts and doesn’t support as many platforms. It’s also based within the 14-eyes which isn’t ideal. If you plan to use the Windows app, be sure to manually select OpenVPN rather than using the automatic setting.