VPN Comparison Tools and Guide 2019
The world of VPNs is a multi-billion dollar industry, consisting of hundreds of companies fighting tooth and nail to climb to the summit. The fierce competition within this industry is a testament to its good health and high profitability. That’s a great thing from the point of view of corporates.
However, for the consumer, the huge variety of options can be a cause of great confusion. Choices are good, but they can have a paralyzing effect on the user in proportion to the number of available options, leading ultimately to the inescapable black hole of indecision.
Compare VPN Providers
VPN Comparison Chart 2019 (All Major Features Examined)
So here it is. The chart you’ve been waiting for. Check it out:
This VPN comparison spreadsheet consists of what I believe to be the most important parameters that determine the level of privacy and security a VPN is capable of offering to you.
If you don’t see a factor which you think we should be considering or want us to include a specific VPN brand which we may have overlooked, please feel free to mention it in the comments section below.
As VPN consumers ourselves, we are all too familiar with the confusion that all these choices of VPNs can give you.
It is exactly for the express purpose of eliminating this confusion that we decided to make a VPN comparison chart, so you can conveniently compare VPN services.
This blog is the culmination of all the hard work and research we performed over a course of two weeks generating the chart which you will see below shortly.
But this article won’t analyze each specific VPN in detail. For an in-depth evaluation of VPNs, have a look at our page on VPN reviews of 2019.
Our Comparison Criteria
Comparing products is a painstaking process. You have to make sure your unconscious biases don’t influence your judgement, but at the same time, you can’t really ignore your personal experience and your own satisfaction with said products.
After all, meeting consumer expectations is what separates a first-rate product from a poor one.
We used a variety of criteria to compare VPNs, but we gave primacy to factors related to privacy, focusing on jurisdiction and logging.
Most authorities writing on VPN privacy lump together all the different forms of logging into a single all-encompassing variable.
We strongly believe that this is an oversimplification because there are many kinds of data logging, and not all are equally detrimental to privacy.
Therefore, the general parameter of “logging” is subdivided into five distinct forms our comparison chart.
The goal is to clear the notorious vagueness that surrounds logging policies of VPNs so users can get a clear picture about what kind of data each VPN is logging.
To learn more about what these types of logging really mean for you, read the glossary at the end of this page.
Countries with Worst Online Censorship
One of the main drivers behind the increasing demand for VPN services is online censorship, the laws for which vary by country. Generally, censorship laws are quite lenient in most European countries.
But elsewhere in the world, in certain regions of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, online censorship can assume downright Orwellian proportions.
The top ten countries with the worst online censorship situation are (in no particular order):
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
If you’re living in one of these countries, using a VPN becomes an important tool for exercising your right to access to information and freely express your opinions without persecution or negative repercussions.
We don’t know of any VPN that has jurisdiction in these locations, but if you see one, please stay away. You might end up exposing yourself to privacy invasions and constant online surveillance of your data.
Countries with Heavy Surveillance
On the other end of the spectrum, there are countries where the Internet is considerably free in that you won’t find censored post on social media or websites prohibited from access just because their content doesn’t agree with the powers that be.
However, these countries conduct extensive domestic surveillance of citizens, eavesdropping on their communications and data shared through the web.
There’s an alliance of intelligence-sharing countries who have on-going surveillance programs and have a bad history of encroaching the privacy of their citizens. These are discussed below.
Five Eyes Alliance
The Five Eyes Alliance includes the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The Snowden documents disclosed these Five Eyes countries, highlighting their involvement in conducting mass surveillance programs on the citizens of each other’s countries.
The implications of such alliances are dangerous and antagonistic to privacy of citizens. As such, if you use a VPN service located in these Five Eyes countries, then your activities on the web can be easily traced and your data acquired by agencies.
Nine Eyes Alliance
The Nine Eyes is an extension of Five Eyes and includes four more countries in addition to the five countries. The 9 Eyes countries include: France, Norway, Netherlands, and Denmark, which collaborate with the Five Eyes in intelligence-sharing and gathering.
The Fourteen Eyes is a further expansion of this growing list of nosy countries interested in collecting data of citizens. The 14 Eyes countries includes all the nations of the 9 eyes in addition to Sweden, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Belgium.
To learn more about the role of these countries in performing invasive surveillance on people, you can read our detailed article on 5/9/14 Eyes.
VPN Comparison: Reddit Reviews
Reddit is a great place to find user reviews and personal experiences concerning the place. You should definitely check VPN related forums and see what actual users of the product are rating each service.
