Choosing the best VPN server location is all a matter of what you want from your provider. Do you need better browsing and download speeds? Want to access a myriad of entertainment options without running into irritating geo-blocks? Are you more focused on privacy and security? Trying to bypass censorship from a restrictive government?
The answer to all these questions can factor in on your decision. Now, we already have an in-depth guide on how to choose the best VPN server location for your specific needs. However, you can simplify the process somewhat with tools offered by your own provider. You can read about it in the lines below.
Short on time? Here’s a table of contents for quick navigation.
- Best VPN Server Location for Fast Speeds
- Best VPN Server Location for Torrenting
- Ideal Server Locations for Streaming
- Affected by Censorship? Try These Locations
Best VPN Server Location for Fast Speeds
This could be as simple as choosing a server that’s near your current location. It’s pretty straightforward: the less distance your data needs to cover between you and the server, the faster your connection. Of course, this isn’t always the case.
For example, the closest server to your location might be overloaded (i.e. a lot of people are currently using it). Check to see if your VPN provider has a status page where they list server usage levels. Here is an example from IVPN:
Not all providers have such a tool, unfortunately. Most of the time, you can only see whether a server is currently offline through their VPN client. In that situation, you’re stuck with a bit of trial-and-error until you can find a VPN server location with decent speeds.
One other thing you need to watch out for is areas with poor Internet infrastructure, like Australia. This is really a case-by-case scenario. If you’re experiencing slow speeds in one location, switch to a different one or do a quick Google search for “[country name] Internet speeds” to see if it’s worth sticking around.
Best VPN Server Location for Torrenting
Let’s preface this by saying we do not condone illegal file-sharing. With that out of the way, we understand that it still happens in areas suffering from economic hardship. Or where learning materials, useful software, and entertainment are harder to come by due to copyright constraints and other reasons.
Moreover, legal file-sharing through torrents is absolutely a thing. Facebook, Twitter, and other companies do it to share large work files much faster than usual. Of course, torrenting carries a stigma due to rampant illegal downloading, so even legal usage tends to be punished.
For example, hotels might block your Wi-Fi access if you decide to download some work files on a business trip. In such situations, you’ll need a good VPN for torrenting and a VPN server location with a peer-to-peer (P2P) focus for the best performance.
Fortunately, many VPN providers have a server list page that mentions whether specific servers are optimized for torrenting. Here’s a great example from CyberGhost VPN:
If your provider doesn’t specify which of their servers are P2P-focused, try asking customer support (either through live chat or the support email on their homepage). Alternatively, you can connect to a country with lax P2P laws, such as Romania, Switzerland, Mexico, Spain, or the Netherlands.
Ideal Server Locations for Streaming
VPNs can help you get around geo-blocks and watch all your favorite content without limitations. Once again, the best location depends on your content preferences. If you’re looking to unblock Netflix and watch most of their shows, a US-based VPN server is your best bet.
Don’t expect to access their entire catalog that way, though. Sure, the US Netflix library is the largest in the world, numbering in at over 5900 shows and movies. However, take a look at comedy hits like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is only available on Netflix UK. You’ll need to look up the show you want to watch and see where it’s available for streaming.
The same goes for specific streaming platforms you have in mind. Want to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK? Then the only VPN servers that’ll actually work are ones located in the UK. Easy.
Some providers even offer tools that auto-suggest the optimal server location for any specific streaming platform you have in mind. Here is how such a tool may look like, with CyberGhost VPN once again showing everyone how it’s done.
First, head over to their VPN server location list, the same one used in the section above. Scroll down past the server list until you find this section:
Click on “Find your VPN servers.” The interface will change to something like this. Click on “Pick an activity,” choose a streaming site, then click “See servers.”
Here’s what the results looked like in our case. The third option is the relevant one, though we won’t fault them for offering different suggestions for other purposes. Including the ping and user load is also helpful if you’re looking for fast speeds.
Affected by Censorship? Try These Locations
Now, there are no providers with tools or server pages for the specific purpose of avoiding censorship. However, you can take a look at the best VPN services that keep no logs of your activity, and offer obfuscation. This feature allows you to mask the fact that you’re using a VPN in countries with banned or severely limited VPN usage.
It’s unfortunate, but many restrictive countries like China, the UAE, etc. block major communication platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and so on. In these scenarios, the VPN server you connect to would have to be in a country with more freedom of information.
Some decent choices include the US and most European countries. While they still have problems of their own – such as mass surveillance and legislative threats against VPN encryption – they’re still relatively safe if you want to unblock censored platforms.
You might also want to avoid countries from the 5/9/14 Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance(s). Why? Well, these countries are among the worst when it comes to mass surveillance in the West. Moreover, their intelligence agencies can go as far as sharing data regarding their own citizens.
Again, this is all based on speculation and the facts listed above. In practice, using a VPN provider with a no-logging policy should keep you safe anywhere in the world.
How useful is your provider when it comes to recommending VPN server locations? Let us know in the comments!