Choosing the right VPN server is the first step toward protecting your privacy, preserving your anonymity and taking advantage of all features facilitated by a virtual private network service.
It can be a challenging task to make a decision, especially when you are facing thousands of VPN servers. Therefore, we are giving you a helping hand.
In this article, we are teaching you how to pick the best possible VPN server that suits your needs. Furthermore, we are showing you how to choose the best VPN country and the best VPN service for the job.
Opting for the right VPN application is not easy when there are so many products available on the market. However, if you need a piece of advice, you can trust our opinions since we have tested over 50 VPN apps so far.
Take a look at the list of topics below to see what we prepared for today (click to jump).
- What is a VPN server?
- VPN servers vs. VPN server locations
- Why it is important to pick the right VPN server
How to choose the best VPN server
- To get the best speed while protecting your privacy
- To access restricted streaming websites
- To access P2P networks, including BitTorrent services
- To bypass government restrictions and access forbidden websites
- To test various websites features if you are a developer
- To find and book cheaper airplane flights
- In conclusion
What is a VPN server?
A VPN server is represented by a standard server, a remote machine that allows virtual private network providers to host their VPN services. This way, free or premium members can connect to the remote machine in order to conceal their IP address, protect their online privacy, and take advantage of all features supported by the VPN service.
A virtual private network service typically supports multiple VPN servers from various parts of the world. Subsequently, you can choose a country to connect to, depending on what you wish to do on the web: get the best speed while keeping your privacy safe, unlock streaming sites that are normally unavailable to your location, download torrent and other data via peer-to-peer traffic, get past government restrictions to unblock website content, and so on.
VPN servers vs. VPN server locations
When exploring the web for virtual private network products, you might stumble upon two terms: “VPN server” and “VPN server location”. Although they sound similar, they actually refer to different aspects.
A VPN server represents the remote computer that you will connect to in order to mask your real IP address by gaining a new digital identity. On the other hand, a VPN server location indicates the physical whereabouts of the remote computer: a region, country or city.
Why it is important to pick the right VPN server
A virtual private network service is only as efficient as the VPN server you connect to. Making the right pick is essential for optimizing your VPN experience because it influences your Internet speed and online privacy.
For example, if you connect to a VPN server that is too far from your actual location, you might end up slowing down your Internet connection.
If you need to obfuscate your data traffic but connect to a standard VPN server, you will not be able to hide the fact that you are connected to a VPN service, which means that ISPs can still block your connection.
How to choose the best VPN server
The easiest way to determine the best VPN server is to first make a decision and understand what you wish to gain by connecting to a virtual private network application. By identifying your goals, you can then figure out what route you must take to reach your destination. It is also the first step toward choosing a VPN service.
With the help of a VPN application, you can get the best possible speed while protecting your privacy, unlock streaming media libraries like Netflix, as well as download and upload torrents while preserving your anonymity.
You can also bypass government restrictions and unlock secret websites, test various website development features, or find and book cheaper airplane flights.
To get the best speed while protecting your privacy
When picking a VPN server, the general rule is the farther the country, the slower the connection. If you are using a VPN tool to secure your online privacy and hide your browsing history from your ISP, then it does not matter which server you connect to.
In fact, not knowing the correct server is a huge benefit because it allows you to focus on optimizing the connection speed so that you can go with the nearest location recommended by the VPN maker.
If the VPN client does not have a recommendation or if you want to switch to a different country, then you simply need to pick a server that is next in line as far as proximity goes.
It is normal to experience speed variations with each server, so make sure to explore different options and test your connection speed using an online tool like Fast.
Which is the fastest VPN country?
It depends on where you live. And it mostly depends on the capabilities of the virtual private network service. But your safest bet is to go with the server location recommended by the VPN provider.
For example, ExpressVPN has a Smart Location. It is a feature designed to find the fastest server for you, based on distance, downloading speed, and latency.
This virtual private network product also has a Speed Test tool that calculates the speed of all supported VPN servers, in order to find the fastest server based on your speed index. If you are interested in ExpressVPN, you can get started here.
Which is the fastest VPN service?
If you are primarily focused on finding the speediest virtual private network tool, it is essential to mention Hotspot Shield (buy here). It delivered ridiculously high speed test results in our evaluation, peaking at 110 Mbps while staying connected to a country from the other side of the world.
Which fast VPN service has many servers?
If you are the type of person who travels a lot, you should go with a fast VPN service that has many VPN servers spread across many regions. This way, you will always have backup VPN servers to choose from if the primary server stops working one day.
When we reviewed NordVPN, we discovered that it delivered excellent speed test results, ranging from 23 Mbps to 80 Mbps. Moreover, it has over 5,480 VPN servers spanned across 80 countries. If you wish to learn more about NordVPN, get started here.
