One of the biggest selling points of VPN services is the size of their server networks. When you search for a VPN, you usually pay attention to which parts of the world you can connect to. This is important because certain countries do a better job at protecting personal data than others. And also, there are countries where using a VPN is strongly oppressed, with mandatory data logging in place. So, let’s take a look at what’s the best country to connect to using a VPN in 2020.
Before we proceed, you should know there was a lot of talk about online privacy in the last year. Europe’s new GDPR laws are changing the way online data is being handled in the European Union. In the USA, a group of senators has proposed new legislation to protect online privacy following the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal. On the other side of the world, a Japanese ISP was sued for violating the privacy of its users. And also, the Kazakh government decided to filter the Web traffic of those using the Web in this country. With all of this said, it’s clear that taking care of your online privacy has become imperative, which is where Virtual Private Network applications come into play.
In case you didn’t know, VPNs work by rerouting your Internet traffic through their servers, and these can be located across the entire planet. Of course, these servers process your data, and this is why VPNs need to be very careful when it comes to respecting local laws. In other words, you should always try connecting to servers in a country that has more lax laws, to avoid having your data collected. And, as you can guess, we’ll tell you which countries are the best to connect to when using a VPN. So, let’s dive right in.
What Are the Best Countries to Connect to Using VPN?
As you can probably imagine, there are different ways to answer this question. After all, the answer depends on your planned activities, targeted Web speed, and more. Therefore, we’ll first give you a list of countries with the best record of protecting (or simply not invading) your privacy, and then we’ll look at additional considerations.
After everything said so far, here are the five countries that rank the highest in terms of data privacy, data collection, and exchange of sensitive information with other countries.
There are numerous reasons why Switzerland is often referred to as the safest country in our digital realm. First of all, you need to know that Switzerland is outside of the European Union (despite being surrounded by EU countries), and it’s not part of the Five Eyes alliance. Differently said, this country does not respond to other countries or international alliances when asked to hand over sensitive data.
In case you didn’t know, Switzerland has one of the world’s strongest economies. This country’s entire system was built on financial institutions that adhere to their ‘banking secrets.’ Swiss banks are known for preserving information about their customers, and that has transferred to the digital realm as well. Back in 2011, this country came under the spotlight when its officials said that unauthorized file sharing is actually not a problem and that it allows for downloading copyrighted content for personal use. Therefore, this is also one of the safest countries if you plan on downloading torrents.
If you do a bit of research, you’ll see that Romania is a member of the European Union. Therefore, how can this country protect its citizens since it has to comply with the EU obligations (which are not always privacy-friendly)? Well, you need to take another look since Romania is not like other EU countries – and that’s good for VPN users.
Even though it has complied with the EU’s 2006 Data Retention Directive, the Constitutional Court of Romania nulled those laws in 2009. According to the Court, these laws were violating Romanian citizens’ rights to privacy. Even though a new set of legislation was introduced in 2012, it got once again repealed in 2014. Therefore, this is the only country in the EU to have had its Data Retention Laws revoked by the highest courts.
It’s also interesting to mention that copyright infringement is widespread throughout the country. That’s because it is a low priority for Romanian persecutors, and it still is looked at as a victimless crime.
In many ways, Iceland is one of the safest places in the digital realm. Even though there are a few problematic laws, you should know that the authorities of this country have demonstrated fair play and unwillingness to join international intelligence alliances.
In 2015, Iceland came up with the Equal Access to Internet laws, similar to the recently repealed Net Neutrality in the USA. This set of regulations says that ‘data service providers’ must ensure unrestricted and unbiased access to all Icelandic citizens. The country’s Data Protection Act is also in favor of protecting the citizens. Still, Iceland has also implemented data retention laws that force telecommunication companies to keep records for up to six months. Nonetheless, this law is used only in matters of public safety and criminal cases. Therefore, VPN users have no reason to worry.
You might be surprised to see Malaysia on this list. However, we have to acknowledge the fact that this country has strict data privacy laws. The Personal Data Protection Act was introduced in 2010 and revised several times since then. It contains seven key points that protect personal data and keep it away from third-parties. In this manner, the PDPA protects personal information from being misused.
In terms of VPN services, you might be wondering if the PDPA still applies even if the VPN company is just renting servers in this country. You’ll be happy to know that the PDPA does not apply to companies established in Malaysia alone, but to those using equipment in this country to process personal data as well. It means that even if your personal details somehow get to a server located in this country, you can still count on the country’s laws to protect you.
Even though Spain is part of the European Union, it has the strictest laws surrounding personal data protection. What’s important to mention here is that Spain protects data supplied by local companies, as well as by the ones located outside of this country. It means that when you connect to a server in Spain, your data automatically becomes protected by the country’s laws. Also, Spain is one of the rare countries that owns a national data protection agency. The main role of this agency is to handle complaints regarding personal data protection matters.
It should also be noted that Spanish courts are typically acknowledging the intention of making a profit over breaking copyright laws. It means that you can download torrent files without any fear of copyright infringement unless there’s a profit intent.
