What should be a perfectly serviceable VPN solution is let down by a slow interface, very fiddly mobile setup, and an overall lack of performance, making it look overpriced.
Price When Reviewed
From $8.25 per month
Best Prices Today: Buffered
Buffered is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) designed to offer you privacy and security online, keeping snoopers at bay and offering access to otherwise blocked parts of the internet.
For more information about VPNs, how they work and why you might want to get one, visit: What is a VPN? Otherwise, read on for our review of Buffered, one of the many VPN options available, to help you decide whether it’s the best VPN for you.
The overwhelming impression left by Buffered VPN is its slow user interface. We’ve reviewed other VPNs that are also based on OpenVPN (such as IPVanish) but don’t have this problem.
OpenVPN is best for encryption and can slow things down a bit as a result, but not normally to a pace as slow as Buffered’s. Also, when you click a button, it doesn’t “depress”, so you’re left wondering if the click has registered while the interface catches up.
The Windows interface is, however, easy to use. Select a country from the scrollable list and the connection begins. Click the star next to one of the countries, and it’s added to the favourites list at the top for easy future access.
Buffered is headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, which is outside the “14-eyes” group of nations that swap signals intelligence with each other (for more information about the 14-eyes, visit our VPN explainer).
Its logging policy also states that it does not log online traffic, but the company does log the duration of connections.
Despite the website claiming that Buffered VPN is “The Best Way to Access Netflix US”, and erroneously claiming its 256-bit encryption as the reason, all the US connection points were denied access even after following the online guide.
This is because Netflix US grants access based on IP address, not the encryption used, and works hard to block the IP ranges owned by VPN providers.
36 countries are listed in the interface, but you can’t select a specific server.
Repeated connection failures to some countries caused me to consult Support for help. They responded within minutes, but the help offered was from the help pages, including to try connecting without the VPN and antivirus active!
There’s no kill switch to drop connections or stop selected applications that might be in the process of sending data when the VPN connection unexpectedly drops.
Buffered VPN looks overpriced at a monthly fee of $12.99, yearly for $99.00, and a two-year deal billed in chunks of $59.94 every six months.
Payment options only include PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and Discover, but no Bitcoin or other methods. There’s no free trial either, but there is a generous 30-day money back guarantee.
Buffered VPN is available on Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android, as well as a selection of routers and Linux. Android setup is very unsatisfactory.
You download the vanilla OpenVPN client from the Play Store, then download a configuration file from the Buffered VPN web site, and copy it over to your phone or tablet via USB. The iPhone setup guide is similar, which is not exactly user-friendly!
On the plus side, while connected, there’s a useful readout of download/upload speed, and the total traffic sent and received. If you’re on a metered service need to be online as little as possible, this is a nice touch.
There’s also a handy speed test, which gives you the connection speed both inside the VPN tunnel and outside, and shows a low tunnelling overhead.