Using a VPN
The information here means it looks like you are from another country and hides your true IP address. The main benefits of this are security related as all data is encrypted and makes surfing things like Wi-Fi hotspots in city centres or restaurants more secure. It also bypasses internet censorships and blocks that are forced in some countries. Most of all it protects your online identity which becomes more and more of a commodity to illegal groups nowadays.
It allows users to access websites only available to users from a certain country (The main thing we will be covering). This is particularly important for travellers who access websites from their home country and for people living in regions with heavy censorship, like China and Iran.
What are the other benefits of using a VPN?
While the major benefits are obvious from a security point of view it is the benefit of been able to appear as if you are in any country in the world that we will be looking at.
Maybe you have gone away on business for a few days and want to catch up with eastenders on iPlayer but cannot because it only allows you to watch if you are in the UK (not very fair when you have paid your licence and this service comes out of that fee) using a VPN would allow you to watch it as though you were sat at home in the UK.
Another example is Netflix who recently started in the UK. Although the service is excellent and a very good price you can quickly run out of things to watch in the UK as the catalogue is not as big as the US version.
So if for the sake of arguments you were over visiting from the US your login for Netflix allows you access to both the US and UK version of the site (this is the case at the time of writing) and the same applies to the UK version giving access to the US catalogue. To access the UK version you need to be in the UK (or have a UK IP address) and to access the US version you need to be in the US (or have a US IP address) which a VPN can provide.
The benefit is clear for the UK user when it comes to Netflix you suddenly have access to 1000s more items. These 2 services are just an example there are other country specific services too that a VPN is useful for.
So what If we could tell these services that we were from their country? If we do this we get access to these services.
But I have seen alternatives that dont cost me money
There are numerous other ways we can do this you may think and you are right. The first is to use a free proxy server in your browser. You can find free proxy’s at the below address:
Although these CAN be good you do have to get lucky and they don’t always last in my experience and can sometimes be much slower than your connection.
The other option is using proxy browsing. You put the address into their browser and it opens within their software. Not very reliable and limited in my opinion but you can pay for better features.
Neither of these 2 matches up to a VPN in my opinion. There are many providers out there and you can find a list using Google or a site like below to find different providers
Personally I have used Hide My Ass in the past and found it very reliable but it is all down to your own research which is best for you.
So how do I set up my VPN?
Once you have your provider it is simply a case of selecting what country you want to appear to be in and then logging into the relevant site.
Once connected you can disable the VPN (if it is software on your PC) so that you go back to using your full bandwidth. For example in Netflix start a film or TV program playing and then disconnect the VPN. Because the film has already started it won’t disconnect. If you go back to browsing enable the VPN again.
That’s it as simple as that. Obviously each VPN provider’s software is different and is priced differently but they are all pretty easy to setup and come with good instructions.