The PureVPN Review: A Top Performing VPN?

PureVPN ReviewLooking for a review of the PureVPN service? You’ve got it! As you may know using a VPN is a popular way to increase your security online especially when using WiFi in public places like hotels, coffee shops or libraries.

While a VPN does not eliminate all risk it is probably enough for most people and is certainly a must-have service if you do a lot of web browsing, work or play over wireless or wired networks that you do not have control over (i.e. anywhere outside your home and even there if you have an insecure router).

Read on to find out how you can increase your security online (and enjoy services like Netflix regardless of your location).

About a month ago I heard from the team at PureVPN who had seen my review of the Witopia PPTP VPN service and were interested in hearing what I thought of PureVPN.

I’d just renewed my Witopia service and it was working pretty well for the most part although not quite as well as it had over my DSL connection back in the United States.

I’m now running over a 2 Mbps cable Internet connection in Central America and Witopia’s PPTP service was dropping it’s connection a bit more than I liked to see. It also wasn’t quite as fast connecting all the way from Central America to servers in the U.S.

A PureVPN Review Opportunity

When I heard from PureVPN I was pretty curious to learn more about their service because of the minor issues I’d been running into with the VPN I was using. They offered to give me a year of basic level service if I would be willing to share my experience with others.

I warned that I might have to write the truth even if I didn’t like using PureVPN but that didn’t seem to be a problem :) Guess they were confident enough in the product.

They also signed me up for their affiliate program so if you decide to use PureVPN and sign up through one of the links here I do get a commission.

You can go straight to the their website if you’d like of course but those of you who decide to click through one of my links here have my thanks!

So…now that we know about all that let’s see what there is to know about this Virtual Private Network.

The PureVPN Packages

There are three service levels you can get through the company:

You can pay on a monthly basis too ($9.95, $18.00 and $15.00/mo) but you will end up paying 20-26% more over the course of one year than if you just pay for a year upfront.

The Pure Gold plan gives you a dedicated IP address if that is something that you need. Most users will probably be best served with the Standard plan which is the one I’ve been using for the past month. The pricing is comparable to other services out there.

Using the PureVPN Service

While you can use the PureVPN service on Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems I’ve been running it only under Windows XP. Some of the work I’ve been doing requires the Windows OS so despite experience with Linux I haven’t been using it much lately.

Setup is extremely easy and if you can install programs on your PC you can get the VPN up and running without trouble.

PureVPN provides a handy connection dashboard program you can download that let’s you select the server you would like to use as well as the protocol (L2TP or PPTP). Once you choose both and enter your username and password you simply hit the big green “Connect” button and you are logged on in a matter of seconds.

 

PureVPN Dashboard

I’ve occasionally had problems connecting to a specific server (I usually use the Florida USA server because of it’s speed) and get an error message telling me the log in failed. If that is the case I simply choose another option such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles or Chicago and connect without further problems.

There are many other servers around the world in places like Singapore and Switzerland but I often want to appear to be based in the United States to the websites I visit so I usually run through the U.S. servers for convenience.

I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced a disconnect that wasn’t caused by a failure in my cable connection but sometimes it does seem like the VPN stalls so-to-speak which amounts to about the same thing especially if you are in the middle of downloading a large file.

I think the stall in connection I’ve experienced only occurs when I’ve been connected to the same server for more than 8 hrs. I haven’t tested this rigorously since I typically just disconnect and reconnect to a different server if a stall out occurs.

This seems to be the type of thing you have to deal with in relation to VPN services. Like I mentioned before the Witopia PPTP VPN had a tendency to just disconnect on it’s own recently. Perhaps there is a service out there that has a 100% reliable connection but I have my doubts.

PureVPN Speed Test

Of course no one is going to use a VPN for Internet security if it slows there connection so much that it is unusable.

Fortunately my experience with the PureVPN standard level plan is that it delivers some pretty good speed figures. My cable connection is currently rated at 2Mbps and performs at that level most of the time.

Running through the VPN I will usually get ~1.4Mbps when using the Florida USA server. I’ve tried a few and the Florida connection seems to have a slight edge over the others for me although Los Angeles also performs quite well and with low ping times (typically about 110 ms).

You can see a screen shot of my SpeedTest.net results below as well as see the video of the speed test in progress. As I mention in the clip this is a below average reading for me since I usually get over 1Mbps and a much lower ping number.

