RiseUp VPN Review

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Welcome back to Top Dog Apps and another one of our VPN reviews! The list of VPNs we have tried is getting longer by the day, and today we are testing out one called RiseUp VPN. If you have ever considered using this VPN service, you should read below to find out if it is worth your time….

What is RiseUp VPN?

RiseUp is an organisation based out of Seattle originally that like to call themselves the “autonomous tech collective.” They have been in operation since 1999, and as well as offering a VPN service they also provide email and collaboration tools with a focus on privacy.

The RiseUp VPN allows you to route your traffic through an encrypted channel to the RiseUp servers before accessing the internet, making it harder to trace your online identity or location.

Who Might Need RiseUp VPN?

When you read the RiseUp website, you can see that their main reason for existing is to free yourself from the ‘shackles of big business and governments’, or that’s the impression I got anyway!

They have a whole page on their site talking about how the internet is broken by governments, ISPS and corporations. Either by tracking or allowing tracking and sharing of your online identity.

A lot of people that buy commercial VPNs will be using them to unlock entertainment services in others countries, such as Netflix. They may also be using to do torrenting, which is illegal in a wide majority of countries.

This is not the intended use for RiseUp VPN, which is more of a digital freedom tool for people that want to go about their business without being tracked by governments and organisations. RiseUp VPN talks about “struggles for human liberation” and “ecological sustainability’ on their website. 

How Much is RiseUp VPN?

As you may have guessed from the intro to this review, RiseUp VPN is not a commercial application. It is being offered for free to anyone that wishes to use it.

However, RiseUp VPN state that each user on their service costs them $60 a year and they encourage people to donate. In fact they say that RiseUp is an experiment to see if such a VPN can be supported by donations.

What We Like about RiseUp VPN?

No Account Needed

You can download and start using RiseUp without the requirement to make an account and hand over any personal information.

Free and Community Based

I can really see that the purpose behind the RiseUp community is a commendable one. They seem passionate for their cause, and the fact they are willing to make a VPN to support their passions is a credit to those involved.

Whether the gathered information is used in a good or bad way is up for debate, but it is a fact that most online users are tracked heavily whilst online. It is great to see a free and community based tool available for those people worried about such things.

Solid Privacy Policy

If trust and security are important with your VPNs, this could be the VPN service for you!

I have seen several VPN providers that say they don’t track their customers but actually don’t back this up with their privacy policy. This is not the case with RiseUp, who clearly state that they only log the most basic information regarding those that use their VPN, and that all their data is encrypted. When RiseUp say no logging they mean it 🙂

Additionally, this is not a corporate entity with a head office etc. The fact that RiseUp is made up of members from all over the world, it is unclear how any government or organisation might contact them to obtain information even if they wanted to.


For a free community based VPN, it is great to see that they offer a Windows and Android based application to access their service. And the Android app is not some piece of abandonware, it stills gets pretty regular updates to ensure that it can still work with the latest smartphones. You can’t say fairer than that!


No matter how you connect, the process is simple and easy. No account setup, just connect and away you go! Even the most technophobe users should be able to use this VPN service without issues.

What We Don’t Like about RiseUp VPN?


As you may imagine for anything offered for free, it is hard to keep the quality of the service high. Ideally, many users would donate, allowing them to keep a more premium set of servers to maintain speed.

I think the reality probably is that only a small percentage of users donate and therefore they cannot afford to keep enough servers. Unfortunately, this is what happens to most free services that rely on donations.

When I have used RiseUP, the speeds have been just about enough to do basic web browsing and some small downloads. What I would term ‘light internet usage.’ Anything more than this and you will struggle due to the low speeds.


As this is a community run project not hell bent on profit, the down side to this is that the support you will receive is likely to be slow. You can try emailing them, but the length of time it could take for them to reply is almost like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes pretty fast and sometimes real slow. You can’t expect much more when you are paying zero dollars!


Although the functionality and usability of this VPN service is great on the whole, their design is more than just a hint of early 2000s ‘cool’. As a free service you can expect much, I suppose. Better this way than good design and bad functionality 🙂

Should You Use RiseUp VPN?

If you intend to use a VPN to unlock entertainment services (as described above) or other such hobby style uses, RiseUp VPN is not the service you should use. Frankly, you would be taking away resources from the people using this service for what it was intended (again, as described above!). 

The way to get around this would be to donate $60 a year, so you are not a burden on their resources, but at this point you could pretty much buy a commercial VPN that would be faster.

The RiseUp VPN services are slow when compared to commercial VPNs, probably down to the fact that many people are probably using this service without donating. This makes them good for basic internet use, but not so good for the likes of video streaming.

If you want a ‘leisure VPN’ for streaming video etc. I would highly recommend you go out and buy a good commercial VPN for this. My current budget favourite is Ivacy VPN, which is both cheap and fast.

If you are fighting for a free society or other such humanitarian or environmental causes, and want a VPN to use as a part of this, you fit the use case of RiseUp VPN perfectly. Just be sure to donate something so that the service doesn’t implode on itself 🙂