How to Speed up Your VPN

By Top10 StaffTop10 Staff

With each passing day Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) become more and more popular with internet users who want to safeguard their privacy online, or just want to access content that’s banned in their location. With the growing popularity of VPNs, one concern for consumers is how VPNs can slow down browsing speed, and companies have taken note.

Speed is now one of the main selling points of VPN providers, and in this post, we’re going to break down how you can speed up your VPN.

What Makes a VPN Run Fast?

Your VPN can only be as fast as your connection. If your connection is running a bit slow already, then when you set your VPN to on, you can expect the speed to be subpar as well.

Most VPN providers allow you to readily change the server you’re using for the VPN, with the options often listed by speed. One of the main factors that can affect the server is distance. Typically the closer the server is to your actual physical location, the quicker it’ll run. For instance, if you’re in Italy, you’re probably going to get better speed by running through a server in Austria, than by bouncing it through one based in New Zealand.

Look for a VPN provider with a higher number of servers, as this increases the amount of options for your traffic. Also, see if your VPN allows you to check the latency of the server. This refers to the “ping time,” the time it takes to send and receive requests from the server.

Distance might not be the only issue though, there could be some problems in the network path between you and the server, so you should bounce around and try different servers until you find one that works faster for you.

You can also try to run a different security protocol for your VPN until you get one that works quicker. By reducing the level of encryption you can improve the speed, without removing your security measures altogether.

If your VPN allows it, you may also want to enable what’s known as “split tunneling” on your VPN. This is a configuration that allows you to send some of your traffic through the VPN and the rest unencrypted over your regular internet connection. This way you can reduce the amount of traffic you’re running through the VPN, potentially helping improve your speed.

You can also restart your router and see if it runs faster, and restart your device. You could also check if the VPN runs faster on a different device, so if it’s slow on say, your mobile, try it on your desktop.

What Causes a VPN to Slow Down?

There are a number of factors that can slow down your connection when the VPN is on.

First off, look for whatever programs you’re running on your computer that may be slowing it down, and which you can shut off to lessen the burden on your connection.

Look at the server you’re using and see if you can get an idea of how fast it’s operating. You may want to consider moving to a different server for your VPN, in particular to one that’s closer to your physical location, and which is shown to be operating at a high speed.

If you have a really strong security protocol setup, this can slow down your connection speed. See if you can play around with your security settings, and remove some of the security for the sake of speed.

Finally, if you’re running off a dial-up or WiFi connection, you’re likely to have slower connection speeds than if you use a wired connection. Plug in if you can.

What’s the ideal VPN speed?

Typically online speed tests will rate your speed in terms of Mbps—megabits per second, with a download score of around 75 Mbps or higher considered very fast. This is also more than most households will ever need, so if with your VPN switched on your Mbps is a lot slower, that shouldn’t be cause for concern.

What's the ideal VPN speed? A better question is:

Which Online Activities Require Fast VPN the Most? (Gaming, Streaming, etc)

If you're just using your internet connection to send emails or read your favorite news site, then the speed of your connection isn’t going to be of critical importance. Where speed can have a big impact is if you are using your connection for streaming TV shows and movies.

Many people use VPNs so they can access Netflix from a different country. This is quite easy to do but if the connection is slow, your stream could get choppy. Another place where speed is important is online gaming. If you’re using a slow connection, the game stream could be halting, leaving you frustrated. If you're on Fortnite, for instance, this could mean a choppy, slow connection that leaves you open to get taken out by your competition.

Relatively speaking, this doesn’t require an especially fast connection. The required minimum download speed for XBox One and Nintendo Switch, for instance, is 3 Mbps. even the “slow” VPN should easily be able to reach this speed.

Which VPNs Are Considered the Fastest? The Slowest?

When rating the speed of a VPN, it’s best not to look simply at the speed of your connection when the VPN is on, rather, how that compares to your speed when you’re running your device without a VPN. Typically, a VPN that drops your speed by less than 50% is considered fast.

Tons of different VPN providers advertise with their fast speed placed front and center as a selling point. As a result, it can be hard to get a clear sense of who's really at the top of the field when it comes to speed.

Nonetheless, you tend to see the same names time and again at the top of the “fastest VPNs” lists.

One of the top names time and against is ExpressVPN, and not just because it has Express in the name (though that doesn’t hurt). The company uses more than 2,000 servers in over 148 locations, and has won repeated accolades for its speed performance.

NordVPN has more servers than almost any other company, well over 5,300—and they’re spread over more than 60 countries, so you should be able to find one near your location, which is always a good idea when trying to find a faster connection.

CyberGhost has also performed well in speed tests and boasts of having the highest speeds of any VPN, though these speeds can vary. In our tests, PrivateVPN and IPVanish also performed quite well, with Private VPN scoring speeds that were only about 25% lower with the VPN on.

Off to the Races

Speed is an important consideration when looking at which VPN to buy, but with these tips for how to improve your VPN speed, and with a better idea of what affects VPN speed, you should have an easier time keeping things running smoothly.

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