If you care about your privacy and anonymity online, you probably know what a VPN is. But just in case you need a refresher, here is how a VPN works. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) protects you while you’re using the Internet by hiding your location and IP address and encrypting your browsing data. Your traffic is routed through a so-called encrypted tunnel making it very hard for someone to intercept and read it. This means that any information related to your browsing sessions will be private and no website or person will be able to collect and use it without your knowledge. That makes using public wi-fi much safer and you don’t need to worry that your sensitive data could be compromised when banking or shopping online. And if you’re using your home wi-fi, your internet service provider won’t be able to track your online activities. Additionally, with a VPS you can access geo-restricted content, bypass censorship, or fool booking websites that you’re browsing from another location to get better prices on plane tickets, accommodation, etc.
VPN providers - do they really protect your data?
Some years back, VPNs were used mainly by companies that needed to give their employees secure remote access to their servers. In recent years, however, more and more ordinary people have started using them for the reasons listed above. And, naturally, as the market for such services has grown, the number of VPN providers has increased and most people choose the convenience and ease of use they offer. Unfortunately, there is a downside to using services such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Surfshark. The problem is that your data gets routed through the server of the VPN provider and even though it is encrypted, the provider can access it if they wanted to. This means that they can also give your data to a third party if they decide to or if they are required by law to do this. While it is true that some companies claim that they do not log any information about their users and their sessions, sometimes it turns out they do collect personal information. Just last year, several VPN providers were found to log user data despite stating otherwise in their privacy policies. And what’s worse, the database was compromised and the logs leaked on the Internet. It included sensitive information such as websites visited, IP addresses, location data and even passwords stored as plain text. Makes you wonder if you can trust any company to keep your data safe.
VPN on a VPS - best for privacy
Thankfully, there is another better way to use a VPN. It requires a bit more effort on your part, but if you truly care about protecting your identity online and keeping your information private, you should consider installing your very own VPN on a virtual private server (VPS). That way you won’t need to connect to some company’s server, but will have your very own encrypted tunnel and no one will have access to your logs but you. You can even disable the logs, if you prefer (recommended).
You can get a VPS from a number of VPS hosting providers worldwide, but before ordering the cheapest option on the market, there are some things you need to decide on. First of all, the location. Check where the servers of the hosting company are collocated and what the local legislation is. Different countries have different rules regarding copyright and what content is considered illegal and also who and when can request user data from a hosting company. Additionally, if you plan on accessing geo-restricted content, make sure it is accessible from said country. Of course, you will also need to review the VPS provider’s Terms of Service as well to see what usage of their servers is permitted and what information is collected or reviewed.
At VPS.BG, we value privacy above all else and protecting our customer’s data is what we’re all about. If you are interested in purchasing a VPS from us, you can choose between a KVM VPS and an OpenVZ 7 VPS - either one can be used to set up a VPN server. You can read about the differences between the two in our documentation.
Once you have made your choice of VPS, you need to consider which VPN software you’re going to use. This is probably the best thing about setting up your own VPN - you can select the software and the encryption protocols and configure the VPN to your liking. That way you can be 100% certain what you get in terms of privacy and security. We recommend you don’t rush this process, but read the documentation of the software carefully to make sure you set it up properly. You can choose from OpenVPN, SoftEther, WireGuard, to name a few. Most support a number of operating systems, so you can install the OS you’re most comfortable with on your VPS. When choosing a VPN server software, keep in mind that they all use different protocols for authentication and encryption. If you are interested in learning more about the most common VPN protocols and how they work, head on to our article on this topic.
One downside of using a VPN server on your VPS is that you cannot easily change your location when browsing, because it is dependent on the physical location of your VPS. In other words, this approach is best for privacy protection, but doesn’t work as well for unblocking geo-restricted content. If your main goal is to be able to change your location at will, NordVPN and other similar services will be better suited to your needs.
When there is an intermediary, there is always the risk that they will abuse your trust. This is also true for VPN providers. Users of VPN services need to be mindful that their browsing data, location and IP can be accessed without their knowledge or consent. Therefore, you should only use such services, If you don’t mind that your information can be leaked or given to third parties. But if you want to have full control over your data and privacy, the best approach is always to have your VPN on your own virtual private server.