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Does a VPN Slow Down Your Internet Speed?

Does a VPN Slow Down Your Internet Speed
Written by prodigitalweb

Does a VPN Slow Down Your Internet Speed? I am very sure most people will answer, but we do not know this simple question.When it comes to choosing a VPN service provider, one of the most important criteria of most people definitely is speed. Isn’t it? Speed is really important, and none of us can deny it. If you want to differentiate one VPN service from another in terms of speed, you may find it difficult. Remember that you can’t diagnose a sluggish connection easily.

However, using the correct technique enables you to overcome the most frequent problems and helps to boost the performance dramatically. Dealing with some issues is necessary to get the best performance from the private network connections. Sometimes, you can find the connection speed fluctuating. As a result, connecting to servers in the system might not be possible. If you are waiting to establish the connection, it may happen that you unintentionally divulge the real IP address. Now, you may be thinking: “Does a VPN slow down your internet speed?” To get your answer, let’s dig into the article.

What Is A Good VPN Speed?

The speed of a virtual private network relies on your specific factors and needs. So, you should choose a virtual private network depending on the activities you do, like gaming, streaming, browsing, etc., so that you can determine whether the virtual private network you are choosing is capable of providing the utmost balance of security and speed for your requirements or not. These are some factors on which the speed relies on:

  • Connection speed;
  • Encryption and protocols;
  • Server locations;
  • Server capacity;
  • Internet service provider.

Does A VPN Slow Down Your Internet Speed?

Yes, a virtual private network can slow down internet speed. The reason is that it routes your traffic via the server and adds additional steps to your connection. Moreover, in order to encrypt your data some bandwidth is required. That’s why choosing a good VPN provider is important.

Suppose the download speed is 100Mbps. Once you connect this to a virtual private network, it will bring down the speed to 80Mbps:

  • Regular Browsing: You will not feel any difference;
  • Streaming: It can be done comfortably;
  • Downloading: You may see a change, but not a lot;

But these may not always be the case. When you connect to a VPN server nearby, a smaller change can be noticed in the speed. Remember that virtual private network server proximity and internet speed are two important factors. So, you can try a wired connection & connect to the nearest server.

Why Does A VPN Slow Down Your Internet?

VPN’s fundamental function is the most common reason behind a virtual private network slowing down the internet. Reasons that can slow down the connection are:

Encryption Strength:

If the encryption is stronger, the connection of virtual private networks will be slower. That’s why you can find the connection providing more speed for 128-bit encryption than 256-bit encryption. If the encryption is reduced, it will boost susceptibility. As a result, the connection becomes less safe.

The data stream encryption needs the inclusion of additional data. It is called encryption overhead, suggesting that encryption has consumed a part of your bandwidth. So if the encryption is less, your virtual private network will provide more speed.

Encrypted data keeps user privacy protected and boosts data security. The virtual private network servers will need more bandwidth when the complexity of their encryption is greater. It could generate connection speed concerns. If the encryption is lower, it will help save time. However, it is recommended to prioritize security above efficiency.

You can never confirm that the VPN service provider is reliable and can offer the utmost protection level. Most VPN service providers are unable to hide IP addresses’ identities. So, every user needs to test the connection’s privacy to ensure its integrity.

Server Bandwidth:

If you have subscribed to a virtual private network from a provider and find it sluggish while using it, then the reason can be an overloaded server with concurrent users. This happens when you use a free VPN service with limited server capacity and many free users.

Usually, servers come with a limit called “Server Load”, which is the total bandwidth and relies on the number of concurrent users. The whole bandwidth remains divided amongst all users. When all users use bandwidth simultaneously, the server will experience difficulty.

You also need to consider the number of users connected to a particular server because it can have an impact on connection speed. Your virtual private network will slow down the internet when the server will be overloaded beyond capacity.

A few VPN clients offer information on the server’s bandwidth as well as the percentage of used capacity. In order to gain faster speeds, you can use another server that has fewer users and lesser load.

Suppose you use a server with 1 Gbps maximum bandwidth capacity and one hundred users are on the server. In that case, every user receives 10 Mbps.

A few virtual private networks use ‘smart’ bandwidth allocation so that they are capable of providing more bandwidth to those people who require this more. For example, when users stream or download large files, they need more bandwidth.

VPN Server Location:

When you use a virtual private network to change server location, you must consider the distance factor. You will experience lower network speed when the chosen server is far away.

VPN Server Capacity and Load:

Server capacity is an important thing you need to consider. Suppose you are connecting to a well known server. In that case, a higher server load may slow down the connection.


