Do you need to parody your site? VPN can help
While the classic use case for VPNs is to hide your IP address and prevent your ISP and other hackers from monitoring your online activities, this is not the only reason. Every once in a while, you may need to appear like you’re in a different country without leaving the comfort of your home. Perhaps you are looking to evade some form of censorship or access a local copy of a website. Maybe you just want to watch a foreign version of Netflix. Whatever your needs, a VPN is an excellent option for location spoofing.
Recently, I received a message from a Patagonia based reader with only one such problem. It appears that web traffic has been blocked due to its location. From our southern reader, edited brevity and specificity:
“When I go online, websites say I come from Argentina, but some services won’t respond because of my location. Now, I also have a website hosted by a Swiss provider. If I control my domain in Switzerland, can I somehow connect my computer to the site and see That all my movements come from Switzerland?”
The answer to the specific question of the reader is a bit complicated, but the solution to the general problem is very simple: get a VPN.
What is a VPN?
Quick update: When you switch on the VPN, it creates an encrypted connection between your computer and a server controlled by the VPN company. It transmits data to a server, protecting it from prying eyes along the way, and then it goes out on the internet as usual. Anyone watching will find it difficult to track your movements across the back of the web to you, as your IP address will be hidden. This is important, because one of the easiest ways to derive a person’s physical location is by looking at their IP address.
Most of the people want to connect to this VPN server physically in close proximity to the real place. This usually results in better speed, which is what most users are concerned about. But if you connect to a VPN server that’s looking forward, you’re effectively browsing the web as if you were sitting on top of that server. This is the trick that allows you to access streaming content in other countries. Streaming services see your traffic coming from the VPN server, and group you with all other viewers coming from the same region.
Hide and seek online
Our reader needs to get a VPN with servers in the area in which they would like their network traffic to originate. Then they simply have to toggle the VPN on. That’s it! NS slight More detailed instructions To get started, our story on how to set up and use a VPN is an excellent resource.
However, finding a VPN that fits your particular situation can be a bit more complicated. You will first need to find a VPN with servers in the country you want. Most VPN services list their servers somewhere on their websites. But in practice, just getting support for a country may not be enough. You may find that you are unable to access the website or service you want due to mysterious network reasons. You may also need a more specific region than just an entire country – accessing the web from a random location within a large country like Canada, for example, may put you far from where you want it to be.
Some VPNs let you specify which servers and sometimes even cities that you wish to connect to. Below are all the VPN services that we have tested that let you choose between specific servers in a particular country.
Express VPN, 94 countries
CyberGhost, 90 countries
VPNArea, 65 countries
Windscribe VPN, 61 countries
NordVPN, 59 countries
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, 57 Countries
Surfshark VPN, 55 countries
ProtonVPN, 54 countries
IPVanish, 52 countries
Mullvad VPN, 36 countries
IVPN, 31 countries
Note that you do not need a VPN with bone One country that covers only countries that need available. I also mention HMA VPN, as it covers 190 countries, by far the most of any service I’ve tested. HMA VPN, however, does not let you choose specific servers. It also makes extensive use of virtual servers that are configured to appear as if they are in one country but are actually located in another. Most of the time, this is not a problem, but it is important to know.
Using a VPN in this way comes with some potential drawbacks. Some sites and services may also scan your site as part of their security measures. Many banks, for example, may require you to provide additional authentication if they see that you are logging in from a new or unusual location. Some sites may block you outright if they detect what appears to be VPN data, because the bad guys also know how useful a VPN can be.
Ideally, you can use a free VPN to test sites to make sure the experience works the way you want it to. Unfortunately, most free VPNs limit your choice of servers, making it difficult to test for this specific issue. Additionally, almost every VPN service requires you to enter a credit card number or create an account, even if they offer a free trial period.
Recommended by our editors
Note that some VPNs sell access to dedicated IP addresses. Depending on the service, these may be in a variety of countries. A dedicated IP will only act on your traffic through it and hopefully make it look less weird than the VPN server and therefore less likely to be blocked.
Some quick criteria to consider when shopping for a VPN: The average monthly VPN subscription cost is $10.11, and the average annual subscription cost is $68.69. If the VPN charges above average, make sure you get something useful in return. Also, you will always save money with the annual subscription; But again, I’d recommend starting with a short-term (or free!) subscription to test out the service before committing any longer.
Your host may be different
The second part of the reader’s question is about using their website host to redirect their traffic. This is partially possible. You can, in fact, host your own VPN. However, any web host will likely have specific expectations about how they will use their service. They probably won’t allow, or at least appreciate, your use of a website’s dedicated server to redirect your web traffic. They likely have specific safeguards in place to prevent this.
If rolling out your own VPN is your goal, I recommend using a service like DigitalOcean to rent a server. Once your server is up and running, you can deploy your VPN. Many DIY VPNs are available, but I will mention Outline VPN from Alphabet, as I am very familiar with it. I’ve never had any trouble setting up and using my VPN this way, but I haven’t maintained it for long. While it was easy, I was never sure if I was using it correctly or in the safest way. I’d rather pay a little pro to run my VPN.
Browse better through VPNs
Most of the time, people think of VPNs as a tool to hide online activities. Our reader, however, has the unique case of being excluded from the services they need simply because of where their IP is located. It’s a reminder that technology is just a tool and can often do much more than marketing suggests.
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