VPN Speed Comparison
One of the contentious topics when we compare VPN services is speed. There’s a simple reason to explain why – we all understand speed on an intuitive level and that makes it a good target for marketing. If you spend some more time traversing the VPN space, you will learn that every VPN is the fastest in the world. Why is that? Well, there’s no way to dismiss such claims “beyond a reasonable doubt” so everyone can make them. In a way, it’s stupid not to!
To understand the situation, we must figure out what speed is and why it’s so difficult to measure well.
Whenever someone utters the phrase “VPN speed”, they are doing so under the pretense of giving you an average. When you hear that VPN A is on average 20% faster than VPN B, you may reasonably expect that to be reflected in your personal download and upload speeds. The issue is that there’s no such thing as an average speed because there’s no way to check it directly. Speed is always a line connecting you, a host server, and the VPN in the middle. It might vary due to a myriad of factors – the location, the time of day, the hardware, the software, etc. What we call an average, is an aggregate of these lines, measured while having in mind their relation to your regular connection speed. It is very reasonable for these averages to vary greatly, so if you call out the “fastest” VPN for being slow, they’ll tell you to “speak for yourself!” They might be right, too.
To do VPN speed comparison correctly, you need a complicated setup spread out over a wide area. Ideally, you’d have at least 4-5 locations to run speed tests from: in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, and the Far East. More can be added, but this covers most bases. The hardware should be identical or at least very similar – things like processing capabilities and other factors can have a big impact on VPN speed. Once you have the locations, you want them to choose several VPN servers and run speed tests at different times of day. Now you have data you can use to calculate averages and compare VPN services based on their speed!
We know what you’re thinking – it’s unreasonable to run such a VPN speed comparison. That’s exactly right! Unless you’re a VPN provider yourself. And that’s part of the problem: much of the data on VPN speeds comes from interested parties, who flood the space with conflicting information. Suddenly it gets even more difficult for the regular user to figure out what’s real or fake. Hell, it’s not always easy even for us.
In our VPN comparisons and reviews, we try our best to sidestep the nonsense and get closer to the hard facts. Trust the pros, that’s what we’re here for!
VPN Price Comparison
We tend to compare VPN services based on price as if the price wasn‘t highly contextual. It‘s kind of like taking three cars – a 1980s Ford Escort, a 2000s BMW 320, and a 2018 Maserati GranTurismo – saying they‘re all “cars” and proceeding to compare the price. Yes, that’s an extreme example, but the mechanism remains the same.
On the Ford Escort end of the equation, we have a VPN that provides rudimentary location-spoofing; leaks your IP; can’t get you anywhere near Netflix; simply will not work in China; logs your data and tracks your online activity; has next to no encryption and can’t be reached without a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation. Then on the other extreme, we have the exact opposite – a VPN service that serves all functions VPNs can conceivably serve; provides top-notch security with no holes whatsoever; has customer support available via live-chat 24/7; etc.
Guess what – it isn‘t that uncommon for services at both extremes to cost exactly the same or even for the worse software to cost more. What we have noted with speed testing issues is true to a lesser extent with many other aspects as well. A lot of what VPN services do stays in the shadows, making it next to impossible for users to compare VPN services. For example, ultimately, only a VPN provider knows what their actual logging policy is, how good their customer support works, or how honest their marketing is. Sadly, that makes unreasonable VPN price comparison quite likely!
Yet another issue is that VPN providers usually offer more than one pricing plan. Sometimes they differ in quality quite a bit, other times the deal looks good in the short-term and terrible in the long-term or vice-versa. Which brings us to an important point…
Price seems like something that belongs to the realm of hard fact, when in fact it’s very subjective. We think it makes a lot of sense to survey the list of VPN features, consider it, and make a judgment on whether the price is right. But what if you personally don’t need most of those features? Or what if you need the VPN only for a month, and the price of the service is good only with an annual subscription?
These questions require contextual answers. There are VPN services that specialize in one or two areas – security for journalists and activists under repressive regimes, or torrent users in the European Union. While there may be all-around tools that cost less, if you belong to the specialized target group, perhaps these VPN services are better for you?
VPN price comparison isn’t all that straightforward! Hopefully, our articles can help you make an informed choice.