25 votes

When do you use a VPN?

I try to be privacy focused. I don't use social media, I use Firefox with adblock and tracker protection, with duck duck go as my search engine. I also pay for proton vpn. My question is, when should I use it? I use it when I'm on open networks on my phone, but that's about it. Do you guys run it 24/7 on your computer?

53 comments

  1. [11]
    vanillax
    Link
    I have two uses: Avoiding tax. I live in the UK so software/games can have VAT added. I don't like paying that, so I VPN through New York, buy what I want. This is not to avoid region locks or...

    I have two uses:

    1. Avoiding tax. I live in the UK so software/games can have VAT added. I don't like paying that, so I VPN through New York, buy what I want. This is not to avoid region locks or anything like that (I never use a VPN for Steam/Origin/Uplay/Blizzard etc), and it does not reduce the income for the developer, it is only to let me pay the price I see and not have 20% added. Just doing this saves me the cost of the VPN.

    2. Torrenting TV episodes. Sometimes TPB is blocked here, sometimes not, but in either case why tie my IP address to a download?

    15 votes
    1. SourceContribute
      Link Parent
      Avoiding region-locks is also a legit use. I found that being in the US allowed me to watch The Sopranos while Amazon Prime Video still got to keep the money that I paid them. In Canada, that show...

      Avoiding region-locks is also a legit use. I found that being in the US allowed me to watch The Sopranos while Amazon Prime Video still got to keep the money that I paid them. In Canada, that show is not available. Region-locking and all the shitty business deals that go with it need to get off the internet -_-'

      9 votes
    2. [2]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      I have strong ethical issues with tax evasion.

      I have strong ethical issues with tax evasion.

      5 votes
      1. apoctr
        Link Parent
        I find it funny they were more concerned with mentioning they don't use a VPN to avoid region locks, as though that was more objectionable.

        I find it funny they were more concerned with mentioning they don't use a VPN to avoid region locks, as though that was more objectionable.

        2 votes
    3. [4]
      vakieh
      Link Parent
      Why is this something to pursue? Why should region locks exist for intangibles?

      This is not to avoid region locks

      Why is this something to pursue? Why should region locks exist for intangibles?

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        sqew
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I think what @vanillax is saying is more that they're not circumventing game-level locks on who plays on which servers. I don't have much experience with it, but my understanding is that those are...

        I think what @vanillax is saying is more that they're not circumventing game-level locks on who plays on which servers. I don't have much experience with it, but my understanding is that those are common and are somewhat respected by most players to avoid people from other parts of the world flooding more local servers.

        @vanillax explained below, I was wrong about the intent behind what they said.

        1. [2]
          vanillax
          Link Parent
          Steam has region locks for game purchases. Typically a game's full price in say Russia is a lot cheaper than it is here in the UK. http://steamdb.info will show you prices in different countries....

          Steam has region locks for game purchases. Typically a game's full price in say Russia is a lot cheaper than it is here in the UK. http://steamdb.info will show you prices in different countries. You could use a VPN to get around these to buy the game - and even then you might have to use the VPN to actually play it as well.

          Steam's TOS states that circumventing region locks is not acceptable. Whether or not this has ever resulted in user bans does not interest me. Same goes for Uplay, Origin, Blizzard.

          So I just wanted to be explicit that my VPN use is not for this purpose.

          8 votes
          1. sqew
            Link Parent
            Oh ok. I misunderstood what you were saying. I'll edit my above comment.

            Oh ok. I misunderstood what you were saying. I'll edit my above comment.

    4. [2]
      Danyor
      Link Parent
      Oh thats interesting. I live in Norway and the prices on steam already have the 25% included in the price. Does it really add the 20% after you get to the shopping cart?

      Avoiding tax. I live in the UK so software/games can have VAT added. I don't like paying that, so I VPN through New York, buy what I want. This is not to avoid region locks or anything like that (I never use a VPN for Steam/Origin/Uplay/Blizzard etc), and it does not reduce the income for the developer, it is only to let me pay the price I see and not have 20% added. Just doing this saves me the cost of the VPN.

      Oh thats interesting. I live in Norway and the prices on steam already have the 25% included in the price.
      Does it really add the 20% after you get to the shopping cart?

      1. vanillax
        Link Parent
        I do not use it for Steam, so I do not know. A site such as http://itch.io will detect if you are in the EU and ask for VAT details and then add 20%. US sites can also detect this and add that...

        I do not use it for Steam, so I do not know.

        A site such as http://itch.io will detect if you are in the EU and ask for VAT details and then add 20%.

        US sites can also detect this and add that 20%.

        I'm happy to pay the software price, but tax? No thanks.

  2. [6]
    Bullmaestro
    Link
    Next month porn sites are going to be blocked in the UK, unless I register to an age verification system and effectively surrender my credit card or driving licence details to sites that I'd...

    Next month porn sites are going to be blocked in the UK, unless I register to an age verification system and effectively surrender my credit card or driving licence details to sites that I'd rather not trust with such details.

    That will be the moment I switch to a VPN.

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      Pilgrim
      Link Parent
      Between that and all of your CCTVs you're right up there with China. Christ.

      unless I register to an age verification system

      Between that and all of your CCTVs you're right up there with China. Christ.

      11 votes
      1. Bullmaestro
        Link Parent
        We sure are. If anything our government envies China and their Great Firewall.

        We sure are. If anything our government envies China and their Great Firewall.

        5 votes
    2. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      It's interesting how the US/UK are both fucked up in their own ways. I couldn't imagine that ever happening here, but I'm also jealous of your government's ability to recognize climate change as a...

      It's interesting how the US/UK are both fucked up in their own ways. I couldn't imagine that ever happening here, but I'm also jealous of your government's ability to recognize climate change as a serious concern.

      8 votes
    3. [2]
      Eva
      Link Parent
      That's not actually true! Eventually, probably, but it's been delayed for now, at least: https://www.zdnet.com/article/uk-to-shelve-online-porn-block-censorship-plans/

      That's not actually true! Eventually, probably, but it's been delayed for now, at least:

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/uk-to-shelve-online-porn-block-censorship-plans/

      3 votes
      1. Bullmaestro
        Link Parent
        I'd say it's going to happen eventually, especially when either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will be our next PM.

        I'd say it's going to happen eventually, especially when either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will be our next PM.

        2 votes
  3. heady
    Link
    I live in Australia where ISPs are mandated to retain consumer meta data so I use a vpn for nearly all of my internet use.

    I live in Australia where ISPs are mandated to retain consumer meta data so I use a vpn for nearly all of my internet use.

    10 votes
  4. [7]
    tomf
    (edited )
    Link
    For me, I use a VPN on my phone when I'm outside of the house. Its probably overkill, but I run pi-hole on my VPS that has my VPN -- so the additional ad filtering is handy. If I were to use...

    For me, I use a VPN on my phone when I'm outside of the house. Its probably overkill, but I run pi-hole on my VPS that has my VPN -- so the additional ad filtering is handy.

    If I were to use public wifi or wifi at someone's house, I'd probably use a VPN then just to be sure, but I always just tether my phone.

    edit: for anyone somewhat technical looking for a dirt cheap VPN, you can spin up something through https://lowendspirit.com/locations.html or something found through https://lowendstock.com/ -- I used to run a VPN on a $2/yr VPS. Super low specs, but openvpn doesn't need a lot.

    These cheap VPSs are great for ZNC as well.

    9 votes
    1. Shahriar
      Link Parent
      Hey, that's what I do as well! Having all those extra analytics and advertisement filtered out at home and remotely access it with my VPN connected to the same VPS as my Pi-Hole helps a ton! I...

      Hey, that's what I do as well! Having all those extra analytics and advertisement filtered out at home and remotely access it with my VPN connected to the same VPS as my Pi-Hole helps a ton!

      I have no concerns for privacy issues like other users, aside from using public wireless networks, which in that scenario would use my VPN.

      2 votes
    2. [5]
      SourceContribute
      Link Parent
      That's a good idea, I used to pay for VPN. Which VPS are you using?

      That's a good idea, I used to pay for VPN. Which VPS are you using?

      1 vote
      1. [4]
        tomf
        Link Parent
        I've had a few with Gullo's Hosting and Inception. For the most part they're all the same. The guy that runs Gullo's is really nice. For a quick OpenVPN install, you can use...

        I've had a few with Gullo's Hosting and Inception. For the most part they're all the same. The guy that runs Gullo's is really nice.

        For a quick OpenVPN install, you can use https://github.com/Nyr/openvpn-install

        With these low end boxes, you get a block of 20 ports. If you want to host a website, you can wrangle it using Cloudflare. Their welcome emails cover everything, but it can seem weird at first. The port number is the only thing you'll need to change when running this script (so far as I can recall.)

        I also have a PrivateInternetAccess account, which works well for Netflix and other services.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          balooga
          Link Parent
          Interesting, my experience has been that PIA is explicitly blocked by Netflix (or was 3 years ago, when I last checked it).

          Interesting, my experience has been that PIA is explicitly blocked by Netflix (or was 3 years ago, when I last checked it).

          2 votes
          1. tomf
            Link Parent
            ha. I just tried PIA and it tossed me the VPN error. It's a shame -- but I can understand their reasoning. PIA has worked well with Netflix for quite a while, but it looks like Netflix sorted out...

            ha. I just tried PIA and it tossed me the VPN error. It's a shame -- but I can understand their reasoning.

            PIA has worked well with Netflix for quite a while, but it looks like Netflix sorted out a bunch of their blocks. Most lowendspirit providers are also blocked, but the odd one is a-ok. My first VPS with Inception worked like a charm for about two or so years before Netflix caught on.

            More often than not, I end up downloading the series instead of streaming. I use Netflix through Kodi, which runs like a dream, but sometimes (like last night) something with the API changes, and its down until the dev updates (usually next day.)

            I'm so happy to pay for most content, but my piracy setup is completely automated and superior in all ways. Like I said, I can understand their region blocking, but you think they'd allow content that is also available from your billing address' country. If I were traveling abroad, I'd rather be on a VPN than consume media.

            I can't speak for Nord, but they do have a somewhat hidden page that advertises that their service works with Netflix -- https://nordvpn.com/special/vpn-for-streaming/ (cc @9000)

            3 votes
          2. 9000
            Link Parent
            Me too, and I've tried more recently. Does anyone else have a different experience? Or, @tomf, do you have a specific workflow?

            Me too, and I've tried more recently. Does anyone else have a different experience? Or, @tomf, do you have a specific workflow?

            1 vote
  5. [3]
    moriarty
    Link
    All the time. I've installed dd-wrt firmware on my router and set it to go through a VPN for all my connections. Screw Comcast and their puppet Ajit Pai for legalizing isps to sell my data. I just...

    All the time. I've installed dd-wrt firmware on my router and set it to go through a VPN for all my connections. Screw Comcast and their puppet Ajit Pai for legalizing isps to sell my data. I just created one hole in my VPN for my tv to go directly through to Netflix

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      UntouchedWagons
      Link Parent
      What kind of router do you have? If you have a regular consumer router its weak processor may be a bottleneck for your VPN.

      What kind of router do you have? If you have a regular consumer router its weak processor may be a bottleneck for your VPN.

      1. moriarty
        Link Parent
        I've got the Archer c7. I usually manage to get ~80% of the max bandwidth and that's really more than I need.

        I've got the Archer c7. I usually manage to get ~80% of the max bandwidth and that's really more than I need.

  6. NeoTheFox
    Link
    All the time, except my gaming consoles. Without it some websites treat me like a second-class citizen and a lot of websites I frequent are outright blocked, so I have to keep it on. I toyed...

