Self-Managed VPN as an Alternative to Paid VPN

Blurb / English

Ben Brooks wrote:

The only way to now truly maintain internet privacy (once 45 signs this into law) — even at home — is to use a VPN…
That said, there’s only two VPNs I recommend: Cloak, or Private Internet Access (PIA).

If i’m to add something to his list of VPN to use, i’d recommend another approach entirely: self-managed VPN. The way it works is you buy a cheap Virtual Private Server (VPS), or a cloud instance like from Digital Ocean, Vultr or Linode, and install a VPN software like OpenVPN in it, yourself.

There’s some script that makes this process super easy, such as Nyr‘s or Angristan‘s, and you’ll have a VPN up and ready in no time.

There’s some advantage of doing this, and of course, some disadvantage. First advantage is you’ll have even more control of your data. You can make sure you secure your VPS properly, eliminate as much log activity as possible to ensure your data won’t get leaked and sold somehow, and you can get faster connection.

Wait, faster? Yes, faster. Primarily because VPN provider usually buys bandwidth in bulk, but still if it’s popular enough, they might run out of it still in some region. If you use VPS or cloud instance, they typically have better fair-share bandwidth available. Plus you can utilized tools such as MTR or the providers own Looking Glass to make sure that you get the best routing and speed coming down and up from the provider.

Main disadvantage of using a VPN this way is you lose obscurity. VPS gives you a dedicated IPv4 that associates any activity by that IP address to you, while a paid VPN usually shares the IP with a bunch of other users. But if you’re not doing anything criminal, this can actually be an advantage because your IP Address is cleaner.

In my experience, for example, using PIA will ensure you have to fill so many captcha when you access a certain sites, because Cloudflare flagged their IP blocks somehow and for whatever reason. Same case with many sites that have overly aggresive admin, which blocks these known VPN IPs.

Another disadvantage is you won’t be able to get the same user experience of just buying, installing and then get the VPN running in no time. But in my experience the hurdles will only be hard the first time you try to do it all yourself. After that, it’s a much, much better experience overall.

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I write stuff, A recovering RSS feed addicts.