Switching Your Virtual Location - VPNs - Project ENE

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Switching Your Virtual Location – VPNs

Most of the biggest web sites on the internet lookup your location whenever you visit them. They do this for a variety of reasons but mostly to control what you can do or see on their sites. For example it used to be very easy to buy from a different country version of Amazon than you’re own. Personally I used to buy lots of stuff from the French site – Amazon.FR and get it delivered to the United Kingdom, often it was much cheaper than buying from the UK version. Nowadays it’s more difficult, try and use a different version of Amazon and you’ll get redirected back to your own locale.

When you connect to these sites, your IP address is recorded and then your location identified, this is then used to determine your experience. Unfortunately often this goes beyond simple redirection and in many cases you simply can’t access many sites or use them at all depending on your location. Companies like Netflix and Hulu will actually use your location to determine if you can use their site at all. So if you’re outside the US you won’t be able to watch Hulu online for example same goes for sites like Pandora, NBC and ABC all which are Geo-restricted to the USA.

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So what can you do, if the site you want is blocked to your physical location? Well the solution lies with your IP address, although you can’t change it – you can hide your real IP address. This is actually quite easy to do if you route your connection through an intermediate server run as a proxy or VPN. So for example you can connect through a fast USA proxy and you’ll effectively look like you are based in the USA. This means that all the US only web sites will be accessible, connect through an American based proxy service and you’ll effectively look as you are in the US.

It actually works in any country and on any website, it just depends on using a proxy in the correct location. So for example the BBC iPlayer application only works in the UK, but by using a proxy you can actually get iPlayer USA working without a problem. Now a selection of software applications have been developed which allow access to a network of proxy servers all based in different countries. So you would pick a specific server in the country you need, choose a Uk proxy for things like the BBC and then a Frecnh one for M6 replay and so on.

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