Buffered VPN Review 2019
Buffered VPN protects user privacy with OpenVPN tunneling and shared IP addresses. Unfortunately, several key features are missing from its repertoire, such as a speed test, a kill switch and DNS-leak protection.
Welcome to my review of Buffered VPN, a new service to the market, that’s trying to see if it has what it takes to compete with more established brands. And so am I. Unfortunately, the new VPN service still has a lot of polishing to undergo before it can truly justify its price tag.
Several key features are missing from its repertoire, such as:
- A speed test
- A kill switch
- DNS-leak protection
Are just a few examples. There’s also no native mobile app available; users will have to download and configure the official (and free) OpenVPN application instead.
Buffered VPN protects user privacy with OpenVPN tunneling and shared IP addresses — only, there are no other secure tunneling options available. The service does offer connections to 37 countries but runs on the slow side, and when you take into consideration the fact that it’s priced similarly to more refined options (check out our ExpressVPN review and VyprVPN review) it quickly becomes apparent that Buffered VPN still has work to do before it becomes a top pick here at Cloudwards.net.
So, what do you get with a Buffered VPN subscription? I’ll detail many of its features throughout this review, but here’s a quick sneak peek at them:
Servers in 37 countries
5 simultaneous device connections
256-bit Blowfish encryption
Shared IP addresses
Native apps for Windows and Mac
Uses OpenVPN Connect Android and iOS
DD-WRT and Tomato router compatible
No-hassle 30-day money-back guarantee
Unlimited server switching
Doesn’t log web activity
- No killswitch
- No DNS-leak protection
- User meta-data is logged
- No speed test
- Free 3-day trial
- Gets into Netflix U.S.
- Bit slow
- No refund policy
- Network disappoints
- Easy & fast server switching
- Mediocre server network
- Doesn’t get into most streaming services
- Can be a pain to use
- Exclusively uses OpenVPN
- Support for SSH, SSL & Tor
- Difficult to use
- No killswitch
- Blocked by Netflix
Buffered VPN isn’t a service I knew much about before reviewing it for Cloudward.net, so I was curious to see what it was all about. Headquartered in Budapest, I expected to find a service that takes advantage of the EU’s strong privacy ethos.
To that end, I wasn’t disappointed as Buffered VPN offers OpenVPN encryption and promises not to log user activity. Beyond that, though, the service still feels like it has a lot of room for development in nearly all areas. Several security features designed to ensure third-parties can’t capture identifying user data are missing.
Chief among them are a kill switch and DNS-leak protection. Additionally, while Buffered VPN connects to 37 different countries, it doesn’t let you select a particular city or server within those countries. Also, there’s no Hong Kong server, which will disappoint users living in or traveling to China.
Buffered VPN’s desktop apps for Windows and Mac are well designed, with a minimalistic interface, that presents useful information like connection time, IP address and how much data you’ve moved during a session. Speedwise, I found the service underpowered when compared to its competitors.
Also, it doesn’t offer users an included DNS proxy service, as many of those competitors do. I found these two points particularly disappointing in my review, given that Buffered VPN gets priced like a top-tier service.
Overall, Buffered VPN gets the job done, but just not as well as it could. Given that they seem to be actively adding servers and are open to user feedback, hopefully, that will change.
VPN services, like Buffered VPN, solve different problems for different people. For many, it’s just an added layer of protection while using public Wi-Fi networks. Coffee shop hot-spots and the like are frequent targets of hackers. They use easy-to-get tools to intercept your activities and steal confidential data.
Buffered VPN doesn’t necessarily prevent eavesdropping, but it does encrypt your data so it can’t get used by others, by establishing an encrypted tunnel for it. Better yet, it also spoofs your device’s IP address and location with those of the VPN server you’re connected to. There are several benefits to obfuscating such information, aside from mitigating hacker attacks.
For one, many online services alter a user’s experience based on where they are located. This includes restrictions on video streaming libraries, different charges for online stores items and VOIP services.
By connecting to a server located in another country, you can get around such territorial restrictions. This same capability allows users in authoritarian countries to counter Internet censorship. This fact makes VPN services common for inhabitants and travelers to China, where services like:
Are blocked behind the so-called Great Firewall of China. By using a VPN tunnel, you also prevent an Internet Service Provider (ISP) from recording your browsing activities. While not all ISPs log user data, many do.
In cases where they do, they’re often required to share those logs with a government agency of some kind, upon request. Because of this fact, torrent and other P2P users concerned about privacy will benefit greatly from using a VPN that permits such connections – like Buffered VPN.
