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8 Factors that Affect the VPN Speed: What Causes VPN to be Slow?

Speed is essential. No one can deny it. One of the essential criteria in choosing a VPN service provider is speed. What, though, differentiates one VPN service from another in terms of speed?

It's not always simple or obvious to diagnose a sluggish VPN connection. However, if you use the appropriate technique, you can typically overcome the most frequent problems and dramatically increase your performance.

To get the best performance out of your private network connections, you'll have to deal with a few issues first. Connection speeds can fluctuate, and you may not be able to connect to servers in the system at all. While you're waiting for the connection to establish, you can unintentionally divulge your real IP address.

So what is the root cause of this problem, and how can it be remedied? In the following part of the article, we'll go through some of the possible causes of this problem.

1. Routing

How fast your data travels through the VPN server is directly related to how it is routed via it. Your VPN provider's method of routing your connection amongst many servers in the same region can have a significant impact. When it comes to routing data via the network, veteran VPN providers have the infrastructure in place to do so more effectively. Inexperienced VPN providers may be unable to adequately do this task. Because of this, you should use a reputable VPN service.

2. Network Setup

In some cases, connecting to Wi-Fi networks rather than LAN connections might result in lower rates. VPNs that are set up through your network rather than the device directly may also result in slower speeds.

In terms of cost, routers are great because they don't require additional technology or CPUs to be functional. Nevertheless, this means that the router will be slower in its connection speed compared to your older smartphone.

The speed of a wired ethernet connection will always be superior to that of a wireless one. Convenience and quickness aren't always equal in terms of importance. A good router is a must if you're not going to be attached. When you have a connection that is significantly faster than 50 Mbps, the differences between wired and wireless Internet become more apparent.

You may want to try connecting your device directly to your network if you are experiencing sluggish VPN speeds when using Wi-Fi. It's possible to reach twice as fast speeds in some circumstances.

3. VPN Protocol

VPNs are protocol-based. VPN speeds vary depending on the protocol used. OpenVPN, one of the most popular and trustworthy protocols, includes two types: UDP and TCP. Using OpenVPN via UDP is quicker than utilizing OpenVPN over TCP.

Other prevalent VPN protocols, such as PPTP, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard, Shadowsocks, and Lightway, offer a quick connection. IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard, and Lightway are able to strike a balance between speed and security. While PPTP and Shadowsocks may have serious security flaws, both protocols are nevertheless widely used.

4. Server Location

You may not consider the location of your server when selecting a service or how it impacts your connection speed, but it does. For instance, if you use an American VPN while residing in a distant country, the speed will be slower because the data will be traveling over a great distance.

When data travels over extremely great distances, latency (slower speed) rises. In addition, not every data packet you transmit across these extensive distances will reach its intended destination. The longer information must travel, the greater the likelihood of data packet loss.

As a result, your data packets will take longer to reach the website or service you're attempting to visit if they're sent from a remote server.

Depending on your current location, many of the best VPN services automatically select the quickest server. If you're looking for the fastest connection possible, you may hop between servers to see which one works best.

The majority of the time, closer servers will be quicker than distant ones. With a 100 Mbps Internet connection, you may easily get 95+ Mbps on a local server, but only 5-10 Mbps on a server on the opposite side of the globe.

5. Encryption Strength

The stronger the encryption, the slower the VPN connection. Therefore, 128-bit encryption often results in a speedier VPN connection than 256-bit encryption. However, you should be aware that reducing the encryption strength would result in increased susceptibility and make the VPN connection less safe.

The encryption of a data stream requires the inclusion of extra data (this is referred to as encryption overhead). This suggests that encryption eats a portion of your available bandwidth. Consequently, less encryption means more speed.

The encrypted data is what safeguards user privacy and increases data security. Nevertheless, the greater the complexity of the VPN server's encryption, the more bandwidth it requires, which might create connection speed concerns. While lesser encryption might save time, it is strongly advised to prioritize security above efficiency.

You cannot be certain that a VPN service provider is trustworthy and provides the greatest level of protection. Even worse, 84 percent of VPN service providers reveal the true IP addresses of consumers. Consequently, as a user, you should always test the privacy of your VPN connection to ensure its integrity.

6. Server Bandwidth

So, you have acquired a VPN subscription from a provider. While using it, you may notice that it is really sluggish. One possible explanation for this is that the server is overloaded with concurrent users. This typically occurs while utilizing a free VPN service with limited server capacity and a large number of free users.

It is nonetheless possible with any VPN service, as the bandwidth given to each user is restricted. In general, servers have a limit known as "Server Load". Server load is the total bandwidth and is dependent on the number of concurrent users. The whole bandwidth is divided among all users, who each receive a portion. When everyone uses it simultaneously, the server experiences difficulty.

The number of users connected to a specific VPN server has a significant influence on your connection speed. If the server is overloaded beyond capacity, the VPN might significantly slow down your Internet connection.

