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March 5, 2020

The Importance of a VPN No Logs Policy

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As of early 2020, roughly one in four people use a virtual private network. There are many reasons for this. For example, a VPN hides browsing activity, unblocks content, and increases digital privacy. There are also dozens of them on the market. However, not every service is created equal. Although we expect our virtual private networks to keep our online activities private, some actually collect user data. That’s because they don’t have a robust policy to prevent logging. But what is a no logs policy and why is it important?

  • What is a no logs policy?
  • Why does a no logs policy matter?
  • What data do logs collect?
  • Is there information VPNs must keep?
  • How do I choose a private VPN?

What is a No Logs Policy?

When you use the internet, you create data. It includes things like the sites you visited and how long you were on them. Data may also include your name and even your address. Once collected, third parties can sell or use it for their own purposes. Understandably, many internet users feel this is an invasion of privacy. To protect themselves online, they turn to a virtual private network. VPN services create secure, encrypted connections for users to keep their activities hidden from prying eyes. However, if you pick the wrong VPN, your data may still be collected. That’s why you should always choose a service with a no logs policy. As the name suggests, this type of policy describes a VPN that does not collect/keep logs, or data, about its customers. For users who want the strongest possible privacy from their VPN, a no logs policy is a necessity.

Why Does a No Logs Policy Matter?

Normally, when you connect to the internet, your internet service provider collects your data. They can then sell it to advertisers, governments, or other interested groups. In turn, third parties can send you ads or track your movements. When you use a VPN, it prevents your ISP from doing any of this. It also deletes session data, like cookies, from your devices. In theory, this is great for your privacy.

However, what most people don’t know is that a VPN without a no logs policy collects and sells your data themselves. Using one of these services simply changes who is invading your privacy; your ISP or your VPN. In addition, a VPN that collects user data can be forced to hand that data over to government agencies. The best way to get privacy and keep it is to choose a VPN that doesn’t keep logs to start with. This way they have nothing to sell or surrender.

What Data Do Logs Collect?

If you use a VPN that does collect logs, there are three general categories of data they want. Some of it is necessary for the VPN to function, and aims not to harm privacy. Other data, however, does impact user privacy. The categories include:

  • Connection Info: In order to work, your VPN needs to know the IP address assigned to you by your ISP. They also know the outgoing IP address they assign to you themselves. Other connection info includes how much data is transferred during a session, and when you began and ended your session.
  • General Information: To access your VPN service, you need to create an account. The company behind the ISP must store the details of that account. Details include a username and password, email address, payment info, and subscription period. Some services also may require more personal details like your full name and address.
  • Usage Logs: When you connect to a VPN, it can see your activities while using it. The service may keep information about these activities. Info may include the websites you visited, the files you downloaded, and the types of software you used.

Is There Information VPNs Must Keep?

So, you know that some VPNs log and keep all of your usage data. But what about the ones with no logs policies? If some information is necessary for the service to work, does that mean they collect your data anyways? The short answer is yes, but it’s not quite as simple as that. In order to access your account every time, VPNs have to store data such as your username and password. However, the difference between a VPN with a no logs policy and one without is that the VPN with the policy will only store the least amount of information they can in order to provide you with their service. In addition, the data they do keep is usually as non-invasive as possible.

One other thing users must know is the difference between data logs and session logs. Many VPN providers collect session logs, which don’t actually store browsing data. Instead, they include the length of the session and how much bandwidth was used. Session logs are not a privacy concern because they don’t show how a person was using a VPN. Instead, they are used mostly to improve service for users down the road.

How Do I Choose a Private VPN?

For users searching for a good VPN to use, how do they choose the one that offers the most privacy? How do they know if the no logs policy is legit or not? There are a few simple tips to use:

  • Check the Type of Logs: As we mentioned above, if a VPN provider mentions collecting session logs, there’s no concern to your privacy. However, if they admit to collecting other data you aren’t comfortable with, take a look for another service.
  • Learn How Long They Keep Data: In addition, some services do collect some user data but only keep it for a specific amount of time. Knowing how long they keep it can help you determine how private your information will be. For example, a VPN that only keeps user data for 24 hours is better for your privacy than a service that keeps data for six months. Although a no logs service is still the most private, time-limited data collectors can be a quick alternative.
  • Read Their Privacy Policy: Some VPNs may claim to have a no logs policy. However, their actual privacy policy says otherwise. By reading the privacy policy of every service you use, you can help to keep yourself safe.

Many VPNs offer no logs policies. You can take a look at HotBot VPN’s own no logs promise here.

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