VPN Routers

Old Apr 5, 19, 9:06 am
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VPN Routers

Anyone use a VPN router? I'm looking for one, but I haven't yet found one that will do all of these things:
  • Ability to use multiple VPN services (at least 3, preferably 4).
  • Automatic failover to backup VPNs if one or more of them go down.
  • Load sharing among VPNs for optimal speed. Automatic, real-time detection of the speed of multiple VPN endpoints by analyzing traffic, with routing via faster connections preferred. (optional)
  • An IP address range "whitelist", for intra-China traffic: if the destination IP addresses fall within the whitelist range, then the packets are routed directly to their destination, bypassing all VPNs.
You'd think it's so simple, and the market for these things should be huge. But I can't find a single one. There are some routers that will do ExpressVPN if you load a special firmware on them, but that's not good enough. ExpressVPN had a multi day outage last month, so automatic failover is a requirement. I don't want to have to tinker with the darn thing if something goes down, I just want the internet to always work properly, without intervention, the way it does at home. And I don't even trust ETOPS here - VPN failures are often correlated and have common causes. I need at least a trijet and preferably a quad-jet, to make sure I can keep flying even if multiple engines go down.

I am tired of having to use the mobile data kill switch on my Pixel in order to get it to use WiFi every time I visit China (I use a HK SIM card, which of course it detects as having internet connectivity, while most WiFi within China will be detected as "no network connection available"). At least by putting a VPN router at the place where I am staying, I make it where I don't have to use the kill switch nearly as often, every single time I enter and leave that place. And it also means I don't have to start VPN clients on every single device, which is annoying.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 3:21 am
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Express was down for 2 days over the past 4000 days. I don't think that is a big deal.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 9:36 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Express was down for 2 days over the past 4000 days. I don't think that is a big deal.
Well, I have had 0 outages exceeding 4 or so hours at home in the past 5+ years. But let's forget about the long outages, the bigger issue is that I will often get shorter outages on my phone or other devices. For whatever reason, the endpoint I am connected to will have gotten slow/gone down, and I'll have to disconnect and then reconnect. That's annoying. I want this process to happen automatically, perhaps with the router connecting to 2-3 endpoints per VPN service at a time, and 3-4 different VPN services, so that it all happens transparently and I don't ever have to tinker with it because something is slow. I mean, I've had to tinker with my router at home exactly 0 times during the past 3-6 months. When I'm in China, I usually spend a ridiculous amount of time diagnosing/fixing or just working around (having to switch endpoints) network issues. I'll wake up and my phone/laptop had been connected to ExpressVPN or VPN.ac or even Shadowsocks, all night, and the tunnel will be down, or extremely slow. I'll try watching a Youtube video and the phone will pause the video and start buffering, something that almost never happens at home. And then I'll wonder: can I get better throughput by using Hong Kong 4 instead of Japan 2? What about Los Angeles or San Francisco? Can I get better throughput by switching from VPN.ac to Express or to Shadowsocks? I want a router that will do all of this probing/testing in the background so that I don't have to.

And also, my wife finds it annoying to have to use browser plugins to download Chinese content that is only available inside of China, hence the last bullet point requirement.

Last edited by STS-134; Apr 6, 19 at 9:58 am
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Old Apr 6, 19, 10:04 am
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I'm using Exp on two phones and a PC right now. I challenge you to find a single website that I can't access.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 10:20 am
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There are three reasons why I haven't bought an Exp router:
1. $200 is obnoxiously overpriced; while I can certainly afford this, a company that I've been sending $13 per month to for 8 years shouldn't mark up a $35 product by 6x
2. My (shared) office has its own routers, so an Exp router would require daisy chaining, which results in slower speeds, and connection issues
3. I'm completely fine with Exp supporting 3 devices (I realize others support 5+ devices, but 3 works for my needs)

FYI: the reason I pay monthly, instead of yearly, which is much cheaper, is because BJ could completely shut down Exp if it wanted to. I believe Exp has already pulled its "Best V... in China" ads, which is a good thing.

