When you’re using a VPN, how does Google detect your location?

in

Blog, Security
location

VPNs can be a great way to mask your activity and identity online, plus they can even make it seem like you’re somewhere else in the world. Using a VPN means you get a new IP address, keeping your browsing more private. you can use SaturnVPN’s ” What is my IP tool to see if your IP and Locations have changed or not.

It might come as a surprise when you open Google Maps and it surprisingly knows your exact location, even if you’re using a VPN. Also for Google searches, it can usually detect your real location & language. How does Google know this?

The reason Google uses more than just your IP address to find where you are is so it can give you ads that cater to your interests which, of course, earns them money. It’s a win-win for both things!

Even when going online with Chrome Incognito, you still need to use a VPN. It hides your IP address and service provider from Google, so they can’t track you as easily. Keeping a VPN active is key in these cases! Plus, you’ll still appear to be in the VPN server spot on most websites, and your internet connection stays encrypted for safety & security.

 

Have you ever wondered why Google knows your actual location even when you’re using a VPN?

1. The GPS in your phone or tablet

 

It’s likely Google is aware of your exact location thanks to the inbuilt GPS on your phone or tablet. This will help Google Maps and other mapping tools to work properly, tracking your movements unless you switch the function off.

2. Your Google account

Bet you have a Google account, right? Well, little do you know but it’s likely giving out your location info to Google in tons of ways:

  • Did you use a VPN when you created your Google account? If not, chances are Google already knows your whereabouts based on where you signed up.
  • You may have set your home and work addresses on Google Maps before.
  • Your Location History is enabled.
  • Google had been tracking your movements all this while, even before you decided to start using a VPN.

3- Wi-Fi location tracking

 

To figure out your location, Google uses something called Wi-Fi location tracking, which is kind of like GPS but instead of using satellites, it relies on local Wi-Fi networks and access points.

 

Is your VPN not working?

No way. VPNs are really helpful for keeping your data secure and making it hard to track you. Plus, they also hide your actual location by giving you a different IP address, which can be useful if you need to seem like you’re in another place.

Google Maps uses GPS to track your movements, regardless of the IP you have. Say you tried accessing Google Maps on your computer (which doesn’t provide GPS), it would likely figure out you’re in the VPN location.

With most other Google services, you won’t be able to hide your location as they track your account. Basically, they make it tough to trick them into thinking you are somewhere else if you’re logged in with your Google account.

How can I prevent Google from knowing my real location?

Even though it might be difficult to stop Google from finding out your exact location, you can take certain steps to make it harder for them to track you down.

1. Stay signed out of Google whenever possible

If you don’t want to be tracked, the best thing you can do is sign out of your Google account when using their services like a search engine, maps, etc., or if possible even stay off the internet or Google services altogether.

2. Turn off the GPS on your phone

If you don’t want Google Maps to track your location, just turn off GPS services on your phone. It won’t affect the usage of Google Maps for finding places, viewing street views, etc., but it won’t be able to show where you are on the map or guide you with directions.

ّFor iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Locations Services.
  2. Toggle Location Services off.

For Android:

  1. Swipe down twice from the top of your screen.
  2. Tap Locations to turn it off.

3. Turn off certain settings in your Google account

If you plan on sticking with it for just a little longer, you should at the very least turn off a few settings that can be giving away your real location to Google.

  • Turn off Location History and Web & App Activity

Your Google account has two settings:
namely Location History and Web & App Activity that you can adjust for whether your locations are stored and tracked. When enabled, these settings can reveal your real location.

First and foremost, the Location History feature stores everywhere you’ve been, with dates and time stamps. Let’s turn Location History off:

1- Go to My Activity.
2- Choose Location history.
3- Choose to Turn off > Pause.

 

But just turning off Location History isn’t enough. Web and App Activity also saves your online information and activity, including your location, on Google sites and apps, so it’s best to disable Web & App Activity, too.

1- Go to My Activity.
2- Choose Web & App Activity.
3- Choose to Turn off > Pause.

 

  • Turn off location sharing with sites in Google Chrome

When you enable location sharing with sites, Chrome sends information to Google Location Services to get an estimate of your whereabouts and share that information with websites you visit. That’s just another way for Google to gather information about your real location.
Let’s turn off location sharing in Chrome on both your desktop and mobile to keep your location private.

Turn off location sharing in chrome on the desktop:

  • In Chrome, go to your Site settings.
  • Click Location.
  • Click Don’t allow sites to see your location.

Turn off location sharing in chrome on mobile:

  • In Chrome, tap the three-dot icon at the top right.
  • Tap Settings > Site settings > Location.
  • Toggle Location off.

4. Use alternate services

Google is known to be one of the least privacy-respecting ones and tracks a lot of information about its users. This includes your location history, browsing behavior, and search history, among other things. To minimize what Google knows about you, use a privacy-respecting search engine

5. Use a VPN browser extension

A VPN browser extension helps secure your online activity and spoof your location when you’re using your browser.

What is my IP?