VPNs are flexible tools that are useful for many things. This includes watching US Netflix from abroad, defeating state censorship, overcoming Facebook blockages at work, and preventing tracking by commercial websites and WiFi hosts.
following Beijing's announcement of a new security law that will increase surveillance and introduce censorship in Honk Kong, it is essential to act quickly to get a VPN. See our specific guide to Hong Kong for more information.
Unfortunately, the terms “VPN without logs” and “VPN without logs” are often misused by VPN providers and cause misunderstandings with customers. In this article, we'll take a look at what VPN providers really mean when they say they don't keep any logs and discuss why and when these claims can be approved.
Learn more about Internet privacy
For more information on improving your online privacy, see the following guides:
What are the best VPNs without logs?
Here's an overview of our expert's favorite VPNs for use in the United States:
– is a leading VPN provider that takes security seriously
– is a great option for people who want an easy to use private VPN
Private Internet Access
– One of the largest VPN companies, voted best VPN by Reddit
– Secure VPN of the brain behind ProtonMail, so you are in good hands
– No fully audited newspaper
For more information on these VPNs, keep scrolling.
5 best VPNs without logs: in-depth analysis
Below, we take a closer look at each log-less VPN provider we recommend. If you want to know more about them, be sure to click for full detailed reviews.
Although this leading VPN provider maintains minimal anonymous usage statistics, these do not include timestamps or IP addresses. For all intents and purposes, this makes ExpressVPN a VPN without logs. And it's very good too! Its ridiculously fast performance is the flagship of ExpressVPN, but fantastic 24/7 customer support, 5 simultaneous connections, and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing permission certainly sweeten the deal. .
For those who care about privacy, strong encryption keeps hackers at bay and what is in fact a non-journaling policy means that it will be of no use if ever forced to do so.
Servers located in 94 countries around the world are also a big asset if you are looking for speed, privacy and access to geographically restricted content. Users in China will appreciate ExpressVPN's special “stealth” servers located in Hong Kong, and users around the world will appreciate the new free Smart Domain Name System (DNS) service (included with all accounts) that allows streaming of media like Netflix to run smoothly over a VPN.
Features are easy to navigate using desktop software for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, stylish apps for Android and iOS, or custom router firmware. It's pretty easy to see why ExpressVPN has impressed our experts and remains one of our most popular suppliers to date, but don't take our word for it; try ExpressVPN today with a 30-day money back guarantee without any problems.
CyberGhost software is easy to use while being very comprehensive. It uses very strong encryption and offers 7 generous simultaneous connections. Being based in Romania and not keeping any significant newspapers is also a big draw. Like ExpressVPN, some minimum statistics are kept, but without time stamps or recorded IP addresses, these pose no threat to user privacy.
CyberGhost's great journaling policy, decent local (burst) speeds, and comprehensive software are a winning combination. With servers in more than 90 countries and a 45-day problem-free money back guarantee, there's no reason not to run it.
The PIA is based in the United States, so it is not a provider for the more phobic of the NSA. However, he does not keep any journals, which is proof that he has proven himself in court! It is not common to have such precise evidence that the VPN does what it says when it comes to newspapers, so well done PIA!
And although optional, its security can be top notch. Its desktop software supports multiple security options, a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection and port forwarding.
Up to 5 simultaneous connections are allowed. Its Android client is almost as good, and PIA has excellent connection speeds. Note however that Apple users seem to have a less positive view of this service. As with all of the providers listed here, PIA has servers located in the UK and 29 other countries.
ProtonVPN is a superb log-free VPN managed by the same people as ProtonMail. In addition to having a free version with limited bandwidth, ProtonVPN has a full unlimited premium service. The servers are located in 44 countries and all offer fast speeds for streaming and performing other data-intensive tasks.
The software is available for all platforms and can be used on 5 simultaneous devices. The VPN is also complete with a kill switch, DNS leak protection, Tor via VPN and a Secure Core network. Regarding the logs, Proton does not keep any usage logs, no IP logs and the last connection time is replaced each time a new connection is made. This makes Proton a very good VPN for privacy.
