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What Are VPN Logging Policies? (All You Need To Know)

WRITTEN BY
Juan Villarba
UPDATED
June 17, 2024

 

You know Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) keep your data safe and secure. But do you know if these services use your data after they’re done protecting you? You can answer that question by looking into the VPN provider’s no-log policy.

 

A no-log policy is a commitment from the VPN provider that they won’t log or store any of your data after it has gone through their servers, either temporarily or permanently. This means all your data and activities are completely private, even from the VPN provider themselves.

 

 

In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of a no-log policy, what kind of data is covered, and how to make sure you choose the best VPN with a no-log policy.

 

VPN keeps you safe

VPNs keep your data secure. But what do they do with it afterward?

 

What Types of Data Can VPNs Log?

 

Most VPNs log some type of data, such as connection times, the amount of data transferred, and the IP addresses of the user. Some VPNs might log private data such as:

 

  • Geo-location data
  • Device information
  • Login details (i.e., passwords, log-in/out time, etc.)
  • Disconnection times
  • Connection duration
  • User authentication information (i.e., biometric data, security tokens, etc.)
  • Activity & usage logs (e.g. websites visited, search history and files downloaded)

 

However, that usually depends on which service you decide to go with—some may log more than others.

 

Usually, providers that don’t log information take extra measures like block ads or malware or ensure anonymous surfing so no trace of your activity remains. You should consider what data logging is right for you when making your decision on which VPN provider you’d go with.

 

 

What Are the Reasons for VPN Logging?

 

VPN providers log your data because they need to monitor user activity in order to improve their service. This includes troubleshooting, debugging, and tracking down malicious activity such as network breaches or fraudulent activities. Of course, they also use this data to test new services and features.

 

Logging can also be used for marketing purposes, like collecting data on the types of sites users visit to help tailor ads and promotions better.

 

 

Why Should You Care About VPN logging?

 

The main issue with logging is that it can leave your data exposed to third-party companies, like your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or a government agency.

 

Governments can use this data to track user activity and even monitor private communications. This means that if your VPN provider is logging data, even if it’s only for internal purposes, your information can still be exposed.

 

Corporations or governments gaining access to your information can be a huge invasion of privacy, especially with sensitive data like passwords and financial information. ISPs can also use this data to see what websites you visit and what kind of content you view, which can lead to targeted ads or censorship. And if you’re in a country with strict political censorship, like China, – the stakes can be even higher.

 

 

Digital footprint

Your IP, the sites you visit leave a digital footprint of your browsing habits that’s ripe for plucking by third parties.

 

Additionally, if the logs are not maintained properly, they can become a target for hackers and malicious actors, who may be able to access information about your device’s or system’s vulnerabilities. They can then use this information to breach your data security and potentially steal sensitive information.

 

When you use a VPN service, you trust them to protect your data, not collect or use it. That’s why you have to double-check if the VPN you want has no-log policies. They keep you safe from any potential misuse of your data.

 

 

Why Do Some Free VPN Services Keep Logs?

 

Simply put, free VPN services need to make money somehow. It’s hard to provide a service without any source of income. That’s why most free VPN servers are supported by displaying ads and sometimes by selling user data collected through logging activities. Again, this practice leads to your private information being sold to third-party companies.

 

You should always take any free VPN provider that claims to have no-log policies with a grain of salt. They might have a no-logs policy, but they could still be selling your data to third-party companies.

 

 

The Problem with VPN Logging Policies

 

A VPN that claims to be “no logs” is often taken at face value. However, there have been multiple cases in the past where a VPN that claimed it was “no logs” was found to have actually kept logs.

 

In 2017, a case involving PureVPN came to light, wherein it was revealed that the VPN provider was able to log details such as IP addresses, timestamps, and websites visited and provided this data to law enforcement agencies. Similarly, Private Internet Access (PIA) was hit with a lawsuit for allegedly logging user data, despite claiming to be a “no logs” VPN.

 

The Five Eyes alliance is also a concern, as many VPN providers are based in countries that are part of this intelligence alliance. The Five Eyes are five countries (the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) that have agreed to share intelligence data with each other.

 

Flags from other countries

The Five Eyes have committed to sharing intel with one another. (Source: Global Times)

 

Countries in this alliance can easily bypass privacy laws by requesting data from a VPN provider located in another country with more lenient laws. This means they could be subject to government requests for user data—even if the provider claims to have no logs.

 

All these cases show how a VPN that advertises itself as “no logs” can still keep logs, and it’s crucial for users to be aware of this inconsistency.

 

 

What Is a No-Logs VPN?

 

A no-logs VPN is a type of VPN service that doesn’t keep logs of user activity. This policy means that the service provider doesn’t have any user data or logs that the VPN company or third parties can use to identify an individual user.

