How Do We Evaluate VPN Providers?

How We Evaluate VPN Providers

As you might know, VPNs are the ultimate security tool that protects you when you’re online. However, getting a credible one requires a bit of research first. That’s why users resort to reviews and statistics before they trust a VPN with their private information. Some websites give a positive review to a flawed product, which risks putting people’s privacy and even their safety in danger. Here at WhatisMyIP.network, we cherish your online security and anonymity. That’s why we take drastic measures when we evaluate a specific VPN provider. If you like to know how we rank VPNs on our website, read the following article, and start taking notes.

How Do We Evaluate VPN Providers?
How Do We Evaluate VPN Providers?

What Makes a VPN Rank Higher

In an era of fake news, unreliable reviews, and mounting concern over pay-for-play content, I should probably tell you how we earn money here at WhatisMyIP.network. We rely on commissions from advertisers. However, that doesn’t cloud our judgement one bit.

Even if we’re in an advertising relationship with a particular company, we’ll list out its cons, don’t worry. If you take a look at VPN reviews, you’ll notice our unbiased point of view. We slam the top-ranking VPNs when they slip up and praise the ones that kick it up a notch.

Every VPN provider should have certain requirements to make it on top of our list. We’re talking special features, device compatibility, speed, security, and so much more. I’ll be covering all of these factors below. Give them a quick gander and learn how we evaluate VPN providers on our website.


Logging Policy

No Log Policy WIMIPThe term might sound simple, but it’s actually very effective, not to mention vague most of the time. The first thing we check for is a VPN’s logging policy. Some providers keep minimal logs, while others keep no logs at all. Sometimes, it’s necessary to keep certain information logged (never your browsing history). If they keep some data about you, let’s say credit card info and stuff, we make sure they delete it before putting them on our list.

A strict no-log policy is what we look for. VPN providers that say they keep whatever necessary logs required by the law. That really means whatever data law enforcement has asked them for—which could be anything.

That compromises a users’ privacy to the maximum. At first, we head over to their website and check their policy. Some of them state that they keep logs. Others say they strictly don’t, while some’s policy is a bit vague and masked in legal jargon. These are the ones we take caution from.

All in all, we look for a VPN that has a firm privacy policy and has servers scattered around countries far away from the reach of oppressive regimes. We’re talking about the Five Eyes Association, which consists of:

  • Australia.
  • Canada.
  • New Zealand.
  • The United Kingdom.
  • The United States.

Device Compatibility

Device Compatibility WIMIPI frequently see users dismiss a product because it turns out to be incompatible with the device their operating. That’s why I take a closer look at the range of platforms each VPN supports before we rank it.

Most of the VPN providers have dedicated clients on Android, PC, Mac, iOS, and Fire Stick. However, not all of them do. That’s a problem for users if they don’t read about what they’re signing up for. What good is a VPN if you don’t have a device to access it on?

That’s not all. You might know that VPNs are tools to bypass regional restrictions. Sometimes a VPN won’t cut it as it’s only limited to certain devices. If users tend to access restricted content on gaming consoles and streaming devices, they’ll need an alternative.

Well, a VPN that can offer that grabs my attention. I’m talking about Smart DNS Proxy. Most of the credible VPNs provide this feature so that users can watch geo-restricted content on PlayStation, Xbox, Chromecast, Roku, and Apple TV. One more thing I need to add, if a VPN offers a client for routers, it’s certainly getting a plus point in my book.


Security Features

VPN ProtocolsSecurity is the main reason why a VPN exists in the first place. All the premium providers I review on this website come with military-grade encryptions. But it doesn’t happen on its own. This added layer of security is brought to you by the VPN’s security protocols.

In our reviews, we give preference to the services that offer several protocols so that a user can have a variety to choose from, mainly, OpenVPN. This open-source protocol has a reputation among professionals for providing better speeds and more reliable connections.

IKEv2 is another excellent example of heightened security, as it uses newer and more secure technology than older protocols. Let me give you an advice upfront, stay away from PPTP.

