Virtual private networks (VPNs) give computer users a wide range of capabilities and benefits. For starters, VPNs allow you to securely connect to remote networks through the Internet, grant secure connections of multiple networks, and help boost your online security and privacy.
But perhaps the benefit getting the most attention as of late is a VPN’s ability to bypass any regional restrictions imposed by certain websites. The practice of geoblocking allows sites, or companies, to restrict and limit access to users for a variety of reasons. A VPN allows your Internet to route through channels which bypass these restrictions and grant unfettered connection to a desired site. For instance, a site like BBC.com restricts access to its media player to anyone outside of the United Kingdom. Though with a proper VPN setup on your computer, you have the ability to route your Internet traffic through the virtual private network to appear as if you live in the UK.
However, it isn’t BBC’s regional restriction creating waves in the headlines this summer. Rather, it’s a duo of domestic companies playing the finger-pointing game which has Internet users taking notice. For weeks Netflix and Verizon have engaged in a war of words over service quality and which company is more to blame. Verizon fired the initial salvo by putting Netflix at fault for its customers receiving poor streaming performance on their home connections. Verizon boasted it found no congestion issues in its infrastructure and blamed Netflix for not allowing its users to take advantage of the 75 Mbps FiOS connection speeds.
Netflix soon shot back by saying it was in fact Verizon’s network which was to blame for the bad streaming quality. To no surprise this outraged Verizon, which sent a cease and desist notice to Netflix and threatened to take legal action unless it stopped bad-mouthing Verizon.
If this reminds you of a classic case of schoolyard bickering, you aren’t alone.
The tumultuous back and forth got even more interesting following one Verizon customer’s alarming discovery. Colin Nederkoom — CEO of Customer.io — found his Netflix streamed at a snail-like 375 kbps on his home Verizon connection. In an attempt to avoid congested tubes and route through the quickest locations, Nederkoom decided to connect via a virtual private network. Once he connected to the VPN, he noticed he was able to stream Netflix at its maximum speed of 3,000 kbps.
The math was easy. A direct connection to Verizon resulted in speeds 10 times less than a connection through the virtual private network. It seems Netflix may have just gotten the only ammunition it needs to prove Verizon is the one to blame for providing sub-par service to its customers.
While the two corporations duke it out in the blame game we’ve got your ticket to creating your own VPN which may help increase your own streaming speeds. What follows is our comprehensive walkthrough for setting up and connecting to a virtual private network on your home computer. Customers of any Internet service provider have the ability to set up a VPN, though we can’t guarantee an uptick in streaming speed.
Setting up a virtual private network in Windows
Step 1. Find your IP address
Before you begin setting up your new VPN you’ll want to locate and write down your IP address. If you don’t know your IP address offhand, or have it written down anywhere, simply visit whatismyipaddress.com. Once there jot down the address and stash it away for later use.
Step 2. Creating a new VPN network
To begin, click on your computer’s Start menu and navigate to its Control Panel. Here you’ll want to select Network and Internet and then Network and Sharing Center on the next page.
Note: For Windows 8 users simply move your mouse over the right side of your screen to pull up the Settings bar. Click Search and type “VPN” in the window, then select Setup a VPN Connection to get to the correct page. Now input your IP address and select Connect. Your new VPN connection adds to your list of networks and once you select Connect it asks you to input your username and password.
Once inside the Network and Sharing Center click Setup a new connection or network and choose Connect to a workplace. You’ll then want to select Use my Internet connection (VPN) to begin creating the VPN server. Locate your stored IP address and input it in to the required field and hit Next.
Step 3. Connecting to the VPN Network
Input your username and password in to the correct boxes on the next page and click Connect. At this point the VPN connection begins its setup and attempts to connect.
Note: if you have issues connecting to the VPN it’s likely due to your computer’s server configuration. Contact your network administrator if you don’t have access, and make the necessary server changes via the Properties menu on the VPN connection page.