PrivateLayer is an offshore anonymous hosting company pretty limited in the types of products, yet is one of the most talked about ones (on forums, review sites and so on) and hence we put its potential to test in this Private Layer review.
With strategic partners such as Microsoft, Cicso, APC, SuperMicro etc. the company does give off a professional and positive vibe, but how professional it in the practical use is what we’ll talk about in this Private Layer review.
Private Layer Overview
This section would enlist all the major and primary features of the company helping you form an outline-idea of the same:
- Primary URL: http://www.privatelayer.com/
- Servers in: Switzerland
- Payment methods: Crypto + Fiats
- Cheapest Plan: USD $89.00/month
- Servers: Dedicated Only.
- DMCA Compliant: Yes
- Content not allowed: Listed in the AUP section.
- Uptime: 99.9%.
Private Layer markets itself as an offshore hosting company, so obviously the offshore location is of prime importance, isn’t it?
The servers for the company are located in Switzerland, while the operations are run from Panama, both locations are among the world’s top-most freedom and privacy respecting nations as is no secret for most.
Also because the servers are based in Switzerland, they offer a close propinquity (closeness) to USA and Europe, offering better performance to visitors from those countries than companies with servers at distant locations.
It also has pointed out safety from “acts of god” such as Volcanoes, Tsunamis and so on considering how it’s at the centre of Europe.
Our Verdict: As far as the “location” is concerned, it offers everything we as users seek from such a company, privacy, freedom and performance for major visitor-hubs.
Offshore Hosting is often sought-after pertaining to the fact that the type of content one wishes to upload either isn’t legally, or morally correct in one’s own nation, in such a scenario the anonymity of the uploader obviously needs to be kept private, isn’t it?
The company does require users to use their real information during signup, which constitutes of the name, address, E-mail, Phone number and other such details.
This information is shared with Regional Internet Registries such as RIPE and LACNIC.
However it’s not shared with any other third-parties, courts, law enforcement agencies, or personnel unless a written court order from the courts of Panama or the Swiss Confederation has been issued.
All employees and other associated third-parties with the company are required to sign a non-discloser agreement with the company preventing any sharing or use of client’s personal data in any way.
As for payment, it accepts payments both via cryptocurrencies as well as Fiats, cryptos make the payments as anonymous as is possible in today’s world.
Our Verdict: The fact that it requires real-information, or shares it with some third-parties is a setback, although as long as you’re not involved in something massively illegal it still has enough privacy-respecting clauses in its T&C to convince you on a deal.
It goes without saying, the speed a server or company offers is of prime importance when it comes to website hosting, it determines what impression your site will leave on your visitors, as well as effects the site’s SERP rankings among many other things.
So we test a server’s page load-time, Server Response Time (SRT), content download speed as well as SRT when traffic spikes on the website.
We do not always have live websites personally on each company or server that we test, hence we use the company’s homepage for the tests, after verifying that the website is indeed on the same servers as the company sells to its customers.
Verification Results: https://intodns.com/privatelayer.com
The page load-time test for http://www.privatelayer.com/ would reveal the average load-time required by the websites hosted on the server.
We test the website from the following locations, and here are the results:
- UK-London: 821ms (Result verification).
- Germany-Frankfurt: 621ms (Result Verification).
- USA-Washington: 2.27seconds (Result verification).
- USA- San Francisco: 4.08seconds (Result Verification).
- Australia-Sydney: 6.84seconds (Result Verification)
As is evident, the load-time is impressive for European locations and increases as the location gets farther away from the server.
Although this test is no absolute answer and is based on the individual website’s optimization, content, page-size and so on.
To get a more universal perspective on things, we move on to our next test for the website.
Server Response Time
The server Response Time is test based more on the server itself, and less on the individual website (it still factors in though).
This test would reveal how long the server needs to react or respond to load the HTML of the website, only after this HTML is loaded does the client know what else to load for the site and hence it directly effects the page load-time of the site.
The results were more than just impressive for London, US East and US West being 78ms, 126ms and 156ms respectively.
However for most other locations such as Bangalore, Singapore and Sao Paulo the results were pretty average.
Our Verdict: The server seems only good for European or US countries, although not completely a disaster yet there are servers with better speed for the other locations. (refer to the comparison section for further insights).
Server Response Time when Traffic-Spikes
This final test will monitor the server response time when there’s a traffic-flood on the website. The yardstick being, if it starts needing more time to respond it’s not probably as good an option as a server which is constant and needs low response time regardless of traffic-spike.
We simply send some Virtual Users to the site to create a traffic-spike simulation.
This is one of the most “hilly” graphs I’ve ever seen, the response time was seen fluctuating quite a bit, it spiked upto 202ms for just 2 VUs, while needed only 82ms for 20VUs.
Our Verdict: It’s not as stable, although the speed is at par with quite a few similar companies in the industry.
Download Speed Test
They do provide a speed-test file, when tested the file was downloaded at around 100 – 150 Kbps on an average (my normal speed is around 300 – 500 Kbps).
You can test the speed independently using this link; which will vary greatly depending upon your location and internet speed.
Pricing Plans and Products
Private Layer is a Dedicated Server only company, it has two links for the servers, one simply advertises Dedicated servers, while the other is for offshore dedicated servers.
However on both the webpages, it’s mentioned that the server will be from Switzerland hence they both offer offshore locations and the real difference between the two is still unknown.
The normal dedicated server webpage has three packages, starting at a lowest USD $179.00/month and going upto USD $229.00/month.
The offshore server page however has plans starting as low as USD $89.00/month and going upto USD $199.00/month.
The servers are completely customizable, and the prices may go up or down based on this personal choices.
It’s 2019, some users would still trade ease of use over privacy or anonymity, while others with more conservative content, or as is the current trend would go with slightly more complex processes for payments yet would preserve their anonymity and privacy.
Private Layer has kept both the types of people in mind, and accepts payments in cryptocurrencies and also Fiats as already mentioned in the earlier sections of this Private Layer review.
The accepted cryptocurrencies are:
While traditional fiat methods include:
- Bank Transfers
- Credit/Debit cards
- Western Union.
In case you’d like to pay any other way, they do accept custom payment requests when contacted via support.
Acceptable Use Policy
Finally the moment of truth, what content is or isn’t allowed on the servers? Any content which violates the Panamanian or Swiss laws isn’t allowed.
Obscene (porn), Pirated content, Fraud, Pyramid Schemes, SPAM etc are banned as well.
It also respects copyrighted content and doesn’t allow the uploading of any content which infringes someone else’s rights.
Approaching the conclusion of this Private Layer review, I’ll simply compare some other companies which we’ve reviewed here with Private Layer to get you folks a better idea of what others are offering and how Private Layer compares to them:
Note that the numbers are the Lowest Server Response Times (best results) for the respective companies.
The support team can only be reached via a contact form, E-mail, or live-chat (not 24X7).
They however do have half a dozen E-mails, for different purposes and the estimated response time for each department has been mentioned alongside the E-mail ID(s), the fastest response time claimed to be 15minutes.
Our Verdict: Some major options seem missing, such as Phone, Skype, Facebook which are available with most other similar companies.
So that’s us signing off this Private Layer review folks, we’ve brought forth some of the most crucial aspects of the company, with as much transparency as possible.
If you should or shouldn’t go with the company is completely a personal decision, depending on personal needs and choices.
The performance of the servers are mostly acceptable, except the fact that they only offer Dedicated servers, hence if you’re someone who needs said servers do weigh the pros and cons of the company and then go with what feels best.
Anyway that’s just what we think, do drop your two cents in the comments about this Private Layer review, as well as the company in general.