Tech Friend is our advice column covering cybersecurity, privacy, and everyday technology. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about your ExpressVPN subscription or need troubleshooting help, please contact Support.
Hi there! I have a two-part question for you that is related to the digital trail you leave as you navigate the internet. To use an analogy, important people are told to vary their driving routes so as not to get into a routine and give anyone an opportunity to plan an attack, etc.
Part 1: How often should a person change the VPN server they are using? I ask this from the standpoint of the person that uses the VPN when connected to the internet, regardless of activity. Whether I’m banking, reading Wikipedia, or watching YouTube, my VPN is always on and connected.
Part 2: Should a person utilize the VPN server in their home area or avoid it altogether?
Thanks! Your posts are always a great read.
Submitted by: Danielle
As you know by now, a VPN is an indispensable tool in your cybersecurity armory. You already have your VPN on all the time, which encrypts the traffic you send and receive, protecting your personal data from being intercepted by third parties and masking your location.
Read more: Should you keep your VPN on all the time?
But you pose an interesting question. Does server hopping and avoiding the server closest to your physical location increase your online privacy? Let’s explore.
Does changing VPN servers increase privacy?
Server hopping, or the act of switching between server locations, might sound like an easy way to make it even harder for people to track you. But the way our VPN tech works makes it unnecessary.
When you connect to your destination website while using a VPN, it will never be able to see your real IP address. It only sees the VPN server’s IP address, which is shared by thousands of other VPN users.
Using your driving analogy, it would be as if you were driving from place to place, but your car is a rental that’s identical to thousands of other cars, with the same license plate number. And, importantly, no one is able to find out who is driving those cars. Even we don’t have that information, thanks to our policy of not recording activity logs or connection logs. (Read a deep dive into how our cutting-edge server technology protects user privacy.)
Server hopping would be akin to switching to a different car that’s also identical to thousands of others and also can’t be traced back to their drivers. It does not add any security, because no one knows who’s driving the cars to begin with.
In fact, the much greater risk is revealing your identity by logging in to services like Google or Facebook as you browse. A VPN can’t keep you private in such cases, as websites will still be able to track everything you do under your account.
Should you avoid servers from your home location?
There is no reason to avoid server locations in your country or city. Your activity is encrypted, and your real IP is hidden, no matter which server location you choose. It does not enhance or lessen your privacy to use one server location over another.
Plus, connecting to a server location in your country or city has its benefits. For one, the close proximity ensures that your internet speeds don’t take a hit and latency is kept low. You’ll also get search results relevant to your location, which can be more convenient.
Hope this helps!