If you’re reading this, I assume you already have a Netflix account and are familiar with its massive popularity. While there are certainly many perks to having a Netflix account, there’s one downside that pretty much everyone hates: when Netflix doesn’t work. Ever since the company went public, its stock price took a nosedive, and it’s never really recovered. Now that we’re in the middle of April, which is usually when new shows are released, it’s even more obvious that Netflix isn’t what it used to be.
When Netflix stops working, it’s majorly frustrating. Many people have reported that after they activated their VPN and tried to watch a show, they would get an error message that the content was restricted or unavailable. Most VPNs have some sort of kill switch that protects your account from being accessed when you’re not using it, so it’s not like the network is truly shut down. But it sure feels like it when you can’t use a service you’ve paid for.
It wasn’t just Netflix. Similar stories emerged about other streaming platforms, like HULU and STREAMIT, where viewers reported interruptions in service when they used VPNs or tried to access content during mandatory updates. And then there’s the whole debacle with Crackle, whose content was trapped within a Netflix app for nearly a year before they were finally unbound. In short, a lot of content you rely on isn’t really available unless you live in a country where Netflix isn’t blocked. And in some cases, like with Crackle and HULU, this is because the companies behind the streaming platforms were bought out by larger companies that subsequently limited the amount of content you could access.
Why Are People Getting Caught In The Crosshairs?
Before we answer that question, let’s establish something important: VPNs aren’t inherently bad. In fact, they can be quite useful when used correctly. It’s important to understand what makes these devices tick in order to understand why they’re being targeted when you use them. With that in mind, here are some things you need to know.
1. VPNs Don’t Slow Down Your Internet Connection
VPNs don’t slow down your internet connection. Not even a little bit. They work the other way around, in fact. All you need to do in order to enjoy Netflix is install the app and connect it to the network. Once you do that, you’ll be able to access all of Netflix’s content without any restrictions or interruptions. Think of it as if Netflix magically appeared in your browser window without the need for an app.
2. VPNs Unambiguously Point To The Country You’re In
The great thing about VPNs is that, in theory, you shouldn’t have any trouble accessing content that’s not available in your country. As long as you’re connected to a VPN server located in a country where your ISP doesn’t block specific websites or services, you should be able to access pretty much anything you want. And if you can’t, you can at least try a different server located in a country where your ISP doesn’t block content. The trouble is that not all VPNs are created equal, and a lot of the ones that are popular rely on shady business practices that log your activity and sell your data to the highest bidder. So even though you’re trying to access content that’s not available in your country, you have no guarantee that your request will be granted. Plus, some VPNs are more than capable of blocking content that’s not authorized for viewing in your country. For example, the U.S. government has sanctioned the use of VPNs in restrictive countries like China and Russia where government controls over the internet are stringent.
3. VPNs Can Help Ensure Your Data Is Protected
It’s important to protect your data when you’re using public Wi-Fi, but it’s virtually impossible to do so when you don’t own a VPN. When you connect to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or airport, the security of your data is completely at the mercy of the Wi-Fi provider. If they don’t like your looks or you ask the wrong sort of question, your data could be vulnerable. And if a hacker or criminal gets ahold of your credit card information, they can wreak serious havoc with your financial future. A VPN encrypts all of your data and gives it a new identity before it leaves the server. Then, when you connect to public Wi-Fi, the data is unreadable to everyone (including the Wi-Fi provider). Think of it as a secure digital shield that protects your data from falling into the wrong hands. VPNs are an essential component of a secure internet experience.
4. VPNs Help Keep Your Identity Private
The final, and perhaps most important, reason why people are getting in the crosshairs of VPNs is that they help keep your identity private. A VPN can be employed to gain access to restricted websites and services, to unblock content, or to protect your privacy on the web. The great thing about VPNs is they give you complete control over your identity, allowing you to be whoever you want to be online. For example, you could use a VPN to access Netflix from work, since both services are geo-blocked in most countries. Or you could use BitTorrent to download Game of Thrones episodes, which is also restricted in most countries. While these services could potentially be used for illegal activity, at least you feel like you have complete control over what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. In the case of BitTorrent, for example, you would need to connect to an untrusted server and give them all of your personal information in order to use the service. With a VPN, you could encrypt all of your web traffic and log in with a nickname if you want to feel extra secure. Plus, you can use different servers all the time to gain access to different content, further ensuring your anonymity.
What’s The Buzz About The Newest VPN?
Netflix wasn’t the only one with a data breach. Last year, hundreds of millions of credit cards and other personal information were exposed due to a hack on the mobile security company Stripe. Fortunately, the data wasn’t tied to any one individual. But just because the data breach wasn’t as big as Netflix’s doesn’t mean it wasn’t concerning. If this could happen to one of the most respected companies in tech, it’s obvious that something is deeply wrong with the way we think about security online. It would be the equivalent of Sony, Intel, and Microsoft all getting hacked in the same year.
What’s more, this was just the beginning. As more and more people become comfortable sharing more and more of their personal information online, we’re bound to see a huge spike in the number of hacks and data breaches. And that’s what worries us.
The best solution, of course, is to stop shoving our personal data into the web. It’s a tempting offer to simply stop using our credit cards and bank accounts online, but that’s not a realistic solution. It’s not like we can just give up our smartphones or Wi-Fi routers either. These are all essential parts of our lives. We need better security measures.
Luckily, there are solutions. The best VPNs offer all the perks we’ve talked about and are continuing to evolve to protect our data and ensure our privacy. In addition to encrypting our data, many VPNs give us the option of logging our activity and banning unauthorized activity. They also frequently update their servers to stay one step ahead of hackers and maintain the highest level of security possible.
Getting in the habit of using a VPN isn’t a bad idea. It’s highly recommended that you use a VPN when you’re online to ensure your data is always protected and that you’re always able to enjoy the content you want to see. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to buy a VPN, maybe the recent scandals that have rocked the industry will convince you.