Alternative VPN Choices for You
DefenceVPN used to offer a version that supported peer-to-peer (P2P) network access and a version that excluded it. Now it only runs the P2P-friendly version. Other features include:
- No data throughput limits
- No application throttling
- Fast connection speeds
- Double data encryption
- Private DNS resolution
- Kill switch
- DNS leak protection
For more information about using a VPN when torrrenting, take a look at the best VPN for torrent sites.
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Speed and Performance
For speed tests, I tested an unprotected connection to Miami (US) and then to London (UK). I connected to Miami from the Caribbean with the DefenceVPN server in New York and then again with the server in Chicago. I then connected to the DefenceVPN server in London and tried the speeds on a connection to the UK again. In each case, I tested the connection five times, using the website testmy.net.
The graphs show the highest, lowest, and average speeds for each server and location.
The speeds produced on connections that were managed by the VPN were remarkably similar to those achieved on unprotected connections. Although you will see in the graphs above that the speeds where not all exactly the same, a certain measure of variation was probably created by the underlying internet service.
The tests for IP leaks were performed with the VPN server in London applied to the line. These trials involved the services of several websites. These are ipleak.net, test-ipv6.com , IPv6 leaks and doileak.net. DefenceVPN passed all the tests that were possible. My Internet Service Provider doesn't include IPv6 translation, so those tests weren't possible.
Pricing and Plans
The company started out with a range of packages, but now only offers one. You can get a better monthly rate if you sign up for a longer period and pay up front. All subscription periods enjoy a seven-day money-back guarantee.
As the service is so new, many improvements are still in the pipeline. DefenceVPN plans to accept Bitcoin, but that payment option isn't available yet. Right now you can pay with a credit card or with PayPal.
Privacy and Security
DefenceVPN admits that Canada is not an ideal location for privacy. However, it mitigates this by outsourcing its servers in foreign countries, so that it can claim it is not in a position to log anything. The website states that "DefenceVPN does not track or monitor user activities while connected to the VPN." This is likely to be a partial truth.
A VPN server has to keep track of which incoming responses match which client, otherwise it couldn't forward on replies. So, there has to be activity logging during the connection. The main issue with VPN privacy is whether or not a VPN company retains that activity information once your session is terminated and the information is no longer needed for operations.
Another reason why it may be possible that the company is bending the truth with that statement is that it claims it outsources its services. Thus when it states that DefenceVPN does not log activities, that does not mean that no one is keeping logs. The outsourcing company could well be storing records of user activities and those logs could be legally accessible by DefenceVPN when pressured.
The company runs a warrant canary. This is a log containing a periodic statement that the company has not been served with a warrant to divulge information. Informants are ordered not to inform suspects that they are under investigation, so no VPN company would be able to warn its users of subpoenas. Thus, savvy customers should look for gaps in the timeline of statements. If one time period is missing, that means that the company was ordered to hand over information.
Encryption and Settings
DefenceVPN has changed its encryption system since commencing operations. As at July 2017, it is planning to change it again. The VPN is only available with the OpenVPN methodology. That's a good thing, because this VPN protocol is the best available. However, OpenVPN is more of an open source library than a strict set of rules.
Originally, the company implemented its OpenVPN using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption with a 256-bit key. It later changed that to Blowfish encryption. However, don't worry too much about that, because the company plans to be back on 256-bit AES encryption before the beginning of August 2017.
Session establishment is protected by 2048-bit RSA encryption. This is an acceptable level of security. However, the main players in the industry are strengthening this stage of a connection by increasing the length of the RSA key to 4092 bits. DefenceVPN uses Diffie-Hellman for key distribution, which ensures that new keys are used for each session.
Other security measures are integrated into the client software that runs on your computer. These include a kill switch, which ensures that your computer does not continue with an internet connection if the VPN is not engaged. The company provides its own Domain Name System (DNS) service, which is the method that computers use to translate web addresses into internet addresses.
Ease of Use
Like everything else with this VPN, the website has completely changed since the company began. The main page of the site is one long series of sections that covers the first four items on the top navigation bar. The Login, Blog, and Support menu options lead to other pages.
The speech bubbles in the bottom right of the screen give access to the support live chat. At the bottom of the homepage, you will find a series of quick links.
Click on the speech bubbles at the bottom right of the website to open a chat window. You may have to wait a while before anyone answers your question. There is no queue indicator, so you might think that you have been ignored. However, hang on in there.
The support button on the menu bar leads to an FAQ page. This page also has a button that enables you to raise a support ticket. Click on "Open A Support Ticket" to send a message to the support team if you find that the live chat is unmanned. The support contact page is a standard web form.
Remember that you have seven days to test the system and still get a refund if you don't like the VPN. Don't sign up if you are likely to be distracted by urgent tasks over the subsequent week.
Click on the Price option on the top menu bar of the site and then press the "Get Started" button for your chosen subscription period. An overlay will appear, showing your payment options. Click on your preferred method to continue. You can't get away with subscribing to the service completely anonymously because you can always be traced to your payment method. The account payment process will set up a repeat payment agreement.
Check your inbox after the payment completes because your account details will be sent there. You need to confirm your address by clicking the button in the email before your account becomes active. You can then log in to the user area of the website and download the VPN's client software onto your computer.
You need to enter your account credentials the first time you use the app. If you click on the "Save Login" checkbox, you won't have to do this again. Both the username and password are case sensitive. These are the credentials you specified when you set up your account. Once you are in, you need to specify which location you would like to appear to be in. You have to click through two more screens before the app opens.
The active app is very small and appears in the bottom right corner of your screen. Click on the server location to switch servers, and press the On/Off slider to turn on the VPN. Whenever you click away from the app, it will disappear. Click on the icon in your system tray to get it back. You can access the Settings menu by clicking on the cog symbol in the app. There are very few options to manipulate. The "Disable internet if VPN is not connected" menu item is your kill switch.
Currently, DefenceVPN doesn't offer a version of its app for iOS. The company's support representative explained to me that they have written one, but it is still going through the approval process at Apple. Instead, iOS owners get manual instructions on how to set up the VPN on their iPads and iPhones. There is an app for devices that run the Android operating system. There is also a version of the app written for Mac OS X, as well as for Windows 10.
DefenceVPN works well. The service is changing rapidly, so it might be a little better by the time you get to try it out. Take advantage of the refund period to make sure that it provides all of the services that you need from a VPN.
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