How to Choose the Best VPN Server Locations and IPs

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How to Choose the Best VPN Server Locations and IPs: A Summary

Depending on what you’re doing online, it might be better to connect to a VPN server in a specific country.

  • For internet freedom, Iceland is a top choice. Connect to a VPN server in Iceland if you’re looking for anonymity when browsing online.
  • For unblocking streaming services, use an American VPN server or one located in Canada. These countries have few internet restrictions and have the two biggest Netflix libraries outside of Japan. CyberGhost can unblock American Netflix.
  • For speedy connections when online gaming, choose your VPN server carefully. Use a server that’s not too far from the online game’s servers and your own home country. With a choice of 94 countries, ExpressVPN is great for most countries worldwide.

Ready to start using a VPN? We recommend ExpressVPN for speed, no data logging, and the sheer number of countries with fast VPN servers.

You’ll find more information on which IP address to use in the full article below. We’ve broken this down into the best countries for different activities.

Want to change your IP address to one of the best VPN server locations? Not sure which IP address to use? You’ve come to the right place. While your network assigns one automatically, you can easily change your IP address with a VPN in just a few simple steps.

Whether you want to access blocked websites in another country or save money online, a VPN can help you achieve these goals.

Below, we’ve looked into the best IP addresses to use for a range of purposes, whether you’re online gaming, trying to access blocked websites, or streaming online.

Can You Change Your IP Address?

Changing your IP address is straightforward. Your IP address depends on what country you’re in, unless you’re using a VPN. With a VPN (Virtual Private Network), you could be sat on a beach in Thailand while masquerading as an English internet surfer.

When you connect to a VPN server, you’re assigned a new IP address that’s based in the same country as the server itself. So, if you’ve been locked out of a streaming website because it’s only available to residents of another country, simply find a VPN server in that country, and you’re good to go.

How do you change your IP address?

Changing your IP address is as simple as finding a VPN provider, downloading their software, and creating an account. As soon as you’re up and running, all you need to do is find a server in the country you want to use. Once you connect, all your internet traffic will be routed through that server securely.

For a comprehensive step-by-step plan about downloading and installing a VPN, check out our guide.

What are the Best VPN Server Locations?

Deciding on the best IP address to use isn’t necessarily straightforward. Much like deciding what clothes you should wear in the morning, it all depends on what you’re planning to do. Below, we’ve broken this question down into different categories, recommending the best VPN locations for internet freedom, fast connections, and unblocking sports or streaming. We’ve also recommended VPN providers to help get you started.

What’s the best VPN server location for fast and reliable connections?

Fast connections that don’t drop out on you are essential when you’re downloading or streaming with a VPN. However, finding the fastest VPN connections can be tricky, as you need to take into account multiple factors:

  • A country’s infrastructure can affect internet speeds.
  • Some VPN providers are faster than others.
  • It’s typical for your connection to slow slightly when using a VPN.
  • The number of servers in a country is important, as user overload can slow your connection down.
  • The greater the distance between you and your server, the greater the chance your speed will decrease.

To highlight how your VPN provider and choice of location can come into play, here’s an example. Below, you can see that our default connection without a VPN is running at 65.70 Mbps when downloading and 15.21 Mbps when uploading. With these speeds, you’ll have no trouble streaming, gaming, or anything else.

Now, let’s see that result again after connecting to an ExpressVPN server. ExpressVPN is commonly touted as one of the fastest VPNs, and we never have trouble with its speed. Since VPNs slow your connection slightly, we’re expecting a drop in speed.

You’ll see that while connected to a U.S. VPN server in New York, we saw a 32.6% drop in speed. However, the resulting speed (41.96 Mbps) is still more than sufficient for gaming, streaming, and downloading. Note the increase in ping resulting from the increased distance over which our data is now being transferred. Your ping is how long it takes for your computer to prod the server and get a response back. The smaller the number, in milliseconds, the better.

Here’s how some other common countries stack up against the U.S. server. You’ll notice how your choice of VPN location can affect the speed of your connection.

VPN serverPingDownload speedUpload speedDecrease
France2963.3415.574%
Germany5161.9115.806%
Iceland1115.9513.9291%
Italy6156.9615.3413%
Switzerland546.326.7190%

And here are the key takeaways on finding the fastest VPN connections:

  • Choose a fast VPN like ExpressVPN or SurfShark to ensure that you’re not being held back by a slower provider.
  • Where possible, choose a nearby country to keep your ping low. If you’re in the UK, a European VPN server will likely give you the best speeds. If you’re in Asia, consider a Japanese VPN server. American and Canadian VPN servers also tend to offer great speeds, providing you’re not too far away.
  • Ping isn’t everything, as shown by the Icelandic and Swiss servers. Choose a country with a high volume of VPN servers.

