How Do You Choose the Best VPN Server Location?
Using a VPN is pretty simple. Even if you have no experience with VPNs, getting the hang of them is still easy. However, one of the things even seasoned users seem to have a problem with is finding the best VPN server location.
If you’re one of them, don’t worry – we’ll show you exactly how to choose the right VPN server location for you in this article. If you’re in a hurry, just skip to the “Conclusion” part to get a quick summary.
What Is a VPN Server?
VPN servers can be physical, but providers usually only use them if they have multiple physical agencies in various countries. Most of the time, though, VPN providers rent servers from third-party data centers – after doing a lot of research and making sure the centers are secure and don’t log user data, of course.
The servers a VPN provider uses are normally dedicated servers – meaning they are physical, and that only the provider uses them. Some providers might try to use cloud servers of VPS (Virtual Private Servers) to save money, but those types of servers aren’t as reliable as dedicated servers. Why? Because they tend to be shared by the VPN provider with other data center clients who rent them, so the server resources are limited.
How Does a VPN Server Work?
It’s pretty simple – once a VPN user connects to a VPN server, their IP address is automatically replaced with the server’s IP address, and all the online traffic that is exchanged between the VPN client and server is encrypted
So, if you are from Poland, and you connect to a VPN server in Italy, any website you access from then on will only see the Italian VPN server IP address.
Why Do You Need to Choose the Best VPN Server Location?
If you don’t, you won’t get a smooth, convenient online experience when you use the VPN. Also, you won’t really get your money’s worth if you keep having problems with the VPN connection. Yes, some connection issues can be caused by a poor service sometimes, but – most of the time – they happen because you didn’t choose the optimal VPN server location.
Here’s just a potential scenario: Let’s say you’re using a VPN to download torrents. A slow speed could mean it will take much longer for the download to finish. What’s more, if the distance between the server and you is too big, there is a chance (albeit a minor one) that the connection will drop. If that happens, you’ll be exposed on the web, and your ISP will see you’re downloading torrents, which can be a problem if it’s a legal issue in your country
Why Is Choosing the Best VPN Server Location Hard for Some Users?
Most of the time, it’s because VPN users don’t know what factors affect the online speed they will get when using a VPN. That, and they might not be aware that some VPN servers might be different from others. For example, one server might offer support for P2P traffic, while another one might block it
Also, this is can be an issue you will encounter if you use a VPN service that has a very large network of servers (over 50-100). In that case, it’s very easy to feel lost, and not know which server you should use to get the best experience. And it’s not like you can just try each server at a time, running online speed tests again and again – it’d just take way too long.
Usually, you’ll have a much easier time finding the best VPN server location for you if you only have a list of 10-20 servers to go through.
What to Consider If You Want to Choose the Best VPN Server Location
Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before deciding whether or not a VPN server is the ideal choice or not:
How Much Privacy Do You Want to Enjoy?
A VPN will normally offer you more than enough privacy as long as it uses strong encryption and VPN protocols. However, if you want to go the extra mile, you should only connect to a server that’s configured to use reliable, secure protocols (like OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, or SoftEther). A server that only supports PPTP or L2TP/IPSec isn’t as privacy-oriented.
Besides that, it’s also a good idea to pick a server that supports Tor traffic. While Tor might not be as safe as a VPN service, using it alongside it can offer you a pretty decent boost in privacy.
And while this might not be that related to picking VPN servers, it’s still something you should know – if you want proper privacy when using a VPN, you should pick a provider with a strict no-log policy. That way, you know for certain the VPN doesn’t log any of your data.
How Important Is Speed to You?
Choosing the best VPN server location in this case can sometimes make the difference between a loss of 5-10 Mbps and 40-50 Mbps in speed, for example. If that matters to you a lot (like when you’re gaming online), you should try to connect to a VPN server that’s physically closer to your location.
For instance, if you’re from France, you’d get better speeds if you’d connect to a VPN server in Belgium or the UK than if you were to use a server in the US.
Why are your online speeds going to take a hit if you use a server that’s far away? It’s simple – the data packets are going to take longer to go through the client, server, and website(s). Of course, this isn’t guaranteed to happen 100% of the time. Sometimes, it can depend on how strong your CPU is (to handle the VPN encryption), and how much speed your ISP subscription provides.
Also, you should consider choosing a VPN server that has no bandwidth limitations. If you use a decent VPN service, that normally won’t be an issue, but some providers might use such limitations on some servers to save money and reduce server crowding.
What Kind of Geo-Blocked Content Do You Want to Access?
This is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning for inexperienced users. Basically, if you want to access geo-restricted content, you need to connect to a VPN server that’s located in the country or countries where the content is available.
So, if you’d want to watch BBC content on BBC iPlayer, you’d need to connect to a UK-based VPN server since the shows are only available there.
Do You Plan on Downloading Torrents?
If yes, the first thing you need to make sure is that you are connecting to a VPN server that supports P2P traffic.
“Wait, don’t all VPN servers support torrenting?”
Not exactly. You see, VPN providers need to comply with the laws of the countries they rent servers in. And some of those laws prohibit torrenting. That’s usually the case with US-based VPN servers.
A VPN server with no P2P support will just block any torrenting traffic. No need to worry, though – if you pick a reliable VPN provider, they will tell you which servers support P2P traffic and which ones don’t. Usually, it will be servers from places where torrenting laws aren’t really enforced, or where torrenting isn’t a legal problem – like Romania, Switzerland, Germany Bulgaria, Mexico, Spain, or the Netherlands.
Besides the P2P support, you also need to choose a server that will offer decent speeds. And don’t use an unsecured protocol like PPTP just to get fast download speeds. Use a fast but well-encrypted protocol like SoftEther instead.
SmartyDNS does not encourage illegal copyright infringement or torrenting. However, we need to acknowledge the fact that many people around the world can only access the online files and content they want if they use P2P methods.
Need a Reliable VPN Service?
We here at SmartyDNS offer high-speed VPN servers with military-grade 256 bit AES encryption and highly-secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, SoftEther and IKEv2) and we adhere to a strict no-log policy.
Our VPN servers double as proxy servers and we also offer a Smart DNS service that lets you unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other 300+ worldwide geo-restricted websites.
We offer user-friendly VPN apps for Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android, and Fire TV/Stick and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
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Choosing the best VPN server location is very important if you want to enjoy a smooth online experience when using a VPN service. Overall, you need to keep the following things in mind:
- If you want to download torrents, use a server that supports P2P traffic.
- If you want to enjoy enhanced privacy, make sure the server supports Tor traffic, and that it’s configured to use powerful VPN protocols (like OpenVPN, SoftEther, and IKEv2/IPSec). Choosing a provider that doesn’t keep any logs helps too.
- In case speed is a must, make sure you choose a VPN server location that’s physically closer to you. Also, choose a server that supports secure but fast protocols like SoftEther and IKEv2/IPSec.
- If you want to access geo-restricted content from a specific country, make sure you connect to a server in that region.
Other than that, it’s a good idea to choose a VPN provider who can offer you access to stable and secure dedicated VPN servers that feature unlimited bandwidth as well.