5 Simple Tips to Improve your VPN Speed
We already covered how VPNs work, and we’ve mentioned that it’s fairly normal for internet speeds to take a slight hit when the client is launched. However, this should only be a small drop in speed, not a total crawl! If you’re experiencing a huge impact to your browsing speed and your ISP isn’t the culprit (hint: try doing the same activity with the VPN turned off to see if it is the VPN that’s the problem), then here are a few easy tips to help you out.
TIP 1: Check your system.
This is always the first thing you should check. Do you have a background app that is consuming your bandwidth? Maybe the latency you’re experiencing is your machine, and not the internet. Your antivirus or antimalware software may be throttling things. Or, your router may need a good old-fashioned reboot. Check the most obvious spots first before fiddling with your VPN settings. Once you’re sure it is indeed your VPN, move on to the following step.
TIP 2: Change your VPN server.
Most VPN clients are a one-click affair that automatically selects the best and fastest VPN server for you. However, servers can be impacted differently at different times of the day, so the fastest server in the morning may not be the same in the afternoon. In this case, the easiest workaround is to refresh the VPN server list and connect to a different one.
TIP 3: Change your encryption protocols.
Be very careful with this one! We discussed VPN protocols in our primer about VPNs, and we mentioned the fact that a few of them run faster than others. Like in most other things, the heavier the encryption, the slower the entire thing becomes.
If you’re just doing casual browsing (i.e., not doing any online transactions or banking) then you can afford a little drop in privacy. You may decrease your encryption to 128-bit, and change your protocol to something like UDP (OpenVPN) or IKEv2. As much as possible, however, don’t choose PPTP and below!
If your VPN company offers it, you might also want to test-drive WireGuard. It can bring a massive speed boost, though you may experience some bumps from time to time thanks to its beta status.
Again, be very careful with the changes you will make! If you made changes that will make your VPN connection less secure, remember to change them back to default before doing sensitive transactions or other activities.
TIP 4: Check advanced features.
Your VPN provider might give you the option to boost encryption. This can kill your internet speed. The kill-switch, which is meant to disrupt your connection when the device cannot establish a path to the VPN server, may also be another culprit. The kill-switch may be cutting you off too often simply because your connection isn’t stable enough to reach the VPN server.
In these cases, you might want to turn off these advanced features if you’re just doing casual browsing. You may also check if your VPN client allows for “split-tunneling”, which is a technology that allows you to choose which data will be protected by the VPN tunnel and which will be sent through the usual way via your ISP. This technique is good for those times when encrypting your entire bandwidth can greatly slow down your system. If you’re doing a routine Zoom meeting, for example, you can choose to have this remain unencrypted so it doesn’t bog down your connection to the VPN server.
TIP 5: Try a different VPN provider.
If nothing works, and your VPN is really the culprit, then we hope your chosen provider has a clear money-back guarantee! Not all VPNs perform the same way for all use cases, so you might want to shop around for a different VPN provider. You can check our site’s reviews to find out which VPN providers have stellar speed records, and which ones you should steer away from.