Do you know what’s one of the hardest things about leveraging digital anonymity?
Countless websites providing information about privacy tools are misleading users. They sell tall tales regarding “The Best VPNs” in the market when fun fact: they don’t even have any ranking criteria!
How did we get to know this? A month ago, we searched the keyword “best VPN” on Google to check what type of results the search engine would show. After analyzing over 100 different results, our hunch was validated…
Only a handful of websites offered information on how they reached a verdict for their recommendations, but nothing conclusive. The ambiguity was surprising. No wonder why online privacy sounds like a façade!
How We Pick the Best VPNs – Our Review Process
To help our readers, we decided to put together an in-depth guide on our review process. You can use this as a helping resource for picking the best VPNs yourself, based on your needs and budgetary requirements.
Why are we saying this? Because it’s high-time, you stop trusting ranked-websites for recommendations about VPNs. Instead, work on improving your own knowledge about digital privacy and the complexities of VPN tools in the marketplace.
The recommendations available on Google, sadly only rank because of their reputation (owed to years of online presence). However, they use conventional “keyword” strategies and decade-old rating methodologies for reviewing VPNs.
Here, we’ll be sharing everything about this biasness. First, showing you how BestVPN.co conducts reviews, and then reveal hardcore data from other websites that’ll leave you 100% convinced, a thorough review process doesn’t back their suggestions.
9-Components VPN Scoring System
As a first in the industry, the team behind BestVPN.co has introduced a unique evaluation system involving a 9-components scoring process, which analyzes a provider on the following factors:
There is no benefit of signing up with a VPN service based in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries are part of the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes Alliances, which indulge in mass surveillance and mandatory data retention.
As such, if you use their service, you cannot rely on their claims of “zero logs.” If the Government issues a gag order accompanied by a subpoena, the VPN will have to cooperate and reveal any details about the suspected user.
There are only a few cases where VPNs based in Internet Enemy Jurisdictions are found to have a verified “no logging” policy. However, in most cases, you will still have to read up on their policies regarding session/connection information.
Some VPNs are transparent about the information they record, while others blatantly lie. Regardless, you need to be wary. We analyzed 100+ providers earlier and came to realize that 35 keep dangerous logs, 15 prove logless, and 48 don’t store vital data/info.
Every VPN recommended by BestVPN.co goes through a rigorous testing process. It involves conducting a proper leak test after connecting to the VPN. If your WebRTC/DNS/IP address leaks, the VPN is not considered safe, and hence not recommended.
Most of the services reviewed by our team with weak encryption and leak issues are “FREE”. Some paid counterparts also had the same problem, hence why it is vital to beware of them. Otherwise, you risk your privacy online.
Isn’t it weird that you have to give so much information away to sign up with a VPN service, but on the offset you don’t have much information regarding their company? Most users have no idea about the background of a VPN service.
BestVPN.co leaves no stone unturned. We ask provider invasive questions to give our readers accurate info about a VPN and its headquarters, owners, investors, the board of directors, warrant canaries/transparency reports, and auditing processes (if any) of VPNs.
Lots of VPN services in the marketplace do have a vast number of servers available worldwide. However, sadly none of them reveal what kind of servers their users are connecting to, apart from a few providers that dissect virtual and physical locations.
Our team of experts tests all VPN services we review by using tools like the CA App Synthetic Monitor Ping and Tracert and BGP Toolkit. This helps us figure out which servers are virtual and physical, even if providers don’t reveal it themselves.
Getting a VPN service does not mean that you empty your pockets. Neither should you be incredibly stingy and avoid spending money on a value-driven product. BestVPN.co assesses all providers, based on pricing to determine if they provide good value for the money.
VPNs have many use-cases; unblocking websites, bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming platforms like Netflix, receiving protection from DDoS attacks and swatting hoaxes while gaming, and indulging in safe downloading of torrents.
We test all providers and their performance for the above use-cases while conducting a thorough speed test on multiple servers to determine if our users will receive consistent speeds.
