Saturday, March 30, 2013

VPN Services and Geo-Restrictions

Some content on the Internet can only be viewed from a specific geographical location. This is what’s called a geo-restriction. These restrictions are something of gray areas where the law is concerned. Technically, there’s nothing illegal about watching geo-restricted content in an area where it is normally unavailable. It would be roughly equivalent to buying a CD in one nation and listening to the CD in a nation where it is not sold. Because of this, people sometimes use a VPN service to get around geo-restrictions on content. Understanding how this works is not terribly difficult, though there is some technical information involved.

Your IP Address
Whenever you get on the Internet, your computer has an IP address. The function of this IP address is roughly equivalent to the function of your house’s street address. In order to receive information from a server on the Internet, that server needs to know where to send the information and that information is gleaned from your IP address.

Your IP address also enables people to figure out where you’re located. This is how geo-restrictions function. If your IP address, for example, is from the United States, you may not be able to access content from the United Kingdom, Australia or other nations. This is generally not much of a problem for people in nations such as the aforementioned, but it can be a big problem for people located in nations in Oceana, Asia and other parts of the world. With a VPN connection, there is a way to get around these geo-restrictions.

Changing the IP
One of the ways that a VPN service provides privacy protection is by giving you an IP address that is actually different from your computer’s IP address. When you access information on the Internet, only the VPN server knows your real IP address. For any other server with which you communicate, your IP address is the VPN server’s IP address.

Typically, VPN providers offer servers in many different nations. Most of them will at least have servers available in Europe, the United States and Asia. The most server rich VPN providers have servers located all over the world.

To understand getting around your restrictions, imagine again the content in the United Kingdom that you could not access from the United States. By taking your computer in the United States and hooking up to a VPN server in the United Kingdom, your computer is provided with an IP address that’s located in the United Kingdom. As far as the Internet is concerned, you are now in the UK. This means that you have full access to any content that may be geo-restricted to UK nations.

Using this capability of VPN Services is very popular with people in nations that generally don’t get included among those allowed to access very popular content. People in the Philippines, for example, might use a VPN provider to gain access to shows on US networks and so forth. They’re not pirating or stealing any of this content, as that content is freely available. What they are doing is simply – in the digital sense – relocating to the United States temporarily so that they can have access to that same content without restriction.

While changing your IP address is something that usually is more of a security benefit than it is anything else, at least where VPN providers are concerned, it also has some very real convenience benefits to it. It allows you to get access to news and other information from other nations, which is oftentimes very important for people who live in places where such information is heavily restricted and oftentimes very unreliable.

Veronica Clyde reviews the best VPN providers at She loves to share Online Security, VPN technology and Blogging tips.