Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

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featured proxpn   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]With privacy on the Internet becoming an increasingly difficult to obtain commodity, and more governments beginning to censor politically sensitive websites or bow to the whims of the recording industry, having a VPN on hand has never been more useful. There are hundreds of VPN providers though, so today we’re going to take a comprehensive look at proXPN, a service with both free and cost-effective premium plans that we can all make use of in our Internet travels.

Free vs Premium Account

proXPN is fairly unique amongst VPN providers in that they provide a completely free to use option. There are no time limitations, however the speed is restricted to a very generous 300kbs and you may only use a single server location in the United States.

The free account may not be used for torrenting purposes, and you must connect using the OpenVPN protocol (this is more secure than PPTP anyway). Connecting is easily accomplished using the free software provided for both Mac and Windows. Each session will begin by going through a portal first, which looks like this, encouraging you to upgrade:

spalshscreen upgrade   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

Click through to reveal a 10 second countdown timer, after which you’re automatically redirected. Still, you’re getting an awesome service for free, so you can’t really complain about a little push toward a premium account. Subsequent sites you visit during your free session are not affected by the portal page either, just an initial one after connecting.

countdown wait   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

The premium account comes with no limitations – and torrent downloads are possible, with no bandwidth cap. There’s a 7 day free trial available before you’re charged; prices start at $6.25/month when you pay for one year upfront.

Premium Account Speed Results

To get started, you may wish to disconnect from whatever server it has auto-connected you to – the server selection menu then appears under the Connect option.

sever choice   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

Closest Server Test

This was tested by connecting to a UK server from within the UK – the closest server to me. The results were certainly faster than I would have expected – 20mb down / 5mb up; my actual fibre connection without VPN is roughly 50mb down and 5mb up. These tests were all performed using the premium account.

Furthest Server Test

A more likely situation is that you will want to connect through either a US server or a country different to your own, to bypass regional locks and state censorship. Connecting to Dallas, from London, I achieved a slightly less stunning average of 300ms ping, 3mb download and 1.5mb upload, but still quite useable for browsing needs.

Watching Netflix from the UK, for example, is quite a common use case for VPNs. Netflix did indeed display the full US selection, but unfortunately I was stuck with standard definition video. Video playback was full frame smooth at SD resolution, but if you’re looking to stream this out to a HD television, I’d suggest you look at non-VPN alternatives such as UnoTelly, which work by simply changing your DNS with no detriment to the speed or quality of streaming.

Free Account Speed Results

As mentioned, the free account is limited to a single US server location and 300kbs speed. What does this mean? In practice, Netflix streaming was possible, but at severely degraded resolution – pixelated even in a small browser window. YouTube videos were also watchable, but again only at 240p resolution.

Browsing the web under the free account was perfectly fine though; no discernable lag times or slow page loading. I also wasn’t cut off after 5 minutes like some free VPN accounts do. There is however a small popup window that appears in the corner of your PC occasionally – even if you’re not connected to the VPN (but the app is running).

popup   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

VPN Guard

The supplied software includes a VPN guard function, which will close applications when the VPN fails unexpectedly – although it won’t shut down the application if you click disconnect on purpose.

vpnguard   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

In testing, I didn’t experience any random disconnects though on either the free or premium account levels, but your experience may vary if your Internet is prone to connection troubles.

Torrenting

As noted, torrent downloads are only permitted on the premium account. Just out of curiosity, I did try on the free account also but it didn’t work.

Using CheckMyTorrentIP in an unconnected and then connected state showed that the VPN was successful in masking both my IP and any UDP leakage from the browser.

torrent tracker   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

A fairly well seeded 4gb Ubuntu DVD image from PirateBay worked out at around 200–400kbs from the US, Dallas server with no connection errors. Of course, your torrent performance is going to vary greatly depending on the number of seeds so objective testing here is difficult, but the point is that you should see no discernible speed reduction by using proXPN.