VyprVPN was a company based in the United States, known to have its own server network infrastructure and for its stealth Chameleon technology which would be very effective in unblocking the Internet in China.
The problem was, however, that VyprVPN kept fairly detailed connection logs, and although it was a very competitive service, it was always difficult to recommend it because of this. In 208, however, that changed. VyprVPN and its parent company, Golden Frog, moved to Switzerland – physically, not just on paper.
At the same time, VyprVPN went completely “without newspapers”. That in itself would be pretty trivial, as there are many VPN services without logs these days. What makes VyprVPN stand out is that it is the only VPN company we know of to have its claims without newspapers (not just its software) independently audited by a third party.
You can view Levitation's detailed VyprVPN No Log Assessment report for yourself, and VyprVPN says it will sponsor more in the future to show its continued commitment to keeping no logs.
VyprVPN also uses robust technical security and, since it has its own network of servers, there is no need to worry about the logs kept by third-party server centers.
What are VPN logs?
Simply put, VPN logs are a record of customer activity while using the VPN service.
In reality, it is virtually impossible for a VPN to keep no logs. Even the strictest newspaperless VPN, for example, needs a way to know when subscriptions have expired and need to be renewed. Even the strictest newspaperless VPN needs a way to know when its customers' subscriptions have expired and need to be renewed.
What is a newspaperless VPN?
This is the burning issue and many disagreements surround it. Can a VPN be called no-logs if it deletes all the logs a few minutes after the end of a session? What if it saves timestamps and bandwidth, but does not associate this data with IP addresses or user account details? Do anonymized and aggregated usage statistics count as logs?
For VPNOnlineFree.com, a VPN without logs is a VPN service that does not keep any identifiable logs that can be used to link a customer to their Internet activity when using the VPN service.
Likewise, if some logs are kept, but for such a short time that we can't really see how they could be used to compromise a user's privacy, then we are also happy to describe a VPN as “no logs” .
Why should I use a VPN without logs?
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) keeps detailed records of how you interact with their service. When using a VPN, your ISP cannot see the content of your data (because it is encrypted) and what you get on the Internet (because it is protected by the VPN server, which acts as a proxy) .
Your VPN provider, however, can now see this information instead. This includes the IP addresses of individual web pages and even the content of your data on sites that are not protected by HTTPS.
The good news is that most websites are protected by HTTPS these days, but your VPN provider can still see which websites you have visited. And if he knows that you usually visit gop.com and grindr.com, then he can try to guess your political affiliation and your sexual orientation.
Unlike ISPs, which are often required to turn over their newspapers to the government, almost all VPN services promise to protect your privacy, at least to some extent. But only a VPN without newspapers can really trust to keep such a promise when the push arrives, simply because it cannot transmit information that it clearly does not have…
Types of VPN logs
The types of logs that an ISP or VPN service can keep on users' Internet usage (excluding customer account information) can be broadly divided into usage logs and connection logs.
Usage logs are basically a record of the websites you visit. ISPs often keep this type of logbook as obvious, and in some countries, the law requires it (usually with a fixed time limit for the retention period).
No VPN service we know of admits to keeping usage logs, sometimes in contradiction with the laws of the country in which they are based.
ISPs (and VPN providers, which is a good reason to avoid UK-based VPN services) are required by law to record and store this information for 12 months in a manner accessible to a wide range of departments.
In the USA
ISPs have successfully lobbied Congress to sell or share detailed web browsing history from customers to advertisers and partner companies.
These are also known as metadata logs, although the UK government misuses this term by classifying web browsing history as “metadata”. A complete set of connection logs includes the following information:
- The IP address from which the connection was established.
- When the connection has been established.
- When the connection has been completed (which together are often called a time stamp).
- The amount of bandwidth you use when you are connected.
Most importantly, they do not include the websites that you connect to (unless you are the UK government). It provides more than enough information to compromise user privacy.
The danger connection logs should not be underestimated. All known cases of people getting caught after trying to use a VPN to hide their identities during criminal activity were the result of VPN providers analyzing their connection logs and reporting the results to the police.
Note: Some less scrupulous VPN services claim to be “logless” VPNs because they do not collect usage logs. But they do save a lot of login information, which, in our opinion, makes these claims misleading.
