We put every VPN on our website through an extensive and fair test program. We review VPNs based on privacy, security, speed, bypassing web geo-blocks, and more. We make sure to only recommend the very best VPN services.
Our VPN Reviews Are Always Unbiased
Unlike many other VPN review sites, our VPN reviews are impartial and free from outside influence.
We never take compensation in exchange for positive coverage, and VPN services will never have a say in how we rate the products we review.
Our team of VPN experts runs each VPN through the same in-depth test program, ensuring that all the results you see are directly comparable, with no favoritism or bias.
We do everything in our power to make your buying decision as easy as possible, and your needs always come first. We are always honest, transparent, and open in our reviews.
To learn more about how we can afford to maintain such high editorial standards, head over to our page explaining how we make money.
We rate every VPN according to six main criteria. These include security, speed, streaming capabilities, bypassing censorship, customer support, and ease of use.
For a VPN to be recommended, it needs to perform well in every single one of these areas.
Every VPN we test goes through this unique Top10VPN.com methodology – no exceptions. This is what happens when we review a VPN:
1Purchasing the VPN
The only way to guarantee that we’re receiving an official retail version of a VPN is to buy one ourselves – so that’s exactly what we do for every VPN we test.
We don’t use press samples, freebies, or special ‘test accounts’ provided by VPN services themselves. We want to make sure we get the exact same experience as the average user at home.
We have a running subscription for every paid VPN currently listed on our website. Last year alone we spent over $5,000 in VPN subscriptions. We have constant access to the VPN software we review, which means we can update our reviews at the drop of a hat.
Purchasing and maintaining our own subscriptions means that we can keep track of which VPNs represent good value and which ones are ripping you off. Most importantly, though, it means that the VPN we test is exactly the same as the VPN you buy.
Make payment quick and easy
Accept a wide array of payment methods
Accept cryptocurrency or cash for totally anonymous payment
Have a generous free trial or no-questions-asked refund period
Offer various subscription options for big potential discounts
Have a convoluted and confusing payment process
Only accept debit or credit card
Don’t offer a free trial and refuse to refund if you’re unsatisfied
Offer a fixed subscription rate with no discount for longer plans
2Installing and testing on multiple devices
We have dedicated Windows test laptops with virtual machines installed to run VPN tests on. We also have a test Apple MacBook Pro, Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Android handset, and an Amazon Fire TV Stick to carry out further device and platform-specific VPN testing. Each device is wiped clean after every test.
We highlight how widely-available each VPN is, and whether or not it has dedicated apps for a variety of popular devices. No native support for your phone, computer, or streaming device of choice means you could risk less-than-total protection.
Are easy to download and install
Have a native app for multiple popular operating systems and devices
Have confusing and unclear setup instructions
Have impractical installers (or require manual installation)
Are only available for one or two different platforms
3Is the VPN service easy to use?
Are the menus all clearly labelled? Does each button do what you’d expect it to do? Does it help you find a VPN server for the specific service you’re after, like Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Is there a walkthrough to installing it on your router?
We explore every menu and option in every VPN app, making sure there are no surprises when you run your new VPN for the first time.
Have all their features clearly labeled
Offer tooltips for greater explanation
It’s quick and easy to do what you want
Are overly-technical or hard to understand
Are poorly designed and difficult to navigate
Make strange design choices that make it difficult to do what you want
4Does it have all the necessary features?
There are certain features that we consider essential to a great VPN – features like a kill switch, automatic public WiFi protection, and AES-256 encryption.
Beyond that, we also look for any useful extras that might be included, like split tunneling or browser extensions.
Some VPNs provide dedicated servers for specific streaming services, while others will give you servers optimized for unlimited torrenting and P2P traffic.
Support the OpenVPN protocol
Have AES-256 encryption
Have a kill switch
Have lots of servers all around the world
Have servers dedicated to streaming
Have browser extensions for easy access
Use outdated protocols like L2TP
Use weak encryption, or don’t even divulge that information at all
Leave you exposed if the connection drops
Forbid or throttle P2P activity
Have a small server network in a handful of countries
Don’t have servers dedicated to certain tasks, like streaming
Don’t offer any extra features or browser extensions
5Does it protect your privacy and security?
Your privacy and security is the single most important factor we look out for. We wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we didn’t ensure that every recommended VPN keeps you safe and private online.
We carry out advanced encryption tests to verify that a VPN is properly encrypting your connection.
We also check for DNS leaks, IP leaks, and WebRTC leaks to confirm that your true location is hidden when connected to a VPN.
In order to achieve the most reliable results, we use network traffic analysis software called Wireshark, a highly-regarded, open-source tool used by security professionals the world over.
We run every VPN installer and executable file through a virus test and check exactly what permissions the VPN app demands when installed on your mobile device.
We’ve also created a custom testing environment that ensures no misleading data can pollute the packet data that we capture and analyze.
