Looking Back, Looking Forward

Updated Jan 18, 2017

Just over a year ago, I posted v1.0 of the VPN Comparison Chart on Reddit.  It was in a Google Spreadsheet that I had begun messing around in to compare VPNs for myself.  It contained approximately 1,000 data points on about 50 VPNs.  A friend of mine encouraged me to make it available to the community (I owe him thanks for seeing its value and the opportunity to share).   As far as I can tell, it has become a very popular tool when researching and comparing VPN services.

I have at this point, spent somewhere over 1,000 hours adding to and maintaining the charts, writing the guide, building the site, making the reviews, and moderating various related subreddits – in what essentially equates to a part time job.  It has been quite an experience for me and opportunity to give back to the Privacy and Internet Freedom community.  Despite the burden being heavy, I’m happy to report that I have no intention of stopping.  I’m honored to be able to give back in this small way.

I hope that you’ve found the project to be a useful resource and positive influence in an industry and world that still needs a lot of help where privacy is concerned.  Thank you all so much for your emails and PM’s, I appreciate the community interaction and willingness to be part of the discussion.  I also wish to thank those of you who have donated to the project, whether by time, cash, or crypto – I know how hard you all work to earn those funds and I’m truly honored that you see fit to put some of it towards this cause!

The coming year will no doubt bring challenges to the cause of privacy and Internet freedom, both from an industry standpoint and in the world political landscape.  I am considering adding some new features in the coming year.  I’ve been thinking about creating Comparison Charts for other types of web services (Email, Hosting, VPSs, etc) as there is a lot of overlap with VPNs as far as jurisdictions, logging, trust, etc.  I’m also considering touching a bit more on the security/FOSS side of things with smartphone company comparisons (shining a light on aspects often overlooked by the greater tech blog community, such as update and software support schedules, whether warranties are voided when custom firmware is used, how well open sourcing is respected based on licensing, etc).

I may even make the occasional self-indulgent “and now for something completely different” type of post if people wouldn’t mind the odd divergence from the usual topics.  If any of these sound particularly interesting to you, let me know and I may prioritize it.  If there’s anything else in the privacy/security/FOSS arena you’d be interested in me taking a closer look at, feel free to contact me – although I can’t make any promises, I’ll certainly see what I can do!

I thought I’d leave you with some stats to help you understand how far we’ve come, most of which was achieved in 2016!

VPN Comparison Chart:

  • 175 different VPNs compared
  • Over 9 times the data points of v1.0
  • As of early 2017, has been featured on:
    • 8 major tech blogs
    • 2 tech vlogs
    • 2 podcasts
    • Countless small outlets in a variety of languages

VPN Reviews:

  • 29 VPN reviews have been published
  • 6 of these VPNs made major changes to their service and/or level of transparency in response to their review
  • 10 badges of honor awarded
  • 77 stamps of shame branded

That One Privacy Site (since launch in May ’16):

  • Has received over 250,000 visits from 80 countries
  • Has over 750,000 page views
  • 10 VPNs reached out regarding major revisions to their service and/or level of transparency
  • 2 VPN affiliates reached out regarding policy changes to include clear and prominent disclosure of financial relationships on their sites

Privacy Causes / Charity:

  • $600 from your generous contributions have been put towards privacy and charitable causes
    • $200 towards the OSTIF OpenVPN audit
    • $100 towards EFF
    • $100 towards FSF
    • $100 towards Child’s Play
    • $100 towards misc FOSS projects

If you like the project and find my work useful, please consider donating – your generous contributions help pay for the hosting, tools, and time I need to do my research and keep the data fresh.

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