Sunday, February 20, 2011

VPN - Virtual Private Networks

Alright so, I figured I'd talk about something that could be useful for everyone; Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, what exactly are they? How can they benefit you? Why you should use one, and more importantly, how much do they cost?

Well, for a while now I've been using a VPN, and I've tried out a few different ones. But first, what are they?
To put it in layman's terms, a VPN is essentially a proxy, but uses an encryption, and unlike a normal proxy, it tunnels ALL of your connections through the 'proxy' (vpn).

How does it work? It will depend on the service, but some VPN providers offer pptp or openvpn. Personally I prefer openvpn, but you can use pptp with your router (provided that your router supports it).
First, you will login to your VPN using the username/password that you were given, and usually some sort of logon address (which might be something like for example). From there you connect to it. What happens now? Well, once you are connected, the first thing you might want to do, is check out something like . If you are successfully connected, it should change your ip.

Okay, so, why use one? There are various reasons. One might be to bypass firewall restrictions in a place like a college/school, or maybe you are worried about having your passwords sniffed over a public wifi connection. With a VPN you needn't worry about having your data sniffed since it's usually encrypted with something like SSL. Another reason some people might use a VPN is to view sites in a specific country. For example, maybe some site that has videos, only allows people who have an American ip address to view them. So, someone from say, Germany, could get an American VPN, and connect to it , and presto! They will be able to watch whatever it was they wanted to watch.

The core differences between proxies and VPNs, are that a VPN company usually has a different ip each time you connect. They are typically more secure than a proxy. And probably one of the biggest things that sets VPNs and proxies apart; they're actually very fast.

I've only bought from about 2 providers, but I know of a few others, and I'll list them below.
This is the one I am currently using. So far I've had no problems. They offer a firewall option for an extra $2 or so. I bought mine with the firewall option which cost me 8CHF ($8.60 canadian dollars) , though I think next month I'm getting it without the firewall option. I can't really say I've used it, so it's sort of a waste of money for the firewall option. On the offhand, they allow inbound connections with swissvpn, which is kinda cool. If my memory serves me correctly, they keep logs for about 6 months. Also, they are based in Switzerland, and they offer pptp and openvpn in the same package.
I used anonine for about two months. I bought one month, which came one month free. It cost me 50SEK ($7.50 USD). The first month was good, and was working nicely, but towards the end of the second month, the service seemed to be down a lot for me (which is why I switched to Swissvpn). These guys are based in Sweden. They offer pptp or openvpn seperately.
I haven't used ipredator yet (I'm considering trying them out though), but I've heard from quite a few people, that they're really good. They're based in sweden, and from what I've heard, they're supposedly run by the same guys at thepiratebay. Right now I think they only offer pptp, and openvpn is in beta. Also, I think you have to pay on a 3 month term.

Theres a few free ones floating around, but I haven't really used them. I think a lot of the free ones are firewalled quite a bit anyway, and disallow stuff like irc. But hey, you get what you pay for!

Anyway, in closing, I would recommend either Ipredator or Swissvpn.

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