Anyone who has dabbled with asking friends and contacts for a VPN recommendation will have probably received a few suggestions.
One of those suggestions is to opt for one of the free VPNs.
This is generally not regarded to be very sensible (a Which magazine report concluded this and backed up this suggestion), they come with a lot of invasive advertising and are widely agreed to not be totally robust or safe.
The name that is often tabled as a reasonable choice is NordVPN.
We now have a new confluence point as NordVPN launches a free version in what is one of the company’s biggest product update transformations.
Full disclosure: we have used a press subscription for NordVPN and have always found it to be performant, stable and compatible across desktop Windows devices, Apple iOS and mobile Android.
The company says it has now included a new file-sharing functionality through Meshnet as well as an open source Linux application.
It also makes Meshnet free of charge.
Meshnet is a technology designed to allow users to work, share, play with other devices – users can share files, play LAN games, or simply access other devices directly and it’s free even if you don’t have a NordVPN subscription. It also allows users to create a peer-to-peer VPN tunnel between devices with NordVPN installed.
“We are continuously expanding the capabilities of NordVPN. This release marks a significant change in openness by both making part of the service free as well as open sourcing a substantial part of our client software,” says Vykintas Maknickas, product strategist at NordVPN.
Meshnet allows users to avoid Internet limitations by routing their Internet traffic through any remote device in the world, as long as it has NordVPN installed. Any Windows, Mac, or Linux device can turn into a personal VPN server.
This means that people can enjoy all the benefits they have at home or provided by other users despite their current location.
Added file sharing
The new feature requires two-way consent, so users don’t have to put their privacy at risk.
“Using Meshnet, people can now instantly share files from one device to another. Take a screenshot on your mobile device. Pick the NordVPN app in sharing options and choose the device you want to send your screenshot to. It’s that easy. Share photo or video files of unlimited size without losing quality. Users can share any files they want without limitation. Any file sent this way goes through an end-to-end encrypted peer-to-peer VPN tunnel, making it the most secure option to share,” notes the company, in a technical product statement.
NordVPN has also released three of its products under an open source license, which includes the entire NordVPN Linux application, Libtelio — a networking library used across NordVPN apps on all operating systems and Libdrop — a library that’s used to share files over Meshnet.
NordVPN has revamped its Meshnet documentation page to include the most popular use cases of this feature.
With Meshnet enabled, users who are traveling can route their traffic through a laptop left at home, allowing them to browse the Internet with their own IP address. Whereas a regular NordVPN service routes your Internet traffic through VPN servers, in the meantime changing your IP address to that of the server, Meshnet lets you create your own VPN server through your own or your friends’ devices, no matter where they are in the world.
When users use Meshnet, they don’t need to make their shared folders public to access them remotely.
Peer-to-peer VPN tunnel
Users don’t need to make their IP camera available to anyone to use it from their work computer – Meshnet creates a peer-to-peer VPN tunnel between your devices so you are the only person who connects to your home network.
Meshnet works as a virtual local area network (LAN), so users can play multiplayer games with their friends without needing LAN cables, even if they live in a different neighbourhood or country. With Meshnet, users can all connect to the same server from various locations.
Meshnet is available on all platforms, including Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux as well as Android TV. Users can link up to 10 personal and 50 external devices to their own network.