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giganerd

5 years of AirVPN

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It's been a while since my last "review" - 2.5 years to be somewhat exact. My first one even dates back to 2014. Both are interesting reads if you want to know more about my story and how I used AirVPN over the years - along with my experiences with AirVPN, of course.



I quite can't believe it myself that I'm still here after five years. It's not like I expected Air to fail miserably, but I sure expected that after 3-4 years maybe the time will come to try something new because AirVPN wouldn't be able to satisfy me for some reason..

But no, I'm still here. And it's not because other VPN providers looked less promising (there was a brief moment when I really wanted to try out IVPN for a change), it's because AirVPN beautifully adapts to problems and trends in the market while staying true to their mission and not breaking anything in the process! The company's strategy is well thought out, both in handling technical challenges and managing users, and I actually enjoy being here. I can wholeheartedly say that I trust AirVPN's decision-making and it's a no-brainer for me to entrust them with "handling" my traffic, because I cannot fully trust my ISP.

 

[h2]What happened since the last review?

 

A year or so ago I was more or less forced to subscribe to Vodafone Cable because I moved to another city and the DSL lines are not as fast here as I expected them to be. It was sad to terminate my subscription to Deutsche Telekom (referred to as DTAG from here) because of this - OpenVPN works extremely well over their network and I was able to reach both my maximum upload and download throughput. And their network is rock-solid, you pay for some numbers and you actually get it in full, no strings attached. I am more than ready to pay slightly higher prices for bullshit-free network access like this. Only downside is that the Snowden leaks revealed NSA's direct access to DTAG customers' traffic... which is just another good reason to always be protected connected.

 

Now, Vodafone is a more cheeky fella. I compare them to Verizon a bit (or was it Virgin?), that one provider who injects (or did inject) advertisements into customers' traffic. I really believe they will start doing this as well one rainy day, so surfing via AirVPN is a must for me, so as to not give them any data to train some AI. Unfortunately, this comes with a price: bad packet ID warnings are a common sight, but they seem to appear irregularly and roughly correspond to the times when I think I don't get the throughput I subscribed to. I think there's some packet reordering happening in the background - rerouting traffic over other nodes or lines, who knows.

 

[h2]Throughput / Server quality and features

 

With AirVPN via Vodafone I was rarely able to reach some 40 MiB/s in download, but 20-30 MiB/s is more common and stable (till the next bad packet ). I see the same symptoms with upload throughput: 50 Mbit/s ordered, I rarely get it uploading on torrents, and I didn't determine numbers by other means.

Recently I noticed that specific server/port combinations can reach stable 5 MiB/s. But there are moments when a few simple bad packet ID warnings manage to disrupt even this.  Upload throughput fluctuates  apart from that between as low as 500 KiB/s and 3 MiB/s. There is a new development here, see below.

I use vanilla OpenVPN on Linux with the most recent three servers in Germany, namely Intercrus, Serpens and Tucana, all ports except 53, rotating by route-random. In my ovpn file I made a few comments on some servers:

  • On Intercrus, qBittorrent has a steady 5 MiB/s upload and downloads from my favorite Debian repo with 30 MiB/s more often than any other server.
  • Tucana works extremely well on UDP/41185.
  • Adhara and Cervantes are prone to low throughput. Errai and Ogma are "good", whatever I wanted to tell myself with this.

In short: Most german servers can handle 40 MiB/s in download and definitely can hit 5 MiB/s in upload.

 

I won't go into the server's security too much because whatever AirVPN offers should be "industry standard" by now. AirVPN offers little choice on the encryption parameters used - it's always AES-256 with RSA-4096 keys. It's solely there to ensure the max of achievable security across all users and their devices. Use the maximum - it's in the interest of AirVPN and you.

