Despite being highly technical, the concept of VPNs has become a familiar one to French web surfers ever since Hadopi came online. Nowadays, these three letters are synonymous with freedom, anonymity, and security. With more than 180 providers worldwide, there is no shortage of offerings in this highly competitive market. However, this plethora of providers makes choosing the right service complicated for the consumer. This is especially true since not all VPNs offer the same level of security, performance, and preservation of their clients’ anonymity. Certain providers offer specialized services for specific usages, and some users, for whom cost is not an issue, might even purchase services from several different providers, depending on their needs.
For this 20th of February 2017 update, we have added several VPN services to our test list, and we have conducted a new performance (bandwidth) test for all the listed services. Every update will see new services being added to our comparison and we will perform a new bandwidth test every time we update our list.
By the way, what is a VPN?
VPN is the acronym for “Virtual Private Network”. This technology allows for the creation of a virtual network between two computers linked through the internet – creating in effect a sort of secure, encrypted tunnel for digital communications.
Typically, this allows a computer user to connect to a server via the internet without anyone else being able to intercept the user’s traffic. A VPN could be used for example by a traveling business person to securely connect to his or her company’s server. A VPN can also be used to create a private connection between a user’s computer and a server which will act as a gateway to the internet in such a way as to make it much more difficult for websites, spyware and government agencies to trace the user’s point of origin; the user’s activity is still visible and can still be recorded but the point of origin is the VPN’s address and no longer the user’s own – making it much more difficult for the user to be tracked.
Our selection of the best VPNs: 1st semester, 2017
This table is a summary of our selection, for more detailed security and functionality results for all of the tested servers, please see the table on the last page which contains the detailed results for all of the VPNs that we tested.
VPN performance test: bandwidth
The performance of VPNs is rather hard to analyze: the performance values vary in function of the time of day, the country from which one connects, the country in which the VPN is located, ISP peering traffic, etc. It is therefore hard to precisely evaluate VPNs and the only true test it to connect to a specific VPN from your own internet connection to test the VPN’s performance for your personal needs.