As noted, services like Buffered VPN let you side-step location-based content restrictions with ease; this includes blocks on commonly found streaming video services. Whenever I’m traveling, I always setup a VPN subscription so I can keep myself entertained during travel layovers and in the evenings.
VPN tunneling back to the United States lets me use my favorite streaming services without a hitch.
For me, this primarily includes:
- Amazon Prime Video
Netflix is broadly available in 190 countries, and Prime Video finally went global, too, with the service rolling out in over 200 countries. However, the content library you get from one country to another is different, due to licensing restrictions. Hulu, meanwhile, is only available in the United States and Japan.
Here’s a list of other popular streaming services that get blocked or altered based on location. I’m sure I’m missing some great options – so please let me know in the comments below if any jump out!
|Netflix||Hulu||Amazon||HBO Now||Now TV|
|AMC HD||AOL TV||Adult Swim||Showtime||TalkTalk|
|BBC iPlayer||CBS||ABC||MLB||BeIN Sports|
|Comedy Central||Deezer||History Channel||TCM||MLB TV|
Buffered VPN supports multiple different operating systems and lets you connect up to five devices simultaneously, making it an excellent choice for families or users who possess multiple devices.
Desktop apps are available for
- Mac (10.9 and above)
- Windows (7 and higher)
Linux users can also get in on the fun, although the process is a bit more complicated since there isn’t a native Buffered VPN app. But, the service has all of the instructions you’ll need to get it running on Linux, right here.
Users can also protect their iPhones, iPads and Android devices. However, as with Linux, mobile users will need first to install the OpenVPN client and configure it to use Buffered VPN:
The OpenVPN client isn’t bad, but for what users are paying for the service, it seems like Buffered VPN should have its own apps. Also, the OpenVPN client setup is more complicated than using a native app. If you’re looking for a simple download-and-go solution, you might want to consider another service.
Instead of setting up all of your devices, you can configure Buffered VPN to work with a router instead. Doing so extends VPN protection to your entire home network and any devices connected to it.
This includes game consoles and streaming video boxes:
|Playstation 4||Xbox One||Amazon Fire TV||Android TV|
|Roku||Chromecast||Apple TV||Nvidia Shield|
|Boxee||GEM Box||Chromebook||Nintendo Wii|
To setup a router to work with Buffered VPN, you’ll need to be running either DD-WRT, Tomato or pfSense. Firmware on it. Once again, you’re looking at some technical work here:
If you’d rather not trouble yourself, just purchase a pre-configured router through one of Buffered VPN’s support partners:
Overall, the range of devices supported is good, but Buffered VPN could make life a little easier for mobile users, by providing native apps. That’s my big complaint, especially given that so many other VPN services nail mobile app design.
Buffered VPN currently lets you tunnel through servers located in 37 countries around the globe. That’s less than its two most similarly priced competitors – ExpressVPN and VyprVPN. Noticeable exclusions include no servers in Hong Kong or the Middle East (outside of Israel).
However, I was more disappointed by the fact that Buffered VPN doesn’t let you select and connect to specific cities in each host country. When you connect, the only option given is to pick a country, not a city – except for the U.S. connection, which lets you select between “East Coast” and “West Coast.”
|Denmark||Israel||New Zealand||South Africa|
Most VPNs operate multiple servers in a given country, and either let you select which server you connect to or change the server connection when you disconnect and reconnect. Buffered VPN doesn’t let you self-select servers. It’s also unclear from their website how many total servers they operate.
I did check with their customer support team to ensure that they do indeed run multiple servers in most countries, but they didn’t respond with accurate numbers.
Routing Internet traffic through a VPN tunnel is always going to slow things down somewhat. That’s because data packets have to travel further – sometimes all the way around the world – and the addition of encryption further slows things down.
Not all VPN services are created equal, though. To gauge how Buffered VPN compares to the competition, I performed some basic speed tests from my home Wi-Fi network just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
Even by VPN standards, these were some pretty big slowdowns. Because Buffered VPN doesn’t let you select specific cities to connect to, it was a little hard to compare it directly to other services.
However, here’s a look at download speeds from three other popular VPN picks:
Both ExpressVPN and VyprVPN are much faster than Buffered VPN, while IPVanish is comparable. Of course, different users will get different speed results, based on where they are and how fast their Internet connection is.
