When we created our VPN service in 2006, about 20 companies in the world provided similar services. We started sales on the forums, communicated with clients in ICQ, manually accepted the payment. Since then, the world has changed a lot.
Now in the world several hundred websites offer VPN subscriptions. An ordinary user is very difficult to understand what criterions should choose the best VPN service.
List of possible criterions:
The choice becomes very difficult. Since 2010, VPN service directories have begun to emerge that make reviews of different VPN services and assign them points.
Initially, reviews were written by site owners for the purpose of receiving a partnership reward. Thus, each visitor who switched from the catalog via an affiliate link brought him income.
Over time, many VPN services have abandoned affiliate programs and offer one-time payments or bonus renewals of active VPN subscriptions.
We have simultaneously affiliate program with the payment of money to your wallet and program Refer a friend, which makes a bonus renewal of an active VPN subscription for 1 month for you and your friend.
Every journalist, blogger gets a salary for writing a review. Consequently, the VPN services directory must receive income from its activities, otherwise such an activity for the owner of the directory does not make sense.
There are 3 ways to monetize the catalogs of VPN services
Each directory of VPN services seeks to receive income from its activities directly from VPN services, or it must have external funding for expressing some point of view.
Next, we show you a dangerous operation scheme that can make using a VPN useless. Your anonymity can be compromised even when using VPN.
There are many criterions for evaluation. Let's try to figure out what criteria most influence the choice of the best VPN service.
Every user wants to get the service inexpensively. Therefore, the main evaluation criterion is the price that the client pays for the VPN service. The more competition, the lower prices become. And now you can buy a VPN subscription for a few dollars a month.
Let's look at the most important question - can the price for a VPN be $2-3 per month?
Yes it is possible. But then there must be external sources of financing for development. And these external sources will pursue their goals.
Creating applications for different operating systems, optimizing the site, maintaining a technical support team requires financial investments. For example, renting a dedicated server on average costs $50-$150 per month (depending on configuration).
The bottleneck of the server is bandwidth (Internet access speed). Roughly speaking, if the server has a connection of 1 Gbit/s and 10 users with a bandwidth of 100 Mbit/s are connected to it, then the server will be loaded at 100%. If 10 customers pay $3 per month, then the VPN service will receive $30 per month. That is, the VPN service does not even pay for server rent.
Mathematics clearly does not converge.
In reality, there are many factors that affect the connection speed and server load. We have described a simple example that explains that there is a minimum price below which this activity becomes unprofitable.
Another popular comparison criterion is the number of countries and servers.
Typically, customers use 3-4 countries that are selected based on geographical distance from their location and the legal laws of the country used.
Some VPN services publish data on the availability of 5,000 or even 20,000 servers worldwide. Let's calculate how much money a VPN service will spend on server rent every month.
Imagine that we have our own servers and we place them in data centers (in the long run, this is more profitable than renting a server from a data center). At the initial stage, we will spend a lot of money on the purchase of equipment and will save money in 3-4 years.
The second option is to negotiate the rental of servers in a large data center and by renting a large number of servers, reduce the rental price by 20-30%.
Simple math gives us the following conclusions:
For example, the retail rental price is $80 - $100 per month. Wholesale we rent for $60 - $80.
Now multiply 20,000 servers by $60 = $1 200 000.
In total, we will spend $ 1,200,000 on server rent per month. It does not take into account the costs of the technical support team, website developers and applications for different operating systems and other costs.
Average prices for such VPN services range from $ 2 to $ 8 per month.
Based on this, let's calculate how many clients there should be in order to recoup the server rental.
$1 200 000 : $2 = 600 000 clients
$1 200 000 : $8 = 150 000 clients
As a result, such a service should serve from 150,000 to 600,000 clients in order to pay for server rental, without taking into account other costs.
We compare this value with the maximum server load according to the throughput criterion. Previously, we gave an example that 10 clients with a connection of 100 Mbit/s will fill the channel with 1 Gbit/s.
We take into account that clients connect at different times and use VPN not all 24 hours a day. Suppose the maximum value for 1 server is 30 users.
20 000 servers * 30 clients = 600 000 clients maximum
Usually customers use 3-4 countries. We did simple calculations on the bandwidth of servers, the cost of their rent and the price of a VPN subscription, which clearly show that such VPN services have external funding.
Who pays, that orders music.