To access restricted streaming websites
If you want to access BBC iPlayer and watch exclusive British shows, then you have to connect to a UK server no matter where you are. It means that a user connected from France will have better speed than one connected from Hong Kong, for example.
Netflix is now widely available in many countries from all over the world and has personalized content for each country. For example, some US shows are not available for UK citizens, and vice versa. Therefore, if you want to watch Netflix, make sure to pick a server that belongs to the country that interests you.
Please note that Netflix and other similar video streaming websites go to great lengths to block VPN services. Before buying a specific VPN client for this, make sure that it has a dedicated feature for unlocking restricted content on streaming sites, specifically Netflix.
Even if its servers get eventually banned, the job of the VPN developer is to continuously find and implement new solutions for getting passed the Netflix proxy error.
Which is the best VPN country for streaming?
Without a doubt, the United States is at the top of the list. Some of the most popular media content is available to US residents only, such as the extensive US libraries of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NBC, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.
After downloading and installing a virtual private network application, you can immediately connect to a US server to unlock streaming websites that are otherwise unavailable to your region.
However, this does not mean that the VPN service gives you free access to everything. If you have not done this by now, you still need to purchase premium subscription plans to the streaming websites that are not free.
Which is the best VPN service for streaming?
Some virtual private network tools have special features to help improve your streaming experience. These features are necessary because online streaming and VPN together use more resources than normal.
Therefore, it is essential to opt for a VPN service capable of unlocking your favorite streaming services without sacrificing Internet speed or causing delays, lagging, buffering, and other hiccups. On top of that, you should be able to take advantage of HD and Ultra HD quality, which means getting past 5,000 kbps and 25,000 kbps speeds, respectively.
All US servers that come bundled with ExpressVPN (buy here) can be used for accessing the Netflix US library. And if you wish to install the VPN service on a device that does not have built-in VPN support, like a Smart TV, you can take advantage of ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer service to overcome this issue.
Another excellent choice that comes to mind is NordVPN (buy here). Boasting thousands of VPN servers from all over the world, it can unlock the Netflix libraries from the USA, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Italy. Besides, it provides excellent streaming speed so that you do not have to worry about interruptions.
However, we cannot overlook SmartDNS (buy here). Although it is not technically a VPN because it cannot encrypt your data traffic, it delivers unparalleled streaming speed that cannot be matched by any virtual private network service. Just keep in mind that you cannot use this tool for anything that involves secure browsing.
To access P2P networks, including BitTorrent services
Not all VPN clients support torrenting and other forms of peer-to-peer services. Just as the previous case for Netflix, VPN clients usually have a select module reserved for connecting to VPN servers for downloading torrents.
You may also come across VPN developers which limit the amount of downloaded or uploaded torrents, or which strongly discourage torrenting.
Suffice it to say that security is a big issue if you are attempting to grab torrents with copy-protected content since your ISP can see what you are doing online if you do not use a reliable VPN client.
To avoid getting noticed from your Internet Service Provider, paying huge fines or even going to court for copyright infringement, make sure to choose a VPN server from a country that does not ban torrenting.
Which are the safest VPN countries for torrenting?
When in doubt, connect to a VPN server from Switzerland. The country makes it legal for users to download torrents and other data through peer-to-peer applications, as long as it is for personal use only. On top of that, it is illegal for ISPs or other third parties to monitor your P2P traffic.
On the other hand, distributing and making a profit out of the downloaded content is illegal. Therefore, you can connect to a Swiss server and start downloading right away, but you should turn off uploading if you do not want to get in trouble.
The second safest country is Spain, which is almost as safe as Switzerland. There have been several notable cases when Spanish courts decided that it is legal to use file sharing software for personal use.
But just like in the case of Switzerland, you should switch off torrent uploading after connecting to a Spanish VPN server, just to remain on the safe side.
Which is the safest VPN service for P2P and torrenting?
The safety of a virtual private network product can be measured by taking multiple factors into account: VPN protocols (a mandatory protocol is OpenVPN), methods of encryption, server authentication mode and VPN kill switch, IP and DNS leak prevention, together with obfuscation mode for users who live in countries with government censorship (like China).
Other aspects are equally important, such as the company location of the VPN provider, country jurisdiction, whether the company is part of the 14 Eyes alliance, logging policy, and collected data. It all matters because you must put your faith in a VPN provider that will preserve your online privacy and not betray your trust.
When we tested the best VPN services of 2019, we found out that NordVPN meets all the previously mentioned requirements. It can keep your true identity hidden by masking your IP address from the torrent swarm.
To bypass government restrictions and access forbidden websites
Some totalitarian governments enforce Internet censorship to prevent their citizens from accessing websites they consider to hold sensitive information. The motives are usually political in order to prohibit opposition parties from causing a stir in the nation.
