VPNs and proxies are designed to hide your information. VPNs encrypt all your outgoing traffic which means that your ISP can’t even see what you’re doing. With a VPN, your activity and IP is hidden since your are assigned an anonymous IP shared by other VPN users. With a proxy, you are assigned an anonymous IP but unless it’s an SSL proxy, you aren’t using encryption to hide your activity.
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Why Use VPN or Proxy?
Both VPNs and proxies have their uses. VPNs are great for pretty much any anonymity activity. VPNs allow you to keep your data hidden in public Wi-Fi hotspots, or for you to keep your anonymity when torrenting. VPNs are also excellent at bypassing firewalls at schools or work that restrict specific ports and applications/services.
So our primary reason for using a VPN or proxy is to remain anonymous, right, and to gain access to unblocked content? However, for most of us who want to use a company provided VPN, there is an element of trust that has to happen. We must trust the VPN provider to not log our data.
What are VPN logs?
Let’s take an example of another company–like the name brand company store Target. We trust Target to provide us with food and products that aren’t respectively poisoned or disfunctional, in the same way that we might trust a VPN to keep our information private with a VPN company.
For the most part, when you go to the store you’ll get what you expect. However, maybe 1-2 years on down the line, Target has some sort of data breach and your information like your social security number gets hacked. The same thing can happen with a VPN company, or any tech company really.
That’s because Target is storing your information when you go to their store. Some of this information is mandatory in order to prevent fraud. Sure, Target doesn’t intend for your data to leak, but if they collect information, and someone gets a hold off it, then the information can be leaked or stolen.
The only solution would be to not keep any data, right? Let’s say you go to Target, you checkout, and all of your information used to checkout is wiped after the purchase. In this case, operation of the Target brand might fail because the company couldn’t operate or use analytics to determine how to sell products.
This is why free VPNs collect logs in order to use analytic data and other forms of data to sell off to third parties. However, for a PAID VPN to not give up data, they must not collect it in the first place! As you’ll find out, this can be hard to find.
Should I Worry about VPN logs?
Are you a child porn addict, a criminal, or a terrorist? If so, then yes, you should be worried about VPN logs. However, if you’re just a torrenter, or an anonymity advocate, then you’re probably fine not worrying about logs too much. In these cases, you should pick a VPN with good speeds, a good price, and make sure it has all the features that you need (like available multi-platform apps, etc). In this case, check the top rated VPNs below.
Do SOME VPNs Collect Logs?
VPNs are different from most products out there since they deal with anonymity. When you use something like Facebook or Google, you are using free products that let you store documents or message your friends.
The cost, whether you like it or not, is your activity and data you input when using these platforms. With a VPN specifically, you are paying the company to secure your data. If you pay a VPN company to keep you anonymous, then it HAS to have a no-logging policy right? Well, not necessarily. VPNs often go back on their promises when confronted with the law.
Well unfortunately, a lot of VPNs claim they do and they don’t collect logs. When push comes to shove, most VPN providers keep some form of logs.
Usually most people’s information will be kept secure within the VPN company, but on the off chance that homeland security comes calling–like with IPVanish collecting logs, then the VPN will give up information on the criminal in order to save face with the government. This is bad for PR, but good for not getting sued.
It’s hard to tell whether a company really doesn’t or does collect logs. It requires an in depth knowledge of privacy laws and information really available only to the VPN company at hand. Most of the most popular VPNs claim they don’t collect logs after all.
How Can You Pick a VPN without Logs?
So if most VPNs could collect logs, how can we pick one that doesn’t? Well, at the end of the day, you just have to pick a VPN that has a good reputation.
This requires doing your own research, like reading this article! Companies like IPVanish were once well respected within the anonymity community, but now the company is a bit more suspect after the company released logs on a child porn spreader. Other companies like Private Internet Access have good specs on paper (good speeds, decent apps etc), but their advisory board contains the likes of Roger Ver, and other questionable individuals involved with the company like Mark Karpeles (caused the whole Mt. Gox scandle–see this Reddit thread).Companies like this probably shouldn’t be trusted if the question at hand is trust.
So at the end of the day, when picking a VPN company that doesn’t log, you need to consider if you trust them or not. If they claim they don’t log, and you trust them, then that’s the end of the story. For me, I trust TorGuard VPN since they have no history of giving up logs, no history of hiring anyone sketchy, no history of doing anything they shouldn’t as an anonymity company, and they remain to be the best product of there in terms of features.