Methodology for Reviewing VPN Services
Logging and privacy policies vary from one provider to the next. That’s why our reviews examined each provider’s policies on data collection. Some states have laws that require VPN providers to gather some amount of user data if they wish to operate or promote their product in those countries. However, many trusted VPN providers try to avoid those states and look to take their business elsewhere. Others work around local regulations. They claim that they do not collect any data on their users and therefore cannot know what countries their users operate from.
Some of the data that might be stored includes bandwidth usage and connection logs. This isn’t considered especially problematic since the information is primarily used by providers to improve the service or for bandwidth-based paid plans. However, some of the cheapest VPN providers collect IP and traffic logs, which endanger your anonymity. Any VPN that collects that kind of data should be avoided.
Region-specific libraries: Aside from giving their users the privacy they need, VPNs are used to access region-specific movies, TV shows, and other content on our favorite streaming platforms.
Therefore, we examined whether providers of virtual private networks can facilitate quick access to libraries across the world for widely used services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. With the best VPN software, you should be able to watch anything on those platforms regardless of geographical restrictions that might be in place.
Torrenting: In many countries, torrenting is illegal. In the United States and China, authorities actively shut down torrent sites. In Germany and France, you risk hefty fines for torrenting copyrighted material. Meanwhile, in Greece and much of Eastern Europe, the practice is largely overlooked.
We looked for a number of features to determine whether a VPN provider is suitable for torrenting. The best VPN for torrenting needs to support P2P sharing, which many providers still don’t include in their offer. The right VPN also needs to be reliable and not leak IP information because this can reveal your identity to copyright agents, regulatory bodies, and other parties.
Speed: The last major thing to look out for when it comes to both torrenting and general use of a VPN is the connection speed. What good is a VPN if it slows down your connection?
Even with the top VPN services, though, some loss of speed is unavoidable because of the encryption and tunneling processes that your connection needs to go through to remain masked.
How much of your base internet speed gets throttled depends on the VPN provider. Most companies, especially those behind free VPNs, have a speed cap. Reduced speeds can affect your overall experience with a VPN and make torrenting nearly impossible. That’s why we looked closely at speed limitations in our reviews.
Price: You might be tempted to go with providers marketed as the best free VPN options, but we advise against it. First of all, many free VPN companies earn money by actually logging and selling your personal information. Meanwhile, most have very basic features and are often unable to access many geo-blocked sites, cross-regional streaming libraries, and torrents.
That’s why we recommend paid options. Most providers use the subscription-based model and follow similar patterns when structuring their pricing plans. Consumers usually pay a monthly fee, which goes down with longer subscriptions.
If you check out our list of the best paid VPNs, you’ll also see that many of them have free trials and money-back guarantee periods, allowing you to make sure you’re happy with the product before fully committing to a paid plan.