We have an article How to learn if VPN service keeps logs. We wrote it to explain to all our customers by what criteria one can find out whether the VPN service is logging and whether their services are anonymous.
Our visitors copy and publish this article on various sites, closed forums, instant messengers.
It's fun when a client read our articles on a forum and then sends questions from her to technical support. In this case, we tell that we are the authors of this article.
The question of anonymity in the 21st century is the most important question.
This is due to the fact that people do not want the state to interfere in their life and business.
We added an item about anonymity and the absence of logs in this article is not accidental. We noticed a general negative trend as the VPN service directories make their reviews. This is a threat to your anonymity. We will teach you to distinguish between a real honest review and an order from an external sponsor.
Alex from bestvpnrating.com wrote to us that he wanted to make a review about our service. In the letter, he immediately focuses on the need to make a link back to their review. It also raises the credibility of their catalog, what they did for the review of the "giant" NordVPN service, and they have already made a reciprocal link.
We agree and give test access.
As promised, here is a return link to the review (do not proceed, we will explain further):
Further Alex asks: where exactly the link will be placed (on which page).
This was the first strange question from Alex. If a journalist wants to make a review about the service, then his goal is to make a review about the service. Where the link will be placed for a journalist is not important. We gave him the answer where we want to place.
In the end, we understood why he asked us about the reciprocal link.
Search engines (for example, Google) take into account the “page weight” when clicking on the back link. In simple words, if you place a link on the main page of your site, then from the point of view of the search engine this will mean that you will gain more search engine trust than if you place a reciprocal link on a nested page.
This tactic is used to promote the directory of VPN services in the search. The more external links - the higher the trust of the search engine and the higher the position in the search for visitors.
It takes several days and Alex sends a letter that the review is ready and reminds you that you promised to put a back link and asks to do it before Tuesday.
First thoughts when we received this letter. And you can first read your review before you publish the link? It became strange to us why he in every letter reminds us of the reciprocal link.
Alex insists on posting a link.
Next we go to their website and read the review.
And we understand - this is just nonsense.
Alex did not ask us any questions about the service. He did not understand how we protect our customers.
We asked him a lot of questions in one letter.
So, what we asked.
Why does he rate Privacy & Security at 90% (and not 100% as TOP 5 VPN services in his directory)?
We understood that he would not tell us about the algorithm for evaluating VPN services. Most likely this algorithm simply does not exist for him.
We give arguments that we change the TTL value (using this parameter, you can indirectly find out how many hosts you are from the site). TOP 5 VPN services in its directory do not change the TTL value, and still they have 100% Privacy & Security.
Next, we indicate that we have the Imitation HTTPS protocol, which completely masks the VPN connection into ordinary HTTPS, which cannot be recognized as VPN traffic even through DPI analysis.
We also reminded you of the Kill Switch feature and mobile apps.
In his review, Alex writes that the speed of the VPN connection is clearly limited and takes this point to the disadvantages of the service.
Let's look at his screenshot of the speed measurement.
And indeed, according to his measurement of speed, everything is somehow sad. The speed from 58 Mbit/s without VPN dropped to 18 Mbit/s using a VPN connection.
The tip is inside the middle gray circle. This is ping. The greater this value, the further geographically is the VPN server that it is testing. Such a ping value indicates that the VPN server being used is on a different continent. For example, if Alex is in the USA and connects to a VPN server in Europe, then there will be such a ping value.
In the letter we point out to him and provide speed measurements for the TOP-2 VPN services in his catalog - these are Express VPN and NordVPN.
Measurement speed made in the program Express VPN.
The speed measurement table from 2016 indicates that the user is in the USA and his computer is on the same network as the USA-Washington server being tested, since ping 4 ms is possible only in this case.
Maybe Alex is an employee of this data center or ExpressVPN?
And these tests are not surprising. With a ping of 5-10 ms, the user gets a speed of about 100 Mbps. With a ping of 50-70 ms, their speed is 7-8 Mbit/s. If you take geographically remote servers with a ping of 250 ms - the speed will be about 1-2 Mbit/s.
“Yes, we are precisely limiting the speed :)”, since the speed of our VPN connection with ping 253 ms was 18 Mbps. Express VPN with a ping of 50-70 ms gives out only 7-8 Mbps. If someone did not understand, then we now laughed at the conclusions of Alex.
Try ping google.com and it will show from 15 to 60 ms. The largest search engine has its servers worldwide. Your request processes the server closest to you geographically. And this is a normal ping, since Google has its data centers in large countries around the world.
