Does VPN Server Location Matter? (Is Your Country Safe?)

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Your VPN server location matters for the best speed, privacy, ping, latency, and server load. Likewise, your chosen VPN server location affects how well you unblock certain content and bypass censorship.

Additionally, some VPN providers only enable certain features on specific server locations rather than deploy them software-wide.

So, keep reading to learn how your VPN server location matters, when it matters, and how to choose the best server location.

Plus, I discuss how safe and secure a server in your country might be.

8 Reasons Why a VPN Server Location Matters

You can usually get the best out of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from all server locations. However, some locations are best suited to specific applications.

So, let’s discuss the significance of the servers you can connect to.

Speed

Some server locations are faster than others due to where they’re placed.

For example, a server in the US will be faster than a server in Myanmar because the US has better internet infrastructure compared to Myanmar.

Thus, the server in that location can use better local network speeds to supply the same to the end user.

expressvpn all locations
ExpressVPN server locations

That said, VPNs like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark provide virtual servers for regions with poor internet infrastructure.

So, a Thailand server can be physically located in the US. This still gives you access to a Thai IP address and services, but it’s faster than if it were placed in Thailand.

Proximity

The proximity of a server can also affect its speed and ping values.

When you’re not connected to a VPN service, your web requests travel directly to the web servers you’re communicating with.

However, with a VPN, your web traffic now travels as:

Your Device >>> VPN Server >>> Target/Destination Server

That extra journey to the web server can induce extra ping, depending on how far away the server is.

purevpn us servers 2
Some VPNs like PureVPN allow you see the ping values (based on proximity) before connecting

So, if you’re connecting to a US server location while physically in the US, you get a lesser ping than someone from Croatia connecting to the same US server.

Ping is essential for gamers and internet users who don’t want to suffer from lags. Fortunately, VPNs like ExpressVPN are optimized to smooth the ping and give you faster internet speeds.

Content Unblocking

Connecting to a VPN alone won’t unblock any content you want.

You must also connect to suitable servers where the content is available.

This is why the NoBorders Mode on Surfshark still has to suggest reliable unblocking servers when it encounters geo-restrictions, rather than just unblock the content outright.

noborders advanced security setting on surfshark
Surfshark's NoBorders Mode in the PC app settings

For example, the table below shows certain geo-restricted services and what servers can unblock them.

Geo-Restricted Service Unblocking Servers
Netflix US US
BBC iPlayer UK
Voot India
Crave TV Canada
NRK TV Norway
France TV France
Hulu US

Furthermore, server location is vital for content unblocking in regions where services are sparsely available.

For instance, you can’t escape game blackouts from every US state.

Likewise, you can only bet online from states like New Jersey, Delaware, and Michigan.

So, you’ll need specific servers in those regions, not just the larger USA, to unblock betting services, bypass blackouts, etc.

Bypass Censorship

You can only bypass online censorship by connecting to web servers in uncensored regions.

So, connecting to a Chinese server location from Myanmar may only offer stricter censorship. Also, you can’t connect to a local server to bypass censorship in your country.

In this case, it’s best to enable obfuscation and connect to another server in a free country like the USA, Canada, or Australia.

Privacy

Some VPN servers are placed in countries that aren’t privacy-friendly.

Thus, your internet data could be seized to decipher your:

  • Real IP address
  • Name
  • ISP
  • Location
  • Device details
  • Internet activity

The threat is higher if you live in a 14 Eyes surveillance country and connect to a server in another of the Eyes countries. It gets worse if your VPN is based in any of these 14 Eyes countries.

So, these countries can collect your data from the VPN provider and hand it over to your government or other governments. After all, that’s why this alliance came to be.

reddit post on vpn privacy
A reliable VPN should be privacy focused

Fortunately, you can connect to 14 Eyes countries from NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Surfshark and not worry about your data leaking to their governments.

Besides these VPNs using AES 256-bit encryption that no government can decrypt right now, they’re also certified, no-logs providers.

In other words, they don’t collect any data. So, they won’t have anything to give if the police call.

Torrent Downloading Support

You should always use a VPN to download torrents to prevent getting caught while torrenting.

However, not all VPN companies support torrenting. For those VPNs you can torrent with, some might have specialized P2P servers in specific locations to connect to.

expressvpn torrent support
ExpressVPN supports torrent downloads and seeding since all servers are P2P-optimized

Now, you can (sometimes) still download torrents over the non-P2P servers.

However, you don’t take advantage of the total security and speed you should have otherwise gotten.

NordVPN is a notable VPN provider with optimized P2P servers for torrenting. Alternatively, you can download and seed torrents with ExpressVPN, which offers P2P support on all servers.

Server Load

VPNs like Surfshark show you the current load on each server to help you make the best choice.

Alternatively, ExpressVPN and NordVPN will automatically connect you to the best and fastest available server in a chosen region with their Smart Location feature.

Server load is usually a function of:

  • How many users are simultaneously connected to a server.
  • Amount of data transferred on a server.
  • Internal maintenance on the server.
  • Possible DDoS attack on a server.

No matter what causes the server overload, you may get a more significant internet connection drop and higher ping. This is usually common in preferred VPN server locations like the US, Canada, and Australia.

