VPN Testing Methodology

Simon Migliano
Simon MiglianoUpdated

Our editorial team is fiercely independent and our reviews are 100% impartial. We are transparent about receiving referral fees from certain providers when you click our links and sign up for a VPN, however these commercial relationships have no bearing on the contents of our reviews and recommendations. We are always brutally honest in our reviews regardless of who we are reviewing as it’s critical you can trust our recommendations.

How do we test the VPN services on our site?

We pay for all our own VPN subscriptions out of our own pocket to ensure that we test the same exact apps available to consumers. We have each VPN clean installed on its own machine, and across multiple devices, so that we get the closest possible experience to the average consumer.

We spend several hours putting each app through its paces. We fire them up, connect to multiple servers and check to see how well they work with popular sites, apps and services, such as Netflix, Whatsapp or the BBC. We test out all the settings that are available and evaluate how well they are implemented, using our knowledge of the VPN market to place our findings in context and to show how the VPNs stack up against each other.

We pay particular attention to how easy the apps are to install and use, how wide and reliable their server network is, and the quality of their customer support especially in terms of live chat, email, and online resources.

We dig deep into providers’ privacy policies and terms of service to explain in plain English exactly how the VPN provider approaches privacy, especially their logging policy. We clarify directly with each provider anything that is ambiguous or unclear and share that in our reviews.

As streaming is such a popular activity online, we regularly test that each VPN is working with Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other popular services. If a workaround is needed for a particular streaming services, we make sure it’s included and explained in detail in our reviews.

VPN services are constantly changing and evolving, so we check and update our reviews regularly to ensure they have the latest information. We check for streaming access even more frequently, updating our reviews and recommendations with our findings every few days.

How do we test VPN speeds?

One of the most important factors when choosing a VPN is its connection speeds. To do so effectively, we have created our own global VPN testing network that tracks download and upload speeds, as well as latencies. We test connections to, from and between the most popular VPN servers for some of the most popular locations in the world. This means you can easily compare the current connection speed from New York to London between VPN providers, or vice versa, or from Sydney to Los Angeles, or between a whole range of cities around the world.

We are pretty proud of it. We believe the speed data we have collected is the most reliable you will find on the web.

We run tests multiple times a day between, and within, all of the following locations:

  • Amsterdam, NL
  • Frankfurt, DE
  • London, UK
  • New York, US
  • Paris, FR
  • San Francisco, US
  • Singapore
  • Sydney, AU
  • Tokyo, JP
  • Toronto, CA
  • Vancouver, CA

Our tests are intended to give you an idea of the range of connection speeds. The closer the server and faster your connection, the faster your speeds.

We perform these tests on these popular VPNs:

  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • IPVanish
  • Cyberghost
  • HideMyAss!
  • PrivateVPN
  • VyprVPN
  • SaferVPN
  • Hide.me
  • PIA
  • PureVPN

Every Monday, these daily test results are used to update the speed and performance section of the VPN reviews, as well as all our other speed data across the site.

We are constantly expanding our global testing server network, and will soon be adding new locations and more VPN providers.

It’s important to note that the other VPN providers featured on our site that are not listed above are tested using a different, manual method. This involves using Internet speed test tools and calculating a set of average speeds from London to the popular locations in our testing network. We repeat these manual tests weekly and update the reviews and recommendations with the results.