If you find speeds are less than adequate with whatever VPN service you choose, I’d recommend trying a few different options to find the best choice for you. I should also mention that Buffered VPN doesn’t have any built-in speed tests. Many other VPN services run tests to find the fastest server connections for you.
Generally speaking, though, such tests are mostly useful for finding the fastest server connections in a given country. As mentioned, Buffered VPN doesn’t let you pick which server to connect to – only which country.
Every time you sign-in into a VPN server, you’re assigned an IP address. That IP address is shared between multiple users and changes intermittently, to make it much more harder for others to connect web activity back to you.
Fundamental to securing any VPN connection is the protocol used to establish it. Currently, there are four common protocols used in commercial VPN services:
Buffered VPN only uses the OpenVPN protocol. That’s going to be okay in most cases since OpenVPN is considered the best of the four.
PPTP is an older protocol that only offers up to 128-bit encryption and is rumored to be crackable. L2TP/IPSec is more secure than PPTP but also hogs system resources, which results in slower speeds. Plus, it isn’t as safe as the final two options.
The strength of SSTP depends on who you ask. While said by some to be as secure as OpenVPN, there’s no way to independently verify this claim, because it’s owned by Microsoft and isn’t an open-source protocol.
Also, while SSTP is considered the most stable protocol for Windows machines, it isn’t usable outside of Windows. OpenVPN can be used with any platform, and encryption protocol, and Buffered VPN pairs it with 256-bit Blowfish. The choice of Blowfish over AES is an interesting one since Blowfish is considered by most experts, to be more secure, but slower than AES.
On top of that, add the fact that neither encryption protocol is crackable and that’s probably why AES gets more commonly used. Still, this isn’t a deal breaker since Blowfish is still excellent. Another key advantage of using OpenVPN is that it can be configured to be used with any port.
Changing ports lets you trade security and quality for speed, or vice-versa. Port-forwarding, as this process is called, allows you to disguise the fact that you’re using a VPN, which in turn makes it harder for nations and websites (like Netflix) to block your access.
Beyond the ability to switch ports, however, Buffered VPN has minimal optional security settings. Key misses include a kill switch and DNS-leak protection. Kill switches terminate Internet activity should your VPN connection accidentally drop; DNS-leaks protection keeps browsing requests from accidentally being sent through your ISP’s DNS server.
While neither drops nor leaks should happen with an active VPN tunnel, occasionally they do, and this results in an ISP being able to log your activity. On a final note, Buffered VPN doesn’t offer its customers use of an SOCKS5 Proxy service. SOCKS5 proxy works kind of like a VPN, in that it masks your IP address and location but doesn’t add any encryption.
The lack of encryption makes it less secure but much faster than a VPN tunnel. While technically a separate service, many VPN providers (including ExpressVPN and VyprVPN) now come with DNS proxies and for its price, I’d expected Buffered VPN to do the same.
It’s exclusion also led me to suspect that Buffered VPN does indeed log user meta-data, even if they ignore what websites you’re visiting. I decided to check with Buffered VPN and was informed that they do indeed record your IP address, time, and connection duration.
Ostensibly, such information is kept for troubleshooting purposes. However, it can also be used to point activity back to you. I always feel obligated when talking about privacy policies to add that they’re only words. There’s no way to be certain that a VPN service isn’t collecting and sharing your data, either for profit or government surveillance.
Still, Buffered VPN is located in Hungary, a member of the EU. The EU has some of the strongest data protection laws in the world, as laid out by the Data Protection Directive (to be replaced by the even more stringent General Data Protection Regulation in 2018).
That in itself is a pretty big guarantee that your data will be safe in the hands of Buffered VPN.
Buffered VPN maintains 24/7 support. While there’s no way to get in touch with a live person directly, I found their response time to be more than adequate. Support inquiries can be sent through a request form on their support page.
After shooting off my request, I expected to be kept waiting for a day or two (at least). Instead, I got a reply in about 30 minutes – on a Sunday night, no less. Even better, the response was clearly written and directly answered my questions.
Live chat would be nice, but prompt responses are sufficient for most cases. If you do need an immediate answer, Buffered VPN’s support page does offer a good amount of information, subdivided by category:
- Getting Started: general FAQs and troubleshooting
- Errors: steps to resolve specific errors
- Setup Tutorials: guides for various devices
- Logs: guides to access your VPN logs
There’s also a search bar at the top of the page to help you find answers to questions more quickly. I found the write ups on the support page to be sufficiently detailed and well-organized.