Privacy

proXPN does – as expected – a thorough job of masking your IP; this is the core function of a VPN, after all. However, records are kept for 14 days. If extreme privacy is something you need, this could be a concern, and you would be better looking elsewhere at a service such as privacy.io which keeps zero logs. For keeping torrent downloads private, realistically 14 days is unlikely to get your personal information handed over to authorities.

location detected   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

One thing I should note is that if you access your Gmail from an offline client, you may find emails mysteriously stop arriving – this is because Gmail detects the new, foreign IP as suspicious activity and blocks the connection. To fix this, log in to your Gmail via the web, and deal with the alert message by approving the connection. This is not the fault of the VPN of course, but simply something I thought worth mentioning.

gmail errors   Do You Need a VPN To Protect Your Privacy Online? Try proXPN [Sponsored]

Summary

The premium account is a competant and value-for-money VPN that offers a good level of privacy for average users. In extreme cases, if any amount of record keeping is a concern for you, you should look elsewhere. The fact that it allows torrent downloads – and does so at reasonable speeds – is quite rare in and of itself.

There are no speed limitations, nor bandwidth caps. However, the speed you can achieve is going to depend on your usage case; for opening up the US Netflix selection, you will be limited to standard definition. For general privacy, you can choose a local server to give excellent speeds; while for torrents, I suggest the European server for a good trade-off between protection and speed. Overall, it’s a great solution for a variety of tasks, and certainly good value for money.

The free account is mired by a few popups, but it is both time and bandwidth unlimited; you really couldn’t ask for better that that. If you’re at all concerned about your web privacy but can’t afford $6.25 a month, by all means go and grab the client now and make your free account. Just use it when you need it for complete piece of mind; it’s a scary online world we live in, and everyone needs a VPN.

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46 Comments -

Dino Pearsons

This looks like a good alternative to NetShade, which I’ve been using so far. The free accounts looks good, as well.

Income Pitbull

Free VPNs are, in my opinion, a waste if your goal using the VPN is for privacy. Most VPNs keep logs, so there goes being anonymous.

I found a really good VPN that I have been using for over a year now. It is fast, never drops the connection, and they don’t keep ANY logs at all!

For those who are willing to pay a little bit, about $7.60, I recommend BlackVPN. If you use the coupon code NBNAURN, you will get an extra 2 months free added to your account on signup.

M.Barnes

It looks to me like you didn’t read the article because it was talking about a service offering free and paid versions and has a log keeping policy that favors it’s users. Also you’re just spamming your coupon code for another service. Shame on you.

Muo TechGuy

I think he was referring to NetShade, which the previous commenter mentioned. I didn’t see it as spamming, nor do I think it’s an affiliate code, but thanks for being vigilant – there are many who try to use commenting for their own promotional purposes.

Deadeye81

I registered for the free account, and was directed to a screen advising to click the link in the email they sent for verification of my email address, but I never received the email. I sent a “Contact Us” email requesting help, but I have not received a reply. It has been several days.

Florin Ardelian

>Watching Netflix from the UK, for example, is quite a common use case for VPNs. Netflix did indeed display the full US selection, but unfortunately I was stuck with standard definition video. Video playback was full frame smooth at SD resolution, but if you’re looking to stream this out to a HD television, I’d suggest you look at non-VPN alternatives such as UnoTelly, which work by simply changing your DNS with no detriment to the speed or quality of streaming.

Did you just tell the entire world that you’ve broken the Netflix terms of use on purpose? Did you just admit that you’ve watched content meant for United States residents by abusing a loophole in the Internet protocol?

M.Barnes

1) Does it state a rule in the TOS? I did read “The availability of movies & TV shows to instantly watch will change from time to time, and from country to country”

2) I wouldn’t consider using a VPN to view country specific websites as abusing a loophole. If I reside in the United States but I’m traveling, I should still be able to watch or enjoy my paid subscriptions as I travel.

Muo TechGuy

Yes, I did Florin. Whether it’s against the TOS or not, I wouldn’t know, because like most people I’ve never read them; nor would I care.

