VPN Recommendations Needed!

Connection sharing, Firewall, Samba..etc
Forum rules
Before you post please read how to get help
Post Reply
Mark the Auditor
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:53 am
Location: Edmond, OK, USA
Contact:

VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by Mark the Auditor » Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:04 pm

Greetings and salutations.

BACKGROUND
I am a Cox Communications Panoramic Wi-Fi customer with high-speed Internet as part of the package. I have the following computers in our family: (1) a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ running Raspbian with the MATE DE added thereto (connected via Ethernet to the Cox router); (2) a Dell Dimension E521 (AMD Sempron processor running @ 1.8GHz) with 4GB RAM running Linux Mint 18.3 with the MATE DE added thereto (connected to Wi-Fi via a USB adapter); and (3) an RCA Cambio (10.1" laptop/tablet hybrid) running on an Intel Atom processor @ 1.4GHz with 2 GB RAM running Windows 10 Home (connected to Wi-Fi using the Cambio's built-in Wi-Fi capability). I have the following iPhone models in our family: the 6s (2), the 8, & the 8 Plus, all of which have unlimited data through our carrier (T-Mobile). I also have 3 tablets in our family: 1 Kindle Fire 7HD and 2 ASUS Android 4.somethings. Finally, I have 3 Smart TVs in our family, all of which are connected via Wi-Fi and that have the Plex app.

GOAL
I want to be able to run Plex Media Server on the Pi and to be able to connect to Plex Media Server from any device listed above (or from any other Internet-connected device) to display photos, stream music, & stream videos. I have an NTFS-formatted Toshiba 1TB USB hard drive that I will connect to a USB hub (and the hub into the Pi); I'm told I'll need to install ntfs-3g on the Pi to allow the Pi to read the media file types contained thereon (& I know that ntfs-3g will have to be installed on the Dell, as well, to allow me to be able to add files from the Dell and to be able to allow the Dell to view/play said media files, if desired).

Realizing the importance of a secure connection to the Plex Media Server, I was strongly advised to have a VPN service in-place before setting up the Plex Media Server on the Pi; such advice is excellent and that I fully intend to heed. At the same time, however, I do want to achieve the best-possible balance between the cost and the security of any connection to the Plex Media Server.

I also know that, although I've reserved IP addresses within my Cox router for the Pi, the Dell,& the Cambio, as well as 2 HP wireless-capable printers, I'll need to signup with a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) service to connect where the connection should be made since Cox assigns a dynamic, rather than a static, IP address for residential customers. The Cox router lists 6 DDNS providers that are supported; I'm leaning toward NoIP, currently.

SIDE THOUGHT
Some might suggest running Plex Media Server on the 4GB Dell PC, but I don't think that'd be best for 2 reasons: (1) it's only got a Wi-Fi connection (my house is not wired for Ethernet; the Dell is located in my office - as such, I use it for "PC-type duties" (e-mail/web-browsing/tracking finances/creating and analyzing budgets/Word document creation, editing, & printing/Excel spreadsheet creation, editing, & printing/PDF viewing & printing - you get the idea (and I don't want to have an Ethernet cable snaking along the baseboards between the 2 rooms involved (the Cox router & the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ are in the bonus room, which also serves as an unofficial "media room") & (2) its only video output option is VGA, so it doesn't have the graphics processing power to decode HD video streams "on the fly", like the Pi 3 B+ has. Trust me when I say that I've tried to play HD video on it via Netflix and YouTube; within seconds, the web browser was closed and another option was immediately chosen!

QUESTION
Should I proceed with configuring a VPN server on the Pi (i.e., PiVPN) OR should I signup for a VPN service?

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION
If I signup for a service, how will I know how many simultaneous connections I'll need? Since there are only 4 people in my family (counting myself), I don't foresee a scenario in which more than 4 connections to the Plex Media Server would be necessary. That leads me to believe I would need to allow for up to 4 simultaneous connections. But, any device would connect to the Cox router via a VPN, so maybe only 1 connection is needed? I have no idea at this point - thus the reason for this post.

Please pardon my newness/"greenness" to this area; I've used Windows OSes since 3.0, Mac OS X Yosemite & Mac OS X El Capitan, & just started using Linux - 1 week ago!

