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How to Build Your Own Rock-Solid and Secure Multi-User VPN Server for $5 a Month

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Jan 18, 2019 @ 5:26 AM

Update – Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu are now blocking Digital Ocean IP addresses. Therefore, this type of self-hosted, private VPN server will not work if streaming from those services is your goal.

This solution should still work, though, with most other types of geo-restricted content. If you’re looking for a VPN solution GUARANTEED to work with Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu, you should try Express VPNthe number one commercial VPN provider, period! (Disclaimer – In addition to my private VPN server, I also use Express VPN. And, if you sign up with my referral link, we BOTH (you and me) get a free month of service.)

Another Update – It looks like Digital Ocean is finally charging for excess bandwidth. So, this ($5 1TB bandwidth droplet) probably is not a good solution if you want to stream a ton of video, or if you want to do a lot of torrenting. I use Kodi primarily for my TV/Movie streaming, which uses a lot less bandwidth than commercial services (so I don’t have any problems with bandwidth overages.)

If you’re streaming from alternative sites, this low-cost VPN solution is great. That said, though, this will still work with commercial streaming services, but your bandwidth allotment from Digital Ocean will run out pretty fast (and that might make this a bit more expensive.)

If you need more bandwidth, you can opt for a larger Digital Ocean droplet size (2TB for $10, 3TB for $15, 4TB for $20 and so on.) If you’re the only person using the server, it might not make much sense to go too large with a droplet, but if you have multiple users or if you just can’t live without Netflix while traveling, ten or twenty bucks a months for a reliable VPN connection still isn’t a bad deal. You’ll also benefit from the server being faster with more RAM and CPU cores.

Build Your Multi-User VPN Server for $5 a Month

As I go back and forth between Asia and the U.S. (a lot,) I often use a VPN to make sure I get my fix of my favorite American TV shows on the Internet. However, since many U.S. streaming sites have started to crack down on users who access content with a VPN from outside the United States, I have had to start looking for other options.

Now, the way streaming sites are able to block VPN usage is not any sort of amazing technological feat. No, not at all. In fact, all they’re really doing is creating a list of blacklisted IPs known to be associated with VPN services. Once an IP list gets hit, then you’re done – no more access. This means VPN services have to always rotate their IP pools, which can get very expensive for them after a while.

The workaround, of course, is to simply access the streaming sites with a dedicated IP address that no one else uses. Some VPN services provide this type of service, but it’s expensive; too expensive to suit me. So, I decided to create my own VPN service. I’ve been meaning to get around to doing it for a while now; but, I never did because I thought it would take a lot of time. Surprisingly, though, I was able to complete the whole thing — from start to finish — in less than an hour. Actually, maybe it was closer to half an hour; I wasn’t really keeping track.

Creating Your Own VPN Service is Really Simple

When it comes to creating your own VPN, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, as many options for VPN servers already exist. And since the best VPNs are based on open source software anyway, it’s best to choose the source installation for those – OpenVPN.

Even with OpenVPN based server installations, there are several choices. You can opt to use the standard OpenVPN server included with many Linux server repositories, the OpenVPN Access project, or something more esoteric like SoftEther; all of which are excellent. The variation I chose to use, though, is Pritunl (pronounced Pre-Tunnel.)

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Pritunl comes in two flavors — free and enterprise — and is an extremely powerful and easy-to-use VPN server platform. Unless you’re planning on creating a commercial VPN service that has many customers accessing many different servers, or a company that needs to support a very large network of users, the free version is more than enough for most personal use scenarios. As I need only to access the VPN with a single, dedicated IP address, the free version is perfect for me.

While there are a few different options for creating your own free, or very low-cost, VPN service available, there is not a lot of good documentation on how to actually get one up and running. Therefore, I thought I would create a post detailing what I did to not only create my VPN service, but also include the steps I took to ensure it was safe and secure. So, without further ado, here’s how to create your own multi-user VPN service for $5 per month.

Go to the next page to get started….

5 thoughts on “How to Build Your Own Rock-Solid and Secure Multi-User VPN Server for $5 a Month”

  1. Pingback: One Month Review of Pritunl VPN Server - Jeff Grundy

  2. Nice guide but while DO is very cool and relatively easy the bandwidth allotment are pretty stingy. 1 or 2tb per month would not go far at all.

    1. Hi Nnyan, and thanks for the comment. Yeah, I see your point. Still, I believe 1 or 2 TB is plenty for many users. I stream videos all the time with my Pritunl VPN and have never ran into any issues. DO is still not charging (as of this date) for bandwidth overages. They say they are still just monitoring overages at this point. I stream mostly TV shows and not full length movies. But since I stream everyday with the VPN, it’s fine for my own personal needs. Now, if you want the VPN for torrenting, then of course that bandwidth will get ate up pretty fast. Again, though, thanks for the comment.

  3. Nice story. Using this service for a little while myself too. Had some thoughts if it was all secure enough but after your story I do feel a bit more secured by this solution. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tom, and thanks for the comment. I appreciate it. Yes, Pritunl works well, and I have been very pleased with the service. I have it connected to a domain that I will let expire soon, though. Just have too many. So… we’ll see how easy it is connect the server to a new one. Keeping my fingers crossed. Glad you’re enjoying Pritunl and for the comment. Thanks again.

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