VPN Logging Policies

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So, you’ve decided to use a VPN to protect your privacy online. Good choice! But have you ever wondered what types of data VPNs collect about you?

Well, let me tell you, it’s hugely important to know what kind of information your VPN service provider is logging. Depending on its logging policy, your VPN service could monitor and store your IP address, choice of server location, and even the websites you visit.

In short, there are dozens of sensitive logs a VPN may collect and share if obliged to do so. And that’s why understanding what your VPN logs is a critical issue if you’re concerned about your digital footprint.

But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! In this article, we’re going to dive into the different types of VPN logs, why certain VPNs keep logs, and what yfou can do to protect your privacy.

Let’s start with the three types of data your VPN might record: activity logs, connection logs, and aggregated logs.

Activiy Logging

Activity logs are the most invasive type of logging. This refers to any data explicitly related to your online activity. It can include browsing history, DNS requests, URLs visited, and usage metadata.

Free VPNs like Hola VPN are a common culprit for collecting activity data. This data is often shared or sold to third parties for advertising purposes, effectively subsidizing the cost of a subscription.

Connection Logs

Connection logs, on the other hand, can include bandwidth usage, dates and times of connection, originating IP address, and VPN server IP address. This data is typically used to optimize network performance and troubleshoot customer queries.

Aggregated Logs

Lastly, aggregated logs mean that the VPN service is collecting information that is supposedly anonymized and impossible to link to a specific user. A VPN service might collect the websites that you visit, the bandwidth you use, or the dates and times you connect to a server. They will then strip this information of any identifying factors and add it to a larger database.

It’s important to note that some VPNs claim that they don’t keep logs when in fact they keep aggregated logs. So, it’s always best to do your research and read their privacy policies thoroughly.

In some cases, aggregated logs can actually be used to track and identify individual users. For example, if a VPN service collects data about the websites that its users visit, a determined third party could potentially cross-reference that data with public information about specific users to identify their browsing habits.

In other cases, aggregated logs might be relatively harmless. For example, if a VPN provider collects data about the number of users on a particular server at a given time, that information is unlikely to be used to personally identify any individual users.

Ultimately, whether or not aggregated logs are acceptable comes down to how much you trust your VPN provider.

Why do VPNs keep logs?

Now, you might be wondering, why do certain VPNs keep logs? Well, it’s often for service improvements or troubleshooting. However, some subscription-based ‘no-log’ VPN services monitor user activity if they are suspicious about an individual, or if they are legally compelled to do so… HideMyAss anyone?!

But don’t worry, there are plenty of trustworthy VPN providers out there who take their users’ privacy seriously. They will be completely transparent about what type of data they collect, why this data is necessary, and for how long theyy store it.

In fact, a truly no-logs VPN service does not collect or store any activity or connection data that could be used to personally identify you. This will ensure that no user can be tied to any specific activity or connection on the VPN network.

What is a no-log VPN?

A no-logs VPN is a virtual private network service that claims not to collect or store any information about its users. This means that the service provider does not collect any data that could be used to personally identify its users, including any activity or connection data transmitted through the VPN tunnel.

A truly no-logs VPN is the most secure and private option for protecting your online privacy. Period.

By using this type of VPN service, you can be confident that your online activities are completely anonymous and untraceable.

It’s worth noting that even the best VPNs might need to collect some minimal data, such as your email address for registration purposes or payment details for billing. However, this data is not associated with any of your online activities and is only used for administrative purposes.

No-logs VPNs are becoming increasingly popular due to growing concerns about online privacy and security. Many people use VPNs to protect their online activities from being monitored by hackers, government agencies, or other unauthorized third parties.

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Using a no-logs VPN means that your internet service provider, government, or anyone else usually won’t be able to track your online activities, as your data will be encrypted and completely secure. It also means that no one will be able to link your online activities to your real identity, giving you complete online anonymity.