    All the time, except my gaming consoles. Without it some websites treat me like a second-class citizen and a lot of websites I frequent are outright blocked, so I have to keep it on. I toyed around with dynamic routing, keeping the VPN on the router and using iptables to only direct blocked URLs via a VPN, but the list of blocked IPs and URLs is so big it doesn't fit in my router anymore.

    5 votes
  7. pew
    Link
    I use a VPN on my mobile devices (iOS & macOS) with the on-demand setting turned on (wireguard is the software I use). So I'm always connected to a VPN except when on cellular and my home WiFi....

    I use a VPN on my mobile devices (iOS & macOS) with the on-demand setting turned on (wireguard is the software I use). So I'm always connected to a VPN except when on cellular and my home WiFi. This makes it super convenient since I don't have to think about it.

    3 votes
  8. [2]
    ruspaceni
    Link
    I've got a rinky dink €3/mo vps i used to host a discord bot on, but now all it does is act as an openvpn node for me and my friends. It's nice being able to shovel basically your full download...

    I've got a rinky dink €3/mo vps i used to host a discord bot on, but now all it does is act as an openvpn node for me and my friends. It's nice being able to shovel basically your full download speed with no cap. I have no idea how the others are using it though, but I haven't seen a speed dip since we all started hammering it as a test so imma keep pimping it out to friends and family.

    As many torrenting sites are blocked at the isp level in the UK, I've gotta use it for that. Even if i'm not actually downloading anything, i'll go onto torrent sites to check what's popular and whatnot.

    Also I get quite a lot of mileage out of it for watching youtube clips. Most clips of uk shows are blocked in the UK because of licensing guff, so on goes the vpn..

    2 votes
    1. sqew
      Link Parent
      I'm thinking about setting up something similar to this sometime soonish, especially now that Wireguard is entering the VPN field in force. I'd love to have a nice little VPS with a Wireguard VPN...

      I'm thinking about setting up something similar to this sometime soonish, especially now that Wireguard is entering the VPN field in force. I'd love to have a nice little VPS with a Wireguard VPN setup for my friends and I to chuck our traffic through when we're on tightly restricted networks.

      2 votes
  9. HanakoIsBestGirl
    Link
    All the time, phone and PC.

    All the time, phone and PC.

    2 votes
  10. zoink
    Link
    always, since linux has wireguard support and i do not notice any performance impact. i feel a bit safer from tracking and isp data gathering, but that might just be true.

    always, since linux has wireguard support and i do not notice any performance impact. i feel a bit safer from tracking and isp data gathering, but that might just be true.

    2 votes
  11. zigzagzig
    Link
    I live in Vietnam so I need to use one to access many sites.

    I live in Vietnam so I need to use one to access many sites.

    2 votes
  12. Kenny
    Link
    I use ProtonVPN on my phone and desktop. It's on all the time unless it's breaking a feature that I'm trying to use.

    I use ProtonVPN on my phone and desktop. It's on all the time unless it's breaking a feature that I'm trying to use.

    1 vote
  13. Fatherofthewestern
    Link
    Encryption and to hide my real IP.

    Encryption and to hide my real IP.

    1 vote
  14. UntouchedWagons
    Link
    I use a VPN on my phone to bypass filtering and to protect myself at places with public or semi-public wifi like restaurants and schools. I also use a VPN for torrenting.

    I use a VPN on my phone to bypass filtering and to protect myself at places with public or semi-public wifi like restaurants and schools. I also use a VPN for torrenting.

    1 vote
  15. [3]
    Anwyl
    Link
    I'm one of those weirdos who uses opera browser, which now automatically uses a VPN whenever you use incognito mode. Outside of that though, I never intentionally use a VPN.

    I'm one of those weirdos who uses opera browser, which now automatically uses a VPN whenever you use incognito mode. Outside of that though, I never intentionally use a VPN.

    1. [2]
      nic
      Link Parent
      what vpn does it use?

      what vpn does it use?

      1 vote
      1. Anwyl
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure. I found an article claiming it's SurfEasy, and that it's actually just a proxy.

        I'm not sure. I found an article claiming it's SurfEasy, and that it's actually just a proxy.

