A Virtual Private Network enables you to hide your IP address and to encrypt your information so fraudsters, hackers, and scammers cannot access your private online information. Another reason why you would seek VPN services is to bypass geo-blocked websites by specific countries. They will allow you to access political news websites, movie websites, download music and other files.

However, even though many potential VPN users enjoy these benefits, they are also concerned about VPN impact on internet speed. If you’re one of us, you might be asking “why is my VPN connection so slow?” or “does a VPN slow download speed?”. Let’s explore this issue in detail!

What causes a slow VPN connection?

Distance to the VPN server

The most influencing factor is the internet speed you are using and the distance between your location and the VPN server. For example, if you are connecting from Dubai to a Washington DC VPN server you could be experiencing slower internet speed. Look for a VPN provider that has servers in various locations and make sure that some of them are near you.

VPN server load

Another cause of a slow VPN connection is its server load. This mainly happens with free VPN service providers when there are a lot of users connected to one server at a particular moment. It overloads the server and slows down VPN download speed accordingly. In this case, try to connect to a different server in the same country.

Protocols and encryption

There are four most common VPN protocols. Usually, providers offer L2TP, IPSec PPTP, and OpenVPN while some others offer SoftEther or SSTP. Each protocol has a different encryption level, and each protocol is used in different cases. The main rule is the higher the level of encryption – the lower the VPN speed. With 128-bits encryption, you will generally get better connection speeds with L2TP, IPSec, and PPTP. However, using OpenVPN (which is more encrypted and more secure) you will have a slow connection. SSTP has the best balance in encryption level and speed, but it’s available only on Windows.

ISP speed limitation

Your Virtual Private Network will never be faster than then internet speed your ISP provides. If your plan is 40 Mbps, then it’s the max speed a VPN will be able to provide even if it’s capable of 50 Mbps.

Antivirus software

It’s common for firewalls to slow down VPN connections. If you’ve already crossed other possibilities, try disabling your antivirus tools temporarily so you could see if they’re the cause of your VPN speed issues.

7 ways to increase your VPN speed

So you started your great relationship with a VPN and the connection is not as smooth as you expected, we guess? Security comes at a price, my friend. Usually, that price is a 10-20% descrease in your internet speed but if you feel like suffering from more, let’s dig this issue a bit deeper.

Here are some things you can do to increase your speed and forget about intolerably slow VPN connections.

1. Change VPN port/protocol

A VPN software normally connects to servers on a precise port number. For example, it connects to port number 443 when using a UDP or TCP protocol. Some websites limit the speed of certain protocols or ports. Try changing the protocol or port till you find the fastest combination.

2. Change servers

Choose a server that is geographically close to you.  This usually results in increased internet speed performance. Additionally, switching to a server in the closest location may ease any congestion problems depending on how near it is to your location.

3. Replace WiFi with a wired connection

Wireless connections depend on a shared network to transmit data between many devices which usually results in slower speeds. Therefore, one of the most common methods to improve your VPN experience is to use wired connections. They will definitely increase your speed and ensure consistency.

4. Upgrade your ISP or VPN plans

A VPN cannot increase your internet speed beyond what your Internet Service Provider provides. In that case you should upgrade your internet plan to a faster tier. However, keep in mind that ISPs might not be delivering the speeds they promised.

5. Switch devices

Some devices do not have the capability of providing high speeds due to the heavy encryption of a Virtual Private Network. Usually it’s older iOS and Android devices, routers, network-attached storage. If you’re using one of them, then your only solution is to change a device that has a much more capable processor.

6. Don’t set up a VPN on your router

When you start using a VPN you can either set it up on each of your devices or on your router. If you went for the latter one, you’ll have some work to do. A router probably will never catch up with speeds of your device. Plus, you can’t expect your VPN to be fast when your router is encrypting data for multiples devices.

7. Use split tunneling

In order to avoid any identity leaks, the majority of VPN clients transfer network traffic through encrypted tunnel. Yes, you’re safer but you might as well be slower. For instance, if you only want to download torrents anonymously you don’t actually need to route your email or browsing through the same connection. Split tunneling will allow you to transmit browser traffic through the VPN while everything else would use regular connection.