Proxies vs. VPN – What’s the difference?

8 Mar 2013 |

The purpose of using both VPN and proxy servers is to conceal the users identity, or to spoof a certain geo-location (so for example geo-locked services such as many TV streaming websites may be watched outside their country of origin). Many VPN Providers, in addition to offering VPN also provide some kind of proxy service, and there are also many public proxy servers which can be used for free.

So the question for many people is ‘what is the difference between a proxy and VPN?’, and perhaps even more importantly, ‘do I need to use VPN or will a cheaper / free proxy suit my needs?’.

Although performing a similar function, the actual processes involved are very different, and therefore have very different consequences.

The subject is further complicated by the fact that there are a number of different types of proxy services available.

Proxy Servers

A proxy (technically an open proxy) server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the internet. Any traffic routed through a proxy server will appear to come from its IP address, not your computers. Unlike VPN servers, proxy servers do not have to devote resources to encrypting all traffic that passes through them, and therefore can accept simultaneous connections from a great many more users (typically tens of thousands)

Proxy usually servers communicate with the internet using one of 2 different protocols; HTTP or SOCKS.

HTTP Proxy Servers

The HTTP protocol is designed to interpret traffic at the HTTP level, which means that it can only handle traffic that starts with http:// or shttp://, i.e. web pages*. It is therefore only good for web surfing, but because all it is doing is handling HTTP request, it is faster than either Socks proxies or VPN servers.

Pros

  • Cheap (and often free)
  • Will hide your IP from basic checks, and is therefore ok for accessing some geo-restricted websites and for account creation

Cons

  • Only useful for accessing websites*
  • Clever use of Flash or JavaScript allows many websites to detect your true IP
  • HTTP traffic is not encrypted so government t surveillance systems and your ISP can see what you are doing. If connected through HTTPS (SSL) then traffic cannot be monitored but the IP of the SHTTP website can be logged. SSL encryption is roughly equivalent to 128-bit key length.
  • Each web browser must be configured individually to use the proxy server. However, the good news is that this is well supported by all browsers

SOCKS Proxy Servers

SOCKS servers do not interpret network traffic at all, which makes them much more flexible, but because they are usually handling more traffic, usually slower. The big advantage of the SOCKS protocol is that it supports any kind of internet traffic, such as POP3 and SMTP for emails, IRC chat, FTP for uploading files to websites, and torrent files. The latest iteration of the protocol is SOCKS5.

Pros

  • Can handle any kind of internet traffic (including torrents)

Cons

  • Slower than HTTP
  • Each piece of software (e.g BitTorrent client) must be configured individually
  • Same security issues as HTTP

If you only need to hide your identity for BitTorrent downloading then a SOCKS proxy with an SSL connection may be all you require.

Public Proxy Servers

Because proxy servers can accept so many connections, many public servers have sprung up which allow anyone to use them. Both HTTP and Socks servers are available (with HTTP being more common), lists of which can be found, together with the necessary IP address and Port number from such sites as freeproxylist.org and Hide My Ass.

Unfortunately, public proxy servers tend to be highly unstable, going on and off-line without notice and varying hugely in the speed they offer. In addition to this, you have to trust the owners of theses anonymous servers with often quite sensitive information, and there is no support available. On the hand … they’re free!

Private Proxy Servers

These proxy servers are of course not open to the public and are usually available for a fee. VPN.S for example offers both an HTTP and SOCKS5 service, while BTGuard and TorGuard offer SOCKS5 ‘torrent’ services.

These services tend to be much more reliable, are run by companies with good reputations, and provide comprehensive support. They also often provide customized software – for example BTGuard and TorGuard offer pre-configured BitTorrent clients.

Web Proxies

Web proxy services, such as those found at Hide My Ass and CyberGhost, connect to a public HTTP server and allow you to surf the web anonymously from within your browser window, without the need to download and install any extra software or configure your bowser settings.  They are also free. However, not only does using such a service usually expose you to a stream of adverts, but it usually falls down when encountering  anything complicated such as Flash content or Java scripts. In addition this, many of the better known web proxies IP addresses are widely known and blocked by some websites. While incredibly easy therefore, their practical use is somewhat limited.

*Through the use of the CONNECT method HTTP proxies can behave like SOCKS proxies, but only with SSL or https:// sites that support it.

