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VPNs, or by their full name Virtual Private Networks, were initially conceived as a technology allowing companies with remote offices and field staff the advantages of working on their technology systems as if they were all actually based in the same physical location.
Despite this heavyweight origin, many people particularly in the ex-pat community, know of the VPN as the way they can ’cheat’ the internet into thinking they are online in the U.K. and thereby gain access to services such as the BBC iPlayer, and retain the comfort zone familiarity of Google searches defaulting to UK English etc.
There are various methods of obtaining a VPN, and also one or two other similar technologies that achieve the same result.
- Software VPN.
For many people the software VPN is the default choice, and often branded as ‘Ex-Pat TV Access’, it is fair to guess that many users are blissfully ignorant as to the tech behind their daily dose of UK soaps.
These VPNs have to be installed on each device, e.g. laptop, P.C., Tablet or phone. A good tip here is to try a few before you commit. VPNs have a slow down effect on internet which, combined with the often slow speeds in Ibiza, can make live streaming of TV impossible, defeating one of the main benefits. The amount of slow down varies hugely, and our advice is to avoid the free VPNs if possible. They are often advert and spyware ridden and can quickly cripple previously healthy systems.
- Hardware VPN.
A better solution, certainly for a settled household with several devices all connecting to the net, is to add a hardware VPN router. This has several advantages, perhaps the biggest of which is for Sky TV viewers. In recent years Sky have put more and more of their channel and viewing options under on demand services that require the Sky box to be connected to the net. Plus it in to your Spanish internet and you are telling Sky you are using their service illegally (the world of ex-pat VPNs is not one for those who would be unable to sleep nights in the knowledge they are breaking the law). Unlike laptops etc. there is no way of setting up a software VPN on your Sky box, but the VPN router does exactly that—as shown on the infographic sitting between your regular router and everything you use to connect.
Martin at Satellite Solutions offers a hardware VPN router for 220€ which includes the 100€ annual subscription. Given that decent software VPNs cost in the region of 100€ per year, any home with multiple gadgets using VPNs will also find the box saves them money too.
Chances are that however simple an infographic we use (and we do think this is a particularly clear one), and as non-techy as we try to explain it, there will still be some readers saying “yes, brilliant, we want our Sky box sets, but have no idea what you are talking about you sad geeky man, just tell me who to pay and what button to press.” Fear not, as for all those happy to think VPN is something to do with girls wearing snug skirts, Martin will come out and install the box for what we thought was a very modest extra 30€. We think he deserves a cup of tea too at that price.
All that remains is to apologise to our technophobe readers— we could have told you Martin would come do it all for you at the start and avoided you having to read this whole boring article, but if we did that, when would you ever learn?
Next week; Skyping for grandparents, we ask is witchcraft involved?