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Opinions and testing here are my own, fully transparent with testing reports.
Decoding Private & Secure VPN with Tests
It’s important to me that I provide unbiased reviews when it comes to secure VPN services.
I will be using them anyway, so VPNCodes serve as my journal where I decode the best-trusted VPNs and recording all the test results.
I test them through a meticulous and fair test program that I designed myself.
Some of the areas that I concerned about are speed, reliability, privacy and security, and etc.
Here’s an overview of my review process:
- I’d cross-reference 30 sites and picked the 10 most mentioned Best VPN. (More details here)
- Subscribe and installed the VPN. Each and every one of them.
- All reviewed secure VPN will undergo my 28 inspection elements.
- Putting a score and ranked them accordingly.
- Finally, I write up the review with detailed testing report attached. (Updated every 6 months)
This means that you will receive transparent and detailed reviews on how I judge the VPN services’ quality.
The 28 parameters that I’ve set enable me to scored and ranked them accurately.
This process is designed to cover all the talking points for all of the selected VPN here.
Based on these elements’ points, it gives me a better idea of the overall picture of the service.
After all, numbers tell the truth.
I will break down and analyze all the fundamental elements that make or break a VPN service.
I also review its unique features and other aspects that set these VPN services apart from its competitors and assess if they do add genuine value in the entirety service.
But before that, do get into the basics of VPNs with the beginners’ guide here.
My Testing is in line with Top 3 Most Searched Paid VPN Brand, Globally
Coincidence or not, I took it as a recognition for my testing method that my scoring system is matching consumer expectations when it comes to VPN service.
My top 3 ranked best VPN are align with brand searches for paid VPN according to Google data globally.
Most of the consumers are aware of the brand and my VPN testing report helps to record them down in numbers and putting scores on them.
It might not be the best benchmarking but it certainly is a guideline here.
ExpressVPN Pros (+)
+ Fastest VPN Tested
+ Self Owned Servers
+ Highly Secure & 100% Privacy
ExpressVPN Cons (-)
– No ad-blocker
Price starts at $8.32/mo
ExpressVPN is all about privacy and speed. If you value your online privacy, you won’t think twice before going with ExpressVPN.
They are the fastest VPN that I’ve tested.
And it’s no going back after you have experienced the smooth sailing browsing and streaming capability in which we all deserved!
Albeit the premium price, there was no ad-blocker feature which I think is a slight turnoff.
Other than that, everything else was top-notch. A major leap in protecting client privacy by introducing TrustedServer where the VPN server only runs on RAM.
Not to mention that all of the servers are owned by ExpressVPN alone.
… or read my ExpressVPN review here.
Surfshark Pros (+)
+ Low Price
+ Premium Features
Surfshark Cons (-)
– Not Owning All the Servers
– No Server Load Indicator
Price starts at $1.79/mo
It’s a no-brainer that Surfshark is offering all the premium features for just under $2/mo.
Surfshark is certainly eating all the competitors alive with their ‘Shark’ surfing around.
It may seem like Surfshark was at the disadvantage of partially renting some of the servers around the globe. But rest assured that they are all physically located in a trusted third-party data center.
All had gone through a strict due-diligence process that meets the highest degree of trust and security requirements.
And let’s not forget that all the traffic is encrypted with AES-256 encryption.
… or read my Surfshark review here.
NordVPN Pros (+)
+ Specialty Servers
+ Onion Over VPN
NordVPN Cons (-)
– No GPS Spoofing
– Servers Not Fully Owned
Price starts at $3.49/mo
NordVPN and Netflix is certainly a killer combo. Constantly having stable and fast speed throughout the VPN connection.
Having close to 6000 servers across 59 countries making sure that you can connect to anywhere with ease.
Most of all, having specialty servers for P2P function, Dedicated IP, and even for Onion Over VPN is extraordinary for an affordable price VPN.
All in all, they are decent, trusted, and premium VPN providers despite a lower score comparing to ExpressVPN or Surfshark.
Make sure you check out my review and test report to find out where they fall short.
… or read my NordVPN review here.
CyberGhost Pros (+)
+ Great for Streaming
+ NoSpy Servers
CyberGhost Cons (-)
– No GPS Spoofing
– Ad-blocker work Intermittent
Price starts at $2.75/mo
They might not be an all-rounded paid VPN service, but you can rest assure that all your media streaming and P2P will perform without a hitch.
CyberGhost provides decent enough speeds when it comes to local destinations, but the farther you move from your home center, the greater the lag you’re going to experience.
