As internet privacy and security become a critical global issue, virtual private networks (VPN) are becoming increasingly popular among individuals and businesses worldwide.
- Installing a VPN is one of the easiest ways to make everything you do online more secure.
- A VPN may not be able to protect you from all targeted attacks, but it dramatically reduces the chances of one.
- While VPNs are often blamed for slowing down your internet speed, they can also improve them — thanks to service providers’ ability to evade throttling.
VPNs can keep your data safer while online. However, some VPNs can cause internet connection problems, resulting in poor user experiences that can negatively impact your or your team’s productivity.
Learn about the factors that can cause a VPN to slow down your internet connection — and how you can overcome them.
Why You Need a VPN
Using a VPN is the easiest way to improve your online security, whether you’re an individual user or a business.
A VPN hides your original internet protocol (IP) address by routing all your activity through secure encrypted channels, preventing the websites you visit from tracking and monitoring you. This is helpful, for example, when you want to avoid targeted ads.
A VPN may not be enough to protect you from targeted attacks. But if you’re a small or medium-sized business or use products such as password management and privileged access control, the chances of that happening are low.
Internet speed issues are probably the most significant drawbacks of using a virtual private network, mainly because many people are used to lightning-fast speeds in the palms of their hands. Don’t let that mislead you into thinking you’re better off without a VPN.
When it comes to selecting the right software tools for your business, there’s always going to be some level of compromise between security and usability. While it may feel like a nuisance at first, there’s always something you can do to improve speed. And as the technology continues to evolve, new solutions will make it even easier.
Just ask any cyber attack victim and they’ll tell you: Don’t skimp on protection.
Why VPNs May Slow Internet Connections
To understand why and how a VPN might hinder your internet speeds, you need to know how the VPN encryption process works. It routes your communications and browsing activity through an external server, granting you a new, anonymous IP address that belongs to the remote server you’re routed through.
While some VPNs offer real-time velocity optimization, it’s almost inevitable that this will take slightly longer than if you weren’t using a VPN.
Small, insignificant delays might go unnoticed. However, it’s always a good idea to test your VPN speed to find out which circumstances are slowing you down and possibly optimize them to achieve a faster and more reliable internet connection.
Factors To Optimize VPN Speed
The location of your selected VPN server
The more removed the VPN server is from where you are, the longer it takes to route your activity through the encrypted channel. Connecting to a server in a foreign country may also cause some of the websites you visit to display content in a different language.
It’s best to select a VPN location close to you and displays content in a language you understand.
The load on your VPN server
If many users are simultaneously connected to the same server, you may experience a considerable decrease in internet speeds even when using a nearby server.
Some VPN providers offer real-time speed optimization. If the server you selected is overloaded, a new location will be automatically connected so you’ll always have the best possible speed.If you’re still wondering which VPN provider to choose, check out a list of recommended VPN providers to choose the one that best fits your needs.
The security protocol
Another factor that impacts internet speeds is the security protocol used by your VPN provider. For example, an advanced encryption standard (AES) running on 256 bits is considered a top military-grade security protocol. Still, a more complex encryption process may add a slight lag.
Most of the better VPN providers will offer multiple security protocols. Lower-grade protocols may be a better choice if you prioritize speed over security. Your IP address would still be sufficiently anonymous, even at a lower encryption level, and you would get maximum connectivity speed.
Is a Free VPN Slower Than a Paid VPN?
While there may be some exceptions, free VPNs will generally be more restricted in the number of locations they offer. They may not be as good for limiting the number of users on each server.
That means that paid VPNs will almost always be faster than free versions.
As with any software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, paying for a premium license means you get better value. When it comes to VPNs, a small monthly subscription fee protects you from severe threats that put your business continuity in jeopardy.
But if it’s not properly configured, even a paid VPN can slow down your internet connection. So it’s a good idea to check your settings occasionally and ensure you’re using the fastest available options.
A VPN Can Accelerate Internet Speeds
Under certain circumstances, it is possible to have faster speeds when using a VPN.
Whether or not it happens depends on your internet service provider (ISP). This is because many ISPs throttle internet connections during peak times to allow acceptable speeds for all users.
A good VPN can bypass those restrictions, so you’ll get a better internet speed than if you weren’t using a VPN.
Testing VPN Speed
Now that you know which factors affect your VPN performance testing your internet speed should be fairly simple. Just visit one of the recommended testing sites to see how long it takes to upload or download data packets with or without a VPN. If the difference is significant, you can reconfigure your VPN settings or switch to a VPN provider that offers greater flexibility.
FAQs About VPNs and Internet Speeds
What is a good internet speed when using a VPN?
It depends on what you’re doing while online. High-definition video streaming and gaming require a lot more bandwidth than simple browsing. But around 25 Mbps should meet most needs.
Will my internet be slower if I use a VPN?
Not necessarily. While many assume using a VPN will significantly slow down internet speeds, an up-to-date optimized VPN may have little to no effect on your experience.
How can I test my internet speed?
Many websites offer free internet speed testing, such as Speedtest.net. Simply point your browser to the site and follow the prompts to test your download, upload speeds, and ping latency.
What are some of the ways that a VPN enhances security?
A VPN hides your IP address, so hackers won’t easily be able to find your exact location and uncover personal data such as banking and credit card information.