Our Testing and Review Process

Human Written

PrivacyRadar – as evident through the name – is all about keeping our radars active to detect things impacting our digital privacy, whether positive or negative. It enables us to recommend tools that help you achieve better online privacy as well as to warn you of the ones that breach your data. Obviously, this keeps us busy looking for privacy and security tools and researching, reviewing, and vetting them all along to know them inside out!

Sounds tedious, doesn’t it?

Maybe, or maybe not!

Let us share with you what we do when we test and review a VPN, antimalware, ad blocker, password manager, digital vault, web browser, or any other digital utility that directly or indirectly impacts our privacy. We state all the steps we take right from the product selection for review to our product assessment and reviewing process so you can get an idea of how to assess a tool’s feasibility and usability when it comes to data privacy.

1. Easy Accessibility

The first thing to test about any software or tool is its ease of access for the users. Of course, it will all be in vain for any software if the user finds it difficult to access, download, and install.

Hence, our first criterion for reviewing any tool is to check how easily accessible it is for an average user. Ideally, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to find the right website or application link for any software, such as a VPN or an antivirus, and download it.

We agree that premium services may not be as quick to install as the free ones. But again, the simpler the payment method any service offers, the quicker it will be for the user to install. And if the product comes with a free trial, saving users the hassle of entering payment details upfront, then it adds a plus point to our “accessibility” parameter.

2. Pricing and Subscription Plans

As explained above, having simpler payment methods and free trials is a plus (to us) for any product as it adds to the product’s accessibility for general users.

Of course, all of us like to use free services, don’t we? But no, we do not blindly advocate for free services because we know the cons of using (most) free security tools. Yet, we don’t condemn them either since numerous free services available today are as good as their premium counterparts; some even come from premium service providers.

But even for the paid software, our favorite aspect is the range of payment methods it accepts, because that makes it easier for users globally to subscribe to the service via any means. For example, if a service only accepts credit cards, it won’t be feasible for users who prefer to share minimal details. In contrast, a service accepting various payment methods – from PayPal to credit cards and even cryptocurrency – potentially attracts more users from around the world.

So, for us, anything available as free neither makes it valuable, nor we think of it as useless. Instead, what we take into account is the balance between the product’s quality, performance, pricing plans, and payment methods. If a service comes at a price worth its performance, it’s as important for us as any low-priced or free service that ensures quality.

3. Ease of Installation

Once you download a product, the next step is to install it. Sounds easy, right? But that’s not the case for most tools.

In fact, the reason why essential software like VPNs, secure email services, and antimalware are not as popular as they should be, is that most free or easily available services are too difficult to install for an average user. Either the installation steps are too complicated, the process takes much time, or simply, it requires a lot of user input, ultimately perplexing them.

Therefore, a key parameter in our review process is the ease of installation. Since our software reviews and guides are meant for all privacy enthusiasts, including the non-technical ones, we prioritize software and tools that support swift installation, require minimal user input, and offer clear instructions to facilitate users.

4. User Experience

Any good software is not credible unless it ensures a user-friendly experience for its users. An eye-catching app layout, easy-to-find options, understandable instructions without jargon, and customizable settings are what contribute to the user experience of an app.

For example, in case of antimalware solutions, the software should allow users plenty of scanning options, from full system scan to custom file scans. This helps the users keep a check on their system security as they want. Likewise, VPNs should provide readily available settings for important features, such as kill switch, split tunneling, protocol settings, to let the users configure their networks accordingly.

The more the software focuses on simplifying the app usage experience for users, the more it will become popular among the masses. And of course, this is what we too focus on when reviewing any privacy tool.

5. Range of Features

In today’s competitive environment, product features play a key role in attracting customers. Software offering plenty of features catering to the requirements of personal and business uses alike quickly surpass the competition. Therefore, another important factor for the Team PrivacyRadar to rate and review software is the range of features offered.

Of course, a VPN would be of no use if it doesn’t offer key features like kill switch and split tunneling, or does not support multiple connection protocols. Similarly, an ad blocker sans any anti-tracking options is of no good. Likewise, an antivirus software is simply useless if it doesn’t let you scan your desired file without going for a day-long system scan.

So, the more features a software offers, the higher it ranks in our reviews and the more likely it is to receive our recommendations.

6. Application Performance

While tools like VPNs and antivirus are meant to offer security, another reason people don’t like using them is the speed lags. While VPNs cause speed drops due to the underlying encryption, antimalware may affect the overall system performance during full or deep scans. But the end user isn’t concerned with all these things. Nor would they like the negative impact on their fast-paced activities like streaming or gaming.

So, a reliable software should offer the best performance without compromising on its security and features. That’s what we consider important for our reviews, too.

7. Security Practices

When talking about digital tools and software, an important aspect (at least, for PrivacyRadar) is the security policy and practices. This applies to both the software’s architecture and the data it handles.

Security practices and policies are important to understand because they reflect the vendors’ seriousness for the product and their customers. Often, due to negligence or poor security practices, criminal hackers sneak into the development or product upgrade stages to inject malicious codes. As a result, users end up with installing malware on their devices instead of their intended tool.

Likewise, if a breach happens, the hackers get a chance to exfiltrate the firms’ or the customers’ data, which they can use maliciously as they want. Such breaches are usually successful due to poor security practices from the vendors.

Therefore, knowing a vendor’s history regarding security breaches and how they handled those incidents can greatly help you choose the right product.

8. Data Collection and Logging

Regardless of how well a vendor secures customers’ data, for the utmost privacy, vendors should be urged not to collect sensitive data at all.

Of course, when you’re using a privacy tool – say, a VPN – you wish to remain private, don’t you? But, if the VPN provider collects data about you, it risks your privacy. The same applies to other privacy tools, such as web browsers, ad blockers, antimalware, etc., which interact with our data.

Hence, an important benefit of our software reviews is for the vendors to implement minimal data collection practices and ensure no data logging.

9. Device Compatibility

Today’s users seldom use a single device. Even the most digitally minimalist users own a smartphone, a laptop/computer,

When a user installs any software, such as a VPN, it is expected to run the same software on multiple devices – and that’s the need of the time too. Tools like a VPN or an antivirus are as important for securing mobile phones as they are for computers. But, does that mean the user should go for recurring subscriptions for each device separately? Definitely not! That’s what the service providers take care of when they offer cross-platform compatibility.

Thankfully, numerous top service providers offer multiple simultaneous installations and device connections, allowing a user to secure the phones, computers, and other smart devices at the same time. Such tools aren’t only a favorite for the users, but also make it to our recommendations list. Any VPN, antivirus, ad blocker, or other such tool won’t receive our recommendation if it does not support multiple platforms.

10. Customer support

The last but an important review parameter for our software testing strategy is the service providers’ customer support. A vigilant customer support with various means for the user to reach out indicates that the service cares about its customers, and that the users won’t be left alone when in trouble.

From product installation to regular use, a customer may face difficulty at any point due to vague software instructions, abrupt updates, or glitches, where responsive customer support plays its role. Any service not offering prompt support for its users won’t be our favorite.

The list may go long since every product review includes some other parameters as well, based on the type of software being reviewed. But the factors stated above are to give you an idea about how our team begins testing a tool. As the end user, you may also use the same parameters to test any products for your own use.