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Is a VPN REALLY worth it?

vpn
#1

I mean, there are all kinds of endorsements for PIA, Nord, and TunnelBear all over YouTube, but for basic everyday use does it really even matter?

I know some people need them to get around geographical restrictions, and I know they’re handy to have when traveling or if you access public WiFi, but I almost feel like the only practical use for like at-home for me is basically just making it so my ISP can’t see what I’m looking at. I don’t hardly stay at hotels any more. And I haven’t had any issues with geographical restrictions in a long time.

The main thing that I find interesting is certain sites that just flat-out won’t load while you’re using a VPN. It’s rare, but it makes me feel like I probably shouldn’t be going to those sites because they’re trying to do something sketchy and won’t let me access them if I try to block them from doing something sketchy. Maybe that’s just being paranoid though.

I dunno. I guess I’ve just been thinking about it a lot because I bought the 3-year Nord subscription and it works great, is simple to set up and manage, speed loss isn’t a problem (I’m only losing a couple mbps) and has some cool features like the killswitch and CyberSec and whatnot. But I’ve also been thinking like… that $107 would be nice to have back and I still have a few days left to decide.

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#2

In my opinion:
Gaming - No
Torrenting - Yes
Doing work - Yes (Use a work VPN)
Geolocked content - Yes, when it works.

Let your paranoia and your wallet be your guide. People are tracking you everywhere and its a crapshoot on whether you really get anonymous surfing. You are still going through a private provider for access whether its your ISP or your VPN service. We just hope that the VPNs we use treat our data like they say we do.

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#3

Would this include seeding for Linux distros and stuff like that too? Or is it more to hide from ISP’s? Not implying that anyone is torrenting illegally. I like to seed distros sometimes.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to access the network at work while using a VPN. We have that locked down pretty tight because students were using it to get around the filter.

What do you mean by specifically a work VPN?

Ya, that bugs me too. There are very few that I know of that have been verified through real-world tests. PIA is the only one actually as far as I know. Nord went through a third-party audit, but who really knows. And also who’s to say it’s not all coordinated so people just think they’re safe. But if it’s at that point, we’re all screwed anyways.

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#4

Torrenters use vpns to hide illegal torrenting.

If you are accessing work resources, i.e. working from home then use a work provided vpn.

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#5

The best solution around this is a Vultr or DO droplet and make your own VPN but only for the case quoted

As for being more anonymous and what not then the standard VPNs commercially available are better

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#6

Most of those YouTube ads completely oversell the usefulness of a VPN. They will keep you (pretty) safe on a public network, they’re useful for stuff like torrenting where hiding your IP is important,and they’re useful for preventing your ISP from seeing/modifying your traffic if that’s a concern. Other than that they don’t do much. A VPN will not make you anonymous online, it will only obfuscate your IP address, most online tracking is done by cookies and various online accounts and profiles and IP is meaningless for that.

I use a VPN all the time because in Australia the government requires ISPs to collect and store metadata and the government can access this without a warrant. So I say no thanks to that. But if you have no concerns about your ISP or the network that you’re using then it’s probably not worth using a VPN.

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#7

That’s what I was thinking pretty much.

For my purposes, the only thing it’s really useful for is blocking my ISP from seeing what I’m doing, but there are other ways of being tracked as well so the VPN doesn’t really solve the tracking issue. So is it really worth paying for? I mean, if I’m really trying to be sneaky I could just run TAILS off a USB.

I only torrent Linux distros. That’s literally it, so there’s no real need to hide that with a VPN.

The only practical use I have is for public WiFi. But at the same time, it’s exceedingly rare these days. The only time I’m in a position where I’m tempted to use public WiFi is at the dealership while my car is getting worked on, but it’s so slow (like literally less than 2 mbps) I’d rather use my phone as a hotspot. And in most cases when I’m travelling, my cell service is also faster than hotel WiFi so I’d rather use my hotspot anyways. I usually get around 50-80+ mbps in places like LA and San Jose, so why would I want to screw with the 10 mbps hotel WiFi? I wouldn’t use my hotspot for huge downloads or anything (they do throttle after like 15 gigs or something), but it’s fine for YouTube, working on homework, etc.

I have Google Fi, so pretty much the only time I’m on public WiFi is if it meets the safety requirements that Google sets and it automatically connects and is routed through a Google VPN. I know… Google :face_vomiting:… privacy is basically non-existent (but I’m already running Android, so…). But in terms of security I feel a bit more confident there.

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#8

It really depends on what you expect out of a VPN.
For Privacy in public spaces for “general use”, DOH and HTTPS are good enough. Firefox supports DNS over HTTPS out of the box and it just needs to be enabled. With that, most of your actual traffic is encrypted and can’t be easily read.
This doesn’t change the fact, that someone could track the IP’s you’re connecting to. This might be a problem or not, depending on your requirements.

