My residence is outside the United States of America. I have long been envious of friends and relatives who have access and take for granted the amount of content only available to residents of the United States. Sites such as Hulu, Netflix, Vudu and others have long evaded my access. Not anymore, with the my discovery of StrongVPN, a virtual private network provider.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a standard protocol for securely connecting to specific network. The VPN tunnel created is encrypted and is only open to the VPN client and the VPN Server. A lot of organizations use VPN to have their remote employees securely connect to their corporate server without exposing the company from prying eyes. So what good is VPN to average internet users and browsers, well, by using VPN, you get a sense of privacy as your true IP is hidden behind the VPN servers. Another advantage of a VPN service is to be able to circumvent geolocating sites and be able to access sites that are normally inaccessible, unavailable and sometimes, hidden from your country.
Before going for StrongVPN, I did go with the usual free stuff out there in the internet. Tried the proxies and sites promising to give access to U.S. based sites. Mind you, some of the proxies did work, I did get access to the sites, however, none was good enough for video streaming until I came to decide that having my own server was the best route. I went around to setup a server of my own, of course, I had to convince friends and relatives to be willing to host my server. I had to contend also on maintaining the machine from another country considering that most of my friends and relatives did not know anything about servers. This was when I just googled if there were companies doing what I was planning. Voila, VPN companies came up and after much research, I finally decided to go with StrongVPN.
Why did I choose StrongVPN, the following list is the one that made me decide to go with them.
- Price is right (US$55/year comes around to US$4.58/month)
- Has a lot of servers (221 servers in 19 countries, but I only U.S. And they have 50+ servers in the US.) This is a very important factor, as connection from your ISP (your location) to the VPN servers will impact your performance.
- Good reviews in the net
- Has a working router solution, you definitely want this if you want to use your VPN on your PS3, Xbox, Roku, etc., however, this would be for the more advanced user.
- Has a trial period, so you can really test it out.
- Has a good support, always available
- Has a very active forum, learned a lot on the forums.
I did have to upgrade my internet connection to the fastest I could get for video streaming. Currently, I have a 3mbps connection, not the best in the world but the best this country currently offers. So in reality, I get about a 2.45 – 2.66 mbps real world speeds without VPN. VPN does affect your speed, this the importance of choosing the correct VPN server to connect to. Fortunately, StrongVPN has more than enough servers to choose from. Furthermore, I am using a commercial router, an Asus RT-N16 with Tomato firmware so it might not have enough CPU power/memory for faster connections. With a good VPN connection, I get about 1.98-2.03 mbps, good enough for a single video stream.
So there, I now have access to Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and a lot more. So if you are like me and want to get these services, click on the StrongVPN and start watching.
Note: For the technical minded, you might want to read my How to setup OpenVPN on you own server.
Figure 1. Hulu before US IP
Figure 2. Hulu with US IP (5 minutes later)