Require minimal permissions
Use proven encryption
Don’t leak your IP address, WebRTC, or DNS requests
Contain hidden files and commands
Are far too invasive and access parts of your device they don’t need to
Are poorly encrypted
Suffer data leaks, potentially exposing your true IP, location, or browsing history
6How fast is the VPN software?
Speed and connection reliability are the backbone of any good VPN, so we make sure to test them as rigorously as possible.
To do so, we developed two different testing methods:
Method #1: Manual
This testing technique allows us to measure the speed of every single VPN service you see reviewed on our website.
To begin with, we record our internet speed without the VPN running.
We then launch the VPN, connecting to servers in the US (East Coast), UK, Australia, Central Europe (usually Germany, or France), and Singapore. If one of these locations is not available, we’ll test a nearby country or region instead.
Testing locations around the world gives a good overview of how a VPN performs over short, medium and long distances.
We test each location several times, and we compare the average speed in each location to our speeds without the VPN active. This allows us to calculate the VPN’s percentage speed loss.
For each region, the amount of speed lost is assigned a specific score. This applies to download and upload speeds lost, as well as latency gained. Below is how much each of these three factors affects the overall speed score:
Download speed: 70%
Upload speed: 20%
N.B. Local connection speed (for example, from London to London) is prioritized.
The majority of speed data you see is from testing using the OpenVPN protocol, in order to keep results between VPN providers comparable.
We also run tests on other VPN connection protocols (WireGuard, IKEv2, etc.) as different VPN services prioritise different protocols. If speed data relates to a speed test on a protocol other than OpenVPN, we’ll make sure it’s clearly stated.
Method #2: Automated
We have developed a global testing tool that tests VPN speeds throughout each day, in order to deliver accurate and up-to-date figures. The locations we currently test are:
New York, US
San Francisco, US
Our testing infrastructure, made in-house by our engineering team, runs automated tests between and within every city listed above. This gives you great insights into how a VPN will perform for you all around the world.
Currently, we use our tool to automatically test the 18 popular VPNs.
Here’s a sample of what our VPN speed test tool looks like, along with live data from some of the fastest VPN providers:
We strongly believe that the data from our automated tool is the most reliable out there.
Not every VPN provider has configuration files compatible with our speed test tool, but we are looking to add more VPNs to it in the very near future.
Connect to your chosen server quickly
Provide super-fast download speeds on local connections
Suffer minimal speed loss when connecting to servers further away
Offer good upload speeds
Keep your ping low for lag-free gaming and video calls
Take a long time to connect
Slow your internet speeds when connected locally
Are even slower when connecting to an international server
Disproportionately affect your upload speeds and ping
7Does the VPN work with popular web services?
With the technical analysis complete, we then test the VPN to see how well it unblocks popular web services. Does it let you access US Netflix from any location? Can you watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere? How about torrenting – is it permitted on all servers?
If the answer to all of these questions is ‘no’ then you’re looking at a very limited VPN that may not be right for you.
Work with your own country’s Netflix
Unblock not just US Netflix, but other popular libraries from around the world
Provide access to trickier streaming services, like BBC iPlayer and Disney+
Unblocks torrenting and doesn’t restrict your speeds
Actually prevent you from watching Netflix as you normally would
Can’t even unblock the super-popular US Netflix, let alone any other country or service
Don’t allow torrenting, even if your ISP does
8Can it bypass censorship?
VPNs are vital tools in combatting government online censorship. Whether you live under a digitally-oppressive government or are just passing through, a VPN is crucial to regain access to a free and open internet.
We thoroughly check to see if every VPN we test can be relied upon to beat geo-restrictions in heavily-censored countries like China and the UAE.
Can beat complex national censorship setups, like those seen in Iran, Russia, or the Great Firewall of China
Unblock not just US Netflix, but other popular libraries from around the world
Can unblock websites banned by your school, college, workplace, or ISP
Lack the sufficient resources and technologies to go undetected
9Does it have a privacy-friendly logging policy?
If a VPN isn’t protecting your privacy then you may as well not be using one at all – but we’ve found some privacy and logging policies that left us speechless.
The very best VPN services enforce no-logs or minimal-logs policies which, if implemented correctly, will not store any identifiable data on the user. However, there have been cases when a no-logs provider has been caught lying, so make sure you do your research.
While it can be very hard to know for sure if a provider is logging or not, we go over every privacy and logging policy with a magnifying glass. We also grill every VPN provider to find out exactly how private each VPN really is.
And it doesn’t stop there. We do our due diligence and carry out thorough research into who owns and operates each VPN company. We look into where they’re headquartered and based, which can be a serious issue if a the VPN’s logging practices aren’t watertight.
Last but not least, we stay on top of the latest news and developments in the VPN industry, so that we’re always fully informed and well-equipped to give valuable advice to our readers.