We’ve written plenty about why you should always use a VPN when connecting to an unknown wireless network. No matter if you’re in a hotel lobby, on a plane, sitting in a coffee shop (remember when that was a thing?), staying at an Airbnb or walking around a themepark, you’re able to use the Wi-Fi network.
While this is great to stay connected, it also opens you up to every bad person on the internet who’s trying to steal your personal information. Passwords, emails, financial information, work documents. They’re all open game if you log into the wrong network.
We searched for VPNs that were easy to set up and would work on all of our devices. I ended up deciding on TunnelBear and we’ve been happy with the service.
We’ve had our share of troubleshooting along the way. For instance, we’d occasionally get kicked off the network when turning on the VPN. I learned there’s a setting that can fix that problem.
But I’d never considered something about our VPN until reading a comment to one of our posts. In short, the commenter said that you should never trust a 3rd party VPN service because they’re obligated to give your data to the government if they’re asked by court order. In their opinion, the only surefire way to make sure your data is safe is to run your own VPN.
I didn’t even know that was a thing, so I did some searching and it appears that it’s not all that difficult to set up. However, some things make it impractical for most average users. The biggest drawback is that you’re uploading a large amount of data through your home network and unless you have an internet connection with fast upload speeds, it would significantly slow down your internet. You’re also going to be the one who’s responsible for keeping your VPN up to date with all of the most recent security measures.
I did some more searching and found that companies have addressed the issue of handing over your data by not logging any user data. If they don’t keep it, there’s nothing to turn over if they’re asked to turn it over.
A quick search shows that TunnelBear has a no-log policy.
No! TunnelBear does not keep logs. This means we do not collect any information regarding what you ‘bear’owse while connected to our secure and private VPN.
I guess how worried you are about the government getting hold of your internet activities depends on what you’re doing on the internet. I’m not concerned because using a VPN is to keep my private data away from hackers, not because I want to keep my conversations away from government eyes.
There’s another issue if you’re traveling (yes, when we can do that again) to a country that’s known for blocking and monitoring internet traffic, China being the prime example of this practice. In this case, you may want to access parts of the internet that the government doesn’t want you to see. There’s plenty of information on how to use a VPN in these instances.
One last warning was about services that provide free VPN services. Be very careful with these companies because they have been known to collect the data sent through their servers and sell the compiled data. It might not be your personal information but what websites you visit are logged. Yet another reason to find a company with a no-log policy.
After educating myself about VPNs and the options available, I’m still happy with my choice of VPN provider. If you already have a VPN, it would be a good idea to look up their policies about data and privacy. The ones who do a good job don’t try to keep this information secret.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary