Virtual Private Networks (VPN) provide a convenient solution to protect your online security and privacy and hide your real geographical location so that all your online activities can be hidden from spying eyes. However, as a VPN is used on your device, it can slow down your internet connection. So, what leads to slow connection through a VPN? In this article, we’ll show you why your internet speed is slow, and how to speed up your VPN.
Does a VPN Cause a Slower Internet Connection?
In short, it shouldn’t. But it can. Of course, a VPN is not created to slow down your connection. Contradictorily, it can boost your internet connection by avoiding bandwidth throttling and deploying more efficient routing.
Avoiding Bandwidth Throttling
Your bandwidth is limited by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). That’s a fact, no matter what they claim in their advertising. As soon as you connect, your ISP starts monitoring your bandwidth usage, looking for extraordinarily high levels of data transmission as you stream video, download large files or play online games. Most of the time, you’ll stay within your allowance, but if you want to do more than one of those things at a time or have multiple users hooked up, you can easily exceed it. Instantly, your ISP will know and will throttle your bandwidth, causing videos to switch to low resolution mode and video games to lag. When a VPN is used for your internet connection, however, your ISP cannot check your bandwidth usage. And that means you’ll slip right past their bandwidth throttling measures.
How routing works, and how to make it more efficient
Routing is an automated process of selecting the path of traffic in a network or across multiple networks. For the internet, ISPs distribute traffic to different servers in different places.
VPNs allow you to use any server around the world to get connected to the internet. Connecting to another VPN location can completely change the path your traffic takes, and if the new path is more efficient, you can increase your internet speed dramatically.
Can a VPN Slow Down Internet Connection?
Your Network Speed
No matter how fast a VPN connects, it’s always limited by the speed of the network that is used to get access to the VPN server. If you have only a network speed of 10mbps, you cannot expect an internet connection speed of 50mbps.
Distance is one of the leading causes to slow down internet connection. It sounds obvious, but a longer distance makes data travel farther and for longer to the target server, meaning that uploading and downloading will be slower the greater the distance the data has to travel. A VPN with a poor choice of server locations could mean your data is travelling further, slowing you down.
How crowded the VPN servers are directly determines how fast servers can react. If 100 people share a server with 1000mbps, the average bandwidth each individual can obtain can’t exceed 10mbps. And that’s a very slow connection! If the VPN server had a higher bandwidth, then 100 people can easily use it and receive a high speed.
Server bandwidth determines how many people can use any server. And a high server load – that’s basically a large number of people doing data-intensive activities – will slow down connection. And they could even break it. That’s not just a VPN problem, it’s a problem with any internet connection.
One of the great things about VPNs is that they provide data security through high-level encryption. However, encryption insertion needs processing time. Both encryption and decryption need more processing time on either device or VPN server. The higher the level of encryption that is performed, the more the internet connection time will slow down.
This gets a little complicated, but VPNs can use two types of protocol. One is TCP, which is a connection-oriented protocol. The other is UDP, which is a connection-less protocol. The former establishes a connection between the sender and receiver before any data is transmitted. The latter establishes a connection before sending data. Which protocol your VPN uses directly affects encryption extent and will slow down internet connection. UDP protocol is usually faster than TCP protocol because the former won’t force servers to verify the receiving of all the data packages and to retransmit lost data packages.
How to Speed Up VPN
Opt for Higher Bandwidth Speed
As discussed, if you have a low network speed, even if the fastest VPN is used, you can hardly expect a high speed of internet connection. Therefore, it’s fundamental to opt for a network service with a high speed, based on which, a high VPN connection speed can be expected.
Carefully Check Your Network Connection
Make sure your WiFi connection runs smoothly. If you have a weak WiFi signals, your VPN won’t work as well. In fact, the internet connection in general won’t work well even without a VPN. Stay close to your WiFi router for optimal connections.
Change to Nearer and Faster Servers
Choose the servers that are close to your location and you’ll get faster connection to the internet due to low delay. Moreover, changing to another server with higher bandwidth possibly allows you to avoid the crowding issue.
Select Specialized Servers
The best VPNs provide different types of VPN servers classified into different categories to deal with specialized connection requirements. Therefore, it’s a good idea to connect to a specialized server based on your unique demands. For example, on the list of SkyVPN servers, there are UK-Netflix and US-Netflix servers. Certain VPN servers should be used based on your location and purpose. Another example is a Kashmir Exclusive server developed especially by BitVPN to fight against the lock-down situation in Kashmir. The specialized VPN servers definitely bring forward higher connection speed to the internet.
Change VPN Protocol
VPN software gets you access to the internet through particular protocols, UDP or TCP as discussed. Some networks limit the speed of some protocols. Therefore, protocols can be modified if you suffer from low-speed connection until an optimal connection can be achieved with the highest connection speed.
Use a Wired Connection
Your internet connection speed may be limited by Wifi connection because wireless connection depends on shared channels and data is transmitted between multiple devices, which will possibly lead to delays and low connection speed. Wire connection usually supports higher speed than WiFi connection.
Try Split Tunnel
By default, most VPN apps send network traffic through encrypted tunnels so that users’ online security and privacy can be well protected. However, your VPN bandwidth can be consumed as well by doing this. For instance, if you only need a VPN to unblock a video streaming site, is it also necessary to route your browsing, email and everything else through the same tunnel? Absolutely not. Split tunnels provide more control over the applications using VPN tunnels so that VPN traffic can be reduced and higher connection speed can be achieved.
Have you tried turning it off and on again? A universal solution in IT is to restart. In the case of VPNs, modems, routers or your devices, restarting should always be the first port of call if you are getting extremely low speeds. Try it, you’ll be surprised how often it speeds up your internet connection!
Disable Local Security Software
Firewalls or anti-virus software may slow down VPN connections by filtering or scanning data packages. Try disabling the security software temporarily for higher connection speed while VPN is used. After all, VPN can also protect against data breaches and identity theft.
Try Not to Use the Same VPN Account on Multiple Devices
Generally speaking, the same VPN account can be used on multiple devices. However, if all the devices are on at the same time using the same account for lots of activities, low connection speed may occur. You can share your VPN account with parents or friends, but it’s not a good idea to use it at the same time.
Refuse Free VPN
A free VPN may sound appealing but there’s always a catch. After all, nothing in this life is truly free. These so-called ‘free’ VPNs usually have a very limited server count and the traffic on the server has to be distributed by all free users. It’s almost impossible to get a high connection speed on free VPNs – and what’s more they’ll likely be selling your data to third parties. After all, they’ve got to make their money somehow. Therefore, to get high speed connection to the Internet, free VPN can never be selected.
The internet system is a vast and dynamic network consisting of communications between billions of data packages. But today we have the technology to handle that securely and quickly through VPNs – just make sure yours is not the culprit slowing you down!
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