VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is essentially an encrypted tunnel between a client computer and a VPN server usually over the internet. For years these have been used by global companies to enable their employees to connect back to their corporate network securely. Basically it means that people can access things like custom applications, document stores and corporate emails whilst travelling. The internet is extremely useful for this, however the VPN adds the layer of security which is unfortunately missing.
However there is another popular use for VPNs and the reason why millions of people use them all over the world. It is the fact that increasingly much of the internet is restricted based on your location. So someone connecting from a NON-US location would get blocked when trying to connect to something like Pandora or Hulu, or NON-UK users are not able to access applications like BBC iPlayer. Obviously this can get extremely inconvenient especially for people who travel a lot or have moved abroad. Here’s a demonstration of someone using a US VPN service that you can watch –
In the video you can see that it is the location of the VPN server which is important. If the VPN service is run from the US then when connecting you can watch all US only content too. The software demonstrated allow you to switch VPN servers to different countries as required. SO press a UK button to watch the BBC and then switch to the US for access to US only sites like Hulu.
This means that with a subscription that covers lots of locations then you will effectively not be blocked irrespective of your location. It also allows the added benefit of keeping your connection secure which is essential for travellers forced to access the internet using wireless networks in places like hotels, airports and cafes.
Remember though that there could be a performance impact on your connection particularly if you route through a distant country. Using an Australian VPN will allow you access to Australian only sites but it will slow down your connection particularly from somewhere like Europe.