VPNs, they’re great for privacy, security, and bypassing censorship. But they have their faults too. Numerous users wonder why does VPN slow down internet speed?
Nobody wants to sacrifice speed for safety. However, we’re not talking about cars here, but virtual speeds, so there's no danger of getting hit and run over.
That’s why we’ll show you 11 ways to keep your surfing speeds super fast while still enjoying the protection of a VPN.
Do VPNs slow down your internet speed?
VPN latency is a real thing, and it is the reason why VPNs can slow down your connection speeds. Latency is when all your data requests must undergo extra steps through your VPN-encrypted tunnels, resulting in a slightly slower internet speed.
How much does a VPN slow down your internet?
The amount that a VPN will slow down your connection speed depends on many factors, chief among them, which VPN provider you use, and whether you are using their free VPN option with overloaded servers, or a premium VPN with more exclusive server use.
But, how much does a VPN slow you down, that is, your internet connection? On average, however, your typical VPN provider like ExpressVPN will slow things down by about 15% MBPS.
Why does VPN slow down internet speed?
The question of a VPN slowing down internet is one that is hotly debated online. There are a lot of good reasons for this phenomenon, and the rest of this article will try to answer the question of how do VPNs affect internet speed while offering great tips to increase browsing speeds while using a VPN.
How to increase VPN speed
Now for 11 fantastic suggestions for how to speed up VPN connection if you find that your VPN is slow. They are:
Check your internet connection
Choose a new VPN server closer to your actual location
Connect to a different VPN server that isn't overburdened
Use a different VPN protocol
Try using split tunneling or VPN bypassing
Connect via a wired connection
Shut down applications running in the background
Restart your modem and router
Disable any anti-virus app or firewall
Get a new VPN provider
Lastly, reboot your computer
Keep reading for a more detailed explanation of each method!
1. Check your internet connection
This may seem obvious, but the number one reason your connection speed might be dragging is not your VPN but just straight up your internet connection.
To check your bandwidth, you can quickly glance over at the blinking lights on your modem and router to see if they are blinking normally.
You can also go online to do a third-party connection speed test and use this with your VPN service firstly turned on, then turned off, then make a comparison. This method has little to do with top VPN providers.
2. Choose a new VPN server closer to your actual location
As you know, the best VPN providers place VPN servers in locations all around the globe. When you select a VPN server location, it is possible that you choose one halfway across the world. However, this is one of the reasons why your virtual private network might be slowing down your internet traffic.
One way to ensure a faster connection is to switch VPN server locations to one closer to where you are actually physically located. For example, if you are in Canada but want American Netflix content, try a server in New York City instead of San Francisco.
3. Connect to a different VPN server that isn't overburdened
While VPN servers are great ways to block your ISP, or internet service provider, from uncovering your IP address and spying on your browsing activity, sometimes a server load is hitting its max capacity. This means too many other VPN users are trying to get online via the same secure VPN server.
While it is very hard to know this for a fact, if you are trying to attain better high-speed surfing, you could just try a different server and hope that it is not as overloaded as the one you were just using.
Hint: Free VPNs are more often overloaded than premium VPN server options.
4. Use a different VPN protocol
VPNs work by using what are known as protocols to send data packets and requests back and forth to the websites you are trying to visit. Some VPN protocols are better for cybersecurity, while others are lightweight and can promise better download speeds and less buffering.
For example, OpenVPN has the best VPN protocol for cybersecurity and bypassing firewalls, while WireGuard is good for streaming and gaming. IKEv2 is awesome for general internet use with Windows. Different VPN providers use different VPN encryption protocols, so you might need to try new providers to switch them up in the search for better VPN connection speeds.
5. Try using split tunneling or VPN bypassing
Another way to resolve some internet speed issues is to use some of a VPN app’s special features like the split tunnel. This allows you to whitelist certain websites you want to access directly with your true IP and not with an IP masked from your ISP.
