Does VPN network size really matter any more?

If you are trying out a brand new VPN web site and also you need a fast option to decide how good it really is, there’s one explicit boast that suppliers have historically displayed to stand proud of the group.

“We’ve received 1000’s of servers”, they declare proudly. And established in lots of of places, throughout a record-breaking variety of cities all all over the world, no much less.

This give attention to network size appears to make sense. More places suggests there’s a greater likelihood you may have one near you, bettering efficiency. And 1,000 servers needs to be higher than 100, because it spreads consumer load, and also you’re much less more likely to see speeds nosedive at peak occasions.

While which may be true, the fact is commonly extra complicated. Here we’ll have a look at why network size won’t matter as a lot as you suppose, and the way VPN suppliers are starting to maneuver to new methods of bettering their service.

Virtual servers

If you are searching for a VPN with servers in every single place, then HideMyAss! (or HMA because it’s now extra generally recognized) is the supplier to test first. It’s ‘the most important VPN network on the earth’, says the web site, proudly. And with 290+ places unfold throughout 210+ nations, it simply might need a degree. Even an enormous like ExpressVPN has servers in ‘solely’ 94 nations, whereas NordVPN trails behind with 59.

Look on the HMA web site, although, and it explains that a few of these are ‘digital servers.’ The firm says, “they’re bodily positioned exterior the nation they declare to be in, however use that nation’s IP tackle so it seems as when you’re connecting by way of that area in query.”

HMA does not use digital servers a lot in North America or Europe, nevertheless it’s very completely different in the remainder of the world. The firm has a powerful 50+ nations in Africa, for example, means forward of the competitors ( NordVPN has a complete of 5 in Africa, the Middle East and India put collectively). But nearly all of those are digital servers. They’ll offer you an IP tackle from Nigeria, Bahrain, Fiji or wherever you might be, however the servers aren’t positioned in these nations and will not provide the efficiency increase you may anticipate.

The HMA website displaying network statistics

Check your chosen VPN’s app retailer pages to search out out extra in regards to the supplier. (Image credit score: HideMyAss!)

Just to be clear, HMA is not doing something improper, right here. Quite the alternative: it’s very up-front on the web site, tells you the place it is utilizing digital servers, what number of and precisely what they’re. Other suppliers may disguise this element away within the help pages someplace, or by no means point out it in any respect.

What this does imply, although, is you may’t assume that selecting a VPN with 250 nations, fairly than 25, will essentially imply you may be allotted a server bodily nearer to you. You may get an IP tackle from Iraq, for example, however the server could possibly be anyplace.

VPN servers, places or nations?

Another complication with network stats is you may interpret them in a number of methods.

As talked about above, HMA tramples everywhere in the competitors with 290+ places in 210+ nations. If you are at all times travelling the world – or perhaps you simply wish to use HMA as a streaming VPN to unblock native TV throughout all of Asia, say – that’ll be a significant plus. If you do not want all these nations, although, it could possibly be a really completely different story. 

NordVPN lags far behind HMA on the placement entrance, for example, however has many extra servers – 5,000+ vs 1,000+. If all you are seeking to do is connect with a server within the United States, there is no contest: HMA has round 275, however NordVPN has greater than 1,800.

Even these stats do not inform you the entire story, sadly. There’s one other main issue it is advisable take into account.

VPN server speeds

The actual drawback with VPN network figures is that every one servers are usually not the identical. 

One supplier’s server is perhaps an affordable VPS from a price range net host, sharing a 1Gbps net reference to 25 different web sites. 

Another could possibly be a strong devoted server, with a 20GBps connection all to itself. 

Even if there is a massive distinction in two supplier’s server numbers – 100 over right here, 1,000 over there – it is troublesome to correctly examine the networks until you’ve got some concept of the know-how they use.

There’s excellent news, although. VPN suppliers are lastly starting to comprehend that the ‘I’ve received extra servers than you’ wars aren’t working any extra. It’s not about amount as of late, as a lot as network high quality.

PureVPN graphic advertising its move to 20Gbps servers

(Image credit: PureVPN)

Quality – not amount

PureVPN has spent years build up some very spectacular network numbers, however 2021 noticed that change, and in a giant means. The firm has ditched lots of its outdated digital servers, reducing the network from 180+ places in 140+ nations, to 86 places in 78 nations. 

In earlier years which may have appeared like dangerous information, however PureVPN explained why it was really a plus: ‘…we shelved dozens of digital servers… to supply a top-notch VPN expertise… Our bodily VPN servers are extra dependable and higher geared up to ship sooner speeds…’

The firm is now specializing in these bodily VPN servers, as an alternative, by upgrading them to speedy 20Gbps connections.

PureVPN is not alone in shifting the main target from uncooked server numbers to what its {hardware} can really do. IPVanish has been telling the world all about its network upgrades for a very long time, together with a transfer to 25Gbps connectivity.

This is not nearly velocity. Providers are developing with their very own methods to make sure their network stands out from the group. ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer know-how sees servers run completely in RAM to enhance their safety, whereas NordVPN now wholly owns and manages some servers by way of a colocation scheme.

This is the start of a change, not the top. Plenty of suppliers nonetheless solely discuss server totals, and provides clients exactly no concept what sort of know-how they’re utilizing. But the route of journey is obvious. In future, we will hear far much less ‘my network is greater than your network’, and much more element on why a VPN’s servers stand out, and precisely what they’ll do.

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