When you’re traveling or living abroad, it’s nice — and sometimes necessary — to access familiar websites from home. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible.
Unless you’re using a VPN, or virtual private network.
A VPN creates a private internet “tunnel” that lets you do two important things.
- If you’re using public WiFi, it protects you from snoopers
- You can access sites that are “country restricted”
Some VPNs go even farther in protecting your privacy.
Recently I was introduced to a VPN that ticks all those boxes. The folks at EarthVPN contacted me to see if I’d like to review their service, and they gave me a couple months of free use to try it out.
I was impressed — impressed enough that I’ve added EarthVPN to the list of VPNs I recommend and am affiliated with.
EarthVPN is a high-quality VPN service with servers in 81 locations in 32 countries. All the basics that you’d expect are in place.
When you log in, you choose the server location you want to use. For example, if I want to log into my bank account in the US or watch a Netflix video, I’ll choose a server in Miami or Atlanta. If I wanted to watch BBC television, I’d choose a UK server.
They maintain specific servers set up for P2P file transfers, so if I’m torrenting I’ll use one of those. (They have one here in Panama, which is convenient. It’s always a good idea to use the VPN server closest to your physical location which will do the job for you.)
I found the upload and download times to be reasonable. Some VPNs cause a huge slowdown in your internet traffic, but these did not.
Downloading and Installing EarthVPN
This is the one area where I have some criticisms. Their installation process could be a lot simpler and more user friendly.
Instead of having a single download link which puts an installer onto your computer and walks you through the process, you have a lot of choices to make.
First, they offer four different types of connections: PPTP, L2TP, SSTP and OpenVPN. If you’re like me, you don’t want to have to research all that, you just want something that will connect you as painlessly as possible.
They have separate instructions for different devices, which is good. Setup information for several versions of Windows, Android, Mac, iPhone and iPad are shown.
Fortunately, they do offer an option for those of us who aren’t highly technical, but it’s not obvious. Once you click on the setup of your choice, they give you an option at the top of the page to choose an automated setup:
“***If you do not prefer to setup manually please download our one click no need to install software and run it as administrator and connect***”
Fortunately, if you do choose the manual setup their directions are clear and easy to follow.
There’s one oddity you need to be aware of during setup.
While EarthVPN offers the use of over 80 servers, their software limits to 50 the number of servers you can have in your active list of available servers. This means you need to select no more than 50 servers to add to the active list at any time. It’s not difficult — on Windows you can do it with drag and drop — but it is another step in the setup process.
I downloaded and set up three different versions on two different computers, just to test them out. Two were manual setups and the third was the automated setup. All worked well, once setup was complete.
One advantage to using the “one click” setup is that the interface stores your username and password. If you choose the manual install, you have to enter it each time you use the VPN.
Using the service is simple and straightforward.
If you’ve set it up with the automated install, just open the program and click the button to connect. Your username, password and server choice are already there.
If you’ve used one of the manual installs, open the program. On a Windows computer, you’ll see the EarthVPN connection icon in your taskbar. Right click and select the server you want to use and click “connect.” Then enter your username and password when you’re prompted to do so.
Whichever setup you’re using, EarthVPN will pop up a message when it’s connected.
As long as you’re connected, your browsing is protected.
More Privacy Protection
Like VPN4All, which I’ve written about previously, EarthVPN doesn’t store logs of your sessions. That means if someone comes looking for data about your browsing, there’s none to find. I like that in a VPN, especially with more information coming out about the governments of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand spying on their citizens.