If you’re using a VPN, do you know if it keeps logs? While many think VPNs are incredibly secure for Internet browsing, not all providers are created equal. Some keep detailed logs of user activity, while others claim to have a “no logs” policy. If you’re unsure whether your VPN is keeping logs, here’s what you need to know.
In our article, we will tell you whether it is possible to save logs, what types can be given to services, and which ones should not be provided. We will also discuss the safest VPN services and tell you about the tools you should avoid downloading to your device, as you may lose important data.
Keep reading to become more educated in the world of online anonymity.
Why Do You Need to Use a VPN?
There are several reasons for this:
- Firstly, a VPN allows you to bypass geolocation restrictions. This means you can enjoy a library of movies, games, books, and music from all over the world instead of using what is only available in your area.
- Secondly, VPN allows you to get reliable protection for your data. All your information will be encrypted using it, making it unreachable by hackers, the government, and your ISP. A VPN is also advantageous when working with insecure networks.
- Thirdly, a VPN allows you to get better prices, which are often set by region. This approach will allow you to save a lot of money and get more digital goods. So, for example, the Argentine XBOX Store offers games many times cheaper than they are available in any other country. And you need to turn on the VPN.
- VPN keeps you anonymous online. Using this service, you will be able to hide your actual IP address.
What Types of Data Do VPNs Log?
VPNs logs typically include data such as:
- The user’s originating IP address.
- The VPN server’s IP address.
- The time and date of the connection.
This information is used to manage the VPN service and troubleshoot possible problems.
In some cases, VPN providers may also log additional information such as:
- The user’s email address.
- Web browsing activity.
However, this is generally not the case with reputable VPN providers who take privacy seriously.
A VPN log should not pose a significant privacy concern for most users. However, those concerned about their online privacy may want to consider using a provider with a strict no-logs policy. With such services, you can be calm and not worry about your data. As for the types of data that the VPN service can collect, they are presented below.
VPNs maintain logs of user activity to improve performance and prevent service abuse. These logs may include:
- Browsing history.
- DNS requests.
- URLs visited.
- Usage metadata tracked by VPN.
Additionally, some VPN providers keep logs of user activity for a set period to comply with legal obligations. However, these logs are usually encrypted and are not accessible to the general public.
Furthermore, many VPN providers have a strict no-logs policy, which means they do not keep any logs of user activity. This is the most privacy-conscious option, as it ensures that no one can access your logs or use them to track your online activities.
Network Connection Logs
Among this type of data, there are:
- Bandwidth usage.
- Dates and times of connection.
- Originating IP address.
- VPN server IP address.
Connection logs can be collected at the server level (for example, total server bandwidth usage) or the user level (for example, source IP address). This data is typically used to optimize network performance and resolve customer inquiries.
Server-level connection logs are an excellent example of why all logging is not a problem.
Maintaining VPN performance without data logging is impossible. In fact, with proper and non-identifiable data tracking and storage, you can be sure to get the best possible experience with a VPN. However, retaining incorrect connection records may allow a VPN service to associate you with your activity. This can be used to identify individuals, a big problem for privacy-conscious users.
Some of the most popular VPNs on the market collect aggregated logs. This means the VPN collects supposedly anonymized information and is impossible to link to a specific user.
A VPN service might collect the websites you visit, the bandwidth you use, or the dates and times you connect to a server. They will then strip this information of identifying factors and add it to a more extensive database.
Ultimately, aggregated and anonymized data is not always the magic bullet that marketing teams will have you believe.
The exact type of data being aggregated and the efficacy of the anonymization process will dictate whether or not this type of logging is acceptable. You have to trust that your VPN service is anonymizing your data effectively.
If this is a leap of faith you are uncomfortable with, you’re better off choosing a truly no-logs VPN service.
What Are No-Logs VPNs?
Not all VPNs keep logs. Some VPN providers have a strict no-logs policy, which means they do not track or record user data. This is the best type of VPN to use if you are concerned about your privacy:
- NordVPN – best no-logs VPN in 2022.
- Surfshark – VPN with incredible speeds and no logs.
- Atlas VPN – audited no-logs VPN for privacy protection.
- IPVanish – privacy-focused no-logs VPN.
- PureVPN – affordable VPN with a no-log policy.
Such services offer the best protection on the network, minimize all risks and provide the best tools for working on the Internet. However, for a better experience using these services, it is better to look at reviews on YouTube, read reviews on the Internet, or go through pages on forums dedicated to VPN topics. With this approach, you will surely choose the best option for you.