 PureVPN Speed Test Results

 

I don’t know if the slow results for today were based on a slow down with the VPN or with my local cable which has been unreliable lately.

Should You Use PureVPN?

The decision is up to you but I can tell you that I’ve been pretty happy with the service in the month that I’ve used it and am glad to have another 11 months of service left. I expect I’ll be renewing it as a paid subscriber when my initial year is up.

I can only compare it with Witopia so there may be other top of the line VPNs out there I haven’t tried but I do prefer PureVPN and even though I could use both at this point since I have a year’s worth of service in each I still connect to PureVPN every time I log on.

The do have a 3 day money back guarantee so you have a chance to reverse course if you try it and find that it doesn’t work well for your situation.

My call is that it is worth your while. The price is pretty standard, the software is very nice to use and the reliability has been good.

If you want to secure your Internet connection or just get access to U.S. only services like Hulu, Netflix and others you can get PureVPN service for yourself by clicking here.

If you’ve found this review helpful why not share it with others via the Facebook, Twitter or +1 buttons below? You can also check out my PC security guide right here.

Posted in Virtual Private Networks | Leave a comment

The Complete Witopia Review: Is the Personal VPN PPTP Service a Good Choice?

witopia-reviewI wrote a brief review on Witopia’s PPTP personal VPN service a few months back and thought now might be a good time to revisit it with an updated review not only because

I’ve had a chance to use the service for several months but also because it’s one of the top search terms leading to this site. That tells me some folks out there are trying to get an idea of the quality of service Witopia provides.

We’ll break this review into three sections:

  • About Witopia’s PPTP VPN service
  • Based on my experience with it could the service be a good choice for you?
  • How to set it up on your own PC

So, if you’re a “witopia review” Googler here’s a welcome to you! I’m assuming you know the basics of what a VPN will do to help you protect your privacy online but if not you might want to read the first couple paragraphs of my original Witopia review which give a brief look at what it’ll do for you.

About the Witopia personalVPN PPTP Service

By the way I’m not currently affiliated with Witopia in any way other than being a customer. I did look into becoming an affiliate but it seems they don’t have an open affiliate program at the moment so that didn’t go anywhere. On to the info…

Witopia offers three different Virtual Private Network services:

  • PersonalVPN – SSL/PPTP Combo
  • PersonalVPN – SSL
  • PersonalVPN – PPTP

Since I was trying to be frugal I went with the PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol) option which is the most affordable at $39.99/year.

If you’ll be connecting from many different locations and want a VPN protocol that is less likely to be blocked you may want to go with their top tier service (the $69.99/year SSL/PPTP combo) since it provides the most alternate connection options.

The personalVPN – PPTP service doesn’t require any third party software and works on many different platforms including:

  • iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
  • MacOS X
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP
  • Linux
  • Android OS
  • Symbian OS
  • Windows Mobile

One of the things that attracted me to Witopia for VPN service was the huge number of servers available worldwide. The list is too big to include here but you can check it out on Witopia’s product page.

How Has It Performed?

What we really care about is how well the service performs for us, right? I’ve been very happy with it overall.

My connection speeds are always quite fast and I never feel as though I’d be better off speed wise if I didn’t route my traffic through the VPN.

Here’s a screenshot of my latest speed test which topped out at 1.4Mbps on my DSL line limited to 1.5Mbps.

Witopia-Review-Speed-Test

I do occasionally experience trouble connecting to the server in one city but can usually resolve that by using another of the connection options (i.e. connecting through Dallas if the Los Angeles server fails to connect).

This is not what I’d call a frequent occurrence but it has happened perhaps 5 times in the past four months. Just setup a couple different connections to different servers and all it’ll take is a couple clicks to get online if you find your connection to one server isn’t successful.

Getting disconnected from the VPN server in the middle of web browsing is a rare occurrence indeed which is a good thing…obviously.

I haven’t had any need to contact Witopia for support so I can’t evaluate their customer service but of course the best customer service is a trouble free product.

How To Set Up the Witopia VPN

Getting your system set up to use the PPTP personal VPN service is super easy. I don’t have every platform that it is compatible with but I’m guessing many folks will be using it on a Windows system.

