Why you should run your own VPN

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Once you understand the different types of VPNs and your specific threat model, you may find yourself asking – why pay $12.99 a month for a VPN and have to take the company at their word when I could simply host my own for a couple dollars? Well, that is in fact an excellent question. There are many pros and cons to consider when deciding between hosting your own or using one of the most popular VPN providers. Let’s break them down real quick.

Self Hosted

When you decided to self host your own VPN, you can use what’s known as a ‘low end box’ which typically cost anywhere from 2-5 dollars a month. You also have the distinct advantage of being able to choose a provider as close as physically possible for increased speed and decreased latency. Last, perhaps most importantly, when you self host your VPN, you will be assigned a dedicated / static IP that is yours and yours alone. Since VPS’s are typically used to host websites or web apps, the likelihood that your IP was used for abuse will be significantly lower. Most IP ranges from well known VPN providers are blacklisted just about everywhere which makes them useless for most day to day tasks.

The drawback, however, is that setting up your server can be time consuming and isn’t for everyone. You are the sysadmin and you are your own technical support. If you break something, you may have to wipe your server and start all over. For the average Linux hobbyist, this isn’t such a big deal.

Subscription Based

We’ve talked previously about the concept of obfuscation and signal-to-noise. It’s easier to disappear in a crowd than alone in a field. When using a subscription based VPN you have the advantage of ‘blending in’ with all of the other users in that IP subnet. There is no maintenance or trouble shooting to be bothered with, and most VPN providers are routinely upgrading their apps to be more feature reach offering features such as multi hop, Tor over VPN, etc. Several popular providers such as NordVPN and ProtonVPN are offering whole suites of privacy products in addition to their standalone VPNs.

So how do I host my own VPN?

Unfortunately, this does take some level of technical experience and familiarity around the Linux command line. There will be a more in depth tutorial down the road, but I’ll break down the general steps here.

  1. Find a reputable and trustworthy VPS provider that is close to you
  2. Install a self-hosted VPN server such as WireGuard or algo
  3. You’re done