In this article I will go step by step on how to get your own personal and private VPN for just $1/month and in just a few minutes. It is a great way at connecting to the Internet while traveling abroad, in an unprotected Wi-Fi of a coffee shop, connecting through a different country to test geo-localization, for multiplayer games, etc.
You may have heard of getting a free personal VPN via Amazon EC2, but it has its caveats: It will only be free for the first 12 months after signing up to AWS and while keeping inside their Free Tier limits, after that it’s $0.007 per hour which is a bit more than $5/month. The alternative shown in this article is for just $1.25/month, so let’s continue!
$1 VPN compared to specialized providers
There’s a few pros and cons on using your own personal VPN compared to a third-party such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN and such. Let’s start with the pros of the $1 VPN:
- You own it:
- Great privacy
- No lag
- Setup just takes 5 minutes
- No long contracts
- $1.25/month (usually VPNs cost ~$12/month)
- Always the same IP (although you can get many VPS for $1 and have many IPs)
- You need to know some Linux console commands (connecting to SSH, navigating through files via command line)
- Shouldn’t use it for illegal stuff (P2P, torrents, etc.)
- Bandwidth limited to ~8GB per day (250GB/month), although this depends on the exact provider
Step 1: Get the cheapest VPS possible
Looking around I found VirMarch to offer the cheapest VPS around. They have the Micro+ which costs just $1/month and gives you 250GB a month of bandwidth (enough for me) but at the time I tried to get it it wasn’t available so they upgraded me to the 500GB bandwidth for $1.25/month.
Here’s the link (referral) which gives you a discount: VirMarch discount.
If you find better providers please let us know in the comment section below and I’ll update the post.
Note: The screenshot above shows Ubuntu 14 yet when I reimaged my VPS I could choose 16.04 which is the minimum necessary for the OpenVPN wizard.
I first chose Debian but it gave me problems with SSL and certificates, so I flashed the VPS to Ubuntu easily through the Control Panel.
We will need to wait 10 minutes for them to set up the server, don’t despair if the SSH login is not working during that time.
Step 2: Run the OpenVPN installation wizard
Once you have your VPS set up and can log in via SSH, we will download and run an OpenVPN setup wizard that will install and configure everything in a few minutes. Super easy!
cd ~ wget https://git.io/vpn openvpn-install.sh
Note: At the time of writing the maximum version of Ubuntu’s image they have ready to flash is v16 which is a bit old yet enough for our needs, you will probably need to download another version of the script, use this URL instead:
Follow the steps on the wizard and a .opvn file will be created, download it and have it ready.
Step 3: Install a VPN client on your computer
Now it’s time to download a VPN client, here’s some free recommendations that work great:
Install whatever suits your needs and import the
If you need more devices to connect to your VPN then run the script as many times as you need.
That’s it really, you can set up many VPNs for ~$1/month and have as many devices connected as you like. You can cancel them any time. And the most important thing is that you own the server and can wipe it at any time, and the company behind it is much more reliable than a dodgy VPN server that gets constant government interest.