VPN Servers : Quality vs Quantity

This year has been interesting for VPN providers.  We’ve seen the growth and addition of several services.  That isn’t all that surprising given the increased need for online privacy.  We also anticipated the growth of mobile apps and smart DNS features.  What we didn’t see coming was the explosive growth in the number of VPN servers.  With some well known providers going from a few servers to several hundred in a short period of time.

In the past quarter we’ve seen a few popular companies massively grow the number of VPN servers they offer almost overnight.  While providers like Hide My Ass and IPVanish continue to grow at a natural pace.  Adding new server locations around the world.  Why are some seemingly expanding at a faster pace than the rest?

The providers with rapid server growth are easy to spot.  We’ll show you what to look for when comparing server locations.  Sometimes you can find the info on the provider’s site.  While other times you need to test the service to see the full picture.  Either way pay close attention to server locations vs the number of servers advertised.

Number of VPN Servers vs. Serer Locations

If you go to a provider’s site and they claim to have hundreds of VPN servers around the world keep looking.  You want to know exactly where those servers are located.  You might find a page on their site that shows the details.  If not that’s a hint that the number is likely hype.  The next step is to either test the service or read our review for the details.  Either way you’re looking for the actual server locations vs. number of servers.

What do we mean by server locations?  We’re talking about all the cities in which a company manages VPN servers.  For example Hide My Ass advertises over 400 VPN servers in 58 countries.  Does that mean they have 400+ server locations?  Nope.  We counted and they support servers in over 100 cities around the world.  HMA is a good example of a company that makes their server locations fully visible for everyone to view.

Let’s take a look at a couple leading VPN services that clearly show the locations of their servers.

IPVanish VPN Servers

IPVanish VPN servers

IPVanish members have access to their control panel which includes a server list.  The list includes the address of every VPN server on their network.  With over 100 servers in 43 countries.  Covering nearly 60 server locations around the world.  IPVanish is transparent.  They give the server address for each location so users can use their client or connect manually.  They also show the percentage of capacity being used for each server.

Hide My Ass VPN Servers

HMA VPN servers

Hide My Ass has a VPN server locations page on their site.  You can easily view every server on their network.  That currently includes 423 servers in 58 countries.  We counted more than 100 different server locations around the world.  HMA is completely transparent when it comes to their servers.  They show exactly how many servers they have in each location along with number of IP addresses and supported protocols.

Getting Past the Hype

If you visit a site that advertises hundreds of VPN servers always look for the locations.  Just because they have customers around the world doesn’t mean they actually host servers everywhere.  If you can’t find the server locations then perhaps that’s a sign in itself.  We prefer providers that are clear with their users as well as perspective customers.  There’s no need to over hype a service.  Doing so risks losing the users trust.

How can companies advertise hundreds of servers if their network only spans a few countries and server locations?  They can do it by spinning up a lot of virtual servers.  The quality isn’t the same and many aren’t even being used.  Just advertised.  That isn’t the same as actually having hardware in place.  For that reason we focus our attention on the server locations rather than a number that doesn’t really mean anything.

In addition to actually showing where the servers are located we run a speed test on each location.  In doing so you can see the performance for each city without wondering whether or not the server actually exists.  Take a look at our IPVanish and Hide My Ass speed test pages to see some examples.  We go through the same steps for all our top providers.  It takes a lot of time but the effort is necessary to find the best VPN services.