Editorial Integrity, Testing Process & Rating Methodology

Editorial integrity is important for all sites, but it’s especially important for sites writing primarily about online privacy, like ours, and for sites who occasionally receive affiliate commissions, which we do.

Our commitment to privacy is built on four fundamental principles:

  • Testing. We only review products we have tested ourselves.
  • Data. We give you all the raw data from our testing.
  • Objectivity. We do not take affiliate commissions into consideration when reviewing products.
  • Context. We tell you what other reviewers have said, so can make decisions based off of more than just our opinion.

Our Testing Process

We test every single product we review.

We test mostly VPNs. To be consistent (and because not all VPNs are safe) each of our tech writers gets their own laptop to use specifically for product testing. Here are some pictures of one of our writers opening her product-testing laptop:

We then test every VPN against a robust, standardized set of criteria that includes several dozen different data points, each requiring its own unique test.

Technical criteria were established based on the advice of cyber-security experts and reflect what we believe to be the most important things to consider when choosing a VPN, although we prioritize the safety and privacy of our readers above all other factors.

However, we also include hands-on, non-technical tests that help us evaluate aspects of the products from the point of the user. For example, we reach out to product support teams to see how responsive companies are, and we test UX and UI for overall usability.

Our major consideration for reviews are:

  • Privacy & security
  • Speed & performance
  • Product features
  • UX & UI (usability)
  • Compatibility
  • Pricing & support
  • Reviews & market context

Based on how a VPN performs in those categories, we (our seasoned tech writers, our editors, and our cybersecurity consultants) give it a subjective rating out of 5-stars.

If you read a review here and feel as if we’ve not fulfilled one of these requirements — or if you have ideas for amendments — please let us know at admin [at] vpnmash.com.