Wirecutter is a well-known and reputable technology blog that focuses on technology reviews and product comparisons. In November 2019, they published an article comparing several VPN protocols and their performance. The article was very informational, comparing the protocols on a technical level, while glossing over the more subjective aspects such as pricing and reliability.
While their article was accurate and comprehensive, it did have one major drawback: it only focused on the performance aspect of VPNs. This is largely because companies that develop and manufacture VPNs are most commonly concerned with delivering the best possible performance when connecting with remote servers. As a result, the article’s title did not do the article’s content justice.
Because of this deficiency, we’ve decided to dive into the article’s findings, looking at the various protocols from a more subjective viewpoint. Specifically, we will examine the different VPN technologies from the viewpoint of a consumer who wants to use one to access private content and websites while abroad.
OpenVPN is the most commonly used, open-source, and free VPN protocol, having evolved from the OpenVPN protocol first released in 2007. OpenVPN allows for unlimited connections, has a relatively simple user interface, and has been around for so long that it’s had many improvements and implementations baked in over the years. These days, OpenVPN is considered to be one of the tried-and-tested protocols when it comes to VPNs.
In the Wirecutter article, OpenVPN was tested against 7 other VPN protocols, 2 of which, Mullvad and IPVanish, are owned by the same company (Polar Capital). The results of the tests are shown in the following table (best VPN performance highlighted in green, average VPN performance in yellow, and poor VPN performance in red):