The Advantages of a Private VPN Server
Dear reader – we will be the first to admit that the current hype and marketing of VPN services is way over the top. In 2019, there were over 480 MILLION downloads of VPN apps!
That’s almost half a billion VPN apps!
Now, there are very good reasons for using VPNs but the ones being used as marketing fodder by most companies are just plain misleading! So we’ve documented the real security issues that VPNs address in our article – What VPNs Protect and What They Don’t.
We hope that after reading that article you can make an informed decision on whether you need a VPN. If after reading it you are continuing on with your purchase of a VPN, then you should seriously consider a private VPN server – instead of using one of the large shared VPN service providers.
In this article we will discuss the reasons why we recommend using a private VPN server instead. In order to understand why this is a better choice for most users, we will look at the shortcomings of shared VPN services. And we’ll discuss how a private VPN server might mitigate these issues.
The Shortcomings of Shared VPN Services
There are four major shortcomings of shared VPN services:
1. Many sell users browsing history
Free and low cost shared VPN services need to make money somehow. To do this, they collect, record and sell your browsing information. Yikes!
Mitigation: With your own VPN server, no one other than yourself is collecting this information. And whatever information is on the server can be removed by just destroying the virtual server and rebuilding it again – it takes just a few clicks of your mouse to do that.
2. Hacker Target
For hackers, it takes the same amount of effort to compromise a server with dozens or hundreds of tunnels vs a server with only one user. Thus, with potentially hundreds of user targets on a single server, hackers will likely target the large shared VPN services instead of servers with just one or a few users on it.
Mitigation: Just having your own server makes you less of a target!
3. Shifting Trust
When using a VPN, one of the things you’re trying to avoid is having your DNS queries and web browsing habits recorded by your ISP. But, when using a shared VPN service, you now run the risk that the data is being recorded by the VPN provider. You’ve just shifted your trust from your ISP to your VPN provider. Wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to trust either of them?
Mitigation: When you have your own server, there is a much smaller chance that the cloud provider will be recording your data. Cloud services such as Digital Ocean and Amazon Web Services serve large corporate clients who will not take kindly to their activity being recorded and shared.
4. Multi-user costs
Most shared VPN services charge by the user. Above a certain number of users the cost starts to sting.
Many of the services do offset that by allowing each user to have multiple devices. So theoretically you could have one user id and share it with all members of your family.
But what happens if a device is lost or compromised? When that happens you have to change the security information on all other devices that share it.
Thus, the best recommended security practices dictate that each device should have its own distinct user.
Unfortunately with the number of devices each household or business has, the cost of multiple users can climb rapidly – even on “cheap” plans!
Thus, it turns out that with Shared VPN services, it can get quite expensive to implement best security practices with a group of users.
Mitigation: Your private server can handle multiple users. With SPINUPVPN, 5 users on a single private server is only $15.00/month – about $3.00/month per user.
The Shortcomings of Private VPN Servers
It would be dishonest of us to write this article and not highlight the issues with using your own VPN server.
The three big ones are:
- Setup – Its a little bit more work to setup and manage than the slick interfaces provided by shared VPN services. However, a product like OPENVPN has lots of documentation and history so you’re never too far away from help if you ever need it. And, of course, if you use SPINUPVPN we’re always here to help!
- Cost – its going to be more expensive for one or two users – but its still around the cost of a few cups of coffee a month. Above two users, the server might actually be cheaper. So if you get one for your family or a group of friends it would be cheaper on an individual level than using a premium shared VPN service provider.
- IP Address – your server comes with a fixed IP address. Theoretically this means that someone can “follow” you around the internet if they know this address. But most companies don’t bother any more. In fact, some of the large VPN services offer a DEDICATED IP option as an add-on feature for a few additional dollars per month. This is because most IP addresses are shared between users on large networks (such as your cell provider or your home ISP). So an IP address is no longer the best way to track a single user around the internet for long periods of time. And if you use SPINUPVPN, a couple of clicks will re-provision your server with a new IP address and, if you need, in a new location as well.
Additionally, you still have to trust the service provider (us) to not go digging around in your servers and collecting information. And you do have to trust that the cloud provider isn’t going to do the same thing.
Finally, there is still a shared aspect to VPS servers. VPS servers are isolated from each other but multiple of them do run on the same physical machine at our cloud provider (eg: Digital Ocean). Still, the risk is a lot lower than having all your users running through non-isolated sessions on a single server. (Shared VPN service providers don’t want the overhead of pure isolated sessions because it reduces the number of users they can accommodate on a single physical server.)
We strongly believe that a private VPN server is the way to go if you have a need for VPN services.
There are some serious risks associated with using shared VPN services. But many of these risks can be mitigated by using your own server while other risks are lessened. Multi-user costs are also a factor that can make a private server more attractive.
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