This way, you bypass the latent internet connection speeds of your VPNs for certain sites, giving you an overall faster connection by freeing up some bandwidth activity from having to travel via the encrypted VPN tunnel.
6. Connect via a wired connection
This tip may seem a bit counterintuitive in today’s wireless world, but still, sometimes the old ways are the best ways. If you feel your internet provider, coupled with your choice of the fastest VPN, is still feeling a bit sluggish, try a wired connection. This means plugging in the old ethernet cable to and from your terminal, modem, and router.
A wired connection has always been one way to bump up those MBPS stats, or megabytes per second, when it comes to upload and download speeds, plus it is a more stable connection. What’s more, by avoiding wi-fi, you are making yourself less vulnerable.
7. Shut down applications running in the background
Few people turn on their computers to do one thing at a time. At least, it is very common to have more than one app running simultaneously. It could be your web browser, a music player, a productivity tracker, an email client, a dating app, and a streaming platform all at once.
While this is not necessarily a VPN issue, try closing as many unnecessary apps as possible so that few are running in the background. Even if you are not actively using those opened background apps, they could still be sending data packets to and from your ISP or other websites, clogging up your bandwidth, or worse, your encrypted protocol tunnels.
8. Restart your modem and router
This trick might sound all too obvious, as it has formed the punchline of many internet jokes ever since the turn of the millennium. That is, have you tried turning it off and on again?
In this case, we especially mean your modem or router, and you can either restart them with a button on the hardware or just straight up unplug them and plug them back in. Remember, wait until all the blinking lights are doing their regular thing, and only then, pick a VPN server and resume your online adventures.
9. Disable any anti-virus app or firewall
While VPN provides cybersecurity, this does not mean it is uncommon to have extra anti-virus programs to help block malware, invasive ads, and constantly scan for bugs.
However, it is possible that anti-virus software could be contributing to the problem of slower internet speeds. Same thing goes with any added firewall functionality. If you disable these, it could be one way to overcome the slow-down effect of a VPN.
10. Get a new VPN provider
Today, there are loads of different types of VPN and VPN providers. So, if you are unsatisfied with one, try another. Big names include ExpressVPN, Surfshark, NordVPN and IPVanish, and all are similar in some respects. For example, many use the same AES-256 encryption. It’s where they differ that counts.
Perhaps some VPNs have more or faster servers. Others might be better at preventing your internet provider from throttling data, which is when paying corporations can get more bandwidth to their sites. Throttling is very anti-democratic in the online sphere, so look into that when choosing a new VPN provider, among other things.
Finally, some VPNs are better for different devices or platforms. For example, ExpressVPN is great with iOS, while NordVPN is better with Android.
If you’re not sure which VPN is right for you check out our guide on how to get a VPN for your devices.
11. Reboot your computer
Similar to point number 8, this is the ultimate instance of turning it off and on again. Thank you IT crowd for popularizing this solution across the board, and South Park’s “Over Logging” episode too. This solution does not always help, but it is not to be forgotten in the quest to figure out if your VPN speed is slowing down your internet and how to fix it.
Key takeaways on fixing a slow VPN connection
In conclusion, there are several solutions for those experiencing slow VPN speeds. Checking your internet connection and trying various connection protocols can help address the issue of slow VPN speed. Some users have found that switching from Wi-Fi to a wired connection or disabling any anti-virus apps, and firewalls can also help improve their speed.
We genuinely hope that these 11 tips will take care of some of your slow VPN performance issues. Perhaps not all solutions may be applicable, but nothing is perfect when balancing online privacy and data security with lighting fast server speeds and browsing connections.
Does VPN make internet faster?
VPNs do not make your internet faster. It is possible they slow down your internet connection speeds by a small amount. You can run speed tests to find out your upload and download speed based on MBPS to see if your VPN is slowing things down.
Does VPN slow down wifi connections also?
VPNs can slow down your wi-fi connection as well. Because when you use a VPN, all your browsing data must travel via a secure encrypted VPN protocol tunnel and then through another VPN server, and this process can result in slower wi-fi connections, but not by much.