At the time of this review, WiTopia didn't assign a static IP address, which could muddy things up if you share a server with a WiTopia customer who abuses the service (such as a spammer or torrent abuser, for example). But during the review, neither this potential drawback nor any of the other factors that might affect performance (such as overloaded switches or servers) put much of a crimp in my online experience. If there was any latency in my network connection, it wasn't noticeable, and stopwatch testing of a typical heavy-traffic network activity -- video streaming -- showed very little buffering delay compared to a control that wasn't using a VPN.
Like StrongVPN, WiTopia provides on-the-spot help via online chat. I tested this feature in several sessions during the course of this evaluation, and on each occasion WiTopia's staff proved very prompt and helpful. They handled product selection, billing and technical questions with equal speed; and when I scaled the service down to remove the PPTP option, I received a refund via PayPal in less than five minutes.
WiTopia provides services that are easy to understand and adopt. Its support proved very responsive, and although the company offers only annual subscriptions, the rates are reasonably priced.
HotSpotVPN's 1-, 3-, and 7-day conference packages are great for getting your feet wet in this class of products. And StrongVPN's sprightly servers seemed to serve up videos with a little less buffering time than the others.
That said, WiTopia provides the most customer-friendly approach to setting up and selecting servers. For the price, you get pick-list access to servers worldwide from the OpenVPN application in the Windows tray. If you don't mind committing to a year's service up-front, it's the most cost-effective and easy way to get into personal VPNs.
Matt Lake is an author, award-winning technology journalist and technical services coordinator in the field of education.