How We Test, Rate, and Review Products

At All About Cookies, our #1 priority is you. We aim for everything we test, rate, rank, and write to be both helpful and unbiased, because we know that’s what you come to us for — to find the products that really work best for you.

Our team of privacy and security experts aim to strip back the marketing on tech software, uncover the details, and distill the information in easy-to-read reviews, rankings, and articles. We achieve this by using our carefully developed testing and rating processes.

Here’s a full look into the methodology that informs all the behind-the-scenes decisions at All About Cookies.

In this article
Why you can trust us
How we rate products objectively
How we keep information up to date
Our expert reviewers

Why you can trust us

It can be hard to shake off the feeling that money may be influencing the opinions you read online. That’s why we want to make it extremely clear that we never accept money in return for reviews.

Here’s how we keep the bias out of our reviews:

  • We never accept payment in return for reviews.
  • All subscriptions are bought with our own money.
  • No advertising partners have any influence over our editorial content, including ratings and rankings.
  • We independently test products through a standardized set of hands-on assessments.
  • Our star ratings are calculated by a proprietary algorithm that focuses on a combo of cold-hard features and our expertise.
  • Our reviewers are tech experts who are passionate about finding the best products out there.

How we test products hands-on

Our testing process involves buying the premium version of a software subscription, using it like any user would, and putting it through a vigorous set of tests.

For example, when testing a VPN, we use trusted third-party websites to evaluate speed by recording our starting speed and comparing it against multiple servers across the world. We then calculate the percentage of speed loss per server to get an overview of the impact.

Kalleigh testing VPN speeds

What we look for

While the specifics of what we look for in these tests depends on what type of product we’re reviewing, here are the overlying criteria we’re evaluating every time:

  • Privacy: Is the product careful with the user’s information? Does it have a well-defined privacy policy with very limited logs?
  • Security: Does the product protect the user’s information by providing two-factor authentication or other features?
  • Features: Does the product’s set of features achieve what’s promised in its marketing materials? Does the product include extra features that go above and beyond what other similar products offer?
  • Ease of use: Is the product easy to understand and learn? Is there a learning curve that may scare away people who are less tech savvy? Is the interface clean and easy to navigate, or cluttered and convoluted?
  • Compatibility: Which operating systems is the product available on? Does it have browser extensions? If so, do those browser extensions allow for all features or just certain ones?
  • Value: Will the user feel like they’re getting their money’s worth with this product? How does the price point compare to similar products on the market? Is there a free trial or money-back guarantee available?

Our testing methodology by product type

The guidelines above are supplemented by a specific set of standardized tests we’ve developed for each of the main product types we review.

Here’s a deeper look at the intricacies of our testing methodologies for key product types:

How we rate products objectively

We calculate star ratings by looking at the most important features for each product type (VPNs, ad blockers, password managers, etc.). We’ve developed a scoring scale for each of these features, which we then aggregate and weigh to create an overall star rating.

Each product is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best score.

Here’s an example breakdown of what features we measure for two of our key product types:

VPN and Ad blocker weights

How we keep information up to date

The tech world is notorious for moving fast. An ad blocker that works on YouTube one day may be blocked the next. A VPN that nails the speed test one week may make streaming impossible another.

That’s why we conduct frequent product retests to make sure our information is validated at least several times a year.

We also keep our finger on the pulse of privacy and security products so we’re always the first to know of any major updates. Once a change comes through that impacts our reviews and rankings, we get the information updated in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Our expert reviewers

There are real people behind every article, review, and ranking you read on All About Cookies. And every one of them is passionate about finding the privacy and security products that actually work.

See our full team of content experts here