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Confusion: Proxy / VPN / Tor. OpenDNS? Free or Pay

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#1 Old_Feller


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Posted 30 October 2017 - 11:59 AM



Even though I have no plans to involve myself in illegal things, browsing privacy still seems appealing.I had been fighting a problem with Windows 10 booting to changed Settings: Manual Proxy set to “ON”, with proxy address/port numbers that I did not put there ( / 8003) and decided to learn about anonymous browsing. With all the advertising and different kinds of proxies and other routes to freedom, I’m stuck in information overload.


Should I install Socks5 and find a Socks5 proxy? Or should I use some other type of proxy? I don’t want Web Proxy, going to a special web site that asks me which site is being blocked and providing a search function. I simply want to sit down at my computer, whenever I feel like it and without doing anything, other than opening my browser, surf with as little successful-censorship of websites as possible - and do it with a reduced chance of being spied on or leaving tracks that can be easily and cheaply acquired by hotshot investigators or anyone else.


Also, can this proxy be incorporated into my network hub, instead of my computer, so it covers all traffic in and out of my house? And if that is done, what proxy settings would I use on the computer (Windows 10 Home)?


{NetGear N450 wireless router / SMC Networks 8014WN modem/wireless router with wireless disabled}


Any compelling reason to go with a VPN instead? NoScript? Tor? I don’t feel like I need ultimate protection but I’d like them to have to work for it if I’m to be spied on.


DNS services came up on a search for proxy servers, but I don’t see how they add to anonymity. What is the point of something like opendns.com? They claim “faster, more reliable home internet and acting as a filtering service, but couldn’t a proxy server do exactly what they are doing? Can one DNS really be noticeably faster than another?


Lastly, are pay proxies worth the money (even though they're quite cheap)?

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#2 sailorman4you


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Posted 01 November 2017 - 10:21 PM

O.K.  Lot of meat there, but I'm going to try to make this short and as simple as I can.  I have about the same attitude toward all of this as you do. I'm an old man who's been messing with computers since forever and I just don't get any enjoyment out of constant configuring and tweaking to do what I want to do. That said, I don't have a router. I leech off the landlords wifi, so I can't help you too much with configuring a router.  But here goes.


Forget messing with proxies.  More trouble than they're worth.  Some of my biggest nightmares have been when I delved into proxies. Totally unnecessary.


First thing in a quest for privacy is to choose the correct browser and configure it propetly. Have it send "Do not track" command.  Configure your privacy settings, including Java and cookie settings..  Get a good ad blocker and extension(s).  I use Opera, Vivaldi, Chrome and Firefox browsers.  The best ad blockers and privacy extensions I've found are AdGuard, UBlock, Disconnect and Stealth.  All are free and available depending on which browser you use. Adguard/Stealth and Ublock/Disconnect are good combos as they do slightly different things.  AdGuard is particularly good, in my  opinion.  The browser extension is free but they do have a "whole computer" paid version available as well.  


Also, scrap google as your search engine. Change the defaults to Start Page or Duck Duck Go.  Most of the info about you that gets around comes not from surreptitious harvesting of your data, but from the web searches you conduct.


BTW, Opera comes with a free VPN built right into the browser.  I won't vouch for it, or what they do with whatever traffic they get from you, but it's free and seems to work better than most of the free VPN's out on the open market now. I assume it's mostly useful for circumventing geo-restricted sites.  Opera also has a built in ad blocker that seems to work pretty good as well, but the extensions like AdGuard and U-Block are better and more flexible. And, Opera is pre configured with Duck Duck Go as an optional search engine, and an icon to launch Start Page right on the address bar.  These are all nice touches as Opera doesn't have the massive catalog of third-party extensions the way Chrome and Firefox do.


I've used no-script off and on for years.  It's a matter of preference but I found it interferes with too much on too many websites. I was constantly creating whitelists and turning it off.  I finally just gave up on it entirely and haven't seemed to suffer any adverse consequences for having done that. 


IMO, based on what you seem to be looking for, a VPN is the way to go, But do some research. Some of them, especially the free ones, are worse than having nothing.  Don't even waste your time with free VPN's. They're slow and god knows who's running them.  They have horrible reputations for what they do with your data.  They keep logs despite what they say and they'll bend over in a heartbeat to acquiesce to any request by the gov't.. Even the best ones are just teasers for paid services.  Bite the bullet and spend $5 a month or so on a reputable paid VPN. You won't regret it.   The one I use and recommend is AirVPN.  It's based in Italy and it's run by well-known internet privacy advocates. It's been around for at least 7 years now and has never once cooperated with any investigator or gov't agency.  It has a custom GUI that you download to set up your connection with a couple clicks, on demand or automatically when Windows boots up.  It also has a better than average "fail-safe" network lock to instantly shut down all traffic out of your computer in the event the VPN goes out for some reason. They have port forwarding if you're into torrenting, "double hops" for sites that blacklist VPN's and they don't restrict or limit the traffic you run through their servers.  There are ways to configure AirVPN with a router to get "whole house" service and that's discussed on their user forum.  There are also tutorials to walk you through that process. 


There are a lot of things to consider beyond just the price when choosing a VPN, but for what you sound like you're looking for, I think a good, paid VPN is the way to go.  I don't want to sound like a commercial here, but AirVPN has a "Black Friday" deal every year and if you contact them, they'll give you a free trial as well.  Another good one I know about goes by the acronym "PIA".  I forget what it stands for though. Something like "Perfect Internet Anonymity" perhaps. One VPN I would NOT recommend is "Hide-My-Ass".  Run, don't walk, away from that outfit.


The online publication "Torrentfreaks" does a good annual Q&A with a couple dozen VPN providers where they are each asked the important questions that everyone should ask a potential VPN provider.  It's worth some google time to find it and read it. (But use Start Page or Duck Duck Go)


Also, forget TOR.  Yeah, it's private and about as secure as you're going to get this side of freenet, but it's painfully slow and only useful for going to certain specially designed "onion" sites.  Unless you're looking to score some drugs or you're planning a revolution in a totalitarian regime, it's not worth fooling with.  The one exception I'd mention is that you can access a VPN through Tor (or vice versa) if you're super paranoid.  But you'd best have a VERY high speed internet connection if you try that.


So, if you configure your browser well, use an ad blocker and anti tracking extensions (Disconnect and/or Stealth) and get a reasonably user friendly paid VPN, you'll be about as protected against snoopers and trackers as any legally (or semi-legally) occupied person needs to be, without all the fussing and tweaking that turns you into a nervous wreck like me.


Hope that helps.


P.S.  About DNS servers.  Yes, some are significantly faster than others.  They really don't have a big direct impact on privacy unless your server is harvesting your info, but the correct DNS server can speed up your connections.  Some are faster with addresses you have been to before, and some are faster with new addresses.  


Google "Steve Gibson Research DNSbench".  Gibson is a big privacy nut and there is a good explanation of DNS servers on his site He also has a little free downloadable utility (DNSbench) that will test a whole list of them and make recommendations as to which one you should use on your particular machine.


Also, just FYI, is the IP address of your own machine.  8003 is a common HTLM port number.  Nothing to worry about.  See how all that proxy nonsense just causes confusion?  If you ever need to use a proxy, you'll know. That's my philosophy.

Edited by sailorman4you, 01 November 2017 - 10:48 PM.

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