Buffered VPN needs a lot of improvement. They require too much information for registration, there are no mobile applications, not enough features for the desktop app and the list goes on. Al in all it's just another VPN service doing the bare minimum while advertising to be the best in the world.
The Hungary based VPN provider Buffered VPN was founded in 2013 and has been steadily growing his customer base ever since. They have available servers in 33 countries, allow 5 simultaneous connections. They advocate internet freedom, privacy and online security, and they claim to have been voted “the best VPN in the world”, though it doesn’t mention when and by whom this vote was cast.
At the time of this review, Buffered VPN has servers in the following locations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and Ukraine.
They are using OpenVPN as connection protocol and it is possible to choose from several ports to connect: 443, 53, 993 and 1194 (UDP and TCP).
We appreciated the simplicity of the website that was very easy to navigate. The content is up to date and it should suite the needs of anyone who is looking to get more information on the product.
We noticed some marketing gimmicks on their site, such as “The Fastest & Most Secure VPN” and “Enjoy total security” right on the front page. Even though such claims seem to be the norm with most VPN providers, we really don’t like them.
They offer support fro Windows, Mac and Linux and we were unable to find a mobile application until the time of this review (end of august 2016). There are several options of configuring a 3rd party VPN software with the parameters provided by Buffer VPN, and this is to cover the unsupported areas.
Buffered VPN also offers a 30-day no hassle money-back guarantee, but keep in mind that there are some restrictions which are not made clear right from the beginning. The limitation is 10GB of traffic or 100 connections, so keep that in mind if you plan to test it out.
Privacy and Logging Policy
The company claims to not log any online activity. They do not provide your personal information to third parties, however they would have to provide it if required by law.
They accept only two payment methods, those being PayPal and Credit/Debit cards. We noticed that if you pay with PayPal, they will gather the name and address from it and store it on their site. This is just terrible practice coming from a service that’s in the Privacy business.
The software performed well, it is very easy to use and very responsive. We had no problems whatsoever accessing the features available or understanding the options or the placement. Right from the interface you are offered a variety of options to help customize your experience:
The configuration of the software can be a bit tricky, we found ourselves needing to have OpenGL 2 driver available in order to use it. In 90% of the cases, that won’t be an issue as it is integrated into your video driver, but we thought it was something worth mentioning.
From changing the connection location to port configuration and latency checks, the application provides a good number of options to make your experience as comfortable as possible. There is also a possibility to test the firewall and to access the connection logs. Keep in mind that these are different from activity logs, and are used by most providers for improving the quality of the service and for troubleshooting connectivity issues.
Netflix and Hulu were available through the tested server locations in the USA, at the time of review. Other streaming services such as BBC iPlayer worked without any issues or lag.
Apart from setting the port, changing the connection from TCP to UDP and latency checks, there weren’t any features to enjoy. We weren’t able to find the kill switch option anywhere.
There is no support for mobiles with a proprietary app as of yet, and there is no mention about a mobile application being planned anytime soon. There is a possibility to connect to a third party VPN software using the parameters given by Buffered VPN, and you can find those steps in the setup guide. They offer OpenVPN as an alternative to the application, which is not something necessarily discouraging, we just want to point out the fact that they don’t have their own application for mobiles.
The encryption cipher used is Blowfish, a somewhat outdated option, which comes standard with OpenVPN. We assume that Buffered VPN chose not to go through the trouble of configuring the service for AES, and it’s something that we feel is a weak point in the service. Other encryption parameters: RSA 2048 and SHA1. This could as well be better in our opinion.
We were content overall with the results obtained after testing out both browser and torrent speeds. The browsing speed was constantly good with a couple of small exceptions that never perform well due to connectivity issues (such as Iceland for example). Here are the results for the browsing speed test:
Torrents on the other hand were not giving us any problems, and we had decent download speeds on the tested servers. Keep in mind that if the connectivity issue exists in a specific location, or if you are connecting to a remote country, the latency will reflect proportionally on the download speed (and this applies to all VPN providers), so don’t expect 100Mbps+ speeds in Panama for example. Here are the torrent speed test results for Canada and UK respectively:
There were no connectivity issues or disconnects during the time of the tests, so all the speed test results are the product of a constant and thorough evaluation.
Buffer VPN offers three different price plans: monthly, bi-annual and annual. They are priced as follows:
Please be advised that these prices are current to the time of this review. For an updated price list for Buffered VPN, you can check out their web page here.
The payment methods were a real disappointment for us. Apart from only having two methods available (PayPal or Credit Card), it turned out that PayPal would actually not allow you to pay with existing currency from your PayPal account, but rather it would generate a new transaction from your linked account. Effectively, this means that it is nothing more but another Credit Card transaction, and a topped-up stand-alone PayPal account would not be allowed for payment.
The information required to make the payment really makes the whole anonymous experience fade. Not only is bitcoin not an accepted method, but the fact that you have to register all your personal information to make the payment might be viewed as a big minus by some potential customers.
We addressed a general questions regarding proxy to the support team, and we received a response within 5-6 hours. The response was professional and concise, our issue was addressed accordingly, so we were very satisfied with the customer support experience.
We would have liked to see a confirmation e-mail and a follow-up system for tracking the issues, but this is not necessarily a down side because if they are able to solve most requests on first contact, having such a system would be useless. Again, this is our personal preference, we would consider it a plus if available, but we will in no shape or form hold the lack of such a feature against Buffered VPN.
Here is a breakdown of what we liked and what we felt could be improved or added:
- Clean, intuitive and functional software.
- A decent number of server locations.
- Decent speed test results both in browsing and torrent downloads.
- Fluid browsing experience.
- Too much information required to sign up for the service. They collect name and addresses and store them on site.
- Not enough payment methods available. Bitcoin payments not available.
- Limitations in refund policy.
- Blowfish encryption only, we would have preferred to see AES.
- A Kill Switch option would be nice.
- No proprietary software for mobiles.
- Prices are too high compared to better alternatives.
Even though Buffered VPN seems promising at first sight, having servers in multiple locations and providing decent connection speeds, we can’t recommend them to anyone who is concerned about online privacy. For streaming it is a good solution, as it seems to work fine with Netflix in times when most other VPNs and SmartDNS services are blocked. As for privacy, a service that only provides PayPal/credit card payments and stores name and address details on site, which also stores connection logs for over 30 days, is something we would stay away from. This being said, we give Buffered VPN a rating of 4/10 and we hope that they will take privacy seriously in the future.