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One year of AirVPN - a humble review

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"Some events happen whether we want them to or not."

 

This is a quote taken from a sign in the game Antichamber. It will appear on the wall of signs in the starting room after visiting 20 rooms in total. And if you think of it, it's an event you cannot circumvent, you cannot visit the 19th room and then suddenly proceed to the 21st. This principle is valid for a variety of things, birthdays for example.

One of those events that happen whether we want them to or not is an annual subscription coming to an end.

Because of that I would like to publish my own opinion on AirVPN, my story, my thoughts, my experiences.

 

-- The beginnings --

 

It all began in 2012. The whole year I was downloading and seeding things using BitTorrent. I used a private russian tracker which wasn't as known to german companies as Rutor, a public russian tracker. Because of the fact that my tracker is private I believed I wouldn't get caught using BitTorrent as fast as other people get caught for using public trackers. And in fact, since my registration in 2008 I never got any letters.

A few days before New Year's Eve I finally got caught seeding a movie. In February 2013 we got a letter from a law office with information about torrent name and hash, date and time, client, IP. The consequences: No more torrents for now. And I made my first research on how to continue torrenting without a fuss. I heard about VPNs, read about how they work and which companies usually stand behind them. Didn't do anything else but making plans for the future.

 

-- Snowden! --

 

The second stage began shortly after Snowden's leaks. I was concerned about what the NSA knew about me and my surroundings and I think I wasn't all alone with that. I even forgot my torrents for a moment because of this. The idea of subscribing to a VPN provider suddenly was of importance.

At the same time I was still struggling with replacing movie torrents by searching for a good movie streaming service in Germany but no one was able to match my needs. I tried Watchever as the most interesting provider (cheap, easy to use, good streaming quality) but many movies just weren't there. Lovefilm (now Amazon Prime Instant Video) was even worse, and Maxdome's pricing was a catastrophe.

 

-- The final decision --

 

It was August 2013 by now. I started gathering information about VPN providers and access software and tried out a few of them, including faceless.me and ipredator. That's when I discovered TorrentFreak and their article "Which are the best anonymous VPN providers?" - first contact with AirVPN though it didn't receive much attention for now. It was after I read the updated "Review: Is your VPN service really anonymous?" I noticed AirVPN. I did some research on their reputation on the internet and finally registered. A few days later (I still didn't have a client so I spent those days with gathering information on that) I asked for a trial period to see if things would work for me and received a reply two days later..

 

... I was concerned about whether my client really worked because I didn't notice any change in speed after connecting. There is no better first impression, really. I subscribed to AirVPN on September 5, 2013.

 

-- First impressions and the forums --

 

Many things surprised me a lot, especially the status page with status information on bandwidth usage and connected clients, and the forums.

 

I figured: If there's a forum, then you're not just a client, you're getting invited to be part of a community. So I wanted to integrate myself into that community, too, and started writing regularly, trying to help people with their connection problems. I also published some guides about how I use AirVPN.

Most of the community is still anonymous and that's okay. I personally didn't like being anonymous all the time, so I opened myself a bit. That way people don't get a feeling as if they would talk to someone with a question mark head (reference to Anonymous hacker's sign ). I made my profile publicly aviable and published my birthday, my location and some of my interests there.

Staff is reading the forums, too. They help where they can, though it sometimes can take some time to get a reply from them. This too applies to the Support Desk. But I always keep in mind that day by day more and more people register and become a customer. The more customers, the more time you'd need to reply to all of them. Antichamer sign quote:

 

"Patience has it's own rewards."

 

-- The servers--

 

Server's aviability and stability depends on the data center. Some servers are really good, able to be called 100% aviable such as the german servers I was using, in 2013 it mainly was Tauri, others sometimes had high packet loss issues and line problems. I occasionally used servers in America and the Netherlands for a few hours and didn't have problems, either.

I find it nice to have many connection modes aviable though I never used any other than UDP port 443. But there were users who reported poor performance with it. Switching to another port solved the problem for most of them - an excellent example why this is a nice feature.