I'm also working on setting up RealVNC to connect from any computer to either of the other computers (with all possibilities & in all directions). Each computer has VNC Viewer, as well as VNC Connect/VNC Server (whatever the server product of RealVNC is being called, currently). The final thing I'll say is this: on the Cambio (running Windows 10 Home), I'd like to be able to see the Pi & the Dell under "Network" in Windows Explorer. Similarly, on the Pi & the Dell, I'd like to be able to see the other 2 computers in the Files app's Network section.

I sincerely hope I'm not overwhelming anybody, but this is far more involved than I had originally imagined. I'm up to the challenge, but I just need a little (OK - A LOT OF!) help from anyone who's been "around the block".

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

User avatar
catweazel
Level 17
Level 17
Posts: 7113
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:44 pm
Location: Australian Antarctic Territory

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by catweazel » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:50 am

Mark the Auditor wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:04 pm
Greetings and salutations.

Should I proceed with configuring a VPN server on the Pi (i.e., PiVPN) OR should I signup for a VPN service?
TL;DR

A third-party VPN will not give you VPN access to your devices on an internal network. You also do not need a VPN on an internal network if you're sitting behind a NAT and your router has no ports open to the outside world.

If that doesn't answer your question, please state what it is you are trying to achieve but in a less prolix manner.

Cheers.
¡uʍop ǝpısdn sı buıɥʇʎɹǝʌǝ os ɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ ɯoɹɟ ɯ,ı

Mark the Auditor
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:53 am
Location: Edmond, OK, USA
Contact:

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by Mark the Auditor » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:18 am

“...in a less prolix manner.” = ???

I thought that my post, although long, was quite clear in terms of stating my goals.

Is there another user that would be able to provide more guidance to this newbie, please?

Mark the Auditor

patrickjburt
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:45 am

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by patrickjburt » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:32 am

First you need to sign up for a VPN service then proceed with configuring a VPN server on the Pi coz if you need any assistance or facing any problem configuring it there customer support will help you.

I am using PureVPN and there support service is really good. I also couldn't understand your follow-up question but i think this post https://support.purevpn.com/does-purevp ... nt-support will help you out as you are asking about simultaneous connections.

User avatar
shawnhcorey
Level 3
Level 3
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:23 am
Location: The Great White North
Contact:

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by shawnhcorey » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:34 am

Choose a VPN not in your country. Although VPNs prevent man-in-the-middle attacks, that does not mean your VPN provider does not record your every action. If your provider is not in your country, it will be harder for your gov't to spy on you.
Don't stop where the ink does.

Mark the Auditor
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:53 am
Location: Edmond, OK, USA
Contact:

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by Mark the Auditor » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:55 am

catweazel wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:50 am
Mark the Auditor wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:04 pm
Greetings and salutations.

Should I proceed with configuring a VPN server on the Pi (i.e., PiVPN) OR should I signup for a VPN service?
TL;DR

A third-party VPN will not give you VPN access to your devices on an internal network. You also do not need a VPN on an internal network if you're sitting behind a NAT and your router has no ports open to the outside world.

If that doesn't answer your question, please state what it is you are trying to achieve but in a less prolix manner.

Cheers.
catweazel,

By my reply after your message was posted, I did not mean to be rude in any way; I'd still like to know what "prolix" means, however.

Now that that's been said, let me proceed.

My post was long, but it was out of necessity. I am VERY NEW to all of this Linux/Pi/networking stuff. So ANY guidance you could provide me - in detail - pertaining to any (or all) of what I mentioned would be greatly appreciated. I had one person say - very forcefully, by the way - "DO NOT USE REALVNC - I REPEAT 'DO NOT' - WITHOUT A VPN." This is just the type of situation in which no matter how many people you ask, you'll get a different answer each time. I prefer a clear-cut approach, personally, but each situation is different, I know. But there should be some generally-accepted principles somewhere in all of this.

By "internal network", do you mean ALL wired and ALL wireless devices that are connected to my Cox Communications router? What I MUST ENSURE is that ANYTIME I connect to the Plex Media Server from a device NOT CONNECTED to the Cox Communications router (either from an iPhone in our family or via my laptop-tablet hybrid from a coffee shop, etc. to stream media files), that it is a secure and encrypted connection, free from the collective prying eyes of the Internet.

If I don't need a VPN to achieve that goal, then that's great. If I do, the PiVPN instructions that I've printed appear easy to set up, if followed "to-the-letter".

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon with information.

