Short for Virtual Private Network, you may have heard the term VPN more and more frequently in the last few years. Most probably you may have heard that VPNs can improve your online security and help you access online streaming platforms such as US Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. But what exactly is a VPN, how does it work and do you need one at home?

Let’s find out!

What is a VPN connection?

A VPN ( Virtual Private Network) creates a private connection that you can access on your computer, laptop or mobile device. In simple terms, a VPN masks your device’s IP address allowing you to browse the internet anonymously. Most people use VPNs as a way of improving their online security and streaming films not available where they live.

How does it work?

Instead of connecting you straight to a website using a public network, a VPN circumvents your personal ISP by connecting you to a set of servers, typically dotted all over the globe, in a process known as tunnelling. These servers act as a new ‘virtual location’ on the internet meaning the data that you send and receive is fully encrypted.

Every device you own has a unique identifier called an Internet Protocol address (IP address). This is assigned by your ISP and shows your location on the websites you visit. Once you set up a VPN connection your existing IP address will be hidden and replaced with one from the location you’ve chosen. For example, if you choose a server in the US, you will be assigned a US IP address. Websites can block your access to content based on your IP address alone. So if you want to access that content, you can use a VPN connection to make it appear you’re somewhere you’re not. The most common reason people employ a VPN is to gain access to different streaming services that have been geo-restricted from their location.

Pros and Cons of using streaming VPNs

The main advantages of using VPNs are access to geo-restricted content, online privacy and no-bandwidth limits. Although a VPN comes with some perks, it won’t solve all your browsing problems. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the limits and potential downsides of a VPN.

The encryption process and routing of your traffic through remote servers can slow down your internet speed and sometimes you can experience sudden interruptions. Although you can find free VPNs out there they lack the performance and security of a paid one.

In addition, many of these streaming websites are tracking down VPN usage. They allocate resources to finding out which IP addresses come from VPNs and actively block them. This means that even if you’re connected to a VPN server within your real location, you could still end up with restricted access.

How do we fix this for our customers?

Once access is blocked on these streaming websites, the only way going forward is to change the IP address for each customer. Therefore if we continue doing this, we shall be in a position where we shall run out of public IP address allocation for business, residential and mobile broadband services. As a result, a charge of £10+ VAT shall be included in the broadband package for residential customers who require a public IP address for VPN or for other personal reasons.

If you believe that maintaining your online privacy and accessing geo-restricted streaming platforms is something you really want, the answer to your question about the importance of VPN has been answered. But, keep in mind that you should choose your VPN provider carefully and avoid unsafe free VPN services.

If you need more information about our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team!