What Does No Logs Mean with Respect to a VPN Provider’s Privacy Policy?

logs3People who haven’t ever used a VPN service before need to understand that a lot happens behind the scenes due to international laws and regulations. As such, it’s only natural that some VPN providers are going to be forced by their government to keep certain logs. Though the reasons for keeping logs are often justified for combating criminal activities and clandestine digital terrorism, some of the countries in question have imposed wiretapping scandals on their domestic firms (like the NSA, for example). The problem is that logs defeat the whole purpose of a VPN tunnel.

SEE ALSO: Best Logless VPN Services

Think about it: if a VPN provider logged all of your online activities (the data you send, the websites you visit, etc.), wouldn’t that defeat the whole purpose of a VPN tunnel? At that point, it wouldn’t matter if your data was encrypted in the first place, because a log of that data would be sitting on a server somewhere, waiting to be plucked away by a nosy government.

Fortunately, it is highly uncommon for a VPN service to log user activities and data. After all, it would ruin their company, business model, and sew the seeds of distrust among their customers. That said, VPN providers have similar – yet slightly different – logging policies, and you should know what they are before you dive into a long term subscription.

Bear in mind that many providers will claim that they keep “no logs,” but in reality, they most typically log metadata. But here are the risks that you need to be aware. When logs of your metadata are sitting on a storage server somewhere within the depths of your VPN service provider’s network, it’s just ripe for the picking by an experienced hacker. In addition, it’s just waiting there for the government, should they force a service provider to forfeit their logging data. This is why most people want a truly no-logs VPN.

logs2Nevertheless, many people don’t mind if a provider logs metadata since they aren’t up to any nefarious activities anyway. As long as the service provider doesn’t log the websites they visit or the traffic they transmit, there isn’t a high amount of risk. On the other hand, Internet security and privacy purists use paranoia as their guiding principal, and they don’t want any logs…even metadata! But let’s take a look at a couple providers privacy policies so you can truly understand how flexible the term “no logs” can be.

Privacy and Logging Policy

PureVPN  Vs. VyprVPN

The following is an excerpt from the PureVPN Privacy Policy: “We do not monitor user activity nor do we keep any logs. We therefore have no record of your activities such as which software you used, which websites you visited, what content you downloaded, which apps you used, etc. after you connected to any of our servers.

Right at the beginning of their policy, they say they don’t keep any logs. And for the most part, that’s true. But then they go on to specify that the do record the following information: “Personally Identifiable Information (PII) includes all such information which can be directly linked to an individual e.g. Name, telephone number or email address.

Even though they do keep this information, it’s really necessary details to keep track of different account and payment details. In all honesty, they actually have one of the better logging policies since they are based in Hong Kong, which doesn’t require them to log metadata.

Now let’s take a look at a competitor’s privacy policy, which isn’t quite as favorable as PureVPN’s. VyprVPN also claims that they have a “no logs” VPN, but their privacy policy clearly specifies the information they collect. While they may not log users’ data, they do say the following on their website: “Each time a user connects to VyprVPN, we retain the following data for 30 days: the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used.

Again, since I don’t do anything illegal or nefarious online, this doesn’t really bother me. But if you’re the type of person that gets qualms from this type proclamation, you may want to look for a provider with a better logging policy. Torrents and P2P traffic is not supported by VyprVPN for obvious reasons, but they have done well for gamers looking for fast routes, DDOS protection, and better ping times.

Types of Logs

There is a multitude of different variables that a VPN service could log, but we compiled a list and an explanation of the most common types of information that are interesting to a provider. The following are common types of logs and logging policies:

  • Usage logs – these logs track your activity on the world wide web. They’ll track which web servers you connect to, and they are the worst and most dangerous types of logs. Fortunately, they are extremely uncommon within the VPN industry.

  • Connection logs – these logs are very common, even among providers that claim they don’t keep any logs. It really just gathers metadata such as connection details, how long/how often an account used a server, timestamps for VPN tunnel sessions, and similar information. These are less consequential and less scary than usage logs, and they are mostly used for capacity planning so a VPN provider can add more server resources in heavily used areas to accommodate their users.

  • Expressly declares that they keep logs – this is even worse than usage logs, because it means a provider has reserved the right to log anything and everything they want, with exception to any logging that would conflict with international data protection directives.

  • No logs – though most providers claim they keep no logs, most of them will still log metadata. However, a true no logging provide is an Internet security purists dream come true.

In Conclusion

You should know that with any service comes an agreement between you and the provider. You remain fully responsible for reviewing the terms properly. A strong no web traffic logging policy is required when anonymity is required. Needless to say, some parts of the world heavily rely on trustworthy VPN services for their freedom and safety. If you plan on using a VPN for P2P torrents, I also highly advise to choose a true no log VPN. In some cases, even if they are perfectly legal torrents, the type of traffic alone can often raise suspicion and cause your ISP to throttle your bandwidth, but you can quickly bypass these measures with the use of a VPN tunnel. Whatever the case may be, unless you are only utilizing the VPN to unlock geo-blocked content, or play games, having no web traffic logging is a must.

One Response

  1. Jim Barclay March 15, 2017

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