Don't Use VPN Services | Learn Why & How

Don’t use VPN services.

No, seriously, don’t. You’re probably reading this because you’ve asked what VPN service to use, and this is the answer.

Note: The content in this post does not apply to using VPN for their intended purpose; that is, as a virtual private (internal) network. It only applies to using it as a glorified proxy, which is what every third-party “VPN provider” does.

  • A Russian translation of this article can be found here, contributed by Timur Demin.
  • A Turkish translation can be found here, contributed by agyild.
  • There’s also this article about VPN services, which is honestly better written (and has more cat pictures!) than my article.

Why not?

Because a VPN in this sense is just a glorified proxy. The VPN provider can see all your traffic, and do with it what they want - including logging.

But my provider doesn’t log!

There is no way for you to verify that, and of course this is what a malicious VPN provider would claim as well. In short: the only safe assumption is that every VPN provider logs.

And remember that it is in a VPN provider’s best interest to log their users - it lets them deflect blame to the customer, if they ever were to get into legal trouble. The $10/month that you’re paying for your VPN service doesn’t even pay for the lawyer’s coffee, so expect them to hand you over.

But a provider would lose business if they did that!

I’ll believe that when HideMyAss goes out of business. They gave up their users years ago, and this was widely publicized. The reality is that most of their customers will either not care or not even be aware of it.

But I pay anonymously, using Bitcoin/PaysafeCard/Cash/drugs!

Doesn’t matter. You’re still connecting to their service from your own IP, and they can log that.

But I want more security!

VPNs don’t provide security. They are just a glorified proxy.

But I want more privacy!

VPNs don’t provide privacy, with a few exceptions (detailed below). They are just a proxy. If somebody wants to tap your connection, they can still do so - they just have to do so at a different point (ie. when your traffic leaves the VPN server).

But I want more encryption!

Use SSL/TLS and HTTPS (for centralized services), or end-to-end encryption (for social or P2P applications). VPNs can’t magically encrypt your traffic - it’s simply not technically possible. If the endpoint expects plaintext, there is nothing you can do about that.

When using a VPN, the only encrypted part of the connection is from you to the VPN provider. From the VPN provider onwards, it is the same as it would have been without a VPN. And remember, the VPN provider can see and mess with all your traffic.

But I want to confuse trackers by sharing an IP address!

Your IP address is a largely irrelevant metric in modern tracking systems. Marketers have gotten wise to these kind of tactics, and combined with increased adoption of CGNAT and an ever-increasing amount of devices per household, it just isn’t a reliable data point anymore.

Marketers will almost always use some kind of other metric to identify and distinguish you. That can be anything from a useragent to a fingerprinting profile. A VPN cannot prevent this.

So when should I use a VPN?

There are roughly two usecases where you might want to use a VPN:

  1. You are on a known-hostile network (eg. a public airport WiFi access point, or an ISP that is known to use MITM), and you want to work around that.
  2. You want to hide your IP from a very specific set of non-government-sanctioned adversaries - for example, circumventing a ban in a chatroom or preventing anti-piracy scareletters.

In the second case, you’d probably just want a regular proxy specifically for that traffic - sending all of your traffic over a VPN provider (like is the default with almost every VPN client) will still result in the provider being able to snoop on and mess with your traffic.

However, in practice, just don’t use a VPN provider at all, even for these cases.

So, then… what?

If you absolutely need a VPN, and you understand what its limitations are, purchase a VPS and set up your own (either using something like Streisand or manually - I recommend using Wireguard). I will not recommend any specific providers (diversity is good!), but there are plenty of cheap ones to be found on LowEndTalk.

But how is that any better than a VPN service?

A VPN provider specifically seeks out those who are looking for privacy, and who may thus have interesting traffic. Statistically speaking, it is more likely that a VPN provider will be malicious or a honeypot, than that an arbitrary generic VPS provider will be.

So why do VPN services exist? Surely they must serve some purpose?

Because it’s easy money. You just set up OpenVPN on a few servers, and essentially start reselling bandwidth with a markup. You can make every promise in the world, because nobody can verify them. You don’t even have to know what you’re doing, because again, nobody can verify what you say. It is 100% snake-oil.

So yes, VPN services do serve a purpose - it’s just one that benefits the provider, not you.