It is important to understand that all network systems such as VPNs generate real-time logs as a mere by-product of their operation. Even if these logs are deleted instantly (for example, they are sent directly to a / dev / null file), they exist for a few milliseconds.
This means that they can always be monitored when they are created (i.e. in real time). Even the most stringent logless VPN service will monitor logs in real time when network problems need to be resolved or abuse identified.
Most “log-free” VPNs keep these logs in real time for a short period of time, which is understandable, because having information on their own systems helps VPN companies to provide the service they do.
In our opinion, this is perfectly acceptable reasonable. Keeping logs in real time for a few minutes, or deleting them at the end of a session, poses a negligible threat to user privacy.
Almost all VPN companies rent servers from third-party server providers. So even if the VPN provider does not keep any logs, it is likely that the hosts in which the VPN servers are located do so. Unlike VPN companies, server centers have no obligation to protect user privacy.
Either way, this is not an ideal situation. Good VPN companies, however, who genuinely care about the privacy of their users, can do a lot to alleviate the problem.
Although server logs are an issue that needs to be addressed, it is the logs that are kept (or can be kept) by a VPN provider itself that pose the greatest threat to the privacy of its users. The location of a VPN company therefore has a significant impact on its ability to protect your privacy.
Will a logeless VPN make me anonymous?
VPNs provide privacy, not anonymity. Regardless of its usual logging policy, a VPN can always start logging to match users to their Internet activity. Even when it comes to historical data, VPN services are not always completely honest with the logs they keep.
VPNs offer a high level of privacy against all kinds of global surveillance on the Internet, and they do so with minimal impact on your Internet experience. A VPN will also keep you out of trouble in a torrent, but you shouldn't count on them to protect you in the event of a serious crime.
Journalists, political dissidents, whistleblowers and those whose lives or freedoms are based on true anonymity should use Tor instead.
Logging can still be enabled
Regardless of the fanaticism of the privacy of a VPN service, it may still be forced to start keeping these logs in real time instead of deleting them. Under sufficient pressure, it will do so. No VPN staff will risk imprisonment to protect your criminal activities!
So why so many stories about using a VPN without logs?
A VPN that does not keep any logs is therefore more a question of professionalism than a guarantee that you will have no problems whatever happens. This does not mean that exercise is unnecessary.
Any service that promises to improve the privacy of its users must be designed from the start for this. One of the most basic building blocks of such a design is not keeping any diary that could compromise user privacy.
Logs are the antithesis of privacy, and no VPN that keeps logs has the right to claim that it can guarantee your privacy.
How can you be sure that your VPN is a provider without logs?
Right now, we need to keep suppliers to the word or pay attention to the growing number of independent audits that aim to test it. At VPNOnlineFree.com, we hope that these audits will become commonplace in the industry as they have the potential to provide a level of transparency that does not exist today.
Mandates and court orders requiring companies to provide their customers' contact information are usually accompanied by gag orders, which prevent the company from alerting customers that something is wrong.
In order to reassure customers that something like this did not happen to them, some VPNs operate mandated canaries. For a detailed discussion of what they are and if they work, please see Are Canaries Mandated Useful?
Presentation of the VPN without log
While nothing can be guaranteed, it's a safe bet that a newspaperless VPN cares much more about your privacy and will do much more to protect it than your ISP. Most, in fact, go much further in this regard than the majority of us will ever need.
A key element, when it comes to VPNs, is to keep no logs that could compromise the privacy of its users. If you need a very high level of anonymity, use Tor, but the rest of us are spoiled for choice when it comes to great VPN services with no logs …
“Anonymity” should be seen more as a sliding scale than a binary yes / no problem. A logless VPN will hide what you get online from your ISP and help maintain the anonymity of the websites you visit, but it cannot prevent other forms of tracking such as cookies or browser fingerprints.
Your VPN provider always knows your real IP address, even if you pay for the service anonymously. A good VPN without logs does not keep any records that can be used to track your historical web activity, but can still choose (or be forced) to turn on logging. For this reason, we much prefer to say that a logeless VPN provides a high level of privacy, rather than true anonymity. If you need real anonymity, Tor is your best bet.