F.A.Q.

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about FreePN.

What is FreePN?

FreePN is the world's first and only completely free, fast, secure, anonymous, unlimited-bandwidth VPN.

FreePN works just like any other VPN - it protects your identity online by masking your IP address, preventing Internet Service Providers (ISPs), governments, and third-parties like ad-services or hackers from tracking you or monitoring your activity.

FreePN can also protect you on public Wi-Fi networks, unblock geo-restricted content, prevent bandwidth throttling by ISPs, and allow you to bypass local government censorship on specific apps and websites.

Why should I use FreePN?

There are many reasons you should use FreePN. You should use FreePN if you want to be secure on the Internet. You should use FreePN if you want to protect your privacy on the Internet. You should use FreePN if you want to be anonymous on the Internet. You should use FreePN if you want to access geo-blocked content, access applications or websites censored by your local government, stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks, or stop ISPs, governments, and third-parties from tracking you on the Internet.

You should use FreePN if you want to support open-source software and the future of a free and open Internet.

You should use FreePN if you want to stop paying for privacy.

What is a VPN?

The easiest way to think about a VPN (virtual private network) is as a tunnel from your computer to another computer somewhere else on the Internet, that then allows you to browse the Internet using that computer’s connection.

Another good way to think about a VPN is that it's kind of like the Navajo code-talkers in WWII. Just as the code-talkers used ciphers and radio, a VPN uses an open network (the Internet) and a secure protocol (encryption) to relay a message between two parties (your computer and a server). Instead of relaying messages about troop positions, a VPN relays bits of information & the requests made as you browse the web!

A VPN is the quickest, most convenient way to protect your security, privacy, and anonymity on the Internet.

Why was FreePN created?

We believe that security, privacy, and anonymity on the Internet should be a fundamental right. Given this belief, an open-source, free-to-use tool to protect users online seemed like the best possible response to the challenges facing the Internet today.

FreePN is dedicated to continuing the fight for online security, privacy, and anonymity into the future. If the Internet is to remain critical infrastructure for modern life, continuing this fight is, and will remain, a necessity.

Why should I care about online privacy?

Have you ever noticed that after shopping for birdhouses online, you start to see a bunch of ads for birdhouses on other sites you visit? If not, try it now, then come back. This happens because you are being tracked online. Technology companies, ad services, ISPs, governments and more all monitor your behavior on the Internet.

You might be thinking ‘well, what do I care if they track me?’, or ‘I have nothing to hide - so I have nothing to fear’. The truth is though, we all have things we want to keep private. Saying you don't care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say. How comfortable would you be if everyone you knew could see exactly how much money you make? How would you feel if your medical records, emails, text messages, TV watching habits, or personal documents were all publicly available for anyone to see? What would your reaction be if your search and browsing history were sent to your friends, your family, your colleagues?

If any of the preceding examples made you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, you should care about privacy on the Internet, and support a free and open web. Privacy isn’t also just about what you do - it’s also who you are. And even if you’re not a target today, who knows what tomorrow will hold? One only need remember the words of Martin Niemöller to be reminded why fighting for what you believe in matters today.

What personal information does FreePN collect?

FreePN does not collect any personal information about you. There is no such thing as a FreePN account. We do not collect logs of any kind. Our goal is to protect your privacy and to help you remain anonymous on the Internet.

FreePN does prompt for an email address the first time you launch the application. This is simply so that we can send you information about critical security updates and other updates regarding our service. We never verify your email address or associate it with you in any way, and you can, in fact, enter any random email address to satisfy this dialog - such as fake_email@sharklasers.com. This prompt is also entirely skippable.

How do I know I can trust FreePN?

Unlike other VPN providers, FreePN's code is completely open-source. This means that you don't need to trust the claims FreePN makes about your security and privacy - you can verify them for yourself by checking out our source code here.

Why is FreePN open-source?

At FreePN, we believe the only security you can trust is security you can see. Many companies and VPN providers make claims about protecting user privacy, not logging user behavior, using strong encryption without backdoors, and the like - but the truth is, unless your application's code is open-source, it's a black box and you don't really know what it's doing.

FreePN's code is open-source so that you can verify for yourself that we do what we say we do. Check it out here.

Why does FreePN use the AGPLv3 license specifically?

