How We Test & Rank

Here, we strongly believe everyone deserves to feel safe & secure. However, with a large number of so-called experts out there, knowing whom you can trust isn’t always easy. It’s for this reason we strive to provide all the tools and information you need to guarantee privacy online. Our team of experienced security researchers, advisors and security experts are the real deal.

With every comprehensive resource, every tool, and every guide we create, we do this to help people find top-notch solutions. Finding the best way to stay safe & secure should be easy. More importantly, it should be engaging and accurate. Thankfully, our research checks all these boxes. It’s for this reason we’re becoming the #1 resource for security and safety.

Our Testing Process

To ensure all our product reviews are relevant, we often update the information on products we’ve tested. Once every two months, our team runs house tests to ensure the information is up to date and correct. Also, we regularly compare our testing results with those of renowned independent testing labs.

By checking through the testing results of various independent parties, we are able to come up with the median mark for every tool/software. You will find summaries of these results in our product reviews. This gives you all the essential info you need in a summarized form. When it comes to in-house tests, our experts use 10+ computers with different operating systems alongside other tools. This makes it easier for us to come up with comprehensive performance results. We’ve got over 20 reviews of antivirus products like Malwarebytes, Norton, McAfee, Total AV, Bitdefender, and more.

User-friendliness, security, and safety are the primary factors that we focus on. We test these features to determine whether the product or service is worthwhile or not. We start by purchasing the product without accepting any free codes from the vendor. This allows us to remain objective. Next, a series of thorough tests start.

We also contact the customer support department with a few queries to test their availability and usefulness. First, we find all the available contact methods and use each to get in touch with the support team. This helps us determine whether the support team is reliable and trustworthy.

Finally, we check through the refund process to see how it works. Almost all security software companies offer a 30-day moneyback guarantee. We test this process to see how easy it is to request and get a refund. Our prime goal is to make sure our users get high-quality and affordable products.

Following are some of the products we review:

  • Antivirus
  • Antimalware
  • Web shield
  • ID theft protection
  • Keyloggers
  • Anti-phishing
  • Anti-spyware

What Do We Check in Antivirus Software

Testing antivirus suites isn’t always exciting, but effective security software could be all that keeps your computer and mobile devices from cybercriminals. Here’s what we look at when testing antivirus software.

Real-Time Protection

An antivirus should be able to detect threats before they infect a computer or mobile device. The faster the antivirus detects and removes known online threats, the better. Essentially, real-time protection is the first and most critical line of defence.

Zero-Day Protection

A zero-day threat is a term often used to describe malware that hasn’t yet been included in any database. This brand-new and cloud-based protection is among the most effective remedies when it comes to online security.

Phishing Protection

A phishing attack could happen when you open an infected email link or visit a malicious website. Effective antivirus software shouldn’t have any issue blocking such sites.

Malicious URL Protection

An effective antivirus should be able to warn users before visiting a malicious website. If this isn’t the case, cybercriminals can steal private data and cause lots of damage.

Password Manager

Today, most antivirus programs come with an in-built password manager. The tools help protect your passwords and usernames from keyloggers.

System Impact

Although the most modern antivirus software has minimal impact on system performance, it’s still an important element to check.

Anti-Spam

A decent antivirus suite is able to get rid of spam, helping keep your email safe.

Parental Controls

Parental controls help keep kids safe from explicit content on the Internet.

How We Check the Antivirus Software

Having outlined the factors we consider when testing antivirus software, let’s jump into how we test antivirus products:

1. Buy the product

The first thing we do in our testing process is purchasing the antivirus software; we don’t accept promo codes. As mentioned earlier, this helps us to remain objective throughout our tests. Next, we go through the testing process.

2. Install the antivirus

The next thing we do is installing the software on our computer. This includes choosing a specific package, downloading all the necessary files, installing the antivirus program, and launching it. Some of the questions we answer during the installation process are how easy it is to install the program, whether the software impacts system resources and what are the supported platforms?

3. Real-time protection

Real-time protection is the most critical aspect when it comes to protection against malware. We test how the program deals with online threats in real-time. Next, we compare our results with those of other third parties.

4. Malicious URL tests

We knowingly open different suspicious websites to check how the antivirus in question deals with these URLs. We want to know whether the antivirus warns us and blacklists these malicious URLs.

5. Virus download tests

We use an array of malware and virus samples to test the ability of the program to test and remove possible threats.

6. Customer support

We check into the available customer support channels. Is a live chat available, is there phone support, how fast do they respond, are they friendly? These are the questions we answer when testing customer support.

7. Pricing and available plans

We discuss the available pricing plans and the differences between them. We also check into the companies’ pricing policy. Do they have a moneyback guarantee, free trial?

What We Check in VPN Services

Every VPN listed on our website goes through a rigorous test program. Basically, we review VPNs based on Speed, Pricing Plans, Customer Support, Logging, User-Interface, Streaming capabilities, Available countries, Bypassing censorship, and more. We do all this to ensure we only recommend the best VPN services.

Unlike other VPN review websites, all our VPN reviews are unbiased. We don’t take any compensation in exchange for a biased review or positive coverage. Moreover, a VPN service doesn’t have a say with regards to how we rate the products we’ve reviewed. Our team of experts runs every VPN through an in-depth testing program, ensuring all the results are accurate, with no bias or favuritism. Below are the important features we consider when reviewing VPN services:

Connection Speed

We recommend choosing a VPN service that’s able to maintain the fastest speeds. Keep in mind that connection speeds via a VPN will be moderately slower than direct speeds. This is because of the extra server that’s created for improved security. However, it’s important to check to ensure the VPN service does not outsource servers but rather maintains its own servers.

