How to Increase VPN Speed on Any Device
If you’re using a VPN service to mask your IP address, protect your identity and personal information, or secure your connection from unauthorized people and malicious hackers, you’ll notice that your speed gets a bit slower compared to not using VPN at all.
This means that it will take you longer to download files, access websites, and stream videos. Read on as we list the best practices to increase VPN speed on any device without compromising your security and identity.
Why Connection Speed Gets Slower with a VPN
A VPN protects your data through encryption. This process is done to secure the data within the user and the VPN server tunnel so no one can exploit your information — not even your internet service provider (ISP) or the government.
All of your internet activities pass through an encrypted tunnel to an external server. These internet packets, however, take time to travel from your end to the receiver each time that your connection requests are encrypted before sending to the server. Once it is delivered to the authorized recipient, the data is then converted back into readable format.
Many VPN service providers such as ExpressVPN have already improved their speed capabilities to fix this issue. But if you’re still experiencing a slow down in your VPN connection, here are the steps you should take.
What Affects Your VPN Connection Speed
A VPN connection speed has two components, namely throughput or the amount of data that is transmitted in a specific period, and latency, or the amount of time it takes to request and receive a response from a server.
Throughput and latency can be affected therefore by:
- Your distance to the VPN server of your choice
- The type of VPN protocol that is used
- The number of active users on a particular VPN server
- The quality of your wired and wireless connection
There are a number of ways to fix your slow connection speed when using a VPN.
10 Best Practices on How to Make Your VPN Speed Much Faster
These ten methods are proven to improve your VPN speed. You may also need to do multiple best practices to get the ideal speed that you need.
1. Change your VPN protocol.
With a VPN protocol, the software follows a set of codes when the VPN encryption converts your data into an unreadable format so that they cannot be deciphered. A VPN protocol that uses higher bit encryption is ideal to get the best security, however, there will also be a trade off in your speed.
Most VPN providers today will connect users to the protocol that best suits the existing network. But if you decide to control your VPN protocol, you can set it based on your VPN service provider’s available options.
One reliable connection is ExpressVPN’s Lightway, which has fewer lines of codes at around only 2,000 lines. It’s relatively faster and uses less power on your device. If your connection suddenly drops, it automatically connects you back, whereas other VPN protocols can take at least 15 seconds to execute the same process. Our independent tests also revealed that it is much faster than WireGuard and other protocols with a difference of around 2 Mbps for download and 3 Mbps for upload.
If you’re using a mobile device and want to have faster loading without draining your battery, you may opt for ChaCha20, which is a cipher that is much faster than AES-128 GSM.
2. Restart your device, modem and/or router.
If you’ve been too busy in front of the computer, your devices may just need an occasional reboot to refresh and free up RAM. This will also fix some internal system issues that are causing your VPN connection to slow down.
Your router likewise needs a restart or a power-cycle to clean its cache. This will also help your router to select a less crowded channel.
Finally, if your goal is to restore your device’s peak performance, you may need to reset it to its factory settings. Just keep in mind that doing so will erase everything on the system.
3. Switch to a Wired Connection.
Run a speed test on your wireless connection and check if it’s running slow. Then, switch to a wired or ethernet connection to have a dedicated bandwidth instead. A wired connection provides faster speed because it is not subject to more interference and you will not be sharing the wireless network’s bandwidth with other users that adds to the traffic.
4. Update your device’s software.
Your device’s old software needs constant updates to address performance issues and also help fix bugs and errors that may cause a slow down in your connection speed. This will also allow your device to have the latest security updates to patch vulnerabilities.
5. Connect to a server nearer your location.
Changing your server to a location that is nearer to you can increase your loading speed. If your chosen VPN server is significantly far from your physical location, it will take longer for data packets to be transmitted due to more networks that it has to pass through. In addition, some packets may get lost in the way and latency can be impacted by bandwidth limits in foreign boundaries.
The only time that we recommend you to choose a VPN server that is far from your location is when you’re geo-spoofing to access content that is not offered for streaming or download where you are at.
6. Choose a server that is not overloaded.
When you connect to a VPN server, you’re sharing it with thousands of other users as well. Check the current server load before connecting so you can switch to another option that is less crowded. If this isn’t possible, try to connect to different servers to test which of these provide you with the fastest speed.
7. Disable your antivirus or firewall for a moment.
Your antivirus software and firewall inspect and filter data packets before permitting them to pass through to your network. This process can significantly drag down data transmission and your internet speed.
If you are downloading from a trusted website, you may temporarily disable your antivirus and firewall to improve your connection speed. However, be sure to turn them back on once you’re done to avoid viruses and worms from intruding into your system.
8. Reduce the number of active apps running in the background.
It can be difficult for your desired speed to keep with your demands when you’re running multiple apps that consume too much bandwidth.
Check if there are apps that can be closed so your connection speed can be improved, leaving only the programs that you need to complete your task.
9. Enable split tunneling.
If you cannot avoid using multiple apps at the same time, check if your VPN provider offers a split tunneling feature so you can allocate a portion of your bandwidth to specific apps.
Doing so can help you pick websites that can run through the VPN tunnel while leaving the rest to your regular connection.
10. Switch to a different VPN provider such as ExpressVPN.
When we connected to its servers in the United States, there was very little speed loss and reached 110 Mbps compared to a non-VPN connection. Connecting to an international server such as in Europe made only a minimal reduction in speed too.