Setting Up A VPN On Chromebook
Chrome OS is an operating system that is quickly becoming popular. Google’s Chromebooks, which debuted in 2012, are grabbing a significant share of the laptop market with their bare bones interface, portability, and ease of use. While they are not suited for everyone, especially power users, they are a great solution for men and women on the go looking to stay productive while they are mobile.
Because they are more ideal for mobile users, they are mostly used while connected to the internet over public WiFi connections. This of course creates security concerns for anyone transmitting private information or data of a secure nature.
Unfortunately, none of the major VPN providers have developed a VPN app for Chromebooks (yet). In the meantime, it is fairly easy to connect to a virtual private network with your Chromebook.
We’ll use Hide My Ass VPN service as an example, but the steps are pretty similar no matter who your preferred VPN provider is.
- Click on the network icon on your shelf.
- Click on Settings.
- Under Internet connection, select Add connection.
- Select Add private network.
- A box will popup. Fill in the following information.
- Server hostname: One of the L2TP server IPs from your service provider. You can find the list for L2TP IPs for Hide My Ass here.
- Service name: Name it whatever you want. HMA VPN, for example.
- Provider type: Choose L2TP/IPsec + Pre-shared key.
- Pre-shared key: You will need this information from your VPN provider. For HMA, it is HideMyAss (case sensitive!)
- Username: Your VPN account username.
- Password: Your VPN account password.
- Click Connect.
That’s all there is to it. It’s that simple.
How to Use a VPN With an Xbox
As of now, no VPN provider has released an Xbox specific app to use their service with your gaming system. Considering that the Xbox architecture is largely based on a PC, it is a bit surprising that nobody has released such an app yet.
None the less, there are two ways to connect your Xbox to the internet via a VPN. The first way is to connect it to your computer and sharing its internet connection. The second way is to connect to a DD-WRT flashed router.
Generally, the first option is the best way to go. If you do not know what you are doing, and try using the router method, you can end up ruining your router.
Sharing Your PC’s VPN Connection Through Windows 7
- Setup your VPN connection following the instructions and using the software from your VPN provider.
- Connect your computer to your router.
- Connect your Xbox to your computer through an ethernet cable. Ensure that your Xbox’s DNS settings are set to ‘Automatic’. You can locate the DNS settings by going to Settings ⇒ System Settings ⇒ Network Settings on your Xbox.
- Access the ‘Network and Sharing Center’ on your PC by right-clicking on your internet connection in the system bar.
- Click on ‘Change adapter settings’ in the left-hand menu.
- Locate your VPN connection. It will usually have a label like “Tap-WIndows Adaptor V9” or something similar. Right-click on it and select ‘Properties’.
- Under the properties menu select the ‘Sharing’ tab.
- Check the ‘Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection’ box. Then from drop down menu choose ‘Local Area Connection’ and then click ‘Ok’.
- Restart your computer.
Your Xbox should now be ready to connect to the internet securely.
Sharing a VPN connection in OSX
- Setup your VPN connection. Most virtual private network providers have their own software these days which make setting up an OpenVPN connection a breeze. Without their software you have to use either the TunnelBlick or Viscosity client.
- While your Xbox is turned off, connect it to a USB port on your Mac using an Ethernet cable and adapter.
- In OSX open the System Preferences menu. Access the menu by clicking going to the Apple icon at the top right of the screen and selecting ‘System Preferences’.
- Click on ‘Sharing’.
- Pull down the ‘Sharing your connection from’ menu.
- Select your VPN connection.
- In the ‘To computers using’ box, check ‘USB Ethernet’.
- Check ‘Internet Sharing’. A pop-up box will appear. Click ‘Start’.
- The button beside ‘Internet Sharing: On’ will show as green if everything is working okay.
- Restart your Mac and Xbox.
- On the Xbox go to System Settings ⇒ Network ⇒ WiFi ⇒ Test Xbox Live.
If the test comes back successful, you are ready to play through a secure connection.
Get Around Netflix Throttling by Using a VPN.
Many Netflix users have been complaining about slow speeds when streaming television shows and movies from the popular service, especially those using Comcast and Verizon FIOS as their internet service provider. If your connection to Netflix appears to be getting throttled by your ISP, there is a way to work around the issue that has proven quite successful.
Indiana University student Matt Vukas recently published a Netflix streaming test where he tried streaming over Comcast versus streaming while using a VPN. What he found was that his connection with a VPN was significantly faster streaming Netflix, despite the normal bit of latency that is usually associated with using a VPN.
Using a virtual private network prevents Comcast (or any other ISP) from knowing what kind of sites you are accessing. At best they can see data and traffic estimates, but have no idea what the content is that is passing through your connection. This prevents them from throttling your speeds because they can not recognize that you are accessing Netflix (or any other website for that matter).
If you are experiencing slowdowns, pauses, and even outright freezing of your streams from Netflix, especially for HD programming, you might want to give a VPN a try and see if using one resolves the speed issue for you.
