Notes on my Selection of a VPN Provider

Barbed wire fence. Nothing to do with VPNs really but it suggested security to me. I shot this in Deep Ellum with a Canon 40D and Yashica YUS 135mm f2.8 lens. CC by SA 2.0

I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago asking for advice on VPNs after it became clear Net Neutrality rules were likely to be gutted. I’ve been meaning to improve my online security at home anyway and this seemed like a good time. I got a few replies to that post so I thought there might be some interest in which VPN I ended up with…

I narrowed it down to three: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and TorGuard. I realized I really wanted a dedicated IP so that I could run a server (stuff like a bitcoin node or tor node). That eliminated ExpressVPN because they don’t offer dedicated IPs. I also wanted to pay with bitcoin. Both NordVPN and TorGuard accept bitcoin but NordVPN requires the dedicated IP to be a separate purchase, necessitating two bitcoin transactions and with the tx fees still running over $10 that seemed unappealing. Plus NordVPN has some other issues with their ordering/checkout system that annoyed me like requiring you to provide two email addresses.

So I went with TorGuard. I took advantage of a special offer that’s floating around on the deal sites and got two years of service plus the dedicated IP for $90, or about $3.75 a month. The checkout and bitcoin payment were super easy and fast. I selected a dedicated IP located in LA. Besides my dedicated IP location, I can also use any of 3000 other server locations in 50 countries as my apparent location. I can have 5 simultaneous connections (the dedicated IP eats one of those, leaving 4 and that’s two each for myself and Susan), so enough for home and work or desktop and mobile devices.

They support standard VPN stuff like OpenVPN, so setup on GNU/Linux systems and routers is trivial, they even provided an example conf file for OpenVPN. And they have downloadable software you can use if you’re on an OS like Windows or MacOS where VPN tends to be harder for users to figure out; there are also browser plugins and an Android app for smartphones if you need them.

I had it set up and working pretty quickly. It does increase latency a bit. I get about 30 to 40 ms ping times to google.com over the VPN vs 5 to 6 ms on my direct FIOS connection. But upload/download speeds are the same as always.

The biggest downside to TorGuard is that it’s based in the US so there are some security/privacy threats from the government that wouldn’t be there on NordVPN (Panama) or ExpressVPN (British Virgin Islands). But for preventing my ISP from monitoring or interfering with our activity, it should work fine. And FIOS has to allow VPN usage in work-from-home situations, so this should be a reasonable work-around for any user-side abuses that crop up in the near term.

If you don’t need a dedicated IP, you might want to consider ExpressVPN. Otherwise, I highly recommend TorGuard. Also, if you want to help me out (and if your ad-blocker doesn’t hide it!), use this link to visit TorGuard so I’ll get a referral credit: https://torguard.net/aff.php?aff=3811

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