We chose to license FreePN under the AGPLv3 because it is the most restrictive (in the sense that a business can’t fork and modify the software without contributing back to the community) open-source license currently approved by the Open Source Initiative.

Based on the original GPLv3, which requires the source code for all distributed binaries to be made available, the AGPLv3 further requires source code be made available for a program even if you only remotely interact with that program over a computer network. For software with FreePN’s network architecture, this additional stipulation is particularly relevant and important.

How does FreePN work?

In short, FreePN is functionally a peer-to-peer VPN network. The FreePN organization itself only runs a coordinating server to help make connections between peers possible. Each user on our network also functions as a VPN server themselves for someone else on the network.

FreePN uses special 'leaky-bucket' algorithms so that you should never notice a negative impact on your own Internet speed while using FreePN. Using FreePN is just as fast (if not faster) than using any other paid VPN service available today.

What underlying technology does FreePN use?

Simply put, FreePN leverages a wide variety of technologies in both its development and deployment. Critically however, FreePN is built on top of ZeroTier at the network layer (to help facilitate connections between peers), and uses AES 256-bit encryption on all network traffic.

How can I contribute to FreePN?

Contributing to FreePN is easy. All of our source code is publicly available on GitHub here. Feel free to tackle any open issue! If you have ideas you want to share for how to improve FreePN, feel free to reach out to us at contact@freepn.com - we read every email!

How is FreePN funded?

FreePN is currently funded primarily by consulting work (i.e. the founder works a day job and re-invests all the income into FreePN). FreePN also accepts donations via PayPal and anonymous donations of BTC, ETH, and LTC.

Bitcoin address: 3ERSeY1V5gU7fNMyfiNg5XxdZRUWTu6Zy4
Ethereum address: 0x71bE78dB5c08e1303eCf0d77d8B054ca97F8F5f6
Litecoin address: MGz3TwkYkgVMTScFHgy66rTDZ7rWjN6fQb

Due to the peer-to-peer nature of FreePN, server and bandwidth hosting costs are relatively minimal. We have discussed plans to monetize FreePN in the future, with a number of (privacy-and-user-friendly) potential methods, including:

  • an Ad-Block Plus style acceptable ads model

  • 'Premium Services' (staying away from a 'freemium' model, more along the lines of a 'dedicated IP address' on the network, or similar)

  • Reselling Raspberry Pi devices (or similar boards) with FreePN pre-installed and ready to 'plug-n’-play'

Though to reiterate, FreePN itself will always be 100% free, and any future monetization will be done carefully, with protection of user privacy and anonymity the #1 priority.

How can I support or sponsor FreePN?

FreePN currently accepts donations through PayPal here, as well as anonymous donations of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Bitcoin address: 3ERSeY1V5gU7fNMyfiNg5XxdZRUWTu6Zy4
Ethereum address: 0x71bE78dB5c08e1303eCf0d77d8B054ca97F8F5f6
Litecoin address: MGz3TwkYkgVMTScFHgy66rTDZ7rWjN6fQb

Where can I download FreePN?

You can easily download FreePN here.

Which platforms do you currently support?

We currently only support Linux-based operating systems with the following build distributions: Debian (& Raspian), Fedora, Gentoo, and Ubuntu. We have a .tar.gz build for others.

Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS are in the works! Email us at contact@freepn.com if you'd like first access to these versions!

How is FreePN different or better than Tor?

Tor consists of a network of client, relays, and exit nodes. Currently, Tor implements a 'three hop' architecture in its network routing. This means that information sent from your computer must pass through three different other computers before eventually reaching its destination, and then return via the same path. This process can be extremely slow, and can add tremendous latency to online interactions. The reason that Tor operates this way is to help obfuscate your IP address, particularly in the event that the exit node you are using is compromised. As of January 2020, the entirety of the Tor network comprises only ~6,000 relay nodes and ~900 exit nodes, so it is a very real possibility that a large percentage of Tor exit nodes have been compromised.

FreePN takes an entirely different approach that attempts to solve many of the problems of the Tor network. By ensuring that every client in the network is also a server, the probability that a given exit node is compromised becomes vanishingly small. Given this, it is possible to make different architectural decisions (a 'single hop', etc.) that can help FreePN be much, much faster and lower latency than the Tor network (or even any other existing VPN service), while still maintaining anonymity and security. Eventually, FreePN hopes to offer a number of configuration options to allow users to increase security past the default setting.

