Logless VPN – What is it and how to get one

VPN Services
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VPN services are able to see and store various types of information related to the identity and behavior of their users. Some VPN providers keep logs for troubleshooting, others for improving their systems. However, there are VPNs that do not keep any user information. Such a service is called “logless VPN”, or “no log VPN”, or “zero log VPN”.

What are VPN logs?

Typically in Virtual private networks (VPNs), incoming and outgoing data is encrypted so that to protect user’s privacy, anonymity as well as personal information transmitted via a network. A record of customer activities while using VPN services is called a VPN log. Logs can be found in various categories and forms.

Usage logs

Both ISP (Internet Service Provider) and VPN can see and store users unencrypted data including:

  • Records of visited websites;
  • Accessed internet resources such as downloaded files;
  • Passwords entered into non-HTTPS secured sites.

Many times these records may request by courts orders. As an example, in the UK, it is required to store these usage files for 12 months so that various government departments can be accessible to them. 

Connection logs

Connection logs include:

  • User IP address;
  • Timestamp – when a connection was started and finished;
  • Bandwidth usage.

Real-time logs

All network devices, including VPNs, generate real-time logs which may last within few milliseconds. They can be monitored in real time, and VPN services monitor them to identify issues related to the connection. Nevertheless, real-time logs can be less harmful to user privacy.

Server logs

Almost all VPN service providers indeed hire third-party servers spread over the world. These server data centers may not have committed to protecting user privacy, though VPN service providers do. But anyway, it can be identified that greatest treat is log files which keep by VPN service providers, not third-party server centers. 

What is no log VPN?

No log VPN or logless VPN means a VPN which does not collect or log any user information exchanging through the network. Therefore, it protects user privacy and anonymity even from the VPN service provider. No log VPN service providers are more trusted because user choose their service to encrypt sending and receiving data and no log service ensures that these service providers will not collect user personal data and sell to third parties.

Diagram showing that a logless VPN does not store connection logs

VPN logging policy  

Before selecting a VPN service, it is worth to go through logging policies. Logging policy can be divided into three parts as below. 

Error logs

Some personal information like username, IP address, etc. can be considered as error logs. VPN service providers use these data to identify problems related to their services and to enhance them.

Connection logs

Type of logs which users to track records of user online activities. When digital privacy companies need to monitor their multi-login features, these records become useful. 

Activity logs

VPN can monitor each user activities including web requests, what kind of files are downloading etc. in other words, VPN servers can route all web traffic comes through their network.

5 Eyes, 9 Eyes & 14 Eyes Countries

5 Eyes, 9 Eyes & 14 Eyes are standard terms involving with the VPN and other privacy tools. These are international surveillance alliances countries who work to collect and share mass surveillance data. On the other hand, these countries acting as one global surveillance entity and spy on users and their activities (as examples documents, location data, calls, etc.).

It is worth to know that in many countries, data retention is legal while in some countries like Australia, it is mandatory. Unless a user does not use an excellent VPN service, it is easy to log all user DNS requests and collect the data (BTW, I recommend using a no log DNS as well).

  • 5 Eyes countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States;
  • 9 Eyes countries: 5 Eyes + Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway;
  • 14 Eyes countries: 9 Eyes + Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain.

So simply above countries monitor online activities of all users and regularly share them. Therefore, better to avoid choosing VPN services that have their headquarters in the above countries — in addition to those below countries also acting as spying agents on online activities.

  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • United Arab Emirates

The best logless VPNs

As mentioned earlier, before choosing a VPN service provider user should go through their logging policy and focused on the following factors:

  • Jurisdiction;
  • Should have a shared IP address;
  • No traffic logging and source IP logs;
  • Bitcoin payment option.

NordVPN

  • Based in Panama, so there is no influence from USA NSA and copyright holders, servers in 47 countries.
  • Six simultaneous devices.
  • Accept anonymous payment in Bitcoin.
  • Route traffic through two servers (double hop VPN chaining), so this has excellent utility.
  • P2P permitted.
  • OpenVPN encryption with perfect forward secrecy.
  • Supports obfsproxy technology to defeat censorship.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

ibVPN

  • Based in Romania.
  • Does not keep user logs. 
  • Multiple usages on up to 5 devices.
  • 1-day free trial plus a 15-day money back guarantee.
  • Full IPv4 and IPv6 DNS leak protection. WebRTC leak protection.
  • HTTPS and SOCKS5 proxies available.
  • Advanced Kill Switch functions.
  • Excellent customer service.
  • Read our complete ibVPN review here.

ExpressVPN

  • For practical purposes, this keeps minimal anonymous usage statistics excluding IP and connection timestamp. 
  • Fast performance, 24/7 customer support, and 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Servers located across 94 countries enhancing the speed, privacy, and access to geographically restricted data.
  • New free smart domain name system (DNS) helps to run streaming media smoothly on a VPN (Ex: unblock Netflix)
  • Available as a desktop tool as well as Android and iOS apps.
  • Three simultaneous connections, peer-to-peer (P2P) permitted (learn how to torrent safely).

How to be sure your VPN is no logs

Read VPNs privacy policies and terms of service

Although “no logs” mentioned in VPN web site or advertisements, it is worth to read printed terms of services to make sure the same replicate in there. 

Warrant Canaries

Sometimes companies must hand over customer details for legal purposes when they require by gag orders, without alerting customers. Some VPNs operate warrant canaries that help customers to identify this kind of things has not happened to them.

Summary

Although many VPN services advertise as “no log,” most of them keep some logs for troubleshooting and to enhance the connection. When choosing a logless VPN service user have to go through VPN logging policies as well as have to look at the based countries. Because in some countries it is entirely legal to access user log files (on other words to spy on user activities), countries where VPNs may be illegal.

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