  16. Staross
    Link
    Never, I'm not that parano.

    Never, I'm not that parano.

  17. CrazedGeek
    Link
    The original reason I subscribed to a VPN service was because of something dumb my university did. They had two Wi-Fi networks -- one for students/faculty and another for guests. The...

    The original reason I subscribed to a VPN service was because of something dumb my university did. They had two Wi-Fi networks -- one for students/faculty and another for guests. The student/faculty network could connect to internal services, the guest one couldn't. Due to an account screw-up I didn't notice until years later, I couldn't actually log on to the student/faculty network, but the guest network worked just fine. I still needed to use the internal services though. The dumb part is that you could connect to their internal services just fine over the public Internet. So, in order to turn homework in, I connected to the guest network with a VPN.

    Since I graduated, I use it for a bit of feel-good security when I'm on a public hotspot and so that I can access certain geoblocked content.

  18. [3]
    archevel
    Link
    I use a VPN to connect to my home network while traveling. Just now me and the family is heading out on a journey through Europe and we will see if it is helpful to get access to our home NAS etc....

    I use a VPN to connect to my home network while traveling. Just now me and the family is heading out on a journey through Europe and we will see if it is helpful to get access to our home NAS etc. I initially enabled it for a Stadia like cloud gaming setup, but then we got a Nintendo Switch and Zelda:BotW, so haven't had time to actually test that properly.

    1. [2]
      Parliament
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I access my NAS remotely but in a different way and not for a gaming-related purpose. Just got back from a week traveling. I use Plex with port forwarding rules to stream all my media and the DS...

      I access my NAS remotely but in a different way and not for a gaming-related purpose. Just got back from a week traveling. I use Plex with port forwarding rules to stream all my media and the DS File app via Synology's Quickconnect portal to manually browse all files on my NAS from anywhere. Plus DS Photo to back up all my phone's photos, DS Cam for home surveillance system, etc.

      Last week, the FireTV stick's Fox Sports app at the airbnb where I stayed crapped out so badly while trying to watch the Women's World Cup that I just accessed my home OTA antenna's Fox signal through Plex's Live TV feature. Worked damn near perfectly too.

      1 vote
      1. archevel
        Link Parent
        It is nice to be able to work around technical issues. I also run a Plex server, but haven't subscribed to the service. I don't want to fiddle too much with port forwarding on the router so using...

        It is nice to be able to work around technical issues. I also run a Plex server, but haven't subscribed to the service. I don't want to fiddle too much with port forwarding on the router so using a VPN minimizes the amount of config I need to do. Plus I have remote access to all the stuff on my local network which is a big plus.

  19. [3]
    babypuncher
    Link
    I run a VPN on my home server that I connect to whenever I'm on public wifi, or want to access a resource on my LAN from someone else's house.

    I run a VPN on my home server that I connect to whenever I'm on public wifi, or want to access a resource on my LAN from someone else's house.

    1. [2]
      Parliament
      Link Parent
      Do you have a preferred app for mobile?

      Do you have a preferred app for mobile?

      1. babypuncher
        Link Parent
        I run an L2TP VPN on my home server so the built-in VPN functionality on my iPhone can connect to it without need for a specialized app.

        I run an L2TP VPN on my home server so the built-in VPN functionality on my iPhone can connect to it without need for a specialized app.

  20. [4]
    the_walrus
    Link
    [deleted]

    [deleted]

    1. [3]
      apoctr
      Link Parent
      If you're trying to delete your comment, there is an actual option for that rather than editing.

      If you're trying to delete your comment, there is an actual option for that rather than editing.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        Given they're a new user it might just be an out-of-place joke.

        Given they're a new user it might just be an out-of-place joke.

        1 vote
        1. the_walrus
          Link Parent
          Actually it's a habit from reddit. Reddit always stores the most recent comment on its servers, even when they are deleted. Then again, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they archive...

          Actually it's a habit from reddit. Reddit always stores the most recent comment on its servers, even when they are deleted. Then again, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they archive everything.