Why Use a VPN?
When doing pretty much anything online, safety and security are everything. VPN services like Buffered want to make sure everyone recognizes that fact. Kodi users especially are a prime target for companies like Buffered. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing simple web surfing or streaming content through your favorite sports add-on. What you’re doing can easily be tracked by your ISP. This is why Virtual Private Networks exist in the first place.
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, connect users to the content they want by creating a private “tunnel” of sorts through the internet. VPNs both hides your true identity as well as where you’re actually connecting from. This is a huge boon for Kodi users looking for security while streaming. Many Kodi users do turn to VPNs for the added benefit of getting around ISP content blocking or simply unlocking geographically-blocked content. Any Kodi user looking to maximize the benefit of the application should turn to a great VPN.
We’re in the process of reviewing all of the big (and some small) names in the VPN industry. Here, we take a deep dive into Buffered and its VPN service.
Buffered VPN Review Summary
Buffered VPN is a highly-lauded and extensive service. The company is located in Budapest, a country free from many governmental restrictions found in the U.S. Buffered has 33 servers spread across the globe. Although Buffered doesn’t have the most servers, the company claims that it does its best to add new servers all the time, including attempting to add servers per request by users. We tested this service and discovered positive results related to the speed of the servers while running into some issues along the way. Overall, Buffered delivers on its servers but is pricier than may be worth it for many users. We provide more details below.
Summarized Pros and Cons
|No activity logging||Limited payment options|
|Servers located in 33 countries||No immediate chat support|
|Will attempt to add servers by request||Limited number of operating systems supported (11)|
|30-day money-back guarantee||More expensive than several competitors|
|Over a dozen payment options||Antivirus software conflicts|
|Unlimited bandwidth and server switching||Slow customer service|
|Extremely fast server speeds|
Pricing and Payment Plans
Like most VPN services, Buffered has three pricing plans dictated on their website:
Buffered’s three payment plans offer a mixed benefit. New users first trying out the service may find the $12.99 Monthly Plan price tag to be a bit on the high side, particularly when compared to similar services. The same can also be said of the Bi-Annual Plan, which at $9.99 is still more expensive than the single-month plan from competing VPN services. The best value for this service comes from the Yearly Plan, which at $8.25 a month ($99 a year) is indeed their “best value”. Compared to similar services, Buffered is overall on the expensive side of things. If you do find yourself leaning toward this service, you’ll want to switch over to the Bi-Annual Plan at least, as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself paying far more for this service than it’s actually worth.
The service also has a somewhat limited selection of payment options. Outside of PayPal, Visa, Discover and MasterCard, the only alternative payment method is through Cleverbridge. No crypto-currencies are accepted.
Buffered works on a wide range of operating system families, but a limited number of systems within each family. Buffered works on the following operating systems:
- Windows 7 or newer
- Mac OS X 10.9 or newer
- Linux (unspecified versions)
- Android (unspecified versions)
- iOS (unspecified versions)
Buffered VPN: Main Features
Buffered, unfortunately, keeps a lot of its cards closely to its chest. For much of what the service offers, you have only two ways to determine what you’ll get: either email customer support for a full list or try out the service to see if you like it. Thankfully, a 30-day money-back guarantee is among the benefits for this service. Outside of security-based features, which we’ll get into a bit later, you’ll find these useful items of interest:
VPN servers in 33 countries. This is one feature that will likely attract Kodi users and keep many who use this service coming right back to it. As many addons offer up geographically-locked content, the chance at gaining access to so many server locations are appealing.
Netflix access. Although not a direct benefit to Kodi users, the ability to access any country-specific Netflix is a keen benefit. We tested several other VPN services for Netflix access. Although we did not test Buffered, it can be added to the list of VPNs that circumvent the Netflix VPN crackdown.
Unlimited bandwidth. This is a direct benefit for Kodi users who utilize P2P addons such as Castaway, NJM-Soccer or VidTime. It’s also beneficial for users who are simply streaming video content, either live TV or movies.
Server requests. This is a benefit that we’ve, thus far, only seen offered by Buffered. The service explains that they’ll attempt to provide servers in locations by request — as long as they’re able to. What this means for Kodi users is the potential to get a server closer to your location, resulting in better bandwidth.
30-day money-back guarantee. This is a useful benefit for those who want to try before they buy. Considering the high cost of this service, this is almost a necessity.
5 simultaneous device connections. Extremely beneficial for those using Kodi on multiple devices, Buffered allows for users to connect up to 5 devices at the same time. This means connecting to the VPN through a certified router, mobile device, and computer, at the same time.
What’s missing on buffered that is offered on many other services is a “kill switch”. More a security feature than a regular feature, this option would kill your internet in case of a security leak.
We ran into a bit of troubling trying to get connected to Buffered’s VPN service in order to run the speed test. We’ll spare you the long story, but will say this: If you’re using Norton Antivirus on your machine, it might block your ability to connect to any of Buffered’s VPN servers. In fact, it may block your attempt to log into VPN servers from other VPN services as well. We cannot verify that this is the case with other antivirus software programs. However, if you are finding that you’re hitting your head against a wall trying to connect to the VPN, you may need to do more than just turn off your antivirus features. In our case, it required a complete uninstall of the Norton software before we could get Buffered to work. The fault here is not wholly in Buffered’s lap, as software conflicts can be hard to predict. We will say, however, that we had no problem connecting to several other VPN services while Norton was installed and running.
