If you are looking for a free solution that allows you to bypass restrictions and add a layer of protection for your privacy, you can consider VPN Gate. While VPN Gate is actually an academic project, rather than a commercial VPN service, it is an option that offers useful features that can help you to protect your privacy. VPN Gate is part of a research on “Global Distributed VPN Relay Servers” carried out by the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The project is supported by volunteers who run decentralize VPN servers that are distributed around the world. It is based on SoftEther, an open source VPN protocol VPN that was also created by the University of Tsukuba. Here is a closer look at what VPN Gate has to offer.
Privacy and Security
Since the VPN servers are run independently by volunteers, the protocols supported vary between servers. You can find popular options like OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec, but PPTP doesn’t seem to be supported. Although this protocol is considered as weak, it is still used and many people prefer it for streaming since it offer faster performance so the lack of PPTP may be an issue for some people. At the core, VPN Gate relies on SoftEther, which is a very secure solution that offers up to 256-bit AES encryption with RSA 4096-bit key encryption and SHA-1 hashing. It is important to keep in mind that since the network consists of VPN relay servers distributed around the world and operated by volunteers, VPN Gate is not as stable as commercial VPN services.
VPN Gate offers SoftEther VPN software that is compatible with Windows, macOS, FreeBSD and Solaris. The software can be downloaded for free and easily installed on the platforms supported. While there is no dedicated app for iOS or Android, it is possible to set up VPN Gate on these platforms following a few steps. For iOS, you can follow the below instructions to use VPN Gate on your device using L2TP/IPSec:
- Go to Settings, then General, select VPN and then select Add VPN Configuration
- You will see the VPN configuration for a new L2TP/IPSec connection. You need to enter the IP address or host name of the VPN Gate relay servers you want to use. The information can be found on VPN Gate’s website: http://www.vpngate.net/en
- Enter “VPN” in every field: Account, Password and Secret, then continue. The last step is to connect to VPN by tapping on the newly created VPN connection
Android users who want to use VPN Gate on their tablet or smartphone, can follow these steps to run the VPN using L2TP/IPSec:
- Go to Settings, then More (Wireless & Networks), select VPN and then Add VPN profile
- You will see a new VPN connection configuration window. Enter “VPN” in the name field, select L2TP/IPSec PSK in Type filed. Then, enter the IP address of host name of the VPN Gate server you want to connect to.
- Scroll down and select “Show advanced options”. Enter the VPN in IPSec pre-shared key field. In Forwarding routes, type “0.0.0.0/0” and select Save.
- Now, open VPN connection settings list and select Settings of new connection.Enter “VPN” in the Username and password fields. Check Save account information and then tap on Connect.
If you have Windows, you can simply connect to the VPN Gate network using the SoftEther VPN client, along with the VPN Gate Plugin. Once you have downloaded the zip file, you can unzip it and install the software on your computer, then you will be able to configure the service without hassle. Windows users can connect using protocols like OpenVPN, SSTP and L2T/IPsec. After launching the SoftEther VPN client, you can select VPN gate Public Relay Servers to see a list of options available, as well as their respective stats. You just need to select the VPN server you cant to use and double click on it to establish a connection.
VPN Gate has over 9,000 public VPN relay servers located in different points around the globe. The selection of servers is regularly updated and you won’t always have the same options available. Usually, you can find multiple active servers in the United States. It is also possible to find servers in Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Algeria and Canada. While technically, you can use VPN Gate for P2P, it is not the best option. Apart from the privacy concerns that we previously mentioned, the service is very slow. Furthermore, some server admins don’t allow this option. It is also worth mentioning that in some countries with strict regulations over the internet, VPN Gate’s website may be blocked. However, there are mirror sites available to get around these blocks and the list of URLs is updated on a regular basis.
Since VPN Gate is not a commercial service, it doesn’t come as a surprise to see that they don’t offer contact options such as live chat or ticket system. However, you can find useful information on the website and on the discussion forums where users share their knowledge on VPN Gate and the technology supported.
If you are looking for a simple and free solution to get around geographical restrictions so that you can access websites that are not available in your location, VPN Gate is a practical and effective choice. It allows you to defeat censorship and blocks, and it supports open source technology. You can also use it to boost the security of your online traffic when you are using public WiFi hotspots. That being said, if you really need strong protection for your privacy and speed to download content and enjoy stream services without issues, you should consider a paid VPN service.