VPN

Virtual Private Networks create an encrypted ‘tunnel’ between your computer and the host server, with the internet traffic going in and out of the host server. Your ISP or government can only see that you have connected to the VPN server and nothing else – your activities, IP addresses you have visited etc. are all completely hidden from them behind a minimum of 128-bit encryption.

However, the VPN server can see what you get up to on-line, which is why we feel it vital that a good VPN provider to keeps no logs. Anything less and its users’ activities may be compromised (thus making the precaution of using a VPN in the first place redundant!).

Although setting up VPN does usually involve downloading and installing a VPN client, or otherwise configuring your computer or mobile device, the computing skills needed are minimal, and most providers supply detailed step-by-step setup guides in any case. One good thing is that once set up, all your internet activity, no matter which program you use, is now safely routed through the VPN.

The only notable negatives to VPN are that it is comparatively pricey, and the encryption process taxes the servers so that when in heavy use internet access through them can slow down noticeably.

Pros

  • Internet activity cannot be spied on by ISPs or governments
  • High levels of encryption (128-bit to 2048-bit)
  • All internet activity masked (once VPN set up on device)

Cons

  • More expensive than proxies
  • Can be a bit slow during peak times
  • If VPN provider keeps logs then these may be obtained by the authorities

Conclusion

VPN is superior in almost every way to proxies. It provides vastly improved online anonymity, and protects your entire on-line life. In addition to this, because ISPs cannot monitor your online activity, it is an effective means of bypassing ISP throttling.

The only real reason for choosing a proxy service is over VPN is price, which we understand is a real factor for many. However, for typically less than $10 per month, VPN services do represent excellent value for money.

We will leave with just one word of caution: nothing in this world is ever absolutely 100% secure, so be careful out there!

Author Picture Written by Pete Zaborszky
Pete runs Best VPN and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+

49 Responses to “Proxies vs. VPN – What’s the difference?”

  1. terry louizos says:

    hi there pete.
    great ariticle.
    had a discussion with tiger direct employee today and he never heard of vpn.
    tryed telling me vpn and web proxies are probabley the same, web proxy is all you need.
    told him thats not the case, and your articale explains it great.
    will email him this article.
    thanks.
    ps…will be checking out best vpn.

  2. myamoto says:

    Nice article.

    Just wondering something though : you put cyberghost in “web proxy service” category.
    I’m using Cyber Ghost VPN in free mode, and I thought it was a real VPN ? not just http ?

    Another question : There’s an easy way to check if your ip is hidden for http trafic, going to websites like whatismyipaddress.com. Are there similar service to check if your ip is hidden for torrent trafic ?

    best regards.
    Myamoto

  3. myamoto says:

    found that in their FAQ here https://support.cyberghostvpn.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/231/55/what-to-expect-from-cyberghost-vpn :

    CyberGhost VPN allows the usage of all internet programs, regardless its purposes, and keeps your IP address reliable hidden while you surf, download or communicate. Only exception is the sending of emails to keep spammers out of the service.

    So reading at that, it means the only thing it does not hide is pop3/SMTP ?

  4. Douglas says:

    Just to clarify. CyberGhost does run a full VPN service (both free and paid-for). They also run a free web proxy service, which is what is being referred to here.

    Myamoto: I think this what you are looking for http://www.checkmytorrentip.com/ .

  5. jason says:

    I wanted to know more about private proxies or vpns so I can build artificial search from different
    ip locations. For example if I wanted to change google suggest I need to search from a specific ip locations in different cities around the world with different ips.

    which service would I use for this?

  6. steve says:

    if i wished to create 10 gmail accounts, would i have to use a combination of vpn + proxies? what would be the easiest/best way?

    • Douglas says:

      Hi Steve,

      All you would need is a VPN account. With VPN all your internet traffic is routed through the VPN, so it doens’t matter how gmail accounts you have.