I will also happily admit to having taught Chinese citizens how to bypass a legal firewall restriction on accessing facebook or youtube, and UK citizens how to access the piratebay, which is now filtered at a countrywide level, or tunneling into Japan so I can purchase JAPANESE music. The internet has no boundaries as far as I’m concerned. If I take my laptop and TRAVEL across an imaginary line in the ocean, the content is also “unlocked” for me without a loophole such as a VPN. Why it should it matter that my “bits” originate in the UK and yours in the US (or Romania)?

Bear in mind, there are companies like UnoTelly which are perfectly legal and perform this regional bypass lock far better than a VPN can – so it’s not like I’m even referring to something illegal here.

Ashwin Ramesh

Use of a VPN has become a vital part of my browsing life :)

Mac Witty

Nice with a free alternative to NetShade. Hope it works as well as that

Derik Cantrell

I used to use BTGuard, but I heard they kept logs so I switched to iPredator. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s faster too.

Anonymous

I use SecurityKiss. Easy and simple.

Ahmed Khalil

looks very good specially free account

qox

If you need a VPN, Im not sure you want its server to be in the USA…

Bill

Actually a lot of the over seas countries have strict laws in regards to keeping logs. Believe it or not the US does not… yet..

Boni Oloff

So, there is no giveaway?
Just kidding :)
Looks interesting service.

M.W

I have no idea what a VPN is so I guess I don’t need it. So why can’t the authors of makeuseof start out by giving an intro explanation for old geezers trying to understand the need for that service. Ok, I know I could look it up but still …….

Shmuel Mendelsohn

Actually, Make Use Of does offer explanations for MANY things. People that are more technically inclined can just ignore those that are simple for them, but for people that need the help they are great. Make Use Of also offers plenty of help for people like me who are techs and are supposed to know everything. I’d be surprised if they haven’t made a guide to VPN’s

K. C.

Since proXPN is a U.S. based company and the servers are also in the U.S., you can’t rely on it.
Everybody should know by now that the U.S. government spies on everything they can get their hands on and companies in the U.S. are required to give unrestricted access to the government.

Muo TechGuy

Did you read the article? Servers are not all in the US, you can choose where to connect to.

K. C.

If you use the ‘free’ version only a U.S. server is available.

But in any case, it is a U.S. based company. I don’t trust any U.S. company to securely store my data or anonymize my traffic.

Anonymous

Being in China for the last few years a VPN account is mandatory for me.
I think the number of available servers is very important. Also 24/7 chat availability is an extreme plus.

I have used many VPN providers over the last year and some have nice front ends with few servers, some have a decent front end, multiple servers but with limited chat support.

Over all… I give 5 stars to StrongVPN part of the ReliableHosting Group. They have the most available International and US based servers I have found, the best 24/7 chat support I have used in any industry and varying price plans. And no, I don’t work for them… I am just a very happy customer.

Sylanel

It sure looks interesting. Great idea to share such information.

Blake C

I just installed and tried the free version and ..obviously I am doing something wrong. Once running, my browser automatically redirects to http://portal.proxpn.com and then instead of forwarding to the requested site, just forwards to a Proxvpn offer to upgrade to premuim service and goes no further. I couldn’t access any site on the internet. Well, that’s one way of staying secure I guess.

Furthermore, their fairly large “ad” offering to upgrade me to premuim was impossible to close, move, or remove in any way. Pop ups are one thing, but a permament advertisement blocking a chunk of screen is another. Maybe it’s my system (standard Windows 7), but this was a big fail for me. Not going to consider upgrading to a paid account.

