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Ask HN: Who is your VPN provider, and why?
3 points by petecooper on April 27, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments
I'm 24 hours away from the end of my three-year NordVPN subscription. I've been mostly happy with it from a technical perspective, but given the time that's elapsed since I subscribed, I'm scoping out options for alternatives.

The commercial VPN space is affiliate- and referral-heavy, so I'm checking here for war stories, advice, perhaps brands or services to shortlist or avoid, etc.

Thanks in advance.

I personally prefer using Private Internet Access, although I believe the HN scene is a bit sceptical of them after they were acquired.

Although this Reddit post does make me feel a bit more comfortable with them - https://www.reddit.com/r/PrivateInternetAccess/comments/dz2w...

YMMV, since your post hasn’t quite indicated why you choose to use a VPN.

Without knowing what the purpose of the VPN is, it is hard to know what to recommend.

Most people shouldn't be using a commercial VPN at all given the security and privacy problems inherent with doing so. The only popular reasons are to bypass geo-locking for services, full piracy, or because you're in an authoritarian country, and then you may want to ask in more niche communities for those things (since those are externalities beyond the scope of the VPN itself).

If I'm not worried about being killed or jailed by authoritarian governments and I just value privacy as a general principle what should I do instead of using a commercial VPN?

Commercial VPN services can worsen privacy (although their marketing claims otherwise).

You've now added a second government, second downstream ISP, second DNS provider, and then of course the VPN services themselves (in particular with the race to the bottom pricing, and the potential for break-ins).

But in answer to your question: Encrypted non-ISP DNS (via DoH (DNS over HTTPS) ideally) and then HTTPS wherever possible.

Most of the really constructive things you can do for privacy improvements are at the browser or OS side though. For example Multi-Account Containers, Facebook Container, uBlock, etc.

Mullvad's been as good as any I tried, and you can just get an OpenVPN profile from them and use your own client rather than theirs. The price is good, too.

I've been using Mullvad as well for the last year or so.

No problems here. Alongside the OpenVPN configs you can get WireGuard as well.

I'm glad someone mentioned Mullvad - that's on my shortlist at the moment, and the OpenVPN profile stuff is also helpful (Nord has that, too).

I use IVPN. While it’s pricey, the company cares about security and privacy. They publish a third party security audits frequently. I haven’t had any issue using their service. They also support wireguard, which is a plus.

A VPN is really a security and privacy "black box" --- it's impossible to know that happens inside.

That said, I wouldn't recommend anything that doesn't allow you to use your own client.

I use VPN that is not mentioned in any these threads.

This was my principle and guarantee that VPN is not actually ran or controlled by the same actors you actually trying to avoid.

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