When we review a VPN service, we make sure to analyze they support multiplatform compatibility. After all, you should have the ability to get an app on your compatible device. At the same time, you need to be aware of the permission each VPN app requires.
BestVPN.co is the only review website that carries out this task, assessing permissions and if a VPN offers native apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Mozilla, Chrome, Opera, and Smart TVs.
The last thing a non-techy user needs is trouble in getting someone to assist with VPN-related problems. BestVPN.co analyzes each provider and their support avenues available, along with the response time for each method to determine the best choices.
4-Step User Satisfaction Rating Mechanism
Any VPN can put up a fantastic website and claim to offer an excellent service. However, its users are the only ones who can testify their worth. So, we created a 4-step user satisfaction rating mechanism:
Customer Satisfaction Monitoring
This process involves analyzing different VPN services and their reputation on sites like Trustpilot to come up with appropriate information and an accurate rating of customer satisfaction.
Collection of Customer Reviews
We also collect customer reviews from a bunch of different social avenues, which include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, etc.
Processing of Customer Reviews
After collecting customer reviews from Trustpilot and the social media platforms mentioned above, we dissect them into two categories: positive and negative.
Analyzing Customer Reviews
Each positive and negative review then goes through an intensive analysis to determine whether problems and benefits received were true or not, eventually leading to a final score.
How Can You See these Scores?
When you visit our VPN reviews page and click on a provider, you will see these two boxes appearing on the top-right corner of the page.
Simply click on the question mark, above “our score” and “user score” (added via the 9-components VPN scoring and 4-step user satisfaction rating mechanism).
What are Other Review Websites Doing?
The 9-components VPN scoring system and 4-step user satisfaction rating mechanism involved us spending over sixty days, putting in 480 hours, and researching over 180 different VPNs.
Meanwhile, other websites that recommend VPNs like they are experts only do so because of the earning opportunities. Look at this report from Google Trends below from 2014 to 2019 and see how VPN usage has increased over the years.
We’ve added some statistics from Ahrefs (an SEO software suite) too regarding the “Best VPN” keyword. As you can see, the term has a global search volume of 364k and a cost per-click (CPC) of $8.00.
In laymen terms, CPC is an internet-advertising model to drive traffic to websites, in which advertisers pay affiliate publishers and website owners when the ad is clicked.
Suppose a VPN provider is marketing its products. Any affiliate website redirecting traffic/sales to its website could potentially be earning thousands of dollars.
This presents quite the earning opportunity for websites in the niche or even those that have nothing to do with the industry. Look at the top-ranking sites and their traffic share:
We analyzed the above (and over 100 other domains); only to uncover that none of the websites had a rating criterion for their recommendations!
In fact, the second name in the list was even exposed to dominating Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) rankings recently with fraud, and the site’s co-founder is also not a real person.
Even if other domains did have a criterion, they relied on conventional methodologies running from the 2000s: Server Count, Protocols, Encryption, and Number of Features available…
Best VPN Providers for 2019 (According to Our Review Process)
All the provider tested and reviewed by BestVPN.co undergo the same review process highlighted above, involving the 9-components VPN scoring system and 4-step user satisfaction rating mechanism. Based on the results, here is a list of the most reliable VPN providers for 2019:
- Surfshark – Priced at $1.99/mo. on a 2-year plan
- NordVPN – Priced at $2.99/mo. on a 3-year plan
- ExpressVPN – Priced at $6.67/mo. on a 15-months plan
- PureVPN – Priced at $2.95/mo. on a 2-year plan
- CyberGhost – Priced at $2.75/mo. on a 3-year plan
Shun Misleading Websites and Increase VPN Knowledge!
If you’re uncertain today about getting a VPN, it shouldn’t mean you stay this way forever. Selecting a VPN isn’t rocket science and it ain’t a piece of cake either, which is why you need to take this seriously.
While this page aimed to highlight our review process, I think its important you understand why we analyze VPNs in such a way, and increase your own VPN knowledge too.
With this, I’ll end this guide. Do let me know if you have any questions and which of the top five recommended providers will you try and why? Comment below.