German independent test organization AV-TEST has concluded a complex test of 12 different VPN products. Ranging from free to premium ones. AV-TEST is typically known for regular testing of antivirus products and this is the first time they have decided to do a test in the VPN space. So which VPN product came out as a winner?
It is pretty common to independently test security software products like antiviruses, but Germany organization AV-TEST decided to conclude a comprehensive test of 12 VPN solutions. First of its kind.
The test included these products: Hotspot Shield Elite, Avast SecureLine, Avira
Phantom VPN Pro, Cisco VPN, ExpressVPN, F-Secure FREEDOME VPN, VPN Unlimited, Private Internet Access, NordVPN, Pulse VPN, Norton WiFi Privacy, and TunnelBear. We have actually reviewed exactly half of the list.
Testing areas were:
- Usability – How easy is the product to install, use and adjust settings measured in a number of actual clicks. Best products in this category were Avast SecureLine VPN, F-Secure FREEDOME VPN, and Hotspot Shield Elite.
- Privacy and Security – How much is the real user IP address and identity protected (hidden) online by certain features. Best products in this category were F-Secure FREEDOME VPN, Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, and Hotspot Shield Elite.
- Performance – How fast is the Internet connection over the VPN server. Measuring download and upload speeds, latency (ping), streaming, and torrent downloading. Best product by far was Hotspot Shield Elite, followed by PIA VPN and NordVPN.
- Functionality – How many advanced features is each product offering and how broad is the VPN server coverage. Best product in this category was NordVPN, followed by PIA VPN and ExpressVPN.
Unfortunately, there is no conclusion at the end of the test which would select a clear winner. However, if you read the winner in each category, certain vendors are named repeatedly.
Hotspot Shield Elite was named in the Usability test, Privacy and Security test, and Performance test. It is also worth mentioning they really dominated the Performance test. Great results were also achieved by ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Private Internet Access VPN. The first two are also recommended in our list of the top 5 best VPNs, so it's great to see our reviews are sort of aligned with AV-TEST results.
We also need to point out on the fact the whole test was sponsored by AnchorFree (the maker of Hotspot Shield). However, we have no doubts about the test results. This is a standard practice in the antivirus space where different vendors are sponsoring different tests.
According to Neil J. Rubenking's post on PCMag, AnchorFree could select participants of the test (e.g. other VPN products) and could comment on the testing areas and methodology (all is very well explained in the full report).
We hope more independent tests of VPN products will follow as it helps the industry overall. Maybe AV-Comparatives could perform the next one? In the meantime, you can check out our top lists of free and premium VPN products.