What Are VPN Logs? All You Need To Know
Last Updated: June 3, 2021
VPN logs are the set of data that VPN companies obtain from their application on your device. The VPN collects information which may be user sign-in accounts, the number of users logging in from the same email or IP address to the service, and even your most used servers.
VPN providers sometimes collects information for analytical purposes. These companies may also keep logs to see where web traffic comes from or the right way to fine-tune their ads to improve conversions.
However, many of these activities mentioned, when carried out by premium and trusted VPNs, are done for the right reasons, without leaving privacy and security concerns. On the other hand, some free VPNs may gather personal information about you to generate revenue or for some other reason you may not be pleased with.
Let’s explore the different types of logs that VPN providers keep.
Types of VPN Logs
Three different kinds of VPN logs exist; they include:
1. Usage (browsing) Logs
These logs contain online activity: browsing history, connection times, IP addresses, metadata, etc. It would help if you avoided any VPN that collects user data from a privacy perspective. Some free VPNs have been known to capture usage logs for unsavory reasons. This is why it is advisable to look through a VPN provider’s policy on logs before opting for it.
2. Connection Logs
Typically, connection logs contain dates, times, connection details, and IP addresses often. Usually, this information is used to configure the VPN network and deal with user issues or limitations of use problems (torrenting, illegal activities, etc.). Although simple connection logs are not inherently a concern, connection logs are maintained by an increasing number of VPNs while falsely pretending to be a no logs’ service. There are numerous examples of this.
3. No logs
No logs indicate that the VPN provider does not hold any records at all. It can be hard to enforce a complete no-logging policy when implementing limitations such as computer connections or bandwidth. When constraints such as bandwidth or the number of devices used per subscription need to be implemented by VPNs.
VPNs Log Policy & Duration
Like several paid and free VPN apps on the internet, businesses will also sensationalize their capabilities and features to raise their profit margin. To decide which VPN option is best for your machine or smartphone, use the tips and points given here.
When you use a VPN to search the internet, you trust your provider with a wealth of sensitive data.
Your VPN provider could track and store your IP address, server location collection, and even the websites you visit, depending on its logging policy. In short, if compelled to do so, there are hundreds of sensitive logs that a VPN can collect and share.
The logging policies of the 90% most common VPN providers on the market have been fact-checked. Some of the most common VPN providers also collect their users’ web activities and share this data with third parties. Typical VPN providers’ logging policies are often ambiguous, confusing, or deceptive.
How Long Are VPN Logs Stored?
VPNs log saves some information about you, but how long do they hold these logs? In terms of the Privacy and secrecy that you get from the VPN provider, the length that records are kept makes a huge difference. The size of storage of these logs by a VPN provider can vary extensively from no logs at all to 24 hours, to six months or more!
What Are the Justifications for VPN Logging?
There are several reasons why VPNs keep logs in some way; they are not inherently wrong. Let’s take a look at some of them below:
1. Restricting the Number of Devices
Limiting the number of devices used for a subscription is one of the most significant factors for keeping logs. Almost every VPN imposes restrictions on the number of concurrent connections used with a subscription (3, 5, 6…). This is necessary for them to enforce connection and system limitations (at least when you are connected to the service).
An issue that should give you concern should be how the VPN service enforces the number of connection constraints while still being a “no logs” VPN. Only your VPN service can answer this precisely.
A few distinctly different services have a genuine zero-logging policy and still offer users unlimited computer connections.
2. Bandwidth Limiting
Bandwidth constraints often necessitate logging. Logging is essential to restrict the amount of bandwidth an account uses. If any VPN has bandwidth limitations and appears to be a VPN without logs, this should pose some concerns.
3. Logging with Rental Servers (VPS)
Several VPNs employ virtual rental servers (Virtual Private Servers). A VPS is much more inexpensive than a dedicated (bare metal) server, but this raises some issues from a privacy perspective.
The issue is that rental servers will always keep server activity logs. Also, local authorities may likely compel a server host to log data. In this scenario, a foreign VPN company’s “no logs” policies mean nothing; local officials will go straight to the datacenter to get everything they need.
4. Global Spying Agencies Force Companies to Log
Spying agencies such as the NSA and GCHQ have been known to compel businesses to record and hand over private customer information. Since 2010 in the US, major tech firms have been promoting NSA hacking, see the PRISM Software. In the UK, the Investigatory Powers bill allows all data to be logged and stored for 12 months. It is exceptionally straightforward to target a specific business or server network.
Much worse, a “gag order” can accompany logging requests, making it unlawful for the organization to reveal what they are forced to do.
5. Troubleshooting Issues and VPN Efficiency Optimization
VPN providers also claim that they log connection data to help them resolve service issues and improve their network. While running a fast, stable, and reliable VPN service does not inherently require most VPNs to maintain logging, at least some necessary connection logs keep everything working well.
Not all VPN logs are equally made. From anonymized link metadata to intrusive logging of your browsing history, usage habits, and online behavior, log files and the information they contain can vary.
How Does The Recycling Of Logs Work?
When you recycle/purge data logs from a VPN provider, they do not do it all at once. Instead, it is just like your DVR service, where old TV shows are removed to make way for new ones.
For instance, if a VPN has a 15-day log retention period, from the last 15 days, they will still have your activity on the file. When a new day begins, the oldest data will be discarded to make way for data from the current day.
It can be challenging, if not impossible, to find a VPN that does not keep any logs at all. Although the VPN provider may not save your details, many other ways still reveal your identity. Never presume that using a VPN would guarantee that your provider will not keep at least some form of your data. Sure, some VPN services stick to their promise of keeping no records of your data, but they are few and far between.