A VPN is a Virtual Private network and is basically an encrypted tunnel between a client computer and a VPN server. They have been used for many years primarily to provide a secure way to access networks using the internet. So for example a company would install a VPN client on it’s laptops and allow it’s employees to access their home network, the company email server or document store from anywhere in the world using the connection.
Although VPNs are still used for this function, they are now even more popular for another reason to bypass geoblocks. These are the filters that are installed on most big media sites which control what you can access based on your location. It’s why you can’t access the BBC iplayer from outside the UK, and why you need to be in the USA to watch Hulu online. However a VPN based in a particular country can bypass this, watch this video about using a US VPN service.
So the VPn has two crucial benefits – firstly it keeps your data and accounts secure. The encryption layer means that everything you transmit is protected especially useful for those who travel and have to use untrusted wifi networks in hotels, cafes and airports. The second benefit is that it can be used to effectively change your location. Whenever you connect to a web site it will see the location of the VPN server not your actual location. This is why people buy VPN services in different countries in order to access web sites based in those countries.
For example millions of UK ex-pats use UK based VPN servers to watch the BBC online. Similarly many US people who live outside the US simply connect to a US VPN server before watching US media sites like HBO, Hulu and Netflix. They also use a US IP address for Netflix in order to access the American version of the site. In fact these services are so popular, some of the more sophisticated programmes allow you to switch between locations by clicking on a server. This means that if you have access to enough servers in different countries then you’ll effectively be able to access any websites you like.
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