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Who Uses a VPN
Old 08-13-2019, 04:13 PM   #1
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Who Uses a VPN

I don't recall seeing this topic discussed. I bought a year's worth of Norton's VPN yesterday for $39 less a $6 Ebates rebate. It covers 5 devices including phones, iPads and of course PC's or Macs. We have 5 devices. It will supposedly keep our searches private, something I thought worthwhile. I've noticed today though that browser searches on my PC take longer to load. I notice a term on the bottom left of my PC screen stating "resolving host". Do any techies on our board have any opinions on VPN plusses and minuses?
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:23 PM   #2
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I don't recall seeing this topic discussed. I bought a year's worth of Norton's VPN yesterday for $39 less a $6 Ebates rebate. It covers 5 devices including phones, iPads and of course PC's or Macs. We have 5 devices. It will supposedly keep our searches private, something I thought worthwhile. I've noticed today though that browser searches on my PC take longer to load. I notice a term on the bottom left of my PC screen stating "resolving host". Do any techies on our board have any opinions on VPN plusses and minuses?
As far as a VPN goes, there are a few important questions above and beyond performance (though that is, of course, important).

* Where is the service located? Now maybe you don't intend to break any laws, but some nations require any VPNs operating in their nation to keep logs AND turn them over on request. On the internet, you are always one accidental click away from looking like a potential criminal, so it's best if your VPN won't turn anything over to authorities, especially without a warrant.

* Does the service even keep logs? The one I am using now has a tested and proven policy of keeping NO logs. Those of you who know Unix, this is basically like redirecting ALL log output to /dev/null.

There are other factors -- ease of use (could be more important for non-techies), encryption (though most of the entrants today use high grade encryption) and a few other things.

The ones that usually seem to show up at the top of a lot of lists are (in no particular order) ExpressVPN and NordVPN. There are several other good ones, too. (I am not using either of these but might switch when my current 3-year subscription is over). These two VPNs can be more expensive than some others month-to-month, but they offer frequent promotions for as little as $2.99 a month for a one-year commitment.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:24 PM   #3
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I've got a Subscription with CyberGhost for about 3 years... I don't use it much as it is too slow.... even with Gigabit Internet speed.. Probably at the 'other' end.... I only use it when a website demands that I be a U.S. customer (This is when I'm traveling).... Or some foreign country when I am stateside.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:25 PM   #4
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As long as you set up your home network correctly and securely, I would not see the need for a VPN except if you want to take advantage of free wifi, say at a hotel or Starbucks. That's the only place I use it, except when I need the work VPN to access work sites.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:46 PM   #5
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VPN marketing seems like snake oil to me. The idea of "keeping searches private" just isn't true. These days all major websites, including Google and Bing, use HTTPS. That protects the Internet traffic between your browser and those websites, whether you have a VPN or not.

The only thing a VPN is good for is to provide access to websites that you wouldn't otherwise have access to because you're in the wrong part of the world, or behind some firewall. Examples: Europeans use VPNs to get access to Pandora/Netflix, which have larger libraries available in the US. Chinese use them to get around their firewall. Use a VPN to get access to your employer's internal websites when you're not at work. Etc.

But of course you can't base your marketing around that.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:51 PM   #6
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I use a NordVPN when away from home on someone else's WiFi network.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:51 PM   #7
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VPN marketing seems like snake oil to me. The idea of "keeping searches private" just isn't true. These days all major websites, including Google and Bing, use HTTPS. That protects the Internet traffic between your browser and those websites, whether you have a VPN or not.

The only thing a VPN is good for is to provide access to websites that you wouldn't otherwise have access to because you're in the wrong part of the world, or behind some firewall. Examples: Europeans use VPNs to get access to Pandora/Netflix, which have larger libraries available in the US. Chinese use them to get around their firewall. Use a VPN to get access to your employer's internal websites when you're not at work. Etc.

But of course you can't base your marketing around that.

The marketing is venal, but HTTPS is more vulnerable than a VPN, and shouldn't be relied on for security from honeypot APs, or for important information like banking websites.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:59 PM   #8
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I have been using one for almost a year. I am not really sure if it provides any extra security but, like chicken soup for a cold: It couldn't hurt
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:03 PM   #9
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Over the years, have used VPN services and settled on one free one, as I don't use except when Snowbirding or traveling (especially when I'm using an open/unsecured wifi - which I try to avoid). I've also use tethering to our phone (with VPN) and that has worked well in the past.

VPNs I've used over the years interfered with our email retrieval software programs (didn't work). Also all slowed down browser pages. Never streamed anything while using VPN service, but tried to access foreign streaming services outside the U.S. with it and it failed.

I try to minimize any financial access with banks and investments when not at home on our secured wifi (secondary feedback kept at Morningstar), but Snowbirding necessitates access for required info for estimating taxes and retrieving quarterly statements. I always got into security issues with banks and financial services (don't recognize you when using VPN services, and have to go through the whole jump through the security hoops scenario).

