Does the following sound familiar to you? You want to watch all the available movies in your country, but your ISP blocks your access to them. That’s the case in most countries, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, you can get around the blocks your ISP places on your Internet traffic. Using a VPN, your computer acts like a proxy server, allowing you to access any website you want, whether it’s in your country or not.
Why Do Geo-Blocks Exist?
A content provider may geo-block content for several reasons. For example, the content provider may want to ensure that their intellectual property is protected in one marketplace or that the only legitimate content consumers are within a particular geographic region. Not everyone can access the US version of Netflix, for example. It also allows them to target audiences based on location, language, and culture. While understandable from a business perspective, it can be highly frustrating for paying customers who visit other countries on holiday or work. This is in part why VPNs have become so mainstream. These tools can unblock content and allow anyone to watch any show they want without restriction.
What Is A VPN, And How Do They Work?
A VPN is used for so much more than unblocking content. They are a virtual private network designed to ensure that all of your data is encrypted, secure, and safe from prying eyes. A VPN not only ensures that you are protected online but also provides an extra layer of security when using public WiFi. It will help you stay anonymous on the internet by hiding your IP address and location and encrypting your data to prevent third parties from accessing it.
Essentially, a VPN is a secure and private connection between your device and whichever servers you are trying to access. This prevents others from seeing what you are doing online. It also hides your IP address, location, browsing habits, and devices from people on the same network as you. They are great for accessing blocked apps in certain countries like WhatsApp in China or Netflix US from the UK. They can also help you access content that may be censored in your country, like YouTube videos.
What To Look For In A VPN Provider
It would be best to look out for several things to get a VPN service that matches your requirements.
The price of the VPN is what most people tend to look for when shopping for one. However, VPN services tend to be highly affordable from the outset, and you can often find steep multi-year discounts. NordVPN is one provider that regularly offers these money-off vouchers, and you should check out some NordVPN discounts to see the type of savings you can achieve when you use these coupons. Once you have settled on a provider with the right price, you should move on to check the next point.
Always Choose A “No Log” Provider
A no-log VPN does not keep any logs on its users. This means that these VPNs do not track or monitor any of their users. Privacy is a big concern for digital citizens as more and more people are starting to use the internet for various activities such as work, leisure, and payments. There have been many unfortunate cases where hackers have been able to steal sensitive information from these logs and use it for illegal purposes. Furthermore, if you are using a VPN to protect your identity, a no-log provider is vital, not necessary.
VPNs can cause performance drops in system performance because there is a lot of network traffic going through the connection, and the data needs to be encrypted. It also depends on what protocol you are using. Therefore, you should check which protocols it uses. There are five common standards including:
- PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is among the oldest VPN protocols. A basic crack in PPTP’s encryption quickly compromises its underlying security. Due to its lack of security features, PPTP also provides the best connection speeds for users without a high need for encryption. Use with caution.
- L2TP/IPSec: This protocol is used as a successor of PPTP. Its security and privacy features are not available out-of-the-box, and it is often used with IPsec. The L2TP/IPsec protocol is highly secure and does not have any known vulnerabilities.
- OpenVPN: AES-256 bit key encryption makes this protocol impenetrable, and it is open source to boot.
- SSTP: This is perhaps the most common since it includes full support for every Microsoft operating system.
- IKEv2: IKEv2 provides a method of securing key exchange sessions over a VPN tunnel. IPSec is often used with it, similarly to L2TP.
User Interface And Device Compatibility
If the software is unusable to anyone other than computer scientists, it will be useless for your needs. Luckily, most commercial-grade VPNs have well-thought-out interfaces making them far easier to use. You also want a provider that has a companion app for your smartphone. You will likely do most of your content watching via your mobile device, and a VPN app makes connecting much more accessible.
Kill Switch Functionality
A kill switch is a security measure that will disable your internet connection should you lose access to the VPN server. It does this by cutting off all internet connections outside of the VPN tunnel. If a hacker can intercept your data, your VPN kill switch will cut off all internet connections outside of the VPN tunnel, ensuring that no data can leak from your device. Regarding more everyday activities like watching your blocked content, a kill switch stops your content provider from finding out you are using a VPN and consequently banning you from their platform (if they have such a policy).
The bottom line is that VPNs are the only way to access content unavailable in your country. A VPN will allow you to watch Netflix and BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Amazon Video, CWTV, Crackle, Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, and so much more. In addition, they are valuable tools to have in your arsenal to keep your data safe and your browsing habits away from prying eyes.