When I use a VPN

vpn-animationOver the weekend I signed up for a lifetime unlimited VPN plan from VPN Unlimited. Have not tried them before, but at US$39 for a lifetime plan, it does seem to be too good a deal to pass, and I am assuming that TNW should be reputable enough to do proper screening of their deals before offering them to followers.

My most pertinent use case for VPNs is when I am using open wireless networks either in SG or overseas. You can never know whether it is a rogue wireless hotspot that was set up to steal your data or if there are other unruly elements together with you on a “protected” network who are trying to sniff and decipher your network traffic. A particular type of wireless network vulnerability was exposed a few years back with the “Firesheep” Firefox extension.

Another benefit of using VPNs from a VPN provider who has international servers is that you will be able to spoof your location so that you can access localised content (e.g. Hulu, BBC, some Youtube channels, etc.) that will otherwise be blocked from international users. For some — like the people behind the Great Firewall of China — this feature is particularly relevant as they are not only able to spoof another location, they can also bypass the Great Firewall since the VPN tunnel is encrypted and will theoretically block prying eyes.

Me and my Virtual Machines

vbox_logo2_gradientI use Virtual Machines (VM) at home. If you think that VMs only have their place in corporations, then you may want to think twice and consider deploying them for use within your home. Even if you do not have any servers, it still makes sense to deploy them on your notebooks, desktops, etc.

The reason why I use VMs is because they provide a contained environment which can be ported to different machines if I should choose to do so. I run Ubuntu Linux on my Oracle Virtualbox, and it is simply a cinch for me to switch notebooks when I upgrade. Once you perform a VM migration and see your desktop and applications being migrated across so easily, you will probably think twice about using your native desktop again!

Other than migration, full system backup is also no longer a chore. Now all I need to do in order to have a full system is to create a snapshot, and when I feel like it, copy the VM and its associated VDIs out to my external HDD for safekeeping. With large HDDs being so cheap now, it is probably more cost effective for you to just backup the entire VM rather than debate about what to backup and what to leave out.