This post is licensed under the WTFPL or CC0, at your choice. You may distribute, use, modify, translate, and license it in any way.

Before you comment: Be aware that any non-constructive comments will be removed. This includes advertising for VPN providers (yes, even when you phrase the marketing claims like a question), trolling, harassment, insults towards other people, claims that have already been addressed in the article, and so on.

If your comment isn’t a genuine question or a concrete counterargument supported by evidence, it probably doesn’t belong here.

20 Likes

VPN is a tool and a protocol , it’s made to hide your IP , but !!! free VPN’s will keep your data on their servers , open source vpn is open to the public to see if they keep logs or what does the code actually do .
depends on where are the VPN company located and what is the contract you sigh with them , i do agree that the general companies may give a non technical user the wrong idea about what is a VPN .
anyway i Use Tor on Linux but i do pay for a VPN when i need to do special tasks that needs VPN API .
cheers , good topic to teach ppl what actually is a Private Virtual Network .
I think ppl should figure out how to use Tor and then learn about VPN and what’s it for

3 Likes

Sure because everybody has the time to do that forget your work or your others obligatios, spend your time setting a vps.
The normal user just want some app easy to use.

1 Like

Thanks for this good tutorial.

You make it out that VPNs aren’t safe, but that’s often not the case. Just use https://thatoneprivacysite.net#simple-vpn-comparison to compare VPNs based on criteria such as ethics, logging, and availability. Then you can make choices on what VPN to use based on what factors are important to you.

1 Like

What about some of the open-source VPNs out there?
They seem trustable.

1 Like

Open source gives access to the code itself so if it logs your data packets you will see it in the code , this is why i think open source is safer when it comes to operating systems (Linux is way safer then Win or even Unix for its access to the public to test the code ) so i would say it’s pretty safe using open source for anything

so do u mean everything is big ass lies and everything fall under money only?

1 Like

your article is good for novice who wants to learn about VPn, but does not make sense why not to use at all.

As for me i use most of the time VPN to bypass nation boundries. ublock few websites, and even in payment gateway, bcz they are much secure then your ISP ,IP.
if you want strong encryption base privacy why not use TAILs os. which route all network through TOR.

.Not all but few paid vpn are good they offers open source encryption . if you want you can monitor your own traffic.

#NOTE i use open servie lynx protocal with AES-256 encryption in system-76 linux(pop os!)…
if you want good encryption . fast server and should able to route your own traffic. build your own VPN, by buying VPS. or use slowish TOR NOD or wont complain :smile:

1 Like

depend which linux you are using… if you are on Ubuntu , its not safe anymore untill they introduced Snap store…
but apart from ubuntu all are security focus, linuxmint,pop os!, elementary, even best Manjaro

1 Like

true point

Tnx for the notice , yeah i couldn’t agree more i use Manjaro , but i also use Backbox it’s Ubuntu based so this one i hope focuses on the Opsec cause it’s a pentesting distro , i don’t know why but i just can’t like Parrot os or Kali lol

I use Tor, easy simple and undetectable

A lot a VPN providers have upgraded there systems since this post was first posted over 3yrs ago online. Dont some use ram based servers now that cannot even keep logs and stuff.

kali is really having some serious flaws but eventally its more powerful then others…

apart from pentesting point of view, if you are working in top 300-500 fortune companies Kali and parrot os does decent job… i never heard of backox,. though it will be good bcz it also made for security purpose. :relaxed:

1 Like

I’d recommend if you’re in doubt about which vpn logs and which doesn’t check out this website, a quick google search and this is what I found. Just goes to show, take everything with a grain of salt, even the guy who says “take everything with a grain of salt”

Yap , in the end of the day the OS’s we mentioned will do most of the jobs even more ,oh by the way you should check out KodachiLinux it comes with tons of FOSS vpns,Tor and secure browsers and lots of more tools ready to go to anonymize you straight away.
if you are hardcore linux user u can always kinda make your own design and toolsets with the classic Arch linux :slight_smile:
i’m to lazy for that lol this is why Manjaro is my favorite for regular daily use

i love using Arch . bt that lazy part applied on me too .

though i use Tails and pop os! they use decent job out each other, Tails for Deep web & pop os ! for normal computer :heart_eyes:

1 Like
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