  7. steve says:

    Douglas, thanks. Even if my VPN assigns me the same ip every time I log in? So I could keep logging into G & create multiple gmail accounts & G wouldn’t know they’re all from the same IP? Obviously, still not quite getting it.
    Thanks

    • Douglas says:

      Hi Steve. Well, unless I’m misunderstanding your question, there isn’t a problem as Gmail has no limit on the number of accounts you can have (I have a business one and a personal one, and occasionally create (insecure) disposable ones). In fact, you don’t even need a VPN! You can also set up a Gmail account so it will check your other Gmail (and email) accounts (Settings-> Accounts -> Check email from other accounts (using POP3):), and send mail using a different ‘Send as’ account. If you want to hide the fact that your Gmail accounts are all created from the same IP then use a VPN service that has a large number of IP addresses (http://www.bestvpn.com/blog/4962/vpn-with-most-ip-addresses/), and change server each time you create a new account (although I’m not sure why you would want to do this).

  8. VPN Accounts says:

    Yes I agree with your thoughts VPN is much better than proxies. VPN is better in all aspects, whether it is security, anonymity, or anything else.
    vpn accounts

  9. Fernando says:

    I really dont know much about IT. If I send an email via gmail or hotmail, can the person receiving it see my DNS,IP address? If so does using a proxy solve that for me? Regards

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Fernando,

      Emails do not usually record and transmit your IP address. If you want to send an email anonymously then sign up for a temporary account with a service such as HushMail. What using a proxy or VPN does is to hide your IP when using the internet (most notably when surfing the web) so that web sites (and other observers) will ‘see’ the proxy or VPN’s IP address instead of your own. If the connection is encrypted (as it always is with VPN) then all data travelling between your computer and the VPN (or encrypted proxy) server is also shielded from your ISP.

      Edit: some e-mail clients and webmail clients do in fact attach your public/external IP address to outgoing e-mails (in headers, etc.). To find whether yours does, try the email IP lewak test at http://emailipleak.com/. If you are leaking, then connecting to your email service using a proxy or VPN should hide your true address (or change email provider / use temporary email addresses etc.).

  10. Spinner says:

    Hello Pete,

    Very comprehensive and valuable information you have provided. Just one doubt that i need to clear if possible please, now would my ISP track my traffic using VPN or PROXY?

    I mean to say would my ISP calculate how many MB’s or GB’s do i use? I would really appreciate if anyone would advice on which one would hide my internet usage so i can go for.

    Thanks a million in advance!

    Spinner

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Spinner,

      With VPN or encrypted proxy your ISP cannot see what you get up to as all your traffic is encrypted, but it can see how much data (i.e. how many MB’s and GB’s) you use. I don’t think it is possible to hide your data usage from your ISP, as it is the ISP that is transferring it.

  11. K-Pop says:

    you cannot bypass data usage monitoring, they will know how many bandwidth you use no matter what you try. But it depends on the ISP, they can cap your speed on port 80/443/etc but most of ISP dont care about what happen to ICMP and DNS, so try to tunnel your internet traffic into ICMP or DNS and hopefully it can bypass your bandwidth limit

  12. Snowflake says:

    How does it work technically, if a person uses a browser proxy – to set a certain geographic location, then ALSO connects with a VPN?

    Is it double security allowing you better control of your exact IP address, or is it messing up and overcomplicating things?

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Snowflake,

      You can do this, but the benefits are minimal unless the proxy connection is encrypted. If it is encrypted then you benefit from an extra ‘jump’ between yourself and the internet, but this will likely have performance implications. It should however not complicate things too much, if you want to give it a try. Technically, when using VPN, everything in and out of your computer passes through the VPN tunnel, so in this case you would connected to the proxy server, and then on to the internet after having connected through the VPN (so your outfacing IP will be that of the proxy server)

  13. jeffrey says:

    Hello I have a few questions to ask before I make a purchase… My question I have is what is the differences between a private IP and a dedicated private IP? The reason I ask is because I’ve been reading quite a bit and I saw somewhere where it says that after the private IP you pay for is designated to you and you dont use it anymore it is given to somebody else. But now is the dedicated IP only given to you and after use they discard of it never to be used by another computer user again or is it all the same concept? Reason why i ask is because i market online and I need unique IP addresses and I must 100% make sure that anything I purchase is used by me only so there will be zero chance that I get blocked or ghosted on all these sites (particularly craigslist) that I use to market my products especially when i don’t mind paying good money necessary for top service… Lastly what are your prices for dedicated IPs? How can you be sure that other websites marketing the same services dont have these same dedicated IP addresses as well? I must make a decision in a day or so I’m just trying to make the best moves possible with little to no errors if you understand what I mean … Or what do you suggest is the best method i use for posting on craigslist? Thanks a billion sorry to be a nuisance

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Jeffery,

      We are a VPN review website and do not sell VPN services ourselves. To my knowledge a dedicated private IP and a private IP (also known as static IP) are the same thing, its just the way different VPN providers market their product. If Craiglist etc. block your dedicated VPN IP, then it blocked. As regards whether dedicated IP addresses are re-used once your contract with a provider runs out , you will need to ask individual providers. Each IP address is unique (which is one reason IPv4 is running out of addresses and we should be moving towards IPv6). If the posts you make to Craglist are likely to get your IP banned, then I’m afraid I can’t / won’t help you.