Reasons for logging
There are a few reasons why VPN providers might keep logs, even though it goes against their stated policies:
- One reason is for performance and troubleshooting purposes. Keeping logs can help a VPN provider identify connection issues and diagnose problems. Remember when your favorite app crashed and asked you to submit a bug report? This kind of data is possible and necessary to be saved. This allows developers to consider the problem in detail and prevent such a mistake from happening again.
- Another reason is legal compliance. In some countries, VPN providers are required by law to keep logs of user activity. This information can be turned over to law enforcement if necessary. In this case, you have nothing to worry about since you certainly do not use the Internet for criminal purposes, right?
- Finally, some VPN providers may keep logs for marketing or research purposes. By tracking user behavior, they can better understand how their service is being used and where there is room for improvement.
However, there are darker, more mercenary purposes to keeping your data. We will talk about them in the next block.
The Most Important Reason for VPN to Keep Our Logs
Therefore, not to fall for the tricks of unscrupulous services, you should carefully read the license agreement before you use the VPN service.
What Kind of Logging Is Acceptable?
There are different types of logs that a VPN can keep, and not all of them are bad. Some logs can be helpful, such as connection logs that show how long you have connected and what IP address you were using. However, other logs are more intrusive, such as activity logs that track the websites you visit or the files you download.
Also handy are those logs containing error reports, program files, or other valuable data about the application. On the contrary, such data helps to make the application better and safer.
The best VPNs do not keep any logs that could be used to identify you or your activities. This means:
- No connection logs.
- No activity logs.
- No IP logs.
Some VPNs claim to keep no logs but then turn around and use a third-party service to collect user data. This is why it’s essential to be careful.
What Kind of Logging is Unacceptable?
Some logs are simply unacceptable, such as logs that track the websites you visit or the files you download. These logs can be used to identify you and your activities, and they can be used to target you with ads or sell your data to third parties.
Virtual Private Networks are privacy tools above all else. For this reason, certain types of data should not be collected under any circumstances.
Avoid any VPN service that records the following data:
- Browsing activity.
- Originating IP Address.
- Assigned VPN Server IP Address.
- Individual Timestamps*.
- Personal Bandwidth Usage*.
- DNS Queries.
Popular VPNs That Keep Activity Logs
Several popular VPNs keep logs of user activity. This includes both free and paid VPNs:
- Hotspot Shield – keeps logs of user IP addresses, which could be used to identify users.
- Hola VPN – keeps logs of user IP addresses, which could be used to identify users.
- TunnelBear – keeps logs of user IP addresses, which could be used to identify users.
- Windscribe – keeps logs of user IP addresses, which could be used to identify users.
Avoid such services unless you want to harm your anonymity and data. However, the choice to use them or not is yours.
Now you know all the subtleties of what data your VPN provider stores, which of them can be given to the provider, and which – in no case.
Remember that before using the VPN service, be sure to read the user agreement on the site or in the application itself. However, it is better to do this on the site since you will already agree to the transfer of data by opening the application, and you don’t know which ones specifically. In addition, some applications do not even allow you to open or use them without additional permissions. And in our case, we want to avoid those permissions, don’t we?
And to choose the exemplary service, it is better to read the following article. It describes each VPN service’s nuances and positive and negative aspects. With the help of the article, you can ideally choose the best service for your purposes. And when you’ve got your perfect VPN provider, you can use all Netflix libraries like American even outside of it.
- How much does it cost to use a VPN?
On average, VPNs cost around $10 per month. However, they are cheaper if you sign up for a longer-term contract; on average, annual contracts cost $8.41 when broken down monthly, while two-year contracts cost $3.40 on average monthly. Is a VPN worth the money? Not all VPNs are worth the money.
- How do VPN apps make money?
Most free VPNs also offer a paid subscription to their service. Typically, they let you use their free VPN service as a “free taste” of what their paid service provides. This means they make money from their paid subscription, not their free service. Some of them sell your data to make money.
- Does VPN slow down the Internet?
Simply put, a VPN will slow your internet connection down because your internet traffic is going through the VPN server: it's an extra step in the process. However, a premium VPN like NordVPN is so fast that you won't notice any increased latency; the slowdown is usually invisible to the user.
- What is better: a VPN or a Proxy?
A VPN is better as it provides privacy and security by routing your traffic through a secure VPN server and encrypting your traffic. A proxy passes your traffic through a mediating server but doesn't necessarily offer any extra protection.