Anyone can now create their own secure private network, free of charge, following the latest update from one of the best VPN services around.
NordVPN has made its Meshnet feature available as a freebie, meaning that a paid subscription isn't needed to make use of the technology.
First released in June last year for NordVPN's paid subscribers only, Meshnet allows users to establish secure peer-to-peer connections among up to 60 different devices at once inside the same encrypted tunnel.
In one of its biggest changes to date, they also added a new file-sharing option to Meshnet, as well as open-sourced its Linux application.
A safer digital life for all
"We are continuously expanding the capabilities of NordVPN. This release marks a significant change in openness by both making part of the service free as well as open sourcing a substantial part of our client software," says Vykintas Maknickas (opens in new tab), NordVPN's product strategist.
Meshnet was launched only a few months ago as a way to securely connect up to 60 devices at once. In practical terms, it turns users' devices into their own personal private servers. This means that they can reroute the connection to their laptop at home while they're traveling, for example, to avoid internet limitations.
After first reviewing it in October last year, TechRadar Cybersecurity Specialist Mike Williams described Meshnet as "perhaps the most valuable built-in bonus VPN feature I've seen."
Now, anyone can create a free account and start using Meshnet free of charge.
"We believe that everyone should be able to access the security and convenience of a VPN. However, not everyone is ready to invest in a premium service like NordVPN," Maknickas told TechRadar.
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"While this approach is not as private as using NordVPN and does not rely on a massive network infrastructure, it provides flexibility and secure connection to anyone in need."
Maknickas also explained that, while the VPN infrastructure is expensive to maintain, Meshnet doesn't require similar maintenance cost.
"We are then able to make it free without increasing our overall costs," he said.
Developers also wanted to simplify sharing files in a secure way. This is why a new file-sharing option allows users to share unlimited screenshots, photos or video files of any size without losing quality.
In a continuous effort to transparency, NordVPN has also open-sourced its entire Linux application as well as the networking library used across NordVPN apps on all operating systems (Libtelio) and the library used to share files over Meshnet (Libdrop).
When asked about the decision of open-sourcing only three components, Maknickas explained that, besides Linux being the strongest open source communities currently active, Libtelio was a natural choice as it represents the backbone of all NordVPN applications.
"We want to see how it goes and then decide on next steps."
Meshnet best use cases
There are many ways NordVPN users have been taking advantage of the benefits of its new feature Meshnet.
"In the beginning, most of the users were tech enthusiasts, but little by little, more people discovered functionalities and convenient ways to use Meshnet, from gaming to accessing other devices remotely. We expect Meshnet to grow even quicker with a user-friendly file-sharing feature," said Maknickas.
The most popular use cases include:
- Routing internet traffic: As already mentioned, people can route their traffic via their laptop at home when traveling. Friends and family can also do the same if they're in the same network, so that everyone will appear browsing from the same IP address.
- Sharing your VPN connection: As Meshnet allows users to turn their device into a VPN server, friends and family members can benefit from the security of NordVPN even without a subscription.
- Multiplayer gaming: Those seeking to boost their gaming experience will be interested to know that Meshnet works like a virtual Local Area Network (LAN). No matter where they are in the world, friends will be able to play multiplayer games together without needing any LAN cables.
- File-sharing: With Meshnet you will be able to share files among your family, friends and colleagues almost instantly without the need to host these on a different server or cloud space. Even better, with the update this process gets easier and more efficient.