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Do VPNs really have all the servers they claim in exotic locations all over the world? In many cases, the answer is no. The true location of some VPN servers may be entirely different. In other words, a server that is allegedly in Pakistan is actually in Singapore. Or a server that should be in Saudi Arabia is actually in Los Angeles, California. (Both are real examples from below.) This is known as spoofing the true location. Why is this important? First, the performance may suffer if the actual server is significantly further away. Second, it’s bad if you are trying to avoid certain countries (such as the UK or US) where the server may be located. Third, customers aren’t getting the true server locations they paid for. And finally, using fake server locations raises questions about the VPN’s honesty. In this article we’ll take a deep dive into the topic of fake VPN server locations.
The point here is not to attack any one VPN provider, but instead to provide honest information and real examples in order to clarify a confusing topic. We will cover four main points: VPN server marketing server locations with ExpressVPN (11 are identified)Fake server locations with PureVPN (5 are identified, but there are many more)How to test and find the true location of VPN before we begin, you might be asking yourself, why do VPNs even use fake server locations? The incentives are mainly financial.
First, it saves lots of money. Using one server to fake numerous server locations will significantly reduce costs. (Dedicated premium servers are quite expensive.) Second, advertising numerous server locations in a variety of countries may appeal to more people, which will sell more VPN subscriptions. Here’s how that works… My, what a larger server network you have! Most of the larger VPN providers boast of server networks spanning the entire world. This seems to be the trend – they are emphasizing quantity over quality.
Take Hidemyass for example and their server network claims: If you think there are physical servers in 190+ countries, I have a bridge to sell you! Upon closer examination of Hidemyass’s network, you find some very strange locations, such as North Korea, Zimbabwe, and even Somalia. But reading further, it becomes clear that many of these locations are indeed fictitious. Hidemyass refers to these fictitious server locations as “virtual locations” on their website.
Unfortunately, they do not have a server page available to the public, so I could not test any of the locations. The Hidemyass chat representative I spoke with confirmed they use fake “virtual” locations, but could not tell me which locations were fake and which were real. PureVPN is another provider that admits to using fake locations, which they refer to as “virtual servers” – similar to Hidemyass. (We will take a closer look at PureVPN below, with testing results for the servers that are not classified as virtual.) also boasts of a large server network.
Unlike with PureVPN and Hidemyass, ExpressVPN does not admit to using fake locations anywhere on its website. The ExpressVPN chat representative I spoke with claimed that all server locations were real. (This was proven through testing to be false.)
Check out the rest of this interesting research and test results by clicking the link below.