As such, Internet users can encounter difficulties when using their favorite VPN software to attempt sidestepping these government restrictions. It is because a country with unlimited resources like China can use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to sniff out and block VPN users. As a result, navigating the unrestricted Internet becomes impossible.
Which are the safest VPN countries for unrestricted network access?
It does not matter which VPN server you choose, as long as it supports obfuscation. Designed to counteract DPI techniques, the obfuscation method conceals the fact that you are using VPN, making it look like standard HTTPS traffic.
This way, anyone who might be monitoring your activity, such as your Internet service provider, will not be able to tell that you are using a VPN service.
What they see are HTTPS connections, which do not demonstrate anything else except that you are cautious about your online privacy and have learned that HTTP websites are insecure.
Which is the best VPN service for defeating government censorship?
ExpressVPN has the obfuscation feature prepared for those who live in China or who are visiting this country. It is enabled by default and cannot be disabled. Therefore, you do not have to waste time exploring the application settings to locate this option. All that matters is that ExpressVPN is configured with the OpenVPN – TCP or OpenVPN – UDP protocol (it is set to Automatic by default).
Afterward, you can connect to one of the Hong Kong servers that obfuscate VPN traffic (for example, Hong Kong – 2). If you are not sure about which VPN server to choose, you can contact the ExpressVPN support via live chat to ask for assistance.
It adds an extra layer of privacy or security, which particularly comes in handy for Chinese users who fear government repercussions. If you are interested in a subscription plan for ExpressVPN, you can get one here.
To test various websites features if you are a developer
If you are a website developer who wants to reach an international audience, you can connect to a VPN server to find out how your pages are rendered in various countries and on multiple devices.
A virtual private network application can help you test and optimize your landing pages that sell products or services in different currencies and languages, to name a couple of examples.
Which are the best VPN countries for web developers?
It depends on the type of audience that your website is addressing. If you want to go international, then you must explore many VPN servers from as many countries as possible.
The most active Internet users come from China, India and the United States. Therefore, you should opt for a VPN application that supports not only these three countries but also others.
Which is the best VPN service for web developers?
It is not enough to choose the right VPN server and then connect. Because we are talking about a website with sensitive information, all security features must apply.
When you are out searching for the best VPN service to help with your web development testing, pay attention to the fast and secure protocols, number of covered servers, logging policy and 24/7 support, along with extra security features like DNS leak protection or kill switch.
NordVPN has more than 5,480 VPN servers available in 80 countries. It supports OpenVPN, adopts a no-logging policy, features live support, and comes with a bunch of extra security features such as kill switch.
Additionally, NordVPN can be installed on a wide range of devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and routers. If you wish to learn more about this virtual private network service, you can get started here.
To book cheaper airplane flights and hotel rooms
It is no secret that airplane companies and hotel booking services use tracking cookies to figure out if you are a recurring website visitor. While browsing different websites to find the best possible deals, you may have noticed how the price increases every time you revisit a website or refresh the page.
Unfortunately, although it is unprofessional, this kind of approach is not illegal. Therefore, people seem to be punished for the simple act of trying to find a better deal.
By connecting to different VPN servers every time you go online to check the price, you fool the website into thinking there are multiple visitors from different parts of the world.
What a VPN service does is restore your online freedom so that you can freely explore price listings without worrying about surge pricing.
Which are the best VPN countries for ticket deals?
There is no exact formula to help you choose the best VPN server locations that come with the cheapest airplane flights. It is a matter that depends on your home location, the time of the day, the day of the week, and other aspects.
We recommend that you conduct your own experiments by connecting to multiple VPN servers and visiting the same websites with deals. For example, we have noticed that many travel agencies offer cheaper tickets for locals.
Therefore, you can try connecting to a VPN server from the same country as the place of departure, flight carrier or hotel. To get started, compare the prices shown while you are connected and not connected to the VPN.
Then, write down your progress so that, at the end of the day, you can draw the line and see which is the best VPN country for ticket deals. The difference in prices may not be significant for a single ticket, but it is ideal for groups of people.
Which is the best VPN service for ticket deals?
You should opt for a VPN application that supports numerous VPN servers from all over the world. As a result, you can connect to multiple countries to find the best deal in airplane tickets.
Taking everything into consideration, it is not so difficult to choose the right VPN server and VPN server location. The most important step is the first once: deciding what you want to do after connecting to the virtual private network. Besides, you can always switch VPN servers if you are not pleased with the current settings.
And, with the right VPN service by your side, you can protect your online privacy and freely explore the Internet. You will not have to worry about exposing your IP address and attracting the attention of web marketers or angry governments.