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Archive for the ‘VPNs’ Category

VPNs: the Good, the Bad, and the Tracking

Posted by Writing PIs on January 4, 2019

We recently hit a glitch with our VPN (Virtual Private Network) and have been looking for a new one. In our research, we discovered some interesting things, such as VPNs that falsely advertise a “no-logging” policy when in fact they do capture (log) some of the users’ personal information, such as IP addresses, websites visited, payment data, and more.

Before we jump into the good, the bad, and the tracking issues, let’s first define a VPN and why it’s wise to use one. Well, a good one.

What’s a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is a network within a larger computer network. Key is the word “private.” A user first logs into the VPN, the private network, which then logs into the larger public network. That first private VPN login is meant to protect the user’s personal data.

Typically, VPNs can be accessed (logged into) both within and outside an immediate geographical area. For example, at our agency we can log into our current VPN from the city where our office is located, as well as from other cities when we’re travelling.

How Does a VPN Protect a User?

In a nutshell, VPNs provide an additional layer of encryption protection to the IP (Internet Protocol) communications protocol. Additionally, VPNs “spoof” users’ IP addresses so their actual IP addresses remain private.

About that word private

No-Logging Promises Broken in the Fine Print

Some VPNs promise a “no-logging” policy, but buried—sometimes deeply buried—in their small print are the users’ data they do log. The below diagram, via TheBestVpn, shows the results of their March 2018 research on 118 VPNs and their logging policies.

Read more about VPNs that maintain logs on users in this article by TheBestVpn:26 VPN Providers That Keep 3 or More Alarming Log Files (scroll a short way down page for article).

Whatever features you’re looking for in a VPN, from secure access to speed, a strict no-logging policy should be your top priority.

So What’s the Best VPN?

I’ve been reading different “the best VPN” articles on the internet, which don’t always agree. Or some fail to mention a significant negative point about a VPN. I will say, however, that NordVPN gets consistently high rankings from the articles I’ve read. Also, TheBestVPN ranks ExpressVPN as their #1 choice.

I wasn’t happy with customer support for my current VPN, Private Tunnel, but it gets kudos from different review sites, with one key bonus: they are the lead developers of OpenVPN, the VPN protocol used by today’s top companies. Then I read this about Private Tunnel: “They will also turn over aggregate information to ‘other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.’ Those parties won’t be able to get their hands on your individual usage or anything like that. But they might still spam the crap out of you.”

PrivateVPN, based in Sweden, got high marks from a VPNPro article for its strict no-logging policy and for its “impressive customer service.” Unfortunately, another review (TheBestVPN) ran tests that showed PrivateVPN collects users’ IP addresses and cookies, and that based on an in-depth reading of their policy, TheBestVPN surmises that they might sell user data to third parties.

I could go on and on about different VPNs, but for right now I’m leaning toward ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Best to Worst VPN Comparison Chart

From my readings, TheBestVPN offers the most comprehensive analyses of a wide array of VPNs, including this handy worst-to-best comparison chart with categories such as Leaks Found, Speed, Logging Policy, and more: Comparison Chart.

Related Articles

The Best VPN Services (TheBestVPN – the article link goes to their main home page)

The Best VPN Services for 2019 (CNET)

The 5 Best (Verified) No-Log VPNs – Safest and Cheapest in 2019 (VPNMentor)

10 Best No Logs VPN Providers: Stay as Private as Possible (VPNPro)


Have a great weekend, WritingPIs

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