Understanding IP Geolocation

Puzzle World

Geolocation tracks the geographical location of an IP address. It’s beneficial for a variety of uses, from helping online providers spot fraudulent transactions, to law enforcement services using it to prevent money laundering. Geolocation is also used by websites for content targeting, content restriction, and ad targeting.

So, IP geolocation is useful for these purposes, but if you’re gathering data online for your your own legitimate purposes, you won’t want to be blocked based on your geolocation. Especially if you gather data via proxy, this article can help you understand and navigate through geolocation issues.

Using Proxies for Geolocation

Proxy servers are useful intermediaries between you and a remote site where you wish to gather data. A proxy substitutes one of its IP addresses for your own, protecting your identity while obtaining content and passing it on to you. In this way, the remote site only sees that the requests are originating from a bona fide IP address – but, generally, without detecting that it’s a proxy.

Here’s where geolocation comes in. Every proxy server is hosted in a specific physical location and country. Ideally, the proxy and the remote site should be geographically close together, or the remote site may be suspicious and block you. That’s because it wouldn’t make sense for a requesting IP to be in, say, Europe, while the target remote site is in California. When you’re about to use a proxy, it’s good practice to check its geolocation.

Information Sources

How to get accurate information? There are many free and paid databases on the Internet that can provide IP geolocations, such as IP2Location and Maxmind. However, the accuracy of information varies greatly for several reasons. Some databases are out-of-date, or the hosting provider did not share accurate IP geolocations with the database. Often, the website does not receive database changes in a timely manner. One possible result is that an IP location could be reported in one country when it is actually in another country, making it difficult for your proxy service to guarantee geo IP locations.

Determining Accurate IP Geolocation

Periodically checking the location of a proxy using a service like WhatIsMyIP.com is a useful way to check the current geo of an IP. It’s also good practice to test your proxy server’s IP on the remote site you want to use it on.

Also consider using a proxy with static IPs. For example, ProxyMesh provides static IPs on its World Proxy. Having static IPs increases the likelihood of accurate geolocation. A good proxy service will check its static IPs regularly against a database that is kept up-to-date.

Solving Geolocation Blocks

A remote site detecting an IP address in a different location than you intended might block you, or perhaps restrict the content you can access. This can happen, for example, with a proxy that shows a US address but is hosted in another country. Although the proxy service owns the proxy, it cannot control how the IPs are geolocated by the hosting provider. Your best bet here is to try using a different proxy. One good option is a service like WonderProxy, which provides proxies all around the world with IPs that don’t change locations.

The Bottom Line

A good proxy service can be of great benefit in helping you connect to your remote site and avoid geolocation blocks. Look for a reputable paid service that will give you the most options, combined with excellent service.

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