How does some Web sites such as Google know where you are located even when your ip says otherwise


What we want to do is to accurately recognize where the visitors to our Web site are coming from. Of course we do this by looking at the GEO data associated with the ip address of the visitor. But in many cases the ip of visitors is provided by a Big Internet connection provider such as Comcast, so the visitor could be say in Charleston SC but their ip address maps to San Jose CA.

However, some Big Web sites such as Google, know where you are located correctly even though your ip is mapping to some where else.
HOW can they, Google for example, do this?

In case, here is a specific example:
My ip address as provided by my Internet connection provider which is comcast is:
by looking the GEO data of this ip, you would determine that this ip address is in San Jose, California. You can verify this by taking this ip to:

However, when I go to Google Maps it knows my exact location!
Also, same applies to some other Big sites.
HOW are they doing this?

And just to clear I am on a laptop and not a mobile Phone so I am not emitting any GPS locator signals.

Really looking forward to the answer to this question!


P.S.,I cannot think of a better place to post this question, if there is a better forum than Php to post this question, please feel free to move it there.

Oddly enough, I was reading this yesterday, which might help:

That’s Firefox-specific, but I imagine other browsers do something similar.

Technobear, thanks for your answer. But that does not answer my question at all.
That is if you go to the URL that you provided, it states that FF does report my exact location to a Web site that has signed up for this service, by:

“When you visit a location-aware website, Firefox will ask you if you want to share your location.”
FF never asked or asks for such perm.

"If you consent, Firefox gathers information about nearby wireless access points and your computer’s IP address. "
But as I said I am on a laptop connected via NOT a Mobile with wireless access points.

You know People & Governments really need to find the answer to this question, since this seems, well it is, a major Hack level of action by Google or these 2 Major browser providers.

Also, let me state that I ran CCleaner which clears your browser, or supposed to do, of any and all Cached data, and Google still knows my exact real location even though my ip address maps to somewhere else! What the HEK is going on here!

Try turning it off.

Location-Aware Browsing is always opt-in in Firefox. No location information is ever sent without your permission. If you wish to disable the feature completely, please follow this set of steps:

In the URL bar, type about:config
Type geo.enabled
Double click on the geo.enabled preference
Location-Aware Browsing is now disabled

"If you consent, Firefox gathers information about nearby wireless access points and your computer’s IP address. "
But as I said I am on a laptop connected via NOT a Mobile with wireless access points.

Wireless Access Points have nothing to do with mobile, specifically - access points are the method by which you connect to wifi on any device, including your laptop. Unless you’re plugging a cord into your laptop, and you have the wifi radio turned off, your computer is still able to glean information about nearby access points.

Your answer is even more worrisome,
Again, I am connected to the Internet with an ip that maps to SanJose California, so what the HEK are the “wireless access points” around me and how in Gods name would FF or Google be able to determine these! I mean FF or Chrome ala Google, are a Web browser, so how in GODs name would they know what are the “wireless access points” around my laptop which is connected to the Internet via an ip that again maps to location X while I am physically in location Y.

So lets summarize the Key points:

1- Whether I am on Chrome or FF, Google knows my exact Physical location, even though this location is not given by my ip address

2- I have cleaned my Cache with CCleaner

So how in GODs name does Google know my (our) exact location?

Step #1 I think is to calm down a little :wink:


Every wireless access point (wireless routers, mostly) broadcasts unique signals. Any place you are which is nearby some (for instance, in a busy city street, or in an apartment building, there could be dozens of networks available to your laptop at once) - those networks will show up to your computer if your wireless radio is on.
If a browser is able to access that information, it can compare it to what they already know - Google, for example, probably has tremendous data stores of SSIDs and other information due to Street View cars, and information volunteered in droves through their various services and programs. So they compare.

If your laptop is routing IP through a proxy in another state or country, but is physically near 20 other networks, and Google identifies 14 of those as being from Location X, Google will probably decide you’re at Location X.

That’s a very high level overview of how I think that might work, so take it as you will.

If this is something you’re actually scared about, the only particularly good solution that I can think of would be to turn off your wifi/gps/other services and/or to use a browser which doesn’t track or request or have access to any of this - and that browser won’t be as nice or convenient to use, probably. Personally, I’ve mostly given up caring that Google or whomever knows where I am.

What makes you think this? Are you using a VPN or a Proxy?

This doesn’t always work. Try using Private Browsing Mode after turning off Location Data. The instructions for that are in my last post above.

