Will a VPN Make You Anonymous?

One of the biggest reasons that so many people are using VPN services is because they want to have their activities online be anonymous. They do not want to have people or government agencies watching over what they are doing. These people want to have true freedom when they are on the web, and they feel that a VPN can help with that. However, many people question whether a VPN will make them anonymous online or not.

How Safe Are You?

shutterstock_241976506While the VPN does keep you and your online activities more private, the word anonymous is not the right one to use. This is because in most cases, the VPN provider will still be able to know who you are and what you are doing online. However, many VPN providers work hard to protect your privacy and they refrain from keeping logs or any tracking of your activity. Therefore, they can provide you with a very high level of privacy. It is even possible to torrent, so long as it is allowed through the VPN provider you choose. They are generally very forthcoming about whether they allow this or not.

Of course, when you are choosing a provider for your VPN service, you need to be very careful that you understand their policies. Even if they say they believe in your privacy and that they won’t turn over any records, they aren’t going to disobey the law if the authorities want the information. The only way to be sure you are safe is to choose a VPN provider that doesn’t keep logs of activity. If they do keep the data, the authorities can require that the provider hand it to them. That’s why you need a company that never logs information.

How do you know whether they keep logs or not? Unfortunately, this comes down to a matter of trust. Some of the VPN providers claim that they do not keep any logs, but there is no real way of knowing this for sure. Therefore, you need to be extremely careful – and choosy – when you are looking for a provider. Look into the history of a provider. If they’ve handed over records in the past, it will be possible to find out whether they have even been caught keeping logs when they say they don’t.

In most cases, though, a company that says they don’t keep logs is being honest. This is because they know that if they were caught with logs or helping people access their customer’s private information, they would be out of business very quickly. They could even find themselves in legal trouble.

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What Is Real-Time Tracking?

Although you may have a provider who doesn’t keep logs, some will still monitor Internet activity with real-time tracking. They aren’t doing this to spy on you; they do this as a means for catching any problems with the system so they can troubleshoot them. However, there are also providers who say they do not do any real-time tracking. You need to keep in mind though that many countries can compel the providers to start keeping logs of certain people who are customers, and disallow them to let the customer know.

This is a targeted approach though, and it’s not something normal. This is most often done to catch sexual traffickers and pedophiles, and most good VPN providers will have no problem cooperating to help catch those types of criminals. However, they won’t out someone who is merely watching Netflix from another country. Only those people who would already be on the radar for the authorities should worry about this.

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Why Choose Shared IPs?

When you are choosing a VPN provider, you will often have the option of going with a shared IP. This means that there are a number of users who are using the same IPs, and that’s exactly what you want. This way, it becomes extremely difficult to track an individual person’s behavior on the net. This helps to provide the user with even more privacy.

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Usage and Connection Logs: What’s the Difference?

When a provider says that they do not keep logs, this generally refers to usage logs, but not connection logs. It is important to understand what the difference is between them.

A usage log would provide details on what you do while you are on the Internet. It would include the sites you visit. Naturally, this has the potential to be troublesome for some users out there.

Connection logs are different though. This is typically different from one provider to another, but it will usually contain some type of metadata. For example, it might show how long you were connected, the time you connected, and how often you are getting online. Again, they say that it is to help them deal with technical issues. In addition, it can help them to fight against people misusing their system. For example, many of the providers have a limit to the number of connections you have at the same time. If people have a lot of VPN connections at the same time, the provider knows they are likely abusing the system by allowing others to use the VPN via their login information.

Of course, there are still providers out there that have no log providers that say they don’t keep any sorts of logs. These are going to be the safest option for those who want real privacy.

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What Is Mandatory Data Retention?

When choosing a VPN with privacy in mind, you need to make sure you are thinking about the location of the provider. In some countries, providers are required by law to keep logs, at least for a certain length of time. This is true in a number of countries in Europe. However, places such as Sweden, Romania, and the Netherlands do not have these rules. Always check the country laws. In those cases, even if the VPN says they don’t keep logs, they do.

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What About Payments?

Another question people have when it comes to privacy with their VPN is paying for it. If they want to remain private, they wonder how they will pay for it. After all, they probably don’t want to use a credit card, as it could be traced right back to them. Fortunately, you can find VPNs that will give you a choice in this matter. Many of them will use options such as Bitcoins, while others will allow you to use prepaid cards.
There are methods of paying without providing your real information. You just need to search for the company that offers those options.

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Considering Tor

One option you might want to consider is using the Tor anonymity network when you are connecting. Going through this network, you can sign up for a VPN, use an anonymous payment method, and then not even your VPN will know your actual IP address. This tends to be the safest option for those who want to be on the web anonymously. However, there is a caveat. When you use this method – VPN and Tor – it will severely slow down your Internet connections. This means you will not want to use it for streaming.

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How Safe Will You Be?

If you choose to use a VPN service that doesn’t keep logs, you will have a very high level of privacy when you are on the web. It can keep you safe from basic government surveillance, and it ensures your ISP will not know what you are doing when you are on the web. You can be relatively certain that you aren’t going to be watched when you are online.

However, if the police, government, or other authorities are already interested in you, there is a chance they could find out what you are up to. They just need to be willing to put in the time and resources to do it. For those who need the highest level of protection possible, the best bet is to go through Tor or through Tor and VPN. This is typically the best choice for journalists who are working in countries where their views and writing could get them arrested or killed, for example.

The VPN will protect your data through encryption, so the information that leaves your computer will be impossible – or at least extremely difficult – to be hacked and discovered. People, including thieves who are trying to get personal information, will not be able to access it. The best choice for your encryption and security protocols is OpenVPN.

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Should You Choose a VPN?

A VPN is a very good tool for those who want to have more privacy while they are on the web. It can improve your experience on the net and it can reduce the possibility of someone finding out the sites you visit or of hacking you. In most cases, the cost of the service is quite low as well. Just make sure you are working with a high quality company.


Valerie has been a full time writer for 10 years and is HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certified with a vast user experience technical Internet tools, widely used today. Excited about new things out there and happy to share personal experience!

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