What is a VPN server? And how to choose the best one

Anton P. | December 14, 2021

VPN servers are fundamental components of any VPN service. As you know, a Virtual Private Network connects clients to secure remote servers and reroutes traffic through them.

In this scenario, users and their devices are the clients initiating the connection. But servers can be curious objects users connect to but have little to no knowledge of their operation. The simplest way to understand VPN servers is to imagine a separate hardware device.

Just like any server, it supplies functionality for programs linked to it. Let’s analyze this architecture model and highlight the guidelines for choosing VPN servers suitable for you.

VPN server: meaning, purpose, and necessity

First, what is a server? It is either a computer or system tailored to process requests, data and connections made by its clients. Thus, your home PC can actually step in to function as a server.

However, users tend to associate servers with high-powered machines that make most components of our digital age possible.

Thus, a VPN server is any device, be it a router, computer, or virtual gateway that remote client applications can access and use. Hence, by connecting to a VPN server, you actually connect to a device located in a specific location. Typically, VPN providers operate servers in dozens of locations worldwide.

Then, the VPN server handles all online traffic on your behalf. This routine involves encrypting, decrypting, and transferring data along a secure pathway.

Blend into the crowd with VPN servers

You might have heard the phrase: VPN servers help you blend into the crowd with other connected devices. Yes, it is normal for servers to handle dozens or thousands of simultaneous connections.

People connected to the same server all share an IP address. Thus, you become more anonymous and less traceable thanks to other people browsing behind the same identifier. Overall, this practice is known as shared IP addresses.

How can VPN server choice affect your experience?

A rule of thumb is that shorter distances between your device and the VPN server improve internet speed. It reduces VPN latency, meaning that rerouted traffic does not need to travel great lengths.

However, Atlas VPN is one of the providers supplying highly-optimized servers to minimize latency to the max. Even if you connect to our servers further off your location, you should not notice any connectivity issues. Persistent ISP throttling could also mean that VPN servers will help you evade unnecessary speed bumps.

Other reasons related to VPN server performance include the following:

  • Server load. Some VPN servers might get more traction than others. Thus, overload issues are common, caused by thousands of simultaneous connections. For instance, Atlas VPN offers free servers in three convenient locations. Understandably, these servers might get more connected users. While we work around the clock to scale and optimize free servers, connectivity issues might occur. One solution is to switch to premium: with hundreds of servers in nearly 40 locations, you will rarely run into performance problems. The general rule is that if you notice speed drops or interruptions, switch to a different VPN server.
  • Encryption routine. A VPN is nothing without robust data protection. However, powerful encryption protocols like ChaCha20Poly1305 and AES-256 can be heavy on your connection. Some minor connectivity downsides are normal, as a VPN will need to encrypt and decrypt your traffic. Luckily, the newest technologies and protocols have minimal impact on your activities.

How can you choose the best VPN server?

VPN server choice is individual and highly depends on users’ needs and requirements. Here are some ideas and guidelines that can help you make the decision:

  • VPN offers the best option. Atlas VPN has a magic button that picks the most suitable server for you. We evaluate the distance, speed load, and latency.
  • Pick a server in your country. VPN servers closer to your actual location will always work in your favor. Thus, if you are after the best connectivity possible, such a choice will never disappoint.
  • You need a certain IP address. Sometimes the VPN server selection is not random at all. For instance, you might need to get an Austrian IP address while visiting your relatives in Norway. Then, you will need to connect to VPN servers in Austria.
  • More anonymity, please. Sometimes, the traditional VPN protection is not enough. Thus, Atlas VPN has introduced SafeSwap servers. After connecting to them, you will have many rotating IP addresses. Also, you will not need to switch servers manually. The outcome is that you become even more anonymous, with your IP address constantly changing.

What server options do you have with Atlas VPN?

Atlas VPN has the perfect setup to satisfy each client. Whether you need robust protection, best performance, or rotating IP addresses, we make it possible. Take a look at the VPN server locations we offer:

Servers in Europe

North America

Asia

Australia

SafeSwap servers are available in:

  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Singapore, Singapore.
  • Los Angeles, USA.

If you are still unsure about going premium, give the free Atlas VPN version a go. We offer three server locations: Amsterdam, New York, and Los Angeles. You can try them all instantly, no strings attached! If you decide to try premium VPN servers, your purchase is secured by our 30-day money-back guarantee.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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