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VPN experiences

teleman6868

Regular Member
Hi all,

I was wondering if people could share their experience of using VPNs with 4G; particularly relevant for those of us on Three who can use a VPN to overcome stalling, but also good for privacy.

My understanding is that there are three broad ways of using a VPN:

1. Install VPN apps on your devices. Such apps can't be installed on everything though (eg TVs).
2. Configure your modem/router combo to use a VPN, which is heavily dependent on the VPN protocols supported by your router. But all devices are then covered.
3. Bridge your 4G modem to a more-capable router that supports the full range of VPN protocols, or allows installation of custom firmware that offers this support. Again, all devices are covered, and typically you can select devices which bypass the VPN if you choose.

I'm currently running Cloudflare Warp apps on my phones and laptops which has stopped any stalling with minimal performance hit to my Three service (ie Option 1).

My Huawei router only supports PPTP/L2TP VPN clients which are offered by a few providers but considered insecure these days (Option 2).

I could bridge my Huawei to a suitable 'VPN router' (Option 3) from the likes of Asus or TP-Link.

Does anyone have experience of running VPNs with 4G? I'm particularly interested in Option 3 as routers with powerful processors to handle the VPN are quite cheap these days. And I think this is the most elegant solution, with VPN services also being incredibly cheap from the likes of NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Thanks in advance.
 

twocats

Casual Member
I am using NordVPN configured to use OpenVpn with an Asus RT-AC87U router running the Merlin OS.
As you say this means the entire house is going through the VPN and I also have Pi-Hole setup as a DNS server.
I have my Three B311 connected to the WAN port on the ASUS router with DMZ enabled as no bridge mode on the B311.

I have had no issues, except sometimes Google will ask for a captcha when searching but that's about it.

I also use YazFi on the Asus to have separate WIFI SSIDs away from my internal network for IOT devices and Work VPN connections

Speeds are reduced but still getting 40-50Mbps (80-100Mbps without)
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
I'm similar to twocats, Asus router running Merlin connected to an OpenVPN with a raspberry pi running pihole, WAN port connected to a Huawei modem in DMZ (also no bridge mode).

The differences are my Asus router is an AC86U which has hardware AES encrypt/decrypt so maintains VPN speeds better - up to low 200's I've read (but haven't experienced) - that's connected to Huawei H112-370 (5G CPE) rather than B311, and the OpenVPN I self-host from my own VPS.
I do have routing rules for some devices on my network to prevent them using the VPN, namely my Shield TV to ensure streaming services aren't blocked and my NAS.

I've never had issues with captcha, and I don't have any additional add-on tools on my Asus router.
 
Last edited:

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
Probably too simple for what you're really interested in, but...
I only have a desktop computer (Linux) on which I have openVPN, connected via a cheap old Alcatel 4G MiFi device to Three using a USB cable, I don't use wireless. I use two providers - Private Internet Access and VPN Area - in case one has a bad day and misbehaves. PIA is the more reliable of the two, but VPN Area is generally "OK" if you don't mind the occasional drop.
It's all rather unexciting, things "just work" 99% of the time, though I do sometimes get the same captcha problem as twocats if using Google.
 

tartanGuru

Casual Member
I did try Surfshark on my B535 to get around the Three page stalling issue. You can get the L2TP settings from their support team. Performance was good although lots of sites would throw up security capchas when using the VPN which made it unusable for me on a day to day basis
 

sheephouse

Pro Member
I use a Vigor 2860n+ with AAISP's L2TP service. Doesn't add any security per se, but gives me static addresses on EE 4G. I use other VPNs over the top to connect to office servers etc. (I work from home) which do provide security.
I used to load-share between Three 4G and ADSL, but when I moved to EE the difference in speed caused more problems than it solved so I dropped ADSL.
 

teleman6868

Regular Member
Hi folks. Thanks very much for the valuable insights. I didn't appreciate how many variations there were on solutions and VPN providers. I also hadn't appreciated why I'd received one or two more captchas than usual thanks to Cloudflare. The only actual issue I've experienced is being unable to download a BBC podcast, for which I temporarily disabled my VPN.

I'm tempted to go down the Asus AC86U route, although that'll cost me £150 and a VPN subscription to investigate. I will give it some thought.

In theory this will also allow me to get a public IP from any provider.

Happy days
 

teleman6868

Regular Member
Raspberry Pi running Pivpn and Wireguard
Please can I test my understanding. Are you running a Raspberry Pi hooked into your router that encrypts all your traffic? I’ve had a quick look at Pivpn as it’s not something I’ve considered to date. Is setup straightforward?
 

spile

Member
I found it straightforward to install and the instructions very clear. The RPi4 connects to my LAN by Cat5 and the only other connection is the power supply.
We run the Wireguard app on phones and tablets and when not at home I “flick the switch”. I am then able to securely access my NAS, camera system, alarm system and music player over an encrypted connection.
 
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