Learn how to pump up your internet connection using a VPN

software

(Image credit: Getty Images)

More and more people worldwide are turning to the best VPN services on a daily basis. Whether they’re looking to bypass online censorship, boost their online privacy, unblock foreign streaming platforms or a mix of all, connection speeds will always be crucial for all users. 

As for how it works, a VPN encrypts all the data leaving your device for then decrypting it when reaching its final destination. 

And, while you’re unlikely to see a huge difference when using the fastest VPN services around, the encryption process will inevitably affect your internet connection – even if that is just a couple of Mbps. 

At the same time, there are some situations when using a VPN can actually help boost your overall online performance. 

Let’s have a look at both scenarios more in detail.

Why a VPN might slow down your connection

We already mentioned that the main factor that will affect your VPN speeds is encryption. That’s because the process of scrambling data inevitably takes up time. 

Every time you turn on a VPN, all the data also passes through one of its servers. This adds an extra step that can negatively impact your internet connection results. Don’t worry too much, though, as the decrease in speed is often imperceptible here. 

Further factors that might slow down your VPN speeds are: 

  • VPN server location. The distance between you and your chosen server is often the biggest reason for your connection speed dropping. Seeing that all the traffic needs to pass from your device through the VPN server, the connection will obviously be faster if the physical gap between the two is reduced. 
  • VPN server load. Unless you get a dedicated IP that only you can use (some services like NordVPN and CyberGhost offer such an option for an additional fee), many users will be connected to the same network while you are. If this gets overloaded, a drop in connection might occur. Free VPN services are more likely to suffer from this issue.
  • Protocol. We’ve already said that encryption is the major cause for a VPN to slow down your internet speed. Subsequently, the security protocol defining the type of encryption employed is a huge defining factor here. Modern protocols like WireGuard and Lightway are much faster than older protocols like OpenVPN.

software

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

When a VPN can boost your connection

Using a VPN doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll see your internet speeds drop. If you choose a reliable service while being mindful in picking the best server and protocol encryption according to your needs, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any difference from your normal connection. 

What’s more, a VPN may even help to improve your overall internet speeds at times. 

That’s because when you switch it on, your ISP will be prevented from tracking down your online activities. This will allow you to avoid ISP or bandwidth throttling, ultimately making your internet faster.    

Bandwidth throttling is the practice for which your internet service provider intentionally slows down your internet connection. This might be for managing network congestion, for example. That’s why using a gaming VPN can help you get better performance rates while you play online. 

Internet throttling can also occur when you reach your monthly data caps, and authoritarian countries often throttle the internet to enforce online censorship on unwanted content.

How to improve your VPN speed

If your internet connection is getting slower while using a VPN, there are a few hacks you can use to improve your overall online performance. 

However, before playing around with settings, you should make sure that your VPN is actually the one slowing you down. That’s why we recommend beginning with running a couple of speed tests, with and without the software. 

Speedtest (opens in new tab) is one of the best speed test tools around, and it’s one of the services we use when reviewing VPNs. Check our dedicated broadband speed test explainer to know all the details. 

Once you determine that’s the VPN app the reason behind your poor connection, try out the tips below: 

  • Change VPN server: As we said before, the VPN server you pick can hugely impact your connection – whether this being about distance or overload. Changing servers might be just what you need to enjoy better performance. Don’t worry, though, as all the top providers offer a huge array of international servers – for instance, our favorite provider ExpressVPN boasts over 3,000 of those across 94 countries.
  • Change encryption protocol: With encryption being another main factor affecting your internet speeds, switching VPN protocol can also be beneficial here. Just head to the settings on your VPN app and customize your choice. Among all those available, WireGuard is the fastest option you can opt for right now. 
  • Enable split tunneling: Many VPN services also offer an interesting feature that can be helpful for pumping up internet speeds. As its name suggests, split tunneling allows you to decide which traffic to direct through the encrypted tunnel and which one to leave out. Such a practice can be quite handy if your broadband speeds are already quite poor to start with. 

software

(Image credit: NordVPN)

  • Reboot your device: An old and easy way of fixing issues with technology, restarting your device or home router might be just what you need to pump things up. It could be that your hardware’s memory buffer needs to be cleared out, or, perhaps, there are some heavy programs running in the background. Likewise, you can try the same with your VPN app. 
  • Update your operating system: Sometimes the device you’re using is the culprit for your sluggish connection. Check if your operating system is up-to-date. If not, upgrading it to the latest version might help. 
  • Use a wired connection: A Wi-Fi connection is way more convenient but it can also be more unstable at times. If your broadband speed isn’t already the best out there, try switching to a wired connection instead to stabilize your internet.

