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Review: WiTopia Personal VPN

Derek Schauland offers an overview of the WiTopia Personal VPN for extra security and privacy when accessing the Internet. Find out if it's for you.

Most of us have antivirus, anti-malware, and firewalls between us and the Internet, but what about the traffic you send and receive? Can the Farmville data you are sharing with all of your friends be secured or are you stuck hoping nobody hijacks your crops before you harvest them?

In all reality, security of your information on your computer is something everyone is getting used to, but not necessarily the transmission of information from one computer to another. Sure businesses have firewalls and block things and monitor the Internet, but many individual users (myself included until recently) do not give another thought to the protection of the data while it is being transmitted.

Once your data is on the Internet there is not much you can do about where it has gone or who sees it, but keeping your connections encrypted and less likely to be sniffed is definitely a step in the right direction.

This is where WiTopia comes in. It provides SSL and PPTP VPN tunnels for the rest of us. The tunnel connects from your computer to a VPN gateway in the cloud, and all communications sent over this connection are secure.

It does for all data what a VPN connection to the office does for corporate information.

Specifications

The simplicity really shines with Personal VPN from WiTopia. Download the installer, configured online after you place your order, and execute it. Once this completes, start the application and connect to the nearest server to your location.

Note: Windows 7 users will need to configure the application for compatibility with Windows Vista and to run the Installer and application as an Administrator. To enable these settings complete the following:

For the installer:

1.       Right click the executable and select properties.

2.       Click the Compatibility tab

3.       Check the Run as Administrator box.

4.       Click the Change Settings for all users box.

5.       Check "Run this program in compatibility mode for" and select Windows Vista from the dropdown.

6.       Click OK.

For the application:

Repeat the steps above in the properties window for the application which you can find by right clicking the shortcut to the application from the Start Menu or the Desktop.

Supported operating systems:

Who's it for?

WiTopia Personal VPN is a great tool for security conscious Internet users looking to keep their information secure. With the amount of identity theft that seems to be going on these days, this solution might be a good find for anyone who surfs the Internet from potentially untrusted locations.

What problem does it solve?

With many hotels and other businesses providing wireless Internet and some other wireless networks being left open and unsecured, keeping your data and sessions safe is your responsibility as the user. When traveling, there may be restrictions placed on what is allowed to be used on a network, censored content, or other things that those accessing these networks could generally not control. Using a service like Personal VPN, your traffic is encrypted and the connection to WiTopia's VPN gateway servers is secure. This creates a tunnel between the user and the service, allowing you to access content securely and without worrying about censorship and blocking. Because the IP address your traffic comes from is that of the VPN Gateway, your personal IP address will not be known to the outside, keeping your data more secure and preventing other services on the Internet from locating you based on your IP address.

Standout features

Ease of use is the first thing I noticed. When I purchased the application for $59.99/yr, I was emailed a link to create my client application with my certificate and all of the available gateway information prepopulated. Upon downloading, the install was very simple and straight forward.

There was also no messing around with certificates; the Windows installer took care of all of that.

WiTopia Personal VPN also supports most VOIP services and things like Skype and IM.

Figure A

All of the available VPN Gateway servers

Figure B

Connected to Personal VPN

What's wrong?

The price at first seemed a bit high, however once I considered how much I use the Internet and that it broke down to about $5/month it wasn't so bad. There is also no browser- based access for SSL-VPN users, meaning the client must be available for the connection to work. WiTopia's PPTP service does not require a client.

There is also no software method for using the service on multiple computers simultaneously; the client can be installed on multiple machines, but only one can be used at a time unless multiple accounts are purchased or a CloakBox VPN router (also from WiTopia) is used.

Note: I do not know if Wi-Fi sharing applications like Connectify would allow VPN connection sharing, although it seems this would work across the service.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

For road warriors or even those who travel occasionally, the security provided by WiTopia's Personal VPN could be a very wise investment in helping to keep both company and personal data safe.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

2 comments
AlexBert
AlexBert

Thank you for a good article. I now use encrypted tunnels and proxies of http://pirateray.com/proxy, works great for me with any browser, Wifi, Skype, wherever I travel. The list of proxies is always updating for a better security and anonymity. Very easy to install and use, no complicated settings. Free to try 1 week. It's an excellent option for mass public to be safe while being online. No one can access your personal data.

kecsystems
kecsystems

Thank you Derek for the great information. I have been using vpn services for about 2 years in US and Europe. I just figured out something at this time that almost all vpn providers are deploying servers in the same data centers. So they are almost identical in the speed. Only technology differs. I had been concluded on using strongvpn.com for a long time and then came to this vpn service www.boxpn.com about 4 months ago. I checked their server locations and interestingly they are using the same data centers with strongvpn. The only difference is they are almost half the price of stonvpn. boxpn also using a much higher technology of Threat Management Gateway servers which works as a firewall when we as clients connect to their network. I guess this is the first in the vpn industly. I tried witopia and they have one thing comes up and differenciate them from others. Their iOS application. It works great that it automatically connects to vpn network. As a conclusion, I find out that almost all vpn service providers are identical. I'm going for the cheapest price for now :) Thanks.

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