Colleges are notorious for blocking virtual private networks, as they let students access sites they’re not supposed to. But using a VPN can be very beneficial. It would encrypt and bounce your connection to a server abroad. No one would be able to track you.
Overcoming the VPN restriction is not hard, and we’ve discussed how you can do it. How exactly the college might have blocked virtual private networks are discussed too.
Why Do Colleges Block VPNs?
There are multiple reasons why your college may be restricting VPN access. Let’s run through each of them.
Torrenting is when a file is distributed amongst a network of peers. In several countries, there are laws against downloading torrents. You’d be able to access copyrighted content.
As VPNs let you bypass site restrictions, colleges wouldn’t want you to access their Wi-Fi and use it to torrent anything illegal.
Block Certain Sites
Some sites may not only have copyrighted content, but they could have educational material that would give you an unfair advantage. Your university would obviously want to keep you away from them.
Along with downloading torrents, a common use of college Wi-Fi is streaming content. Remember that colleges are places to concentrate on your education. Universities purposefully block streaming sites so that you’d be less distracted.
If several students are streaming or downloading torrents, the bandwidth would be affected. This is not ideal when several students have to research and do projects.
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How Do You Unblock VPNs in College?
We need to first discuss how they have been restricted. Campus internet would utilize Port Blocking. It’s when you block the ports that aren’t necessary to browse the internet. VPNs unfortunately access such ports, so they get restricted.
HTTPs and HTTP utilize port 443 and port 80 respectively, hence, they are never closed. The protocol your virtual private network is using needs to access them. From all the protocols available, the only one that utilizes port 443 by default is SSTP.
You may be able to forward the OpenVPN protocol to port 443, but this isn’t a feature you have on all virtual private networks. And this can most likely only be done on desktops.
Apart from Port Blocking, the other way your campus internet blocks VPNs is through a DPI (Deep Packet Inspection). It would scan the data packets that are running through the network. The DPI would analyze the type as well as the destination of each packet – it tells the college whether you’re accessing YouTube, torrent sites or anything you’re not supposed to be on.
With a DPI in place, forwarding your port won’t help. VPN providers thankfully have your back. Several of them have placed stealth modes on their programs. They scramble traffic so the firewall won’t be able to tell that the traffic is coming via a VPN.
Why Use a Virtual Private Network?
Using a VPN on campus would not only let you bypass the restrictions mentioned, but there are several other benefits too.
The Wi-Fi on campus would most likely be a public one. You might not realize how risky using public internet is. Someone could infiltrate and steal your data. As virtual private networks encrypt your connection, you wouldn’t have to worry about your data being stolen.
Even if you’re not worried about your college’s Wi-Fi being infiltrated, you should be careful about websites tracking you online. This is a very real concern, as websites and applications track users. A VPN would let you browse the internet incognito.
While connected to the virtual private network, your ISP would not know what you’re up to as well. If you’re not aware, they also log user information.
Some sites may not be available to you. This isn’t because your university blocked them, but because the website has been geo-blocked. Geo-blocking is when users from a certain region can’t access domains, possibly due to copyright laws.
There could be sites that would help with your studies, but they may not be available where you live. Bouncing your connection to a server abroad would help.
How to Choose the Best VPN?
Considering that there are thousands of VPNs on the market, which would be the most worth your time? Some are better than others.
Free options aren’t good. Think about it – how do they make their money? They are likely to store your data and sell it to third parties. The encryptions they offer may not be that secure either.
To ensure that the program doesn’t log your data, it needs to promise a thorough no-logging policy.
The best VPNs would have large server pools. If a site for educational sources is only available in a handful of countries, the large pool of servers would easily let you access a location the site is available in.
Being a college student means that you’re living on a budget. A free VPN won’t be worth your time, as discussed. This doesn’t mean that you should splurge on the most expensive virtual private network available. Look for something that won’t be too pricey. Several of them regularly go on sale.
It’s always a good idea to work with a virtual private network that’s reputed. The larger the name, the more reliable of a service you’ll get. Although a VPN may promise a no-log policy, there is a chance that a smaller one would not honor it.
A thorough stealth mode would not let DPIs know that you’re encrypting and bouncing your connection. The option you’ll be working with needs to offer this.
College internet restricts access to virtual private networks, as they let you access blocked sites. The campus wouldn’t want you to use their internet for such a thing. To overcome the restriction, you’ll have to make your protocol access ports 443 or 80, or make use of a VPN’s stealth mode. These programs let you browse the internet incognito, so overcoming their restriction would be useful.