It’s that time of year. All my services subscriptions are either ready to renew or it’s about time I review what I’m paying for year-round. I currently have three especially problematic services:
- VPN (hard to connect to, iffy service, interference with Google),
- Offsite backup (Java engine that completely destroys my Mac and creates a wind tunnel — I’ll probably be switching to Backblaze soon), and
- An Internet provider whose service degrades if more than three people look at my site at once (I’ve heard good things about Digital Ocean, if you have alternate recs I’d love to hear them).
I’ve been with all three current providers for years and years. As of today, I’ve now managed to ditch at least one of them. Today, I threw my credit card at Cloak VPN. I’ve been testing the service for the last week and I’m hooked.
It’s a very Apple-aware iOS-designed provider. (I haven’t used the OS X component because my daughter, as you might have read here, has appropriated my laptop so I’m currently laptopless.) Most importantly, the service just works. When I connect to an untrusted WiFi network, the VPN service automatically switches on. When I’m home to my recognized WiFi, it switches off. Cell service is automatically trusted as a default setting.
In my daily life, I’m surrounded by attwifi and xfinitywifi hotspots. Now, my iPad knows that it can automatically connect to these and switch on my VPN cloak. Yesterday, as I was sitting at the car shop, I suddenly noticed that my iPhone was getting unusually good response speeds. Turns out that it had connected to a recognized big-name hotspot provider and sure enough, cloak was already there and protecting me.
This morning, Cloak got my money.
Service plans start from $2.99/month for 5GB bandwidth but if you consume a lot of data, for example with a laptop or at home, there’s an unlimited plan at $9.99/month or $99.99/year. The plans extend to an unlimited number of devices but they are one-person each. The company politely requests you don’t buy a single plan for an entire family, company, or dorm.
I also like Cloak. Very easy to configure. I’ve tried Private Internet Access, but found it didn’t always want to connect when I needed it. For backup, have you considered Carbonite?
I haven’t really heard Carbonite namedropped much. How have your experiences been? How’s the pricing? Does it offer unlimited storage?
I have the personal basic plan which is $60 a year, but I usually get the 3 year plan so it’s cheaper. They do have an iOS app so you can access your backup on your phone or iPad. I’ve had it for many years. I’ve not had to restore anything yet since I have a Time Machine backup and regularly do a Carbon Copy Cloner backup, but for me it’s good peace of mind if I would need to do a restore, hopefully it wouldn’t take long.
I really dig BackBlaze. Been running it for a couple of years now. I really like the simplicity of the Mac client, and have never seen it eat CPU. They’re also enormously sympathetic folks, with their open sourcing the design of their storage pods. If you want to do the folks of the ATP podcast a favor, use their sponsor link: http://www.backblaze.com/atp
You can kill two birds with one stone by running a VPN on your Digital Ocean box: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-set-up-an-openvpn-server-on-ubuntu-14-04
I can’t recommend Digital Ocean enough. I’ve been using them for over 3 years and have been very happy with their service. Really nice people as well, which is always a bonus 🙂
I really like DigitalOcean’s web interface and ease of starting a droplet. However you may want to look at the raw CPU speed that you get. Starting a Java VM can take ages.
That’s very true, the raw CPU speed isn’t great, especially at the lower tiers. But for a development server I think the fact that deploying a droplet with (for example) Ubuntu and Docker in 30 seconds outweighs the lack of a powerful CPU. Of course this depends on what type of development you are doing.
Concerning VPNs, I’ve heard Cloak was very good and I’d be interested to hear about your experiences with them after some time has passed. I use Private Internet Access and overall I’ve been pretty pleased with the service.
I’ve used Cloak for a couple years and like them very much. I’d also tried ExpressVPN, but find that Cloak’s service is more reliable.