VPN: Why you should hide your IP address
I'm a frequent VPN user. I'm out almost daily - when I'm not traveling - because I get tired of working in my home office after a few hours. Paradoxically, some distraction makes it easier to concentrate.
I've tried several paid VPN services - Tunnel Bear, Private Internet Access, and, now VyprVPN - two of which I reviewed a couple of years ago. I don't see how "free" or low-cost VPN services are a viable business model, so I've ignored them.
VyprVPN is provided by Golden Frog GmbH, a Swiss company. The company was founded
. . . in response to surveillance being conducted by the US government. Instead of waiting around for the government to protect Internet users, we founded Golden Frog to build tools that help preserve an open and secure Internet experience while respecting user privacy.
Golden Frog is also an advocate for a free and open internet, and they've recently published a new policy page to share their views on internet security, privacy, and censorship, among other issues.
So their hearts and minds are in the right place.
They support Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more. You can even get a version that supports certain routers, which protects all of your devices that use that router. I've used VyprVPN largely on macOS, and sometimes on iOS.
Besides the security aspects of VPN, VyprVPN also claims to offer high performance. My experience bears out that claim: even in crowded coffee shops - where the local Wi-Fi is likely to be the bottleneck - I usually get several MB/sec of bandwidth. At home, where I have 10MB/sec cable service, I usually see 6-8 MB/sec. When I'm not using VyprVPN I often get close to 10MB/sec.
Perfect? No, but darn good, and almost never a real inconvenience.
Any VPN service adds another layer of complication to your online experience, and VyprVPN is no exception. However they do a better than average job of handling normal conditions.
Their "internet kill switch", when activated, keeps your applications from communicating until the VPN link is established. When logging into a known hotspot the app automatically seeks to set up a VPN connection, which may take up to a minute.
It's more complicated when the establishment requires your agreement to terms and conditions - as Starbucks does - since the kill switch stops communication with the local router. Then you have to quit VyprVPN, agree to the T&Cs, wait for the connection, and then restart the VPN.
I often take days or weeks before rebooting my MacBook, and sometimes I have to force quit VyprVPN since it seems to get stuck sometimes. Not much of an issue for me, but easily frustrated people with no idea how these things work might feel differently until they learn the ropes.
. . . the user's source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used.
So they don't track where you go on the web. They use the data for
. . . use with billing issues, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and for handling crimes performed over the service.
Most importantly, they don't:
The Storage Bits take
Early on I worked in non-commercial radio, which gave me a nuanced appreciation for the pros and cons of advertising-based media. Today, much of the internet is ad supported, but I've found that, for example, not using Google search saves me a lot of time.
But that is today's world. We don't know what deep neural nets and AI will be able to suss out about us from our browsing habits, but I'm confident it will be way more than we'd voluntarily give to businesses or governments.
I also believe a quality VPN service costs money: servers; bandwidth; software; and, support. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the "free" VPNs are run by hackers to gather passwords and accounts from thrifty and unwary users.
It's a jungle out there. If you do significant work on the web, you should think seriously about buying a VPN service.
Courteous comments welcome, of course. I bought VyprVPN with my own money.