Why and how a Personal VPN will make you love the Internet again
If you live in Canada (like me) and access the Internet through one of our popular ISPs like Bell, Videotron, Cogeco or Rogers and you want to enjoy music services like the amazing Pandora or delight in video streaming sites like Hulu, you can’t. These platforms all use technology to recognize Internet traffic from Canada. Or more specifically, non-American locales. For legal reasons that smarter people than me have discussed, these services deny you access to their content.
Typically, you’ll see a message like this:
For me, using a personal VPN was the way around messages like this – and it also made my Internet-browsing habits much more secure too.
What is a Personal VPN?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is technology that creates a tunnel to secure and keep data private across the Internet. You might already use one to connect to your office servers or applications from home. Data travels protected from prying eyes and hackers. Even if the data is intercepted, without a way to decipher it, it’s gobbledygook and useless.
Is it possible to legally access streaming music and movies the way someone might in the US, outside the US? The answer is yes. And one solution is called a Personal VPN.
Several months ago I began using a personal VPN from Witopia.net. They have a very good explanation of why a Personal VPN makes sense for anyone who uses the Internet. Read it. Then sign up for an account. Trust me. There are others available, and I’ve tried some free options too.
Unless you like futzing with networking settings and are good at it, or you don’t mind asking the IT guy from your office to configure a Personal VPN for you, Witopia is probably right for you. For about $5/month, you’ll feel more secure online, you’ll protect your internet activity from your ISP (and avoid traffic shaping) – and use platforms that otherwise would be restricted by geographical location.
How a Personal VPN helps you access stuff you couldn’t before.
When you use a Personal VPN provider like Witopia, they assign you a temporary and anonymous IP address from one of their servers located in the geography you select – for example, Atlanta, Georgia in the US, or London in the UK. What this means of course is that as far as the Internet (and that service) is concerned, you are physically located in that geography. So when you request content that’s geographically restricted, you’re able to access it.
Don’t forget about mobile too.
The nice thing with the package I bought from Witopia is that I can also use the Personal VPN on my iPhone and iPad – meaning that I can enjoy these sites and their apps too while on the go. They provide simple and clear instructions on how to do it, and it works well over WiFi and wireless data too.
Is a Personal VPN in your future?
As a non-American, do you feel like you’re missing out? Or are you happy to wait until these services navigate the choppy legal waters to (hopefully) bring their services to your country? If you do end up taking the plunge and investing in a Personal VPN service, I’d love to hear about it.
Please share your experiences – good or bad – in the comments below.