It might be included in most VPNs and is one of the oldest protocols, but it’s long over-due. VPNs have upgraded to faster and more secure protocols. These are the protocols that a premium VPN with a high ranking should have:

  • OpenVPN
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • SSTP
  • IKEv2
  • PPTP

Oh, by the way, soon, expect the WireGuard VPN protocol to be increasingly important. If any VPN adds that to the list, it’s considered a bonus to rank even higher since it promises to be faster and leaner than OpenVPN and IKEv2. Are we looking at the future of security protocols? We’ll have to wait and see.


Pricing and Payment Options

Pricing and PaymentPricing is always a user’s priority. They even look at the price before checking out the features of the VPN. When we review VPNs, we always opt for the monthly package and report that price in the reviews.

I choose monthly ones because usually, premium VPNs offer discounts on long-term plans, which doesn’t give us an exact idea about the price range. When I find that a VPN is a bit more expensive than the competitors, it grabs my attention almost instantly. 

Some of them are worth every penny you spend on their services, while others just try to keep up with the market.

If a VPN does offer enough services to deserve that price, it ranks higher on our list. If it’s just raising its price to rival with others, it’s a significant drawback. Why would you ask for more money if you don’t provide enough services?

Now, for the payment options. VPNs are tools to secure your privacy. I really appreciate those VPNs that allow you to use Cryptocurrency. If you’re purchasing a VPN to avoid political persecution or wish to remain as anonymous as possible, then this type of payment is the best option. Luckily, a lot of top VPNs allow this payment method, and guess what? They’re on top of our ranking list.


Connection Speed

Connection Speed TestWhen evaluating a VPN, we don’t just look at its security features; we also have to see what impact the encryption has on internet speed. That’s quite normal since VPNs increase latencies and slow your overall connection for the encryption to take place. Yeah, in other words, your traffic is taking extra steps before it reaches the destination.

That’s why we do a lot of tests to come up with the best results. A reputable VPN that ranks higher than others has well-optimized servers for such issues. It ensures the users that they won’t notice any drop in their connection while connected to a VPN.

That’s true, to be honest. Some VPNs do stand by their words and walk the walk. They offer blazing fast servers optimized for the likes of streaming and online gaming.

However, the ones that state that they’re the fastest VPNs in the world should prove themselves. we tested a lot of these so-called fastest VPNs, and it turned out to be bogus. A good VPN should keep its promises. Imagine that a user invests in a server that doesn’t take good care of its servers.

It’s bad enough that the service is slow, what if the server is far away from the user’s location? What if the user wants to stream Hulu, which is in the US. His streaming experience will be ruined courtesy of buffering issues and latencies. Again, the VPNs that take good care of their servers always rank high in our reviews.

To ensure the best results, we download the VPN’s application. First, we test our connection speed without a present VPN connection. After that, we connect to a server that’s far away from our location and compare the speeds. It’s going to be slower than the original, but how big is the impact is all that matters. Finally, we connect to a close-by server and see how that goes. Speed tests are very important to determine whether or not we recommend the VPN to readers. If it fails, it’s not ranking at all.


Server Locations

Server LocationOur VPN reviews include the VPN’s server count. If a VPN has a lot of servers, you’ll have a more significant diversity of choices between your grasps. The range of the server network can give you a rough sense of how robust a VPN service is, which is a massive plus in the ranking process.

That’s not all. The servers should be located in highly-demanded regions. Let’s not forget one of the sole purposes of a VPN is to bypass regional restrictions.

I take into consideration the locations where the VPN servers are based. You wouldn’t want to invest in one that doesn’t include servers in a specific country, right? Imagine you want to unblock SBS, and that was the sole reason for choosing to work with a VPN. Suddenly, you don’t find a VPN server in Australia. How frustrated would you be?

If the VPN doesn’t have what I like to call “Geographic Diversity,” it’s not making our list. In my opinion, a VPN that has more than 1000 servers across the globe is worthy of ranking higher on our website. Otherwise, how can it compete with the giants and attract users?


VPN Features

VPN Features WIMIPThis is the most crucial part of how we come up with our reviews. VPN companies keep updating their feature list to stand out. Well, in my opinion, some of the VPNs do. I mean you’ll find features exclusive to some providers, while others don’t seem to be budging one bit.