 

[h2] A few remarks on the different client softwares

  1. Eddie is so feature-rich, it's almost the go-to OpenVPN client on PC. It runs on all major platforms and can handle itself and some nasty OS situations. Needs more support for external ovpn configs and it needs to drop Mono. Like, now. Please?
  2. There's an Android app now, and it uses OpenVPN 3. Mr. Schwabe's client does, too, via setting, and I can tell v3 connects blazing fast and gives more thorough log output. The decision to go with v3 was not a bad one. Unfortunately, this thing is written with Xamarin, using C#, therefore it depends on MonoDroid. Please?
  3. We were promised Eddie 3 on GTK+ and Eddie-Android without Mono.
  4. The community is awesome (more on that later ). So awesome, it gave birth to Qomui by fellow forum member corrado - an alternative Qt-based AirVPN client for Linux.

I don't use any of these - vanilla on Linux and Mr. Schwabe's client on Android do the job for me. I help test Eddie on Android when I have some free time, though.

 

[h2] The community

 

is awesome. Seriously. These forums are a gold mine if you look for knowledge, wisdom, might and magic about pretty much any topic related to (Air)VPN and general computer tech. As I said a few times in the past, the decision to create these forums for AirVPN users might just be one of the more important factors why AirVPN is held in high regard, even if regularly being called out as being "more technical that others". Honestly, you can ask some dumb question and you will not be called dumb - people who love talking to newbies like you will be there. Or, you can ask a very thorough question with lots of tech words in it and concepts one must work with to understand and you will be treated more professionally - people who love minds like yours will be there to advise you. Of course there's a nag here and there, but they are such a rarity that I almost believe writing this is not necessary. But still.

 

Staff is a book chapter for itself. Regularly active on the forums, managing the flood of support tickets, raising an undead army of community forum moderators. You can generally count on their posts to be helpful in their own special way.

And yes, you read right: Some of the moderators here were regular users like me and you! And through their engagement with the community and good, helpful practice they got "promoted" to forum moderators. I've known most of them for some time now and they all deserved it very much. If something like that can happen, you know that Staff is not afraid of their users - they encourage contact among them.

 

[h2] Anything more to say?

 

I must realize I'm not the most thorough writer of "reviews". Generally, I let my mind speak for me. So there are definitely some things I, willingly or unwillingly, didn't mention. If you want to find out everything about AirVPN as a VPN provider, you might just register and, I don't know, see for yourself?! You will not regret this.

 

I thank you for your time.

 

Update:

 

I replaced my DOCSIS modem and the throttling is gone! Now I reach stable 4 to 5 MB/s upload throughput! It doesn't seem to have much to do with my ISP in the end. Some uncontrollable feature of the modem, I guess, and no, I am not willing to look deeper.

Edited ... by giganerd

Four simple things:
There's a guide to AirVPN. Before you ask questions, take 30 minutes of your time to go through it.

Amazon IPs are not dangerous here. It's the fallback DNS.
Running TOR exits is discouraged. They're subject to restrictions on the internet and harm all AirVPN users.

Furthermore, I propose that your paranoia is to be destroyed. If you overdo privacy, you'll be unique among the mass again.

 

XMPP: gigan3rd@xmpp.airvpn.org or join our lounge@conference.xmpp.airvpn.org

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  1. There's an Android app now, and it uses OpenVPN 3. Mr. Schwabe's client does, too, via setting, and I can tell v3 connects blazing fast and gives more thorough log output. The decision to go with v3 was not a bad one. Unfortunately, this thing is written with Xamarin, using C#, therefore it depends on MonoDroid. Please?

 

Hello!

 

Eddie Android Edition 1.0 RC5 has been ported and rewritten in Java. No more Mono. It has been released just a few minutes ago, i.e a few hours after you wrote the review. Never say that we don't think about you night and day! :lol:

 

Thank you for the massively favorable review, we will keep doing our best to deliver a 1st class service within, strictly within, the boundaries of our mission.

 

Kind regards and datalove

AirVPN Staff

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I just got the notification, and I will test the hell out of this. thank you very much!

