To VPN or not to VPN

A Swiss VPN provider

I started researching VPN providers some time ago and gave ProtonVPN c closer look since they provide a free base service that isn’t too performant but good enough for testing and many daily activities. With their free offering, which is unlimited in duration, you have the choice of servers in three countries and can connect one device – which may be enough for your whole home network if you configure the VPN connection on your router. The router needs to support OpenVPN and all your traffic will go through a VPN connection, and that may not be what you want.

Also, some sites do block or restrict traffic that come from known VPN gateways, as they do with traffic coming from Tor exit nodes. They identify them as “sites with suspicious traffic” and ask you to do a Captcha every time. Some other sites provide a security warning if you suddenly log on from a different country.

I was very satisfied with ProtonVPN and their Basic plan is reasonably priced (EUR 48/year) for two devices and access to servers in all countries. Currently many of the servers are running high loads, especially the ones in the USA, so you might want to use a server in Mexico or Argentina.

I am also going to test NordVPN, they offer more devices and have more servers you can choose from and a good price. Both NordVPN and ProtonVPN have a no-log policy, they do not log your activity and thus cannot hand out any information to authorities.

On your home network, although, VPNs do improve on privacy, provided you do not log on to sites, you may be better off using Tor if you are mostly concerned with privacy, i.e. not being identifiable, tracked and profiled.
On mobile devices, when you switch WiFi connections frequently it’s definitely a good thing for privacy and security, as a VPN prevents a WiFi hotspot provider from snooping your traffic.

So, To VPN or not to VPN? I definitely recommend it, but how you use it depends on your requirements.