RAM-Only VPN Servers – How do They Work and Why You Need One?

Updated: 3 September 2021
Updated: 3 September 2021

Miklos Zoltan

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In this comprehensive article, you will learn about VPNs with RAM-only servers.

Included in this guide:

  • What are RAM-only VPN servers?
  • How RAM-only VPN servers work?
  • Why would you need RAM-only VPN servers?
  • VPNs with RAM only servers.

Currently the best RAM-only VPN is: NordVPN.

Quick Summary

Most VPN providers rely on hard disks to store and operate their VPN service. This contradicts their no-log policy – “we do not store nor log your details.” Essentially, data is stored in the hard disks until it is erased or written over with new data.

Additionally, storing data in the hard disks increases the security risk. If prying eyes such as hackers or the government get hold of the server, they can easily access sensitive information. To avoid the above scenarios, RAM-only servers is the way to go.

Recommended reading: How VPNs work
Recommended reading: Differences between VPNs and proxy servers
Recommended reading: Differences between VPNs and TOR
Recommended reading: What is a stealth VPN

RAM-Only VPN Servers

What is a RAM-only VPN Server?

RAM-only servers are servers that use RAM modules instead of traditional hard disks (HDDs). The RAM modules store the operational data and code required for the VPN service to function.

These servers use a type of Random-Access Memory (RAM) which is volatile. If power is removed (by rebooting the server or turning off the server), the information stored is lost. In traditional HDDs, even if power is removed, stored data is not lost.

How do RAM-only VPN Servers Work?

The servers’ boot on a read-only image containing the operating system and other required software. Since there’s no HDD, the contents of this image and other required files are loaded into the RAM modules. Essentially, every aspect of the VPN service takes place in the volatile memory (RAM).

Why are RAM-only VPN Servers Necessary?

Heightened security

It is easier to get data from traditional HDDs. Even if data is erased, some powerful software can still recover some data. Also, prying eyes can get encryption keys from the server configuration. Additionally, if the server is physically seized, the HDD can be accessed with ease.

In RAM-only servers, it is harder for unauthorized parties to gain access to data. Hackers cannot install back doors and hence cannot steal private keys. This is because the OS and the necessary files are loaded on boot via a read-only image. The read-only image is hard to compromise since it is cryptographically signed.

Furthermore, if the servers are physically seized, no one needs to worry about sensitive data. The VPN provider can initiate security procedures to reboot the servers remotely. Once this happens, all the data from the previous session will be lost.

Reinforced privacy

Other than security, RAM-only servers ensure your activities will never fall to prying eyes. A simple reboot will wipe all the data in the servers. This also bolsters the VPN’s no-log policy.

Improved performance

The read-only image provides consistency to all servers. Loading the entire software stack at boot gets rid of misconfigurations. When using HDDs, incremental updates may alter some server configurations. In the end, there will be differences in server configurations, and this might also lead to vulnerabilities.

Further VPN & security guides we recommend you to check out:

VPNs Using RAM-only-based Servers

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN deploys RAM-only servers as part of a technology dubbed “Trusted Server Technology”. PwC independently audited this technology, and it was confirmed that it works as described.

Trusted Server Technology loads up the entire software stack when the server boots up. This ensures no inconsistencies, and it improves security and privacy.

Surfshark VPN

Surfshark also uses RAM only-based servers. In a bid to increase privacy and security, Surfshark rolled out a 100% diskless server infrastructure. This infrastructure works similarly to that of ExpressVPN’s Trusted Server Technology.

Other VPNs that offer a RAM-only VPN service include Switzerland-based Perfect Privacy VPN and the Swedish AzireVPN.

Other reputable VPN service providers have also promised to join this trend.

Additional use cases for VPNs:

Wrap Up

RAM-only servers provide a way to eliminate the retention of your data. With a reboot, there won’t be any trace of sensitive information. Also, these types of servers ensure that VPNs commit to their no-log policies regarding user activities.

Additionally, prying eyes such as hackers and other third parties won’t have unauthorized access to these servers. Even if the servers are physically seized, they won’t have any data. Concisely, RAM-only servers ensure improved privacy, security, performance and consistency.

FAQ

Do RAM-only VPNs log data?

RAM-only VPNs such as ExpressVPN and Surfshark VPN do not log your data. They have a friendly jurisdiction that doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws. The operational data that passes through their servers is wiped once a reboot is initiated.

Do all VPN service providers use RAM-based servers?

No. Only a few VPN providers use RAM-only servers. They include ExpressVPN, Surfshark VPN, Perfect Privacy VPN and AzireVPN. Nonetheless, other VPN providers have announced their plans to use RAM-only servers.

Can RAM-only data be tracked?

It is a futile process to track data in RAM-only servers. This is because data from the VPN service is secured with robust encryptions. The data is also anonymized and can be wiped at anytime a reboot is initiated.

Can RAM-only VPNs be hacked?

Essentially, any VPN service can be hacked. But with RAM-only servers, your data will always remain safe. That is, RAM-only servers make it hard for hackers to install backdoors or even gain access to server configurations.

Furthermore, hacking will trigger security procedures that will initiate a reboot. Hence, all data will be lost.

Are RAM-only VPNs any better?

Yes, RAM-only VPNs are better than VPNs that use hard disks in their servers. RAM-only VPNs ensure utmost privacy and security, consistency and performance, and they reinforce the no-log policy. Also, they are based in jurisdictions with no mandatory data retention laws.

Written by: Justin Oyaro

Connect with the author:

Tech and Cybersecurity Expert Justin is a cybersecurity expert with over 5 years of experience that stretches across various technological realms. He is a valued expert in cybersecurity, Cord-cutting, Cryptocurrency, Smartphones, How-tos and other related fields. Justin has written authoritative content for multiple Cybersecurity websites and blogs on matters regarding privacy and security. He also does pen test on tech products such as smartphone applications and websites. When he is not writing, Justin spends most of his time on the latest tech trends and Android Studio. Justin is also a degree holder in Information Systems Technology and Master of Computer Applications (M.C.A.), University of Adelaide.

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