A VPN is mostly useful if you want to hide who you are or/and where you are. Country Blocking, as stated, is a usecase. If you are a journalist and communicate with sources over risky information, you should use one too. But as you stated, for general use, the build in tracking into websites is the much bigger Problem here.
https://www.privacytools.io/ has a rather great resource on how to configure your Browser to mitigate some of that. Keep in mind though, that you’re always trading privacy for convenience. So no persisten Login, every captcha will ask you to click on images and some sites refuse to work all together (maps is particularly bad).

I feel safe enough with DOH and HTTPS.

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#9

One of the problems TOR has is that people just use it for illegal stuff.
I am hoping govs/TLA’s don’t see VPN’s the same way…

I use a VPN day to day, so that if I needed to do something sensitive down the line, it wouldn’t look out of place among my usual traffic.

(I live in the UK, and Pron blocking is going on at ISP level already, before the law comes into effect)

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#10

Very disappointing, but these have blocked some sites which only load with the VPN on, which is complete opposite to your experience

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#11

Get a VPS some where like Ukraine or Switzerland, and then you can have your own VPN, email, file server and website. It’s a bit more expensive then just having a vpn but if you have hosting and “cloud storage” it’s a lot cheaper and a lot more private, customiseable and flexible.

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#12

(I live in the UK, and Pron blocking is going on at ISP level already, before the law comes into effect)

You can tell your ISP to let it through, or you can try using an alternative DNS. Vodafone’s ISP blocking at the moment is just DNS black holes, nothing clever. I expect other ISP’s do similar.

I use PIA on my laptop for hotel and public WiFi, unfortunately Netflix etc block PIAs IPs :unamused:

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#13

I only use ProtonVPN Free Version and only with mit smartphone when i am connected foreign wifis and hotspots.

Other then that i dont use it.

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#14

As someone who doesn’t live in the US, yes. I don’t browse the internet without a VPN.
Merely reading the wrong thing can land you in prison elsewhere in the world, or at the very least uncomfortably hot water, so spreading jurisdiction helps.

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#15

A VPN, as in, a VPN service provider (I’ll call it VSP for short) is not really worth it, unless you want to get around geographical restrictions. This is still a problem, like, if you want to watch US Netflix-only shows from Europe, or in Middle East if your government is blocking Whatsapp and Youtube. Outside very, very few use cases, it’s not worth paying a VSP.

You will be just passing the magnifying glass from your ISP to your VSP. You might trust that some VSPs don’t keep users’ logs, but I don’t. Some even proved they don’t, but if you know a little about the 5-eyes and the 14-eyes, then no VSP can offer privacy. One of those countries will force VSPs to log data or close their business. There have been businesses closing their services to protect customers’ privacy (LavaBit and Silent Circle email providers), but I personally wouldn’t take the risk. VPNs aren’t magical privacy tools - and websites don’t need your IP to find out who you are, they are using JavaScript on their webpages to fingerprint you.

As for VPNs in general, VPNs, for what they were meant to do, are absolute godsent ! I’m VPN-ing to my home, remote on my PC, download and upload files on my HDD and more. You can also use a VPN to play games on a LAN with your friends from different places. VPNs were supposed to create a private network on top of the internet. They are great for their intended purpose.

Just get your money back.

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#16

That’s really good point though.

Doing it all the time. Not really looking for new shows that way (since you would have to do research…). But 100% of all non-netflix-original animes are only available in german and japanese where I live. I dont understand japanese and I refuse to understand the sometimes unbelievably garbage german dubs. If its not a really popular anime you can almost certainly say its gonna be bad. Ive seen (or rather heard) animes where the same actor was used for 3 different characters. That’s how cheaply made some of these dubs are! English dubs are usually far better.

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#17

Last I checked though netflix doesnt allow do more than browse the other countrys catalog, could have changed, no idea :man_shrugging:t2:

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#18

I can still browse to porn websites even without VPN. Is the block not in effect yet? Or Does it apply only to the big 5 ISPs?

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#19

The big UK ISP’s let you select a level of filtering when you first setup, you can the request it to be changed later. I am not sure if smaller ones bother.

The new proposed porn block and age verification is yet to go live and as far as I knowhas been put on hold or at least delayed. I think people who know more than the Muppets who proposed it are pointing out how expensive, and yet unenforceable it will be. Need to check…

EDIT:

@UK forum users:


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#20

Wasn’t even aware of that never had it not work and if it didn’t work changing server made it work.

https://www.cloudwards.net/how-to-beat-the-netflix-vpn-ban/

Turns out nordvpn is on the list of vpns that beat the netflix ban. :slight_smile:
And it has nothing to do with their special sauce windows app. It works with openvpn on Linux too.

Got some pretty cheap 3 year deal at some point. Like 1$ a months or something. Maybe it was 2$ I honestly don’t know anymore. But it was a very forgettable amount of money for a 3 year service of anything. Considering that I am surprised it still works. :sweat_smile:

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