John Walters

Hi James
At the risk of sounding like an idiot could I point out that your article is extremely useful if you know what VPN is. Maybe all MakeUseof subscribers are technically competent and up to date. This one isn’t. Should I unsubscribe or will you reveal the mystery of the acronym?
May I also mention something I do know a little about?
You wrote “proXPN is fairly unique”. Unique is an absolute word. Something is either unique or it is not. It is like saying a woman is fairly pregnant.
Also please use a spell checker – competant should be competent.
Apart from these little niggles, thank you for the article and for all the useful information even I glean from MakeUseOf.
Cheers
John Walters

Muo TechGuy

Thanks for the input John, though not all our articles are written to tackle topics from the absolute beginner level. If you’d like to know the basics of a VPN, we wrote about exactly what one is back in March: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/vpn-tunnel-set/ , as well as detailing them in our free pdf guide to privacy on the international web: http://www.makeuseof.com/pages/information-liberation-your-guide-to-the-international-web . It would perhaps be a good idea to label articles in terms of “level” though, so I’ll add that to the feature list.

You’re wrong about the word unique; it can be absolute, but one of the dictionary definitions of the word is: “unusual, or not typical” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/unique). Using a quantifier with the word, such as “very” or “fairly” is perfectly valid.

My editor should have picked up on the typo for competent; thats why we have them.

John Walters

Thanks for the feedback James and the useful links. I now know what a VPN is.

I suppose I pick up on modifiers to a word like unique as a reaction to the amount of hype we all experience these days. Everything strives to be seen as the best or the greatest or the most unusual.

But language changes all the time so will another word come along meaning ‘unique’? Sometimes it is nice to be precise.

Cheers, John

Tim

Alternatively you can use TOR Browser. Yes I’ll grant it does not support Flash or some other stuff, but Flash etc is the stuff that can really compromise your security.

Austin Richard

very good specially free account

Nguy?n Tân

There are many VPN service but I don’t use any one at the moment!

emlyn williams

I have had an account with unblock-us for the last six months and I find it to be a top program.

Keith D.

Great Article! I already use a VPN & strongly urge all my fellow [i.e. - includes boys, girls, men & women!] MakeUseOf.com’ers to do the same!

Nigel K Ga

It looks good ProXPM but I ran it thru Virus Total like I do with all software, and according to TrendMicro-HouseCall it say this is build inside. TROJ_GEN.F47V0829 and under Jotti’s Malware scan it shows > PUA.Win32.Packer.Vip by ClamAV. So I think I will leave it and look for a other type of VPN on this cool site,

Sorry guys that I put this info. But I’m letting you know

Regards

Nigel

John

Try SpotFlux.com. Free and fast.

Chris

SpotFlux requires that Java be installed. Java is still the #1 hacker target. I therefore avoid anything that runs on Java.

Chris

Because of this article I tried proXPN. It is frustratingly slow. I received only 100 kbps, not the 300 kbps as per this article. When I use Speedtest.net to check where I am, it shows me as being in London, not Dallas as I was told during connection. The wait times are unacceptable, even for a free VPN. There are better free VPNs out there. HotspotShield, and SecurityKiss, for example.

Chris

Update. Speedtest.net shows download speeds at 50 kbps and upload speeds at 140 kbps. Pretty pathetic.

Chris

For the fun of it, I tried out SecurityKiss from my current (same) location. Download speeds at 3.2 Mbps, upload speeds at 1.5 Mbps.

Muo TechGuy

The free account *only* connects to Dallas, so there is no way you would have connected via London. If you did, something went wrong and it isnt using the VPN.

Chris

I don’t know why I’m shown to be in London, as I tested the VPN from the middle east.

Jim Spencer

Great article! Personally, I think paying a small nominal fee is worth it, as you can feel a little more secure in your privacy and then help is easier to attain!

Deadeye81

I registered for the free account, and was directed to a screen advising to click the link in the email they sent for verification of my email address, but I never received the email. I sent a “Contact Us” email requesting help, but I have not received a reply. It has been several days.

Anonymous

Good work!

Mark Ackleys

I use Hotspot Shield VPN for my online privacy. It completely bypass information from our ISP and provides secure browsing.
You can also check it out here: http://www.hotspotshield.com

Edward Bellair

People on the net like their privacy? I find that hard to believe in the facebook nation. How long will these options be out there? The U.S. government is dwindling and taking our rights away as we sit here. So how long is it going to take before they label anyone using vpn’s or tors as terrorist or child porn mongers? You know, just to keep our country safe.