How quickly data can travel via the server is related to how it will be routed via it. The way your virtual private network provider routes your connection amongst multiple servers in the same area could have a major impact. When it comes to talking about routing data via the network, the veteran virtual private network providers come with an infrastructure that allows them to do it more effectively. However, doing this task efficiently isn’t possible for inexperienced network providers. That’s why it is important to use a reputable network service.

How Much Does A VPN Slow Down Internet Speed?

You can run a test to know the impact of a virtual private network on your internet speed. The process is very simple and takes very little time.

  • Your first task is to disable your virtual private network in order to run a speed test. After testing, you have to note the results.
  • Once you turn it on, you have to run the test again. After that, your job is to write down the outcomes.
  • Now, you have to compare these two speeds.
  • Finally, your job is to repeat the method a few times throughout the day so that you can see the difference in the results.

Try a few more experiments. You can connect to a virtual private network server which is far away. In that case, you may experience more speed drops because of the remoteness of a server.

Tips To Avoid VPN Internet Slowdowns:

Some ways you can follow in order to prevent virtual private networks from slowing down the internet are as follows:

Connect To A Server That Is Not Overloaded:

Using a VPN server by a lot of people causes the VPN servers to get overloaded. As a result, the connection speed could take a hit. A few virtual private network providers showcase the current server load on the servers or on the website. Suppose you have chosen a VPN server with a lighter load. If it is the case, the virtual private network will provide faster speeds. If you do not see your network provider showing the current load on the VPN servers, you should attempt connecting to another virtual private network to get the fastest speed.

Connect To A Server Closer To Your Physical Location:

Ensure that the VPN server is near your physical location so that you get faster connection speed. Your traffic will need to cover a shorter physical distance when it will be routed via a close VPN server compared to the one that is halfway across the world. To help you to understand this thing clearly, we are giving an example. Imagine you are in Boston. Then, the connection can be faster if you connect to a virtual private network that is in New work or Montreal compared to one in Sydney or Tokyo.

But it may not always be practical, if you are willing to stream content from any particular nation or you are willing to access a gaming server from a specific location. In order to gain a faster connection, you should go with other VPN servers that are closer to your physical location. Thus, you can check which virtual private network can provide the fastest speeds. A few virtual private networks will come with a speed test built-in feature that is available in the apps. In order to check the connection speed, you can also use a speed testing website.

Adjust Your Encryption Level:

It is possible to change the encryption type you are using based on what device, virtual private network or platform you have. Before you try the protocols, you have to know the differences and discover the risks that are related to them.

Avoid Using A Free VPN:

Compared to a paid service, free VPN providers have less servers. Besides, the free ones are always overcrowded. People using free virtual private networks experience a lower internet connection speed.

For maintenance, servers cost money and most free VPN providers are not able to afford it. If they can, they may get cash from elsewhere via invasive ads, or they may collect and sell your data.

Check Your Internet Speed:

You can run a quick test in order to check the speed of the internet, both with and without a virtual private network. Thus, you are capable of determining whether your virtual private network slows down the internet or not. Moreover, you will get to know whether it is required to upgrade your hardware or internet plan.

The steps you need to follow are:

Find A Speed Test Tool: You can find many online platforms providing free speed testing services.

Prepare For The Test: Before running the test, ensure that you close all apps. Also you need to stop the running downloads or streams in order to gain the results most precisely.

Run the Test: After going to the speed test website, your task is to find a button or link so that you can begin the test. Generally, the button or link is labeled as “Go” or “Start Test.” Some factors like download speed, ping, and upload speed are measured through this test.

Interpret The Results: 

  • Download Speed: It displays how fast data is downloaded to your device from a server. This factor is crucial for downloading files or streaming.
  • Upload Speed: It shows how quickly data is sent to a server from your device. Upload speed is important for those activities, such as uploading files to the cloud or streaming live or doing video calls.
  • Ping/Latency: It represents the time taken by data to travel to the server from the device. Lower latency is useful for online gaming or video calls where real-life interaction is needed.

Try A Different Protocol:

A VPN protocol represents a set of instructions between the VPN server and the app on your device. The VPN server determines the way through which the connection is set up securely. Multiple VPN protocols exist and most of the virtual private network service providers offer you multiple options to choose from. You should remember that every protocol has its individual benefits and drawbacks in terms of security and speed.

Clean Up Your Browser:

You may find your browser slowing down the internet sometimes. If so, you need to clean up your browser.

Reboot Your Device:

One of the common solutions that you can try is to restart or reboot your device when it is malfunctioning. In this case, you only have to press the restart button on whatever device you are using to fix the issues. In order to speed up this connection, you can follow this trick. Rebooting your device enables you to fix internal system errors which might slow down this connection. Along with your smartphone or computer, you need to try to reboot your router also to see if this makes a difference.