Hide My Ass (HMA) Pro VPN Review
Hide My Ass is more than just a clever name. It is a full-service and comprehensive VPN client with a number of additional services, all with one goal in mind: online privacy, security, and anonymity. Hide My Ass (HMA), provides one of the best software clients you will find, coupled with customer service to match, making it the go to solution for many VPN users.
Plans and Pricing
If you shop around for a VPN, whether it is for private or more commercial use, you will find that many providers offer a dizzying array of options. These options usually lead more to confusion than a direct path of solving a problem. Hide My Ass, on the other hand, offers one VPN package, HMA Pro VPN, eliminating the need to decide which option is best suited for your needs. This package, will satisfy the majority of people seeking anonymity on the internet through a virtual private network.
Their pricing is also very straightforward. The package is currently available for $11.52/month, $49.99 for 6 months of service, or $78.66 for a full year of service. The 6 month and yearly packages offer significant savings versus the monthly package. The prices are a little higher than what some other services offer, but are fair when you take into account the added benefits offered by HMA Pro VPN.
The main feature of Hide My Ass’s virtual private network client, and one of the main reason’s it is our editor’s choice, is variety. Currently there are nearly 500 VPN servers available to connect to, housed in over 60 countries, with over 60,000 IP addresses to choose from. Those numbers are growing all the time. In 2009, there were over 30 countries and around 17,000 IP addresses available to users of HMA Pro VPN, which were still pretty staggering numbers.
Within this suite you have access to all the major VPN protocols, OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP, and you will find no bandwidth or server switch limitations on your use of the client.
Currently there is full client support for both Windows and Mac, as well as Linus. Linus use is currently limited to command-line based interaction, so it does require some user expertise. Of increasing importance is anonymity and security on mobile devices. With that in mind, Hide My Ass has full service for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
There is a load balancing feature, which allows you to use the least loaded server for maximum speed while connected. The user interface is fairly simple to grasp and very intuitive. There are a lot of extra options for the more advanced user, including anonymous email, privacy software, and a secure file uploader.
It is hard to find anything negative with using the client, but this would not be a fair review of Hide My Ass VPN if we did not mention that occasionally you may see performance suffer a bit. Rarely have we experience slowdowns, but it does happen from time to time. The good news is that we have found it to be 100% server based and is easily remedied by simply switching to new VPN server within Hide My Ass.
Some users have complained about HMA not being entirely transparent in their logging and data retention policy. As a company that operates in the UK, they also must adhere to laws and regulations set forth by the United Kingdom. If those things are of concern to you, you might want to look at one of our other recommended VPN providers.
Overall, the thing that really makes HMA Pro VPN standout from the competition is the overwhelming amount of choice that they offer. With over 500 servers located in over 60 countries, they standout head and shoulders above their competition in the amount of options they provide to their customers.
If you think HMA is the best service for you then click here to get started signing up for their services. If you are interested in checking out other top VPN services then head over to our other VPN reviews to see all the top providers.
Plans and Pricing
Pricing is certainly not StrongVPN’s strength. At a quick glance of their available packages, it is easy to be immediately overwhelmed. They have 7 monthly packages to choose from, 3 offering PPTP, 3 offering OpenVPN, and one offering both. Their first PPTP package starts at $7 per month. That might seem affordable, and even cheaper than some other services, but it is a very basic package. It is only PPTP, which is very unsecure.
If your main concern is accessing content that is otherwise geo-restricted, PPTP might be sufficient for you, but you can find it for much cheaper than StrongVPN offers, and even StrongVPN’s own DNS Package would do a better job at only $5 per month.
OpenVPN is the only thing you should be looking for if you want to find adequate levels of privacy and security online. StrongVPN’s first OpenVPN service starts at $10 per month. You will find this to be right in the range of their competition’s top packages. The Lite Package, as it is called, only offers servers within the United States. In fact, neither the Lite or the Standard Packages offer servers outside the United States. If that is important to you, starting with the Deluxe Package at $20 per month is your only option. This package gives you access to servers in 19 countries, a far cry from HMA’s over 60 countries at almost half the price.
Trying to understand all of the nuances within the different packages offered by StrongVPN can feel a lot like reading the assembly instructions in a foreign language from your latest purchase at Ikea and made our review of StrongVPN much more tedious. The Deluxe and Premium Plans provide access to international servers, but outside of that, their only real difference is in the number of server switches that are allowed. This limit is placed on the accounts at a time when nearly all of their competitors are offering an unlimited number of switches per month. Again, you are asked to pay a premium price for a subpar service.
Pros and Cons
One of the most confounding things about StrongVPN is that the PPTP IP addresses are dynamic, but the OpenVPN IP’s are all static. Why is that a concern? It means it would be relatively simple to tie any user to specific activity on the web if they chose to do so. If anonymity is one of the reasons you are looking for a VPN service, this is something you will want to avoid. Nearly every other worthwhile OpenVPN provider out there uses shared IP’s, which makes it much more challenging to tie any individual user to any specific activity.StrongVPN does sell pre-flashed and configured DD-WRT routers. These are ideal if you want every internet capable device in your home connected to one VPN connection, but, as is a recurring theme with StrongVPN, it is expensive. You can expect to pay 3-4 times more for your router than if you bought it retail yourself, and you can add into that an $85 per year fee for the VPN service.