The fastest VPN: our top pick

We’ve researched the fastest VPNs extensively, and we’re happy to share the top three choices for speed below:

  • Surfshark wasn’t the outright fastest VPN in every scenario, but its speed excelled massively with distant servers. This makes it a strong contender all-round, especially for gaming or streaming on a VPN.
  • NordVPN didn’t score too highly for speed on local servers, but their overseas VPN servers more than made up for these results. Other advantages, including excellent security, helped this VPN to take second place. Thanks to the newly introduced “NordLynx” protocol, it’s possible for speeds to reach up to 800 mb/s in some scenarios.
  • ExpressVPN offers excellent speeds similar to those of NordVPN, but again, it’s the additional features that make it an excellent all-round VPN. These include a strict “no logging” policy, a straightforward user experience, and great online safety conditions. ExpressVPN also directly connects you to the fastest server based on your location.

So, in summary, for fast, overseas VPN connections, choose SurfShark, NordVPN, or ExpressVPN. Bear in mind that your actual speed will also depend on your home network’s capabilities.

What’s the best VPN server location for internet freedom?

The term “internet freedom” covers a lot of ground. When we talk about freedom online, we mean the ability to access the internet and avoid censorship. We also expect net neutrality, which means that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) should not discriminate against content. This isn’t just about censorship, but the idea that providers shouldn’t make it more difficult to access information by slowing down certain websites.

So, what’s the best VPN server location for internet freedom? According to Statista, Iceland takes the lead, with 95/100 on the Freedom House Index. This is a ranking based on numerous factors that include content limitations, violation of user rights, and obstacles to accessing content. This means that, with an Icelandic IP address, you’ll encounter the least amount of barriers and limitations online and have access to a greater range of content.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to access everything with an Icelandic IP address. For instance, if you want to watch US Netflix, an Icelandic server won’t allow you to access that.

More importantly, Iceland has mandatory data retention laws that could be a threat to your online privacy and anonymity. Protecting these rights is important. That’s why we recommend ExpressVPN if you do plan on using an Icelandic VPN server for internet freedom. ExpressVPN has a zero-logging policy, which means that they will not store any logs concerning your online activities when you’re connected to their servers.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
From
$6.67
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

So, if you’re looking for unrivaled online privacy and anonymity, use ExpressVPN to find a VPN server located in Iceland. Just remember that anything considered illegal is still illegal, regardless of a VPN!

What’s the best VPN server location for unblocking sports?

Before talking about server locations, consider that, if you want to watch live sports online, you’re going to want to choose a VPN provider carefully. There’s a lot of money to be made in sports, so the broadcasting rights for various events could be owned by different broadcasters in different countries. What’s more, while events like the FIFA World Cup are streamed in multiple countries worldwide, more localized events like the Copa Libertadores are not.

This means you might need to be ready to jump from one server to another to access all your favorite events. However, the number of countries supported by each VPN varies from one provider to the next. Since the best VPNs are subscription-based VPNs, you don’t want to have to pay for multiple subscriptions.

In a nutshell, make sure you choose a VPN provider that supports the most countries possible if you’re an avid sports fan. Here’s a quick rundown of the number of countries supported by three of the best subscription-based VPNs:

  1. ExpressVPN boasts over 3,000 servers across 94 countries.
  2. CyberGhost has 7,000+ servers, though in slightly fewer countries (91 in total).
  3. NordVPN offers over 5,400 servers, though spread across just 58 countries.

If you want to keep your options wide open, we’d recommend choosing ExpressVPN. Not only does it offer the broadest selection of countries, but it’s also our preferred VPN provider right now.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
From
$6.67
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

What’s the best VPN server location for streaming?

With streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime, the choice of movies and TV shows to watch from the comfort of your couch is growing every day. However, did you know that most of these streaming services don’t offer the same range of programs in every country?

Depending on broadcasting rights, you won’t necessarily see the same shows from one country to the next. That’s why you’re blocked from the US Netflix platform if you’re outside of the U.S. for example. The website takes one look at your IP address and shows you the door. To circumvent this, we recommend the following countries for streaming:

  • Best VPN location for Amazon Prime: The US boasts around 18,250 titles on Amazon Prime, with the UK coming in second place with around 11,000. There’s a sharp drop to third place; Canada has just 6,130.
  • Best VPN location for Netflix: Japan has the biggest Netflix library, with around 5,963 titles. The US comes in second place, with approximately 5,655. Again, Canada is in third place.