  14. Ohana says:

    jeffrey,
    I’m afraid that it could be a felony(federal crime) to use a VPN in order to circumvent an IP ban on Craiglists, according to this ruling(https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/order_denying_renewed_motion_to_dismiss.pdf).
    Here(http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/19/4636154/craigslist-ruling-says-evading-ip-address-block-violates-cfaa) is a detailed news report about the story .
    Actually, this is currently my main concern with my VPN use and that’s why I got so pissed off at and lost all respect for AirVPN when they evaded my questions on how it would be likely to affect VPN users who use a VPN to bypass IP restrictions.
    BTW, the law on which the ruling was based is the one which killed Aaron Swartz about a year ago.

    Doug,
    Could you tell me whether or not so many PIA IP addresses have been blacklisted and there are any popular websites that have blocked their IPs?
    I heard they assign one IP address to each server so that their IPs could be hard to traced back to individuals(, and so they secure only 800 IPs, although they own the largest amount of servers of all VPN providers, right?)
    This might be good for people from oppressive countries or P2P users who are always afraid of being caught but I’m not THAT paranoid(I’m a long time “Free” VPN user, remember? ;-) ).
    Rather, I want clean IPs, which allow me access any website I want (without being blocked) and which wouldn’t get appalling results at ScanEye.
    I want a paid VPN service mainly because I want to to shop online anonymously.
    I want to use the VPN for Paypal, online payments, online banking without problems.
    Then I want use it to post on forums and blogs, to deal with cyber criminals, including cyber stalkers, bullies, and con artists, to avoid my neighbors from knowing my online preferences, and to stop internet marketers and advertisers from studying my online activities and from profiling my online habits.
    Keeping the NSA off my PC has low priority for now.
    So, I prefer to get a clean IP. Do you know any good provider that offers a dedicated Ip at reasonable/cheap price?
    As jeffrey mentioned, most providers don’t say anything about prices for dedicated IPs and about dedicated IPs st all(I remembered AirVPN offered dedicated IPs if you asked for it).
    Anyways, what do you think of StrongVPN?
    Their prices look reasonable.
    Also, their IPs must be clean, as they let their users use only limited amount of IPs and monitor spamming, hacking or other malicious/illegal (,or possibly all) activities of their users’.
    I remember they used to claim that all of their IPs were dedicated and they didn’t have shared IPs(, and therefore, they were a superior VPN service provider).
    Here, however, your anti-US based stuff has concerned me about them as they don’t seem privacy advocacy type.
    How about VPN4ALL? Is their “Anchor IP” really an dedicated IP?
    Do you know any other VPN services that offer a dedicated Ip at reasonable price?

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,
      • As I understand the court ruling you refer to, it only applies if your IP address has been specifically banned. In Jeffery’s case you might therefore be right, although it does not affect more general IP blocks (e.g. for geo-restricted services)
      • PIA uses shared IPs, as you say. This makes uniquely identifying an individual with any on-line behaviour very difficult, and therefore affords a high degree of anonymity to users
      • I am not aware of any website which blocks PIA IPs, although if any readers have experienced this problem we would be interested in hearing from them
      • I recently re-reviewed StrongVPN (https://www.bestvpn.com/blog/3292/strongvpn-review/) and was not impressed. I found them to be by far the most expensive VPN service we have ever reviewed, and they simply do not offer a service that in any way justifies cost (if you want OpenVPN on non-US servers you must pay $20/pm, payable 3 months in advance!) As you say, they also make no promises regarding your privacy…
      • I am not very familiar with VPN4All, but their prices for a dedicated IP seem very reasonable, they have a good privacy policy, and are based in the Seychelles (I know this last doesn’t matter to you Ohana ). At a quick glance then, VPN4All looks good.
      • TorGuard offers dedicated IPs for an extra $7.99 per month. I am afraid that I would have to hunt through our reviews to remember which other providers offer this service (something I may do for a ‘5 best VPNs for dedicated IPs’ article on in the near future)

  15. Ohana says:

    Hi Doug.
    Thanks for the reply.