Speaking of connecting devices to StrongVPN, you are also limited to one device with their VPN plans. Comparing that to competitors like Hide My Ass VPN which allows for up to 3 devices at a time to be connected, again leaves us disappointed and at a loss to explain the significantly higher prices of StrongVPN.
On the plus side, they do offer nearly 500 servers in 19 countries, but again only if you sign up for the Deluxe or Premium Plans. Their customer service is a strength. They offer online 24/7 chat service and are also available through Skype, email, and by phone. Part of their service includes a Team Viewer remote setup option. While, virtual private networks are generally not difficult to setup, this is a great example of a company going above and beyond in the name of customer service. A member of the StrongVPN team can remotely log in to your computer and install the VPN client for you.
The interface is very simple and straightforward to use. The dashboard really only provides a login and then the option to change servers, which again the number of times you can change servers is limited within the service. A little disappointing was that there was no port forwarding or internet kill switch on the dashboard.
Besides the Windows client, Mac users should have no issues using StrongVPN’s client. There are also setup guides for Android, Linux, and iOS, that latter requiring a jailbroken device though.
Speed and performance were not an issue when streaming a movie using servers in the United States and UK.
That being said, even with the performance and excellent customer service we cannot finish this StrongVPN review with a recommendation to use their service because of the high cost. You would be well served to look at some of our other VPN reviews and find a VPN provider that provides both great service and a good price.
Is PPTP VPN Protocol Secure?
Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol, PPTP for short, was developed by Microsoft with the purpose in mind of creating VPNs over dialup networks. It has long been a standard protocol for internal business VPNs. It is a VPN protocol only. It relies on various authentication methods to provide security, MS-CHAP v2 being the most common.
Today it is available as standard on nearly every single VPN capable platform and device. Because of its popularity it can it can be setup without needing to install any additional software. It is still a common choice for businesses and nearly all VPN providers offer it as an option. Along with its ease of use, it also remains popular because of its speed.
In 1999, it was first bundled with Windows ’95. Since that time a number of security vulnerabilities have come to light, the most serious of which is the possibility of unencapsulated MS-CHAP v2 Authentication. This exploit has allowed PPTP to be cracked in as little as 2 days. Microsoft has patched this flaw, but they themselves recommend that VPN users should use L2TP/IPsec or SSTP and avoid utilizing PPTP.
The advantage you find with PPTP is that it is built-in to just about all platforms, it is easy to setup, and it is fast. The downside is that it is not at all secure. If you are using a VPN to keep your information private and secure from prying eyes, PPTP is not a viable option and should be avoided. If you are looking to use a VPN simply for something like accessing geo-blocked content, PPTP is usually a less expensive way to go and might make sense in that situation.
What Are the Uses of a Virtual Private Network?
More and more businesses are exploring the use of a virtual private network (VPN) especially when the company is expanding and has employees out in the field that needs to be constantly connected to your company’s main server. A virtual private network addresses the need of a company to keep their data secure now that information can easily access through the internet. It also answers the fear that many malicious individuals are out there to steal confidential company information to make a profit.
If you have a growing business, you should go ahead and consider getting a VPN to protect your company’s information. Aside from this, it has other many benefits or advantages as shown below:
- Increased security – when your company is set up to have a virtual private network, the data or information that is being exchanged between all your users are encrypted and makes it impossible for attackers to gain access to the information. This not only keeps your confidential information safe, it ensures that your client’s information are kept confidential keeping your from the high costs of data security breach and lawsuits.
- Remote Access – if you have branched out and your offices need real time access to information, a VPN can make it possible for the company’s server to be accessed remotely in a very secure manner. This is especially beneficial when you have employees in the field or working from their homes. Being able to access the server remotely increases the productivity of your employees and over time benefits the company.
- Sharing information – A VPN also allows for members of the team to share files without the risk of giving access to unauthorized people. This reduces the cost of sending information and documents across the globe for businesses with remote offices all over the world.
- Access to geo-restricted content – A virtual private network will provide you an IP address for another location or another country. This will be useful when you need to check a website from a certain domestic location.
- Addresses internet censorship – A VPN can unblock websites that you cannot normally gain access to and bypasses internet filters without any problems. A VPN is especially useful to have in countries where internet providers have applied censorship to some web contents.
- Improved network performance – if a VPN network infrastructure is set-up properly, the speed and quality of your internet connection can actually improve significantly.
- Anonymity – a virtual private network allows you to surf different websites anonymously. No matter what software or application your company is using, a VPN allows you to access the internet with 100% anonymity.
- Reduced Cost – having a virtual private network is cheaper than setting up or renting dedicated internet connections especially if you have remote offices. The traditional dedicated internet line solutions are definitely more expensive compared to a VPN LAN connection.