This guide focuses on determining the VPN anonymity level, which is a vital step before you choose a VPN. I am taking everything very seriously from the start, and it’s not going to be reviewed like others are doing. I will check the worth by reading user reviews from different communities like Reddit.
If I found something interesting to share with you guys, then I get into it.
Also, I will be testing both purposes of each VPN service:
- Privacy and security matter
- Streaming and downloading
First thing first, I straight away go for buying the service to check their buying process as well as how it works with a refund scenario.
This is how my desktop looks like:
After buying and installing process, I will be testing the service by:
- Anonymity level
- VPN Leaks Tests
- Encryption Standards
- Logging Policy
- Previous Track Record
- VPN + Tor?
- Payment plans
- Refund Policy
To make matters more “transparent” here we have compiled the very process we follow to write VPN reviews. So if you have even a sliver of doubt, feel free to read on!
As the name depicts, the anonymity level is an insight into how “anonymous” or “private” a VPN service is. In simpler terms, I get to know the privacy levels a particular VPN service is offering.
I depict this level through a score that we calculate based upon a series of tests that we perform on the VPN connection. The best-rated anonymity score or level is 9.5 to 9.9 that I figure out after running the following criteria:
VPN Leaks Tests
VPNs protect the information by directing internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel. Might you be aware of that, right? But you are sure to run into a problem if there is a hole or a leakage in that tunnel!
VPN leaks tests give much-needed insight into whether there is any information leakage by the VPN or not. I have also used some of my own tools instead of going for the online “affiliate” tools. The kinds of VPN “Leaks” tests I run on a VPN connection are:
IP Leaks Test
VPNs provide anonymity through assigning your new IP addresses. Now, if a VPN is leaking your real IP, the result? Privacy compromise!
The IP leaks test helps you figure out if the VPN is leaking your exact IP address or not. As soon as you start the tool, it will display your real IP address in the first box while your VPN provider’s IP address is in the second box.
If the second window does not show your IP address, then there is a definite leak! Another great thing here? This test shows you WebRTC leaks as well! But that is something I will discuss later.
DNS Leaks Test
This test reveals whether your VPN is leaking your DNS or not. This is a crucial matter to look into as a leaking DNS may expose you online.
As soon as you start the Dns Leak tool, it will display a list of “IP Addresses” and “locations.” If this list consists of your VPN’s IP addresses and locations, then you are good to go.
Your worrying should start if this list contains varying IP addresses and locations!
WebRTC Leaks Test
Although I covered it with the IP leaks, here is a proper insight on this test that I run through a separate WebRTC tool.
It is crucial to run this test, as most VPNs overlook WebRTC protection even though it is a serious threat that reveals your IP address through web browsers.
Checking for Web RTCs is fairly simple. All you have to do is run the test, and the rest is all covered.
Torrent IP Leaks Test
Torrenting can be a risky business and can often land you in a dire situation. Therefore, it is better to check if your VPN connection has got your back or not.
The torrent IP leaks test shows if your VPN is providing encryption while torrenting or not. Once you download and run the magnetic link, an IP address will appear.
If this is one of your VPN providers, then you are good to go. However, if the IP address is different, so you better be worried!
IPv6 Leaks Test
This is another crucial matter to look into as IPv6 Leak can expose your identity online. Upon starting the tool, it immediately tells whether your IPv6 is leaking or not.
Kill switch protection
VPNs have you all secure and protected. But what if the connection suddenly drops? In that case, a Kill switch protects your real information from leaking.
I check for a functional Kill switch in a VPN. I restart the internet while staying connected to the VPN connection. If the VPN freezes the internet traffic while there is no connection until it reconnects itself, the kill switch is working.
2. Encryption Standards
Encryption is an important aspect to look into as it allows us to see how secure a VPN connection is. At times VPN providers boast of using tough encryption protocols while, in reality, they don’t really live up to their claims.
It is, therefore, crucial to check for encryption. For this, I use the software “Wireshark” which explicitly shows the encryption protocols that the VPN is using to encrypt data packets. This paints a clear picture of how secure the VPN network is.
3. Logging Policies
Logging policies again help depict how secure a VPN network is. How? Well, we use VPNs to get rid of ISPs, government, and other surveillance agencies from logging our data. Now, if your VPNs are logging your information, so… The rest you can guess, right?
I thoroughly go through the logging policy of each VPN I review. Furthermore, I also score all the other policies or clauses they mention to see if there is any point that may challenge the “No Logs” claim’s authenticity.
Apart from that, I also look for a No-Log Audit of the VPN provider. This helps me decide if I really should believe in the VPN provider’s claim or not.
This is crucial as a VPN located under 5 eyes, 9 eyes, or 14 eyes jurisdiction often screams red flags! Apart from checking into the “eyes,” I also go through the country’s data retention policies where the VPN headquarters is based.
If the country is within the “eyes” or has data retention rules, then it is better to steer clear of it. The only time such jurisdiction is acceptable is that the logging policy is strictly no logs, and documentation proves it. Otherwise, it’s all red flags!
5. Previous Track Records
At times VPN providers put on a clear No logs policy and even provide proofs. But there, if it has a tainted past, then it is better to be vigilant. I score the internet to see if the VPN provider I am reviewing is spotlessly clean or not. For this, I may often check archived news reports along with various forums like Reddit.
6. Tor compatibility
Most users find it better to use Tor with a VPN, which is a smart move too! However, at times, VPNs are not really compatible with Tor. With some providers, you will face a significant lag in speeds.
To check if a VPN is compatible with a VPN, I run Tor with the VPN individually and check the speeds through a speed test. I also check for the encryption levels through Wireshark. This allows us to evaluate how compatible the VPN is with Tor.
7. Netflix Testing
You might be aware by now that Netflix is handpicking out IP addresses of VPN providers and blocking them. So yeah, it’s hard times for US Netflix streamers! The only glimmer of hope is through that handful of VPN providers who have managed to stay concealed from Netflix.
To see if a VPN is working with Netflix, I manually check all their recommended servers to see if the coast is clear or not. However, I don’t mention them due to obvious reasons!
8. Torrenting Support
Most of the VPN provider doesn’t allow you to download torrents from their servers. So I make sure that the VPN provider does offer P2P servers and the fastest speed with better encryption.
For this, I try torrenting through the P2P servers. The VPN server recommends using each of torrent clients; BitTorrents and uTorrent. For speeds, I run a speed test and check for encryption alongside this through Wireshark.
This allows us to evaluate how good is the VPN provider’s torrenting support.
Hopefully, now you have a clear idea about checking the VPN anonymity level. Make sure the VPN you are using fulfills all the above-mentioned criteria. Enjoy broswing!
Let us know your thoughts about reviewing the VPN anonymity level!