    >> although it does not affect more general IP blocks (e.g. for geo-restricted services)
    I am not sure about that.
    The ruling defined that “the use of a technological barrier to ban all access, 3Taps’ deliberate decision to bypass that barrier and continue accessing the website constituted access” as “intentional unauthorized access”, which the CFAA prohibits.
    The judge also seemed to see an “IP block” as a sufficient “technological barrier” because “the average person does not use ‘anonymous proxies’ to bypass an IP block set up to enforce a banning”.
    I’ve read the docket throughly (a long time ago,though) and just skimmed through it again, I don’t think it would exclude geo blocking from the “IP block”.
    Therefore, I think, this article(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/20/us_court_rules_ip_address_cloaks_can_violate_cfaa/) says “in a decision that will send chills to anyone using a proxy to get around geoblocks” and this article(https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/08/court-rules-accessing-public-website-isnt-crime-hiding-your-ip-address-could-be) mentions “to protect your privacy, preserve innovation or avoid ‘price discrimination’”(BTW, do you know that Craig Newmark is an advisory board member of the EEF. How shocking isn’t it?).
    Some are worried if the law would lead to criminalizing viewing Netflix from outside the USA(http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/08/changing-ip-address-to-access-public-website-ruled-violation-of-us-law/?comments=1&post=25122801), needless to say.
    Personally, any geo blocking set up for paid services is clearly breaking WTO’s free trade and competition laws and the anti-trust law in our country.
    But, after this ruling, if you say “getting around geo blocking with cloaking your real ip is a ‘Fraud’(, which the ‘F’ in CFAA stands for), I don’t know what to tell you.
    I know the judge didn’t say merely bypassing IP blocking would make you a felon.
    He said that doing so after informed via a C&D letter that you’re not welcome would do.
    But, doesn’t the “Georistriction warning” here(http://clubdownload.computeractive.co.uk/) serve as a T&C letter(I know this is not a good example. I just wanted to let you know about this promo> Suppose the law also applies to the UK ;-) )?
    Either way, I am afraid that this would set a bad precedent or become a slippery slope to abuse(,as used in in Aaron Swartz’s prosecution).
    BTW, in the wake of Aaron’s death, the CFAA seems to going to be amended, not for the better, but for the hasher.
    According this(http://www.volokh.com/2013/03/25/house-judiciary-committee-new-draft-bill-on-cybersecurity-is-mostly-dojs-proposed-language-from-2011/), it “would make it a felony to lie about your age on an online dating profile if you intended to contact someone online and ask them personal questions. It would make it a felony crime for anyone to violate the TOS on a government website. It would also make it a federal felony crime to violate TOS in the course of committing a very minor state misdemeanor”.
    This is why I think the CFAA is the bigger threat to privacy aware people like us than the DMCA or the NSA spying and all VPN service providers should study the statute.
    I don’t understand why all VPN providers except PIA take it serously.
    Please also see this(http://www.project-disco.org/privacy/082113-cloak-your-ip-address-expose-yourself-to-legal-jeopardy/) which also says “ the CFAA?even more so than the unbalanced anti-cirumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?is Congress’s gift to commercial control-freakery.”

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      Interesting… and thanks for the links. It does seem that the situation is very ‘grey’ at the moment thanks to the court ruling, although the ruling is the only case of its kind so far.

  16. Ohana says:

    I will split my post into some but wait for the other posts if they won’t go through. :-)

    - Part 1-

    Hmm…I don’t think it matter because, I guess, it could be used a precedent across the 9th Circuit, which covers California(Silicon Valley, Hollywood) and Washington(Microsoft), BTW.
    Anyway, it doesn’t seem to upset you as much me, just as the NSA spying hasn’t bugged me as much as you.
    Now, let’s look on the bright side of this ruling.
    If you put an IP block in place against the NSA, send them a T&C letter, yet they access your PC, they break the CFAA and will be sentenced to 35 years(, which Aaron was threaten with).
    I think this(http://blocklistpro.com/ip-database/) includes their IP range.