Additionally, every server accepts specially secured connections - OpenVPN over SSL and SSH. The goal is an encrypted OpenVPN tunnel inside the encrypted SSH/SSL tunnel in order to prevent Deep Packet Inspection currently used by China for example. This way it's easier to connect from inside China and circumvent their Great Firewall. I never needed that feature, that's why I cannot write anything but descriptive terms about it.

 

-- The client --

 

AirVPN has an own open source client which I never used. I'm using another open source client, Securepoint OpenVPN, and posted an introduction to it.

As far as I remember, when I registered AirVPN's client was in a very bad condition. Earlier this year it has been changed, now people are getting more and more satisfied with it.

 

-- Additional features --

 

Initially I wrote about the status page and the forums being two extremely useful additional features. Also notable is

  • the remote port forwarding feature similar to the port forwarding feature on a router. Working good despite some seldomly occuring flaws.
  • the speed test feature able to calculate how fast your AirVPN connection ("In-Tunnel speed") is in comparison to your real internet connection ("Out-Tunnel speed"). Works as good as the port forwarding feature.

-- So, is AirVPN really the "air to breathe the real internet"? --

 

Yes, it is.

And no, it isn't.

Really nice slogan, by the way.

 

Yes, because you really circumvent geolocation blocks (Netflix, YouTube) and censorship (China's Great Firewall) using AirVPN.

Yes, because you prevent eavesdroppers from seeing what you do (encryption feature). And from manipulating your traffic (integrity feature).

No, because your real internet connection wouldn't face extra blocking that apply to VPN providers. Just look into the Blocked websites forum.

No, because using a VPN provider is based on trust. You trust the provider not to track your usage and not to betray you.

 

-- So, what now? --

 

Most of the Netflix users might have heard that Netflix will start it's services in Germany next month. After all, I heard so much good things about Netflix that I really want to give it a try. I'm looking forward to subscribe to Netflix like I did with Spotify years ago. Since then I never downloaded a single music torrent again. I'm planning to stop downloading movie torrents, too, but only if Netflix really has everything, in a quality that matches my current internet speed. It that's the case, OpenVPN will be superfluous.

But I won't just leave. I'll stay here and try helping people out. After all, I might need AirVPN again if I ever happen to be on vacation. I wouldn't expose my data to a public WiFi hotspot where a nerdy-looking guy with a self-made super laptop is sitting in some dark corner, attempting to grab emails and credentials from the hotel guests' devices.. or if I just want to use Netflix if it's not aviable in the country.

 

"But didn't you write that Snowden was the guy who inspired you to subscribe to AirVPN?" - He was part of the inspiration. But to be honest, it never was my complete intention to hide myself from the NSA or other entities. I subscribed because I nearly was sued for doing what I love and I needed someone to stand in front of me, effectively protecting me from being nearly sued again for doing what I love.

 

Anyway, one month of my subscription is left. And even if it's not the end, I'd like to thank AirVPN for a great service so far and the community for being a great one. 8)


» I am not an AirVPN team member. All opinions are my own and are not official. Refer to Staff postings for the official word.

» These are the community forums, not the support portal. You're writing with other users here.

» New here? LZ1's New User Guide to AirVPN. Use the search function, Luke!

» Tor exits behind a VPN connection are discouraged. Using Tor on the other hand is not.

 

» Privacy is like alcohol: Drink a little and it can help you stay unnoticed. Drink a lot and everyone will notice you.

» I cannot give you the solution to all your issues. But I can guide you to it. The rest is up to you.

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I like your review. Very honest and informative. I would like to comment on the part about Netflix just to provide an opinion on it. Netflix has a one month free trial that you can take advantage of. Netflix is decent for the average user. It has some good movies but, they rarely have any big blockbuster movies. Usually they carry the ones that didn't so well in theaters or they are from a couple years ago. They do have a decent number of shows on there to choose from. This is their strong point. So, if they offer it, I would take advantage of the one month free trial. 

 

I also want to add a thank you because you have helped me on a couple issues I have had with the current "Eddie" client, so, thank you!    

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Giganerd, you're my hero.

