Does VPN prevent location tracking? That’s a question I’ll be answering in detail throughout this piece. Moreover, if you’re new to VPNs you’re in for surprises that’s for sure!
Did you know the internet knows more about you than your mother? (No kidding!). Or that your ISP is forcing you to buy items from specific websites? I bet you didn’t!
If that caught your interest, keep reading. On top of your question, those are some other questions that’ll get answered here.
Does VPN prevent location tracking?
The short answer- yes.
The technically correct answer? Not always.
For the long answer, keep reading.
How does a VPN prevent location tracking?
Before I can answer the yes or no part, let’s tackle the “how” so you understand better?
A VPN does no magic but simply changes your “IP Address”.
The IP address is like your telephone number, but for the internet.
When you got your internet connection, you were assigned a unique IP address from your ISP (Internet service provider).
Meaning, each time you connect to the internet, your IP address sends a request to the website/app you’re connecting.
It’s like you using a number when you call someone using your cell phone.
This IP address, much like your mobile number is unique to you. Meaning, it can be used to identify your identity as well as location.
This IP address is what a VPN changes. You get a new IP each time you connect to the web.
Does that mean the VPN then hides or changes our location? I’m answering that in the next section
Does a VPN “Change” your IP address?
That’s the usual phrase for it, but no. The VPN does not actually “change” your IP Address.
No third-party can just “change” or completely “hide” your IP address at will.
Rather, what the VPN does it, offers an alternative IP address from its pool.
Meaning, when you use a VPN, the VPN routes your connection to its own servers. There, you get a new IP address.
Do note that your actual IP address still remains the same. However, it’s not used to connect to the internet anymore.
Instead, you first connect to the VPN, the VPN gives you a new IP address, this new IP address is then used for all your web activities.
And yes, the VPN isn’t browser-specific, meaning, the VPN changes your IP address for all the apps and everything else that’s on your system and using the internet.
How your location is “changed”
So, now you got a new IP address from the VPN.
This means when you connect to the internet, the websites you visit and the apps you use will see this new IP address you got from the VPN.
So, if and when your location is tracked, it leads the tracker to this VPN-IP. They still get a location but it doesn’t lead to you.
Can’t the VPN just share your real IP address with the tracker?
This is where it gets real tricky!
So, you connect to the VPN using your real IP. The VPN then gives you a new IP. But, doesn’t this mean the VPN has your real IP address and can link it to all your web activities using the VPN-IP that it gave you?
A good VPN will have a “no log” policy. This means, the VPN is legally required to not store logs. So, it cannot retain your real IP address or any of your activity details using the VPN-IP.
Here’s the tricky part. All VPNs “claim” being “no log”, however, a lot of them are lying.
Yes, a lot of VPNs have been recently caught collaborating with the FBI and various other governments.
These VPNs shared real IP address and many other personal data which led to fatal consequences for quite a few individuals.
The solution- Get a VPN that has an “independently verified” no log policy
The solution for such lying VPNs is an audited VPN.
A lot of VPNs, including my favorite NordVPN got themselves independently and publicly audited.
These auditing companies are third-parties not affiliated with the VPNs.
They look at the code and other back-end data and then publish their report.
Any VPN that gets itself independently audited is literally proving to you that they cannot store your real IP address even if they wanted to.
Here are some of the best VPNs I can recommend right away:
- NordVPN: Most features, fastest, yet one of the cheapest.
- Surfshark VPN
- Express VPN
What else does a VPN do for you? [You’ll be surprised]
Because we’re on the topic, let’s cover a few additional points?
A VPN doesn’t just prevent location tracking but does a lot more.
- Makes you anonymous: A VPN gives you a new IP. Hence, any and all of your actions on the web can now not be linked to you. E.g. you watched porn, the porn website can never prove that it was you who watched a specific video or visited their website.
- It prevents digital fingerprinting: Each time you browse the web and any website, data about you is collected. This data includes what you search for, which links you click on, what you eat, where you go and so on. The VPN prevents this data being linked to you. It’s still collected from your activities (by the websites), but now they do not have your IP to link it to. Hence, they collect data each time but they attach it to a new IP because you get a new IP each time you connect using a VPN.
- Grants unlimited access: Did you know you don’t get 100% access to Netflix or any other OTT-platform’s content even though you’re paying for it? Not just OTTs, millions of websites are banned by your govt./ISP/offices and other third-parties. Employing the VPN unlocks all of this for you.
- Bypass speed throttling: Did you know that your ISP slows your internet down on purpose? Yes. Whenever there’s a popular match, a sale, or something of that sort, your ISP may slow your connection down in general, or for specific websites. E.g. if Amazon has a sale and it pays your ISP, your ISP may make it so that every other e-commerce site loads very slow except Amazon. The same goes for OTT platforms while streaming movies, or even political censorship of news channels. A VPN prevents your ISP from doing that.
- Protects you from hackers: Have you ever used the free Wi-Fi at metro stations, cafes, libraries? Chances are your system is hacked. Well, yes. These public WiFis aren’t secure and hacking them is cakewalk for a half-skilled hacker. A VPN encrypts your connection and protects you from these threats as well.
Yes, a VPN does make you anonymous, hide your identity and prevent location tracking.
However, be cautious of what you do using a VPN. Any illegal activity may still be tracked to you as there are multiple other footprints you may manually and unconsciously leave on the web. E.g. signing up with your e-mail ID, using your real name etc.
We do not support/encourage any illegal activities. Only you are responsible for any and all of your activities with or without a VPN.
Final words- Does VPN prevent location tracking?
Yes. The right VPN can certainly prevent location tracking and make you invisible on web. The wrong VPN on the other hand will make you believe your location is hidden, but it won’t be the truth.
I personally believe everyone should use a VPN regardless of who they are or what they’re doing. The amount of data collection without a VPN is massive and appalling.
As mentioned earlier, NordVPN costs less than $2.50 for a month and adds extensive privacy to your identity and connection. The other VPN options listed above aren’t disappointing either.