A vast selection of over 6400 servers is good, but the jewels are in the NoSpy servers that are wholly owned and maintained by CyberGhost.
NoSpy servers are available to all paying plan except the monthly plan where you paid month-to-month.
You are only granted to NoSpy server access if you opt to pay annually, 2 years, or 3 years in a go.
… or read my CyberGhost review here.
VyprVPN Pros (+)
+ Chameleon Technology
+ Own Server Farm
+ Independent Audit
VyprVPN Cons (-)
– No GPS Spoofing
– Inconsistent Speed
Price starts at $2.50/mo
What truly shines here would be their Chameleon DNS where obfuscating is at ease.
While most of the Netflix libraries are accessible, but there are still some that can’t and speed consistency problems make it a dreadful experience when it comes to streaming.
However, privacy and security are where VyprVPN stands out. A third-party audit on their no-log policy vouch for their determination of being a truly private VPN.
And the latest addition of the WireGuard protocol proves that they are constantly improving on the security front.
… or read my VyprVPN review here.
TunnelBear Pros (+)
+ GhostBear Technology
+ Support Torrenting
+ Great Security
TunnelBear Cons (-)
– Speed Inconsistent
– Inside 5 Eyes
Price starts at $3.33/mo
As with the rest of the above premium VPN, TunnelBear has it’s own ‘GhostBear’ technology.
Its advanced obfuscation method enables them to do a lot of things such as bypassing China firewalls and etc.
But not able to beat the Netflix VPN ban which is quite a shame. TunnelBear was OK but seriously falling short if we put them in comparison with the above.
… or read my TunnelBear review here.
IPVanish Pros (+)
+ Excellent Ping Time
+ Clean UI
+ Great Customer Support
IPVanish Cons (-)
– Inside 14 Eyes Jurisdiction
– No GPS Spoofing
Price starts at $6.49/mo
First off, it didn’t work with BBC iPlayer and certainly not working in China.
While it does promise a large network of servers around the world but I am having difficulties in getting past the geo-blocks set by Netflix or BBC for instance.
Well, speed isn’t as impressive. It drops as much as 18% from my testing where I picked the nearest server.
Imagine if it has to go around the other half of the globe? It doesn’t look good.
But it’s very easy to use, the interface is very clean and clear. And you are backed by awesome customer support.
They are quick and eager to solve your concerns.
With a monthly price tag of around $6, I just cannot justify the cost with the usability at the moment.
… or read my IPVanish review here.
Windscribe Pros (+)
+ Unblocking Netflix
+ Free Version
+ Support Torrenting
Windscribe Cons (-)
– Inside 5 Eyes Jurisdiction
– Terrible Download Speed
Price starts at $4.08/mo
Great stuff, it is able to unblock the Netflix even with their free version.
Bad stuff, their download speed is terrible with a massive over 60% drop from my testing.
I’ve tried different servers, but the speed just won’t come up.
They do pack Windscribe VPN with a lot of features and advanced security but somehow it just lacks the depth of it if you are really tested them out.
Nonetheless, their free version is the most usable as of my find out.
… or read my Windscribe review here.
9. Private Internet Access (PIA)
PIA Pros (+)
+ Own All of It’s Servers
+ Excellent for Torrenting
PIA Cons (-)
– Inside 14 Eyes Jurisdiction
– Streaming was a Hit and Miss
Price starts at $2.85/mo
I would have to rethink again if I am going to use PIA VPN for Netflix or any other media streaming services as it was hit-and-miss for me.
The speed test was not up to par and it would certainly affect the streaming and viewing experience thus I would most likely be skipping on it.
However, I think the PIA VPN would be the perfect match for torrenting as they owned all of their servers. And torrenting mostly runs in the background.
You can be sure of total privacy and security protection from them.
Word of advice, there’s no free trial. Though there are a 30 days money-back guarantee, the refund process is slow.
… or read my PIA review here.
10. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield Pros (+)
+ Catapult Hydra Protocol
+ Support Torrenting
+ Great Speed for US Servers
Hotspot Shield Cons (-)
– Inside 5 Eyes Jurisdiction
– Privacy Concerns
Price starts at $7.99/mo
Building their own protocol, Catapult Hydra can be both a good and bad thing at the same time.
With no transparency and third-party auditing on the protocol itself, it’s hard to judge the privacy stance.
Speed was extremely good for all the US side servers but it lacks the depth for the rest of the world.
Overcoming the Netflix VPN ban was at ease and the streaming experience was great.
But the same can be achieved with Surfshark or Cyberghost at the fraction of the cost.
All in all, the score does not look good and there’s a good reason for it.