    >>> VPN4All, … are based in the Seychelles (I know this last doesn’t’t matter to you Ohana).

    I heard they are registered in the Seychelles to get around the local DR law, but are actually operated by a Dutch company and so must operate from within the Netherlands, which seems to be believed by many to be one of the best places to run a VPN service company.

    Anyway, I’m not saying all offshore VPN companies are bad but generally sound fishy.
    Plus, as far as I learned at Digital Point Forum, they are usually a one person operation or are a playground for a small group of online geek friends who have never met each other in person.

    I think the article (linked blow) proves me right about that:
    “Proxy.sh is not the full-time activity of most of its staff, including myself (PR), and we wish to enjoy a distinction between our activity at Proxy.sh and our real life.”
    “Seychelles is … a notorious offshore banking and corporate locale. … In total, according to recent regional media reports, Seychelles has approximately 125,000 foreign companies registered there. These entities do not pay any income tax or capital gains tax.”
    (quotes from http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/11/shadowy-vpn-firm-says-theyve-got-industrys-first-transparency-report/)

    Also, haven’t I told you about the law firm FindNot, a former popular anonymous service, also based in Panama, that disappeared with bilking money from naive customers.

    Also, I’m not saying that I like PIA because they are US-base but because they seem to have been already prepared for federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA to come and knock on their door, which any other VPN providers don’t seem to be done for.
    Besides, it sound, to me, really absurd to assume non-US based VPN companies, especially ones which use servers in the US, are safe from US law enforcement/espionage agencies, after we’ve seen what happened in Operation DElite and to Kim.com.

  17. Ohana says:

    - Part 2-

    >>> StrongVPN … simply do not offer a service that in any way justifies cost

    Well, I think they operate quite differently from other VPN providers like PIA.
    They provide only one IP, dynamic IP or static IP, for each account.
    They used to say that all of their IPs were dedicated and they didn’t share IPs b/w users.

    So, their static IP is an IP, which is what I always assume a dedicated IP to be, namely one that belongs to you exclusively unless you cancel your acct or return it to switch to the other.
    OTOH, their dynamic IP is an IP that is assigned to and used by you only, and could be used by the other user after the session and could be changed in the other session.
    They have also limited to the number of IPs they issue.
    Thus, with their IP, You’ll be less likely to be blocked with any blacklist and get annoyed captcha for search.

    Last time when I was on the hunt for a VPN service, 5-7 years ago, StrongVPN seemed to be the most respected and popular VPN provider(and HMA, I think, was just a web proxy service) and a dedicated IP was believed by many to be superior to a shared IP, because it had better speed, were more secure (from real IP-address exposed to the public), were less likely to be tracked(detected?, which PureVPN had insisted on, anyway) and were more suitable for stable for streaming media websites(, as they had blocked anonymous IPs more aggressively), and therefore it is more expensive.;-)

    I’ve never heard that their have ever been blocked (except by TVC).
    They told my online pal that they could not guarantee dynamic IP would ever get blocked by Paypal(They did guarantee their static IP would, BTW) but they had never heard of anyone getting blocked with it.

    So, their priority target customers should be those who want to use a VPN to shop/bank online, post comments to blogs/forums, use online services that require users to go through login/CAPTCHA, and bypass ip detection.
    In order to please those customers, they will be working hard to maintain their IPs as clean as possible and so they must “constantly monitor quality of our IP addresses and make sure they are not blocked or blacklisted for SPAM, abuse or other illegal activities”(This is actually a response from “VPN4ALL” to my question on what they do to keep their IPs clean and blacklist free).

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      But in my view using a static IP, especially with a company who keeps logs, as StrongVPN does, makes using a VPN service all but pointless as you can be instantly identified by your IP. As far as I am concerned, the only IPs worth having (unless you have a very specific need for a static IP, which most users don’t) are shared IPs, which make it difficult* to identify which user of that IP is responsible for what online behaviour. * Not impossible, but if no logs are kept it provides a very degree of anonymity. If all users want to do is ‘shop/bank online, post comments to blogs/forums, use online services that require users to go through login/CAPTCHA,’ then why use a VPN at all?

