We’ve all been there: you’re all cozied up on the couch, drawn deep into the latest episode of your favorite show. Suddenly, your screen starts buffering and the wheel of death appears on your screen. Sounds familiar? If you’re using a VPN to stream geo-blocked content, the buffering icon is not something you’d like to see. Due to the heavy encryption mechanisms that keep you safe, sometimes there’s no choice but to trade your internet speed for online security. Luckily, there are simple methods to minimize the drop in speed. Here are our 8 selected options.
Modern VPN providers continuously polish their infrastructure to guarantee that the drop in the speed is so minimal, you wouldn’t even notice.
However, if the speed slows down significantly (nobody likes to see that annoying buffering button), there are a few tricks you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your VPN service.
Before You Try Any Speed-Boosting Tricks
Before you use any of our recommended tips, check if the drop in your internet connectivity is really due to a VPN.
To check that, turn off your VPN and try accessing the internet without it to see if you still have a fast connection through your ISP. There are plenty of sites where you can run a speed test to know the difference (for example, this THIS ONE). If this doesn’t solve your problem, it may be due to bandwidth issues.
Bandwidth is an essential factor that can wreak havoc with your internet speed. The amount of data that you can transmit is dependent on your bandwidth. If your ISP advertises a speed of 20 Mb per second and you only get download speeds of 14 MB per second, they could be throttling your internet speed.
Some ISPs will do this if they overthink data is being downloaded each month. You can try running a test to see if this is occurring by monitoring the internet speed you’re getting at the beginning and end of the month.
If you start to notice that your speed is slower near the end of the month, they may be throttling your bandwidth.
Recommended Tips to Boost VPN Speed
OK, so now that you’re sure your VPN is slowing down the internet, there are a few things you can do. Let’s start with our recommended options.
Switch VPN Server Locations
Probably the easiest tip. How does that work? The location of your VPN server will also affect your internet connection.
When you’re connected to a VPN server that is close to your location, it creates a higher latency, which you remember is the time that it takes to send a request to a server or receive a response.
Not to mention the numerous networks that your data will have to pass through and bandwidth limitations across borders.
Three main factors cause a slowdown in your connection when you use a connection that’s far away:
- Packet loss: The packets that are used to transmit your data are more susceptible to getting lost when traveling over longer distances.
- More networks to pass through: The fact that your data has to pass through several networks before getting to your server makes a big difference.
- International bandwidth limitations: There are limits on the amount of bandwidth that can travel through the data cables in some countries. When there’s too much data, it’s going to increase latency and reduce your speeds.
You should only utilize a server that’s located in a different geographical area when you need to spoof your location and make it appear as if you’re located in that specific country.
An example of this would be if you are traveling in an area such as China where Netflix is not available, and you need to use a VPN server that’s located in the United States. In this type of scenario, you should at least try to connect to a VPN that is located closest to you.
Change Your Protocol Settings
When it comes to security and VPN technology, you may have to compromise if you want to achieve a faster speed. To encrypt the tunnel of data sent between you and a VPN server, different protocols utilize specific encryption standards. Some of these protocols are willing to sacrifice performance for high-security, while other protocols will do the opposite.
The OpenVPN protocol can be set up for high-security. The only downfall with this is that it can slow down your connection speed. You may want to switch protocols and see if IKEv2 provides you with a faster connection. This will still give you high-security, and you won’t have to compromise.
While PPTP is the fastest protocol, it only offers a security level that’s lower than the other two. You’ll have to take a look at your priorities and make an informed decision on the protocol that works best for your specific applications.
If You’re Familiar with VPN Functionality
After you tried our recommended options, our engineers’ team has a few pro tips for those who are already familiar with how a VPN works.
Switch between TCP/UDP with OpenVPN
OpenVPN functions with either TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol). Usually, VPN providers let changing TCP to UDP and back. To get better speeds, try switching between those.
Turn on MultiHop
If your VPN supports this feature, turn on Multihop (also known as Double VPN), because this will redirect your traffic via a closer service, automatically improving VPN connection speeds.
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The Last Resort Tips to Boost VPN Speed
Although turning something off and on again sounds like a joke from the famous TV series “The IT Crowd,” in some cases this can actually work.
Restart Your Device
Your VPN service uses complex encryption to ensure that your data is safe and secure. This might be causing a small conflict with the device and operating system that you’re using.
Try switching your device when it’s convenient to see if this helps your situation. It may be due to the settings on your device, which is causing the interference.
Restart Your Router
Also, it may help to restart your router. The solution to your problem may just require you to close the current program you’re using and reboot your router. There may be a conflict with your operating system, which requires a quick reboot. By stopping and restarting the connection, it allows your application to begin with a new set of data.
Turn off “heavy” software
Another factor that could be causing your problem may be due to local security software that’s on your device. Try turning it off for a few minutes to see if this helps your speed. While this may make the device more vulnerable to malware, some VPN services offer features that take care of this problem. If your VPN is watching out for malware, you might want to try this technique.
You can also try restarting your device if you’ve been using it for some time. Your operating system may have gotten overwhelmed and just needs a new set of programming instructions.
- Ditch Your Wireless Connections
Wireless connections provide an easy and effective way to surf. You can quickly change locations and move around while still enjoying a seamless connection.
Unfortunately, this can also affect your video streaming or download speed. You are trading off ease and comfort at the expense of a faster internet connection. Part of the blame for this is associated with the use of shared channels on multiple devices.
We understand that most people don’t have cable anymore, but if you happen to have one, you should know that it’s much better to use a wired connection or analyze your Wi-Fi connection to make sure it’s working at an optimal level.
Wired internet connections will provide less latency, which is related to the amount of time it takes to send a request or receive a response from a server. When you think about it, this makes sense.
Your wireless connection is susceptible to interference from objects that are located in the path between your device and your modem, whether that’s structural components in your building, household appliances or just interference from other devices.
It’s important to have a fast connection for several applications, whether you’re watching a movie through a streaming service or downloading large files. You can see how important both latency and bandwidth are to the speed you receive.
Here’s a quick recap of the techniques you can use to make sure your internet speeds are as fast as they can be.
There are two main tricks to increase your VPN speed:
- Use a VPN server that’s close to you: Whenever possible, it’s best to use a VPN server that’s close to you. This creates fewer networks to go through and helps avoid bandwidth limitations.
- Change protocols: Protocols that offer high-security will be slightly slower. It’s up to you to decide if you want less security and faster speed by choosing a different protocol that has lower encryption standards.
Moreover, there are some old-school options, like turning on/off your devices, restarting your router or software. And some options for those who aren’t new to VPNs. But you should only try them if none of the recommended options work for you.
When all is said and done, using a VPN should give you peace of mind. If you have to give up a little bit of speed to protect your data and security, it’s well worth it!
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