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The Problem

This morning I read news that VPN is no longer working at Starbucks. This may not be a news to many people but certainly is important to me; Since I use public Wi-Fi a lot so I always make sure to use VPN mainly to avoid packet sniffer such as: Firesheep.

The Research

To verify “VPN @Starbucks not working”, I headed to Starbucks this afternoon to run the test myself and here is what I discovered. I could connect to their Wi-Fi as usual. But after I started the HMA(Hide My Ass) and tried to access New York Times, the page won’t load. I tried a few different HMA servers but same result. Wondering whether this problem is exclusive to HMA, I switched to one of my favorites: VPN4ALL. Unfortunately VPN4ALL couldn’t connect either.

Now I have the feeling that the problem is not the VPNs. It looks like Starbucks is preventing people from accessing Internet through their free Wi-Fi using VPN. As a last resort, I turned to Tor which I have mixed feelings about (here is why), and it connected with no problems at all.

The Conclusion

If you are heading over to your favorite Starbucks hoping for a VPN secured Wi-Fi session you might be disappointed; Until someone comes up with a workaround to use VPN at Starbucks, for the moment, you can use Tor to secure your internet activities. Tor does have some speed issues, so patience is of the essence. The remaining question is why Starbucks decided to block VPN access? If you know the answer or you know how to make VPN work @ Starbucks, please share it with us.

Thanks to the talented photographer whose image we used in this post: marcopako