We all know that internet speed matters. There are no two ways about it. Especially when you are considering opting for a VPN service. Speed plays a rather significant role when choosing a VPN. But what is the reason that some VPN services are fast, but others slow?
Before exploring further, let’s take a step back and try to understand how the internet works. The internet is, basically, a large and dynamic network, routing data packets between billions of devices around the globe. Sometimes the devices transporting this huge amount of data fail, resulting in the unavailability of certain routes, thus traffic has to be diverted to new routes and this creates congestion on that particular route. But speed issues will always be resolved automatically as new routes are added, repaired, and optimized. Now, A VPN speed can never be greater than your actual internet speed. Due to encryption, it will always be around 10 to 20% lower.
However, many of us complain that even when our internet offers a speed of 100 Mbps after VPN we only enjoy around 15 Mbps of speed. This is the core issue.
If you are facing such a severe reduction in speed then carry on reading and hopefully by the end we will be able to resolve any such issues.
Why is my VPN connection slow? What affects VPN speed?
The speed of your VPN depends on a bunch of variables. Some of which are solely related to the type of VPN service you have subscribed with such as server load, server location, server speed, routing, etc. Still, your network and connection choices also play a huge role in this aspect.
Some of the factors that affect your VPN speed are ranked below according to importance or order:
Your Internet speed
Your VPN speed is directly proportional to your internet speed. Faster internet speed will get you faster VPN connectivity and vice versa.
For obvious reasons, a closer server location will always be faster than those situated on the other side of the globe.
Server bandwidth and crowding
If 10 people are sharing a 100 Mbps speed VPN server, then each person will be averaging around 10 Mbps, regardless of his/her internet speed. That’s why free VPNs are slower and paid ones are faster.
Protocol dictates the encryption algorithm used by a VPN. Encryption can directly impact speed and latency. Thus, outdated protocols will result in a slower speed.
Encryption takes place locally, that is, it depends on your hardware. An up-to-date system will have a faster VPN speed.
A wired network is always faster than a wireless one. Thus, an Ethernet connection will provide you faster VPN connectivity when compared with Wi-Fi.
But before we try any of the tips and tricks to tweak our VPN speed, we should ensure whether the problem is really with our VPN or not.
How to check our VPN speed
We can conduct a browser-based speed test. Some sites can help you run a speed test. One of them which I would recommend is speedof.me, speedtest.net, fast.net or openspeedtest.com
- Turn off your VPN and run a speed test. It is the speed your ISP provides. It will give you a baseline
- Turn your VPN on and run the speed test again.
- Compare both the speeds.
Keep in mind that the speed with VPN on will always be lower than that with VPN turned off, but if the difference is more than 30-40%, it means your VPN has issues.
Now that we have checked whether the problem is with our VPN or not let’s move forwards and check out these simple tricks to increase our VPN seed.
7 simple tricks to increase your VPN speed
1. Try changing your VPN server
One of the most common issues with VPN speed is due to a VPN server. VPN speed varies according to throughput and latency. Throughput is the bandwidth restrictions of a server and latency is related to server location/distance. If a server is too crowded it will have a poor throughput and if the server is located far from you it will result in poor latency. Thus, to improve your VPN speed, you can try changing to a less crowded server and albeit a bit closer to your location.
- Throughput is the upload download speed of a server which is measured in Mbps
- Latency is the speed at which a server can send data packets thus a far location means slower speed.
2. Try changing your VPN protocol
Depending on your device and VPN service provider you can change your VPN protocol. Different protocols such as PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, OpenVPN, Wire guard, offer different services. While some of them are outdated yet still being used due to negligence? Of the VPN service provider, most of the time your device may not necessarily have different inbuilt protocols for VPN. Try changing to a protocol that suits your needs.
3. Ditch wireless and embrace wired connections
As a rule of thumb wireless connection will always render slower speed than a wired one. As wireless will receive interference from objects placed around you a wired ethernet will help you surf the net at a much superior speed due to lower latency.
4. Change routers/restart router
If you are an avid WIFI lover and don’t want to compromise freedom/mobility then you should consider upgrading/changing your WIFI router. Switch WIFI bands, upgrade to 5Ghz instead of 2.4Ghz. If your router is up to date you might want to schedule a regular restart of your device to ensure optimum performance.
5. Update your device for a boost in connectivity
Any device be it Android, iOS or Windows will see a drastic drop in performance after 2 or 3 years of usage. It will of course affect internet connectivity which will in turn affect your VPN speed. Thus you can try to regularly update your hardware or at least install the latest firmware or OS updates.
6. Enable split tunneling
Sometimes what you are expecting from your VPN is simply outside of what it can deliver. If you are using multiple bandwidth extensive applications all at once then you may want to try a service VPN provider offer – split tunneling.
It enables you to choose which data will be encrypted and which will be sent unencrypted. It will reduce the load on your VPN.
7. Temporarily turn off your security software
Some anti-virus software filters outgoing data which places an additional burden on the VPN. You can turn off these tools but I’d rather sacrifice speed over security.
Even if after all this you do not see a noticeable change in your VPN speed then it’s time to face the music and accept….
It’s your VPN provider that’s the problem
The reality is many VPN overload their servers to maximize profits. If you suspect your VPN provider is one too, change to another service asap.