How is FreePN different or better than other VPN services?

Unlike other VPN services, FreePN is faster, lower latency, open source, and above all, entirely free!

That aside, FreePN works in a completely different way than other VPN services. Most VPN companies have a bunch of servers scattered in data centers all over the world that they use to route your traffic. You don't actually know what software is running on those servers, if they're logging your traffic, or what they do with your data. Other VPN services are a black-box you simply have to trust at their word. FreePN is an open source peer-to-peer network. This means that FreePN's software is completely transparent - you don't have to trust what we say about your privacy, you can check for yourself! FreePN itself does not have any servers to route your traffic (everyone who uses FreePN also acts as a server); FreePN only has 'coordinating' servers, to help make matches between peers -- so we couldn't log your data, even if we wanted to!

How is FreePN different or better than Hola VPN?

Some might remember a formerly popular VPN product, Hola VPN. Hola was an early implementation of a peer-to-peer VPN service, but suffered from several fatal flaws. At FreePN, we try to proactively address the issues that were present with Hola head-on:

  • Hola logged user data / browsing behavior
  • Hola sold peer device bandwidth on the network for use in botnets
  • Hola was rife with DNS and WebRTC leaks
  • Hola didn't use encryption on network traffic
  • Hola didn’t support streaming or peer-to-peer applications
  • Hola didn’t accept anonymous payment methods (for their premium plan)
  • Hola was closed source software

Whereas:

  • FreePN has a strict No Log policy
  • FreePN will never sell access (in any form, bandwidth or otherwise) to peer devices on the network
  • FreePN is working to consciously avoid DNS and WebRTC leaks
  • FreePN encrypts all network traffic
  • FreePN is streaming / peer-to-peer application friendly
  • FreePN has no accounts; there’s nothing to pay for
  • FreePN is completely, 100% open source
How is FreePN different or better than SOCKS5?

Essentially the difference between FreePN and a SOCKS5 server boils down to two things:

  • Encryption

    FreePN is a VPN service, so unlike with SOCKS5 (or any other proxy server for that matter), all network traffic over FreePN is encrypted.

  • Service vs. Protocol

    Similar to Wireguard, OpenVPN, IPSec, and others, SOCKS5 is simply a protocol (for proxy servers), not a service like FreePN. This means that while you can just download the FreePN client and start using the network immediately, SOCKS5 requires you to either set up and manage your own VPS with SOCKS5 installed, or pay for a separate proxy service that supports the protocol.
Technically, what does being a server on the network entail?

What does it mean to be a server (as well as client) on FreePN? Practically speaking, what this means is that while using FreePN, in addition to having your connection routed through someone else's computer on the network, someone else's connection may also be routed through your computer simultaneously.

Understandably, many folks might have questions about this. Here, we will try to answer the two most common concerns as clearly and concisely as possible.

  • Speed

    Will using FreePN impact my computer's speed? TL;DR: No. Using FreePN should not impact your computer's speed or the speed of your Internet connection in any meaningful way. FreePN uses 'leaky-bucket' algorithms to help minimize the impact of peers on your Internet speed. Using FreePN should not impact your connection speed any more than another VPN service would. Under certain circumstances (like ISP throttling) FreePN may actually speed up your connection to certain websites.

  • Security

    While using FreePN, can peers spy on my Internet traffic? Like with any peer-to-peer application, the answer to this question is "it's complicated". If you are browsing websites using HTTPS, then no, peers should not be able to snoop on your traffic. If you are browsing unencrypted websites over HTTP (becoming less and less common today), then yes, a peer could potentially snoop on your traffic. Additionally, it is possible that even if you are browsing over HTTPS, a peer could attempt to conduct a 'man-in-the-middle' (MITM) attack, though your browser should warn you if this is happening. Aside from the ability to ban known bad actors from the network, FreePN is also currently developing several first-of-kind mechanisms to proactively detect malicious peers and automatically switch you to a safer connection.

