First published: April 2021.
This series of articles is a sharing of the information that I have compiled, beginning in late 2018, during my quest to find a trustworthy VPN service for my personal use.
Avoiding biased reviews and disinformation
Unfortunately, I found that there is a great deal of purposeful misinformation and deception about VPNs that can be found on the world wide web. This disinformation is mainly promulgated by the plethora of VPN review sites that purport to delineate the quality of various VPN services via supposed thorough investigations performed by the sites’ self-proclaimed internet security experts.
However, almost all VPN review sites are financially incentivized to provide glowingly positive reviews of VPN services that kick-back a portion of a VPN subscriber’s fees to the VPN review site that has referred that subscriber. Consequently, there are very few honest and reliable reviews of VPN services that can be found when searching the web.
Nevertheless, the non-review content of some of the VPN review websites can be useful. General information about Internet security and privacy and the technology behind VPNs is usually not biased and I use such information in my articles. Warnings should be heeded, however, about not trusting reviews and rankings of specific VPNs.
Concerns about a reliable source
There are a few principled sources of information about VPN services that I have found and they are referred to repeatedly in my series of articles. Unfortunately, since writing the articles in early 2019, the database of one of those trustworthy sources may be gradually becoming outdated. Furthermore, the management of its advice, reviews and database of VPN information has changed hands from a reliable individual to a website of questionable virtue.
The information for which I have growing concern was originally found on Reddit.com and on the “That One Privacy Site” website. Compiled by an anonymous individual know as “That One Privacy Guy,” this source of information about VPN services was generally considered to be devoid of the biases rampant on other websites.
On November 2, 2020, “That One Privacy Guy” announced the “That One Privacy Site” was partnering and merging with another website. That website states it is run by a “publishing group” that tests, compares and reviews “antiviruses (sic), password managers, and virtual private networks (VPNs).” The website discloses that “we may receive commissions when you make purchases with some of our links.” Hence, the site receives kick-backs from the companies of products that they review, just like the scores of other untrustworthy VPN review websites…
Since the website changeover occurred, the very useful guide “Choosing a VPN” written by That One Privacy Guy has been deleted from the new hosting website. Consequently, I have modified the links in my articles that refer to information in that guide to point to the archived copy of the information that can still be found on The WayBack Machine Internet Archive.
The comprehensive database of information about VPNs that was compiled by That One Privacy Guy is still available on the new website. (One would hope that the database will receive unbiased updates as needed.) At present, the links in my articles that refer to the “Simple VPN Comparison Chart” and the “Detailed VPN Comparison Chart” bring you to the web page “anchor” for these charts on the new website. However, beware of the VPN rankings that appear earlier on that same page, as the rankings are likely biased.
The “Choosing a Trustworthy VPN” series of articles presented here is based on my assessment of multiple sources of information available about VPNs. Unfortunately, disinformation about VPN services and biased VPN reviews is pervasive. Nonetheless, reliable sources can be found and my articles rely on those sources. I hope the information presented here is useful as you search for Internet security and privacy.
In the first article of this “Choosing a Trustworthy VPN” series, titled “Can VPN Review Sites be Trusted?”, we’ll further examine concerns regarding the reliability of VPN review websites.