VPN Providers Compared

Several people here have asked about VPN providers over time, so maybe it’s about time to talk about it. Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to use a VPN provider with Tor for extra privacy. That’s one of the persistent myths about it.

While it’s difficult to try each and every VPN provider, as many charge a subscription fee, VPN Ranks has an excellent chart that compares most of the major ones, such as NordVPN, PureVPN, and TorGuard: VPN Comparison Chart. As you can see, some others included are Surfshark, Mullvad, and Private Internet Access.

The chart outlines many of the aspects that people are concerned about with VPN services, such as jurisdiction, traffic logging, and IP leaks. In addition to what’s visible on the above screenshot, the original chart includes the number of countries in which the services are available, speed, encryption, Netflix support, torrenting support, killswitch, number of simultaneous connections, whether or not they accept bitcoin as payment, whether or not they have a free trial option, money back guarantee, and their score from Trustpilot (customer reviews).

For those who don’t know, the Five/Nine/Fourteen Eyes countries are intelligence alliances that share information with one another. The Five Eyes countries are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The others are the originals plus other countries that participate: Wikipedia: Five Eyes – Other international cooperatives.

Besides the facts outlined in the article above, some of people’s choices, as with Linux distros or phones, have to do with personal experience.

Mullvad VPN

Touted by many privacy enthusiasts, Mullvad VPN doesn’t log IP addresses, traffic, or DNS requests. While not free, they have reasonable pricing plans of €5 per month for one month, one year, or one decade. One Reddit user, however, complained that they stopped accepting bitcoin cash as a form of payment (though they still accept the standard bitcoin).

In addition, Mullvad has OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge servers in countries such as Albania, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the Czech Republic. The location and ownership of such servers is important because it can mean the difference between anonymity or being compromised. In the case of Tor, there are sometimes rogue exit nodes that are used against people and websites in attacks.

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a strong VPN service that you can use on up to 10 devices, though it is not free and its privacy policy is somewhat unclear.

You can go to their website and read it for yourself if you like: PIA privacy policy. Still, according to Torrentfreak.com, their no-logging policies have held up in court, which is encouraging and is one of the true tests of a service that advertises privacy and anonymity.

Riseup VPN, which is just one feature that Riseup.net offers, is a free VPN service (though based in the USA, which for some might be an automatic disqualification). Because it’s free to use, the service will occasionally ask for donations, though.

Among its benefits are:

  • No logging of IPs
  • DNS services
  • OpenVPN support
  • Free trial
  • Cryptocurrencies accepted as payment

In addition the VPN service, Riseup also has an email service, text editor, and XMPP chat. However, the service is invite-only, so an existing user has to invite new users. Part of the reason for this is to weed out law enforcement and other malicious parties from infiltrating the service.

NordVPN

If you watch YouTube at all, you may have seen a number of ads for NordVPN, as they sometimes sponsor YouTube creators. That aside, some of its features include:

  • No logging of IPs
  • No logging of traffic
  • No logging of timestamps
  • Fast connections
  • Not part of the Five/Nine/Fourteen Eyes
  • 5000+ servers

Like Mullvad, it requires a paid subscription, which is offered as a one-month, one-year, or two-year plan. The one year and two year plans, though the monthly amounts are cheaper, are billed all at one time.

You may be aware that NordVPN was hacked in 2019, although according to the company’s official statement, no one’s data was compromised, which is encouraging.

These are only a few of the major VPN providers, though you can check out the chart linked above and see a general comparison of most of them. As mentioned, there is a lot of crossover between these types of products, and it may eventually come down to personal preference (speed, access to services, price, etc.)

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secretsofthedark

Have you heard of the dark web? Simply put, it's the "hidden internet" built on networks like Tor. "Secrets of the Dark" chronicles my dark web experiences, but is also aimed at demythologizing it and teaching about it. Want to reproduce one of the "horror stories"? Contact me at ciphas@protonmail.com.

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