Make sure you always verify you are actually connected to your VPN service with an IP address checker - https://whatismyipaddress.com/ Found that some VPN services are not all that they claim (and address did not change).....
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:10 PM   #10
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I use a NordVPN when away from home on someone else's WiFi network.
+1

We've used Nord for the past 3 years. And as extensive overseas travelers, have found it invaluable when we find ourselves on public WiFi along with providing us a U.S. IP address for streaming video content.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:16 PM   #11
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Thanks for the responses. I also wonder if the VPN will help when we snowbird in Mexico. I've noticed through the years that we can't access certain sites because it is recognized that our laptop is out of the country. So would we pick the US as the country we are in (on the VPN) when we are browsing certain sites while in Mexico? Also when we are in the US should we have the VPN set to the US, or some other country?

PS. The Norton VPN site states that they are encrypted and keep no logs.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:19 PM   #12
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Thanks for the responses. I also wonder if the VPN will help when we snowbird in Mexico. I've noticed through the years that we can't access certain sites because it is recognized that our laptop is out of the country. So would we pick the US as the country we are in (on the VPN) when we are browsing certain sites while in Mexico? Also when we are in the US should we have the VPN set to the US, or some other country?

PS. The Norton VPN site states that they are encrypted and keep no logs.

Correct! -- that's what I mainly use it for.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:20 PM   #13
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Thanks for the responses. I also wonder if the VPN will help when we snowbird in Mexico. I've noticed through the years that we can't access certain sites because it is recognized that our laptop is out of the country. So would we pick the US as the country we are in (on the VPN) when we are browsing certain sites while in Mexico? Also when we are in the US should we have the VPN set to the US, or some other country?

PS. The Norton VPN site states that they are encrypted and keep no logs.
The one I use allows connection selection of country.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:27 PM   #14
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As far as a VPN goes, there are a few important questions above and beyond performance (though that is, of course, important).
* Where is the service located?
* Does the service even keep logs?
There are other factors.
Those are important considerations.

I use a few VPNs when outside my home:
Mullvad, based in Sweden operating with OpenVPN
NordVPN, based in Panama
Witopia
VPN Unlimited
(both of the latter with servers all over)
because I can't rely on any one of them in all locations.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:32 PM   #15
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I have PIA (not the acronym you’re thinking, it’s Private Internet Access) through early 2020. It works well and has a lot of choice but I rarely use it so I may or may not renew. I like having it as an option and it’s prepaid so I leave it available to flip on.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:31 PM   #16
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Opera web browser - includes free/unlimited built-in VPN functionality. Simply go into settings and turn it on.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:25 PM   #17
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When away from home I use a personal VPN based in my home router (Netgear R7000). For most purposes it appears to visited websites that I'm on my home network. It provides substantial protection against coffee shop or hotel eavesdroppers.

The set up is a bit technical and a dynamic DNS account is needed (but available free) if you don't have a fixed IP address. A commercial VPN is much easier to use but does come at a price.

I don't use a VPN from home. Nothing I do requires anonymity. Nobody is likely to sit outside my house to eavesdrop and the neighbors are clearly not up to the task.

The Netgear home VPN does have a curious limitation. I can't use remote desktop from an iOS device to a home computer while the VPN is active. If I recall correctly that's a limitation related to how Apple implements the VPN. I could remote to home with a commercial VPN but I don't think it's worth the trouble.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:09 AM   #18
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I have been using the VPN in the Opera browser for the last year or so when traveling outside the US. Recently when logging into netflix, I got a message that said something like "We see you are using a VPN to log in. We are limiting what you can see as a result".

I've never seen a message like this before, and am wondering if/how to use the VPN to avoid this type of issue.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:58 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Golden sunsets View Post
I don't recall seeing this topic discussed. I bought a year's worth of Norton's VPN yesterday for $39 less a $6 Ebates rebate. It covers 5 devices including phones, iPads and of course PC's or Macs. We have 5 devices. It will supposedly keep our searches private, something I thought worthwhile. I've noticed today though that browser searches on my PC take longer to load. I notice a term on the bottom left of my PC screen stating "resolving host". Do any techies on our board have any opinions on VPN plusses and minuses?
Security will slow you down.
I use Cisco Connect when working remote with my work machine.
On personal system, I use Opera browser with built-in VPN. There can be some issues, but I haven't seen resolving host problem. Maybe change your DNS?
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:08 AM   #20
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I use a VPN and have it installed on my laptop, iPhone and iPad. I use it when travelling on public Wifi. I also use it while out of country. Some providers are aware of the various VPN servers and either block or adjust access accordingly. I had noticed that while travelling abroad that the Vanguard app on my phone would not work with a fingerprint and insisted on a password login. After a lot of time with Vanguard team I spoke to their software team who said it was a Vanguard policy not to only allow password access when used out of country. The VPN app tunnelling to the USA does not fool their access software.
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