VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

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webfork
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VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#1 Post by webfork » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:49 am

A quick breakdown on recent experiences with VPN services that were warmly reviewed elsewhere.

---

Here in the US they're letting ISPs sell your user data like it's Google, so I decided a VPN was mandatory to have any semblance of privacy. Unfortunately, I've gone through numberous VPN services over the past few months and just generally not having much luck. I have very basic needs (I don't need P2P, Netflix, high speed, adblocking, etc.) but just can't seem to win this one.
  1. Torguard - Worked fine but I had some issues with MacOS that required some weird, semi-functional DNS workaround. Their proxy service was okay but didn't really address the core problem around ISP surveillance. I also didn't need all the extra features of the full VPN and didn't love the name (they have nothing to do with the Tor Project) so I decided to keep looking. In light of the following service frustrations, I probably should have stayed with Torguard.
  2. ProtonVPN - Needing only the basics, I again went with the lower-priority "P2P" service. Good privacy settings and not expensive, but there were lots of tiresome small problems that I couldn't resolve. The clients' constant connection issues and other minor issues were really frustrating. Crashing, reinstalling, re-entering password, etc. I closed my account with a lot of credit remaining just because I was sick of it.
  3. AreaVPN - Price was right, liked how it let me attach multiple devices in multiple places. I didn't care about the somewhat lame interface, but I gave up finally over problems with the iOS tools connectivity. When I contacted support, they were useless. Also, no documentation to manually resolve issues that I could find.
Next up: probably VPN Express, Nord, or Firefox's new service when that comes up.

Suggestions welcome.

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#2 Post by SYSTEM » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:59 am

I have used NordVPN and it has been fine for my needs. However, my needs aren't that complicated (I don't need macOS or iOS support) and thus your experience may be different.
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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#3 Post by webfork » Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:17 am

SYSTEM wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:59 am
I have used NordVPN and it has been fine for my needs. However, my needs aren't that complicated (I don't need macOS or iOS support) and thus your experience may be different.
Thanks -- it's got more features than I really need but Nord is coming up at the top of most VPN ratings lists. I'll look into that.

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#4 Post by h3kt0r » Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:33 pm

Got a "life" subscription deal with RA4W vpn for 9 bucks three years ago.
I'm using the VPN servers configuration files provided with the "Open VPN" client.
I'm not using this extensively, just from time to time but, so far, it's working okay.
I just have to download the updated servers configuration files every few months.

Something you may want to consider : cryptostorm ("The OpenVPN service provider for the truly paranoid")

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#5 Post by webfork » Sat Feb 29, 2020 9:48 pm

h3kt0r wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:33 pm
cryptostorm
Very interesting, thanks for that

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#6 Post by Midas » Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:26 am

Somewhat late, but here's a recent piece on a report allegedly analyzing a large number of VPN offers and the conclusions aren't very encouraging, to say the least...

Comparison site VPNpro analyzed 114 VPNs and found that, of those, 102 have websites with trackers on them and 26 of those websites have 10 or more trackers. Many of these trackers involve third parties with reputations for not respecting user privacy.

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#7 Post by webfork » Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:39 pm

Midas wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:26 am
Somewhat late, but here's a recent piece on a report allegedly analyzing a large number of VPN offers and the conclusions aren't very encouraging, to say the least...
I learned a lot in reading this, but I wish they'd been clear that the websites using session recording scripts are not necessarily a flaw with the VPN service providers, just the VPN websites. Tracking visitors the way it's described here is not ideal (and admittedly a bit hypocritical), but it's not the same as monitoring all your online activity and selling that to advertisers.

It definitely would help me pick between two similar VPN services. The one without a tracking website is definitely the sort of company I'd prefer to work with.

I was also pleased to see that Firefox includes "Social media tracker" blocking in it's Options - Privacy and Security - Strict setting

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#8 Post by webfork » Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:18 pm

webfork wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:49 am
Firefox's new service when that comes up.
Update here: I've been testing the Firefox Beta and so far very happy.

Pros

* Speeds/ping times - Very good connections and no lag compared to other services-- no delay issues using video or VoIP
* FileSharing - seems to work, only tested with BitTorrent
* Interface - Reasonably easy to use, uncomplicated UI
* Backend - claims to use the superior WireGuard toolset (discussed here)

Cons

* Limited release - Obviously in beta and only available for a few operating systems, but it's only $5.
* No killswitch - meaning an option to disable the Internet connection when the VPN is offline.
* Servers - Some servers work better than others. I've not had good luck with Atlanta.

Untested

* International issues - e.g. getting around national restrictions like Netflix in Canada
* High usage - prolonged, bandwidth-intensive connections

Wishlist

* iOS has a "Lockdown" program that blocks a bunch of garbage trackers -- wish Firefox would enable this at the OS level as it has with browsers

---

I'm a little confused they didn't build off the initial effort to use a browser add-on, but certainly a full VPN is better.

