Buffered VPN review

The internet is an old thing based on old ideas; security is not a problem because there are no bad guys online. This may have been true in the days of ARPANET, but it’s far from true anymore; that’s why virtual private networks (or VPNs) like Buffered VPNs are so important. With Buffered VPN, you can be sure that your data is safe and your privacy is protected. The service scores well in our speed tests but is slowed down by its relatively high price and mediocre hands-on performance. This is our Buffered VPN review.

Buffered VPN review: Privacy

Most VPN providers understand that they need to reassure their customers about their logging policies, and Buffered tries to do this in the very first line of the FAQ page, “Because we value your online privacy and rights, we don’t track your online traffic.”

That’s good news, but not specific. What about session data, IP addresses, device IDs, timestamps? The FAQ doesn’t go into that but does admit that some logging will take place later: ‘That’s why we only log data about the duration of your connection.’ That is probably a form of session logging, but how does it work? How does Buffered identify a session? Is a start time, an end time recorded? We’d like to know, but the company doesn’t say.

A Privacy Statement doesn’t give us much more detail, except a mention of the data it can collect about errors in the app. It’s also a lot: device identifications…, operating system version, language, IP addresses, network information, user information about the operating system, routing tables, DNS server addresses, other information about the file system. But if you are worried, you can unsubscribe from the crash report by clicking a switch in the Settings dialog box.

Put all this together, and you don’t have much. Buffered is not confessing to something terrible, but it is also not spelling out what it does, and we would like the logging policy to be much more detailed and specific.

Buffered VPN review: Streaming service support

On Buffered’s website, Netflix might not be mentioned beforehand. Still, it does explain that the service helps you ‘enjoy the entertainment you want’ and that it can bypass geo-restrictions by ‘making it look like you’re connecting from another country.’

We started testing this by logging into the UK server and trying to access BBC iPlayer. However, the site warned that ‘this content is not available at your location.’

The switch to the US East Coast server gave us some unblocking successes, allowing us only to view YouTube content. That’s not a great success – we’ve only seen one VPN that YouTube couldn’t unblock – but it’s a start.

The news got significantly better when we found the same server that also enabled US Netflix streaming, a much more difficult task that beats many other VPNs.

This situation could change at any time, but Buffered’s ‘one free hour a month’ schedule could be useful there. If access to Netflix is a top priority, you can quickly check it at any time and confirm that it still works for you.

Buffered VPN review: Performance

Buffered’ is probably not a name you would choose to imply high speeds, but our tests have shown that the service generally performed very well. Our local UK servers averaged a deserving 55-60Mbps, close to the maximum achievable on our 75Mbps test line. Close to European servers were almost as impressive, with an average of 50-55Mbps in the Netherlands, for example.

Remote European locations were generally above average, with one or two exceptions. For example, Romania had trouble with 10-20Mbps, although even that is enough for most browsing and streaming tasks. The situation increased with Buffered’s better-connected servers in the US, reducing speeds to a healthy 45-55Mbps.

We noticed a few problems in the more remote or less familiar locations, such as Argentina limiting us to an average 10Mbps, and Australia 15-20Mbps. But again, they were never less than usable and generally Buffered delivered very acceptable speeds.

Pricing and plans

Like most VPN services, Buffered VPN uses a subscription model. You pay $12.99 for a one-month subscription, $59.94 for a six-month subscription, and $99.00 for an annual subscription. The company accepts major credit cards and PayPal but does not offer untraceable options such as Bitcoin or gift cards. If you are looking for that extra layer of anonymity, consider Editors’ Choice winner Private Internet Access.

Buffered VPN also charges significantly more than the average VPN service. Private Internet Access costs just $6.95 per month, and KeepSolid VPN Unlimited $6.99 per month. In general, if a VPN service is going to charge more than $10 a month, it must offer something extra to justify that cost. While Buffered VPN is an excellent service, it’s not the best value.

Buffered VPN review: Customer support

Buffered VPN has a wide range of support resources on its website, including setup tutorials, troubleshooting guides, and many FAQs and background information on VPNs in general. It remains to be seen how useful these can be. Although there are a reasonable number of guides, they are sometimes short on material, and we have seen more and better tutorials, such as those from NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

We also found that some of the FAQs contained misleading information and seemed to be more about selling the benefits of Buffered than informing readers. For example, the page ‘What VPN protocols does Buffered support’ tells us that Buffered does not support L2TP because it ‘does not provide any form of encryption.’

Is this true? Well, sort-of, L2TP is about creating the tunnel and does not in itself encrypt your data. But no VPN uses L2TP alone; instead, they combine it with IPsec to authenticate and securely encrypt your information.

Final words

Buffered VPN review clearly understands what a good VPN service is. It uses an excellent protocol and has numerous servers available all over the world. There is an effort to create a simple, enjoyable user experience for the customer, and the service performed well in a few speed tests. But showing it in my hands-on testing was less impressive, with frequent disconnections. Buffered VPNs also cost significantly more than most other VPNs I’ve tested.

6.5 Total Score
Our Verdict

Buffered VPNs score well for speed and Netflix unblocking, but spoils the effect with vague logging policies, weak Windows client, and more. Keep searching, you'll get better results elsewhere.

PROS
  • Above-average performance
  • Works with any OpenVPN-compatible device
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Live chat support
CONS
  • Small network
  • The privacy policy is short on details
  • Below-par desktop client
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