Calyx: is this free and unlimited VPN worth downloading?

VPN, Calyx VPN, free VPN, Calyx Institute, Calyx Download page, OpenVPN, Bitmask, LEAP Encryption Access Project, direct from the Play Store, ProtonVPN Free, IPv6, IPLeak.net, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, cheap VPN, antivirus software, Windows 10 privacy guide

Install a no-fee VPN or two and you’ll often find hidden catches. They’re free for a day or two, then they charge; they’re stuffed with ads; connections drop every five minutes, and the developer is so anonymous that you’ve no way at all to tell if they’re trustworthy.

If that all feels very familiar, Calyx VPN is going to sound too good to be true. A free VPN, no bandwidth limits, no registration required and apps for Android, Mac and Linux? There’s got to be a catch, right?

Well, maybe not. This isn’t the usual anonymous free service: Calyx is provided by the Calyx Institute, a long-established non-profit organization which says it’s ‘devoted to studying, testing and developing and implementing privacy technology and tools…’

It’s powered by donations, so there are no annoying ads. You can install and use the service without handing over your email address or any other personal details. And the apps are open source, too, so experts can check out the code to see exactly what it does.

Sounds good to us, but how does Calyx perform in real-world use? We took a closer look.

VPN, Calyx VPN, free VPN, Calyx Institute, Calyx Download page, OpenVPN, Bitmask, LEAP Encryption Access Project, direct from the Play Store, ProtonVPN Free, IPv6, IPLeak.net, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, cheap VPN, antivirus software, Windows 10 privacy guide

(Image credit: Bitmask)

Setup

The Calyx website is just about as simple as we’ve seen, but that’s probably a good thing. There are no ads, no glossy graphics, no attempt to tell you stuff you know already – it’s little more than a brief explanation of the service and a link to the Calyx Download page.

Calyx uses an open-source OpenVPN-based app from Bitmask, developed by the LEAP Encryption Access Project (another non-profit.) There are downloads for Android, Mac and Linux, or you can grab a copy direct from the Play Store.

We downloaded and ran the Android app, and chose Calyx as our provider. The app asked if we’d like to create a profile – was this some hidden anonymity-busting catch? We accepted the offer, and no: it just prompted us to enter a username and password, no email address required.

Whatever we entered, the app warned: ‘try again: bad response from the server.’ Had we picked an existing username, broken some password rule? The app wasn’t saying, annoyingly.

Fortunately, Calyx also has a ‘Use anonymously’ option which allowed us to go profile-free, so we chose that, and got in immediately.

VPN, Calyx VPN, free VPN, Calyx Institute, Calyx Download page, OpenVPN, Bitmask, LEAP Encryption Access Project, direct from the Play Store, ProtonVPN Free, IPv6, IPLeak.net, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, cheap VPN, antivirus software, Windows 10 privacy guide

(Image credit: Bitmask)

Features

The Calyx VPN app is simple enough that even a total VPN newbie can use it immediately. Tap the Turn On button, watch the ‘Connecting…’ messages, and in a few seconds a status message tells you ‘your traffic is securely routed through Calyx (New York.)’ And when you’re finished, tap Turn Off and you’re disconnected.

There’s no sign of a server list, or any locations beyond New York. That’s a pity, but it’s also not surprising. ProtonVPN Free is funded by ProtonVPN’s paid users, for instance, but it still only supports three locations: US, Netherlands and Japan.

Browsing the app menu revealed a handful of worthwhile bonus features.

An ‘Always-On VPN’ option opens Android’s System Settings, allowing to enable Android’s built-in kill switch with a tap.

‘Exclude apps from VPN’ is a split-tunneling system, where you can choose apps which don’t work with or need the VPN, and direct their traffic through your regular connection, instead.

A ‘Bridges’ feature aims to help you bypass VPN blocking and get connected.

Tapping ‘Show experimental features’ gave us the ability to block IPv6 data leaks and even use our device as a VPN Wi-Fi hotspot. That’s not quite as good as it sounds – these only work if you’ve root permissions on your device – but the options are here, if you can use them.

VPN, Calyx VPN, free VPN, Calyx Institute, Calyx Download page, OpenVPN, Bitmask, LEAP Encryption Access Project, direct from the Play Store, ProtonVPN Free, IPv6, IPLeak.net, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, cheap VPN, antivirus software, Windows 10 privacy guide

(Image credit: Ookla)

Performance

We never expect great performance from free services, but it needs to be usable for at least basic tasks, maybe simple browsing and emails.

Our first results weren’t great, with SpeedTest.net reporting downloads of 5-10Mbps from the UK to New York. Still, that’s enough for browsing, and might be enough to get by.

You may well see better results from another location. We tried connecting from a French data center, and downloads surged to 60-70Mbps. Okay, not everyone has data center levels of connectivity, but if you’re closer to the server that should also ramp up your speeds.

