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
As a VPN consumer myself, I can speak from first-hand experience about the confusion that all these VPNs gave me.
I mean, they all look alike, work the same way, and have marginal differences in terms of features (or that is how things appear to an amateur’s eye).
So, I just woke up one day and decided to make a VPN comparison chart.
This blog is the culmination of all the hard work and research I 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.
My 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.
I used a variety of criteria to compare VPNs, but I 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.
This, I believe, is an oversimplification because there are many kinds of data logging, and not all are equally detrimental to privacy.
Therefore, I have subdivided the general parameter of “logging” into five distinct forms.
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.
I 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.
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.
I 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. My personal 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 I’m 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 Used in the VPN Chart
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.
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