VPN service providers function at the cutting edge of cybercrime. They are built and maintained by individuals who have to take every evolving threat into account in order to keep the VPN servers up and running, and the VPN users safe and secure.
Data collection is the collateral imperative that no VPN service can avoid. Every VPN provider under the sun records your data when you use it. It is an imperative part of the process and cannot be avoided considering the fact that data is the DNA that ties the internet together.
However, it is up to the VPN service provider to decide what data it wishes to record. Some VPN service providers are content are recording performance related data so that they can improve their current services, others want to know what you are looking at so they can bring you better features, and the worst of them all want to collect everything they can get their hands on so that they can be sold to third-parties.
I analyzed the log and privacy policies of some of the leading VPN service providers in the industry so you don’t have to go through all the legal fine print.
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For the record: When I say ‘log’ here, I mean a record of the websites you visited, the content you downloaded and the internet services you utilized. I mean a detailed record of just about every bit that ran through your computer modem.
PureVPN does not monitor user sessions unless directly told do so by law enforcement. Considering the fact that PureVPN is based in Hong Kong you can bank on Hong Kong’s reputations to be one of the most internet friendly countries in the world.
PureVPN uses an affiliate program and has a set of Terms of Service for its affiliates. The 13 point Affiliate Program Terms of Service is somewhat comforting when you think about the formality and professionalism with which PureVPN is managing collected data.
PureVPN comes at you with over 500+ servers in over 140+ countries, multi-protocol support (PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and OpenVPN) and up to 256-bit encryption. PureVPN has three pricing plans of 1, 6 and 12 months available for $9.95, $44.95 and $49.95.
IPVanish runs a clean ship. It only records the basic data that you willingly provide in order to facilitate order processing and completion. Once you register as an IPVanish user, the VPN service provider will utilize cookies on your computer like any other website would in order streamline your user experience.
No activity logs are maintained, but usage statistics are recorded through persistent cookies in order to help gather data that can be used to improve service quality.
IPVanish has joined the ranks of VPN service providers who are resorting to third parties in order to mine service usage data. However, these are mostly services that help understand website traffic trends and are designed to help services like IPVanish understand which features are preferred over others.
Like all VPN service providers, ExpressVPN has made it clear that it complies with US laws and any legal/warranted requests that they put up. ExpressVPN also states that any information it collects is collected and used for the singular purpose of improving service quality and is therefore usually generic in nature.
You can get ExpressVPN’s logless services through its 1, 6 and 12 month pricing plans that are available for $12.95, $59.94 and $99.84 respectively.
All plans give access to the same all-in-one ExpressVPN package that supports OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTP protocols.
Hidemyass is very well organized and clearly states that software related information is collected when a user visits the Hidemyass website. This may also include IP address (which is normal), and the specific pages viewed by the user. During the sign-up process, the user is required to provide specifics that are necessary for IronSocket to process the transaction and provide the user with a unique Hidemyass VPN account.
An in depth analysis of Ironsocket policies revealed that Ironsocket makes use of Service Providers to provides its services. This requires Ironsocket to share your data with its Service Providers. Ironsocket binds these Service Providers in confidentiality agreements placing the very same responsibility on their shoulders that you place on Ironsocket.
The part that made me slightly uncomfortable was the fact that Ironsocket uses affiliates, but does not have a separate affiliate policy on its website.
Ironsocket has six pricing plans. Two of these are industry standards while the remaining four are essentially denominations. The cheapest pricing plan starts from $6.99
Data Logging That is Good for You
As I mentioned earlier, there are a few data types that need to be recorded in order for the VPN service provider to deliver the VPN service to you. You need to make peace that these essentials will be recorded no matter what the circumstances are.
Inter-Software Communication: Your operating system, browser type and browser language will be communicated during the establishment of the connection between you and your VPN server. This data is essentially first to be exchanged between you and the VPN server when the VPN tunnel is setup.
IP Address Sharing: Then there is your IP, which you are sharing with your VPN service provider so that you don’t have to share it with the rest of the world.
Time-Stamps: You can’t possibly run from your time-stamps. Your ISP records the time duration lengths to monitor how long you were online; just like your cell phone company won’t have actual recordings of your calls but will be able to provide you a time stamp log on your request.
Why the Top 5 Logless VPNs Don’t Log You
Skeptics like to believe that data that is created will be inevitably recorded and can never be destroyed. They do not account for the fact that data recording is an expensive practice. Think about all the hardware and human-ware (pun intended) that will have to be put into managing the recording of the never-ending influx of data. It would be alone to drive the VPN service provider into bankruptcy.
These VPN service providers choose to focus on service quality and give priority to the expansion of their VPN server network in order to increase their customer base. VPN services that follow this approach choose to do so believe in the fight for online security, privacy and accessibility. Any VPN that does the opposite only believes in making a quick buck and will record (and sell) your data without giving it a second thought.
Is Your Current VPN one of the Top 5 Logless VPNs
Try to use VPN service providers that are ambitious about service quality more than they are ambitious about their portfolio.
In using a VPN service, you not only give your money to an organization, but also the responsibility of keeping your data secure. It is your right to be reassured that your data is safe and that no activity logs are being maintained. If you suspect that your current VPN service provider might be maintaining logs, switch VPN service providers immediately.
It is my observation that high profile VPN service providers tend to record data excessively. Why? Because they have a lot of it coming in, they can, and because it is easy for them.
You don’t need to worry about this data and any other data you give out during payments. You need to worry about usage logs. All the online security in the world will go down the drain if a hacker manages to get hold of your usage logs by hacking into your VPN service provider’s server.