Brave no longer installs VPN Services on Windows for everyone

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 22, 2024
Brave
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Brave Software released a new stable version of the company's web browser this week. Besides more AI and several improvements, it is also introducing a change regarding the installation of VPN services on Windows machines.

Back in October, we reported that Brave was installing VPN services for all users on Windows. Most Brave browser users do not use Brave Software's VPN service, but they still got the VPN service installed on their machines without consent or any intention of using the VPN.

Brave Software responded to the allegations. It confirmed that the VPN services were installed on user devices on Windows. These were set to manual, which meant that they would not start unless started by the user. Furthermore, the VPN services would not submit any data to Brave Software.

The company promised to change the behavior in the future. Fast forward six months and the release of Brave 1.64. The latest release of the browser does not install the VPN service anymore on Windows.

Brave notes in the changelog: "Fixed Brave VPN to not install VPN services until VPN is purchased or enabled."

I confirmed the new behavior on two test systems. Both were upgraded to Brave 1.64 from earlier versions. A check of the Services manager in Windows confirmed that the two VPN services Brave VPN Service and Brave VPN Wireguard Service were not installed on the devices.

These services will only get installed when a user purchases the VPN from Brave Software or enables it on the device from now on. They will also get removed on systems, provided that the VPN is not used.

Brave Software confirms the change and new behavior on GitHub. There it states that the services do get removed for users if they have not purchased a VPN subscription or enabled it in the settings of the browser.

Other changes in Brave 1.64

Brave 1.64 includes several interesting changes. There is a new "bring all tabs to this window" option to move all tabs from all other windows to the active one.

Brave Leo, the integrated AI component, has a new text right-click context menu. Highlight text on a webpage and select Brave AI Tools to get several options, including getting a summary of the text or using rewrite options courtesy of the integrated large language model.

Brave Software highlights two security and privacy improvements. The first improves Tor functionality in Brave by reaching feature parity with Tor browser regarding stream isolation for third-party subresources. The second improves the storage partitioning feature of Chromium by "making it compatible with Brave's ephemeral storage implementation".

Now You: have you tried Brave 1.64 already? What is your impression of the new release?

Summary
Brave no longer installs VPN Services on Windows for everyone
Article Name
Brave no longer installs VPN Services on Windows for everyone
Description
Brave Browser 1.64 does not install VPN services for all Windows users anymore, only for those who use the VPN.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. vonmir said on March 23, 2024 at 11:15 pm
    Reply

    My health insurance website only works on a chromium browser, and I’ve found that Brave does the job for me.

    In regard to the VPN, I use a program called Agent Ransack to locate any mention of files/folders related to the Brave VPN and simply delete them. I do the same for wallet, rewards, and any other Brave features I don’t want or don’t use. The browser works fine nonetheless.

    Reading the comments here, my solution somehow seems too simple, but it appears to work fine.

    1. John G. said on March 24, 2024 at 6:42 pm
      Reply

      @vonmir, > “My health insurance website only works on a chromium browser, (…)”.

      Same here.

  2. Mr Right said on March 23, 2024 at 8:49 pm
    Reply

    If you are going to report it, then do a better job reporting.

    First it was the SERVICES.

    And given that they were SERVICES, Brave didn’t install the VPN SERVICES for EVERYONE… it was installed in Brave where ADMIN RIGHTS were given, that is what’s called System wide installations or all users installation…..

    If people installed Brave WITHOUT admin rights, the VPN services wouldn’t be installed at all. VPN still would be available to use, but the SERVICES for the UPDATER and VPN, wouldn’t be present because there is no rights to install them.

    Why are people given admin rights to browsers?… it is just dumb, they give permission to the browser, then they complain browser is installing services.

    Also, VPN services were disabled, so what was the problem about it? it was literally 3 registry entries doing nothing if you never even touched VPN.
    An EXE exisiting in the disk, doesn’t mean it will do anything, you can add any service and startup process yourself, if it is disabled, then it won’t do anything.

    VPN service didn’t do anything because the service itself was set to Manual.

    Installing a service with admin rights from a browser on demand, takes a while to set up, especially since it had to go through many security checks.

    Then people might ask: What is the purpose of the VPN services then? if per-user installations also could use VPN without the services?

    Well, one of the services was meant to stop DNS leaks because of some Windows services.
    And the only one was so the VPN could work and ‘survive’ restarts and all that, and you could run it 24/7 without giving away your IP to any application or something that starts after the VPN runs.