However, I felt like it could be a little broader, particularly about some of the FAQs. Over the course of my review, there were numerous questions I had about the service, the answers to which I was unable to find anywhere on Buffered VPN’s site.
- How many shared IP addresses does Buffered VPN maintain? (still unclear)
- How many servers does Buffered VPN maintain? (still unclear)
- Does Buffered VPN offer a kill switch or DNS leak protection? (no)
- Does Buffered VPN log session meta-data? (yes)
Another miss: Buffered VPN doesn’t maintain a user forum. User forums are an excellent way to gain insight and help from other users, and for a service to expand its knowledge base organically.
They do have a blog, but it hasn’t been updated since March 2016. Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, and VyprVPN all maintain active blogs which are a good way of staying on top of things like server launches, feature roll outs and stories on the topic of user privacy.
Windows and Mac users should have no difficulty setting up Buffered VPN to run on their machines, as desktop apps are available for both systems. For this review, I installed and tested Buffered VPN on my Windows 10 laptop. The installation process was pretty painless and took only a couple of minutes.
After entering my login credentials, I was presented with a list of countries to connect with. As mentioned before, you don’t get to pick a particular city or server in a given country. There’s also no option to choose the best/fastest server connection available.
This took me aback at first since it’s outside the norm of my usual experience with VPNs. Some users might appreciate the added simplicity of having fewer choices, but to me, they were glaring and irksome omissions. The service is easy to use, however. Double click on a country and within about five seconds, you’ll have a VPN tunnel up and running.
The interface is quite nice, information displayed includes:
- Connection time
- Download/upload speed
- Total downloaded/uploaded
- IP address
Many VPN services, like VyprVPN, offer visualizers detailing this kind of information, but do so in ways that will probably be too overwhelming for some users.
Other services, like ExpressVPN, provide great simplicity but skimp out on this kind of information. Users who prefer both an informative and minimalistic experience will appreciate the Buffered VPN interface. Settings can be accessed and altered from a disconnect screen by clicking the “connection options” button, below the window displaying available countries.
From here, you can:
- Switch ports
- Toggle between TCP and UDP
- Save your login credentials
- Setup automatic login
- Connect and toggle latency checks
There are some additional security settings that I would like to see here, that I’ve brought up earlier in the security overview. I say yet once again, a kill switch and DNS-leak protection would be particularly welcome.
Buffered VPN does not yet offer native mobile clients for Android or iOS. As such, you’re going to have to download the OpenVPN client and play around with some configurations to get it working.
The setup isn’t hard, but it is a lot more effort that most VPN services put you through. Let’s take a look at the process on Android. First thing you need to do is download either OpenVPN for Android or OpenVPN Connect from the Play store. I used OpenVPN for Android since it’s a little more feature rich.
Next, you need to download some configuration files from the Buffered VPN support site. This part is where the process gets irksome, as you have to download .opvn configuration files for each country separately.
The files are small enough that they only take a second to download, but an option to save them all at once would be nice, or better yet not having to do it at all. Once downloaded, from inside the OpenVPN for Android app, you need to tap the download folder icon. Use this to navigate to the location of your .opvn files.
For me, it was my download folder. Find and select the file. Again, you’ll have to handle each .opvn file separately. Once you choose the file, tap the checkmark on the top-right.
Doing so will save the .opvn file as a profile. Once saved, just tapping on the profile will build out the configuration for the OpenVPN Android app, and connect you to it. OpenVPN has a simple log window that you can access from a phone’s notifications window.
Settings can be accessed by thumbing the settings tab. From there you can set the app to automatically connect to a particular server upon booting your phone and manage a few other aspects of your VPN’s behavior.
Buffered VPN has tutorials for both Android and iOS if you’d like to learn more about the process:
Buffered VPN gets the basics of what a VPN should do right, by safeguarding users with OpenVPN and shared IP addresses, and offering plenty of server locations around the globe. I’ve used some bad VPN services before – and Buffered VPN doesn’t count among them. Still, it’s far from perfect.
Its rival’s services are faster, offer more server selection options and security; if Buffered VPN was more reasonably priced, then I could overlook these shortcomings.
Instead, it costs just as much as ExpressVPN and VyprVPN, which are both superior options in just about every way. The good news is that Buffered VPN’s customer support network is responsive and they seem open to user feedback. Hopefully, that means things will improve sooner, rather than later since Buffered VPN does have a good base to build on.
What are your thoughts on the service’s shortcomings? Is it worth the price? Share your opinions in the comments section below and thanks for reading!