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Wondering how hard/complex and payoff would be to setup a VPN for my android that also compresses all the traffic to save 3G data.

This would be similar to what BlackBerry does.

It would be using an existing EC2 instance (it is already configured for my VPN for my macbook).

Thoughts/pointers to start,etc?

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or maybe this would be better on serverfault? I'm not sure. – cbrulak Jun 6 '11 at 15:29
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Setting up a VPN for the explicit purpose of saving bandwidth, is probably going to waste more of your time than it is going to save you money. The majority of popular websites out there today already already provide a mobile version of the site which is stripped down and made as efficient as possible, and also implement gzip compression on-the-fly. VPN compression algorithms use similar compression techniques as gzip, and as a result the result is that you really don't see a whole lot of bandwidth savings... and typically you actually see an increase in bandwidth consumption as every packet now needs to be encapsulated inside another packet to be passed through a VPN. A lot of this will also depend greatly on the kind of VPN you setup. (sslvpn/opevpn will have a great deal more overhead when compaired with IPSEC + L2TP or PPTP)

I do actually maintain a BES (blackberry enterprise server) here in my office, and doing a quick glance at my performance counters & such... I see less than a 0.2% bandwidth savings with compression turned on.

VPNs are designed to secure your data, not for data compression. If you really are worried about trying to optimize your bandwidth, you should really look at the kind of data you're focusing on. Traffic like HTTP can be routed through a proxy server that can do a much better job of compressing data and/or caching it (by either adding expires tags, or setting up a local proxy cache on the phone), as well as stripping out things like advertisements & unneeded iframes & such.

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wow, thanks for the detailed response. So, you are saying that a HTTP proxy would be better than a VPN. – cbrulak Jun 6 '11 at 15:57
Actually, I honestly don't believe that you'll see any significant improvement no matter what you do. In the case of most "mobile-friendly" sites, they go to great extents to make the pages small, and highly compressed... and you will see no savings of bandwidth doing anything. Other sites where you might see some bandwidth savings won't perform very well, and you probably won't re-visit unless you really need-to... (rarely) and finally stuff like listening to streams or watching videos, are already highly compressed and again, bandwidth savings will be 0 if not an increase in bandwidth. – TheCompWiz Jun 6 '11 at 16:06
what about gmail, RSS,etc? Android market? thanks again. – cbrulak Jun 6 '11 at 17:03
G-Mail is as efficient as it's going to get. No amount of VPN or proxy will make it use less bandwidth. Google goes to HUGE extents to make this true. RSS feeds typically are short blocks of text which you would only see tiny improvements at best. As far as the market goes... it's pulled from google's servers. All GZip'd & as optimized as can be made. What you download (on the other hand) is not up to Google. That 20mb application probably won't get much smaller than 20mb over-the-air... as the APK that is downloaded is already compressed, and the contents are dictated by the developer. – TheCompWiz Jun 6 '11 at 17:20

Actually setting up a VPN for data compression is very useful especially for me the network I'm on is 4G and I get download speeds exceeding 48Mbps but my plan only comes with 2Gb of inclusions so its sucked up VERY quickly.

There is already an application for Andriod and iOS called Onavo Extend:

And it actually works really well it shows how much of a saving you are getting from using the application and I have definitely noticed increased usability of allocated data, but the only thing to keep in mind is running through a VPN does marginally slow down your connection as I said above. I normally get around 48+Mbps with Onavo Extend running, that drops to around 40Mbps so if you have a fast enough connection I would highly suggest trying out Onavo or setting up your own VPN.

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