Methodology

Term ‘review‘ dates back to the 15th century as a noun denoting a formal inspection of military or naval forces. From obsolete French reveue, from revoir ‘see again‘.

Modern times, noun ‘review‘ is “a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary.”

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/review

VPNtesting reviews VPN services coming from all different countries and sizes, but nothing makes us happier than to find a leakproof provider that has given an effort for its customers.

And of course the hidden gems – services that are truly undervalued.

It all starts by writing a list of companies on the market who have a ready-to-use product and could be considered as trustworthy. Trust is the core of all VPNs.

1. Firstly, Digging Into Company Profiles.

Court case history, logging, their location, whether they have separate companies for payment processing, who are the owners, reputation and more. We sometimes even use lawyers to take a look at their documents.

Company profile usually gives us a general overview of their business practices.

At this moment we already have some idea what we are dealing with and start to dig on more on the surface. Privacy policy and terms of service pages are the first to look into.

HotSpot Shield VPN about their logging practices

2. Contacting Customer Support.

We ask them with a wide range of questions to see how they interact with customers. There have been cases when a provider has a live chat feature, however, they never react to the initiated conversation.

Sometimes it takes a lot of back-and-forths.

Some of the companies have flawless support agents. They are personal and interested to make the customer feel and some have enormously strict rules about responses, which makes us personally feel like talking to a robot. Our eyes are towards you, Symantec.

Fun fact: Out of 91 contacted VPN services, the longest time to respond our e-mail was 11841 min by Cloak VPN.
(Nonetheless, there are companies who remain fully unresponsive).

3. After Direct Contact,  It’s Time to Buy Their Craft.

We buy their service for testing purpose

4. Setup Files Will Be Tested Through VirusTotal.

VPNinja Virustotal.com test

5. Finally, the Pandora’s Box is Opened.

You’ll never know what’s coming.

Setting up the software is part of user experience and it’s important to take note about the time spent configuring the client. Not all VPNs have a stand-alone program. In case the configuration files have to be integrated with VPN implementing software like OpenVPN, we note it as a drawback.

Usability comes next. We will tune every knob and checkbox and see which of them gives errors.

Our laptop desktop screen

6. Next, We Performs Speed Tests.

ShadeYouVPN. Maybe a bit too low.

We do one test without VPN and right after try 3 different countries from VPN server list. LAN cable is used to secure the most stable connection. Countries include USA, UK, and China (however sometimes we have had to use Japan servers due to lack of possible servers).

This gives some overview of speeds in 3 different continents.

However, you must take note that the speed varies by ISP and location. The speed tests are mainly done to get an overall comparison between every VPN.

7. The Third Most Important Parameter to Look Into is DNS leaks.

Leak tests are done after being connected to the providers’ service (random server). There are 5 main web tools we use to detect DNS leaks.

8. It’s Time For the Fun Part – Netflix and Torrenting.

We test at least 3 different servers to conclude whether there’s a chance to take your girlfriend for a Netflix and chill or a rather no.

If downloading torrent from a random server fails the first time, we will do extra 2 tests with other servers (total 3 times).

Torrenting for testing purpose

9. Our partner in China Tests the Great Firewall of China.

Tests are conducted with China Unicom Shandong (CHINA UNICOM china169 Backbone) ISP.

10. No VPN Is Perfect Without Being Compact.

If the provider offers service on iOS devices, we also do a simple usability test to see how it feels for the customer.

PIA lets you choose between light and dark theme on your iOS device.