Why you should choose a VPN with diskless servers

Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Diskless servers are servers that do not use a hard disk; It is run entirely from RAM. This means that they cannot store logs and other information in the same way that regular servers do.

If you’re shopping for a VPN, there are a lot of criteria to consider, such as price, performance, and even interface. One thing you’ll hear less about is the type of servers your service provider uses—in particular, a new type called a diskless server, which offers great benefits for both speed and privacy.

What are diskless servers?

Diskless servers, also called RAM-only servers, are servers that do not have a hard disk on which they can store files. They only exist to forward connections — which is the only thing VPNs are supposed to do, anyway — and they can’t store information long-term.

We say “long-term” here because diskless servers store some information, but they only do so in random access memory, or random access memory (RAM), hence the term “RAM-only”. Using only RAM has some advantages, the most important thing is that it is completely cleared when the server is restarted. Your laptop or desktop works in much the same way: restart it and start with a fresh plate of RAM.

Why use servers not disks?

This lack of long-term storage would be a disaster for any other type of server, but for VPN servers, it’s perfect. One of the main issues with VPN providers is that we, and their customers, take their promises of privacy and anonymity at face value. Sure, they may claim to have destroyed any records of our online activity—usually called logs—but there’s no way to be sure.

However, when you are using a diskless servers service, this issue becomes moot as it becomes more difficult to keep logs. Whatever records they keep will be destroyed by a server restart. It is one of the easiest ways a VPN can destroy logs.

However, there are still ways a VPN can keep logs on a diskless server, either out of malice or incompetence. However, the odds of doing so are greatly diminished, so there is less room for error. However, an unreliable VPN doesn’t magically become great just because it uses diskless servers.

However, another advantage is that the diskless servers make it easier for auditors to verify the service’s claims of being a no-log VPN. Instead of checking whether a service is keeping logs—a claim that’s hard to disprove since a VPN can only move logs for the duration of an audit—the verifier can only check if the servers are diskless.

As a result, while diskless servers are not a panacea for damaged VPNs, they do make it easier to verify and therefore trust VPN providers.

Which VPN Providers Use Diskless Servers?

Given the advantages they bring, it’s probably no surprise that more and more of the best VPN services are turning to diskless servers. However, it’s not a smooth transition: a lot of the hardware involved seems to be quite expensive, so many VPNs are gradually making the change.

Our number one VPN ExpressVPN has made diskless servers an integral part of our trusted server technology. In this system, the ram-only nature of servers works very well with the service’s dedicated VPN protocols, which store almost no information in the first place. Add to that the weekly reboots, and your browsing habits are pretty safe.

Other big players using discs are Surfshark and NordVPN, both of which made the full transition to RAM a while ago. NextGen’s web servers are also diskless and have been around for over a year now.

Privacy-friendly Mullvad is currently moving to diskless servers as part of its push for greater transparency, which will culminate in a fully open infrastructure that can be audited by its users. You can follow the progress of this project on Mullvad’s blog.

There are plenty of other services out there that offer discless services, and these are just some of the best known, as well as our favourites. If you are not sure about the best VPN for you, you can always try a few that you think are good; All of the above offer 30-day money-back guarantees.


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