What is a VPN and why should I use one at home?

A VPN or virtual private network is a method used to connect two networks together securely. It provides a secure way for your data to travel through what is known as a tunnel. Some of the most common uses for VPN’s are used in the working world where people working from home can connect to the office network via VPN so they have access to documents and all those other work related things. They have since evolved and are much more common place and have become very popular for the home user. Why would you need a VPN at home? I am going to point some of these out to you now.

The first reason I choose to use a VPN is security. I don’t trust my ISP, I don’t trust them at all. By using a VPN service, all your traffic goes straight from your computer through your ISP in an encrypted tunnel straight to your VPN server and then onwards to the big wide internet world. This means that your ISP has no idea about anything you do on your connection.

Many countries these days throttle and shape your internet traffic. Some people are targeted unfairly for making use of P2P and torrents and have them shaped and throttled out of existance. By using a VPN this is usually enough to bypass that. Not many ISP’s throttle and shape VPN traffic and because of this you will get much better speed from those downloads. This is all dependant of the VPN service you make use of and take note, some services disallow torrents and P2P so bare that in mind.

Geotargeting is a pain in the ass. Many sites help you out by looking at your IP and working out your country and giving you the site in the correct language and currency. Others like Hulu.com use this to stop anyone outside of the States from watching their shows. You might make use of VPN services with presence in multiple countries and you can easily bypass these filters.

Downloading, with ISP’s and county laws changing rapidly, ISP’s are monitoring everything you download. They know what sites you visit, what content you download and what services (bittorrent, Limewire) you use. They can then follow up with you if they feel that you are in breach. By using a VPN service, many of which only log a small amount of data, this becomes impossible and you can usually rest assured that no one will know what you are doing on the big wide web.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment!

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  • Wil says:

    thanks for the info, can you recommend a vpn service for home use? I have six PCs at home (macs and Windows) and would like to all go through a vpn tunnel rather than having to get a service that requires an account per device (which can get expensive), any thoughts?

    tx, Wil

  • James says:

    Hi Wil

    You have 2 choices here, firstly you can use Hide My Ass VPN which will allow 2 simultaneous connections so you would still require 3 accounts which is not ideal. The other method would be getting a router that can establish a VPN connection and then all your machines can can route through that. This is of course way more technical. If you have the skills you can also set up one of the machines to act as a gateway and all machines will connect through it, but again, this is a pretty technical setup. It is a pity it is not locked down by IP rather than having connections.

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