Calyx didn’t unblock US Netflix or Amazon Prime for us, but that’s no surprise. And look at it this way: if it did, we’d see even less bandwidth available for non-streaming tasks.

There was better news in our final privacy tests. We checked Calyx with DNSLeakTest.com, DNSLeak.com or IPLeak.net and found no trace at all of DNS or other leaks.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to like about Calyx VPN. Free, no bandwidth limits, no need to register, trustworthy, easy to use and no ads to get in your way.

The service doesn’t have the features or unblocking abilities of ExpressVPN, NordVPN or any of the big names, of course. No surprise at all when it’s entirely free.

Speeds seem poor in at least some locations, and we suspect that’ll be the most significant issue for most users.

If it’s fast enough for you, though, Calyx is definitely worth the download, if only for use as an emergency backup VPN should your main service fail.

Read more:

News Related

OTHER NEWS

SpaceX's Inspiration4 crew is having a blast and doing science in orbit (video)

© Provided by Space The Inspiration4 crew placed a video call to Earth on Sept. 17, 2021. From ultrasounds to ukelele jam sessions and space art, it appears the Inspiration4 ... Read more »

Gov't reconsiders 2nd Jeju airport project

A panoramic view of the site for a new international airport on Jeju Island / Korea Times file By Jun Ji-hye The government has taken a step backward in its ... Read more »

Millions of websites are about to get a significant speed boost

As part of its Speed Week 2021 event, Cloudflare has announced that it is the first CDN provider to implement server support at scale for a new internet standard called ... Read more »

Terry McGinnis avenges the murder of Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond: Neo Year

© Provided by GamesRadar cover of Batman Beyond: Neo Year #1 Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future, is returning in his own title that channels a classic Batman story ... Read more »

Olympian Ariarne Titmus receives the key to the City of Launceston

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Swimming’s new golden girl Ariarne Titmus had an incredible run at the Tokyo Olympics last month.  And this week, the 21-year-old celebrated getting ... Read more »

Prince Andrew: Photo of legal papers being posted to the duke released by lawyers for Virginia Giuffre

Photographs showing papers notifying Prince Andrew about a civil sexual assault case against him in the US have been released by lawyers for his accuser Virginia Giuffre. Among the photos ... Read more »

Fortnite adds another virtual influencer to its battle royale

Last season, one of the more curious additions to Fortnite was Guggimon, a terrifying-looking rabbit creature that also happened to be a virtual influencer with millions of followers on platforms ... Read more »

Random: I played Sea of Thieves via Xbox Cloud Gaming on a pirate ship IRL

© Windows Central Ocean Trip Jez 2021 There once was a ship that put to sea… I recently went on vacation to the Baltic Sea in North Germany. You’d think ... Read more »

Amazon says it's permanently banned 600 Chinese brands for review fraud

Remember when gadget vendors Aukey, Mpow, RavPower, Vava, TaoTronics and Choetech started mysteriously disappearing from Amazon’s online storefront, and it turned out Amazon had intentionally yanked them while vaguely gesturing ... Read more »

SpaceX's first private crew shows what they've been up to in orbit

It was a brief orbital talent show. “Hayley is a champ at spinning,” Sian Proctor, one of the four private citizens currently orbiting Earth inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, said ... Read more »

Universal Credit: 'I can't afford to live without cutting back on food'

Step Change have warned cuts to Universal Credit and the end of the furlough scheme could leave people homeless. (PA Images) Hundreds of thousands of private tenants face a gruelling ... Read more »

Older people and men ‘more likely to suffer' with Covid even after two jabs

Older people, men and those from ethnic backgrounds are more likely to end up in hospital or die even after they have been double-vaccinated against Covid-19, researchers say. Scientists used ... Read more »

How to not get pricked by a North American porcupine

Crossing paths with a porcupine isn’t an experience you’ll soon forget—it’s hard not to be intimidated by a ball of spines the size of a small dog. But the animal ... Read more »

Mississippi pregnant women are being turned away by vaccine clinics

Mississippi health officials are sounding the alarm about some pregnant women being turned away when they go get a COVID-19 vaccine. © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The vaccines ... Read more »

The AirPods 3 are already in production, according to a new report

After months of rumors, it came as a surprise to some that Apple didn’t unveil the AirPods 3 at this week’s California Streaming iPhone 13 launch event.  © Provided by ... Read more »

Here's how the new iPad Mini compares to the last-gen model

With the announcement and impending release of the new iPad Mini and its revamped design, it might be all too easy to stan the new model and completely write off ... Read more »

AR hospital staff must stop using Tylenol to get exemption for vaccine

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A central Arkansas hospital system is requiring staff members who receive a religious exemption from getting the COVID-19 vaccine to also give up ... Read more »

Everyone's favorite power tools are coming to Windows 11

Power users are in luck as not only are Microsoft’s PowerToys utilities coming to Windows 11 but they’ll also be available to download from the Microsoft Store for the first ... Read more »

