Remove Internet Limits With A VPN (Part 3)

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The main disadvantage with using a VPN is that it slows down your internet connection. This is partly because of all the encryption and decryption of internet traffic, but it’s mainly because you’re competing for bandwidth. Internet traffic is routed through servers in other countries, which lots of other people might be using at the same time. Usually paying more for the VPN service will make it faster because there is less bandwidth throttling and fewer limitations. There is also a better contention ratio, which is the number of people sharing a connection. You want to share the bandwidth with as few people as possible.

Although a VPN can be significantly slower than a normal connection, it’s worth bearing in mind that it can easily be turned off to allow you to browse and download at full speed, but then you lose the benefits, of course.

Disadvantages Of VPNs

The software is very easy to use, with a server button that displays a list of servers you can connect to and the ports. Tick a box next to the server and port you want to use, then just click the ‘Connect’ button. The UDP ports didn’t work when we tested it, probably because they require port forwarding to be set up on the router first. The lazy option is to tick the TCP port box instead, which worked fine. A check of the IP address showed it to be nothing like the real one, and Geolocation services on websites that show you where you are on a Google Map thought the PC was located somewhere in North America. Clicking the Disconnect button and restarting the web browser went back to normal operation. This is a very easy VPN solution to use, which can be turned on and off at will and it effectively hides your location. You can appear to be a resident of several different countries and it’s reasonably priced, with a 20GB a month plan costing only $3.8.

“You can appear to be a resident of several different countries”

Hotspot Shield is available in free and premium versions and is marketed as a security system for Wi-Fi hotspots. Most VPN services protect your identity and will encrypt all communications, but Hotspot Shield goes a bit further than some by providing malware protection too. No details are given, but it seems that it checks downloads and emails before sending them to your computer.

Hotspot Shield provides simple, basic software. The service is cheap and works fine

Hotspot Shield provides simple, basic software. The service is cheap and works fine

There are some pros and cons with its VPN service, and definitely a plus is the unlimited bandwidth with Hotspot Shield Elite, which was being offered at a bargain price of $30 a year when we visited the website. That’s a lot of bandwidth for very little money and it’s worth considering if you want to access US sites and services. A disadvantage of the service is that you always appear to be based in the US, which would prevent you from accessing UK sites and services when you’re abroad. Whether this limitation affects you depends on what you intend to use the VPN for.

Hotspot Shield Elite 2.67

The free version is ad-supported and an advertising banner appears at the top of the page in the web browser. It can be closed, but it’s quite irritating after a while. It’s okay if you visit one page and watch a movie, for example, because then it only pops up once and it’s much worse if you visit lots of sites and pages. The software installed for us without problems and there were hardly any controls or configuration options. You just run it and connect to the service. Wait a minute while it sorts itself out and then you’re secured, protected and appearing to be a US resident according to Geolocation services used by websites and services.

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