April 22, 2023
VPNs are widely used nowadays, especially in the case of those who want to access online content that, for various reasons, is blocked in their country, either due to image rights, copyright, or simply, in the case of paid services, because they don’t provide this service in that part of the world. We know that using a VPN is an excellent option in these cases, but this is when the question arises: Does using a VPN affect your internet speed?
If you've ever used a VPN to browse the Internet, connecting to servers in other countries, you may very well have experienced some type of slow connection, or perhaps not, since this depends a lot on the type of Internet connection and the VPN, the testimonials and opinions are diverse.
Many factors can affect the speed of our Internet when using a VPN, and here we come to solve this great doubt that you may have wondered about at some point.
As its name suggests,a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a virtual network through which we can connect and surf the Internet, and this network can be used at the same time as us by anyone else in the world.
Our local network has a local IP to which we can connect, as well as all the people within a certain radius of proximity; unlike this, a VPN has an IP, but it works in a totally virtual way, allowing anyone on the Internet with a program capable of connecting to it to do so, in short, without the need for its members to be physically connected.
Its operation may seem somewhat complex, but the truth is that once you understand it, it’s quite simple. Basically, all your network traffic will continue to go from your device, whether it’s a mobile or a computer, to your Internet provider, but from there, it goes directly to the VPN server.
This type of connection is helpful for many different kinds of situations, such as teleworking, for example, or avoiding geo-blocking; the latter is very common, and it’s true that some websites, especially in Europe, block their content from being accessed by visitors from other continents to keep this content "exclusive". It also happens with songs on Spotify or videos on YouTube, for example, and this can be solved with a VPN.
A VPN may or may not noticeably affect our Internet; if we browse on a very poor connection in terms of megabytes and unstable, it’s possible that, when we connect to a VPN, we’ll see how the browsing speed automatically stagnates, making it almost impossible to browse.
However, there are other cases in which, since the Internet is so powerful, the connection speed is barely affected, decreasing very little and giving the impression that the VPN doesn’t affect the Internet, and even if it does, the change will be minimal.
In general, you shouldn’t see a significant reduction in the speed of your internet if you use a VPN with its server close to your location. The proximity or remoteness of the VPN server to which we connect is crucial to understanding the large percentage of speed we lose.
Other factors can be decisive in determining why our internet speed is reduced, but this will be discussed later.
Although this depends mainly on the server to which we connect through the VPN (the farther away it is, the poorer the connection and, therefore, the megabyte speed obtained), the tests carried out on Ookla's Speedtest platform give results that indicate that the VPN affect your Internet speed.
It can be said that internet speed can be affected between 10% and 30%, depending obviously on the type of server, and can reach up to 60%, that is, more than half of the total flow of megabytes obtained, losing a tremendous amount of speed.
Several factors can cause VPN speed to be seriously reduced.
We’ll now give you precisely the main reasons for VPN speed slowdowns.
One of these factors is the location of the server, as we mentioned previously; just as there is a fast VPN, there are also many others that are slower, and it’s necessary to know how to locate them in order to avoid losing speed. In short, the further away you are geographically from the VPN of choice, the greater the speed reduction.
Another key factor can be the type of encryption; depending on how strong the encryption of the VPN protocol you use is, it can slow down your VPN speed a bit more than normal.
Many VPN programs have their own bandwidth limit so as not to cause saturation. For example, if you have a bandwidth of 100 megabytes, but your VPN program has a bandwidth limit of 50, this may be what "reduces" the speed of your VPN.
Firewalls generally don’t intervene in VPN speed, but some are automatically configured to regulate VPN network traffic. In this case, you should turn off the firewall to prevent this from happening.
Although it may not seem like it, if you have an older PC, the encryption, decryption, and browsing processes are expected to be much slower, especially when working on a VPN program.
Currently, many Wi-Fi networks are configured with two different connections, a 2.4 GHz and a 5.8 GHz connection; the latter is faster than the former, so it also depends on which one you’re connected to when browsing the VPN.
You must also consider whether the connection is wireless or wired.
Generally, free VPNs use routing algorithms that aren’t very good, so the speed when browsing with these programs is slower because of this.
Finally, we find a very simple cause that’s also perfectly possible.
If you have an internet connection at home that’s somewhat old, has low bandwidth, or suffers from data loss or outages, you may also see a reduction in your overall connection speed, as well as the speed of the VPN.
If you’re concerned about the reduced speed of your internet when using it on any server, there are several things you can do to make it faster.
One of the main pieces of advice we can give you is to change the server; if you notice that when using the VPN, the speed is seriously reduced, the first thing you should do is change the server.
