VyprVPN for Windows

Kill Switch

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Some consumers are concerned about VPNs using virtual servers—that is, a physical server that runs several software-based servers. After that, you have to choose one of the paid tiers to continue using VyprVPN. Golden Frog GmbH is incorporated in Switzerland, due to favorable privacy laws consistent with our mission. How to Clone a Hard Drive. TunnelBear had the best score here, increasing latency by only As is always the case with digital security, the goal is not always to achieve total anonymity but to force adversaries to expend great effort targeting you specifically.

What Is a VPN?

Golden Frog VyprVPN

We moved on to the terms of service page, where most of the clauses seemed very standard: There's only one catch in the refund policy, which says you'll never get one, ever, under any circumstances. That's far stricter than most companies, although if you think you can test the service adequately in the 3-day free trial, it may not make any real difference.

Sign up for VyprVPN and you're asked to provide much more information than usual. Handing over your email address is normal, but the company also requires your first and last name, billing country and postcode or zip code.

If you can live with that, the rest of the signup process looks familiar enough: We chose PayPal and approved the payment, but were then sent to a blank page at the Golden Frog site, with no information about our order at all. Fortunately, a welcome email arrived moments later with a 'Confirm account' link, and clicking this opened a more useful web page with download links and setup guides.

We grabbed a copy of the Windows client, downloading and installing it in a few seconds. This looked relatively compact, taking only 10MB of hard drive space, but its background processes were more resource-hungry. The client has an appealing interface which includes a real-time chart of your current network download and upload speeds. Your current IP address is highlighted, and there's also a clear display of your NAT firewall status and preferred VPN protocol, details that other clients usually bury deep in their settings dialog.

Tapping the Connect button automatically connects you to the fastest server, or you can choose your preferred option from the full server list. The client can display locations by continent, name or speed.

A Search box displays matches as you type, or you can save commonly-used locations to a Favorites list. VyprVPN favorites are also available direct from its system tray icon's right-click menu, conveniently. This also displays handy details like your IP address and connection status. That seems an obvious idea to us, but it's rarely implemented by other VPNs. The client's most impressive feature is probably its Settings dialog, a nicely judged mix of options which has something for every level of user.

You get fine-grained control over connections, for instance. You can have the service connect as soon as Windows starts, or when the client launches, or when you access any untrusted Wi-Fi networks.

There are several notification settings. You can have the client alert you to every single connect and disconnect event, or just connection failures, and optionally play different audio files on connects or disconnects.

That may sound trivial, but don't dismiss it. Other services might annoy you with regular popups, or not give you any clear notification of disconnects at all, so being able to control this is a definite plus.

It's a similar story with the Protocol tab. There's a lot of power here for experts. A VPN is an excellent way to ensure that no one can spy on your internet traffic. Once your VPN is activated, all your network traffic travels through an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a server controlled by the VPN service.

Nobody, not even someone on the same local network as you, will be able to see your online activities. That's a good thing, since Congress gave the green light for ISPs to sell anonymized user metadata to advertisers and third-parties. VPNs also help circumvent online censorship, and are used by activists and journalists operating in countries with repressive internet controls. On the lighter side, a VPN can spoof your location and make region-locked streaming content available, but be aware that you may be violating terms of service by doing so.

For all these reasons and, frankly, many more you probably need a VPN. There's a good chance that you may have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that's the case, don't worry! We've got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN. VyprVPN has collapsed its previous three-flavor pricing model to a simpler two: Annual billing at a reduced rate is available for all account levels, though I list only the monthly rates here. Both tiers offer a three-day free trial. The lowest-tier VyprVPN plan allows up to three simultaneous connections and the upper tier up to five.

That's unusual, as most VPN services offer five connections at the entry level, and some such as TorGuard offer additional connections for a monthly fee, too. That's a big blow against VyprVPN's overall value. Consider that NordVPN offers six slots and costs only two dollars more per month. VyprVPN does come in below that threshold, but at the cost of simultaneous connections.

TunnelBear, on the other hand, does allow five connections at a time and costs only 4 cents more per month. The free account allows just two simultaneous connections and access to all the protocols used by VyprVPN—including the proprietary Chameleon protocol —in addition to the secure DNS and the NAT firewall which I'll explain below.

It's basically a tour of all the service's best features. The catch is that free accounts are limited to just 1GB of data. After that, you have to choose one of the paid tiers to continue using VyprVPN. Vypr's bit Chameleon protocol is designed to circumvent sites and services that block VPNs.

The company says it is particularly useful in areas where the government has enacted strict controls over internet access, such as China and Russia.

TunnelBear and other VPN services offer their own branded versions of censorship-circumventing technology. It's intended to supply an additional layer of security when accessing cloud server services, and it currently works with Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, and VirtualBox.