Ping from 0.2 to 5 ms is possible only if your computer has an Ethernet cable connected to the same network.
Speed measurement is represented by 3 screenshots.
Recall that Alex in our review wrote that when ping 253 ms, the speed was 18 Mbps and this is a bad result, they precisely limit the speed. At the same time, NordVPN with a ping of 178 ms shows a speed of only 14 Mbps. And in the NordVPN review, Alex writes that this is normal speed, since the server is overseas.
Conclusion: the speed of our VPN connection is much higher than the speed of VPN services in TOP-1 and TOP-2 in its catalog.
You can compare for yourself what our review looks like compared to the TOP-10 VPN services.
Overview Express VPN (TOP-1): https://www.bestvpnrating.com/review/expressvpn
Overview NordVPN (TOP-2): https://www.bestvpnrating.com/review/nordvpn
Our overview (TOP-??? очень далеко): https://www.bestvpnrating.com/review/thesafetyus-vpn
All reviews from the TOP-10 VPN services are written in more detail, more benefits are described. Blocks of information are highlighted in different colors for clarity, more pictures.
If we were regular users, then we would definitely choose a VPN service from the TOP-10. What is the point of thinking and choosing if already “qualified people” thought for us and showed WHAT should I buy.
Our answer is no way.
We wrote Alex a long letter and pointed out all the inaccuracies.
We knew that we would not become the TOP-1 VPN service in his directory, as it has some other goals. And he will not honestly choose the best VPN service on this planet.
We hoped that he would at least change the gross errors in our review.
In response, we received a letter from him, where he finally showed us for the sake of what he did this review.
He thanked us for the feedback about overview.
And he said that TOP-5 VPN services received such an assessment due to the fact that they have been participating in the review for a long time (yes, since 2016, the screenshots of the speed test have not been updated even once). And this rating is based on user feedback. These services are popular with users, Alex tells us.
Isn’t the task of a professional journalist to test and do honest reviews? Then what's the point in this work, if you can just collect reviews of 5 stars and find out who has more.
Alex wrote: we will be happy to update the review in the future (in the distant future :-) and I hope that your service will be rated higher. Do not forget to write me when the link will be published on your site.
The only purpose of this review for Alex is to get a reciprocal link to his site, so that the search engines rate his site higher in search results for users. That is, he was not going to make an honest review and choose the best VPN service.
A few days later, we simultaneously wrote 2 more directory VPN services.
Both of them claimed that we won the nomination - The fastest VPN provider TOP-10.
Surprisingly, 2 days ago, we were proving to Alex that we have the fastest VPN. Bingo, we won this nomination.
Go to the review:
And we were again surprised.
We were chosen in the TOP-10 by speed and average speed rating of 7.7 out of 10?
Top 10 VPN services in this directory have a speed rating from 8.9 to 10 points.
And again we are being offered to place a banner with a backward link, that we became the winner in the nomination The Fastest VPN Service.
No comments. Goals are clear.
And you wondered: why do most VPN service directories recommend the same list of TOP-10 VPN services, and the remaining hundreds of VPN services are present in the catalog only to get a back link to the site?
We have found one simple answer to this complex question.
Let's look at the list of TOP-10 on different sites. And some sites show only TOP-5 VPN services. For you already selected. It is easier to choose from 5 services than from 10. Isn't it so?
Edward Snowden said that intelligence agencies are recommended to decrypt VPN traffic again and again (look for opportunities to decrypt data).
We know that decryption is not possible using reliable cryptographic methods.
It seems to us that this is a good idea for special services: to create 10 VPN services and write everywhere that they are the most anonymous and do not keep logs. At the same time, the specified VPN services will be controlled by the special services of different countries, and they will know which user and what visits, using their VPN services.
Now we understand who can have 5,000–20,000 servers around the world, why in all the directories the list of TOP-10 VPN services is the same and only the positions are swapped.
This article was first sent to our clients in a private VIP mailing list, and we immediately received feedback.
One of the most frequent questions: maybe you are one of them too?
The most important argument: if we were one of them, then we would not write about it and create doubts among customers. If you have such doubts, it is very correct.
It would be beneficial for us to just provide services and tell how wonderful everything is and you are always protected. We would not have created the ABC of anonymity and would not teach our customers how to be anonymous on the Internet.
Think with your head and choose the best VPN service for yourself.