For the last 3 years or so I’ve been using a VPN service.
It started out when I entered my engineering school and lived on campus. The Internet connection the students shared was really poor. To top it off, peer-to-peer was deactivated. So I had to use a VPN to be able to do P2P and I subscribed to VPNFacile. It was perfect for a first timer, everything was well explained and the offer was only 5€ per month. The only complain I would have is that the people behind the website cannot write French without making a mistake every other sentence (and I’m being kind).
The next year, fed up with living on campus, a couple of friends and I rented an apartment in the city and we suscribed to a French ISP, Free. I stopped using my VPN until I received an email from HADOPI, telling me that I was downloading illegal material (a ludicrous accusation, needless to say).
This year I started using a VPN because I get a piss poor connection on Youtube and any other semi bandwith heavy american websites (twitch.tv, blip.tv etc.). This is because of my ISP, still Free, who refuses to get a better infrastructure, arguing that Google should participate in this project (for more details, see here). The French government is starting to question this action, Net neutrality and all that. In the meantime, consumers suffer but who cares really ?
A couple of months ago, I decided to rent a remote server. I wanted to try setting things up from scratch: configuring the ssh server, an OpenVPN server, rtorrent and so on.
I looked into hosting services and went with Hetzner. I subscribed to their 20€/month VPS offer. Their offer is pretty good, the only downside is that their FAQ in English is almost impossible to navigate. They offer a simple recovery system which allows you to mount your disks on a rescue computer, if you lock yourself out of your VPS. This kind of situation will probably happen when you play with the ssh configuration (or the firewall, or both…).
I’m renting this server with a friend, we already set up a couple of services, including OpenVPN which I’m using by default on my machine. I discovered that having my exit point in Germany was a poor decision: a lot of Youtube videos are banned in Germany because of copyright issues and Grooveshark is flat-out banned. I also cannot post on 4chan because my IP is flagged. Furthermore, I doubt they are very keen on people downloading from peer-to-peer networks. That’s why I might leave Hetzner to go somewhere else.
In the meantime we are setting up services on the VPS and figuring stuff as we go, it’s very instructive. I’ll try to share interesting gists for others to learn from.