I’m running Windows XP (hard to believe it’s about a decade old isn’t it?) so the set up video I include will demonstrate a Windows XP set up however the steps are very, very similar for Vista and Windows 7 so don’t be scared off.

As a brief aside: If you haven’t noticed I recently released a guide that includes HD narrated how-to video and step-by-step instruction not only on how to set up a VPN on your PC but also secure it and your files from thieves, snoops, prying government agents and the like using encryption and other cool tricks. You can read more about the guide here.

Getting back to the matter at hand…

…before you get started make sure you have your username and password created/assigned when you purchased your VPN service. All the other setup information is available through the support wiki on Witopia’s site. I’ll post the steps below the video if you’d like to reference them.

Steps:

1) Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel

2) Open Network Connections

3) Go to the File menu and select New Connection

4) In the New Connection Wizard click Next & select Connect to the network at my workplace

5) Hit Next and select Virtual Private Network Connection

6) In the Company Name field enter whatever name you want to identify the connection as. It’s up to you and won’t affect the functionality of the connection.

7) Select Do not dial the initial connection

8) Hit Next and enter the server address for the Witopia server you wish to connect through. You can find the list of options here (in the video I use the pptp.yyz.witopia.net server address which out of Toronto)

9) Hit Finish to complete the set up. A window will open asking for your username and password. Once you enter those credentials you’ll be connected and should see the little connection icon in the notification area by the clock in the bottom left of the screen.

That’s It!

Once you’ve completed the process once it’s super easy to run through it again to create multiple connections to different Witopia servers worldwide in case you wish to connect via a different server in the future.

Here’s the link to check out the Witopia service options: Witopia.net

Are you a fellow Witopia user? Leave a comment and tell us what your experience has been. Also, if you think this review would be useful to folks you know be sure to share via the Twitter and Facebook buttons up top!

Posted in Virtual Private Networks | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

How To Hide Your IP Address Using the Free Ixquick Proxy – w/Video

You’ve probably heard about IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and how they can be used to track your activity online but did you know it’s fairly easy to obscure your IP address to cover your tracks?

Since IP addresses are one of the primary identifiers on the Internet the ability to hide your IP address is very important from a web privacy and anonymity standpoint.

There are a few different tools you can use to hide your ip address:

Come to think of it you could say these are all just variants of the proxy server idea. Today let’s look at a quick and easy way to use a free proxy server to mask our system’s ip address. It’s not particularly advanced but it can be handy for a level of anonymity especially for temporary use.

Using the Free Ixquick Proxy Server

The Starting Page search engine by Ixquick is intended for the privacy minded search user and (according to their privacy info page) doesn’t keep logs of your ip address or search keywords.

Another cool feature of the search engine you might not immediately notice is the option to access search results via a proxy server. Why would you want to do that?

When you go to https://startingpage.com the search engine doesn’t record your ip address however once you enter a search phrase and click one of the results the website you click through to visit can and usually does record your ip address. The third party website can also use tracking cookies to identify you on future visits.

Note: Skip down to see the video how-to…

Here’s what the website WhatIsMyIPAddress.com sees when I visit it directly without going through the Ixquick proxy:

How to hide your ip address

That IP information, along with the type of web browser I used, is what any other website I visit will see as part of my identifying information.

But suppose I got to https://startingpage.com and search for “what is my ip address.”

My top result is the website I just mentioned:

how to hide your ip address: search results

Notice the link that says “View by Ixquick Proxy” in the image above? That is what you want to click to access the web site through the proxy server which will hide your ip address.

When we access the WhatIsMyIPAddress.com site through the proxy server we get the result below. Notice how the IP address and location is different then my original results shown above where I accessed the website directly.

ip address hidden with proxy

Here’s a little video illustration of the Ixquick proxy in action:

Not Perfect, But It Is Free

Using the Ixquick proxy server to hide your IP address isn’t the most advanced and functional way to use a proxy server for Internet anonymity but it is a handy tool for times when you might not have access to your normal computer or software. Perhaps at an Internet cafe or the library.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think. If you have other suggestions for free, easy-to-use proxy servers you can share those as well!