    But people could have just easily set them to ‘DISABLE’ with Autoruns, and don’t do dumb crap like removing it, because if they kept installing the browser WITH ADMIN RIGHTS, it is obvious the services would be reinstalled…. if you just disable them, they will not get overridden because that’s not how usually things work, and again, if they are set to manual, and then disabled, then nothing would happen with the services.

    It’s interesting how much drama people create and they never want to understand how things work, they are ignorant about computers but somehow they believe they know everything about it because they can click a mouse… but somehow when it comes to drama and the fake privace, they will somehow complain about set to manual services for a VPN, while using their Android or Apple phones with twitter or tiktok or youtube on it….

    1. Anonymous said on March 24, 2024 at 1:40 pm
      Reply

      I’m sorry but that’s needlessly blaming the users. It’s not a weird thing to want to have an application across multiple accounts; just because you give it admin access doesn’t mean it’s okay to do whatever.

      I know it’s overreacting and I know that WireGuard isn’t spyware or malware (I use the thing myself) but nobody would’ve reacted like this had they put a “Do you want to install the WireGuard service for Brave VPN” box on update or a simple checkbox saying you consent to it being installed if you’re doing a fresh install. And few people would’ve reacted like this if Brave didn’t have some history of doing sneaky things behind people’s backs.
      For what it’s worth I’m going to continue using Brave but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been eyeing alternative browsers recently.

  3. hoho said on March 23, 2024 at 3:48 pm
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    Uninstalled. Thanks for the compulsory vpn service.

  4. EFromme said on March 23, 2024 at 11:43 am
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    Do not understand the uproar here, opinions with no basis. when I first saw the VPN setup in Brave, I changed the configuration and then deleted its exe file.Poff – done. Seriously people, think before you complain about something you obviosuly don’t understand or go off on tangents unrealted to the subject.

    1. n. grossman said on March 25, 2024 at 12:54 am
      Reply

      You “[d]o not understand the uproar here”? You yourself didn’t want the VPN and wasted your time removing it even though you might have left it in place and simply not started the service. If a cognoscente such as yourself can’t sort out what to do imagine how trying it might be for an ordinary mortal. So yeah, congrats on your perspicacity, but even you benefit if the thing isn’t automatically installed in the first place.

      Please “think before you complain about something you obviosuly [sic] don’t understand”.

      1. EFromme said on March 25, 2024 at 10:07 am
        Reply

        Duh?

  5. Anonymous said on March 23, 2024 at 11:32 am
    Reply

    I’m sorry but I switched to Edge. At least they’re honest about their spying rather than making up crappy excuses.
    I thought installing a service on the system level was literally required for this to work? What happened? Not so required anymore huh.

  6. Foghorn Leghorn said on March 22, 2024 at 11:50 pm
    Reply

    Sorry Brave, I have moved on after this idiot debacle and am enjoying Mullvad browser.
    Really stupid, Brave, to install your VPN on my startup list! I have deleted everything Brave
    on my machine.
    Good riddance.

  7. Andy Prough said on March 22, 2024 at 8:23 pm
    Reply

    >”reaching feature parity with Tor browser regarding stream isolation for third-party subresources”

    This is fantastic! I hope they keep working on the For integration, it’s one of the really great features of the browser that differentiates it from all the chrome clones.

  8. Dennis said on March 22, 2024 at 7:11 pm
    Reply

    Not using Brave ever again……

  9. Albert said on March 22, 2024 at 3:17 pm
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    I am amazed ! Techbros responding to user’s complaints.

    I’ll re-install it.

  10. Bobo said on March 22, 2024 at 2:10 pm
    Reply

    Brave hasn’t managed to fix the “search image with Google” right-click option, which is the same as the “Search By Image” extension. Google broke it and no one has said anything about it yet… Google of course wants everyone to use the complete garbage called lens, but people who need image search for serious work need the old functionality. When I search for an image I don’t want Goole lens to find me a place that resembles the image where I can buy a burger and fries.

  11. Anonymous said on March 22, 2024 at 1:17 pm
    Reply

    | but many of us suspect that this was done in these 6 months completely on purpose.

    1984, stay worried!