I have absolutely no interest in torrenting, but I do have an interest is protecting my privacy, and I resent being bullied by the agencies of the state and by corporations (increasingly all the same thing). I intend to resist as far as my strength will allow me to. AirVPN has been the most credible VPN service in this sense, and I am very grateful to them for the service they provide. Another thing I have appreciated here is that it did give me a sense of belonging to a small community, as opposed to being just another customer in a random mass of customers. It is especially interesting that I should feel that way, because I am a technological ignoramus, and really don't belong here at all. I may as well be the primary school kid looking on in awe at what the grown ups at university and beyond are doing, and wishing I could do that too. In that regard, your contributions here have been a critical part of creating that sense of community. You have been a super helpful, friendly, constant presence. I read your posts even though I often don't understand them, and I can see how many people you have helped over this year (I started here about the same time you did). You might as well be a member of staff! You're probably better at it (with apologies to staff), because they don't have time on their hands to deal with questions in the forums. I hope you don't disappear. You would create a hole in this community. At least, you would for the tragically clueless newbies, like me.

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It has some good movies but, they rarely have any big blockbuster movies. Usually they carry the ones that didn't so well in theaters or they are from a couple years ago

 

This is highly frustrating. Anyway, I'll take advantage of the trial.

 

In that regard, your contributions here have been a critical part of creating that sense of community. You have been a super helpful, friendly, constant presence. I read your posts even though I often don't understand them, and I can see how many people you have helped over this year (I started here about the same time you did). You might as well be a member of staff! You're probably better at it (with apologies to staff), because they don't have time on their hands to deal with questions in the forums. I hope you don't disappear. You would create a hole in this community. At least, you would for the tragically clueless newbies, like me.

 

Awwwww, thank you!


» I am not an AirVPN team member. All opinions are my own and are not official. Refer to Staff postings for the official word.

» These are the community forums, not the support portal. You're writing with other users here.

» New here? LZ1's New User Guide to AirVPN. Use the search function, Luke!

» Tor exits behind a VPN connection are discouraged. Using Tor on the other hand is not.

 

» Privacy is like alcohol: Drink a little and it can help you stay unnoticed. Drink a lot and everyone will notice you.

» I cannot give you the solution to all your issues. But I can guide you to it. The rest is up to you.

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It has some good movies but, they rarely have any big blockbuster movies. Usually they carry the ones that didn't so well in theaters or they are from a couple years ago

 

This is highly frustrating. Anyway, I'll take advantage of the trial.

 

>In that regard, your contributions here have been a critical part of creating that sense of community. You have been a super helpful, friendly, constant presence. I read your posts even though I often don't understand them, and I can see how many people you have helped over this year (I started here about the same time you did). You might as well be a member of staff! You're probably better at it (with apologies to staff), because they don't have time on their hands to deal with questions in the forums. I hope you don't disappear. You would create a hole in this community. At least, you would for the tragically clueless newbies, like me.

 

Awwwww, thank you!

 

 

Hopefully Netflix will work a little harder on obtaining some a lot of good movies now that they are expanding. At least, I hope so. Hopefully the free trial will help you make a decision. 

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I'm having a thought here.

 

It has some good movies but, they rarely have any big blockbuster movies. Usually they carry the ones that didn't so well in theaters or they are from a couple years ago.

 

The thing with big blockbuster movies not being aviable was one of the main reasons why I didn't like Watchever. So I kinda fear I will be disappointed of Netflix, too. I hate getting disappointed.

 

As I wrote, I'm getting a thought here. Why not just extend my subscription to AirVPN and watch movies over Popcorn Time? I tried it out already. It may be illegal, too, but it definitely meets my needs. Even recent movies are aviable, in 1080p, on demand, without waiting for it to be finished. The latter was the only downside of traditional torrenting so far. And the best part: 1080p works extremely good with my internet. I always feared HD would be impossible but even with a VPN it's working flawlessly. Wow. Your servers rock.

Can you feel my joy, my satisfaction? I know you can.

And: It costs about 4.50€ a month, which is less than Netflix.


» I am not an AirVPN team member. All opinions are my own and are not official. Refer to Staff postings for the official word.

» These are the community forums, not the support portal. You're writing with other users here.

