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Surf Blocked Sites On Mac At Work, School, And Overseas
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Surf Blocked Sites on Mac at Work, School, And Overseas

No matter how cool you think you are, there's some sites that you just can't get on your Mac. Don't worry, it doesn't have to do with the fact that you use a Mac - it has to do with the network you're on, and sometimes you're IP address. To surf blocked sites on Mac you need to become part of a private network or change your IP address. These are actually one in the same. Here's what I mean.

Network Restrictions

When you connect to a network that you don't run, you've got to follow their rules. You might be using your smartphone to surf the net at work, using your own laptop to access school wifi, or signing onto a shared computer at a cafe or bar. The network is probably going to block some sites. To unblock them, you need to change networks, right? But how can you use the internet from one network, but the rules of another? Virtual private networks.

IP Restrictions

Sometimes it's the IP range you're in that's getting you blocked by web servers. The servers may block an IP range due to spam. I know that when I'm in China I get blocked from lots of sites because Chinese IPs are infamous for spam. Other times, all non-local IP addresses may be blocked because of distribution rights to materials on the site. Famous examples are Hulu and Netflix that require you to have a US IP to access their site, or in Netflix's case, you need an IP from approved country (Latin American IP for Latin American Netflix, and British IP for UK Netflix). So how to do you change your IP address to surf these blocked sites? Virtual private networks.

Virtual private Networks

Otherwise known as VPNs, these are used to hide your real IP, no matter what network you're on, and replace it with a virtual IP address from a network of your choice. They're often used to gain privacy online, or to surf blocked sites on Mac, Windows, Linux, and smartphones. Devices using these operating systems come with 'VPN clients', which means that they're able to use VPN connection. Though internet TVs and gaming consoles like PS3, Wii, and Xbox can now connect to the internet too, they are not able to use VPN connections directly. You need to add hardware called a VPN router or route your laptop with a VPN connection. That's another story for another time.

The point is that you can choose your network, and therefore you network rules. If you want to access the Pirate Bay from the Netherlands where it's blocked, choose a Russian network where it's not blocked. If you need to access a news site at work but it's been banned, choose a US network (or your country) to unblock your work network's restrictions. Of course country specific content like TV and movie streaming can be unblocked in this manner as well.

VPN for Mac

Installing a VPN on your Mac is easy. Like I said before, Mac come with a VPN client. You'll be able to install the PPTP VPN software very easily. This is actually the fastest version of VPNs because it doesn't need much bandwidth to operate the encryption and tunneling protocol. L2TP and OpenVPN are both types of encryption upgrades and private tunneling improvements, so they'll use more bandwidth, and on some networks, you'll notice a bit of lag. Standard VPN services will have all three VPN protocols available.

Is L2TP or OpenVPN better? I prefer OpenVPN because that's what I've always used, but some may prefer the tech specs of L2TP. If you want to surf blocked sites, it doesn't really matter, and you may want to experiment with both to see what works better. Those concerned with privacy may prefer OpenVPN because it uses SSL encryption that can be upgraded to 256-bit or higher. For unblocking websites on your network, privacy may not be as high a priority as browsing and download speed, so you many prefer PPTP.


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