June 15, 2018 | Commissioned tests, VPN tests
  • Share:

VPN Comparative Test 2018

In April 2018, AV-TEST performed a test of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) solutions. VPNs have been reviewed in its different fields of potential uses such as providing privacy, anonymity or virtual different geographical location.

A test commissioned by AnchorFree

and performed by AV-TEST GmbH


The presented evaluation assesses AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield Elite, Avast SecureLine, Avira Phantom VPN Pro, Cisco VPN, ExpressVPN, F-Secure FREEDOME VPN, KeepSolid‘s VPN Unlimited, London Trust Media’s Private Internet Access, NordVPN, Pulse VPN, Symantec’s Norton WiFi Privacy and Tunnel Bear.

We evaluated VPN on the following four criteria. Usability: evaluating the ease of use, taking into account novice users. We evaluate how much effort it takes not just to install the application but also to change settings and how much of that effort is omitted by scheduled default settings. The range of clicks required until a product is setup varies, it may take 11 clicks for VPN Unlimited or only two clicks as with F-Secure FREEDOME VPN. The top scores in this tested category are shared between Avast SecureLine VPN, F-Secure FREEDOME VPN and Hotspot Shield Elite.

Privacy and Security: testing how well the Internet Protocol Address (IP) and by extension the identity of the user is protected and hidden from outside parties like internet service providers (ISP) and webservers. This protects the anonymity of the user when accessing content online. Some products like Hotspot Shield Elite have all security and extras included by default others like Pulse Connect Secure or Avast SecureLine VPN don’t include certain features which may be considered important to keep privacy intact. The top scores are shared between F-Secure FREEDOME VPN, Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN and Hotspot Shield Elite.

Performance: measuring the amount of time for different VPN utilization compared to an unprotected connection depends on geographical location, the location of the VPN servers as well as the tasks performed by the user while the connection is active. We perform this test through all 7 weekdays at multiple times through each day to balance load times in different regions and for the different use cases. Hotspot Shield Elite is the clear winner when it comes to performance. No other product reaches similar speed when downloading, uploading or when file sharing data. Almost every performance test was led by Hotspot Shield Elite, which on average more than doubled the download speed as the competition. Private Internet Access came second followed by NordVPN, achieving similar scoring.

Functionality: reviewing the amount and quality of features available to choose and customize options. Different users have different requirements. These requirements vary with different proficiency levels. Also, users vary in their expectations for a VPN. Some users will expect a vast net of servers all around the globe others expect a higher standard in privacy implementations such as no logging of any data. This category is led by NordVPN and close behind Private Internet Access and then ExpressVPN. These applications provide all basic and numerous more advanced features for further configuration.

Download Report (PDF)

Social Media

We want to stay in touch with you! Now there is an easy way to receive regular updates on the latest news and test releases.