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Google One VPN review: A limited but fast service

Verified by Amy Reeves

Google has made much of its money from tracking users on the web and is now offering a solution to many of the issues it created – if you’re willing to pay a monthly subscription. Your internet service provider (ISP) knows every website you have visited. Those websites can access your internet protocol (IP) address, telling it where you are and allowing it to identify you personally.

Google’s solution is a virtual private network (VPN), which allows you to use one of its servers as the origin for your internet activity by encrypting your data locally before sending it to the server. Google’s server knows what you’re doing online, but your ISP and the websites you visit don’t.

Signing up for Google One VPN involves trusting Google with your privacy, and if you’re logged into your Google account, there are plenty of reasons why that might be a bad idea.

60-second review

Rating: ★★

Our reviewer’s original rating for Google One VPN was three out of five stars, as privacy has some value, even if there is no option to select a server or country. But the app didn’t work on Windows 11 during our testing. It failed to set up the VPN and notified our researcher of this failure every five seconds. As Windows is a platform most desktop users use, our reviewer has decided to downgrade Independent Advisor’s score to two stars.

That being said, the VPN performed well during our speed tests, which is good news for users who just want to use the service for basic privacy and don’t mind not being able to choose which server they connect to. There’s something to be said, too, about the fact the VPN is included as part of a wider Google One subscription, which comes with other features such as cloud storage, photo editing and dark web monitoring.

How we research and rate VPNs

250+
hours performance testing
700+
customer reviews read
500+
hours of research
35
competitors compared
4
VPN experts consulted

Our researchers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, extensive head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews, and the opinions of industry experts.

Our Google One VPN review score was determined by the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30 per cent)
  • Features and functionality (30 per cent)
  • Reputation and credibility (25 per cent)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10 per cent)
  • Customer experience (5 per cent)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories, including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload and download speeds, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are fact-checked by our in-house team of experts, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

Google One VPN overview

  • Lowest price: £15.99 for one year (equivalent to £1.33 per month)
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited
  • Number of servers: Undisclosed (but the service is available in 22 countries)
  • Encryption: RSA and AES-256
  • VPN protocols: Proprietary Google VPN protocol
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes
  • Headquarters: Mountain View, California

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Unlimited devices Requires a Google account login, negating privacy benefits
Audited no-logging policy No option to choose a server or country
Standard subscription with 100GB of Google Drive storage Offers no option to select a VPN protocol
Easy to set up and use Kill switch is only available on Android
Relatively cheap No split tunnelling on any platform

How does Google One VPN compare?

You can use Google One VPN on unlimited devices, unlike ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and NordVPN. Surfshark also offers unlimited devices. It’s important to note the major distinction between Google’s VPN and its competitors is that the VPN is bundled with a Google One subscription, which includes many other features you won’t find with a dedicated VPN, such as cloud storage and photo editing. When you consider the cost of a Google One subscription with all these added benefits, the VPN offers fairly decent value if you’re just looking for basic privacy and don’t need any of the customisation and other features of a dedicated VPN app.

VPN Monthly price Cheapest price Free version Number of servers Maximum number of devices Netflix BBC iPlayer Disney+ Amazon HBO Max Audit
Google One From £1.59 £1.33/m for 1-year subscription No Unknown Unlimited Yes
VyprVPN £9 £4.50/m for 1-year subscription No 73 10 Yes
ExpressVPN £10.38 £5.35/m for 1-year subscription No 3,000+ 5 Yes
NordVPN From £10.29 £2.49/m for a 2-year subscription No 5,400+ 6 Yes
Surfshark £10.14 £1.80/m for 2-year subscription No 3,200+ Unlimited Yes
Cyber Ghost £10.89 £1.92/m for 2-year subscription No 9,773 7 Yes
Best alternative to
NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN providers in the world, offering top-notch encryption, incredible speeds, and extra features to make all your online activities more secure.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
24/7 customer support
AES-256 encryption
VIEW PLANS At NordVPN

How much does Google One VPN cost?

Google One VPN is only available as one feature in a bundle called Google One. All free Google accounts come with 15GB of Google Drive storage but no access to the VPN. The basic tier of Google One includes 100GB of storage and costs £0.39 for the first month, after which the price is £1.59 per month. The standard tier provides the same access to the VPN but increases the storage to 200GB, while the premium tier includes 2TB of storage.

Subscription term Price
Basic monthly £1.59 / month
Standard monthly £2.49 / month
Premium monthly £7.99 / month
Basic yearly £15.99 (£1.33 monthly equivalent)
Standard yearly £24.99 (£2.08 monthly equivalent)
Premium yearly £79.99 (£6.66 monthly equivalent)

Payment options

You can use your Google account payment options, including American Express, MasterCard and Visa, to pay for your Google One subscription, giving you access to the Google One VPN.

