It’s common practice for school and university network administrators to block access to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, as well as streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. Torrenting on university WIFI networks is something students can usually only dream about.
The desire behind this is to allow students to focus on their education. There are also bandwidth usage considerations – if everyone were to download or stream a video, the network would become congested relatively quickly.
But such applications are still essential to our lives – Facebook is important to our connection to the world around us, and students find PDF versions of textbooks via torrent. While we do not condone the unauthorized use of copyrighted material, it is important that students take full advantage of the Internet. Restricting access defeats the purpose of a project whose main goal is to break down information barriers and bring the world closer together.
The easiest way to get around your school’s restrictions is to use a VPN. VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, is powerful software that hides your current location and makes it appear as if you are accessing the Internet from another location. It does this by encrypting Internet traffic to and from your device and transmitting it through a proxy server at a location of your choice.
PrivateVPN is the first premium provider on my list. You can test the full feature set with a 7-day free trial with unlimited data and bandwidth. One week of free VPN access is enough to protect your mobile device while traveling, or for new VPN users to try it out.
OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2/IPSec, and L2TP protocols are available to protect the integrity of data transmitted over a network connection. PrivateVPN is based in Sweden and never stores traffic logs or personally identifiable information. Your data is also protected by the country’s strict privacy protocols.
Unlock streaming services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer with lightning-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth for a seamless viewing experience. Plus, you can watch movies for hours and have unlimited data at your disposal.
Nord VPN is one of the best choices on this list because it offers double data encryption, zero logging, and solid security. Nord VPN is based in Panama, which is also good for your privacy. Its custom desktop application includes a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
One license provides six simultaneous connections, and you can order some additional goodies like dedicated shared static and dynamic IPs. P2P is enabled and streaming is seamless for most sites.
All initial purchases are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee. A month with NordVPN costs $11.95, while an annual subscription is a bargain at $69.
ExpressVPN is often listed as one of our top-rated VPN providers. The service has it all: more than 2,000 fast servers with above-average speeds in 148 locations in 94 countries. It also offers excellent native mobile and desktop clients, as well as browser extensions and DNS content sharing for accessing a wide range of streaming services.
There’s also P2P support and plenty of easy-to-follow material to help you get started, and 24/7 live customer support is available to answer any questions you may have. Security and privacy are top-notch, with 256-bit encryption and a “zero-knowledge” DNS solution, support for multiple protocols, and a clear no-documentation policy.
The only real downside is that there’s no free plan or trial period, but if you’re not satisfied, you get a 30-day return policy. Granted, ExpressVPN is not the cheapest VPN provider, but you can get this service with an affordable annual plan (which includes three months of additional fees).
Unlock everything and protect everything with CyberGhost. This is undoubtedly the fastest growing VPN in the world. In fact, this VPN has grown from just 3,000 servers to over 6,500 servers in a short period of time.
Also, if you want to unblock websites and maintain privacy at school, CyberGhost is a pretty good choice. Speaking of security features: CyberGhost 7 offers synchronized connections, 256-bit encryption, a zero-logging policy, and a bunch of other great features.
Hotspot Shield is one of our favorites on this list because they offer something for everyone – if you need a free VPN, Hotspot Shield has a package for you. The basic package gives you free VPN access, but that means you’ll have to deal with in-app ads and occasional slowdowns. That said, there is a premium package that gives you more features, faster internet speeds, and removes annoying ads. Hotspot Shield, like the other VPNs on this list, keeps you pretty secure with a 256-bit AES encryption key.
Private Internet AccessVPN
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a firm favorite in the privacy community. PIA offers impeccable AES-256 encryption, obfuscation (stealth), and a built-in kill switch to create a secure network that easily breaks through restrictive networks and allows you to use the Internet safely. A global network of fast servers provides users with excellent geo-spoofing capabilities and unlocks content from Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer and Amazon Prime.
In addition to excellent security, it offers a court-proven zero-logging policy, which means that PIA offers one of the most private and secure VPN on the market. PIA also offers 24-hour customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee. With a budget-friendly price and 10 simultaneous connections, it’s a great VPN for schools and families.
Surfshark is one of the most secure VPNs on the market with a no-logging policy, meaning your data cannot be shared or sold. However, one of the main advantages of Surfshark, especially for students, is that you can connect an unlimited number of devices to one account, which is a great benefit for any tight student. The only downside is that Surfshark is a bit slower than a regular connection, but that’s offset by the fact that it’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my school know I’m using a VPN?
Schools can’t always tell if you’re using a VPN, but even if they could, the school’s IT administrator can only see when computers are accessing their network, not what they’re doing.
Does Netflix block VPNs?
Yes, Netflix blocks access to its servers with a few different VPNs, but with the right VPN, you can access any streaming service.
Do I need a VPN when I travel?
Yes, you definitely need a VPN when you travel! Traveling is one of the most important times to use a VPN, as travelers without mobile service abroad tend to hop from one public wifi to another, making them a perfect target for data thieves. You may also need to use a VPN to get around government restrictions.
Can my ISP see my VPN?
Most VPNs hide your identity and what you do online when you connect. Your IP address, network history, and actual location cannot be seen.
Using a VPN at school can help you bypass the blocking of your school network and protect you from online threats. However, as a student, it can be difficult to choose a VPN that fits your needs and is within your budget. Security is the most important factor, but you also need to consider ease of use, speed, and bandwidth allowed.
CyberGhost is the best choice for your school VPN. It has great security features, including an always-on kill switch function. It’s also easy to use, has good speeds, and offers unlimited traffic. Plus, it’s affordable and offers a free trial for Android and iOS users, as well as a money-back guarantee.
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