VPNs are required for several reasons – to increase security, to bypass internet restrictions, and to go anonymous online. While a number of VPNs offer high speeds, some people still do feel that their speeds get restricted when they connect to the VPN.
Why VPNs make connection slower
When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted and rerouted through another server. So the software does two things extra – encrypt your data AND add a middleman between the web server and your computer.
Since some time is spent in encrypting the packets and the data has to travel longer now, it slows down the connection. Even if the speed drop is not noticeable, there is still some loss.
On fast servers, you’ll see a very small drop in speed. And in some cases (although these cases are rare), you might even see a rise in speed because VPN beats throttling being done by the ISP.
If you have a 1Gbps connection, a minor speed drop won’t have a big impact on your online speeds. However, if you get 4-5Mbps, you will notice the speeds getting drastically reduced.
Here are some factors that might be making your connection slower
There can be several reasons behind the VPN slowdown. Here are some of the most common reasons.
⚠️ Distance from the server
If you connect to a server that’s geographically far away from you, your data packets will have to travel even longer. This will show its impact on your upload and download speeds.
If you’re connecting to a faraway server and are experiencing the slow speed issue, try connecting to a nearby server and then observe the speeds. If you start getting faster speeds, it was the server that was at fault.
⚠️ Load on the server
Once again, this is an issue that can be resolved by changing the server. When several users connect to the same server, it gets overloaded. There are some VPN apps that show the server status so the user can pick the right server accordingly.
They mark overloaded and free servers so you can connect to a server that gives optimum performance. If your app doesn’t offer this feature, you’ll have to try to connect to various servers before you finally find a free one.
This is one reason why experts recommend using premium services. There are a lot of people connecting to free servers, which brings down their speeds.
Also, it’s best to select a VPN provider that has a large network. Because if they have more servers, you’ll have a better chance of finding a free one.
⚠️ Type of encryption
While high-grade encryption is better at securing your network, it does make the connection slower. So instead of connecting using AES-256 bit encryption, maybe you should try AES-128. While the latter is also strong and very effective for personal use, it lets the connection be faster.
If you’re experiencing slow speed issues with a particular protocol, switch to another protocol. See if the issue resolves. Sometimes, it’s just the protocol to blame.
How to speed up the VPN connection
We have mentioned some ways above. You can change the server, protocol, or the encryption to see if the connection got any faster.
If that doesn’t work, here are some other things you can try.
ℹ️ Check your connection speed
Maybe the VPN isn’t to blame. Disconnect from the VPN and check the internet connection. Is it slow? If the internet is slow, your VPN cannot make it faster. Switch to another router or use mobile data.
ℹ️ Restart your device
Sometimes it might be the device that’s faulty. Restarting it might help with the connection speeds. Also, try disabling security software such as firewalls. They might be blocking VPN for you, thus lowering the speeds.
ℹ️ Switch to a wired connection
Sometimes, the packet loss is to blame. When you use a wireless connection (like Wi-Fi), some packets are dropped on the unreliable network. This can lower the speeds. Use an Ethernet cable to connect to the modem and you might notice a speed difference.
ℹ️ Try another VPN
Sometimes, a VPN might be slow. While all VPNs promise superfast speeds, not all of them live up to their promises. If you feel that your VPN is the culprit, it’s best to switch providers.
If your VPN provider offers a money-back guarantee, you’ll be able to get a full refund. However, if they don’t offer such a guarantee, your money is practically wasted. This is why it’s always a safe bet to get a VPN that offers a money-back guarantee.
ℹ️ Combine internet connections
If your internet is too slow, you can fix the issue by combining the speeds of multiple internet connections. There are channel bonding devices that connect several wired connections. There are also channel bonding apps that combine various Wi-Fi connections.
If you’re in the airport, you will notice a number of Wi-Fi connections. Your device automatically takes the strongest one. With channel bonding, you can combine multiple Wi-Fi networks to get a faster network.
VPN connection speed issues
The top VPN providers in the market offer high speeds and if you’re using ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or any other top providers, you won’t experience serious lag issues.
VPN speed issues generally arise with free VPNs. Since free VPNs have a number of users connecting to a limited number of servers, their speeds are super slow.
Apart from that, free VPNs might sell your data to advertisers to gain revenue (they gotta earn, after all!) This is why experts always recommend using reliable VPN services. Keep in mind that not all paid services are reliable. Some services might have high rates to show they are the best but the top VPN providers actually lie in the middle cost range.
If you have never used a VPN before, make sure you read a few reviews before you spend on a VPN.