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How do we conduct VPN Reviews?
Covering VPN reviews is not easy. A lot of time, testing and efforts go into writing reviews that actually help our readers pick the right VPN service.
When we review VPNs, we always purchase premium VPN accounts and put them through strenuous testing to find out if the VPNs we’re suggesting are worth getting. Here are our 9 steps VPN testing criteria:
- Jurisdiction – 5, 9 & 14 Eyes Territory
- Security – Logs, Protocols & Encryption
- Leaks – IP, DNS, WebRTC Leaks & Virus Tests
- Servers – Physical, Virtual & Obfuscated Servers
- Speed – Connection Speeds on Different Servers
- Streaming – Netflix & Other Streaming Services
- Compatibility – All the Major Platforms and Devices
- Pricing – Plans, Payment Methods & Refund Policy
- Trustworthiness – Audit Report, Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit Reviews, Warrant Canary & Support
1. Jurisdiction – 5, 9 or 14 Eyes Territory
Undoubtedly, jurisdiction basically gives us an idea of whether a VPN service keeps logs or not. For instance, VPNs that fall under the 5, 9 or 14 eyes territories like the US, are legally obligated to retain user logs and share intelligence information.
Therefore, the first thing we do is analyze where a certain VPN provider is headquartered. If it is based in a country with no mandatory data retention laws, that means it is safe to use and trustworthy.
To quickly find out which VPNs are safe to use based on jurisdictions, we suggest using the handy tool below.
2. Security – Logs, Protocols & Encryption
Without analyzing logging policies, you cannot determine whether a VPN provider stores or shares your personal data. Unfortunately, numerous VPNs do keep some sort of logs. There are two major types of VPN logs. Let’s check out both usage and connection logs, shall we?
When we review usage logs, we check whether a VPN service collects online browsing information like browsing history, connection times, and IP addresses. A VPN that offers a true logging policy, does not store any usage logs.
For connection logs, we make sure that the VPN doesn’t collect connection timestamps, original IP addresses, VPNs’ IP addresses, and data transferred. Connection logs are less intrusive and don’t actually pose any real threat to user privacy.
Encryption & protocols
We also review diverse VPN protocols. To ensure whether a VPN is safe to use, we look for VPN protocols like OpenVPN, SSTP, PPTP, IKEv1, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec and so on. The basic logic behind tunneling protocols inspection is to check how secure a VPN is.
In addition, we also scrutinize several encryption levels like 128-bit, 256-bit, and algorithms like AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), 3DES, Blowfish, Twofish, IDEA, MD5, SHA1, HMAC, and RSA Security.
3. Leaks – IP, DNS, WebRTC Leaks & Virus Tests
A leaking VPN can be devastating to your online privacy. To deem any VPN safe to use, we inspect VPNs for IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks.
Since a lot of low-end or free VPNs tend to suffer from leakage, we are bound to provide realistic information about any form of leaks we find to our audience.
This should give you an idea about different types of VPN leaks and also a few VPNs that passed our leak test. In addition to leaks, we also test for malicious files hidden inside VPN apps through VirusTotal.
4. Servers – Physical, Virtual & Obfuscated Servers
A massive server park is what makes any VPN fast and reliable. The broader the VPN server network, the better the VPN service will be at unblocking harshly goe-restricted websites and services. When checking VPN servers, we make sure that the offers a good mix of both physical and virtual server network.
In addition to servers, we also look for obfuscation feature. The main reason why we recommend VPNs with obfuscation technology is that they are ideal oppressive countries like China, Iran, Oman and others alike that suppress their users’ online freedom rights.
Last but not least, we also look for torrenting support. Only P2P compatible VPNs support torrenting by offering a comprehensive list of dedicated servers.
5. Speed – Connection Speeds on Different Servers
No matter which VPN you use, if it is not fast, it is of no use. While analyzing VPNs, we take speed very seriously. While conducting a VPN speed test, we connect to different servers available at different locations to figure out an average VPN speed.
We also look out for any fluctuations in speeds to determine any signs of throttling. This way, we are able to see if the VPN is smart enough to bypass ISP throttling.
6. Streaming – Netflix & Other Streaming Services
From the streaming point of view, we mainly look for a VPNs ability to unblock famous online media services like Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Kodi. This is because there are only a few VPNs that can still unblock US Netflix in 2021. Likewise, we also look for streaming speeds and any form of buffering issues that we may encounter. If your use case is solely for streaming, check out our best VPNs for streaming.
7. Compatibility – All the Major Platforms and Devices
What makes any VPN good is the number of apps it offers for different operating systems. We usually test to see whether or not the VPN service is compatible with famous platforms like Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS, and routers.
8. Pricing – Plans, Payment Methods & Refund Policy
Without a doubt, the price can be a major deciding factor when choosing any VPN. When we compare VPN pricings, we classify VPNs into particular categories like cheap, affordable, and expensive. In the same way, we also segregate VPNs into different categories based on money-back guarantee, free trial, freemium version, and payment methods to recommend the right VPN service as per your budget.
