There seems to be a constant stirring of debate about the right to personal privacy and the government’s “right” and/or duty to have on-demand access to pretty much every aspect of our lives. This week it’s the FBI’s concern over smartphone encryption by Google and Apple. You can read some more of the ludicrous soundbites over here, but the gist of it all is that the government needs and even expects backdoors buit into everything. You know, so they can continue on with their warrantless wiretapping and whatever else succeeded and parallels that in the name of war on terror.
The issue with online privacy
Soapbox issue aside, the right to privacy is something that is important. The right to not be tracked, monitored, logged and have your entire internet history preserved on some government’s server disk drive indefinitely is something I take seriously, and you probably should, too. Being a website owner with a deep interest in most things “geek”, I know full well that most of my online activities are logged. Most of your online activities are logged, too. Nearly every website you visit, for instance, at least on some level, records your activities. Now, I also know that most of this logging is benign – a lot of websites, by default, keep records of peoples’ visits to websites. Things like a users:
- IP address and/or proxy
- Browser, operating system and OS language defaults
- ISP (obtained through the IP or even traffic logs)
- Time and date of visit
- Pages visited on the website
Are recorded somewhere, and usually overwritten every 24 hours or after a few days or a couple of weeks. How long this data is held really depends on the data retention policy of the website and if a website is actually purposefully logging user activity for any reason beyond analytical purposes.
This type of logging is prevalent, but is akin to walking through a busy marketplace with security cameras and people with their portable recording devices (i.e. smartphones) all around you. It’s just part of life. But, that doesn’t mean you should just leave all of your internet activities out there, every single action you perform online tied to your account with your ISP or your mobile phone provider. No way.
Breaking up your online footprint & increasing your privacy
Something I like to do is to use a VPN service. I do and you should always use VPN if you’re on a public WIFI or an unsecured wireless internet network, but I sometimes use a VPN for general, everyday web browsing as well. Some of that has to do with my work, other times it’s just to break up my online footprint. Throw a little confusion into the mix, if you will. If you don’t want to pay for VPN services, there are plenty of free options out there: Ultrasurf is an option, CyberGhost VPN is another popular option (they offer 1GB free each month I think), but there are so many more. Now, there are risks to using an unreputable VPN provider, but unless you’re entering logins, credit card numbers or banking details over unsecured (non-https) pages, you’ll likely be fine for casual usage using a VPN.
Multihosters – anonymizing your download activities
It’s taken a while to get here, but this all ties into using a multihoster account to download files. Multihosters absolutely have to hide your IP address from filehosting sites when you download files using your multihoster account, whether it’s Linksnappy, Multihosters.com or any other premium multihoster service. Multihosters are basically premium account resellers, but not the authorized kinds, so they have to use their IP addresses to access and transfer files to you via their servers when you download files using your multihoster account. This holds true even for multihosters that support torrent downloads like Putdrive – you’re downloading torrents using their IP addresses, thus your IP address is hidden behind their proxy server.
Now, this is very much different than buying a premium account from a filehosting site to download files: direct purchasing a premium account will not give you the type of privacy protection that a premium multihoster account will. So, you can’t go out any purchase a Keep2Share premium account or a Depfile premium account and expect that your download activities will be hidden from these sites. This anonymized download benefit only comes through using a premium multihoster account.
Word of caution
This article is not, in any way, a guide to help you be completely anonymous online. It offers some suggestions to help you break up your online footprint, but without a lot of concise, clear direction. Which, this may very well be dangerous for you depending on how you plan to use the information found here. If you want to be anonymous online, truly anonymous to the point that whatever it is you’re doing cannot easily or ever be tied back to you personally, this page will not help you with that. A VPN will not help you with that. You shouldn’t need that level of privacy or anonymity to download files, but if you do, I suggest you skip this article and look for another resource.
In any case, using a multihoster account will, in most or all cases, prevent your IP address from being broadcast to the filehosting site when downloading files. Your ISP can still see what you’re doing unless you’re also using a VPN to use your multihoster account (which I do sometimes, too, but it can result in being banned), but it’s just another link in the chain of better online privacy. Plus, using a multihoster account, you get all the additional benefits like faster downloads, access to dozens, scores or over 100 different sites through one account plus whatever other perks a particular multihoster service might throw at you.
All in all, using a premium multihoster service to download files is a worthwhile investment for people who download a lot of files, and the built-in privacy protection is just one of the many perks of having a multihoster account.