However, other popular forms of payment, such as PayPal, are not accepted, nor is cryptocurrency, which is preferred by users who want to remain anonymous.

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Google One VPN features

Once you install Google One VPN, you can turn it on or off. It has no additional features beyond this, as far as our reviewer could see during testing. Many VPN services allow you to use a kill switch or split tunneling, which will be explained in more detail later. Almost all VPN services allow you to select a server and choose between at least two VPN protocols, but you won’t find any of that flexibility here. That means you cannot fake your location, which is one of the main use cases for a VPN for most users. The inability to change protocols makes it more difficult for the VPN to evade censorship by internet service providers (ISPs), as well as government systems such as the Great Firewall of China.

Server count and countries

There is no option to choose a server or country for the VPN; instead, the app connects you to the nearest server to your physical location. The service is available in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the US.

No-log policy and headquarters

Google’s white paper states the following data is not logged:

  • Network traffic, including the DNS
  • The IP addresses of devices connecting to the VPN
  • The bandwidth utilised by a user
  • A user’s connection timestamps

However, the general Google Privacy Policy admits that if you’re logged into your Google account (a requirement to use Google One), it may collect the following data:

  • Your search terms
  • The videos you watch
  • What you view and your interactions with content and ads
  • Your voice and audio information
  • Your purchasing activity
  • The people with whom you communicate or share content
  • Your activity on third-party sites and apps that use Google’s services
  • The Chrome browsing history you’ve synced with your Google account

This wide array of data is, in many ways, more sinister than the data Google claims not to collect for VPN users.

Kill switch

A kill switch is a VPN feature that allows the internet connection to be shut off in situations where the VPN has become unintentionally disconnected. This is not when the user has chosen to deactivate the service, it is only in scenarios such as when the VPN server is not responding. Google One VPN only has a kill switch for Android devices, which was the first platform the service supported. It would be good to see Google roll out this feature for other devices.

Split tunnelling

Another VPN feature is split tunneling, which allows you to choose which apps on your device use the VPN connection. Other apps get a speed benefit from not using added encryption or routing traffic through potentially distant servers, while the apps that need extra security or location-specific content can still use the VPN. There is no split tunneling option for Google One VPN.

Encryption and privacy

The VPN client directs you to Google’s Privacy Policy and Google One’s Terms of Service, neither of which mentions the VPN. This lack of information encapsulates the issue of trusting Google to protect your privacy with a VPN. To trust the VPN, you must trust all Google services because you cannot access the VPN without a Google account. Your Google account is extremely personal, especially if you use Gmail or Google Search. Although Google One VPN encrypts your traffic between your devices and its servers, you likely leave your browser logged into your Google account while you do it.

Therefore, Google knows what you search for online, which emails you receive and where you navigate with Google Maps.

Google’s headquarters are also in the United States, which means it is within the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes and the expanded Nine and 14 Eyes cybersecurity alliances. This means data requested by law enforcement agencies in that country can be shared with other member countries. 

Of the 22 countries where Google One VPN is available to users, over half are members of the 14 Eyes alliance. The only member of the alliance where Google One VPN is not available is New Zealand. The app can be downloaded by users in Austria, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan without being concerned because those countries are not members of the alliance.

Our researchers found it difficult to determine which encryption standard the VPN uses because there is no information on the Google One website, and without being able to select a VPN protocol it’s impossible to know how user data is being encrypted. However, Google does say it uses Advanced Encryption Standard with 256-bit keys (AES-256) – which is a virtually unhackable encryption method used by government agencies to protect sensitive documents – for any data stored in Google Cloud.

Google One VPN performance test results

You cannot choose a server with Google One VPN, so it is only possible to compare our speeds with and without the VPN enabled. Our researcher assumes the client connected to a server in the UK considering it automatically connects to the closest option. Regardless, the service performed quite well in our speed tests, with not much degradation to report.

VPN configuration No VPN VPN
Download speed 48.15 44.37
Upload speed 18.52 17.33
Latency ping ms (idle/download/upload) 13/13/262 18/19/134
Download % of base 100% 92%
Upload % of base 100% 93%

WebRTC leak test

Google created Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) to improve audio and video call performance. But WebRTC makes a user’s IP address visible, even if they use a VPN.

There is a test for the browser leak, which was used to test the VPN.

As the creator of this privacy leak, it’s unsurprising that Google’s VPN continues to enable it.

This leak is present in Google Chrome, and almost all desktop browsers are based on the open-source version known as Chromium, including Vivaldi, Edge, Opera, Epic and Brave. Firefox is one of the few browsers not based on Chromium, but it suffered from the same leak. Safari was the only browser our researcher tested that did not have the leak.

