The traditional way a VPN service works involves using a VPN server with traditional hard drives that store data until it is, by some logic, deleted or overwritten. In such circumstances, there is always the possibility that VPN servers retain sensitive user data.
In theory, that data could be accessed if government agencies, the ISO, or a malicious third party (hackers) took over the server. Similarly, hackers who breach VPN server security can install a backdoor and compromise sensitive data indefinitely.
To protect user privacy and address the risks inherent in HDD-based servers, many VPN service providers have begun to switch to RAM-based or RAM-only servers. The question is – what are these “RAM-only” servers and how do they work?”.
What are “RAM-only” VPN servers?
A RAM-only server is a VPN server that runs entirely on random access memory (RAM – Random Access Memory). Because RAM is “volatile” memory, all information is erased every time the server is turned off and on again.
This is very different from using traditional hard drives where stored data is not lost after a computer/server restart or a sudden power outage. The result is a very secure environment that prevents data and potential attackers from staying on the server for a long time.
How do “RAM-only” VPN servers work?
A purely RAM-based VPN server prevents the operating system and applications from writing data to the hard drive. Instead, functioning relies entirely on RAM, or memory.
What remains on the hard disk is only a “read-only” image of the operating system and the files necessary for the operation of the server. This read-only “OS image” is cryptographically encrypted and loaded into the RAM modules when the server boots.
Since there are no hard drives involved, all data is destroyed as soon as the server is restarted or shut down.
VPN servers that rely solely on RAM modules offer several advantages over those that use traditional hard drives. This includes:
1) Improved security and privacy
HDD-based servers are less secure because the private keys in the server configuration are vulnerable to hacking attacks. Hackers could steal private keys and pretend to be a legitimate server, thereby compromising sensitive user data.
However, RAM modules are much stricter in the way they handle information. Once a session or process is terminated, all data associated with it is permanently deleted. It’s actually the best no-logs policy, and it actually protects you.
In addition, the OS and other necessary applications are loaded from a read-only image that is difficult to compromise due to the cryptographic nature of the image itself.
What’s more, you don’t even have to worry about your data if the servers are physically seized. Network service providers can remotely reboot servers and wipe all data as part of a security procedure.
2) Better performance
RAM-only servers outperform regular VPN servers in terms of reliability, speed, and performance. They have faster connection times and excellent data upload and download speeds from the Internet.
Unlike HDD-based servers where incremental updates can result in incorrect server configurations, RAM-only servers provide consistency across all servers.
RAM-based servers offer greater agility to service providers because of the way they are designed to operate. The image-only nature of servers means they can be easily deployed, deployed and maintained across multiple locations.
Agility translates into better performance, fast connection times, and better monitoring and maintenance.
Despite the obvious benefits, moving to a RAM-only service has yet to become an industry standard. And there is one main reason for that: charge.
RAM uses solid-state technology that is significantly faster than a traditional hard drive. But the improved speed comes at a high price.
RAMs also require a certain level of perfection to work as intended. For example, it is possible to ignore or repair a bad sector on an HDD using hardware or software, but it is much more difficult to do the same with RAM modules. This level of perfection also leads to higher production costs.
For this reason, VPN providers that use RAM in their servers have higher subscription costs compared to those that rely on hard drives.
But the difference of a few dollars a month should not be a problem if you care about privacy and security and use VPN services regularly.
Improve data security with RAM-only servers
RAM-based servers use “volatile memory” modules to bolster service that is truly log-free and without your traces. These servers delete data as soon as the server is restarted or shut down.
Although RAM-only servers improve data security and privacy, it is a significant investment for VPN companies and ultimately end users.
Which VPN service providers use RAM-only servers?
There are not many of them, so we will advertise them because they deserve to be used.
There are probably more, but these are the “biggest” players. But before you buy their service, check if they use it exclusively RAM-only servers or they have a mix of “normal” servers and RAM-only servers, so you can choose a server when connecting to a VPN.
Written by: Boris Plavljanić