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TechRepublic’s VPN review methodology

At TechRepublic, we’re eager to provide our readers with fair and honest assessments of virtual private networks in which they might invest. To achieve this, we thought it was important to share how we evaluate VPNs, what criteria we use to evaluate various aspects of a VPN, and how this all contributes to our final star rating.

We use an in-house algorithm based on five main categories: pricing, core VPN features (e.g. encryption, server network), ease of use, customer support, and expert analysis. Each category is then weighted to consider its importance to our audience of technology buyers.

SEE: Brute force and dictionary attacks: A guide for IT leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

While our algorithms are subject to change, these categories are the main pillars on which we evaluate each VPN. If you disagree with the criteria we selected, we encourage you to use our methodology and reviews to inform your own evaluation of a specific VPN.

Here’s a breakdown of how we review VPNs.

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List price(20%)

Pricing accounts for 20% of a VPN’s overall score. This category contains sub-criteria including but not limited to:

  • Multiple subscription options.
  • Free trial available.
  • There is an option to use the free version.
  • Pricing relative to competitors.
  • Overall good value for money.

Core VPN features (30%)

Core VPN features such as servers and security protocols account for 30% of our overall score. This category is composed of sub-criteria including but not limited to:

  • Security reputation and lack of data breaches.
  • Encryption and VPN protocols.
  • No logs policy and independent auditing.
  • Server network (number of servers and country distribution).
  • VPN speed and performance.
  • Ability to unlock geo-restricted content.
  • Switch servers easily.
  • Split tunneling functionality.
  • Prevent DNS leaks.
  • Built-in kill switch.
  • Ad, tracker and malware blocking.
  • Multiple platform support and availability.

Ease of use (15%)

Ease of use accounts for 15% of a VPN’s overall score. This category contains sub-criteria including but not limited to:

  • Intuitiveness of the user interface.
  • In-app design.
  • Difficult to install and set up.
  • The ability to make connections.

Customer Support (30%)

Customer support accounts for 30% of our VPN’s overall score. This category is composed of sub-criteria including but not limited to:

  • Customer support options (email, live chat, phone, etc.).
  • How quickly customers receive a response after raising a question or issue.
  • Provide help resources such as guides, forums, and tutorials.

Expert analysis (5%)

Expert analysis accounts for 5% of our overall VPN score. This category is composed of sub-criteria including but not limited to:

  • Personal experience with the product itself.
  • Contains features that set the VPN apart from other providers.
  • Ease of research, including providing demos, product documentation, and other materials to verify information.

Our VPN evaluation research methodology

To gain a comprehensive understanding of each VPN we review, we prioritize analysis gained through internal and real-world user testing. We also supplement our findings with product demos, documentation, and customer feedback on verified websites including, but not limited to:

  • Gartner Peer Insights.
  • Community forum.

How do I choose the best VPN for my organization?

Choosing the best VPN for your business depends largely on your organization’s specific environment and needs. While there’s no one perfect solution, there are some key things you can do to get the most out of your VPN subscription.

Get the most out of free trials and free plans

Check to see if the VPN you’re interested in has an accessible free trial and/or free version. These allow you to test a specific provider’s VPN flavor without requiring a monthly subscription or first-time purchase.

Some VPNs also offer a money-back guarantee, allowing you to get your down payment back if you find their software isn’t suitable. VPN refund periods typically range from 14 to 45 days, giving users long enough to extensively try solutions.

Understand how you will use a VPN

Another important step is to figure out how your business will use the VPN. While all VPNs encrypt online traffic, some solutions prioritize certain features over others. For example, some VPNs make security their top priority, while others are built for streaming or traveling.

Understanding how your organization plans to use a VPN can help reduce the amount of research you need to do.

If you’re not sure how to integrate a VPN into your business, we recommend reading this list of articles (and the “See Also” section at the bottom):

View a VPN provider’s server fleet

A VPN is a great way to unblock geo-restricted content. The way they do this is through their network of servers, which are located around the world. While all VPNs have servers, not all VPNs have large server networks to work with.

Look for a provider that offers at least 2,000 to 4,000 servers in its network. If your primary use of a VPN is to unblock region-locked content, the more servers you have, the better your chances of unblocking it.

Another important consideration is server location. If you need to unblock content in a specific region, it’s a good idea to check if the VPN you choose has servers in that region. Fortunately, most VPNs provide public lists of their servers and their corresponding locations.

Consider the cost and equipment to be used

This may be a no-brainer, but consider the cost and whether a VPN will fit within your organization’s budget. Fortunately, most VPN providers offer a variety of subscription options and contract lengths to suit different budgets.

Another key factor is the number of devices you want to connect to the VPN. Not all VPNs have unlimited concurrent device connections, so make sure the provider you choose can protect all the devices you can use.

Finally, don’t neglect security

VPNs encrypt your browsing data and keep your online activities secure—at least they should. Look for a VPN with a no-logs policy that has been independently audited. A “no logs” policy is a statement from a VPN provider that they will not log or log user data.

While any VPN provider can say they don’t log data, a high-quality solution will have a no-logs policy and be backed by third-party testing or independent audits. This provides extra confidence that your data won’t be sold or fall into the wrong hands. If you want to know more, we’ve rounded up the best no-logs VPNs of 2024 that you can check out.

It’s also a good rule of thumb to check if a specific VPN has been involved in any data breaches or zero-day vulnerabilities. For example, Ivanti Secure VPN recently experienced five new zero-day vulnerabilities in 2024, putting thousands of online devices at risk of being exploited.

Check out our reviews or do a quick Google search for the VPN you’re interested in to see if there’s any news or history of security breaches.

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