Why would I rank a VPN that doesn’t care about satisfying its customers? We always focus on the ones we believe are the most significant and reflect the value of a service. Especially if they’re charging a lot for it. When I’m reviewing a VPN, I always check for specific features. That includes the following:

  • Kill Switch
  • Ad-blocking
  • Malware blocking.
  • P2P sharing.
  • Smart DNS.

The points above are just the beginning of my research. we also check how many concurrent connections the VPN allows. Some reputable VPNs let users use five or more devices per account. However, some newcomers have been able to extend those connections to “Unlimited.” That certainly got my attention back then, and they’re still on my radar ever since.

Furthermore, we check the ability of the VPN to unblock certain content. You know, that streaming channels can block VPNs nowadays. That includes the likes of Netflix and DAZN. The VPNs that make my list can bypass the VPN blocks these services enforce, making them top candidates for higher rankings.

Moreover, I look for VPNs that work in highly censored countries such as China, the UAE, Russia, and KSA. These regions are also able to block some VPNs from operating in their areas. However, the top VPNs I always recommend still work in these countries, and I don’t see them not doing so in the near future.


Leak Protection Ability

Whenever we assess a certain VPN application, we take a closer look at some particular features, privacy-wise. We check if the VPN may jeopardize your privacy by being unreliable at keeping your data in check. You see, with VPNs that don’t invest much in their services, you’ll suffer from possible leaks, including DNS and WebRTC. These leaks will compromise what you’re doing and showcase your real location if they occur

First, we use the VPN to test for a DNS Leak. There are dozens of tools to check for that. However, the top VPN that we always recommend have a countermeasure for the issue – DNS Leak Protection. That will help you avoid any leak issue. Why is that?

Well, when the DNS translation process is happening, your ISP can see that. If you’re using a VPN that leaks what you’re doing, everything will be monitored by your service provider.

Other top VPN make our list if they’re able to prevent WebRTC Leaks. That’s a common problem the users of Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Chromium-based browsers always go through. When there’s such a leak, your real IP address will be exposed to the public.

Whoever is roaming around the internet will be able to pinpoint your real location and monitor your browsing activities. While evaluating a VPN, we check if this provider has the option for you to check if there’s a possible WebRTC leak. Not only that, but we also keep a keen eye on if the VPN offers guides that help you solve the issue.

Note that some of the VPNs do offer a WebRTC leak test but still can’t manage to circumvent the issue.


Refund Policy

Cash Back GuaranteeIf the users are not satisfied with what the VPN has to offer, the provider should offer them a way to guarantee their way out. That’s why I look closely at VPNs that provide a firm refund policy, in which a user can get his/her money back within a specific period. Most of the reputable VPNs that make my list provide a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, that doesn’t mean that the ones who offer a shorter period are not qualified to rank high.

You’ll find VPNs that offer a 7-day cash-back and still made our lists of top VPN providers. That’s not all. You’ll also find VPNs that don’t have that option but offer a free trial. That way, you get to test their services without having to put your money on the line. But wait, some of them come with a catch. A free trial shouldn’t require your credit card information. A lot of VPNs ask for that to activate your free trial.

I don’t blame them. Some users take advantage of this privilege and create several accounts to enjoy what a freemium service is. But still, we make sure to test everything there is to this trial before handing out any review of the VPN itself.


Customer Support

Customer SupportWhenever you need some help with the VPN service, you should find a reliable source of information and assistance. That’s what we call Customer Support. While evaluating a specific VPN provider, we try out all the methods they provide us to contact their team. Some VPNs offer a live-chat option to help you out on the spot. That’s the first thing that grabs our attention for high ranking.

On the other hand, other VPN providers only have ticketing options or emails. These will take some time to give you a proper solution that you need on the spot. It’s not a bad idea to add those, but it’s still not enough to be recommended for users. Add a Call option to the list, and you’ve got yourself a number 1 spot on our list. Moreover, customers care about how the support team treats their issues. Seriously, if the team is not professional enough, the customer will not be back. There’s a quote we like to say at WhatisMyIP.network:

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”

That’s exactly what we look for in a VPN provider. We’ve talked a lot with companies through live-chat and some of them disappointed us with the results. However, the top ones on our list gave us a comprehensive walkthrough to solve some problems regarding certain types of configuration. This gave them a plus in our books.