What does “No logs” mean?

For many people, protecting their privacy is a priority and the main reason why they use a VPN. When privacy is your main goal, it is crucial to make sure that the VPN you use doesn’t keep logs of your online activities. Otherwise, your information could be at risk because if logs are kept, that means that the provider may be forced to hand over information to authorities, not to mention the risks involved if their service is targeted by cybercriminals.

If your VPN doesn’t keep logs, there will be no information to hand over or that could be compromised, meaning that there is no danger of your privacy being exposed. The problem is that the definition of what “no logs” means, may very from one VPN provider to another. To help you to understand logging practices better, we will go through the differences between usage logs, connection logs and more.

Logs kept

Let’s start with the concept of keeping logs. Unfortunately, there are still VPN providers that keep records of every aspect of the service, including usage and connection. If a provider states that they keep usage logs, it is likely that they also keep connection logs.

No logs

This means exactly that. If a provider claims that they don’t keep any logs, it means that they don’t keep information related to usage or connection. As such, there is nothing that they could hand over to authorities, even if they receive a request. When you see that a provider states that they don’t keep usage logs, it means that they don’t keep record of your activities, but they probably do keep connection logs.

Usage Logs

Now, you must be wondering, what is involved when it comes to usage logs. When a VPN provider mentions usage logs (or activity logs), it refers to what you do on internet. Anything from the websites you visit, the content you stream or download to your online conversations, would fall into this category. These logs are the most important for privacy and any provider who keeps them, should be avoided.

Connection logs

It is important to note that some of the providers that claim that they don’t keep logs, keep metadata about your connections. However, they don’t keep usage logs. The metadata collected may vary between providers, but in most cases, it involves details like when did you connect, duration of the session and how often you connect to the VPN. Providers who keep these information, usually state that they need to keep this data to be able to address technical issues and prevent abuse of the system.

While in general, connection logs are not a big concern, if you are very conscious about your privacy, it should be noted that in theory (although it can be challenging), this data could serve to identify a specific user, based on internet behavior using an “end to end timing attack”. This would not be a major issue for most users, but if you are worried about connection logs, look for a provider that promises not to keep any logs whatsoever.