  18. Ohana says:

    I forfot to mention why you seem to think that the outside of the US intel agencies is safer from their the intel agencies while you have MI6.
    I also wonder why so many privact aware VPN users who are conerned and talk about the NSA seem to careless about the FSB(aka KGB) and the CPC(Communist Party of China).

    >>> a static IP, especially with a company who keeps logs, as StrongVPN does, makes using a VPN service all but pointless
    >>>If all users want to do is ‘shop/bank online, post comments to blogs/forums, use online services that require users to go through login/CAPTCHA,’ then why use a VPN at all?

    That’s why I want to a dedicated IP service as an add-on to PIA.

    BTW, I am sure that there are many users whose primarily reason to use a VPN is to do those.

    In fact, I began to use an anonymous service bacasue some forum admin had stalked me (and the DoS of my college, in the US, and who is now the VP of a major US college, BTW, had montored my online activities).
    He identified my college, my residence hall, which seemed to be containd in any access log, and my room(because the IP assigend to me was a fixed and my room floor and even number could be easily guessed from the last digits).
    The example may be too specific but I’m still worried whenever I have a heated exchange online(SNS, forum, blog, email etc).

    Also, I want to use a VPN to shop/bank online, because, with it, I would be forced to present my ID(name, address) and real IP all together at the same time.

    I use a VPN at Google even though they annoyed me to be forced to enter a CAPTCHA because I don’t want Google to monitor my search patterns to study my preferences.
    Also, I think this use of a VPN is very common.

    I also used to think using a VPN service (not only StrongVPN but any) is pointless, because it just tranfered the right to montor my online activities to them, which is why I’m using free VPNs).
    However, now, we can buy them with Bitcoin or prepaid Visa card w/t fake IDs.

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      Do remember though, that while using Bitcoin / pre-pay credit cards etc. can help to ensure a VPN provider does not know your real name and identity, it will always know your true IP address, and if they wanted to, they could easily track from there. As far as reasons to use VPN, everybody’s threat model is different, so it is interesting to hear yours. With regards to being tracked by Google, remember that running a VPN service costs money, so if you are not paying for product then you are the product. This means that most free VPN services are even worse than Google for tracking your internet use patterns and selling the data to third party advertising and analytics companies.

  19. Ohana says:

    I’m having a hard time in posting the last part of my comment(Part 3).
    I seemed like I was able to post a comment above.
    Why?
    Can you help me( because it contains my questions to you)?

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      Due the the large volume of spam we receive, we moderate all comments. At weekends in particular this means there may be a bit of a delay before your comments show up.

  20. Aj says:

    Hello,

    I have been looking into getting a VPN or Proxy server for a while now; But i have been running into some difficulty understanding how it will help me in my situation.

    I have a DNS-320 NAS dlink server, a EA4500 Cisco Router, and an HP DV6 Wifi Compatible laptop. I am trying to be able to access my NAS from anywhere so that I can save photos and look at them at my girlfriends place or wherever I go.

    I have successfully set the drive up on my network, and can access it via LAN at home. is there a way I can access it from anywhere with a login? That is preferably free?

  21. Ohana says:

    I still cannot post the last part(Part 4), which contains what I really wanted to ask you about.
    I did try multiple times today, w/t changing name & email address, posting it to different entries and even paraphrasing many of the sentences in it, yet I failed them all.
    Why?

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      I’m sorry, but I really don’t know why you are having problems. I don’t think it has anything to do with email addresses and name (why would it? – this message got through ok). Maybe your posts are just too long?

  22. Ohana says:

    StrongVPN’s OpenVPN package is $85/year and one of the cheapest VPN service packages coming w/t a dedicated IP, but it’s pricey for just an add-on.

    nVPN offer a dedicated IP at a $60 annual charge but I don’t like them because, from I’ve seen in their forum, they look like a jerk and they also seem like a OPO or or one operated with such a small batch of online buddies as folks at Proxy.sh.
    Plus, it’s still a bit expensive…
    I might reconsider them if I find them them professional and trustworthy, though).

    -Continued-

  23. Ohana says:

    BTW, have you ever consider setting up your own private VPN by yourself?

    In our country, most VPN users don’t seem to use a commercial VPN and they seem to set up their own VPN, instead(…They don’t do it for privacy reasons, though).
    Also, VPN folks at DSLReports used to tell him/her to do so whenever someone asked them to recommend a good VPN provider.