 

Sent via Tapatalk.


Four simple things:
There's a guide to AirVPN. Before you ask questions, take 30 minutes of your time to go through it.

Amazon IPs are not dangerous here. It's the fallback DNS.
Running TOR exits is discouraged. They're subject to restrictions on the internet and harm all AirVPN users.

Furthermore, I propose that your paranoia is to be destroyed. If you overdo privacy, you'll be unique among the mass again.

 

XMPP: gigan3rd@xmpp.airvpn.org or join our lounge@conference.xmpp.airvpn.org

Share this post


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Update:

 

I replaced my DOCSIS modem and the throttling is gone! Now I reach stable 4 to 5 MB/s upload throughput! It doesn't seem to have much to do with my ISP in the end. Some uncontrollable feature of the modem, I guess, and no, I am not willing to look deeper.


Four simple things:
There's a guide to AirVPN. Before you ask questions, take 30 minutes of your time to go through it.

Amazon IPs are not dangerous here. It's the fallback DNS.
Running TOR exits is discouraged. They're subject to restrictions on the internet and harm all AirVPN users.

Furthermore, I propose that your paranoia is to be destroyed. If you overdo privacy, you'll be unique among the mass again.

 

XMPP: gigan3rd@xmpp.airvpn.org or join our lounge@conference.xmpp.airvpn.org

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On 12/4/2018 at 6:12 PM, giganerd said:

Update:

 

I replaced my DOCSIS modem and the throttling is gone! Now I reach stable 4 to 5 MB/s upload throughput! It doesn't seem to have much to do with my ISP in the end. Some uncontrollable feature of the modem, I guess, and no, I am not willing to look deeper.


The problem was never the ISP. It was my own computer. I feel a bit dumb writing this here but I would like to relieve my ISP from this.

A bit of background after much research. A few kernel versions of Debian back they compiled the kernel with blk_mq enabled. This enables multiqueue I/O schedulers such as mq_deadline and bfq but also causes the traditional ones, cfq for example, to not be available. Debian, for some reason, compiled the mq_deadline scheduler directly into the kernel and modularized bfq, which means, the latter needs to be loaded first to be available. I didn't know that.
So, all the time I noticed my HDD being very active, and by very I mean it would constantly do its characteristic "rumbling" sounds which indicated high activity of the heads. A while back when I first noticed this I wondered why and checked several things in /sys. That's where I noticed cfq wasn't there and instead mq_deadline was enabled which I thought was odd. I did some research and attempted to revert to the singlequeue schedulers by disabling multiqueue which worked of course. But shortly after that I reinstalled Linux and that preference was lost and forgotten to be reverted. I was "throttled" again.
And when I yesterday reinstalled Linux again (this time switching to EFI) I went back to all this and found out that bfq was indeed there - as a module. So I did modprobe bfq and echo bfq > queue/scheduler and my throughput went straight up to what I subscribed to! I let it run for eight hours or so and it stayed consistent between 4 and 5 MiB/s. To proof it I reverted back to mq_deadline and watched the throughput dwindle back to 2 MiB/s. Made a screenshot, deleted it this morning for some reason. It showed clearly the obvious difference.
I pledged to my drive to never make it work so hard for nothing again and created a udev rule to set bfq when a non-rotational drive is detected.

And that's how I fixed my upload issues. I'm sorry, Vodafone Kabel DE.

Four simple things:
There's a guide to AirVPN. Before you ask questions, take 30 minutes of your time to go through it.

Amazon IPs are not dangerous here. It's the fallback DNS.
Running TOR exits is discouraged. They're subject to restrictions on the internet and harm all AirVPN users.

Furthermore, I propose that your paranoia is to be destroyed. If you overdo privacy, you'll be unique among the mass again.

 

XMPP: gigan3rd@xmpp.airvpn.org or join our lounge@conference.xmpp.airvpn.org

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