  12. John G. said on March 22, 2024 at 11:22 am
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    Actually, the best built-in VPN inside a browser can be found at Microsoft Edge. Really impressive by the way the low marketing movements by Microsoft in this sense, and how nice its VPN really is. Returning to the article, I think that Brave should invest more efforts to simplify the large amount of options to config whatever you need to config, it’s hardly exhausting. And also the same about the brave-coins wallet or whatever its name, it should be optional since installation itself, it’s just a waste of resources and it’s a complete invasive annoyance bloatware. Thanks for the article! :]

    1. Lizard said on March 23, 2024 at 3:10 pm
      Reply

      No thanks. For it to work Edge needs you logged in MS account. Will never use Edge logged in on my PC.

    2. Lockbit3.0 said on March 23, 2024 at 1:32 pm
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      You said you hated Windows 11, and uninstall Edge John G.

      Are you going back on what you said in other articles?

      https://www.ghacks.net/2024/03/11/microsoft-starts-rollout-of-windows-dma-compliance-changes-in-europe/

      https://www.ghacks.net/2024/03/08/apple-releases-macos-sonoma-14-4-update-with-over-50-security-fixes/

      VioletMoon had to teach you something, that you know nothing about John G.

      Who in the world would use a free vpn?

      For the Lulz…

      1. John G. said on March 24, 2024 at 6:35 pm
        Reply

        @Lockbit, I dislike W11, of course. I dislike some things and I still use them because I need them for some purposes. For example I travel twice per month in plane from Barcelona to Madrid despite I dislike flying. I use Firefox both branches, Edge and Chrome, and also Brave sometimes. I use W10 and Ubuntu too. And MacOS. And Android. I dislike fast good but I eat it with my friends when I go to the cinema. Life is an extraordinary thing, because you can love what you hate, and also you can hate what you love, in an insidious way of continuous change. Life is change. And if you walk so slow as the rain, you can see it fall at slow motion. Just give it a try! ;]

    3. VioletMoon said on March 22, 2024 at 11:27 pm
      Reply

      @ John G. – I don’t care for the Microsoft Privacy Statement:

      First, one must use a MS Account. Next, big things like the following make me wonder why it’s named a VPN.

      “Microsoft collects data from you, through our interactions with you and through our products. You provide some of this data directly, and we get some of it by collecting data about your interactions, use, and experiences with our products. The data we collect depends on the context of your interactions with Microsoft and the choices you make, including your privacy settings and the products and features you use. We also obtain data about you from third parties.”

      Third party sharing? Not for me!

      “Microsoft uses the data we collect to provide you with rich, interactive experiences. In particular, we use data to:

      Provide our products, which includes updating, securing, and troubleshooting, as well as providing support. It also includes sharing data, when it is required to provide the service or carry out the transactions you request.
      Improve and develop our products.
      Personalize our products and make recommendations.
      Advertise and market to you, which includes sending promotional communications, targeting advertising, and presenting you with relevant offers.”

      Profiling usage and marketing to me–sending me promotions! Not what I expect from a VPN–sort of defeats the purpose. “Really impressive” for some–explain how, please.

      Cloudflare follows MS; so much for privacy.

      https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-US/privacystatement

      https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/use-the-microsoft-edge-secure-network-to-protect-your-browsing-885472e2-7847-4d89-befb-c80d3dda6318

      1. John G. said on March 24, 2024 at 6:39 pm
        Reply

        @Violetmoon, Microsoft is unable to read our commebts and complaints, no need to be worried about our data, they don’t care a single cent. Do believe me, the problem is not to watch one million users, the problem is that someone wants to read only your dats. And only yours. The best way to be silent is to hide between the crowd.

    4. Bobo said on March 22, 2024 at 3:16 pm
      Reply

      Exactly this. I don’t care that I can turn it off and never use it. It’s still there. It can’t be that hard to implement an opt-OUT solution, so people could get a nice CLEAN browser. What we get today are a new free pair of jeans that someone took a dump in, it’s our responsibilty to clean them since we got them for “free”. No matter how many times you wash them, the stain still shows and you’re sure there’s a smell too. You can’t unsmell it. Now if people WANT to walk around in poopypants, that should be an option before you put them on. Most of us don’t.

  13. uia said on March 22, 2024 at 7:10 am
    Reply

    It took them 6 months to remove what was unwanted by users. With this sluggish speed they are exposed, but many of us suspect that this was done in these 6 months completely on purpose.

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