Any time you connect to the internet, you first make a connection to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Once this connection is made, your ISP connects you to the internet so that you can visit websites or use online services such as Netflix, Hulu, or whatever route you choose to take. It’s a great system, but the problem is, anything that you do on the internet can be reviewed by your ISP.
To bypass this, you can connect with a server from a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provider. You will need to set up an account, download their software, and then connect to the server by using their tools. This connection, often referred to as a VPN tunnel, is encrypted so that your ISP is unable to review any traffic that passes between you and the VPN.
While maintaining an encrypted connection with your VPN, you are still using your ISP, but there are a couple major differences than using your normal connection. First, the ISP cannot see your traffic. Second, the only IP address the ISP sees is the one belonging to the VPN that you are currently connected to.
If you are in China, and you are using a VPN server located in Los Angeles, your IP will show your ISP that you are in Los Angeles. In other words, your ISP doesn’t have a clue what you’re doing or where you are. When they don’t know where you are, it is impossible for them to restrict your data according to your location.
One of the main drawbacks using a VPN is the loss of speed. Encryption and decryption take time, especially at the high levels used by VPNs. Then there is also the lag time generated from using distant servers. The further a server is from you, the longer it takes to get to you. This is one reason many VPN providers have so many server locations to choose from. For best results, always choose the server closest to you that will suit your needs.