» New here? LZ1's New User Guide to AirVPN. Use the search function, Luke!

» Tor exits behind a VPN connection are discouraged. Using Tor on the other hand is not.

 

» Privacy is like alcohol: Drink a little and it can help you stay unnoticed. Drink a lot and everyone will notice you.

» I cannot give you the solution to all your issues. But I can guide you to it. The rest is up to you.

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I'm having a thought here.

 

It has some good movies but, they rarely have any big blockbuster movies. Usually they carry the ones that didn't so well in theaters or they are from a couple years ago.

 

The thing with big blockbuster movies not being aviable was one of the main reasons why I didn't like Watchever. So I kinda fear I will be disappointed of Netflix, too. I hate getting disappointed.

 

As I wrote, I'm getting a thought here. Why not just extend my subscription to AirVPN and watch movies over Popcorn Time? I tried it out already. It may be illegal, too, but it definitely meets my needs. Even recent movies are aviable, in 1080p, on demand, without waiting for it to be finished. The latter was the only downside of traditional torrenting so far. And the best part: 1080p works extremely good with my internet. I always feared HD would be impossible but even with a VPN it's working flawlessly. Wow. Your servers rock.

Can you feel my joy, my satisfaction? I know you can.

And: It costs about 4.50€ a month, which is less than Netflix.

 

I read about Popcorn Time on Torrentfreak. I haven't tired it out but you are the fourth person to tell me that it works rather well. I might have to give it a try. I'm sorry to disappoint but, Netflix will get those movies that came out in theaters that didn't do so well. Mind you, they will only get those kinds of movies after several months of already being out on DVD/Blu Ray. Like you said, just stick with AirVPN. Why change a good thing?

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I'm having a thought here.

 

 

 

It has some good movies but, they rarely have any big blockbuster movies. Usually they carry the ones that didn't so well in theaters or they are from a couple years ago.

 

The thing with big blockbuster movies not being aviable was one of the main reasons why I didn't like Watchever. So I kinda fear I will be disappointed of Netflix, too. I hate getting disappointed.

 

As I wrote, I'm getting a thought here. Why not just extend my subscription to AirVPN and watch movies over Popcorn Time? I tried it out already. It may be illegal, too, but it definitely meets my needs. Even recent movies are aviable, in 1080p, on demand, without waiting for it to be finished. The latter was the only downside of traditional torrenting so far. And the best part: 1080p works extremely good with my internet. I always feared HD would be impossible but even with a VPN it's working flawlessly. Wow. Your servers rock.

Can you feel my joy, my satisfaction? I know you can.

And: It costs about 4.50€ a month, which is less than Netflix.

Giganerd - great! That buys your fan club some time to get inside your head about privacy and security issues, turning you into a complete and utter paranoiac. ;-) Like us ;-) That way, we'll guarantee you stay inside the AirVPN community -but for the RIGHT reasons ;-)

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Why change a good thing?

 

Venturing into the unknown can lead to great rewards. Legal streaming is not a great reward yet. I'd give up part of my security because I'd expose myself to prying eyes again. This is not a great reward, either.

 

Giganerd - great! That buys your fan club some time to get inside your head about privacy and security issues, turning you into a complete and utter paranoiac. ;-) Like us ;-) That way, we'll guarantee you stay inside the AirVPN community -but for the RIGHT reasons ;-)

 

Sorry, I don't really get that..


» I am not an AirVPN team member. All opinions are my own and are not official. Refer to Staff postings for the official word.

» These are the community forums, not the support portal. You're writing with other users here.

» New here? LZ1's New User Guide to AirVPN. Use the search function, Luke!

» Tor exits behind a VPN connection are discouraged. Using Tor on the other hand is not.

 

» Privacy is like alcohol: Drink a little and it can help you stay unnoticed. Drink a lot and everyone will notice you.

» I cannot give you the solution to all your issues. But I can guide you to it. The rest is up to you.

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Hehehehehehe....sorry, my sense of humour isn't translating too well, is it. I meant, it would be great to encourage you to stay with AirVPN, not because of any need to get access to torrented material, but purely for reasons of security and privacy. We should all be working to this end, for the good of everyone.

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