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#9 Post by rbon » Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:09 am

hi webfork,

I recommend that you carefully read the following Callum Tennent article on https://www.top10vpn.com/ at the link https://www.top10vpn.com/guides/5-eyes-9-eyes-14-eyes/
especially the paragraph 'What is a VPN jurisdiction?'
"A VPN provider’s ‘jurisdiction’ is the country in which it is based or incorporated. This country’s legal system will affect the data retention laws and privacy regulations the VPN company is subject to."
and...
"Jurisdiction is a key consideration when selecting a trustworthy VPN provider."
....
"Countries often referred to as privacy havens include:
• British Virgin Islands
• Panama
• Seychelles
• Cayman Islands
• Malaysia "

"Which VPNs Have a Good Jurisdiction ?"
VPN Provider Jurisdiction
---------------------------------------------------
ExpressVPN ✓ British Virgin Islands
NordVPN ✓ Panama
Hide.me ✓ Malaysia
Astrill ✓ Seychelles
Surfshark ✓ British Virgin Islands
FastestVPN ✓ Cayman Islands
Trust.Zone ✓ Seychelles

so I recommend you:
1. ExpressVPN https://www.expressvpn.com/privacy-policy
2. NordVPN https://nordvpn.com/it/privacy-policy/

some friends use ExpressVPN and are very satisfied.

Other resource:
-> Best VPN (.org) https://bestvpn.org

For the record, I also point out this public post on GitHub of Sven Slootweg https://gist.github.com/joepie91/5a9909939e6ce7d09e29 in which it defines the vpn(s):
" It is 100% snake-oil."

Regards

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#10 Post by Midas » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:22 am

This looked to me as a fair resource on the subject of paid VPN services: https://restoreprivacy.com/best-vpn/.

Regarding the free offers, I found the following article noteworthy: https://www.vpnmentor.com/blog/best-vpn ... ver-heard/.

As a side note, Iceland isn't one of the jurisdictions mentioned by rbon above but I would like to see it discussed a little more, since it has been known to have a strongly privacy minded legal framework while still remaining a part of the so-called Western sphere.

I really don't put much stock on the legal guarantees afforded by minuscule micro-states with shady reputations that can easily be strong-armed by the world heavyweights if need be. They all look like convenient honeypots to my uneducated gaze.

EDIT: one further resource, a country by country overview of the legality of VPN use -- happy to find my country on the green there...

https://www.comparitech.com/vpn/where-a ... al-banned/

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#11 Post by SYSTEM » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:43 am

Some lesser-known VPN providers got caught for logging user activity: https://www.theregister.com/2020/07/17/ ... _database/

All VPN providers in question are based on Hong Kong. Their names are UFO VPN, FAST VPN, Free VPN, Super VPN, Flash VPN, Secure VPN, and Rabbit VPN.
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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#12 Post by webfork » Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:11 pm

rbon wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:09 am
I also point out this public post on GitHub of Sven Slootweg https://gist.github.com/joepie91/5a9909939e6ce7d09e29 in which it defines the vpn(s): " It is 100% snake-oil."
There's a fairly big straw man argument at the center of Sven's post suggesting that VPNs guarantee anonymity and security, which of course is not true. I do appreciate that he lists out a variety of available attacks on VPN privacy, which are very helpful. However, the author posted this ahead of the loosening of a lot of US govt regulations on ISPs selling userdata, despite the fact that ISPs are basically utilities at this point. ISPs selling user data attached to their already copious amount of information about you is a serious issue that could follow you around for the rest of your life. This is my primary goal.

Also, like many things in security, a VPN is a positive step in a chain of better security/privacy actions. It's telling for example that some countries have banned VPNs. They don't make surveillance impossible, they make it harder.
Midas wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:22 am
I really don't put much stock on the legal guarantees afforded by minuscule micro-states with shady reputations that can easily be strong-armed by the world heavyweights if need be. They all look like convenient honeypots to my uneducated gaze.
Also a good point. It does make SYSTEM's note (quoted below) about the problematic providers being all based in Hong Kong into sharper focus.
SYSTEM wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:43 am
Some lesser-known VPN providers got caught for logging user activity: https://www.theregister.com/2020/07/17/ ... _database/
Honestly if I had fewer morals and cash to burn, setting up a bad but cheap VPN service and just selling the data is probably a good plan. As I think the Github post above suggests, it's not difficult to run some servers and resell bandwidth.

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#13 Post by thepiney » Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:35 pm

With the privacy laws in the U.S. under fire such as the new bill in regard to encrypted devices requiring back doors for law enforcement would it make sense to look for a VPN out of Europe? I recall a few users on this site and others mentioning that the EU has better privacy laws regarding their citizens.

I just did a quick search for NordVPN since it's the one I see advertised the most and came up with this note on wikipedia --> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NordVPN
NordVPN is based in Panama, as the country has no mandatory data retention laws and does not participate in the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes alliances.
The main site mentions a "No Logs Policy" --> https://nordvpn.com

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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#14 Post by SYSTEM » Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:19 am

thepiney wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:35 pm
I just did a quick search for NordVPN since it's the one I see advertised the most and came up with this note on wikipedia --> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NordVPN
NordVPN is based in Panama, as the country has no mandatory data retention laws and does not participate in the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes alliances.
The main site mentions a "No Logs Policy" --> https://nordvpn.com
Yeah, and with a provider that big I'm willing to trust their promise. Smaller providers are less trustworthy IMO. For one thing, they'd have less to lose if they were to get caught for logging. That's why I chose NordVPN when I was looking for a VPN few years ago.
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Re: VPN experiences so far (seeking recommendations)

#15 Post by rfithen » Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:34 pm

Mozilla just released a VPN... fwiw...
https://vpn.mozilla.org/

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