Best UK vpn to use largely on devices
August 26, 2020 1:07 PM   Subscribe

To do (legal) anti fascist work I want a vpn. I don’t want spied on by corporations or governments and i am happy to pay. Something I can use on my iPhone would be great. I am in the UK.
posted by The Last Sockpuppet to Technology (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's actually pretty easy to build you own VPN, on cloud hosted providers for about $5/month: How to build your own VPN if you’re (rightfully) wary of commercial options.

I was able to build and deploy an Algo instance to Digital Ocean using the instructions on the Algo Github in about an hour, and most of that time was just waiting on automatic things processing. Algo supports both wireguard and IPSEC, which means deploying the profile to iOS or Android devices is very easy (in the case of wireguard, just scanning a QR code).

If you don't want to build you own then I recommend (based on my having used it and being a satisfied customer) NordVPN. They have an in-house version of wireguard called NordLynx for iOS, and it (wireguard/NordLynx) saves a lot of battery power vs traditional VPN because of the way it can stay connected without sending constant streams of unnecessary packets. I run wireguard at all times when I'm not on my home wifi and unlike older generations of VPNs I don't see a serious battery hit.
posted by tiamat at 2:31 PM on August 26, 2020

Seconding Digital Ocean & Algo. Relatively easy, even though IIRC the installation packages or scripts I used had a couple bugs or unresolved dependencies.... I had to google the exceptions and then hunt around to identify which other packages I had to install. But got it working in a single night with only two beers needed.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 4:02 PM on August 26, 2020

I've got a script that'll do get you up and running on your own personal instance of OpenVPN in under ten minutes (I can launch a new instance and connect in under six minutes on my phone, but I'm used to launching it). If you use the Lightsail instructions, you can even set the whole thing up using your phone, an instance is $3.50 month. It's here:

It also grabs hosts from Steven Black's master host file so that you can use it to block ads, too. It's a lifesaver for the phone.

The script should also work on other hosting providers, provided they run CentOS or Ubuntu (I recommend CentOS, the network stack seems faster...need to investigate why, but it's probably that Amazon has tweaked sysctl for perfomance whereas the Ubuntu VM is stock).

Limitations include:

1. You're the only one using that host, so anonymity is not great unless you jump hosts periodically (and even then, VPNs provide anonymity in some ways and not others).

2. A lot of sites use software that automatically hard- or soft-blocks recognized hosting providers' IPs, so you have to do a lot of captchas on some sites, Netflix blocks you (sometimes, but not always, I've found), PubMed can be grumpy, etc.

3. You aren't exactly avoiding monitoring, depending on the host provider you're're just moving it down the road. In my case, I was sick of my ISP injecting ads and redirecting DNS to capture my search queries, I just moved the stalking up the wire to Amazon (but again, you should be able to run the scripts from anywhere, Lightsail is just cheap and fast and mobile-friendly for setup).
posted by jenh at 5:47 PM on August 26, 2020

Suggest you avoid any company based in the U.K. or the U.S. if you're looking for privacy. Germany or Switzerland would be better bets.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:03 PM on August 26, 2020

There's also the Mozilla VPN which uses Wireguard and also happens to help fund the development of one of the last notable pieces of free and independent software on the internet.
posted by Poldo at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2020

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