We put a selection of Buffered’s 33 server locations to the all-important speed test. Bandwidth is invariably necessary to Kodi users, as this will determine whether you’ll be able to stream well through addons such as SALTS or Exodus, or whether you’ll be stuck staring at loading screens and endless buffering (no pun intended here).
We provide all speed tests with a standard control test first. The control test, run without a VPN, was based in Washington D.C. All other tests are run with a VPN, and all tests are run around the same time to avoid regular fluctuations in bandwidth that occur throughout the day.
Speedtest.net was used for all ping and server speed testing. These tests gave us a picture of both the speed and quality of different servers in different countries.
Effective streaming through Kodi addons can vary. However, most addons will work fine with a download speed of around 1.5 Mbps. Obviously, more speed is preferable, especially if you’re hoping to get HD streams without buffering.
Buffered only has one server in most of its server countries. As we normally choose the locations with the most servers, this was not possible when every country only had one server. Instead, we chose those locations that more often have a large number of servers from other VPN services: United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. For the U.S. test, we chose the server location closest to the control test (U.S. East).
Here are the results of our speed testing.
|Server||Ping (ms)||D/L Speed (Mbps)||U/L Speed (Mbps)|
Some things were immediately obvious after we ran our speed test for Buffered. The first, and most important, was the impressive lack of speed decrease. Except for the case with Australia and the Netherlands servers, the drop in speed was negligible. Distance always makes a difference, so Australia’s huge ping and drop in speed were understandable and generally within what was expected. But even in the case of Australia, the speed drop was not so significant that one could not conceivably achieve HD streams through Kodi. What interested us most, however, was the fact that the UK servers were fast. In almost every single other VPN service we’ve tested, the UK servers have sent back painfully little bandwidth. This was clearly not the case with Buffered, and indeed their UK servers were the fastest we’ve seen. In all, their server speeds were better than what we’ve found with any other VPN we’ve tested thus far.
Security and Privacy Features
Buffered has the standard array of security features that one should expect from a VPN. Like many other VPN services, Buffered utilizes OpenVPN as its primary software. OpenVPN is well-known for and well-respected for its encryption methods and support for both UDP and TCP protocols. Outside of this, Buffered does not log activity information. This is a handy, and definitely necessary feature for Kodi users of all stripes, regardless of whether you’re using P2P or standard streaming addons.
The biggest problem with Buffered’s security features is that the company says very little about what security methods it employs. The do claim to have a handle on DNS leaks, but have nothing to say about IPv6 leaks. This may be because the company employs very few of its own security methods outside of those that are a key part of OpenVPN. Thankfully, OpenVPN is a complete package when it comes to VPN security.
Potential users can find a few other security tidbits by digging (very deeply) into the FAQs page, but nothing that’s unique or particular to the service. Based on its adoption of OpenVPN and its adoption of a no-log policy, Buffered can be considered “secure” for most purposes.
Buffered provides two primary methods for getting support: a very large and very extensive FAQs and guides section, and a very slow email customer service. We can give Buffered credit for the amount of work they’ve put into the FAQs and guides. They’re very detailed and very well written. However, only providing email customer service is a pain. When trying to troubleshoot our server connection issues related to Norton Antivirus, we sent Buffered an email message through their email system. Over 12 hours later, we had yet to receive a response. This, in light of the fact that buffered claims on their website to have 24/7 customer support. This is a claim that’s hard to justify without either a phone number or a live chat.
Buffered’s sign up process is fast. They require an email address, but this can be anything you want it to be. Most users have a throwaway email address for this kind of thing anyway. Once you’re registered, you can quickly download the program from your dashboard on their website. All told, sign-up and registration should take under 5 minutes for most users.
Our experience with Buffered was mixed. The signup process is easy. Downloading the application is easy, although the device compatibility is very limited. But if you run into a problem connecting to a VPN server, and you’re not a tech whiz, expect to be frustrated. Very frustrated. Thankfully, our particular tech issue (Norton Antivirus blocking VPN access) was something we figured out on our own. And while Buffered does suggest turning off firewalls and antivirus software if you are having issues, our particular problem was only fixed by doing something we didn’t initially think we had to: completely uninstalling the virus software.
Buffered makes a few claims that are unsupported by reality. Their claim of 24/7 customer support is, quite frankly, false. A website loaded with FAQ guides does not constitute “247 customer support” either. There is no live chat and email responses to problems are slow. If Buffered wants to be taken seriously on that claim, they’ll need to improve on that end.
On the positive side, we can say that once working, we found Buffered’s claim of fast VPN servers to be certifiably true. The ping and bandwidth we experienced through Buffered’s servers were the fastest we’d experienced over other VPN services. This should make any Kodi user happy, as Buffered’s servers deliver for anyone streaming live TV, movies, or sports, especially in HD. And if you can find it, Ultra HD.
Then there’s the price. Should Kodi users cough up the high monthly prices Buffered is asking? That all depends. If your biggest concern is bandwidth, and you’re not willing to compromise on that end, Buffered may be a good option for you. And if you’re good at troubleshooting your own tech problems (most Kodi users are), then any issues with slow customer service are not likely to bother you too much. What may bother some Kodi users is how little Buffered has to say about what its security features beyond the use of OpenVPN protocols. No logging is obviously good and essential, but most other VPN services go to great lengths to provide reams of information on every aspect of their security measures. Buffered does no such thing.
Is Buffered worth the price? For some Kodi users, it’s a steal, but only if you purchase a yearly plan. Otherwise, yes, the servers are speedy, but not so much so that you couldn’t turn to another service with slightly slower speeds and noticeably lower pricing.