In some parts of the world the internet is very restricted and filters on the connection block access to certain websites and web services.
It is more common than you might think and right now I am travelling and I am at a hotel with a very limited internet service. The Wi-Fi is OK and I can access Google, but most of the internet, including this website, is blocked.
It seems that you can search the web using Google, but very little else is working. Gmail is OK, but Outlook isn’t. I can get to the Microsoft website, but not the Apple website. The place has some weird filters.
This hotel is unusually restrictive, but I have also come across odd restrictions elsewhere and one coffee place I go to has blocked Pinterest for example. It is a popular site with over 100m users, but you just cannot access it.
I cannot access this website, not even the home page, never mind update it. What can you do?
Use a VPN
The solution is to use a VPN - virtual private network. This is software that creates an encrypted connection to the internet, a sort of tunnel, that bypasses local content restrictions and allows you to access what you want.
I am writing this using a VPN to access the RAWinfopages site because the hotel has blocked most of the web, apart from Google searches. Even Bing is blocked! Without a VPN I could not work.
There is a large number of VPN providers and lots of choice for users. Many of them are good, but the VPN I use is NordVPN. I am an affiliate, but also a customer and bought a great two year deal out of my own pocket. The company has more VPN servers around the world than many rivals and the VPN software has some useful features that isn’t in some alternatives.
Run the NordVPN software and it shows a map of the world with pins. Each pin is a location and you can choose where in the world you want to be by clicking a pin. You can be in Iceland, Australia, Europe, USA and other places.
Each pin contains multiple servers, sometimes dozens, and it automatically works out the best one to connect to in the area you select. However, you can view the entire list of servers and select the one you want manually too.
Once a connection is established, you can then use web browsers, email and internet connected apps in the usual way. With NordVPN up and running, I can access RAWinfopages and update it for example, which was impossible before.
VPNs are not just for people in foreign countries with oppressive regimes that limit or spy on internet access. I’m just 100 miles from home in a hotel that is blocking most things beyond Google. The privacy and the security provided by the VPN is useful, but mostly it is just to access the web like I do at home, without restrictions.