- Connect to 33 countries
- 5 Simultaneous Connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
“Buffered is fast, easy-to-use and works well with streaming services but is a bit pricey”
Great performance in China to help beat state censorship
Travellers benefit from a simple app with good performance even on distant servers
This new service has no issues with streaming service compatibility
Buffered is a Hungarian-based VPN service that launched in 2013. You can expect great speeds from its best performing servers and reliable access to premium streaming services. The number of server locations is fairly limited at 38 but most popular locations are covered. We certainly recommend you check your required countries are available as there are a handful of notable omissions, such as Italy for example, that might frustrate you.
The app itself is fresh, simple and easy on the eye. Getting connected is straightforward and settings are streamlined. We love that it’s based on OpenVPN rather than less secure protocols but would have liked the option of using those protocols as they do have their uses. The lack of dedicated mobile apps is frustrating (although there are workarounds) at this price point but for desktop and laptop users, Buffered is an attractive option.
There are some handy utilities bundled in the app, such as the port scanning feature and connection testing tool, which increase the value for money.
Buffered performed very well in our speed and performance tests, with outstanding results on UK and French servers. The US server performance was not quite in the same league but delivered more than enough performance to stream HD video or download large files. Also encouraging was above average performance on distant servers, such as Australia and Brazil. The only real disappointment was the German server performance, which was well below par, albeit just enough to manage high quality streaming.
|Max download speed||42.19 (FRA)||61.14 (UK)||21.56 (US)|
|Max upload speed||30.71 (UK)||36.64 (FRA)||15.18 (FRA)|
|Average time to connect||23s||8s||9s|
|Tested and working with||Facebook, Netflix, Google-Gmail, BBC iPlayer, Pandora, Youtube||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Gaming, Torrenting, Facebook, Twitter, Google-Gmail, Kodi||BBC iPlayer, Facebook, Torrenting, Google-Gmail, Gaming, Twitter|
|SERVER LOCATION||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)|
With only 38 server locations across 36 countries, Buffered doesn’t have too much to shout about when it comes to server choice. However, as long as the locations you need are available and performance is strong even at distance (which it largely is for Buffered), then you probably won’t miss the 100 countries you would never have used anyway.
Indeed a positive side effect of limited server choice is that finding servers is easy even without a search function thanks to the short list. The US is the only country with more than one location with East, West and Midwest available.
Buffered score low here mainly due to their lack of live chat, which puts them at a disadvantage to competitors. It’s frustrating to have to use a contact form in this day and age of instant support. On the plus side, email response time was reasonable but not as quick as the best providers we’ve rated in this area. The quality of the written English in the email response was very good and friendly in tone and did not feel completely scripted. However, they do lose points for refusing to answer questions regarding exactly how many servers and IP addresses were available – even if they did so in a friendly manner.
The FAQ material on site is certainly wide-ranging and pretty well-written but it tends a bit more towards salesiness and talking up Buffered VPN than is ideal in our view. We prefer FAQ material to be more straight down the line. Video tutorials are also conspicuous by their absence.
Downloading and installing Buffered is very straightforward and you are up and running in just a matter of minutes after running through the Set-up wizard. You are greeted with a mobile app-style client that is simple and easy on the eye with bright colours and a straightforward layout that’s essentially just a list of countries to scroll through. There’s no search functionality but with only 38 server locations that’s no bother really, especially as you can pin your favourite locations to the top of the list. The app is responsive and not fiddly like some, which is a positive. There’s no “connect” button, which might give you a moment’s pause. While it’s still fairly obvious you need to click on a server location to connect, we do prefer the big button approach.
Connection time is noticeably slow at around 20s on average but once you are connected, the display flips to a new view that clearly shows you are connected. We like this view: it’s uncluttered and clearly shows your server location and your download and upload speeds in real time, along with data usage, connection time and your new IP address. A little frustratingly, there is a ping time field for latency but this appears to be broken and always displays as N/A. You can run a connection test from this view and download it your machine, which is a nice touch.
Slightly confusingly, there are two sets of settings. The mobile-style “burger” menu is always available but only contains a port-scanning feature and access to your logs. The main “connection options” are only available from the server list screen once disconnected. Here you can toggle the Ports and whether to use the TCP or UDP protocol, plus some other minor operating settings. We liked the simplicity of this section but it’s not clear for inexperienced users what these advanced settings are for. Fortunately, they are easily ignored for most users without impacting performance or privacy.
Less impressive is the lack of a mobile app for either iOS or Android. You can connect to Buffered on mobile devices but it involves a torturous process of using third-party app OpenVPN Connect and emailing configuration files to yourself from your Buffered dashboard on its website. Linux is also only supported via the legacy client. Compatibility on the whole is less than we would like at this price point. However, if all you need is a VPN for your laptop or desktop that runs Windows or MacOS, Buffered will cover your needs. And if you want to install the VPN manually on your router, that’s also supported.
Buffered covers basic VPN privacy well given that it is based exclusively on the OpenVPN protocol, which is widely accepted to be superior to other VPN protocols. However, the downside is that alternative protocols are not available at all, which could be problematic for users looking to outsmart state-sponsored censors who have had success in blocking OpenVPN, such as China.
Additional privacy features are few and far between but we do like the option to toggle between UDP and TCP OpenVPN protocols, as well ports, including 443 (the same port used for by secure websites). We would love to see the addition of a killswitch in future versions however.
Buffered does not log the websites you visit or files you download but does keep a record of your connection details for 30 days. This is limited to timestamps, your IP address and the IP address of the VPN server to which you connected. Due to Buffered’s use of shared IPs, however, it would be almost impossible for a third-party to identify your activity even if they were able to access those logs.
The bottom line is that Buffered performs well enough for most users looking to browse privately but those with a need for the most robust solutions may wish look elsewhere.
|Open VPN (Auto)|
|Open VPN (UDP/TCP)|
|Supports TCP Port 443|
|Supports SSH Tunnel|
|Supports SSL Tunnel|
|Strongest encryption||256-bit Blowfish||AES-256||AES-256|
|First party DNS servers|
|DNS Leak Blocking|
|Anonymous payment method|
|Tor over VPN server|