If you’re new to virtual private networks, you may have wondered where you should connect your brand-new VPN to. After all, when you can connect anywhere in the world, the choice can become overwhelming. Here are a few rules of thumb for finding the best country and server for you.
Which VPN Server Should I Pick?
There are a few reasons why you’d use a VPN, but the two most important are security and the ability to change your digital location—think of escaping censorship or getting into another country’s Netflix library. There are a few uses that don’t fall neatly into either category, like torrenting, but we’ll talk about that later.
Whichever one of these has the priority for you will decide which country you should connect to. If you’re living in a country with a censorship-free internet and security is your only concern, you should choose the server closest to you. This is mainly because the further away a server is, the worse your speeds will get.
By connecting close by, you get the best possible speeds and get to enjoy the protection of the VPN tunnel, meaning you can browse the internet without worrying too much about anybody snooping on your connection. If, for whatever reason, you’re getting bad speeds even on a nearby server, then check out our tips on how to improve VPN speed.
Connecting to Other Countries
Of course, many people will get a VPN mainly so they can spoof their location, with security as a secondary concern. In that case, you should of course connect to the country you want to appear in. Europeans may want to connect to U.S. Netflix, for instance, while Americans on vacation might want to use a U.S. server to access their online banking account.
Still, though, your first choice should always be a closer server. If you’re connecting to the U.S. from Europe, for example, try to pick a server on the East Coast, while people in Asia or Australia should probably opt for West Coast servers. If you’re in the States, connect to Ireland or France rather than a Polish server. If you need an EU IP address; you get the idea.
Much the same goes for people looking to escape internet censorship: if you’re in China, try connecting to servers in Taiwan, Japan, or Singapore to get good speeds. Much the same goes for people in eastern Russia trying to get around the regime’s blocks, though people in Moscow may want to connect to EU servers.
If you use a VPN to connect to Netflix or another streaming service, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to get through as most of these services have anti-VPN measures in place. When this happens, just keep trying new servers until you find one that works. This may mean that you’ll have to use a slower server, but at least you can watch what you want.
Countries Not to Connect to
Of course, there are some countries that you shouldn’t connect to, usually because you run the risk of some kind of tracking. Though on paper your VPN should be able to protect you from that, under some authoritarian regimes you could find your data seized when a server is, for example.
That risk is present in other countries, too, as VPNs will cooperate with law enforcement under certain circumstances, it’s just a lot bigger in restrictive places. Note that India may be joining that club later this year.
In short, any country that’s the kind others would want to tunnel out of should be off-limits to VPN users. Think places like China, Iran, Russia, and any other country where VPNs are illegal or strictly controlled. Usually, it’s hard to find servers in these places as few VPN providers are willing to invest in them—not that we blame them—but if you do see one, don’t connect unless absolutely necessary.
Finding the Best Torrenting Servers
As we mentioned earlier, torrenting is a little different as you need both good security and to pick a good location. Thankfully, though, torrenting sites have done some of the work for you already. For example, though accessing The Pirate Bay isn’t possible in the EU, there are dozens of proxy sites you can access.
Once copyright watchdogs catch wind of them, they’re quickly shut down, but they’ll pop up again under another IP address. As a result of this game of digital whack-a-mole, you don’t need to really worry where you’re accessing torrenting sites from. As long as you’re connected through a VPN you should be fine. If not, you run the risk of some hefty fines if you’re downloading copyrighted material without authorization. (Of course, we do not recommend piracy and advise you follow the copyright laws in your country.)
Whether or not you should use special torrenting servers as provided by NordVPN or ProtonVPN we’re not entirely sure about. As a general rule, we recommend you use specialized servers if they’re available. But if your VPN service only uses all-purpose servers, don’t worry too much about using them for torrenting. As long as the VPN tunnel does its job, you should be safe.
Where Should I Connect My VPN?
The upshot is that when it comes to VPN servers, closer is better. Whatever you’re using your VPN for, always make sure you’re using the closest server. Hopefully, you can connect to the internet without too much hassle or loading times.