I’ve had this happen to me once, many months ago, and I have to say it freaked me out somewhat at the time. I clicked a link and visited a site for the first time, to be greeted with “welcome to our visitor from X” - the exact name of the village where I live. Unfortunately, my immediate reaction was to close the site, and then I couldn’t remember what it was, or how I’d reached it, so I was unable to try and determine how they had discovered that. My IP address says I’m in London, and I was using my desktop PC. We didn’t have Wi-Fi at the time, and I’d doubt if more than one of the neighbours is close enough for us to pick up a signal from them. Creepy.

You are missing the Big picture completely.
1st, the issue is not “me”. But the issue is how in GODs name is Google capable of knowing OUR exact location when that info is not given by OUR ip address!
This is freakng creepy beyond belief!
How is that so many People keep justifying how Creepy Google actions are! What does Google have to do for you to face the fact that they are anything but a search engine anymore! They have totally entered the domain of Big Brother.

Simply put, a Web browser such as FF or Chrome has no capability, or supposed not to have, to reach outside of my PC and access what you refer to as “Wireless Access Points”.
Simply put, a Web site is not supposed to know anything about US but what is given via our ip address and Coockies. So what you are saying is that Google via FF or Chrome is giving Google Web sites information about US that NO Web site is to know about US!

I, and some other people here, have tried to answer your questions with facts - which you’ve largely ignored in subsequent responses. If this is going to be some sort of odd, ill informed tirade about privacy, I think I’m going to bow out of the thread.

You should do some basic searching (use another search engine if Google is too creepy) and learn about how networking, IPs, etc work - what an access point is, since you aren’t accepting my definition - and how web browsers work. If you actually want answers. But I think you’re just looking for a soap box… and if I want to hear that debate, I’ll go read articles by people with a bit more knowledge on the issue than either you, or I, or probably anyone here :wink:

Also - note - I didn’t ever defend or justify Google. I merely tried to answer your question. Which was in theory the point of you asking :wink:


Generally in all of technology, if your first idea is that something is broken, wrong, weird, or just down right magical about a product rather than you don’t understand it… you’re going to have a bad time. This can be said for all skill levels.

No matter what skill level you are at, when you run into bugs or things you think may be wrong, the first thing that should be going through your head is that you don’t fully understand it. Then once you do fully understand it and you still see it’s wrong, then it’s probably wrong (though still not a guarantee, it’s still probably more likely you don’t understand it unless you actually designed it).

This is what’s happening here. I can easily get around geolocation and have done so many times in the past. It’s a simple matter of using a VPN and Private Browsing. Most of the time, all you need is the VPN.

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Ok, then.
Tell us as Web developers, what is the Code (in Php) that we should use to find someones exact location when they are visiting our Web site if that look up is not to be done via their ip address?
Given the fact that as described before Google Web sites are looking at something else other than our ip address to determine our exact location. So please tell me, tell us, what is that code that we can use that would give us the exact location of the person who is visiting our Web site?

Perhaps by looking at one of the many web sites that has you address?

Google have somewhere between 15 and 20% of all web pages in their index - chances are that several of those have various pieces of information about you that Google can match up to you and so know more about you.

They even made it easier for people to feed that sort of information directly to Google themselves by creating Google+

JavaScript is probably better:

But if you want to do it based on IP in PHP:

There are also lots of PHP plugins for this. I don’t work with PHP so I don’t know any of them.

No Web site has my IP address.
Also again this is not about me, but what Google and few Big Wall Street connected firms can do and no one else can.
To be exact:
1- You can Google my sample IP that I listed and you will see that NO Where is there information about my location being actually in Charleston which Google knows which info that ip address does not provide since that ip address maps to San Jose CA

2- People with dynamic ip address, such as the sample ip address provided, which ip address again does not map to your actual location find that Google knows their exact location

So something really fish is going on here.
If not, please tell me what is the Code which Google is using to know our exact location even when our ip address maps to a different location?

mawburn, I need to study the code that you have provided in detail, since there are things there that I have not seen before, so I do not want to dismiss them until I have had time to go through them. But I still do not see how it is possible for a Web site to know the actual location of the person visiting that Web site, as Google Maps dos for example, when the ip address of that person is mapping to another location. But I would love to find in your Code some thing in this regard that I had not known heretofore.

###Every website you visit has your IP.

Unless you use a VPN. Even proxies can be subjugated.

IP Lookup Location For IP Address:
Continent:	North America (NA)
Country:	United States    (US)
Capital:	Washington
State:	South Carolina
City Location:	Mount Pleasant
Postal:	29466
Area:	843
Metro:	519

These are not exact, but they can be accurate to a general location. Bear in mind you’re also talking about Google, who has the largest collection of data on the planet Earth. Their IP Tracing is going to be much more accurate, based on lots of factors, than the site I linked above. Knowing things about you is their entire business model. You will not be able to recreate their results or accuracy.

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If Google didn’t know where you are located then they will know now when they read this thread.