How to Pick the Best Country to Connect to via a VPN?
Knowing about the countries with the best data protection laws is just one part of this equation. There are additional factors that you need to consider. So, keep on reading, as we’ll discuss how to pick the best country when using your VPN.
What Do You Plan to Do Online?
The truth is that you’ll need to think about the things you want to do online before launching your VPN. For example, do you want to unblock certain websites, stream media, download torrents, or simply browse the Web? Then, you have to think about the services that track your IP address and warn you of fraudulent activities.
For example, you might get locked out of your bank account if you access it using an IP associated with a different country. The same goes for some social media networks, and even some Google services. Sometimes, this will be a minor annoyance. However, this can also produce significant problems, especially if your account gets permanently blocked.
As you can see, you’ll always face a certain level of compromise. For example, let’s say that you want to access the US version of Netflix. There’s no way around it, so you just have to connect to a server located in the USA (you need to get a US IP address) and hope for the best. In other words, geo-unlocking is a one-way street.
Things are better when it comes to P2P traffic. Since this activity doesn’t depend on specific servers, you are free to pick any country. Of course, there is also a list of the best countries to connect to using a VPN for this particular purpose. For additional information, we recommend reading our article on the best VPNs for torrenting.
Do You Care About Maintaining Your Web Connection Speed?
Which server you choose for connecting also depends on what kind of speeds you’ll need. If you want to stream movies in HD or even 4K, a slow or throttled connection won’t do the job. It is why you need to pay attention to the location of the desired server.
In general, you can achieve an almost throttle-free experience by using a server near your physical location. It means accessing a server in your own country or a neighboring country (if you live in Europe). Doing so will change your IP address, encrypt your data, and make you safe online.
However, sometimes you simply have to connect to a particular server, like a server in the USA, if you want to stream Hulu (as this platform isn’t available elsewhere). So, is there a way to ensure fast speeds while using a remote server? Well, it depends on which VPN you use. To eliminate this problem, several VPN providers offer dedicated servers in the US used for streaming.
What Level of Privacy Do You Want?
When thinking about your privacy, you need to have a broader picture in mind. First, you must know where your VPN provider is based. For example, a provider located in the USA might be obligated to keep records of its users and their activities.
That’s precisely why numerous providers are actually registered in countries that are out of the international intelligence alliances’ reach, such as the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. And also, this is why many of these are called no-logs VPNs since they don’t keep a single file on you.
Choosing a secure VPN (with an optimal origin) is the first step. The second step is connecting to a country with data protection laws. This is how the entire route of your Web traffic can be safe and out of the hands of prying third-parties.
While we have your attention, we’d like to expand this topic a bit. You might have a few doubts or questions on your mind, so make sure to keep on reading as we’ll tell you more about connecting to and using VPN servers worldwide.
How Do I Find the Fastest Server?
Most of the VPN applications allow you to find the fastest server easily. In general, the fastest server is the one that’s closest to your (physical) location.
Depending on where you live and depending on the political situation of the countries that surround you, sometimes you won’t have any other option than to connect to a remote server location. This means that your Web speed might suffer, but you’ll get to unlock new types of websites, and you’ll get to secure your private data properly.
Which VPNs Are the Fastest?
You can find more about this in our guide on the fastest VPNs. The first place goes to Surfshark, which has the fastest average download and uploads speeds. You’ll also want to check out VPNs such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Each of these comes with its strengths and weaknesses, so we recommend you to read these reviews carefully before making the purchase.
Which VPN Has the Most Servers?
You can easily find VPNs with 3,000 to 6,000+ servers that cover the entire world. However, you need to make sure all of those servers work as advertised. Are all covered by the toughest encryption protocol, can they truly unblock websites and Internet services, and do they collect any personal data?
To help you get answers to these questions, here’s our overview of VPNs with the largest number of servers.
What’s the Best VPN in 2020?
As you’ll see for yourself, finding a VPN that truly cares about your privacy is easier said than done. On top of that, there are plenty of technical terms that you should know. So, our article on what VPNs are is a good place to start.
Once you’re ready to dive deeper into VPNs, your first stop should be our VPN Buyer’s Guide. This is where you can learn what makes a good VPN and which ones fit your needs in the best way possible. And finally, make sure to take a look at the best VPNs available on the market.
Are There Any Free VPN Apps?
You can find some free VPNs that offer a sizeable list of server locations. However, all of those come with pretty severe limitations. In most cases, you’ll only have 500 MB of daily bandwidth, which can’t keep you protected at all times.
Therefore, our strong recommendation is to stay away from free VPNs. They can’t protect you adequately, nor can they provide unlimited bandwidth. Investing a few dollars in buying a VPN subscription is a much better idea.
So, we’ve finally reached the end of our guide on choosing the best country to connect to using a VPN. If you have any questions on your mind, make sure to post a comment below. We’ll do our best to respond in a timely manner.