Is it a good idea to use an AWS server as a vpn?
I have an amazon server that I use to host my email and my simple website. I'm considering setting a vpn up on it, but I'm not sure if it's worth it. Would my data be as secure as with 3rd party vpns? Would Amazon see my traffic? It seems like if I go this route, anything that I do could be traced back to me, because the see the ip of my server and than ask amazon who owns it.
Be aware that if you do use it as VPN, some of webservices have blocked AWS IPs due to the large amount of bots and scrapers, you might also get lots of recaptchas.
I would recommend using a VPN provider like PIA or Mullvad, there you have advantages like no logs and no traceback (atleast not reasonably).
I use Mullvad 24/7 and get tons of recaptchas. Some sites block me outright as well.
The recaptcha thing is absolutely true. I was, until a few weeks ago, using encrypt.me for my VPN provider. They use a lot of shared AWS instances for hosting their VPNs, and I was getting so many recaptchas that it felt like it was every single site. It was about as bad as when I was running a Tor relay node. I just couldn't take it any more. I clicked on so. many. traffic lights and busses. So many.
I get quite some captchas with PIA, too. And netflix blocked their IPs, from my experience at least
I was able to get to Netflix with encrypt.me, but all the recaptchas were really annoying. The worst thing is the slooooooooow fadeout of each image when you have to select multiple things.
There is no singular answer to your question. What do you need a VPN for? For some examples of common uses:
Downloading illegal torrents: get PIA (or equivalent). More effective and probably cheaper too
Dissenting against a repressive government: use tor. It's really the best way (although, i2p and freenet are fine too) to ensure privacy
Getting around regional restrictions -- e.g. watching netflix in another region, reading wikipedia in turkey or checking gmail from china: aws is probably good, and faster than the other alternatives
But obviously there are nuances to every situation, so no one can give you a real answer without knowing what your situation is.
I use algo to quickly spin up and tear down personal VPNs. You can use the free tier on AWS for this as well, and don't need to pollute your main servers IP (if you're doing anything shady with the VPN).
Hey, off-topic but I can't figure out the actual price from Amazon's page: what do you tend to pay per month or per year with AWS? I'm looking at maybe doing a setup similar to yours.
I use a t2.micro and I pay nothing. I do have a student account, though.
Finding and comparing the details on Amazon's pages isn't always as easy as it could be - https://www.ec2instances.info/?cost_duration=monthly tends to be clearer (although you will need to pay data transfer on top of that). A t3.small or micro should be fine for what you need, but if you're doing huge amounts of downloading you might want to look at Lightsail as the bandwidth works out a lot cheaper.
Thank you so much! This page is very useful.
You can calculate EC2 pricing by finding your instance type on this page, looking at the "Linux/UNIX Usage" column, and multiplying the hourly rate by 720 (24 hours/day, 30 days/month). That being said, if you have a t2.micro, you get 750 hours/month in the free tier, so you don't have to worry about paying if you have 1 t2.micro instance (edit: for the first 12 months).
Awesome, thank you! I wasn't sure about the free tier, since on the webpage it looked like it was just for 12 months.
You're right, EC2 is only free for 12 months, I forgot to mention that. I'll edit my comment. After those 12 months are up, you should switch to a t3.micro since you get 2 vCPUs instead of 1 and it's slightly cheaper ($7.49/month for t3 vs $8.35/month for t2 on US East).
Thanks for the update! I appreciate it. Since I mainly want XMPP hosting (I think), I might try going with Hot Chili out of Germany for a euro a month.
Hosting your own VPN on AWS will be a lot more expensive than just subscribing to a service like PIA or Nord and offer no extra benefit.
Another option, if you trust your local ISP, is to host your own out of your home.