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Are You Getting Filtered, Geo-Blocked or Throttled by Your ISP?
Maybe you’re not aware of your ISP’s content filter setting on your router, or maybe it’s locked on. There is a way around it, keep reading…
Also, geo-blocking is when servers restrict access to some content to only certain countries, blocking other countries.
ISP throttling is when your ISP (Internet Service Provider) monitors (spies on) your Internet usage and limits your bandwidth of certain types of content, like video streaming.
Not to mention, ISPs have been known to report suspicious traffic patterns to government agencies… not something I would want to risk!
All of these issues can be resolved by using a VPN service. With a VPN, all your traffic is encrypted so your ISP can’t tell what you’re streaming or where you’re streaming it from. Plus, you can choose your own location so servers think you are accessing them from a different country, which is very useful to access content that’s blocked in your country.
Data Privacy Day is an ever increasing concern in today’s online world, and a VPN is becoming more and more important to home users. Businesses have utilised the technology for years to protect themselves, why not you?. So what is a VPN and how does it enhance privacy and security? Let’s dive in.
VPN stands for virtual private network. The network part, well, that’s easy. It’s basically a bunch of computers that share various resources. Private? That one’s pretty self-explanatory. The “virtual” bit is where things get a little more complicated.
When you connect to a VPN, all the data that gets sent from your device to the private network at the other end (and back) is “encapsulated.” Each packet of data gets put inside another packet — think putting a letter into an envelope to keep its contents from being read during transport. The envelope could still be opened, though. That’s why organizations like the CIA put tamper-proof tape over the flap. With a VPN connection, encryption is the tamper-proof tape. Some VPNs use SSL for encryption (just like secure websites do). Others might use IPSec or PPTP.
The end result is a sort of network-within-a-network, but because of encapsulation and encryption your connection to a VPN remains private even though the data you’re transmitting is moving over the very public Internet.
Below is a simple graphic explaining what a VPN connection looks like.
I personally use IPVanish VPN. They have very fast networks and over 500 servers all over the globe so it has minimal effect on your internet speed… an extremely important consideration.
Why Use A VPN?
Remember how your browser’s private browsing mode only kept traces of your activity off your computer? A VPN can actually keep your ISP, cyber criminals and would-be eavesdroppers in the dark about what you’re doing. Take a look back at the above diagram: the ISP can see the tunnel but they can’t see what’s going on inside the tunnel.
This also comes in handy at places like a hotel, airport, or coffee shop. You’re putting yourself at risk any time you use their unencrypted public WiFi connections. If you connect to a VPN immediately after, however, you can surf safely.
Some VPN providers also allow their users to spoof their physical location. They might do that in order to access geo-restricted content on video streaming sites. A VPN connection can also help you get around ISP throttling and protect you from invasive tracking while you surf.
There are other benefits to using a VPN, too, but anonymity is not one of them. Using a VPN enhances your privacy and security, but you should never assume that your activity couldn’t be traced back to you if someone really, really wanted to do it.
Here are 4 good reasons why you should use a VPN for your Kodi streaming TV box, PC or stick.
If you are using unofficial Kodi add-ons to stream TV shows and movies for free, I really recommend you use a VPN. I personally use IPVanish VPN when using Kodi.
Don’t let your ISP (Internet Service Provider) see and track everything you’re streaming and from where. A VPN will encrypt all of your data in and out of your Kodi box or even your entire home (see below about DD-WRT routers). It also passes your data through a VPN server anywhere in the world… you can choose.
This makes your ISP’s peering eyes blind to the contents and source of your Internet traffic. With ISPs sending letters to people who are pirating content, this reason is becoming more important than ever.
The other side of the coin is being able to browse, download, and stream anonymously. Not only is your ISP blind to your traffic, but the server you download from is blind to who you are and where you’re from.
Your IP address can’t be tracked by the servers you’re downloading from since the servers just see the VPN server that the traffic is routing through.
Some Kodi streaming servers may be geo-blocking, meaning they are only going to serve streams to users in a certain set of countries.
With a VPN, you can choose a server in the country of your choice, and then those servers will think you are from there, and they will serve the content accordingly.
This is a huge issue for those using mainstream paid streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. They are notorious for having a ton of their content geo-blocked to allow for only certain countries due to all the partnership they have and all the agreements they must abide by. Fortunately for you, using a VPN is a great way to get around that.
Update: Netflix and Hulu have wised up to the VPN workarounds and have started detecting the use of VPNs and blocking them. But, I’m ok with that because I can find just about anything in Kodi add-ons.
Another popular use for VPNs is getting access to new releases before everyone else.
For instance, if there’s a brand new video game coming out and it’s releasing at midnight on a certain day, if you’re in the United States, you can set your VPN to connect to somewhere in Asia to get access to download and play the game almost a day earlier than the rest of your friends.
Cord-Cutting with Kodi Streaming Add-ons
If you’re a cord-cutter like me and ditched your cable or satellite bill, you’re probably aware of how many options there are out there for streaming TV shows and movies.
Besides the mainstream paid streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Apple TV, and Google Play Video, you’ve probably discovered the holy grail of streaming… Kodi, the open source home theater software that you can run on just about any device.
Now, Kodi by itself is pretty basic and really only lets you play your own local media files and stream video from a selection of official add-ons.
However, a whole world of unlimited video streaming opens up to you when you start looking at unofficial add-ons.
Unofficial add-ons are developed by people who have no association with the Kodi core team, but they write add-ons that are intended to work on Kodi. There is a vast amount of unofficial add-ons you can select from (we all have our favorites), and the decision to install those add-ons and what you do with those add-ons is up to you (legally and ethically speaking).
A Note About US and EU Laws Regarding Streaming
The general consensus is that streaming is not illegal according to US and EU law, and it would only be illegal if you download and/or sell the content for profit.
While that might be true in the law today, there are lots of large media organizations lobbying to change the law to crack down on streaming cutting into their profits. I would rather err on the side of caution because we don’t know what will happen in the future. I don’t want my detailed traffic activity logged on my ISP’s servers if it doesn’t have to be.
Find the Right Kodi VPN Provider
There are a ton of Kodi VPN providers out there. Where do you even start to pick the best one?
I can help you out there by saying that I personally use and recommend IPVanish VPN. It works great out of the box with a one-click setup. If you want to dig deeper, it has a nice interface for you to be in complete control over your server selection and a bunch of other advanced settings.
IPVanish is one of the biggest and best VPN providers. With over 500 servers around the world, you shouldn’t notice any drop in speed while keeping you safe online.
Also, keep in mind that IPVanish comes with a 7-day money-back guarantee. So, try it out and make sure it works well for you. If it doesn’t do what you want, you have a full week to decide and cancel to get your money back.
How to Know if the VPN is Really Working?
Before connecting to your VPN, go to https://myiplocation.org and see what IP and location it says. This is how the Internet sees you without a VPN. The location is usually very approximate to somewhere in your city, usually where your ISP is based.
Now, connect to your VPN and then refresh that same website in your browser. You should see the IP address and location change to match the server that you have selected in the VPN app. This is how the Internet sees you when you’re connected to your VPN.