It may not be a magic solution, but it’s worth a try. You should simply move to a server closer to you and not on the other side of the world, as this may be the main problem.
If that doesn't work, it's time to check what kind of VPN program you’re using; there are many options, and some are better than others, especially those that are paid versions. If you’re using a free VPN, the slowdown may be due to the fact that it’s not a quality program, and it may be time for you to switch to a premium program that gives you great speed at all times.
We can also improve the speed of our VPN by changing protocol; generally, when using a VPN, we are offered two protocol options: UDP and TCP. If you don’t notice a change in speed with either of these two, you may opt for another protocol option.
There are also much more rudimentary solutions, such as connecting via cable instead of Wi-Fi; as we explained previously, even if you use a VPN, your Internet will significantly influence the speed, and the cable connection has always been much more stable and faster than wireless.
Finally, you can choose to check your computer and make sure that your firewall or antivirus isn’t interfering with the speed of your VPN; this is quite common, much more than you think, since sometimes your computer's security recognizes that the connection isn’t secure, and blocks all access so as not to suffer any inconvenience. In this case, you must "communicate" to your antivirus or firewall that the connection is secure.
Yes, of course, some fast VPN programs are much faster than others; however, this doesn’t mean that these programs "boost" your speed; instead, as mentioned previously, they slow down the connection speed much less than other platforms, either due to their algorithms, configuration, bandwidth limit, etc.
Another excellent option for a fast VPN is ExpressVPN, which includes a new type of protocol called Lightway, which improves bandwidth, with many global servers mainly focused on streaming, just like the first program mentioned previously.
In addition, we include Surfshark, a very low-cost fast VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections; the inclusion of Wireguard in this VPN doubled its speed, ensuring uninterrupted browsing at all times.
We have to mention other VPN platforms you may be interested in, such as Atlas VPN, StrongVPN, PrivateVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, Hotspot Shield, and Tunnel Bear, which complete the list as the fastest VPN programs we’ve been able to find.
If you want to know at what VPN speed you're browsing and what percentage of megabytes are being reduced, the best thing to do is to carry out a speed test with Ookla's SpeedTest, one of the most effective that exists.
This program allows you to analyze the connection of the server in which you're browsing with a quick download and upload analysis; also, once you log in, you'll have a statistical record of all the tests you have performed, so you'll be able to compare each server easily and quickly.
To corroborate the total loss of speed of the VPN, you must first perform a test on your local network without the VPN active and, once the result is obtained, perform another test connected to a VPN server and then compare them.
You can do this with different VPN programs, including the ones mentioned previously, so you can check the speed of each one, as well as a test on other servers. Remember that not all programs have the same available servers, so if you're in the United States, check which servers are near you or are shown by your choice program.
Using a VPN is safe nowadays, as it hides your IP from the sites you visit and leaves no cookies or searches history logs.
Despite this, you should know that a VPN doesn’t work as an antivirus, so if you enter a website with malicious content, the VPN won't be able to do anything to prevent Trojans, bots, malware, spyware, or different viruses from entering your browser.
Currently, there are three different types of VPNs: we can find remote access VPNs, which work by connecting the user to a remote server, thus enabling a private connection, site-to-site VPNs, designed to disguise private intranets while allowing users of these secure networks to access each other’s resources, and client-to-provider’s VPNs, which don’t allow the user to connect through their own ISP, but to connect through their VPN provider.
A VPN is a great option to be protected and anonymous. To get started, you just have to open your VPN and start browsing through it, selecting any IP addresses provided by the servers.
To be on the safe side, we recommend keeping your antivirus software active, always bearing in mind the VPN slowdown that the firewall may cause.
If you want to install a VPN on your system, you should know that there are two main installation methods, and both are equally useful.
The first one of these is the most common, which consists of installing a standalone VPN client through software; this is downloaded through the official websites of its suppliers (never from third parties), generally using a trial version or by paying the license fee.
The second method is to use a browser extension, either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox; they're much easier to use, although more unstable, and generally come bundled with the VPN software purchased.
Not at all; installing a VPN client is extremely simple; just follow the steps that come with the installation client of the software you purchased, and that’s it; the VPN will be installed on your system very quickly.
In short, yes, using a VPN affect your Internet speed.
As we already mentioned, this is mainly due to the VPN server you’re connected to, so, if you notice a severe slowdown in the speed you browse, you’d better connect to a closer server.
In addition, another reason may be the software you use for VPN browsing; if you want a fast VPN, it's best to purchase a paid premium program, which guarantees you the best speed at all times. We recommend any of those listed earlier on our ranking page. Although some are more expensive than others, try to find the option that best fits your budget while considering the VPNs quality and speed.
Unlock a world