Some people may be confused about my need. After all, I was going to Montana where everyone is nice. All the same, could someone else be on the hotel network and sniffing traffic? Many people are familiar with security risks at Wi-Fi hotspots, but a similar need exists when using hotel connections. I didn't want to take any chances as I didn't have access to a corporate VPN.
Since I didn't have as much time as I wanted to explore options, I quickly settled on HotSpotVPN as the site stressed it worked in most environments. I had heard stories from friends who needed 3rd party utilities to get their VPN connections to work. My goal was to get this connection up and running in fifteen minutes since I had many items to do before flying out.
I settled on the SSL VPN service called HotSpotVPN-2. The service allowed me to select one of three encryption levels:
- 128 bit blowfish
- 192 bit AES
- 256 bit AES
I opted to go for the middle level of 192 AES as I wasn't sure about the overhead I might run into with the VPN. I knew I was going to lose some speed. This was a concern since I planned to use Gizmo Project software for making calls over the Internet.
Once I knew which plan to purchase, I just needed to use the installer and configure my account. You do need to have administrative privileges for your computer. The company website offers a flash demonstration with voice instructions. I decided to print the instructions as I wanted a copy in case anything happened at the hotel and I needed to reinstall the application.
The installation wasn't as easy as I hoped, but didn't pose any hurdles aside from bruising my ego. You're emailed a file pickup page which links to your installer and your login information. The problem I had was that my login info and password went to the email address linked to my PayPal account which is not my main email address. Just about the time I found the FAQ on lost passwords, I realized my error. I still came close to my 15 minute goal. I think I spent more time on choosing the service plan than installing the software.
The service worked flawlessly and was easier to connect than the hotel's Internet provider. It was a simple matter of Start | Connect To | HotSpotVPN. Using ProjectIP, I verified I was using a different IP address than the one the hotel assigned. I also used this site to verify I hadn't reconfigured my browser to show clipboard contents.
The cost for the service is reasonable. The service level I chose was $11.88 a month, but you can get a yearly subscription for 10x the monthly charge. The company also offers their HotSpotVPN-1 service for infrequent travelers on a daily or weekly basis. The service is less robust, but may suit your needs.
I'm happy with my decision and will continue to use the service for travel needs.
- URL: http://www.hotspotvpn.com/
- Service: HotSpotVPN-2
- Cost: From $8.88 per month and above
Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 10:44)