What Are Decentralized VPNs? You Should Give Them a Try

dVPNs rely on users offering their unused bandwidth to others.

What Is Dvpn Featured

Whether you want to access the Netflix library of another country or better protect your personal data, utilizing a VPN is good practice. Yet, VPNs aren’t foolproof. Decentralized VPNs, or dVPNs, set out to fix some of the problems inherent with current VPN services.

How Is a Decentralized VPN Different from a Regular VPN?

Whenever you point your browser to a website, you are making a connection between your device, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the server that hosts the website. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your traffic by rerouting it through one of the VPN’s servers. This makes it hard for third parties, including your ISP and your intended destination on the Web, to determine your real location or see what you’re doing.

Dvpn Server
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A decentralized VPN (dVPN) is a peer-to-peer network. There aren’t a bunch of servers owned by a single company, as is the case with a regular VPN. Instead, a dVPN utilizes privately owned servers that a user would reroute their traffic through.

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The Advantages of a dVPN

VPNs are great at protecting your identity and obscuring your online activity, but there is one fairly large problem. The servers used by regular VPNs are controlled entirely by the VPN provider. Therefore, while your activity is hidden from your ISP and the sites you visit, your VPN can see everything, as all of the servers are centralized and owned and operated by a single entity.

Dvpn Decentralized
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Most reputable VPNs have “no log” policies. In a nutshell, this means they don’t record any activity on their servers, including things like your real IP address (which can be used to identify you), or what you’ve been doing while connected through their servers.

A no log policy is great and fairly standard nowadays; however, at the end of the day, you’re really just taking the VPN provider at their word. One can’t help but wonder what would happen if the company was pressured by authorities or – in extreme cases – had their servers seized. Decentralized VPNs eliminate this worry due servers being privately owned.

The Disadvantages of a dVPN

In theory, decentralized VPNs sound like a great idea. However, while a dVPN may address a potentially serious issue regarding traditional VPN providers, that doesn’t make them free from scrutiny. The most obvious issue with dVPNs is latency. Since dVPNs connect you to private servers, the speed of your connection is going to be all over the place. When connecting to a regular VPN, the provider has the revenue – as well as incentive in a competitive market – to ensure connection speeds are top notch.

Dvpn Speed
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Aside from inconsistent performance, there are legitimate security concerns when it comes to dVPNs. The core idea of a dVPN is to take the service out of the hands of a singular governing body. However, doing so can mean that there is no oversight or security measures in place and can open up the proverbial can of worms. Theoretically, it would be easier for bad actors to take advantage of a dVPN.

Dvpn Legal
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Finally, many dVPNs are attempting to use payment, usually in the form of crypto, to get people to act as servers for traffic. The idea is that you could passively make money by selling your bandwidth to the dVPN. The problem is that many people use a VPN to hide what they are doing online. It’s not out of the question to imagine someone connecting through your server, with your real IP address, and doing something shady to land you in legal jeopardy.

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Which dVPNs Are Currently Available

As we mentioned in the previous section, the dVPNs that are currently available all follow the same model: incentivize people to use their idle bandwidth for the network in exchange for cryptocurrency. There are a number of dVPNs available. The ones listed below are some of the most popular ones.

Best Dvpns Mysterium
  • Mysterium – individual users power the Mysterium network, which utilizes users as nodes for the network. Unused bandwidth can be sold to the Mysterium marketplace where other interested parties can purchase to fuel their anonymous web browsing. This allows users to pay for the Mysterium dVPN on a per-gigabyte basis as opposed to a flat subscription fee.
  • Deeper – another dVPN that allows users to operate as a node in the network. However, unlike other networks, Deeper requires additional hardware to run, which comes with a fairly hefty price tag. As a reward for operating as a node, users earn Deeper’s own crypto asset, DPR tokens. DPR tokens are listed on Uniswap.
  • Hopr – aims to address the privacy concerns of dVPNs by adding another layer of encryption. It achieves this by routing your traffic through two independent nodes. Like the others, Hopr rewards node operators with HOPR tokens, the network’s native asset.

dVPNs and Streaming

One of the most common uses of a VPN is accessing streaming services. We all know that streaming video providers like Netflix maintain different libraries of content in different regions. Using a VPN to “trick” Netflix into thinking you’re in a different place can give you access to titles you previously didn’t have access to. Similarly, you can use a VPN to get around geo-restrictions.

Dvpn Netflix
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Since regular VPN providers are in a crowded field, they need to make sure that their speeds are in line with customer expectations. Therefore, traditional VPNs invest a lot of capital in ensuring their servers are speedy. On the other hand, dVPNs rely on private servers. As a result, dVPNs are almost certainly going to suffer from latency issues because bandwidth isn’t cheap, which makes streaming video hit or miss.

If you happen to connect to a node that delivers the bandwidth needed to maintain the stream, then you’re golden. If not, just prepare yourself for much buffering.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are dVPNs the same thing as Tor or I2P?

The short answer is yes. With the Onion Routing Network (Tor) and I2P (Invisible Internet Project), users give up part of their bandwidth to create a “node” that other users can pass through to mask their real IP address. Decentralized VPNs essentially do the same thing.

That being said, dVPNs are attempting to attract more users by rewarding them with cryptocurrency. Theoretically, this could mean more people opting in as nodes. As a result, this would provide more bandwidth, faster connection times, and faster overall speeds. For a more in-depth perspective, check out our Tor vs. VPN comparison.

Are dVPNs free?

No. Decentralized VPNs require users to pay to use their networks, often with cryptocurrency. Many dVPNs operate on a “pay-as-you-go” model, so users do not pay a subscription and aren’t locked into a contract. Instead, users only pay for the bandwidth that they need.

How do I become a dVPN node?

It depends on the network. With some services, such as Mysterium, users download and install an app on their laptop, phone, or tablet to participate as a node. Other networks, like Deeper, require users to purchase a piece of hardware to function as a node. If you are interested, consult the website of your chosen dVPN, as they will have extensive documentation on how to participate.

When should I opt for a dVPN over a traditional VPN?

The answer is going to depend on the individual. Due to the nature of a dVPN, it is much harder to guarantee consistent speeds or connection reliability. Remember, all dVPNs rely on individuals to act as private servers. Therefore, the performance of a network is going to depend on the number of people participating as nodes. Furthermore, dVPNs require a bit more user knowledge to get up and running. This is mainly due to the fact that bandwidth is paid for via cryptocurrency.

Traditional VPNs, however, are incredibly easy to set up. Simply download an app, punch in your credit card details, and you’re off to the races.

Image credit: Bitcoins and Internet router by 123RF, Pexels

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