Reset Router Or Modem:

Slow internet speed may be caused due to issues with the router or modem you are using. In this case, you should try a full reset to fix the problems. As soon as you reset your router or modem, it will erase all current settings. Therefore, you have to ensure that you have essential information like internet service provider login credentials before starting the procedure. These are the steps that you need to follow in this case:

  • Your first task is to identify the Reset button which is available on the router or modem. Usually, you can see a small button which you can press by using a paperclip or similar object.
  • After that, you have to press and hold this button for 10-30 seconds. Then, you need to release the button after you see the indicator lights on the device begin to flash.
  • Now, your job is to wait for some minutes for your device until the reset procedure is completed. Then, you will see your device restarting and the lights coming back to their normal state.
  • Reconfiguring the router or modem is the final step. It is necessary to reconfigure your settings after the reset. For instance, you need to reconfigure your Wi-Fi network name and password.

Ditch Some Software:

A few software can use your bandwidth. If it is the case, you should switch off a few programs and check if the issue is resolved.

Update Your Hardware:

Apps and websites are becoming nowadays more resource-intensive. Therefore, you now have to upgrade your technical base. It indicates that you should purchase a smartphone or laptop following more modern technology.

Enable Split Tunneling If Available:

It may happen that your VPN provider is coming with a split-tunneling feature. In that case, you need to enable this in order to see if increasing the speed is possible. This feature lets you send the traffic you want via this connection, while sending the remaining which remains unencrypted via regular internet connection.

Suppose you are using a virtual private network to stream something. In that case, you are capable of allocating your streaming traffic with the aim of going through the virtual private network that will not going to slow down online gaming. Thus, you can optimize the virtual private network speed for specific activities and prevent unnecessary extra traffic which is running through your virtual private network from burdening the bandwidth.

Use A Wired Connection:

Compared to using Wi-Fi, you will get faster speed when you use a wired connection. You may have connected many devices to your home Wi-Fi network at a time. The devices you have connected are competing for resources on the same wireless channel. As a result, you can experience an unstable internet connection and slower internet speeds. Do you have the proper equipment? Then, you could try to set up a wired connection. You need to first use an ethernet cable to hook up your computer to the router directly. Then, your job is to connect to the virtual private network.

Temporarily Disable Your Antivirus And Firewall:

It is usually not advised to disable antivirus and firewall. The reason is that you have to prioritize both to keep your system secure. If you disable them, you can get affected by harmful elements such as worms, viruses, keyloggers, and trojans.

Do you download something from any reliable source and need to boost the connection speed a little bit? If so, you have to disable your firewall and antivirus temporarily. When you have an antivirus, it will filter all traffic that passes through the computer in order to identify the malicious elements. As a result, it could impact your connection speed. These are the steps you need to follow to disable the Windows Defender firewall on the laptop.

  • You first need to use the search icon to find “Windows Defender” in the taskbar.
  • Then, you need to open the Defender app. After that, your task is to select the “Firewall & network protection” option.
  • After selecting this, the status of your firewall will appear on different networks like public, private and domain.
  • In order to turn off the firewall, you have to click on each. Keep in mind that you must give User Account Control permission in order to turn off the firewall.

You should not turn off your antivirus in any other situation. Instead, you should sacrifice higher speeds for better safety and security.

Close Unnecessary Background Apps:

Some unnecessary apps may run in the background on your device. Although you can’t see these apps in the user interface, they may still consume bandwidth and processing power.

If your system has many apps which run in the background, you will find the connection speed slow. That’s why you need to check the background apps occasionally and close the apps which are unnecessary. In order to boost the virtual private network speed, you need to do this regularly.

You are able to use the Task Manager to close background apps on Windows. If you are a Mac user, you need to use Activity Monitor to close the background apps. But you need to be careful while doing so. The reason is that a few processes are necessary to run the system. Steps that you need to follow to close background apps on Windows are:

  • Your first job is to bring up the Task Manager by hitting Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  • Then, you get to view a list containing apps and background processes that are running on the laptop.
  • Now, our job is to select the process or app you are willing to close. Then, you need to tap on End Task.
  • You have to be careful when you close background processes. The reason is that it might affect the functionality of your device. Ensure that you are not closing any Windows processes.

Turn On MultiHop:

This process may be beneficial sometimes. You should check if your virtual private network is supporting this feature. If it supports, then you have to enable the MultiHop feature, called Double VPN.