AMD isn't prioritizing cryptominers over gamers as Radeon RX stock stays tight

AMD’s Chief Financial Officer, Devinder Kumar, said that amid a global shortage of semiconductors affecting everything from cars to graphics cards, Team Red isn’t prioritizing cryptominers over gamers in terms ... Read more »

Dezeen wins four prizes at AOP Digital Publishing Awards 2021

Dezeen has been named Best Small Digital Publisher of the Year and scooped three other prizes at the Association of Online Publishers‘ annual awards ceremony. © Provided by Dezeen Four ... Read more »

MG smashes sales records amid booming demand for its electric vehicles

© Provided by This Is Money MailOnline logo MG has smashed its sales records amid booming demand for its electric vehicles. The British motoring brand has sold its 20,000th car ... Read more »

Who gets COVID boosters? The FDA's expert panel says it's complicated.

On Friday, an advisory committee to the Food & Drug Administration voted unanimously in favor of providing a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to Americans aged 65 and older, ... Read more »

Look up MONDAY! Harvest moon will light up the night sky on Sept. 20

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The Harvest Moon is set to light up the night sky on Monday, September 20, which will be the full moon closest to ... Read more »

Epic Amazon sale: $24.99 Blink Mini, smart TVs, $180 AirPods Pro, Fire TV Stick, more

We’re rounding up this weekend’s best deals from Amazon, which include incredible sales on everything from smart TVs, the AirPods Pro, and security cameras to robot vacuums, air fryers, and ... Read more »

Google Pixel Fold release date, price, news and leaks

At the moment there are only a few companies really making foldable phones, and Samsung is dominating the market with handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. But it ... Read more »

Apple mandates frequent COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees

Apple is implementing a new COVID-19 testing policy for US employees who work out of its offices and retail locations. Moving forward, the company will require unvaccinated employees to get ... Read more »

The Best Space Heaters for Warming Up Your Office, Garage, or Home

Winter doesn’t seem so long and dark when you’re comfortable at your desk, workbench, or on the couch. A portable heater can go a long way to ensuring that. However, ... Read more »

Pfizer and Moderna have revealed the way they're tracking how long vaccine protection lasts

A woman receives a COVID-19 booster shot in Netanya, Israel, on January 19, 2021. Ronen Zvulun/REUTERS New data show how Pfizer and Moderna measure the duration of their vaccines' protection. ... Read more »

IDW moves comic book store distribution to Penguin Random House

© Provided by GamesRadar IDW Publishing IDW Publishing has announced plans to move its Direct Market comic book distribution from Diamond Comic Distributor to Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) ... Read more »

U.S. probes possible insider trading at Binance - Bloomberg News

© Reuters/Dado Ruvic FILE PHOTO: Representation of cryptocurrency Binance is seen in this illustration (Reuters) – U.S. officials are examining possible insider trading and market manipulation at global cryptocurrency exchange ... Read more »

Peach Momoko draws Kamala Khan for Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit #1 variant

© Provided by GamesRadar Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit #1 Marvel has postponed its planned comic book limited series Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit, which was timed to thematically tie-in ... Read more »

Snoopy and the Peanuts gang return for annual celebrity golf tournament

© Provided by GamesRadar Schulz Celebrity Golf Classic Golf was a big part of the Peanuts comic strip and the life of its creator, the late Charles Schulz. That relationship ... Read more »

Five industries affected by automation right now

By Laura Vogel If you work in retail, food service, warehouses, or health care, your newest co-workers may be robots, not human. Automation is replacing many of the roles done ... Read more »

France recalls its ambassadors to US and Australia in submarine deal backlash

Watch: France to recall ambassadors after AUKUS submarine deal snub France on Friday said it was immediately recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultations after Australia struck ... Read more »

2 shocking stats that show why ‘vaccine apartheid' is getting worse

Catherine Cargill becomes one of the first people to receive a third dose in England, as the NHS begins its COVID-19 Booster Vaccination Campaign. (PA Images) “I would go one ... Read more »

Florida man used Disney employee iPad to magically skip lines

There are tons of books and blogs telling you how to have a magical Disney World experience, but one Florida man discovered the ultimate travel hack: using an app that ... Read more »

AT&T is now offering an incredible iPhone 13 Pro deal for free with trade-in

Pre-orders for Apple’s latest devices are now live and some tempting iPhone 13 Pro deals have already emerged. Right now, AT&T is giving customers the opportunity to bag the iPhone ... Read more »

SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission is all anyone can talk about in this week's science news

What else is there to say, this week was all about the lead up to and the successful launch of SpaceX’s historic all-civilian Inspiration4 space mission. The excitement for the ... Read more »

29 brilliant Halloween costumes for twins or siblings

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Halloween is every kid’s dream. Free candy and you get to ... Read more »