The online world is fast becoming a dangerous place: the UK government is planning a big brother net spying system; from July, US ISPs will need to start policing their users; and we’ve heard from some of you who are already burning through copyright infringment notices. A premium VPN service is a small price to pay for the ultimate in online security, allowing you to both download what you wish and avoid being snooped on. Today I’ll show you how to set up one such service, BTGuard.
As the name would suggest, BTGuard is a torrent-friendly premium VPN service, but they offer two levels of service depending on if you’d just like to use it for torrents (which is a proxy only), or for everything (a full VPN service). I’m recommending this particular service because of it’s popularity among filesharers, personal experience of similar services, and the fact that they allow torrents which is something most VPNs specifically ban. The full VPN service costs $9.99 per month, with up to 25% discount for purchasing a year. Head over to BTGuard.com to sign up.
Why not use a free VPN? Well, we have highlighted some of these free VPN services before, but they’re always severly limited in some way – a timed cut off, bandwidth limitations, torrents not allowed. We’re using a premium VPN because it’s the only way to ensure safety and anonymity.
The Problem of Lost Connections – VPNCheck
Unfortunately, VPN connections aren’t perfect – even a premium service like BTGuard. When they’re connected you’re well and truly anonymized – but when the connections fail as they sometimes do, any active torrent connections will be restablished under your actual IP, thereby exposing you. To solve this problem, we’re going to set up a utility called VPNCheck. Again, this is a premium piece of software that I’ve chosen to highlight because it works, and it works well; it’s able to work over OpenVPN, which some other free VPN monitoring apps can’t; and it fixes the DNS leakage issue, whereby your ISP can be exposed because you slip back to using their DNS servers. A full licence costs $25, but there is a 14 day trial period. Download the free trial directly from this URL, and purchase a full lience key from their site.
Install and Setup
1. From the BTGuard site, assuming you are logged in, click Setup VPN on the right hand sidebar.
2. Choose OpenVPN, and I’m going to assume Windows 7 or Vista for this tutorial (Note: PPTP is easier to setup, but much less secure).
3. You’ll be presented with instructions containing two download links, one for the OpenVPN GUI application and one for the config files. Download the OpenVPN application first and fully complete the install. Note the directory it installs to.
4. Next, download the config files. Expand these from the zip, and place the resulting two files into the Program Files/OpenVPN/config directory (if you’re running a 64-bit version of windows, no problem, but your program files directory will be Program Files (x86)/OpenVPN/config instead)
5. Install the free trial of VPN Check that you downloaded earlier.
6. Run VPN Check and click the small Config button in the bottom left.
7. Enter your username and password for BTGuard into the appropriate fields on the right. Ensure OpenVPN is selected and not RAS (it’s difficult to tell if they’re selected, so just click OpenVPN to be sure).
8. On the far right there is small section called Locate. Click the Filename button within that, and point the file dialog towards the Program Files/OpenVPN/bin/openvpn-gui-(version).exe
9. In the same Locate area, select Config, and point it towards vpn.btguard file which you downloaded and extracted to the OpenVPN config directory in step 4.
10. In the bottom right, ensure DNS Leak Fix is checked, and change the loop time to 0.1 (this will check your IP every 10th of a second).
11. Restart Windows, and when completed run the VPNCheck application and hit the Cycle Network button. Hopefully, it will kick into action, run OpenVPN GUI, automatically enter your password, and secure your connection. Done!
We want to ensure this is working perfectly before you start actually using it. To do so, we’re going to run two tests – the first requires uTorrent, so open that and disable any active downloads you have right now.
In your browser, open up. Click the Generate Tracking Torrent button, and open the .torrent file it downloads into uTorrent. Resume or force start the torrent if it doesn’t automatically.
Head back to your browser and click on the Check IP tab. If the torrent is functioning, it will list your IP as other torrent users see it – so make sure this isn’t showing your actual IP. If the VPN is working correctly, it’s likely that your detected country is somewhere else too – it may show Netherlands, or Canada, where VPNs are typically hosted – this is a good thing.
Lastly, go to dnsleaktest.com. The front page will again show your detected IP and location as the browser sees it. Click the Check for DNS Leaks Now button to begin the test.
The results will show one or more detected DNS servers. If the DNS leak test is failed, you will see some listed from your own ISP. If it’s successful, and your DNS is not being leaked, you will see only random DNS servers listed.
That’s it, your VPN is now secure and your browsing anonymized. If the VPN drops out, you should see your network connection being instantly cut too, and about 10 seconds later it will try to reestablish both.
If you’re attempting to use the browser and you find webpages don’t load due to DNS errors, you can reset the DNS servers by going to the Config options from VPNCheck – this is just a symptom of using the DNS leak fix.
If you have any more tips or extra configuration you think would be helpful, please do post it in the comments. For problems with the software, I can try to help but a support request to the actual programmers might be more helpful. For more general VPN queries, we have thousands of users ready to help you in the tech support forum, and don’t forget to check out all our other VPN articles.
Image Credit: Surveillance warning, Shutterstock