However, there are other tools on the market you can use to avoid WebRTC leaks.

Breaches and audits

Google’s independent audit is over two years old, so it’s unclear whether it still applies to the current code used by the service. Google promises its code is open source but admits the code “may not be buildable”. This means it cannot be used to create a working version of the Google One VPN desktop or mobile apps, which either means the code could contain errors or that there are still parts of the codebase missing. There is no active community of white hat hackers testing the code for security flaws, as the developers have not responded to many issues. Most issues seem to be customer support queries, so there is little evidence the code is rigorously tested.

Apps and compatibility

VPN users must download the Google One app on Android, iOS or iPadOS. Confusingly, the app doesn’t require a Google One subscription, and the Apple App Store description specifies it can be used to back up data to the free 15GB storage allowance. The lowest tier of Google One provides 100GB, and the highest provides 200GB.

You must download a dmg file directly from Google when installing the VPN for Mac

On macOS, the Google One VPN appears as a menu bar item, so it does not display an icon in the Dock when active. By clicking the logo on the menu bar, you can open the main user interface and switch the VPN on or off. It has no other functionality but includes a large graphic and three bullet points that describe why a VPN is necessary.

Google One VPN on Mac
The settings page has a single setting that lets you choose whether Google One VPN will automatically start when you launch macOS (Google One)

Apple ensures the stability and security of apps provided by the App Store but allows developers to prove this for direct downloads. When an app is signed and notarised with its developer ID, macOS knows it has not been modified to include malicious code. The only way to install this app on macOS is to install an app from an “unidentified developer”, which in this case is Google.

The Windows 11 app similarly dodges the stability and security checks of the Microsoft Store by allowing a .exe file to be downloaded directly from Google. The VPN caused an error when our researcher installed the VPN for PC, notifying them every five seconds that it had failed to connect and was trying to reconnect. These notifications continued when the VPN was turned off and when it was closed. The Windows 11 VPN settings page showed no VPN had been added.

Router compatibility

Many VPN providers allow their services to be used by all devices connected to a wifi network by providing software that can be installed on the router. This requires a router that has the ability to install custom firmware, such as the various OpenWRT and Tomato routers. One of the big advantages to doing this is that the router only counts as one device, meaning unlimited devices can use the VPN by connecting to your network without reaching a VPN service’s device limit.

This is less useful for Google One VPN, which does not have device limits, and the service does not appear to be compatible with routers anyway.

Google One VPN customer support

It is possible for Google One subscribers to get support that is not available to regular Google users. According to the Google One support page, chat messages are answered in 2 to 3 minutes, while emails get a response within 24 hours. There is no phone support, and most other pages direct you towards Google Help, which is made up of articles on specific topics that may help you resolve your issue. 

As the name suggests, Google One is a single subscription that includes multiple services. 

The support options are similarly general, allowing you to access support for anything from YouTube to Google Search just as easily as you can for the VPN feature.

What do customers say?

Google One gets 4.3 out of five stars on Google Play, but it’s important to note this score is for the service as a whole, not just the VPN. However, many of the reviews we read that mention the VPN are negative, claiming the service creates several issues during use, including an overzealous kill switch that prevents devices from connecting to the internet.

“[There are] good benefits offered with subscription plans and other great features, but I have an issue with the VPN. It keeps turning off automatically. I don’t know what’s causing it. Is this normal? I’ve literally tried everything from restarting my phone, updating and all other troubleshooting. [My] final conclusion: don’t use Google One VPN. [It’s] not the safest, nor does it work. I’ve even emailed customer support and they weren’t able to do anything about it.”

  • T, via Google Play

“The VPN is so bad that it’s not even ready to be in beta. It constantly blocks connectivity when switching between wifi and cellular. A lot of times I can’t even disable it (because it’s preventing internet connectivity) unless I reboot the device. The backup features are quite basic but work fine.”

  • Alekh Vaidya, via Google Play

Independent Advisor’s verdict

Although the VPN is relatively fast, it achieves this by automatically choosing a server close to your location. Most users would at least like to be able to select a server in another country to view content unavailable locally, but this is not possible with Google One VPN. Our reviewer’s experience on Windows 11 didn’t even allow them to use the VPN for privacy purposes, so their overall opinion of Google One is quite low.

Score: ★★

Score breakdown

Reputation ★★★★
Privacy ★★1/2
PErformance and features ★★★
Plans and pricing value ★1/2
Customer experience ★★★
Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Millie is an expert in computer technology and is a Bachelor of Computer Science, graduating from Sheffield Hallam University in 2021. She writes tech reviews and coding tutorials for publications such as Storius and Better Programming

For the Independent Advisor, Millie writes VPN reviews and features.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.