We scoured the /VPNreview subbredit for reviews of the 10 most popular VPN services. I’m embedding these reddit threads and comments, so you can easily check them out here:
ExpressVPN is the most admired service on reddit. Seriously, there’s no contest when it comes to this VPN and what redditors think about it:
NordVPN gets mixed reviews on Reddit. Although the performance of the VPN is commended by a lot of people, some users have developed trust issues with the VPN. This thread will give you good idea about what redditors generally think of NordVPN.
Surfshark, being a new entrant in the VPN industry, doesn’t have as many threads and comments relating to it on reddit. However, it is mostly getting positive reviews by those who have tried the service out:
CyberGhost is a recognized brand in the VPN industry. However, lately there have been some complaints from reddit users about poor customer service. Our experience hasn’t been that bad with CyberGhost, but here’s a recent thread about the service from a user describing their horrible customer service experience:
PureVPN is one VPN service that most users seem to either love or hate. The one issue that repeatedly makes rounds on reddit about this service is the tedious refund process that users have to go through to get their money back. Here’s what a recent thread has to say about PureVPN:
Ivacy is another VPN that receives a lot of criticism on reddit. A number of users have reported issues with bad servers, resulting in frequent disconnections. Although there aren’t very many threads/comments about Ivacy on reddit, here’s a sample:
7. Private Internet Access (PIA)
PIA is a VPN service with as many fans as there are haters. Literally any thread on reddit you can find on this service is sharply divided between the naysayers and those with a positive experience. The following thread summarizes how discussions about PIA generally go in reddit:
The trend of mixed user reviews continues with IPVanish, as reddit users report varying all the way from poor to excellent. You’ll get the idea what we’re talking about when you read the thread below:
Redditors seem to have a lot of issues with VyprVPN, but their security and simplicity of user interface is well-appreciated by some users. Here’s how most redidt users think about this VPN:
ZenMate surprisingly has a lot of good comments from users on reddit. The service is mostly known for its free version, but its paid subscription has secured a lot of satisfied users. Here’s a redditor sharing his experience about ZenMate:
Glossary of Terms
Following is a glossary of terms you may need to understand in order to compare the services compared in the VPN spreadsheet above.
The laws of a country that a VPN is obligated to follow. Generally, this is the country where a VPN’s headquarter is registered.
5 Eyes/9 Eyes/14 Eyes
The 5 Eyes is an alliance between 5 countries for sharing intelligence. These countries conduct mass surveillance programs and a VPN located in one of these countries will have a hard time keeping your privacy safe from agencies. The 9 and 14 Eyes is an extension of the 5 core nations, but the most invasive surveillance is present in members of the 5 Eyes. The countries under these intelligence-sharing agreement are:
- 5 Eyes = United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia
- 9 Eyes = The 5 Eyes + Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway
- 14 Eyes = The 9 Eyes + Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden
IP address logging
Keeping a log of your original IP address and/or the VPN IP address longer than your session duration. These logs can be used to trace a user.
Keeping a log of your browsing and other activities on the web.
Keeping a record of the amount of download and upload bandwidth you have consumed over a given period.
Keeping a log of the time and date of your connection, disconnection, and any other event that you performed while using the VPN service. This along with IP address logging seriously pose a threat to your privacy, as it facilitates a hacker or agency to trace your identity and even your physical location.
Keeping a log of DNS requests made from a user’s computers/device. This information can reveal your location.
The ability of a VPN to prevent IP address and DNS of the user (client) from leaking to the web. This is tested via ipleak.net.
All VPN services in this chart are qualified as either “Fast”, “Average”, or “Slow”. This is the criteria for labeling the speed of each VPN
- Fast = VPNs with less than or equal to 30% drop in the base connection speed
- Average = VPNs with higher than 30% but less than 50% drop in the base connection speed
- Slow = VPNs with higher than 50% drop in base connection speed
An essential security feature in VPNs, a killswitch cuts of your internet in case your VPN connection experiences a temporary loss. This ensures your security is kept intact and your IP doesn’t leak to the web.
The number of devices a VPN can simultaneously support.
- NordVPN vs IPVanish – New 14-Round Comparison for 2019
- ExpressVPN vs IPVanish Comparison 2019 – Veteran VPNs Pitched Through 14 Rounds
- NordVPN vs ExpressVPN – 16-Round Comparison (2019)
- NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA) Comparison 2019
- Windscribe vs Surfshark
- PIA vs Surfshark
- NordVPN vs Surfshark
- PureVPN vs PIA
- HideMyAss vs PureVPN
- PureVPN vs NordVPN