However, it’s important to remember that not all VPN providers claiming to be “no-logs” actually are (do you see a pattern yet?!). Some may still collect data and share it with third parties.

Are some VPN logs ever acceptable?

In my opinion, yes. Now hold your horses a moment. Let me explain why:

Firstly, consider that not all types of logging are created equal. In fact, some types of logging don’t necessarily compromise user privacy or security. Here are some examples of logging that might be deemed acceptable:

  1. Connection logs: VPNs may collect connection logs, which include information about when and where a user connected to the VPN, how long they stayed connected, and how much data they transferred during that time. While this information can potentially be used to identify a user, it is not inherently sensitive and is usually collected for network optimization and troubleshooting purposes.
  2. Aggregate usage data: Some VPNs collect aggregated usage data, such as the number of users connected to a server, the amount of data transmitted, or the bandwidth used. This data is typically used for network optimization and capacity planning and doesn’t contain any personally identifiable information.
  3. Technical diagnostic information: In order to diagnose technical issues with their service, VPNs may collect diagnostic information such as error logs, crash reports, and system information. While this information could potentially be used to identify a user, it is usually collected only temporarily and is not retained for long periods of time.

Which are the best VPN providers with no-logs policies?

Here is our pick:

  1. ExpressVPN is a popular VPN service that has a strict no-logs policy. The company does not collect any connection or activity logs and is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has strong privacy laws.
  2. NordVPN is another popular VPN service that has a strict no-logs policy. The company does not collect any user activity logs, and its servers are designed in such a way that they cannot store any data.
  3. Mullvad VPN is a lesser-known VPN service that takes privacy very seriously. The company has a strict no-logs policy and does not even require an email address to sign up for the service. Mullvad VPN also allows users to pay with cash to further protect their anonymity.
  4. ProtonVPN is a Swiss-based VPN service that has a strong no-logs policy. The company does not collect any user activity logs, and its servers are located in privacy-friendly jurisdictions.
  5. Surfshark is a newer VPN service that has quickly gained popularity due to its strong privacy features. The company has a strict no-logs policy and uses industry-standard encryption to protect user data.

It’s important to note that while these VPN companies have strong no-logs policies, it’s still important to do your own research and choose a VPN that best fits your needs and priorities. Additionally, even the best VPN can still be vulnerable to data breaches, so it’s important to always practice safe online habits and use other privacy tools in addition to a VPN.

Do any VPN providers admit to keeping logs?

Surprisingly, yes.

This type of logging is teh most invasive and could potentially compromise your privacy and anonymity, so we recommend you AVOID.

Some of the popular VPNs that keep activity logs are:

  1. Hola VPN: Hola VPN is a free VPN application that is known for collecting activity data and selling it to third parties for advertising purposes. The VPN service logs browsing history, URLs visited, and usage metadata.
  2. SkyVPN: SkyVPN is a subscription-based VPN service that logs personally identifiable information such as your originating IP address and location information. The VPN service is known to record user activity in real-time and then delete it when the VPN session is over.
  3. HideMyAss: Although HideMyAss markets itself as a no-log VPN service, it actually collects connection logs and activity logs according to a few sources. The VPN service keeps records of users’ originating IP addresses, the IP addresses of VPN servers used, and the amount of data transmitted.
  4. Betternet: Betternet is a free VPN service that has been found to collect and share user data with third-party advertisers. The VPN service logs user activities, including websites visited and IP addresses used.

It is important to note that these VPNs may collect other types of data, including connection logs and aggregated logs. As such, they should be avoided if you are concerned about your privacy and anonymity.

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Are FREE VPNs ever safe?

Well, well, well, it’s time to talk about free VPNs and their tendency to log activity. Let me tell you, my friend, it’s not just because they are kind enough to keep a record of your internet history. Oh no, there’s more to it than that. 🙂

You see, free VPNs are like the Robin Hood of the internet world. They take from the rich (your browsing data) and give to the poor (themselves). By collecting your data, they can sell it to third-party companies and advertisers to make money. And who doesn’t love money, am I right?

