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I am using (have installed) this VPN on an Android Smart TV.

Does Windscribe (or generally any VPN service) keep traffic logs even when they are disconnected? (Disconnected here means when the 'power-button' like button in the VPN's app is switched off). Some do keep logs when the VPN is on (connected to a server) but do they keep it even when not connected to another server?

These articles say otherwise:

  1. https://windscribe.com/features/no-logs#:~:text=TLDR%3B%20We%20don't%20keep,and%20is%20not%20kept%20historically.
  2. https://privecstasy.com/does-windscribe-keep-logs/
  3. https://vpnpro.com/vpn-basics/does-windscribe-keep-logs/

PS: I am on a free plan of 10GB/month.

Now, we can understand the bandwidth logs because Windscribe actually offers a very useable free plan, which is capped at 10GBs monthly bandwidth. VPN services that offer a capped free tier need to keep track of the amount of data consumed, somehow…

Maybe they could disable it for paying customers?

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  • It's impossible to know what logs service providers keep (whether they stipulate their log collection policy or not). If by disconnected, you mean, a soft switch to disable the VPN, with software still running, then you shouldn't be surprised if the VPN software captures network events, whether it acts on them or not. If those events are logged and forwarded later .. see 1 .. you could at least monitor what the software does locally using strace, procmon, etc.
    – brynk
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 8:23

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Theoretically, any software running on your system could monitor socket activity if given the appropriate privileges.

(It's not exactly clear from your question, as it stands, as to what you want an answer to.)

I'll assume that you're asking whether a free VPN provider that you use is logging network activity of other applications running on the same host, even when it is not functioning as a VPN.

On Android, all (or most) traffic is routed through the VPN software, so when it is installed as a VPN it will see all connection attempts. This is because Android routes all packets through the VPN, up to v10 (? not sure when this changed, please feel free to clarify with edit ?), and since v10 some packets (specifically root) can still flow via the underlying network connection and aren't forced through the VPN. TODO ref.

Other software running under the same context can use host tools such as the /proc/ vfs or ss etal. to poll for open sockets and compile a log of these, viz. NetMonitor. Depending on the default configuration, none, some or all of the sockets you currently have open are visible tovia this interface.

The VPN service provider will often make use of some standard VPN software, such as OpenVPN or WireGuard, but they will also offer a convenience application that will instal and configure everything. Often, you as the user will be able to configure this or at least audit the configuration to ensure that no logging is occurring on your device.

From a logical perspective, you must assume that your free VPN provider is logging as much as possible, because there's no way for you (or any of us) to prove the alternate theory. Repeat after me: "there is no such thing as a free VPN".

So, the question that you need to consider, in answer to your question: how does your VPN provider cover the costs of providing you with a "free" VPN?

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  • So, just to be safe, will uninstalling the VPN's app from my TV prevent any possible logging or can the VPN leave some 'cache files' behind (is that what I'm trying to say?) and still keep logging?
    – sato
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 6:08
  • I think if you use Android's mechanism for removing software it should be gone, but there are many variables: you may need to instal other software (or worst case do a factory reset) to verify that it has been removed
    – brynk
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 6:42

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