IP Geolocation Incorrect Print

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VirMach is not affiliated with any companies mentioned in this article. This is our opinion/interpretation of their policies.

When you search your service's IP address online, a third party will attempt to identify the location based on their best guess. Sometimes, this guess may not be very accurate. It may be outdated, derived from a sub-par method of classification, or just not accurate enough. In almost all cases, we cannot do much to change this as each company is allowed to make their own lists and guesses and get to decide what methods or third parties they employ in determining where an IP address is located, but in this article, we'll try to cover as much information as possible. Please note, the information here is purposely oversimplified.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a label assigned to a device. Currently, an IPv4 address is most popular and it looks like this: 120.124.342.234, with four decimals numbers, each of them ranging from 0 to 255. No parts of this number identify the location it is used.

Who geolocates IP addresses?

Since the system does not identify a region within the IP address, it is up to the owner of the IP address to identify its location, usually default to the owner's organization's physical address (whether or not the IP is specifically used there.) This is registered with an internet registry such as ARIN (a nonprofit organization that manages the distribution of IP addresses in the US and nearby regions.) However, there are two main problems with this: [1], ARIN does not validate this information thoroughly to where you can guarantee an IP address location listed is correct, and that means the owner of the IP address can mislabel it, [2], ARIN does not permit other companies to freely use this information for commercial purposes. Therefore, third party companies exist that attempt to geolocate IP addresses.

The main companies that provide geolocation services are: [1] Maxmind, [2] IP2Location, and [3] db-ip. Many other companies exist and you can even start your own. 

What is the location of an IP address?

First, it's important to realize the difference between estimated IP geolocation and the actual location. A "location" of an IP address is where it's being used, so for example at home, this is your modem/router. For our services, it's the equipment at the datacenter. Keep in mind, though, that technologies exist where an IP address can float around and actually be used for multiple locations simultaneously.

How are IP addresses geolocated?

The methods for doing this vary based on the geolocation provider, and the user. For example, a company may just use the listed ARIN information at face value when determining the location for an IP address. Some other methods include: [1] triangulating the location based on pinging it from multiple locations and guessing the location based on how long it takes for data to travel or routing information, [2] checking the owning company's public registration information, [3] checking other browsing behaviors. None of these methods are perfect on their own, so usually the methods are combined. Keep in mind, even if the IP is geolocated correctly, its location may change at any time.

How are guesses made?

If a geolocation service is unsure, it may make a guess based on several different methods as well. For example, one of them may instead rely on one piece of information instead of several, and just go based off the company's registration information and "average" it out to the center of that region. So if they believe the company is a US company who owns the IP, they'll "average" it to Kansas, the center of the US. Another may try to closely triangulate it even though they know it's wrong because it will be closer than taking just the "average" so if it's located in New York, they might say it's located in Pennsylvania (rather than Kansas.) Others may go based off specific registration information, so if it's located in Amsterdam, they might say "New York" because that's the last specific registered address seen.

What can VirMach do?

If you believe the IP address of your service is geolocated incorrectly, please search it on ARIN and see if the registration information is correct. If it is incorrect, you can contact us to update the registration information. Please include a link to the ARIN page listing the incorrect information. Otherwise, you need to identify which specific geolocation service is mislabeling the IP address. Please note, a website such as "whatismyip.com" would most likely not be geolocating IP addresses themselves but instead using a geolocation service such as Maxmind, so you need to figure out what geolocation service is used specifically and not just state "whatismyip.com." Then, you can link us the revision form for that geolocation service, if it exists, and request that we forward your request for a correction. This is not guaranteed to be approved as each third party makes up their own rules. 

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