Here’s a frustrating situation that many people find themselves in. They commit to going tens of thousands of dollars into debt to attend a college and, once they get there, they find that the college has taken it upon themselves to decide what students may and may not see on their Internet connections. There is a way around this and there are some good strategies to make it affordable.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It essentially creates a tunnel over the Internet that only exists between your computer and the computer you’re trying to access. If that computer happens to be running a restricted website, for instance, the ISP—your school, in this case—cannot tell what you’re trying to access. This means that their firewall will not be able to prevent you from accessing anything you want.
The way it works is through encryption. The information you send is encrypted. The firewalls and other control technology that schools use needs to be able to tell what site you’re requesting in order to block you. The encrypted requests you send over the Internet cannot be read by this technology, so you’re not blocked.
VPN services are not expensive and, if you’re good with how you manage your bandwidth, you can even purchase enough service to last you all school year in one shot.
VPN services generally come in block and unmetered forms. Block accounts allow you to purchase a specific amount of bandwidth and to keep using the VPN service until you’ve expended that entire amount. The unlimited accounts are generally purchased on a monthly subscription basis and allow you to download or upload as much as you want over the VPN. Either is very fast, if you have a good provider.
If you only need your VPN once and a while, consider getting a block account. This way, you can budget out exactly how much you use and limit the VPN usage to the point where it will last for a long time. If you like to use your VPN all the time for security purposes, get an unlimited account. This allows you to leave it on as much as you want and to enjoy total privacy.
A VPN service is a great way to get more freedom out of your network. After all, you’re paying enough to be in school that you should at least have free Internet access!