 

In addition, a no-logs VPN provider shouldn’t store any data about your online activities, IP addresses, or other identifying information. This is beneficial for users who want to keep their online activities private and secure.

 

Some no-logs VPNs have also designed their services to protect users’ privacy by providing extra security features such as strong encryption, corporate-grade security protocols, and, you guessed it, a strict no-logs policy. This makes them ideal for users who want to keep their online activities anonymous and secure from hackers and government surveillance.

 

The best way to know your VPN provider is no-logs is to look for a third-party audit from a reputable source. These VPN audits give you an independent assessment of the service and provide assurance that the provider is indeed what they claim to be.

 

laptop displaying secured access

Independent audits ensure a VPN is secure, compliant and up to date.

 

 

Popular VPN Logging Policies

 

The VPN industry is a competitive market, and many providers offer different logging policies. Here are some of the most popular VPNs and their logging policies:

 

1. ExpressVPN

 

ExpressVPN has been the top dog in VPNs for quite some time now, and for a good reason. They have a strict no-logs policy in place. They don’t store any of your personal information or data. They don’t even keep track of the IP addresses you connect to.

 

In addition, they encrypt all traffic using military-grade encryption protocols and use a TrustedServer technology to ensure that no data is ever stored on their servers. Their service is independently audited to ensure they are living up to their claims. One notable case of ExpressVPN’s dedication to this policy is when one of its servers was seized in Turkey. Turns out, they found no logs on the seized server.

 

2. NordVPN

 

NordVPN is another popular VPN provider that boasts a no-logs policy. They don’t store any logs of user activity, and their servers are located in countries with strong privacy laws. Additionally, NordVPN underwent an independent audit from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which verified their no-logs policy.

 

They don’t have any information about your browsing history, connection times, IP addresses, or other identifying data. They also offer a wide range of security features such as military-grade encryption and double VPN servers that encrypt traffic twice to keep your connection secure.

 

3. Surfshark

 

Surfshark is a relatively new service provider that has quickly made a name for itself. Surfshark also offers a strict no-logs policy and provides extra security features such as Shadowsocks protocol. They provide reliable encryption protocols, a VPN kill switch, and MultiHop servers that allow you to connect to multiple VPN servers at once for added security.

 

4. Astrill

 

Astrill has been around since 2009 and is a great choice for those looking for a reliable, no-logs VPN. Astrill also claims to not keep any logs of your online activities, IP addresses, or other identifying information. They also provide strong encryption protocols and a variety of security features such as an ad-blocker, a kill switch, and multi-hop servers.

 

5. CyberGhost

 

CyberGhost is another popular no-logs VPN provider. They offer a wide range of security features such as military-grade encryption, an automatic kill switch, and dedicated IPs. CyberGhost also claims to have a strict no-logs policy and not keep any records of your online activities or personal information.

 

6. ProtonVPN

 

ProtonVPN is one more VPN service that claims to have a no-logs policy and is well-known for its strong security measures. The service provides secure encryption protocols, a kill switch, and doesn’t keep any logs of your online activities.

 

7. IPVanish

 

IPVanish is a well-known no-logs VPN provider that offers strong encryption protocols, an automatic kill switch, and secure DNS leak protection. They claim to have a strict no-logs policy and do not store any logs of your online activities or personal information.

 

face recognition animation

Two-factor authentication keeps your data secure, on top of your VPN

 

 

What Can You Do to Protect Your Privacy from VPNs?

 

While VPNs tell you they have a no-logs policy, you should still take the time to double-check their claims. Take a look at the company’s website and read up on its privacy policy. Using strong passwords and two-factor authentication when signing up for VPN services can also ensure your data is as secure as possible.

 

Consider using a VPN service that includes both web and mobile apps. This ensures you can always access your data securely, even when you’re away from home. Finally, be sure to use only known and trusted VPN providers. Make sure the company has been in operation for some time and is well-known in the industry for having a strong commitment to privacy.

 

woman sitting in front of her computer

VPNs can keep you secure, but 100% security all the time isn’t guaranteed.

 

 

Takeaway: VPN Logs Can Put Users at Risk

 

VPN logs pose a serious risk to user privacy, which third parties can use to trace online activities. Even national policies and international treaties can force VPNs to provide user logs. Users should always take the time to research the service provider and read up on their privacy policy and terms of use.

 

Using two-factor authentication and strong passwords is a good way to protect yourself from unwanted data leaks. But the most important thing is to use only well-known and trusted VPN providers with a proven commitment to user privacy. Taking these steps can help you protect your data from unwanted third-party access.

 

 

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