Upgrade Your ISP or VPN Plans:

A VPN would not boost internet speed beyond what ISP offers under the current technology. Sometimes you can find your network speed slow due to the slow base internet speed. In this case, the only thing you can do is to upgrade your internet plan to a quicker tier.

In order to increase speeds, you can try to switch from Wi-Fi to wired. You should know that some VPN providers could throttle your speed, mainly when you use a free VPN service.

Don’t Set Up A VPN On Your Router:

If you are a VPN user, you will have two options to set up a VPN. You can set up the virtual private network on your router. Or you are able to set it on every device, like a computer, smartphone, etc., you are using. Try to go with the latter option.

Use 5 GHz Wi-Fi:

Do you have a dual-band router? Then, rather than using the 2.4 GHz network, you need to use the 5 GHz network. Usually, the 5 GHz band is less congested. The reason is that fewer devices use these and provide faster speeds.

Limit Other Internet Activities:

A lot of bandwidth can be consumed while gaming, streaming, or downloading large files. If you want a fast internet connection, you should limit such activities.

Reach Out To Your Internet Service Provider (ISP):

It may happen that the issue is with ISP or your internet service provider. So, you should reach out to them to check if there is any problem. Before doing this, you need to check your internet speed.

Choose Another VPN Provider:

After attempting all the above fixes, if you are still facing the problem, you should then go with another VPN provider. A few VPNs are slower than others and are unable to improve the connection speeds in spite of all efforts.

In order to look for the VPN with the fastest speed, you need to do online speed tests. You can also register for free VPN trials to assess the features. Thus, you are able to make wise decisions when choosing a new VPN client.

If you are still experiencing the problem even after trying the solutions that we have mentioned above, you need to follow the below-mentioned steps.

  1. Use A Router:

If you have subscribed to a VPN, you have to install the essential client software on every device. It could generate problems sometimes because your VPN provider is unable to provide software for that device. However, you do not need to worry. The good news is that installing the software on some specific VPN routers is possible. When you run the software on your router directly, it will give you multiple benefits, particularly as each device in the home or organization will connect to the virtual private network through it, even if any client software is not available.

  1. Supercharge Your Broadband:

It might sound obvious but the total broadband speed determines the virtual private network speed. In order to see if the claims of the ISP match the speed, you have to perform a speed test. Several providers may promise to provide speed within a certain range. But you can obviously check if others can guarantee quicker minimum speeds.

  1. VPN Bonding:

This new technology is used to spread data packets across the entire network for the virtual private network connection using 4G and DSL. Only some popular virtual private network providers offer this. In this technology, a special software implementation of VPN bonding is done to share the internet traffic across all connection types. It means that if one of the connections is slow, the software can automatically start shunting the data via a faster one.

  1. Refresh DNS:

DNS servers for the internet can act as a virtual telephone directory. While accessing a web page for the first time, DNS servers translate the website address into a machine-readable name. This server you choose is going to impact your connection speed. Suppose your device does not have the website (that you are willing to visit) unique IP address. In that case, it will request this from the DNS server of your ISP. It may happen that the machine is not near you. Therefore, your device might need some time to connect.

Configuring your device is a solution you can try to use a public DNS server. Google can provide free services and can connect the IP address to the connection requests so that responses can come from the fastest server which is available.

Popular VPN providers can route all DNS requests through their own servers. If they do not do this, a person who can access your ISP’s records can know the sites you are visiting. It is called a DNS leak. 

Will A VPN Stop Buffering?

You can experience buffering issues because of ISP throttling. If your ISP sees you have been streaming a lot of bandwidth, they could throttle the speed. Usually, a virtual private network hides your activities from your ISP and is unable to throttle the speed depending on activities. As a result, you will have fewer buffering issues.

The Bottom Line:

We hope that after going through the article, you got the answer to your question: “does a VPN slow down your internet speed?” Security and digital privacy have become crucial nowadays. When you are online, you can secure your sensitive information by using a VPN. If you are willing, you are able to build VPN yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions  

  1. Can a VPN improve Internet speed?

Yes, a VPN is able to boost speed for some specific services under specific circumstances. ISPs are able to occasionally limit or slow down specific types of data. When an ISP tries to throttle communication speeds with a specific service, then the virtual private network will evade the throttling as the virtual private network encryption is able to prevent the ISP from determining which kind of services you are connecting to.

  1. Does VPN slow down the internet permanently?

Yes, you may experience the internet slowing down while using a virtual private network.

  1. Is a VPN worth it?

Yes, a VPN is worth it. If you are someone who priotrize online privacy and want to encrypt the online activities, you can use a VPN.

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