User avatar
stephanieswitzer
Level 2
Level 2
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:49 pm
Location: Ontario

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by stephanieswitzer » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:09 pm

I'm a novice with Linux as well. I run Raspbian on my RPI3B, and Odroid, MacOS on 3 Mac's, and Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.3 on a MacMini, iPhone and iPad, Printer etc... all connected to the same router and VPN Service

I'm not sure how much money you're willing to part with but I decided a few months back to buy a Synology RT2600ac Router, a great piece of kit. It enables you to install a VPN service right on the router itself and the router and VPN Service can be managed from any of the devices I've listed, through the Synology Router Manager (SRM). While the router is a little pricey I think it's worth it in the long run. I have a subscription to Express VPN.
Mac-Mini running Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon (Single Boot), Intel© Core™ i5-2415M CPU @ 2.30GHz × 2, 8 GiB, Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller

Mark the Auditor
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:53 am
Location: Edmond, OK, USA
Contact:

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by Mark the Auditor » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:37 pm

stephanieswitzer,

The Synology router you mentioned is definitely a very strong possibility for the future, but not at the current time, unfortunately. But I thank you for the recommendation.

You, too, have a lot of technology, based on your post, so there's a degree of similarity in that we each have a lot of devices that we want to connect to each other with.

I'd considered signing up with ExpressVPN unless I chose to go with the PiVPN option; my only "wondering" in that regard is if running both a VPN server AND a Plex Media Server on the Pi 3 B+ would be too much for it.

Also, could you give me an idea of how I can get each computer to see the other computers in the corresponding computer's file manager app? I've seen screenshots where a Windows PC showed multiple Linux PCs/a Linux PC showed 1 or more other Linux PCs AND 1 or more Windows PCs (or Macs), but I've not found step-by-step instructions on getting that all set up.

Mark the Auditor
Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

User avatar
stephanieswitzer
Level 2
Level 2
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:49 pm
Location: Ontario

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by stephanieswitzer » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:49 pm

Mark the Auditor wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:37 pm
stephanieswitzer,

<Snip>

Also, could you give me an idea of how I can get each computer to see the other computers in the corresponding computer's file manager app? I've seen screenshots where a Windows PC showed multiple Linux PCs/a Linux PC showed 1 or more other Linux PCs AND 1 or more Windows PCs (or Macs), but I've not found step-by-step instructions on getting that all set up.

Mark the Auditor
Edmond, Oklahoma, USA
For my needs it's very simple since all my devices are connected through the same router/network they all appear in File Manager under "Network". I'm afraid setup beyond that is above my level of expertise
Mac-Mini running Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon (Single Boot), Intel© Core™ i5-2415M CPU @ 2.30GHz × 2, 8 GiB, Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller

User avatar
catweazel
Level 17
Level 17
Posts: 7113
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:44 pm
Location: Australian Antarctic Territory

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by catweazel » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:17 pm

Mark the Auditor wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:55 am
(either from an iPhone in our family or via my laptop-tablet hybrid from a coffee shop
You do not need a third-party VPN. Your media server needs to also be a VPN server in its own right. This is what you need.

Also, you need to ask yourself, is all that work, and the attendant security issues, worth the bother just to watch videos in a coffee shop when all you need do is copy your video files to the device or to a flash drive before you go out for coffee.

Finally, if, as you suggest, it might be beyond your current expertise then I recommend simply setting the media server up so that it can be accessed only from the internal network. At a later date, when your expertise is better informed, look at setting up your own VPN server at that time.

In another post, you wrote:
my only "wondering" in that regard is if running both a VPN server AND a Plex Media Server on the Pi 3 B+ would be too much for it.
That is also a concern I have. You might have to do some extra research and exercise your google-fu.

prolix: adjective
(of speech or writing) using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy.
¡uʍop ǝpısdn sı buıɥʇʎɹǝʌǝ os ɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ ɯoɹɟ ɯ,ı

kevinrichards
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 3:15 am

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by kevinrichards » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:32 am

I also have PureVPN set up on my Raspberry Pi and I'm quite sure they have support for Plex, but just in case contact their customer support they will guide you better on remote connectivity via raspberry pi set up.

patrickjburt
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:45 am

Re: VPN Recommendations Needed!

Post by patrickjburt » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:31 am

Just reading out PureVPN Review here at https://www.vpnsports.com/purevpn-review/. Very insightful review, hope it will help in making decision.

Post Reply

Return to “Other networking topics”