Last edited by moondog; Apr 6, 19 at 10:31 am
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Old Apr 6, 19, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
I'm using Exp on two phones and a PC right now. I challenge you to find a single website that I can't access.
Yeah but how much time do you spend manually tearing down connections and trying different endpoints due to slow connections? I'll sometimes see throughputs fall into the 3-5 Mbps range which causes buffering problems when watching videos. I'm not sure how the Express router firmware works but if you have to tell it to connect to a specific endpoint and to switch endpoints, you have to do it manually by logging in to the router, that's even more annoying than having to do it on the client side.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 11:09 am
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Yeah but how much time do you spend manually tearing down connections and trying different endpoints due to slow connections? I'll sometimes see throughputs fall into the 3-5 Mbps range which causes buffering problems when watching videos. I'm not sure how the Express router firmware works but if you have to tell it to connect to a specific endpoint and to switch endpoints, you have to do it manually by logging in to the router, that's even more annoying than having to do it on the client side.
Exp is definitely not as good now as it's been in the past, but if you take 5 minutes, you can get on a decent server, and use apps like NF (abbreviation because they asked me to never mention the name of this app in full).
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Old Apr 6, 19, 11:56 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Exp is definitely not as good now as it's been in the past, but if you take 5 minutes, you can get on a decent server, and use apps like NF (abbreviation because they asked me to never mention the name of this app in full).
Well yeah, that's exactly my point. 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there, it adds up to hours, and eventually, days of wasted time you could have spent doing something else. Wow, did they ask you to not even use the stock ticker symbol? It's only two more letters. In particular, the Honda trim level between the top level "EX" and the low level "DX".
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Old Apr 6, 19, 6:32 pm
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Well yeah, that's exactly my point. 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there, it adds up to hours, and eventually, days of wasted time you could have spent doing something else. Wow, did they ask you to not even use the stock ticker symbol? It's only two more letters. In particular, the Honda trim level between the top level "EX" and the low level "DX".
I completely agree, but almost everyone deals with this. If you can afford a direct line to HK, then all is good. However, the numbers don't pencil for this unless you have ~200 or more users.

When SS is working, I prefer it to Exp. The problem here is that SS ends up costing a lot more if you have a premium server. Furthermore, whenever the connection goes down, I need to bother our own IT guy for about an hour; he hates this, and it pulls him away from more important tasks.

The bottom line is that Exp is still the best option I know of, but I honestly don't fancy adding a router to the mix (even if the price was more reasonable); KISS.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 6:58 pm
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I use Express 2-5 hours a day with few issues but China is a different story. interested if you find a router like this that is reasonably priced. There are enterprise options that are in the $450-650 range

Last edited by RoxyMountain; Apr 6, 19 at 7:05 pm
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Old Apr 7, 19, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by RoxyMountain View Post
I use Express 2-5 hours a day with few issues but China is a different story. interested if you find a router like this that is reasonably priced. There are enterprise options that are in the $450-650 range
Recently, I've needed up to 5 minutes to connect, and sometimes I need to use their LA servers (instead of HK, which are much faster), but it still works.

STS asked me on Wechat about the productivity costs of the 5 minute connection lag. I'm honestly okay with this because I can start the process, get a tea, and by the time I return, I'm online. Sure, LA 5 is slower than HK 6, but I don't require so much bandwidth when I'm at work.

My NF strategy is to download whatever I want to watch, and it's fine it it takes time.

In closing, as much as I plug Exp here, I AM willing to switch if you guys can provide a better option in the same price range. I care much more about reliability than speed. The reason I have stuck with Exp for 8+ years is because they are reliable.
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Old May 8, 19, 6:55 am
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In my case, the vpn router had more minuses than advantages. Firstly, I couldn't figure out the settings, so I had to call the master. It costs a lot, if you include the purchase of a router. Moreover, the use of my VeePN seemed to be more effective to me, because the router slows down the speed of the Internet connection. But it's only my opinion, the router is a handy thing for people who don't want to spend a lot of time searching for programs for their device.
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