You already know that VPNs come with many benefits. Still, just like any other type of software, VPNs also have a few downsides. Among those, a decrease in your Internet connection speed is something you can expect no matter which VPN you choose to buy.

There are many benefits with VPNs, but there are a few downsides too. VPN IP Addresses  are visible and if they weren’t visible, the server couldn’t communicate with the Internet or your device.

Your ISP or any network admin can easily see the IP address of the VPN server you connect to. Don’t forget – the connection is running on their network, and they have total control over it.

Check out these VPN tips and make sure to read the following descriptions carefully, as this will help you find the VPN aligned with all your needs.

Tip

For comparative purposes, we always test VPNs by using the OpenVPN protocol and using AES-256 encryption. In general, this is more than what any average home user will need – in terms of privacy protection. Therefore, by choosing a different protocol and lowering your encryption level, you can reach faster Internet speeds.

How Do VPNs Affect Internet Speed?

As you know by now, VPNs will slow you down – up to a certain extent. However, you must be wondering how exactly do VPNs affect your Internet speed? By understanding that, we can talk about how to improve this situation.

Tip

Introducing a New Web Connectivity Term – ‘Latency:’ Since your Web data will travel more, a VPN will introduce a certain degree of latency to your connection. In this sense, know that latency is the time for your data to go from a point A (your device) to a point B (which could be any Web server, for example).

That’s why it’s said that VPNs introduce latency to any Internet connection. In simple terms, they will make things less responsive. On your end, you’ll see this as a decrease in your Web connection’s speed.

Based on what we’ve said above, these are the reasons why VPNs introduce latency and make your Web connection slower:

  • Distance to a VPN Server: In general, nearby VPN servers will perform better than remote ones. By connecting to a remote server, you’ll make your data travel more, which introduces latency. That’s why we’ve highlighted performances of individual VPNs in terms of their nearby and remote servers, so you know what to expect.
  • Server Load (Occupancy): If you pick a VPN with a low number of servers, you’ll increase your chances of encountering overloaded servers. This will reduce the speed of your Internet connection. To help you avoid this, we’ve recommended not only the fastest VPN services but also those with plenty of strategically placed servers.
  • Level of VPN Encryption: We’ve done our VPN speed tests using AES-256, the VPN industry’s standard level of encryption. Average home users could also get away with AES-126, which will help you achieve faster Internet speeds.
  • Internet Speed Offered by Your ISP: If you have a very slow Web connection, a VPN might make it impossible for you to stream video (for example). However, if your connection is throttled by your ISP, there’s a chance a VPN might improve the overall speed and performance of your Internet connection.

What Is a Good Internet Speed for a VPN?

In general, the faster your Internet speed is, the better. The table below shows you different categories of online activities, along with recommended connection speeds for each of those activities. We’ve also included a “VPN tax,” helping you predict what to expect once you start using a VPN.

Required Internet Speeds

Required Speed Online Activities
1-5 Mbps General Web browsing; Streaming music; SD video streaming.
5-20 Mbps HD video streaming – on a single device.
20-40 Mbps Online gaming – on a single device; Video calling.
40-100 Mbps HD video streaming – on multiple devices; Downloading large-sized files; 4K video streaming on a single device.
100-500 Mbps 4K video streaming – on multiple devices at the same time.

Tip

How to Test Your Web Connection Speed? – The best tool for this job is Ookla’s SpeedTest. Click on the provided page, wait until the page loads, and then – click on ‘GO.’ After about 30 seconds, you’ll have precise numbers pointing to your Web connection’s download and upload speeds.

How to Find a Fast-Performing VPN? What Should You Look for in a Fast VPN?

When choosing a VPN service, there are many things to keep in mind. However, if you’re focused on finding the fastest VPN, here’s what to concentrate on.

  • Available Protocols & Encryption: If you want a fast VPN, you need to find one with multiple available protocols. For example, today we have OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec, WireGuard, PPTP, and SSTP. Make sure to learn about VPN protocols and what kind of performance to expect.
  • Server Network Size & Distribution: Generally, VPNs with large server networks tend to offer speedier performance. You’ll want to connect to a server in your or neighboring country, which can be tricky in certain parts of the world. So, make sure to know how many servers you’ll have at your disposal.
  • Specialized (Optimized) Servers: Some VPNs offer specialized servers used for activities like downloading files, streaming online media, or engaging in P2P traffic. These tend to be highly optimized for those specific activities, and they offer relatively fast speeds.

What If You End up With a Slow VPN? How to Speed up a VPN?

If you’re looking for the fastest VPN, taking your time and doing your research will most certainly pay off. However, even if you encounter less-than-expected performance down the line, there’s no need to worry as there’s plenty that can be done.

FAQ

Can a VPN Increase Your Internet Speed?

Yes, a VPN can actually increase your Internet speed, but only if your ISP is throttling your Web connection. By using a VPN, you can hide what you do online and regain control of your Internet connection.

What’s the Fastest VPN Protocol?

When it comes to the currently used VPN protocols, L2TP and IKEv2 are typically the fastest. Then, we have the OpenVPN protocol – which still performs incredibly fast while also keeping you 100% secure online. And lastly, there’s a new VPN protocol called WireGuard, which is the fastest VPN protocol available right now (without sacrificing your privacy).

Should You Use OpenVPN UDP or OpenVPN TCP?

First of all, know that both OpenVPN UDP and TCP protocols are incredibly secure. However, they come with certain differences in the way they treat your data. If you want the fastest possible performance, go for OpenVPN UDP. And if you want the best possible protection for your data, you need to pick OpenVPN TCP.

Are Paid VPNs Faster Than Free VPNs?

When comparing free and paid VPNs, the biggest difference there will be in their performance. Free VPNs come with severely limited bandwidth, which might be enough only for lightweight Web browsing. If you want fast performance, a paid VPN is what you should pick.

What’s the Fastest Free VPN Service?

Free VPNs are known for their strict limitations in terms of their performance and bandwidth (among many other things). Also, and we can’t stress this enough, free VPNs aren’t safe to use. If everyone does their part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences or training employees – our interconnected world can be safer and more resilient for everyone.

This discussion appeared on TechNadu.