I remember a time when I was browsing the internet with a free VPN, and all of a sudden, I started receiving targeted ads for a product that I had never even searched for. I was confused and slightly scared that someone was watching me through my computer screen. But then it hit me, the free VPN that I was using was selling my data to these companies. That’s why they were able to show me ads for products that I had never searched for.

The truth is, with free VPNs, you are the product. They offer their services for free, but they make money by collecting and selling your data. So, if you value your privacy, it’s best to avoid free VPNs altogether.

Instead, look for a reputable VPN provider with a good no-logs policy. While you may have to pay for their services, you can rest assured that your data is safe and won’t be shared with third-party companies. Remember, you get what you pay for, and when it comes to online privacy, it’s worth investing in a good VPN provider.

Which VPNs have passed independent audits?

Independent audits of VPNs are third-party assessments of a VPN provider’s privacy and security policies, including their no-logs policy.

The goal of these audits is to provide users with an independent verification that the VPN provider is indeed adhering to their stated privacy and security policies.

During an independent audit, the VPN provider will typically hire a third-party security company to conduct a thorough examination of their systems and practices. The security company will then produce a report detailing their findings, including any vulnerabilities or shortcomings in the VPN provider’s privacy and security policies.

The benefit of an independent audit is that it provides a level of assurance to users that the VPN provider is actually doing what they claim to be doing. Without such an audit, users have to rely solely on the VPN provider’s claims and promises, which can be difficult to verify and could potentially be misleading.

VPN providers that have passed independent audits are generally more trustworthy than those that have not undergone such assessments. Passing an audit provides a level of transparency and credibility that can give users greater confidence in the VPN provider’s privacy and security practices.

But do bear in mind that not all independent audits are created equal. Some audits are more rigorous than others and may carry more weight in the eyes of security experts and users. As such, it’s important to understand the specifics of the audit and who conducted it to make an informed decision about the trustworthiness of a VPN provider.

VPN ProviderPassed Independent Audit
Private Internet AccessYes
Mullvad VPNYes
CyberGhost VPNNo
Hotspot ShieldNo

What can I do to protect myself?

If you’re using a VPN to protect your privacy online, it’s important to ensure that you’re taking all necessary steps to safeguard your sensitive information.

And while most VPN providers claim to be no-logs, the reality is that many do collect some kind of data.

So, what can you do to further protect your data and ensure that your VPN is truly keeping your information safe? Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Choose a Verified No Logs VPN: Look for VPN providers that have had their zero-logging policies verified by third-party auditors or have been verified through real-world events. Providers such as ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, Hide.me, IVPN, Mullvad VPN, PureVPN, TunnelBear, Surfshark, IPVanish, and VyprVPN have passed independent audits and have proven track records of protecting user privacy.
  2. Combine a VPN with Tor: If configured correctly, using a VPN in combination with the Tor browser can add an extra layer of anonymity. However, keep in mind that the Tor browser is notoriously slow and using a VPN with it will further reduce your connection speed.
  3. Layer VPN Services: Using multiple VPN services concurrently will add another layer of protection to your identity. Set up a VPN router and connect your device, install a VPN from a different provider on the same device, and run the application. Keep in mind that using multiple VPNs will considerably impact performance.
  4. Choose a Privacy-Friendly Jurisdiction: Subscribing to a VPN based outside of key intelligence-sharing countries is the safest option. However, operating outside these countries doesn’t guarantee that the VPN provider can be trusted. The VPN company could still cooperate with foreign authorities and log your data if they are so inclined.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions: If you have concerns about your VPN’s logging policies, don’t hesitate to reach out to their support team. Legitimate VPN providers should be transparent about their data collection and storage practices.

By taking these steps, you can more-or-less ensure that your VPN is truly protecting your privacy online. Remember, your personal information is at stake, so it’s important to expect transparency from your VPN provider and take all necessary precautions.

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