I profiled 15 providers from Torrent Freak’s Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously? by cost (monthly and yearly), max clients, speed, exit node countries (for the iPlayer in Britain, and Netflix/Hulu in the US and any high privacy/shady countries like Sweden or Romania), tunneling tech (OpenVPN and socks/OpenSSH because PPTP/L2TP/IPsec+PSK is a given) their acceptance of BitCoin and Tor exit nodes. I left out metered hosts and any that fessed up to logging.
Summary of the results after the jump, the raw (and editable) Google Doc is here. In case of vandals, check the second sheet, it’s locked. Drop any grammar/spelling in the comments :)
With one exception, Private Internet Access sweeps the competition. They offer all of the major VPN’s, lots of payment methods, total anonymity, fast exit nodes, super cheap price, and TWO clients. The last one, two clients, is important because I can aggregate all of my home connections that need VPN (torrents, tor exit node, and the Olympics/Dr. Who on the media server) and still have protection from Firesheep while I’m on the road.
The ONE major drawback is their lack of a socks/SSH proxy, as their salesperson explained,
Proxies tend to have issues/security leaks and are not recommended for the highest levels of privacy and anonymity…
This is a debatable point, as both require mode switching and OS X by default uses the VPN as a fallback. Getting into the weeds of the security argument is dangerous territory for a short blog post, but I think two points stand regardless of the above statement’s validity:
- Make damn sure you use Wireshark to check your outflow before running your Tor Exit node. Nothing like getting charged for trafficking of child porn to ruin on your day/career/life!
- It’s one feature that some customers need, they will loose those customers to competitors. I know, “cost/benefit yadda yadda …” I want to be able to surf to BBC or use their iPlayer without messing with my VPN settings. So far, I can only find proxy servers that will let me selectively pick which apps or locations to use.
AirVPN is a close second, but they only allow for ONE connection. According to a salesperson, they aren’t going to start offering special pricing on multiple connections until August 31st. I’m teetering between AirVPN and just setting up a dedicated proxy server/ with OpenVPN.
Given the low cost and large feature-set, I think both are awesome options.
This embed is pretty worthless, so check (and update!) the raw speadsheet. Please reference any speed tests or get someone to make a VPN version of HostMonk/Low End Box mashup with REAL speed testing ; )