Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Free iOS VPN from TouchVPN

It's been a while. I haven't had much to say recently and rather than publish noise, I kept quiet. But I wanted to share this information so here goes....

You've seen that option in your settings and are wondering what exactly is a VPN and do you need one. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. Typically this means that you will have the ability to access your network over the internet with some level of security. Great if you work at a multinational or university who doesn't want to share secrets.

But why do I need a VPN on my iPhone? I don't need to access secret data on my work computer on my phone. Is there anything there for me?

Well, yes. According the the TouchVPN web site, "Everyone Need VPN". To paraphrase their content, VPN has a number of benefits to the average mobile user.
  • Web Surfing Anonymously - users can browse the internet anonymously even when using public Wi-Fi hotspots or through your cell provider.
  • Enhanced Safety and Security - data is encrypted through the VPN. Well, as long as you trust the company providing the VPN service*.
  • Unblock Websites & Bypass Web Filters - VPN has servers in the UK and US and becomes an efficient way to unblock region-restricted sites that allow access from those countries (I'm looking at you BBC).
  • Hiding your IP address - VPN replaces your local ISP's IP address with the VPN public IP. All websites you visited will only know the VPN IP intead of your real IP address.
Possibly the most well known public VPN (I love that oxymoron) is Hotspot Shield but their service is not free. If you are too cheap to pay for their excellent service (hey, we can smell our own), try TouchVPN.

Their web site provides adequate details on how to connect through their UK-based or US-based VPN. The US-based VPN is pretty fast but the UK-based VPN is slow (so no BBC on my iPhone, still have to rely on Netshade on my Mac).

*Do I trust TouchVPN? I did a lot of searching to find an answer to this question before I decided to write this post. Their server is out of a small town just outside Wichita, Kansas. They are a relatively new company but all the buzz seems positive. Scamadvisor gives it a trustworthy rating (do I trust Scamadvisor?).

**In researching this post I ran across Blogger Jin's web site that lists 21 free alternatives. You might prefer the service from one of the alternative sites he lists.