Dear Lifehacker, I'm planning on signing up for a VPN so I can get the US Netflix. However, my housemate is an avid online gamer and lag is the enemy. So my question is: if I set up a VPN on my computer, will his computer be affected too? If so, are there any easy workarounds? Cheers, McOz Lover
Are you both connected to the same home network? If so, his gaming will definitely be impacted.
A VPN runs internet traffic through an overseas server which has the effect of anonymising your IP's geographic location. Unfortunately, this can result in performance issues as the data has further to travel. The difference is usually tolerable when it comes to stuff like Netflix, but online gaming is another matter — the extra lag will make games like Counter-Strike virtually impossible to play.
So what to do? The easiest solution is to disable the VPN during online gaming sessions. (You can easily switch it on or off by delving into the settings.) Of course, this isn't going to help when you want to access geo-blocked content while your roommate is in the middle of an online fragfest. Flipping a coin probably isn't going to cut it.
If you've got some spare time up your sleeve, it's technically possible to set up a VPN configuration with selective routing. In this scenario, connections that require an IP address from a specific geolocation will be routed through the VPN tunnel, with all other internet activity using local servers as normal. You can find a step-by-step guide here, but be warned — the process is rather complicated for non tech-heads.
And, of course, his internet access will only be affected if you set up the VPN on your router, not your computer. If it's on the router, it'll affect all devices on the network. If it's only on one PC, only that PC will be affected.
Alternatively, you might want to consider a smart DNS proxy service. A smart DNS is capable of re-routing requests at the device level. Since it only re-directs certain portions of your traffic through its server, your friend's gaming experience should not be affected as much. You can read an introduction on how DNS works here. Good luck!
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