So, choose a server with the least load (or let the system automatically pick one) for a better experience.

Special Features

You can only get some unique features over specific VPN services in some server locations.

For example, NordVPN doesn’t offer obfuscation on all servers.

Instead, you get a few specialty servers optimized for obfuscation when you choose the appropriate protocol [OpenVPN (TCP)].

nordvpn obfuscated server

Also, Surfshark provides multi-hop for better security and privacy on some servers. The same is true for the Static IP offering from this provider.

surfshark multihop ip

Another notable VPN service provider is PureVPN, offering quantum-resistant servers in some locations. As the name implies, these servers are specially-engineered against successful hacking from next-gen quantum computers.

purevpn quantum resistant servers

PureVPN also tears a leaf from NordVPN’s books by offering specialty P2P servers in some regions.

Not all VPNs allow special features on only a few servers, though. For instance, ExpressVPN supports obfuscation on all servers and protocols.

How to Choose the Best VPN Server Location?

The best VPN server location depends on what you’re doing on the internet.

After all, a reliable VPN offers the same level of privacy and protection across all servers.

Here are a few scenarios and suggested server locations to help you out.

Scenario Suggested Server Location
Unblock banking apps Servers in the bank’s country
Expat/student/traveler needs to unblock content in their country Choose servers in your country
Bypass censorship Servers in free internet regions like the USA, Canada, Australia, etc.
Bypass ISP throttling Fast server locations like USA OR let the VPN automatically connect you to the fastest server
Unblock specific content Choose a server in the country where content is available
Secure internet experience Any server location is fine
Download torrents P2P-supported servers in regions like Spain, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Ghana, etc.
Play online games without DDoS attacks Choose servers in your country for the lowest ping
Unblock online games (like Mobile Legends) from other regions Choose the closest server in the preferred region
Avoid game blackouts Server location in states where games aren’t blacked out

Is a VPN Server in Your Country Safe?

A VPN server in your country is safe if the VPN provider isn’t based in your country, your country doesn’t have strong data retention laws, and the VPN provider has an audited no-logs policy.

In that case, the VPN still encrypts your internet traffic from your local ISPs, preventing them from seeing what you’re doing online.

Also, you can use a VPN server in your country to continue enjoying the local web, unblock your banking apps without setting up split tunneling, and still enjoy the premium protection of a VPN.

However, suppose the VPN provider collects logs and is based in your country.

In that case, the government can force it to hand over user data.

Which Country Location Is Best for a VPN?

The best country location for a VPN is privacy-focused, meaning it isn’t part of the 14 Eyes alliance countries.

Here are some of the best locations to connect to on your VPN.

The British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands is beyond the 14 Eyes’ jurisdiction, has no strong data retention laws and is highly privacy-focused. Thus, it’s little wonder why providers like ExpressVPN and PureVPN set up shop there.

Switzerland

The Swiss are known for their privacy and haven’t compromised on those principles.

In fact, a Swiss court once ruled that collecting data about internet users is illegal without letting them know. So, your online data is protected by the law.

Furthermore, this region isn’t part of the European Union anymore.

Thus, it’s not legally obligated to share data with any other EU country.

Panama

Deep in the heart of Central America, Panama made a name for itself as a haven of privacy. Today, it’s home to NordVPN, one of the top 3 VPN providers.

Iceland

A list of the best VPN server locations isn’t complete without Iceland.

Besides refusing to join any data-sharing alliance with other countries, Iceland’s ISPs are required to destroy user data after six months. During those six months, the data can only ever be used in criminal cases, nothing more!

Thus, VPN providers don’t have a hard time setting up servers there.

After all, your ISPs won’t even see what data you’re transmitting online.

Romania

Unlike Switzerland, Romania is part of the EU. However, that doesn’t mean it plays by the body’s rules.

That’s evident by the refusal to participate in the Data Retention Directive issued by the EU in 2006 since it believes it violates citizens’ rights. In fact, it’s the only country to appeal against that invasive data law.

Today, it’s home to CyberGhost VPN, another impressive provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your VPN location matters to get you the best speeds, lower ping, unblock content, and bypass censorship.

The chosen server location can also define what special features you enjoy from the VPN, such as P2P server support, obfuscation, multi-hopping, and SOCKS5 proxy support.

Thus, it’s best to put thought into your choice of server location to get the most out of your VPN.

VPN servers are usually physically located in the target country.

However, VPN providers may use virtual servers in another country while still giving access to the target country’s IP addresses.

Virtual servers take advantage of better network infrastructure in another country, ensure better speeds that wouldn’t be realized from physical server placement, and prevent authorities from tampering with the server.

US servers are often the fastest on many VPN providers.

However, the US IP addresses are usually clogged by many users, so the speeds can drop.

Thus, letting the VPN automatically connect you to the fastest available server is best.

Choose Your VPN Server Locations Wisely

VPN server locations are more significant than you probably thought.

So, choose your preferred servers wisely to get the best value from your VPN purchase.

Fortunately, ExpressVPN offers a complete package with 3000+ servers in 94 countries. That way, you stand a better chance of finding a preferred country on the list.

Don’t forget to grab these ExpressVPN discounts while they last to save more and enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee!

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