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Built-in kill switch provides great protection
No logs policy keeps privacy paramount
Router compatibility allows whole house VPN protection
Fast connection with little bandwidth sacrifice
Detailed information when connected
No stuttering during gaming
No phone or live chat support
More expensive than most other VPNs
Small selection of servers (44 in 41 countries)
Online streaming services aren’t supported
Pushy service adverts
Buffered VPN has a lot of great features, especially if your main concerns are security and speed. It never impacted our connection during games, but we did miss being able to watch Netflix or Amazon Video while connected to it. An overall restricted selection of servers is Buffered's main weakness at this time.
Buffered VPN is a virtual private network (VPN) service with a relatively small selection of servers that offer decent overall speed and peer-to-peer support. It offers robust encryption and some solid privacy protection, and is headquartered in a decent jurisdiction for privacy issues. The service does have some serious blind spots when it comes to streaming, but we ran all the tests necessary to help you determine if this VPN is the right one for you. Read on to see our full review of the service, including detailed information on our results.
Getting up and going with Buffered VPN is a breeze. You need to select one of their subscription packages, download the client for your respective operating system — it's compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, and has applications for both iOS and Android — and then go through a fairly painless installation procedure.
Installation and initial setup run without any outside input, automatically configuring everything behind the scenes. When it's done, you are presented with a home screen that includes a small selection of servers to pick from, with more available if you scroll down the list.
Buffered VPN uses the small-client design that is common among numerous VPNs that cross the smartphone/desktop barrier. It takes up very little space, which makes it neat when on your desktop screen, but when it comes to scrolling through servers, it would have been nice to be able to expand the window to show more information.
When you're connected to a server, the client presents you with a wealth of information. You can see your upload and download speed at that time, as well as the total amount of information that has been transferred in either direction since you connected to that particular server. You're also privy to your public IP address.
Settings, options, and account information are hidden within a pop-out menu, though most of the choices there send you to the web account backend, requiring an additional login.
We did find the omnipresent Buffered advertisements at the base of the client rather annoying, especially considering its already small size. Some include encouraging you to refer a friend or upgrade to a longer subscription.
Selecting a Buffered VPN server is easy, but the numbers aren't exhaustive. There are 41 countries to pick from with a total of 44 servers, at the time of testing. That's better than some services we've reviewed – ZenMate VPN had hundreds of servers, but only 30 countries to choose from – but it's far below others, where there have been as many as 60 countries and thousands of servers.
We found the process of connecting to a server to be fast and easy, although the requirement of disconnecting from a server before selecting a new one was a bit annoying. There is no information about server load, but when you do connect you can learn a lot about your speed and data usage.
Servers near and far proved to offer excellent upload and download rates and a decent ping.
During our testing, we found Buffered VPN to offer very solid connections on some servers and a significantly worse experience on others. We were able to achieve a maximum downstream transfer speed of 126 Mbps when connected to a nearby US server via our 1 Gbps connection, but that dropped to a paltry 2 Mbps when connected to a different US server.
For the most part, we were able to perform regular tasks like surfing the web, sending email, and streaming video on sites like YouTube and CNN without any trouble. We saw no stuttering during gaming or pauses when loading websites.
Windows Firewall did seem to throw up a couple of concerns about our web browser during testing which was odd, but didn't prove to be a hindrance.
One major oversight on the behalf of Buffered is a lack of any streaming optimized servers. Dedicated streaming servers aren't a deal breaker, but they do show that the VPN service is at least trying to provide access to streaming services.
In the case of Buffered VPN, we were unable to view Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, or any other similar services despite trying multiple servers for each. It's not even a case of not being able to view a foreign version of those services. When you were connected to Buffered VPN you simply can't use these streaming services, even in your country of origin.
While there will always be a game of cat and mouse between VPN providers and these services, it isn't clear whether or not Buffered VPN is even trying to play the game.
Privacy is a major reason that many people choose a VPN, so any VPN worth its salt needs to hold it dear. Fortunately, Buffered VPN does just that. It has no server logs stored by default, so whether a government agency demanded that Buffered hand over data on what you've been doing, or the service was hacked, there is no information to give. What you do when connected to a Buffered VPN server is your business.
That said, this is another VPN with a somewhat deceptive "no-logs" policy. While Buffered doesn't track your activity on the site, they do maintain partial connection logs. We also aren't huge fans of the information they collect on your devices. They say it's limited to hardware and software specifics, and that information is collected and held by Buffered VPN for 30 days for technical support reasons and for improving its service, so you can decide whether or not that's a deal breaker.
There's very little to complain about when it comes to Buffered VPN's security. Users can enjoy a number of important protective measures while connected to Buffered's servers:
Buffered officially supports torrenting on its servers and is happy to do so while providing anonymity for its users, which could help protect them from legal recourse if they were to accidentally torrent something illegal.
There are no torrent optimized servers, but all of them function well enough for it. We encountered no problems torrenting when using Buffered VPN.
There are no torrent optimized servers, but all of them function well enough for it.
Buffered VPN doesn't include a built-in ad blocker, and they actually run ads of their own in the client. This is a security feature that some of the best VPN services include, since it can prevent malware and overzealous ad trackers from learning things about your system and connection that you would prefer to keep secret. If that sounds good, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Buffered VPN offers customer service and support through an email-based ticket system. There is no option to send email outside the system, or to speak to an agent in person over the phone or through web chat. If you have any problems, you have to go through the email ticket system.
Buffered VPN offers a variety of payment methods and subscription options. You can choose between credit and debit cards, PayPal, or Bitcoin, for those who want an extra layer of anonymity in their VPN usage.
It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee should you not prove happy with the service.
Buffered VPN has three subscription options to pick from, starting at $13 a month, which is more expensive than most of the other VPN options out there. Its yearly plan is much more affordable at $79, or the equivalent of $6.60 a month. The two-year plan is the most affordable at $99, working out at $4.12 a month.
The longer subscriptions offer far more value for money, but there are a number of cheaper VPN services out there that are worth considering if cost is of major importance to you.
Our favorite VPN has been NordVPN, so we use it as a measure for any new VPNs we review. Buffered VPN actually holds up rather well, delivering a comparably fast service for only a little more money each month. It also has many of the same great security and pro-privacy features of NordVPN.
Where it falls down though is in server selection. Nord has more than 5,000 servers to pick from in as many as 60 countries. Its servers aren't picked up by Netflix or Amazon either, so you can use it to watch any streaming services you like.
A solid, fast VPN that just lacks those key streaming features.
Buffered VPN has a great selection of fast servers and robust security and privacy features. There are some little details about the user interface we'd change if given the chance, but overall we were satisfied with our time using Buffered VPN's service. It just really needs to add some streaming optimized servers, but if you can get past that, it's worth using.
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