The internet as I want it: Safe. Private. Ad-free.
With more than ten years of experience the German company Steganos got an extraordinary reputation worldwide concerning protection of digital privacy. With plenty and always latest apps for desktop computers and mobile devices the company proofs day by day that it is part of the elite.
Following this tradition, the Online Shield VPN was designed and updated. The tool can be used not only on computers but also on Apple or Android devices and is available in multiple languages. The Online Shield promises a worldwide protection in every WIFI, LAN or radio network and is working beyond country borders. The developer promises a usability which is free of hackers or advertisements and is completely unobserved. The users are anonymous which is exactly what they want.
A dream, if this is working. Only a test can show that. In the following it will be shown the test of the computer version for Windows, which allows a quick and comfortable access to the mobile versions for Apple and Android.
Download and installation
There is a free test version of the Online Shield VPN which can be used for seven days. The license for the whole year costs 49.49 euro right now. It is valid for five devices at the same time. Extending a license for another year costs 29.95 euro. This extension is valid for five devices as well.
It is no problem to download the test version first and then use the bought license. Nothing can be done wrong during the installation. It is very easily, quickly and done by the usual double click on the downloaded and executable file.
During the installation, the user is pointed to the installation of the network adapter TAP Windows Provider V9. It is necessary to allow the installation because without it the Online Shield would not work. Therefore, it is not a danger for the computer´s safety. The program starts on its own and then a symbol in Windows tray can be seen. Logically, the software is permanently working in the background. Also, the Shield can be started by using the desktop icon which appears during the installation.
The program´s interface is as easy as the installation: working with only one window makes mistakes impossible. Basically, the user can turn on and off options like "stop tracking" or "block advertisement".
The connections, like routers and repeaters, are shown animated and floating into the window. This effect is surely only for cosmetic purposes but still nice to watch. The main purpose of Shield is to have all options activated, which was done during this test. In the middle of the window the desktop symbol can be seen. Using the mouse without clicking, it shows the current IP address. But this is not the conventional IP which was given the user by the provider. It is a different one which is not clearly locatable, or rather connectable to the user. This can be proven by logging into the router and compare the addresses. The new IP is changed very often which makes tracking almost impossible, and is shown in the interface.
When the user is annoyed by seeing these details all the time this option can be deactivated, but normally this option is turned off anyway. The settings are accessible through symbols in the left upper corner and the right lower corner. The remaining settings are quite self-explanatory: language, starting Shield when computer starts, automatically protection of Virtual Private Network (VPN), exceptions, mobile versions and support options.
One option in the settings is the WebRTC IP-Leak which is a plug-in. It allows audio and video connections through a browser without more plug-ins. The problem is that the IP address is not hidden. There are plenty options in the internet preventing this. For the Opera-Browser for example installing the extension of WebRTC Control helps.
Therefore, the IP-Leak option in Shield is for preventing to find out the IP via WebRTC. Especially by using Chrome or Firefox this could be a problem which is not known for long. The fact that Steganos is already reacting to it shows the company´s topicality and meaningfulness of the software. As Steganos states in the help center, it should be shown a different IP address then it was given by the provider. By the way, the help center and the relevant website are reachable through the interface.
The interface also explains that the IP-Leak option is not working with a static IP address, which is why it is greyed-out when the VPN connection is active. WebRTC can eventually deactivated directly in the browser. An exception seems to be Chrome by Google but extensions are available. Therefore, it is advisable to use the help center to find solutions concerning WebRTC and the relevant settings of the Online Shield VPN. As it is seen, there are a lot of things which an inexperienced user would not think about without installing a safety software. After the relevant configuration, IP addresses will not send - even via WebRTC.
As seen at the interface, there are only five options which have a huge impact. These are: protect connection (VPN), block advertisement, prevent tracking, delete cookies automatically and anonymize browser. Self-explanatory but there are also tool tips appearing by using the mouse without clicking. This is a smart and user-friendly idea of the developers.
In most cases it is useful to activate all five options but the most important is probably "Protect connection". On the right side, next to this activated option the user can use a drop-down list.
The user can choose now which country he wants his connection seems to come from. For example, he could seem to be logged in in Poland. The best choice is probably the fastest connection which is updated regularly, but when the user is interested to seem Canadian then he can easily choose this country.
A VPN is undoubtable an effective protection against tracking and espionage. Normally this advantage has one disadvantage: the loss of speed. Therefore, using Steganos´ program is probably related with a slower connection in daily use as well, but using a 50K connection, like in this test, has no impact on the speed. Even when not the fastest but one of the offered countries was chosen.
One aspect which needs to be noted is the behavior of e-mail programs like Outlook, Thunderbird et cetera while using Steganos´ Online Shield. Receiving mails is no problem but sending is. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust an exception which is made through the settings with only a few clicks. Different options are already given. Otherwise further information can be found easily at the host´s website. The exception is recommended because then the protection of the connection is permanently working and activated already when the computer starts, therefore, there are not any troubles. Hence, the Online Shield can be used with all benefits.
In conclusion, it can be said that Steganos extended its trustworthiness and utility with this product which is very important these days. The Online Shield keeps its promises, does not really slow down the internet connection and informs in addition about latest news. And because of the yearly license model it is possible to stay updated and calm. Therefore, the recommendation of Online Shield by Steganos is comprehensible by every internet user.
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