Tag Archives: virtual private network

Little TunnelBear (free) – A Drop Dead Simple VPN Built on Simplicity and Speed

I’m an Internet privacy advocate (regular readers will now pause – laugh – and say – “no kidding!”), and while the fight to rein in Google, and others, might seem unwinnable, privacy advocates have not lost the battle – yet. Which is why, I have a great interest in any tool that will either stop Google and other data accumulators from collecting, storing, and dissecting my private personal information, or inhibit their ability to do so.

As a result, I’ve long made it a practice to camouflage my IP address when searching for sensitive subject matter.  Sensitive subject matter doesn’t always involve porn. Although, ………….   Smile

Take a look at the following free VPN (Virtual Private Network) application – Little TunnelBear (a paid version with enhanced features is available), which allows you to surf the Web while hiding your IP address. Hiding your “real” IP address won’t leave traces of your private surfing activities – protecting you from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, curious family members, and of course – Google.

I’ve been running with TunnelBear, (for 6 months or so), on a daily basis – and I’m impressed – very impressed. This application is “snappy quick” which cannot be said of the majority of the 10 (or more), VPNs I’ve tested here in the last few years.

While the service is not entirely free (500 MB monthly free – an additional 1 GB is available (free) if one “Tweets” the application. Even with my heavy usage, I generally don’t run out of free data access (1.5 GB), until the 25/26th of the month.

At that point, I switch over to the free version of Expat Shield which unfortunately lacks the quickness of TunnelBear, with the additional handicap of being ad supported. Having said that, I’ll emphasize (from a previous review), that Expat Shield is a terrific application and, the developer is certainly entitled to generate revenue.

TunnelBear will get no points for a stylish  user interface …

image

…. but I can assure you, that in this case “hot looks” cannot compete with speed, simplicity  and ease of use.  And, TunnelBear has all that – and more.

Simplicity – no need to launch a Browser first. Switch on – choose your preferred locale (the UK or the US) then launch a Browser.

image

Please note that occasionally, you may find that instead of the UK, you will be assigned an alternative European IP address. Hungary and Holland come quickly to mind. It would be preferable, in my view, if the GUI reflected that fact.

Boost the freebie – If you have a Twitter account, and should you choose to do so, a quick Tweet is all it takes to bump up free data access to 1.5 GB. A very sweet deal, I think.

image

Following which, an email similar to that shown below, will confirm your additional 1 GB of data access.

image

I’ll repeat – Even with my heavy usage, I generally don’t run out of free data access (1.5 GB), until the 25/26th of the month.

Significant points:

There are no ads and the application doesn’t have to run in the background, or at startup.

Employs a minimum of  AES 128-bit encryption.

Normal surfing (hopping from site to site), showed no slowdown (none that I could measure in human terms) in connection speed.

Once the application has been started – all applications that communicate with a remote address will do so through TunnelBear.

As with all such applications, a leap of faith is required. While the application does shield you from prying eyes, the developer has full access. You need to consider the implications. In other words – do you trust the developer.

Here’s what the developer has top say on that issue –

“TunnelBear stores the absolute minimum amount of information required to operate our service. This information includes your email, first name, last name, # of times you’ve logged on and the overall amount of data you transferred for the month. We do NOT log any information as to the websites you visit, nor do we store your IP address after you disconnect.”

Having tested my fair share of anonymous surfing applications in the last few years, I’d judge this application to be as good, or better, than most.

Supported systems:

image

Download at: Developer’s site (http://www.tunnelbear.com/)

Additional information is available from the developer’s FAQ page here.

15 Comments

Filed under Android, Apple, downloads, Freeware, Google, Online Privacy, Software, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Hulu For You – No Matter Where You Live!

Update June 25, 2009: Hulu is now blocking all proxies, so the following information is now out of date.

In order to enjoy the benefits of Hulu, the free website that offers commercial-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, Fox and other networks and studios, your computer must be located, or appear to be located, in the United States.

Hulu

But why do you have to live in the U.S. in order to enjoy the benefits of Hulu? At least in Canada, where I live, it all comes down to licensing issues with Canada’s major television networks.

There’s not much point in ranting and raving about the fact that the Canadian government supports a non-competitive environment that restricts MY free choice. I’m curious though, as to how a government can support a “dead” business model, still being pushed on Canadian consumers by mainstream media corporations.

I finally got fed up with messages such as this, “We’re sorry, but the video you selected isn’t available from your location”, when attempting to watch a video offered by Hulu and other similar sites, and went on an Internet hunt to find a tech solution to this aggravating problem.

Surprisingly it took only minutes to find a free solution offered by AnchorFree, the developers of Hotspot Shield, an application whose main purpose is to protect your security, privacy and anonymity while surfing the Internet by:

Securing your web session with HTTPS encryption

Hiding your IP address for your privacy online

Securing your connection at both your home Internet network and public Internet networks (both wired and wireless)

Allowing you to access all content privately without censorship

Protecting you from snoopers at Wi-Fi hotspots, hotels, airports, corporate offices and ISP hubs

According to the developers “Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop or iPhone, and our Internet gateway. This impenetrable tunnel prevents snoopers, hackers, ISP’s, from viewing your web browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network”.

Now for the good news: If you are in a country that restricts your access to Hulu, not only does Hotspot Shield perform all of the functions listed earlier, but most importantly, for accessing Hulu, it makes your computer appear to be located in the United States.

Hotspot Shield isn’t something you’d want to leave running all the time, since this is an ad supported application and it puts banner ads on every web page that you view, but as a Hulu access solution, it works well and is easily turned on/off via the system tray icon.

Incidentally, Hotspot Shield was named as one of the best free applications of 2008 by PC Magazine.

I have heard good news about a similar application UltraSurf – a program developed to bypass the Great Firewall of China, but to this point I haven’t had a chance to test drive this one.

Some forum comments on Hotspot Shield:

Works good, greetings from Mexico City

Works perfectly in Tokyo, Japan on Mac OS X Leopard. And fast!

Tip – to everyone outside the states watching Hulu through Hotspot shield, connect to Hotspot, start watching the movie, and then disconnect, it should work just fine.

One caveat: I don’t have the ability to test this application in all countries so it may be, that it may not work in all locations.

I have to tell you though, I’m having a terrific time watching Hi-Def movies, videos and TV shows on a 22 inch wide screen monitor – finally!

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Mac OS X (10.5 Leopard), (10.4 Tiger)

Download at: Anchorfree

12 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Hulu, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet TV, Living Life, Software, Windows Tips and Tools