Review: What Is It?
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a current or former subscriber of Falcon TV Protector, a VPN service that costs $2.95 a month. (Yes, I earn a bit of commission if you decide to purchase anything from the products discussed on this site.) If you’re wondering why you should care about this, it’s because there’s an excellent alternative: the built-in VPN capabilities of Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. It’s free, it’s highly secure, and it can easily be toggled on or off, so you can use it or not as needed. I’ll get to the details in a bit, but first let’s take a quick look at what Falcon is and how it works.
What Is It?
Falcon is a VPN service launched in October 2014 with the stated goal of being “the simplest, most convenient way to enjoy the benefits of encrypted WiFi.” It provides software and an app for Android and iOS devices, as well as a web browser plugin. The idea is that you can use any of them to connect to a VPN server, giving you the added security of encryption. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking: why settle for one app when you could have an entire suite? It’s a fair question, and one that Falcon’s developers should be very happy to answer.)
Let’s break down what you’re getting with Falcon and why you might want it.
Features: Why Should You Try It?
One of the things that make Falcon particularly attractive is its attention to detail. First off, the company builds in some great security features. Second, it makes connecting to a VPN server easy and convenient. And finally, it gives you a fantastic degree of control over your privacy, especially if you’re connected to a public WiFi network.
Here are some of the features that Falcon offers:
- Simple to use
- No logbooks to maintain
- Encrypted traffic is not stored on their servers
- Totally free
- Accessible via the Chrome web browser
- Supports 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi networks
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Accessible via mobile apps for iOS and Android
- Easy to configure the VPN server to support your needs
- Accessible via a DNS leak protection feature
- Supports PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols
- Dedicated IP address when connected to VPN
- Supports SHA-512 and AES encryption algorithms
- Supports VPN protocols such as IKEv2 and IPSec
- Works with all devices (PC, mobile phones, tablets)
- Fully featured wiki documentation
How Does It Work?
One of the most important things to note about Falcon is how it actually works. When you launch the app or click the mouse button to activate the plugin for the Chrome web browser, you’ll see a quick pop-up message that tells you how to connect to a VPN server. Here’s the thing: if you’ve ever connected to a VPN server via Google Search or other apps, you’ll know that it can be a bit tricky to figure out where to type in the server address. With Falcon, all you need to do is type or paste in the address of a VPN server that you have previously connected to, and the app or plugin will connect you automatically.
VPNs are, by their very nature, complicated subjects matter, and many people have problems with them, especially when it comes to setting them up for the first time. But with Falcon, this is all taken care of. When you launch the app or click the Chrome plugin, you’ll see a list of the VPN servers that the app or browser has previously connected to. Simply follow the on-screen instructions and connect to the VPN server of your choice.
Once you’re connected, you can use the app or plugin as you would normally. (I’ll discuss this a bit more in the Security section below.) But the important thing here is that you can use a VPN server without having to think about it, which is great for those prone to having problems with VPNs. So if you’ve ever tried to use a VPN and had trouble, you may want to give it a go with Falcon.
Security: Is It Secure?
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Even though Falcon offers a number of great features, it’s still just a VPN service with servers all over the world. This means that any data you send over the Internet while connected to a VPN server is at risk of being intercepted by someone, somewhere. (Yes, even if you’re connected to a supposedly “secure” VPN server, this still happens. Don’t think for a second that this kind of thing doesn’t happen.) These people might be government agencies, hacktivists, or just a lonely hacker who managed to scrape your personal information from somewhere.
The good thing about VPNs is that they are, in theory, mathematically impossible to hack. The bad thing about VPNs is that, in theory, they are mathematically impossible to hack. The point is that no matter how much you try to keep your personal information secure while using a VPN, it is never completely safe, especially when you’re dealing with online hackers. (Yes, even if you’re using the most secure VPN known to man, it won’t stop a motivated hacker from breaking in and stealing your information.)
What About The Logs?
When we signed up for a VPN service, one of the first things that annoyed us was the constant collection of our personal data. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to stop this collection without having to cancel our subscription?
This is where the log-collection process of VPNs comes in. When you connect to a VPN server, the app or browser stores a small amount of information about your computer and what you’re doing on it. This is, in theory, to help the company provide a better service to you by analyzing how you’re using their product. (Yes, in theory.)
As a user, there’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s still something that you need to be aware of, especially if you’re sharing your computer with others. Your privacy is important to you, your family, and your friends, and while it’s nice to think that the company you’re connected to doesn’t log your data, this is rarely the case, especially if you’re sharing your computer with others, or if they somehow manage to get access to your device.
Can I Use It With My Mobile Devices?
If you already have a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, you may be wondering if you can use a VPN with it. The answer is yes, you can. (I’ll get to why in a minute.)
Android, iOS, and other mobile operating systems provide useful and easy-to-use VPN apps that can be used to connect to a VPN server when needed. If you have an Android device and you’re looking for a VPN app, check out the PiVPN app, which is free and open-source. And if you have an iPhone, you can use the similarly named ExpressVPN app, which is also free. (Yes, these apps are actually free, but you have to pay a small subscription fee to the developers to keep them perpetually updated and functioning properly.)
While you’re at it, you may as well download the Opera VPN app, which is available for Android devices. And last but not least, let’s not forget about the Microsoft Windows VPN client, which is also extremely easy to use. (Yes, even computers can benefit from a VPN!)
Again, even if you decide to use a VPN service, it’s still not a good idea to log in with your personal information every time you use a public WiFi network. This is why it’s important to enable or use a VPN app on your mobile device before you use the Internet at a coffee shop or other businesses that require you to provide personal information. (Or, if you have to provide personal information at all, use a VPN app to securely log in to a public WiFi network before you do anything else.)