The server might become overloaded regardless of whatever VPN you use, although the issue is more prevalent with cheap ones. Some VPN clients provide information on the server's available bandwidth and the percentage of capacity that has been utilized. To obtain faster speeds, you should utilize a different server, preferably one with fewer servers and less load.

For instance, if you are utilizing a server with a maximum bandwidth capacity of 1 Gbps and there are 100 users on the server, each user will receive 10 Mbps. Some VPNs, however, use 'smart' bandwidth allocation, where they transfer more bandwidth to users who need it more (such as while streaming or downloading large files) and move bandwidth away from those who are not using as much data, resulting in slower connections.

7. CPU/RAM

A VPN does not require disks with a high transfer rate or vast quantities of storage. Since a VPN primarily encrypts data, you will want a powerful CPU to decrypt it. If you are interested in AES encryption, the optimal setup consists of either a CPU or GPUs. Currently, there are servers that offer AES-NI support and have hardware-level performance acceleration.

Due to the time required for data packets to go back and forth, VPN traffic is taking longer than normal. A VPN's speed may also be impacted when it is encrypted. If your device's CPU and Internet connection are both fast, its performance will be enhanced.

Generally, it is preferable to utilize a faster CPU if you can improve performance. However, most routers perform poorly due to their RAM. If you increase your RAM, you will have access to more threads, which is crucial given the volume of network activity between devices and torrent sites.

8. Overall Internet Speed

Regardless of how effective the VPN service is, it will be limited by the capacity of the connection you use to connect to the VPN server. If the ISP has a sluggish connection speed, it makes little difference what VPN speeds you have, because best-case scenario, VPN services can only give Internet speeds equal to your ISP's allotted capacity. In truth, even the fastest VPN services slow down your connection to some degree.

Therefore, you must have a fast Internet connection in order to get satisfactory VPN speeds. You cannot anticipate 50 Mbps speeds if your home connection is barely 10 Mbps.

How to Properly Test VPN Speed?

To test the download speeds, you only need to use a speed test application to compare the percentage difference with and without the VPN. I used the Ookla speed test to evaluate speed since it measures all three essential variables.

There are other additional speed test tools accessible online.

The VPN speed testing procedure is straightforward and can be done in minutes. Follow the instructions below.

  • Firstly, access your VPN account and connect to a VPN server.
  • Secondly, navigate to speedtest.com.
  • Wait for the connection to be established after clicking Go.
  • Read the results of the speed test.

Speedtest.com results

Figure 1. Speedtest.com results

  • Repeat the procedure without a VPN and make note of the difference.

The smaller the difference, the less of an impact the VPN has on your internet speed and the quicker the VPN.

How Do You Speed Up VPN?

If your VPN connection isn't as fast as you need it to be, here are several ways to speed it up.

  • Connect to a server that is physically closer to your location.
  • Connect to a server that isn't overloaded.
  • Try connecting to the VPN using a different protocol.
  • Enable split tunneling if available.
  • Utilize a cabled connection.
  • Close any superfluous background applications.
  • Reboot your router and any other devices.

Do VPNs Make Your Internet Faster?

VPNs can improve the speed of various services under specific conditions. ISPs occasionally limit, or artificially slow down, certain types of data; for instance, several large ISPs have throttled entertainment streaming services such as Netflix. If an ISP throttles communication speeds with a particular service, a VPN might evade this throttling since the VPN encryption would prevent the ISP from determining with which services the user is connecting.

Does VPN Speed Depend on Internet Speed?

Yes, VPN speed depends on your internet speed. Your VPN connection can only be as fast as your Internet connection. As security and privacy should always be the VPN's top concern, performance decreases of 10 to 20 percent are quite typical.

Does Where You Live to Affect Your VPN Speed?

Generally speaking, you will have the best performance by connecting to a server location close to your actual location.

Why? Because it reduces the distance over which data packets must travel to reach the VPN server. To minimize latency and increase performance, it is preferable to avoid servers situated in distant locations.

How to Choose the Best VPN for Speed?

The speed of a VPN may make or break your experience. If the connection is excruciatingly sluggish, you will use it less frequently and detest it each time you do. The first step is to determine which speed data are most important. The three most important measurements are download and upload speeds, as well as ping time.

The first two are exactly what they sound like: the rate at which your device receives and sends data while connected to a VPN. If you often download huge files or stream several movies, you will need a fast download speed. Upload speeds, on the other hand, are crucial if you transfer a substantial volume of data. A nice example is storing your photo backups on the cloud.

Ping time is the amount of time it takes for a single packet of data to go from your computer to the VPN server, to its final destination, and back again. Ping duration is expressed in milliseconds. The better this number is, the lower it is. Real-time applications, such as Skype, voice over IP phones, and online gaming, require a low ping. Which metrics are important to you will depend on your primary motivations for utilizing a VPN.

Once you have determined your metric requirements, search for a VPN provider with the greatest connection speeds for the country to which you wish to connect. Keep in mind that just because a VPN company offers lightning-fast servers in the United States does not guarantee the same in other countries.