9. Trustworthiness – Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit Reviews, Warrant Canary & Support
In terms of trustworthiness, we highlight each VPN’s presence on famous customer review sites like Trustpilot that provides unbiased reviews about various products and services. Moreover, we go through reviews about VPN available on Reddit to know the real-life experiences of different users about a particular VPN.
We also strive hard to check the performance of customer support of each VPN we review. Firstly, we explore each section of a VPN provider’s website thoroughly. During the testing, we check the customer support category in detail.
We have to ask different questions be it VPN performance, generally related queries, and others either from its live chat support or from its ticket support. We often check its FAQ section, social media pages and other relevant subsections such as contact blogs, knowledgebase, others, and us.
In this process, we go the extra mile by asking each VPN provider hard transparency questions. Our team inquires each review provider about its owners, investors, management, the board of directors, etc.
Likewise, during our review, we also look for signs of transparency by evaluating a VPN’s transparency report (also known as Warrant Canaries). By putting each service through these steps enable us to shortlist the most transparent VPNs and which service is trustworthy.
In the end, we compare VPNs on other grounds like Audit report, GDPR and CDT compliance in a provider during our review process. Thus, we are able to give them a realistic rating eventually.
Based on the above-detailed VPN providers’ review process, we assign ratings to every VPN regardless if the VPN provider has earned the highest rating in the past or not. If you want to get a VPN on your own, you should go through this process that helps you subscribe to an appropriate VPN that offers online anonymity under your budget.
We hope we have described our reviews of VPNs in detail. Still, numerous questions are left that need to be answered briefly. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding VPN rankings or other related concepts that include:
Is it worth having a VPN?
Yes, it is totally worth having a VPN because of the security and freedom it offers. If you do not know, the purpose of a Virtual Private Network is to secure your connection and shield it from different threats lurking over the internet.
A VPN allows you to hide your true location, encrypt all your Internet traffic and route it through secure tunnels while making you anonymous in the process and protecting all your confidential data.
Is it legal to use a VPN?
Yes, it is legal to use a VPN as long as you do not opt for this amazing online privacy tool for the wrong reasons. Besides, few countries have banned the usage of VPNs in their territories. These countries are Russia, Turkey, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran.
Should I use a VPN all the time?
Yes, due to the deteriorating state of online censorship and internet freedom, you should use VPNs all the time. When you do not use a VPN, anybody can harm your privacy. However, by using a VPN, you can encrypt your online activities and prevent anyone from spying on you.
What are the advantages of using a VPN?
There are numerous advantages to using a VPN. For instance, you can change your IP address to access any blocked or geo-restricted content in the world. In addition to that, a VPN can also help you save money by beating price discrimination. By simply swapping your geolocation, you can purchase stuff like flight tickets and hotel rooms for cheap.
What can I do with a VPN on different devices?
In short, you can do a lot of things with a VPN on your preferred devices be it Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and others. You can bypass ISP throttling hassles to a certain degree. Moreover, you can spoof your online locations from the vicious eyes of hackers and other unwanted personnel.
You can unlock global content from anywhere and keep your web browsing activities including search histories anonymous.
Can a VPN decrease my internet connection speed?
Honestly speaking, it depends quite largely on the circumstances. You can connect to a VPN and stream your preferred media content at appreciable speeds.
On the other hand, as soon as you connect to a VPN, you might anticipate a huge downward spike in terms of download or upload speeds. There are different factors that affect internet speed once you start using a VPN. These factors are the location of servers, encryption levels, and server bandwidth restrictions.
Free vs Paid VPN: which VPN works better?
As compared to premium VPNs, free VPNs do not offer the required level of anonymity to its users. If you rate VPNs in terms of encryption, protocols, servers spread, customer support and other factors, you would give more points to paid VPNs instead of freemium ones.
However, there are handfuls of free VPNs like Windscribe, Urban VPN, Tunnelbear and others you can use to protect your digital whereabouts.
What is the best and safest VPN?
The best VPN in terms of safety has to be PureVPN. For a budget price, PureVPN delivers excellent security features, thousands of servers and amazing VPN apps for all major operating systems.
How many VPNs have we reviewed so far?
At VPNRanks, you can get 160+ reviews on numerous VPN, and the number is growing day by day. And that’s not all; we regularly update each of our reviews to provide up-to-date information to our readers.
Each VPN provider goes through our rigorous testing criteria. Whenever we conduct speed tests, IP leak tests, or evaluate a VPN’s performance for any platform, our team revisits the results after a few weeks to keep them updated.
Since it can be quite stressful for VPN users to end up with terrible VPN apps due to misleading reviews, we here at VPNRanks strive to provide our readers with the most authentic, transparent and unbiased VPN reviews.
We regularly check our testing parameters and update them as per requirement. We make sure that the VPNs we recommend offer the best performance in terms of streaming, speed, security, and usability.
Based on this goal, our team works tirelessly to review any VPN that is in the market. Be it a newcomer or an established brand, we evaluate its performance and test its features to the maximum.