Posted in Anonymous Browsing, Search Engine Privacy | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

How You Can Get Free Access to the Upcoming Art of Privacy Guide

[/caption] Update: The Art of Privacy is now available for purchase so access for testing is now closed. You can read more about it here. Thanks beta testers for your feedback! *************** It's been a little quiet around here lately hasn't it? Well, there has been a reason for it and I believe it's not that bad of a reason either. I've been working on The Art of Privacy Guide. I " data-image="http://theartofprivacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/3412560699_5fc614317f.jpg" data-site="The Art of Privacy">

We have more than that here...

We have more than that here...

Update: The Art of Privacy is now available for purchase so access for testing is now closed. You can read more about it here. Thanks beta testers for your feedback!

***************

It’s been a little quiet around here lately hasn’t it? Well, there has been a reason for it and I believe it’s not that bad of a reason either.

I’ve been working on The Art of Privacy Guide. I gave it the tag line, “Top Secret Level PC Security for Non-Geeks” to give a little clarity to what it exists to accomplish. I said something about “free access” though didn’t I?

Here’s the deal: I need your help to make sure this product is worthy of sale in the near future so I’m looking for folks willing to test it and give me feedback. This is a highly prestigious position mind you, so I’ll have to limit access to 20 passes for now. The cool thing is that those are 20 free access passes.

Here’s the “sell” and I’ll tell you more about how you can help towards the end. Please have your tin-foil handy for fashioning into a hat of your liking!

About The Art of Privacy Guide

Are you concerned about deteriorating privacy?

Would you like to know your confidential data is safe from prying eyes even if your laptop is stolen or seized?

Perhaps you’ve been wondering how you can surf the Internet safely and privately even while using public Wi-Fi?

These are exactly the problems that are covered in The Art of Privacy Guide: Top Secret Level PC Security for Non-Geeks. I’m not kidding about the Top Secret level security either! Here are some of the things you’ll learn:

-How to prevent your online accounts from being high-jacked (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon etc.)

-Techniques that will help protect you from identity and credit card theft

-An easy, reliable way to use Top Secret approved encryption to keep your personal files locked tighter than Ft. Knox.

-Where to find & download quality, free anti-virus software

-How to bypass many forms of Internet censorship

-How to never lose your irreplaceable documents & digital photos again

-Ways to hide your location & IP address from websites you access

-Simple techniques for private browsing and search engine use

-How to lock un-authorized users out of your PC

I’ve been involved in the IT industry since 2001 and while I’m not an all-knowing, uber-skilled, hacker-turned-security-consultant I have learned about some helpful PC privacy techniques and how to help non-geeks make the most of the technology available to them.

My goal with this course is to help you get your Windows PC set-up for excellent security and privacy with the minimum amount of effort on your part. In fact it shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon to create a greater level of digital security and privacy for yourself than most people ever achieve.

This material is focused on getting you up and running rather than discussing the various minutiae of this or that protocol and other technical information only useful to Information Technology devotees. I know you are looking for effective solutions so you can focus on the things that are important to your life.

Becoming a tech-geek probably isn’t one of them which is why this course contains the following materials specifically to make your life easier:

-A membership format website with 7 steps you should follow to get your PC to Top Secret level security

-Author narrated, 1280x720p HD video tutorial clips illustrating each of the 7 steps towards enhanced privacy (you can follow along to complete the steps on your own PC)

-Specific recommendations for applications and services (most of which are free to use or download)

-Brief, straightforward explanations on why each step is important and how it will help you

BONUS: You’ll also get access to a bonus section of the course with tips and techniques on how to prevent the theft of your laptop or other mobile gear.

How You Can Help

If you’d like to get free access to the Guide as a tester let me know in the comments right here on this site and I’ll get you a login pass (it’ll come to the email address you use to comment). Your solemn responsibility as a test user is to:

  • Let me know of any typos or other errors
  • Assess whether the Guide lives up to it’s billing above
  • If it does not what can I do to improve it

This can all be done via the comment system within the Guide membership site itself.

Many thanks! Looking forward to seeing you on the inside!

—–

Image credit

We have more than that here...

[/caption] Update: The Art of Privacy is now available for purchase so access for testing is now closed. You can read more about it here. Thanks beta testers for your feedback! *************** It's been a little quiet around here lately hasn't it? Well, there has been a reason for it and I believe it's not that bad of a reason either. I've been working on The Art of Privacy Guide. I " data-image="http://theartofprivacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/3412560699_5fc614317f.jpg" data-site="The Art of Privacy">