    -Continued-

  24. Ohana says:

    I’m no techie but I’ve seen many people saying that it is not so hard to do (it takes a couple of hours?) and we can find a cheap VPS (for a couple of bucks a month, $15 a year, or even less?)., but is that true?

    If so, it might be a good idea to do so rather than to get an dedicated IP, but I just wonder why many tech savvy VPN users like you don’t do it and, instead, use commercial VPN services, even though many of you don’t trust VPN providers in general very much?

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      1. You are correct about StrongVPN’s price if you want a dedicated IP, although most VPN users will benefit more from using a shared IP (neither StrongVPN nor dedicated IPs are good for privacy, but I know this is not your concern). Thanks for the info on nVPN, I am not familiar with them.
      2. Personally, no. I have no real interest in setting up a personal VPN, as privacy is a primary factor for me. There might be issues with trust when it comes to commercial VPN providers, but a personal VPN provides zero privacy / anonymity. That said, personal VPNs are quite easy to set up and not expensive (as you say), and I may well write an article on how to do so in the near future.

  25. Ohana says:

    I posted my comment on VPN4ALL at https://www.bestvpn.com/blog/4385/vpn4all-review/
    (I can’t post it here no matter what I try).
    Anyway, what do you think about them(StrongVPN/nVPN/VPN4ALL)? Are there any other options I should look at?

    PS: While I was struggling to post these comments (for three weeks), someone else started a thread to ask about the same question at reddit…

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      I am sorry about the problems you have had posting. As I have said, I really don’t know the reason. As for your question, I will need some time to look into the options for static IPs in more detail, and will likely write an article on the subject soon.

  26. Ohana says:

    Doug,
    Thanks a lot for the reply.

    What do you think of setting up setting up a VPN on your own?

    I heard that it takes a couple of hours to do it and there are some scripts to do it available on the net.

    I also heard that I can find a Cheap VPS for around $15 a year or even less which sounds good to me as I don’t want to spend more money for a dedicated IP than I do for PIA.

    However, if these are true, I wonder why people like you don’t do it, instead of using commercial VPN services.

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Ohana,

      I did answer this question : ‘ Personally, no. I have no real interest in setting up a personal VPN, as privacy is a primary factor for me. There might be issues with trust when it comes to commercial VPN providers, but a personal VPN provides zero privacy / anonymity. That said, personal VPNs are quite easy to set up and not expensive (as you say), so I may well write an article on how to do so in the near future.’

  27. Eric says:

    We are looking for provider that has Latin America vpn service. We use OverPlay for our dev testing to different page for each of the country (legit business). But OverPlay only has Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Need Chile, Costa Rica, Curacao, Guatemala and Panama. Tried VPNTraffic and they took our one year subscription and can’t get the account to work. Worse, their customer support is almost non-existent. We can’t get them to activate our paid subscription that was paid on February 10, 2014 (and I attached a copy of the PayPal statement). Two weeks now and their response is always a one liner, “your account is expired cannot help you”. I have provided phone number and ask them to call. Avoid vpntraffic.

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Eric,

      I’m afraid that we haven’t fully investigated VPN in Latin America yet, largely because there is very little of it (I stared writing an article on Brazil but had to put it on hold due the dearth of information and services available). We have written and article on Mexico (www.bestvpn.com/blog/8604/5-best-vpns-mexico/) though, and may well do a general feature on Latin America in the near future. ExpressVPN has servers in Panama and Costa Rica, and Hide My Ass has servers in Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, and Panama, which I hope helps.

  28. Ohana says:

    Doug,

    Thank you for your reply, and I’m sorry for my late reply

    >> I did answer this question

    Oops. I didn’t noticed it. My bad. Sorry about that.

    Anyway, You are right!
    I’d forgotten that I use a VPN to protect myself from cyber criminals.
    I don’t think I’m capable of dealing with cyberstalking, unjust notices or DDoS attacks….

  29. Ohana says:

    >> I don’t think I’m capable of dealing with cyberstalking, unjust notices or DDoS attacks….

    ….by myself.

  30. Baughada says:

    Am I able to use a proxy while having a VPN active?

    • Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Baughada,

      Yup, that should be ok. You computer will connected to the internet via an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server, and from there your browser will connect to the proxy server. It is also possible to use SOCKS5 proxy for extra security when P2P downloading.

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