All tiers including the free offering described below include a Network Address Translation NAT Firewall, which blocks unrequested inbound traffic, such as bots scanning for open ports to exploit. Almost all routers use NAT to share the single internet connection across all connected devices.

The devices themselves receive local-only IP addresses that aren't visible from outside the network. It's a nice feature, but probably not robust enough to replace a full-featured firewall. VPNs have been around for a long time, and as a result there's more than one way to create an encrypted tunnel.

I prefer OpenVPN, which has a reputation for being fast and very reliable. It's also open-source technology, which means that it has been picked over for any potential security issues.

Only the company's custom Chameleon protocol is limited to the higher-priced plan. Both the Windows and macOS versions can use all four of the supported protocols.

In the world of encryption, creating a new or proprietary protocol is a dangerous game. A small, unnoticed flaw could render it completely useless. In short, it's for getting around all kinds of censorship. However, Hotspot Shield uses this protocol by default wherever it can and does not provide alternatives on several platforms.

I much prefer this approach. It's an excellent selection of locations, with multiple locations in each region. This is important because more server locations means you have more opportunities to spoof your location. It also means you'll have better odds of finding a nearby server while traveling; a nearer server will tend to be faster and have lower latency than one farther away. CyberGhost is another service notable for having servers in these specific regions.

In total, VyprVPN has about individual servers, which is on the low end among services I've reviewed, but still an acceptable number. The number of individual servers matters because more available servers means you'll have fewer people in each individual server, and each person will get a larger slice of the bandwidth pie.

Together, they lead the pack in terms of robustness. Some consumers are concerned about VPNs using virtual servers—that is, a physical server that runs several software-based servers. The issue is that a virtual server can be configured to behave like a server in one country when it's actually, physically located in another. If you're concerned about where your data is flowing, this could be an issue.

VyprVPN stressed to me that user data is stored with the company in Switzerland. In a blog post, the company's CTO wrote that virtual servers are located within the listed country, excepting situations where that's not possible because of privacy or security concerns. Given the insight that a VPN has into your online activities, it's important that it takes steps to protect your privacy and be a good actor with your data.

When I review VPN companies, I read the entire privacy policy and speak with company representatives to try and get a sense of their product's trustworthiness.

In its privacy policy , VyprVPN does an excellent job explaining exactly what information it collects about you when the VPN is activated. I really appreciate how concise and easy to read this privacy policy is, and the minimal amount of confusing legalese. The company says it retains the user's true IP address, the IP address of the VPN server the user connects with, the start and stop time for the connection, and the total number of bytes used.

This information is retained for 30 days. It may be possible to use this information to correlate activity on the VPN server with a specific user, but it would be very difficult. An observer would have to know which VPN server to watch, and then have to correlate that activity with the minimal logs retained by VyprVPN. As is always the case with digital security, the goal is not always to achieve total anonymity but to force adversaries to expend great effort targeting you specifically.

VyprVPN seems to meet that goal easily. The company also makes clear that it does not log user traffic or content, nor does it monitor the kind of traffic you create. That means VyprVPN won't block you for using a specific app.

The company says it does not perform deep or shallow packet inspection, except "where requested by the customer for firewall purposes. Notably, Golden Frog says that it requires a subpoena for identifying information in the event of a criminal case. The company also says that, in civil cases, it will neither sell nor provide information unless directed to do so by a court order. The company describes the information it would release in these circumstances as, "minimal information reasonably calculated to identify and no more.

Some VPN companies have tried to make money by injecting ads directly into users' web traffic. A company representative confirmed that VyprVPN does not inject ads. Moreover, a company representative explained to me that Golden Frog does not sell "what minimal information is logged" to third parties. In addition to its privacy practices, it's important to know where a company is headquartered or the legal jurisdiction under which it operates.

In some cases, the HQ and the legal jurisdiction can be different places. The company is headquartered in Switzerland, which is reportedly not subject to mandatory data retention laws that affect VPNs. The company has written extensively about why it chose Switzerland as its base.

A company representative told me, "regardless of where our actual physical infrastructure is located, we only store our customers' personal information physically in Zurich, Switzerland. I have seen many privacy policies from VPN companies. Golden Frog appears to follow good practices and is concerned with protecting its users' privacy and their information.

But I always encourage readers to make their own judgments about how comfortable they are with a company based on its privacy policy and legal jurisdiction. This is a smart move, since the router, in turn, will protect every device that connects with it, yet uses only one license doing so. TorGuard also makes its software available for streaming devices and routers, but it sells the hardware with the VPN software preinstalled.

The installation process is remarkably fast and easy, and I was up and running within minutes. It also displays the protocol being used to encrypt your connection OpenVPN by default, except on iOS and your firewall status. A handy graph shows network performance, and the large Connect button doubles as the button for selecting your server.

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