Here are just a few of the popular shows that you can only watch on Netflix if you’re browsing from within the United States:

  • 30 Rock
  • Futurama
  • House
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Supernatural

The same is true of other countries too; there are many programs that you can only watch on the UK Netflix platform or on BBC iPlayer. However, the most popular region-locked programs tend to be those limited to viewers in the US. This is why people in other countries often find themselves wondering how to unblock American Netflix.

Here’s the good news: you can change your IP address to an American IP – or any other country’s IP – if you want to watch all the programs that Netflix has to offer in specific regions. CyberGhost is our top pick for unblocking streams, particularly because this VPN works with American Netflix and other streaming services. It’ll let you access other streaming giants including HULU, Peacock, Pluto TV, HBO Max, Sling TV, Paramount+, and Amazon Prime US.

CyberGhost
Deal:
Try CyberGhost for $1.99 per month!
From
$1.99
8.8
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

What’s the best VPN server location for online gaming?

When you’re gaming online, speed is essential. That’s why you can’t go wrong if you choose one of the fastest VPNs that we’ve highlighted above. You also need to pay attention to your ping. Latency is important when gaming online, as it’s a measure of how fast your controller inputs will be received by the server. A number stretching into three digits can be bad news if you’re playing a fast-paced, first-person shooter. Ideally, you want your latency to be below 50ms.

As we’ve mentioned above, the further you are from the game’s server, the higher your latency is likely to be. So, choose a VPN server located close to the same place as the game server. However, your own distance from these servers is also important, so you might have to find a server that’s somewhere in the middle. Here are the server locations for some of the most popular online games, like Minecraft:

GameServer locations
Apex Legends
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Singapore
  • UK
  • US
Battlefield V
  • Asia (Japan, Singapore)
  • Australia (Sydney)
  • China
  • South America (Brazil)
  • USA (Ohio)
Call of Duty: Warzone
  • Australia
  • Europe (Central)
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • UK
  • USA (California, Ohio)
CS:GO
  • Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg)
  • Asia (Singapore)
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Dubai
  • EU West (Stockholm, Luxembourg, Vienna)
  • Hong Kong
  • India (Mumbai)
  • Japan
  • Poland (Warsaw)
  • Spain (Madrid)
  • US (Atlanta, California, Seattle, Sterling)
Minecraft
  • France
  • Phoenix
  • UK
  • US (Arizona)
PUBG
  • Australia (Sydney)
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Germany (Frankfurt)
  • India (Mumbai)
  • Ireland
  • Korea (Seoul)
  • Russia (Moscow)
  • São Paulo
  • UK (London)
  • US (California, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia)

In the realm of competitive gaming, VPNs become even more important. They’ll protect you from DDoS (Denial of Service) attacks that could cripple your connection and steal your win. You’ll also be better protected when making payments for micro-transactions or other services. Not to mention, you’ll have access to any online games that are region-blocked.

With around 7,000 servers across 91 countries, CyberGhost is a great VPN for online gaming.

CyberGhost
Deal:
Try CyberGhost for $1.99 per month!
From
$1.99
8.8
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

Final Thoughts on How to Choose the Best Server Locations

With a VPN, you get things like improved security, anonymity, and greater online freedom as part of the package. Deciding on the best VPN server location really comes into the equation when trying to get the fastest speeds or unblocking region-locked content online.

  • For the fastest VPN connections, choose ExpressVPN and let it select the fastest server in your location.
  • If you’re after internet freedom, use ExpressVPN and connect to a VPN server in Iceland.
  • To unblock sports, use ExpressVPN to access the best VPN server location for your stream, such as the UK for BBC iPlayer or the US for NBC Sports.

Since you’re assigned a new IP address when you connect to a VPN server, you can always move between VPN servers to access websites that are specific to a certain region or to watch blocked streams online.

How to Choose the Best Server Locations: Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got a question about which IP address to use, we might be able to help. Check out the frequently asked questions below to find answers. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment for us.

ExpressVPN offers some of the fastest VPN speeds around, reaching up to 600 Mbps. In our tests, we also didn’t see much of a speed reduction when using this VPN. You can see the result of our speed test in the full article.

If you’re looking for one of the best VPN server locations for internet freedom, consider Iceland. Recently, Iceland was named as the best country for online freedom and has the lowest content limitations, user rights violations, and barriers to accessing content.

There are many great VPNs for unblocking sports or other streaming services. Since broadcasting rights vary from one event to the next, you could find yourself needing different VPN servers in different countries.

  1. ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries.
  2. CyberGhost offers 7,000+ servers across 91 countries.
  3. NordVPN has more than 5,400 servers in 58 countries.
Cybersecurity journalist
Chris is a tech journalist with many years' experience covering the latest news in online privacy and cybersecurity. He's also a published author and works as a Product Manager for some of the most innovative software development companies.