I recently took a trip to Indonesia and thought I could catch up on some work in the hotel. I was using the Wi-Fi and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get into YNOT Cam to edit my articles.
It. Just. Would. Not. Load.
I sat there at my desk cursing the “bad service,” when suddenly a screen popped up on my browser that the site was being blocked.
I stared at the notice startled… blocked?
Apparently, “they” were watching me and had deemed YNOT Cam to be inappropriate.
Who is “they?” I have no idea, but I’m sure it’s a bunch of uptight angry people who want everyone to think and act the same as them. I was still confused though. What was wrong with our sweet little Rated PG site that would cause “them” to hate on it so much?
I remembered that Indonesia had strict anti-pornography laws and had banned it from the Internet back in 2008. And although YNOT Cam doesn’t run any porn whatsoever we’re definitely in the industry and proud to be so. Apparently, that’s enough to raise the red flag.
It made me mad. Really mad. And it made it impossible to do my job.
Furious, I ranted to another journalist friend of mine asking her what she did when things like this happened. She smiled smugly and said, “They don’t happen to me.” That’s when she told me about VPNs.
In simple terms, a VPN or a Virtual Private Network, hides your Internet address and encrypts the connection. This means you can go to Indonesia and surf the web and their censors are none the wiser because they don’t know where your device is located so they’re unable to spy on you.
A VPN also has a lot of other benefits not limited to but including:
- Improving security. Ever use public Wi-Fi to send confidential information like logging into a bank account? Me too, and it’s risky! Hackers can easily steal your personal info unless you have a VPN.
- Fair Pricing. Many online stores show different prices based on location. If you have a VPN the seller has no idea where you live so you can get the best deals.
- Blocking of Malicious Sites and ads. Not all VPN services can help with this so make sure you find one that does because it’s a great perk.
- Ability to watch your favorite shows overseas. Sure, this is kind of petty, but it’s still pretty cool. If you’ve got a subscription to Hulu in the USA for example, it’s not going to work in the UK. But, with a VPN you need only connect to their USA server, and you can watch Pam and Tommy anywhere in the world.
- Protection on multiple Devices. Many VPN companies will also protect your phone, iPad, laptop, etc. all for one price so you’re fully protected without shelling out extra dough.
All this sounds great you say, sign me up!
I agree but there are a few downsides.
VpnMentor stated that “it’s normal for your connection speed to decrease a little bit” because it has to travel further to reach the VPN servers and takes several seconds to encrypt and decrypt the traffic. In addition, some sites block VPNs, and that can be annoying so for me, I only use my VPN when I’m on public Wi-Fi or traveling abroad, as I experienced both issues.
There’s a lot of sites that sell VPNs, I got mine from NordVPN but they’re not the only game in town. For more detailed information on what a VPN does, why you may need one and how it works, check out the information their site, then do some shopping around!
Alyssa Collins hails from Minnesota, where snowy days were the perfect excuse to stay warm inside and write. Over the years, she turned that joy into a career and has authored numerous articles for various publications (under pen names). Email Alyssa via firstname.lastname@example.org.