… or read my Hotspot Shield review here.
I Didn’t Make Up The Best 10 VPNs
I had referred more than 30+ other websites to come out with these 10 best VPN for review and testing purposes.
Working from the ground up, calculate, and recording down each of them in great detail.
To sum up and finally picked the 10 most mentioned Best VPN around the world. Here’s to the spreadsheet for your further reference.
Things to Consider When Choosing VPN
1. Security & Encryption
Most VPN services are very transparent with the security measures they’ve placed to safeguard their users. With this in view, security and encryption measures can make or break a VPN service.
Privacy is precious to all of us, and that’s why a high level of anonymity must be maintained. With that being said, look out for security features such as split-tunneling, kill-switches, OpenVPN functionality, AES-256 encryption, and IP hiding that contributes towards your guaranteed protection.
Make sure to check on DNS or IP leaks. These leaks allow your ISP to access your network – basically, the VPN is useless. VPNs must do their job in protecting your privacy.
All in all, a secured VPN service should offer advanced security standards and place robust measures to protect data. Offering a variety of security and encryption features is a hallmark of an excellent VPN service.
2. VPN Protocols
If you’re looking for an excellent VPN service, you should check if they support protocols such as PPTP, IKEv2, L2TP, IPsec, OpenVPN, SSL, etc.
I know – confusing, right?!
What do all these VPN protocols mean?
Well, these VPN protocols are best known for their maximum security and speed.
These protocols provide robust cybersecurity and allow you to access content on the internet that’s not available in the country you’re in. VPN protocols are different from one another. Some of them are more secure, while others provide a faster connection.
Some VPNs allow you to choose a bundle of protocols while others don’t.
Some VPN services either prioritize speed, security, or anonymity. With that being said, you need to make sure your priorities match with them.
Because VPNs encrypt your traffic route and send it through a server, it may sometimes affect the connection’s speed.
There isn’t much difference when it comes to IPv4 vs IPv6 speed.
But still, no one wants a slow, stale connection.
Moreover, you should also look for services that offer speed options. Some provide different speed configurations for various purposes, such as streaming movies or peer-to-peer activities, to ensure that you always have fast speed on your side.
The best VPN services offer a range of servers from different countries that allow you to choose and connect to a server close by and maximize your connection’s speed.
Did you know that all VPN providers are bound to local laws and regulations? Yes, they are, so it’s important that you understand these laws and how they might affect your privacy! It’s an issue that most people tend to overlook.
It is wise to check VPN services on how they cooperate with the laws of the country and its history. You don’t want to purchase a VPN and then find out later that the country has access to your privacy.
If you travel a lot and you’re looking to use a VPN service, it is best to do your research first. You must pay extra attention to the VPN services availability by country.
Now, most VPN services can be accessed on iOS, Mac, Windows, Android, and Linux, but not all. You should look into which devices are compatible with the VPN services and how many devices you can connect at once.
Some VPN services allow unlimited devices, while others have a specific device quota. I advise you not to limit yourself to one device. You will never know how or when you may need to access a VPN service.
6. Ease of use
Most VPN services these days are easy to use. The user-interface and setup are hassle-free and intuitive at the touch of a button.
If you ever happen to stumble on a VPN service that requires you to become a tech genius, it’s not worth your time. A VPN should be easy to use in a few minutes. Make sure to find a VPN service where you don’t have to lift a finger.
When you’re searching for a VPN service, price matters as well. Most VPN prices differ depending on the features and subscription periods.
The paying systems are different, as well. Some VPN providers offer anonymous payment methods such as cryptocurrency.
Now, some VPNs offer free services, which sounds awesome. It is tempting – I know, but it’s not recommended to use one. First, there are no assurances of what will happen to your privacy, security, and the service’s overall performance.
Furthermore, most free VPNs come with annoying ads, unreliable speed, and flimsy security.
What’s more, you’ll be missing out on a lot of excellent features.
Don’t fret – a lot of fantastic VPN services are affordable, so don’t fall for the illusion that free VPN services are safe. The risk is too high for something that isn’t too grand.
8. Customer Tech Support
If a VPN service doesn’t offer customer tech support, ditch it. All excellent VPN providers offer customer tech support that swiftly responds to your queries or when you hit a snagging problem with an error.
A lot of VPN providers offer live-chats and video call support, which is great, so they can hit the error spot immediately and get your VPN running ASAP.
It goes without saying that if a VPN service values its customers, its products are equally excellent.
“I leave no stone unturned, making sure there are no hidden surprises when it comes to Private VPN services” – VPNCodes