No logs policy

If you haven’t already noticed, almost all VPN services claim to have a zero log policy. But does the VPN really mean it? We confirm this by checking whether the VPN has gone through independent audits. We check whether the VPN provides backs up to their privacy promises; a no-logs policy is crucial if you value privacy and want to remain anonymous.

Payment methods

The payment method you use to pay for the VPN service is another essential factor. If you’re concerned about your privacy, you’d be better off choosing a VPN service that accepts cryptocurrency payments. Fortunately, some VPN providers accept payments through bitcoin and gift cards. This way, nobody can ever know you paid for the VPN service.

Moneyback Guarantee

You don’t want to feel stuck in a VPN service you do not like. Sticking to the VPN offering a moneyback guarantee is a great way to avoid this. Even if you choose a VPN and make a payment, you can still request a refund if you don’t like the service. This is something we always check into. The good news is that most of the best VPNs offer a refund guarantee that ranges anywhere between 30 days to 60 days so users can test their service risk-free.

Customer Support

The tech behind VPNs is often changing, and you may experience hurdles when using a particular VPN service. Unfortunately, 24/7 customer support is the most overlooked factor when choosing a VPN. Most VPN companies offer customer support through communication channels like tickets, email, live chat, and telephone.

User interface

Many VPN services have a user interface and setup process that might be overly complex for your liking. We check into this to make sure the VPN we recommend has a user-friendly interface that non-tech-savvy users will find easy to navigate through. We look for a VPN with intuitive, polished, and organized apps.

Privacy-friendly jurisdiction

Privacy is the name of the game, and that’s what most VPN services are based on. Users concerned about privacy should avoid the VPNs based inside Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes. VPNs based out of these jurisdictions cannot be legally forced to share user data with government agencies.

Server locations

The location of servers is another important factor we consider when reviewing a VPN. We start by checking the list of available servers and countries where they are located. The best VPNs have over 5,000 server locations around the world.

How We Check the VPN Software

Our VPN experts use a comprehensive 8 step testing process to evaluate and recommend the best VPN service. We rate every VPN based on speed, security, streaming capabilities, user interface, customer support, bypassing censorship, and more. For a VPN to be featured on our list, it must perform exceptionally well in each of these areas. This is how we check the VPN software:

1. Buy the VPN

The only way to make sure we are getting the official VPN version is to purchase one. This is always the first thing we do when testing VPN services. We don’t use freebies or press samples. Our goal is to make sure we get the same experience as an average user who is not entitled to such freebies. Buying and maintaining our own VPN subscriptions means we can keep records of the VPNs that are worth your while and those trying to reap you off.

2. Install the VPN on different platforms

We have dedicated computers with virtual equipment installed to run our VPN tests. Also, we have a test Windows PC, MacBook Air, Apple iPad, Apple iPhone, Samsung galaxy device, and Amazon Fire TV stick to carry out comprehensive testing on every platform. We check to determine whether the VPN has dedicated apps for a wide variety of devices. Lack of support for your streaming device, computer, laptop, tablet, or phone could mean less than needed protection.

3. Check logging

Your security and privacy is the most important aspect we look into. Our reviews would be incomplete if we didn’t make sure that every VPN we recommend keeps you safe. We undertake highly advanced encryption tests to confirm that the VPN properly encrypts web connections.

4. Check for DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks

We also check for WebRTC leaks, IP leaks, and DNS leaks to confirm that your actual location is hidden whenever you’re connected to the VPN. To get reliable results, we utilize high-end network traffic analysis programs. Also, we run every VPN executable file and installer through the virus test to check the permissions that the VPN apps demand if installed on a computer or mobile device.

5. Multiple Speed Tests

Speed is the backbone of any reliable VPN. As a result, we always ensure we rigorously test the connection and speed. We’ve developed manual and automated testing methods for doing this. Manual testing allows us to determine the speed of every VPN service reviewed on our website.

Manual Speed Testing

We start manual tests by recording our Internet speed with no VPN. Next, we launch the VPN and connect to servers in the United States, central Europe, Australia, the UK, and Singapore. We also run more tests on VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, etc.

6. Check if it works with streaming services and Torrenting

With the speed tests complete, we check whether the VPN works with popular streaming services. Does the VPN allow you to unblock US Netflix from different locations? Can you watch Amazon Prime TV, BBC iPlayer, or Hulu from anywhere? Does it allow torrenting on all servers? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then you’re looking at a capable VPN that might be ideal for you.

7. Check Customer Support

Now since we’ve checked through almost everything the VPN offers? The next thing we do is contacting its customer support department to check whether they can help with our queries. We test the available communication channels and the quality of customer support on email and live chat. We ask different technical questions to see how well the support representatives know their product.

Affiliate Disclosure

We built this website around our core principles of transparency, honesty, and openness. Your trust is of great importance to us, which is why we will always be straight up with you.

We only publish reviews that we can verify are authentic, whether positive or negative, about a specific product or service. Our experienced team of cybersecurity experts and our editorial staff are ecstatic to belong to an independent, objective, and unbiased review website.

Although we might receive a commission if you make purchases with our links, this doesn’t impact the fairness of our rankings, comparisons, or reviews.

Author: Michael Jansen
When it comes to cyber-security & privacy protection, no one is better than our chief editor Michael Jansen. Michael started tinkering with computer networks in the early ’90s with led him to study computer science and network engineering at the university. He was always a privacy protection advocate and decided to start this project with his like-minded friends.