    The main thing to take away here is this: whether you are using Tor, I2P, a black-box VPN service, or nothing at all (so traffic is routed unencrypted through your ISP), malicious actors will always attempt to snoop on your traffic. The idea with FreePN is to severely mitigate this risk by distributing it across all peers in the network. This way, rather than having a 1 in 9 chance of having your traffic routed through a compromised peer (as with Tor), the probability will be something like 0.001% -- and then only for a short period of time at that. All this is to say, by making every user of FreePN both a client and a server, FreePN is the most secure and anonymous VPN that currently exists -- to say nothing of the fact that our code is open source.
How do you prevent abuse of the FreePN network?

As an Internet-access-enabler, FreePN has to deal with many of the same day-to-day abuse issues as large web platforms such as Facebook or Reddit. Abuse on such platforms can come in many forms: illegal or unethical activities (particularly relevant to FreePN as users act as both clients and servers on the network), botnets, and hackers. FreePN addresses these concerns in the following ways:

  • Illegal or unethical activities

    You might be (understandably) concerned about having your computer act an 'exit' node on the FreePN network. You might be wondering, what happens if someone does something illegal over my Internet connection? We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to best approach this issue, so here’s the rundown:

    • DNS configuration options

      Different parts of the world (and different users) have different views on what content is or isn’t acceptable to access or upload online. With this in mind, FreePN has created pre-defined blocklist categories (drawn & regularly updated from open-source blocklists similar to those used by OpenDNS and Fortiguard) that are available to configure in settings. If a given category is ‘checked’ (say file-sharing websites), other FreePN users will not be able to browse blocked sites through a peer connection with you. In this way, users of FreePN can prevent themselves from acting as an ‘exit node’ for certain pre-selected categories of content.

    • Legal protection

      Depending on your jurisdiction, you may already be protected against illegal activity of others over your Internet connection. For example, in the United States, there is good legal precedent for an IP address alone not being considered Personally Identifiable Information (PII). See the case of Johnson v. Microsoft Corp. as an example. Additionally, by acting as simple 'servers' of content to others on the network, peers fall under the DMCA’s ‘transmission safe harbor’ protections as 'passive hosts'.

  • Botnets and hackers

    Another potential concern with a product like FreePN is the ability to address issues like abuse by botnets and malicious nodes (hackers). While it’s impossible to predict every possible attack vector in advance, we’ve also spent a lot of time thinking on these problems, and have developed a few solutions:

    • Rate limiting

      Fortunately, several of the primary vectors for botnet abuse are thwarted with relative ease using some simple rate limiting techniques. FreePN limits how quickly peers may be rotated and locally monitors bandwidth consumption for signs of misuse, among other methods.

    • Signed binaries

      All client binaries downloaded from freepn.com are signed. This signature is verified server-side (with FreePN’s coordinating server) with each new attempt to pair with a peer on the network. In this way, FreePN can prevent tampering and severely limit the attack surface for potential hackers & malicious actors on the network.
How is FreePN different than Wireguard or OpenVPN?

Like Wireguard and OpenVPN, FreePN is also open source and works with Linux. However, unlike Wireguard and OpenVPN which require you to own, manage, and run your own VPN server (and require technical chops like command-line proficiency, Linux/UNIX knowledge, and sysadmin skills), FreePN is super-simple to download and use. All you have to do to use FreePN is download and start the program. That's it! FreePN is a peer-to-peer network, so rather than the single IP address of your dedicated server, you instantly have access to thousands of potential IPs -- ultimately making FreePN the more anonymous, private, and secure choice as well.

How is FreePN both 'free as in beer' and 'free as in speech'?

FreePN is 'free as in speech' because its source code is completely, 100% open and licensed under the AGPLv3. Pursuant to the terms of this license, you are free to copy, modify, and distribute FreePN’s code.

FreePN is 'free as in beer' because the FreePN service (the network) costs nothing to use. FreePN (the service) exists for you to use and enjoy, at no charge.

Who was FreePN made for? Who should use FreePN?

FreePN was made for everyone! FreePN was created to make online privacy accessible and easy-to-use for everyone on the Internet. The more people that use FreePN, the faster, lower latency, more secure, and more anonymous the network becomes! FreePN is the easiest way to protect yourself on the Internet. Help your parents, your friends, and your dog install FreePN and kickstart the privacy revolution today!