VPN (virtual private network) services have been available online for almost as long as the internet.
You probably know the basics by now. In case you need a refresher, the technology establishes an encrypted connection to the internet by routing your requests through a private network. This conceals your IP address and protects your data from unsavory entities. It’s an effective and straightforward tool with numerous benefits.
For the most part, VPN connections are managed by commercial service providers that offer convenient app-based tools bundled as accessible privacy solutions. If you want a reputable and reliable package, a subscription fee often enters the picture. However, paying a premium doesn’t guarantee the options and features that you’re seeking.
It necessitates looking beyond the consumer market and into the realm of data centers. With a rented IP address, you can use free and open source software to create a private VPN that meets your specific requirements. Here’s how.
Proxy vs VPN
It’s worth noting that proxies, which are similar to VPN services, are also an option. The modern alternative has all the same capabilities. For example, you can use a USA proxy to stream content as if you were in the country, albeit without any added protection from piracy and copyright infringement notices – just as with VPNs.
That said, there are considerable advantages to using the highest quality residential US proxy service as opposed to any standard solution. This includes:
- Advertisement blocking
- Parental control functionality
- Potentially faster load times
- Malicious website filtering
Whether you opt for proxies or VPN tools, you can set it up on your own server and vastly improve your online safety. While this guide will focus primarily on the latter technology, the process for implementing data center proxies isn’t all that different and there are a wealth of resources on the matter.
Windows 10 VPN Configuration
Let’s begin by walking through the simplest method, which involves setting up your VPN through the Windows 10 interface. Start by typing “VPN”in the search bar and selecting Change Virtual Private Networks or opening Settings and navigating to VPN from the Network & Internet section.
Then, take the following steps:
- Select the Add a VPN connection at the top of the screen
- Enter the details for your service provider
- Select Windows (built-in) from the drop-down menu under “VPN provider”
- Verify that “Type of sign-in info” changed to Username and password
- Fill out the “Connection name” and “Server name or address” fields
- Scroll down and enter the username and password provided by your VPN
- Head to your system tray and click the Wi-Fi icon to activate the new connection
The exact process may vary depending on your specific VPN package and provider, but that’s the gist of it. As for building your own VPN server, the next section outlines everything you need to know.
Creating Your Own VPN Server
Web users who forgo the conventional subscription and establish their own VPN server have a good reason for doing so. The main draw is that it’s much safer than dabbling with public VPN services. It can also prove more affordable while still allowing you to tailor and tinker your software to no end. That said, you will need the following:
- A VPS (virtual private server) running CentOS6 with at least 218MB of RAM
- An SSH (secure shell) client
Linux and macOS users already have Terminal as an SSH client. If you’re using Windows, be sure to download PuTTy or a similar tool to fill the gap. Once you’re fully equipped, you can move down the steps listed below:
- Open your SSH client and enter the IP address provided by your VPS in the Host Name field (Windows)
- Enter “ssh -l user ip.address” and then your IP address and username when prompted (Terminal)
- Login as root and enter the credentials for your VPS service
- Ensure that tap/tun is activated by pasting “cat /dev/net/tun”
- You will know it’s enabled by the response “cat: /dev/net/tun: File descriptor in bad state.”
- Any other message means it still needs to be turned on
- It might be necessary to activate tap/tun through your VPS control panel
- Download the OpenVPN Server Access package
- Enter “wget http://swupdate.openvpn.org/as/openvpn-as-1.8.5-CentOS6.i386.rpm (CentOS 6 32-bit)”
- Install the package with the rpm command “rpm -i openvpnas-1.8.5-1.centos6 x86_64.rpm”
You may need to replace steps 4 and 5 with these updated commands respectively:
- “yum -y install https://as-repository.openvpn.net/as-repo-centos6.rpm”
- “yum -y install openvpn-as”
From here, you just need to handle your credentials (enter your password) and you’re set!
A task is often most rewarding when you tackle it yourself. In this case, you might have learned something new and at the same time, saved money by not paying a VPN company’s bills.