The fastest VPN right now:

software

TechRadar Newsletter

Sign up to get breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more, plus the hottest tech deals!

By submitting your information you agree to the Terms & Conditions (opens in new tab) and Privacy Policy (opens in new tab) and are aged 16 or over.

Chiara Castro

Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist, with a special eye for latest trends and issues in cybersecurity. She is a Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPNs. She mainly writes news and features about data privacy, online censorship and digital rights for TechRadar, Tom’s Guide and T3. With a passion for digital storytelling in all its forms, she also loves photography, video making and podcasting. Originally from Milan in Italy, she has been based in Bristol, UK, since 2018.

TECH NEWS RELATED

This Tiny MSI PC is Packed With Power

MSI Following the example set by the Mac Mini, many Windows-powered compact PCs have popped up recently with solid hardware. If none have quite caught your eye, though, maybe this PC by MSI will. MSI has just released a new tiny PC called the Cubi 5 12M, and it’s ...

View more: This Tiny MSI PC is Packed With Power

Logitech’s New Colorful Keyboards and Mice Look Great

Logitech Logitech makes some of the best keyboards and best mice around, and you might be familiar with the company’s RGB-packed gaming products. These new peripherals are really packed with color, but we’re not really talking about lights. Logitech has announced a range of new colors for a bunch ...

View more: Logitech’s New Colorful Keyboards and Mice Look Great

“Part of the Journey Is the End;” Marvel’s Avengers Seems to be Shutting Down

Whether it be purely the lackluster quality of the game or the general distaste for live service games, Marvel’s Avengers never truly found its footing in the two years since it was released. Despite the fact that both the Marvel and Avengers labels should guarantee a happy, comic-lover audience, ...

View more: “Part of the Journey Is the End;” Marvel’s Avengers Seems to be Shutting Down

Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Slim Hub review: A sleek and portable laptop hub

Thunderbolt 4 docks are now much more widely available, meaning that it’s much easier to get a high speed dock that works with your laptop. But unfortunately, while they’re relatively widely available now, they’re still quite expensive. Thankfully, however, that price seems to now be coming down a little through ...

View more: Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Slim Hub review: A sleek and portable laptop hub

Wi-Fi routers are being hit by a dangerous new Android malware with extra DNS hacks

With the DNS changed, users are redirected to malicious pages

View more: Wi-Fi routers are being hit by a dangerous new Android malware with extra DNS hacks

Servant unleashes a bed bug blitz [Apple TV+ recap]

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse … bed bugs! Photo: Apple TV+ Dorothy is back in the bizarre Turner household this week on Apple TV+ thriller Servant — and she’s not happy to be home. Leanne insists on normalcy, but considering the things that have happened, ...

View more: Servant unleashes a bed bug blitz [Apple TV+ recap]

Hostinger quietly shutters Zyro to focus on Hostinger Website Builder service

Will Zyro website builder still exist soon?

View more: Hostinger quietly shutters Zyro to focus on Hostinger Website Builder service

Redmi Note 12 Turbo Tipped to get Snapdragon 7-series SoC

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Series arrived in China and India last year. With that being said, we might see another offering in the Redmi Note series phone in the coming months where it will be powered by the Snapdragon 7-series chipset onboard. The information comes from a notable ...

View more: Redmi Note 12 Turbo Tipped to get Snapdragon 7-series SoC

Avatar 2 animators tricked James Cameron into believing some shots were practical

Super Bowl 2023 live stream: how to watch the game, commercials and halftime show from anywhere

The Minecraft Community Answers the Age-old Question: “Can it Run Doom?”

Mark Hamill Hints That His Time as the Joker Is Over

Deadpool joins Marvel's Midnight Suns next week, adding new story missions

Chic-Fil-A’s Training Program Apparently Features a Familiar Fallout Face

Nintendo is reportedly increasing Switch production ahead of Breath of the Wild 2

Ex-Halo dev believes those who pushed for a better game ‘got laid off for it’

There are two clear winners in the PSVR 2 launch lineup

A nuclear-powered data center is opening this year

Anker’s New Monitor Stand Doubles as an All-In-One Docking Station

Naked Elden Ring Player Counter’s Placidusax’ Attack With Chaotic Results

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News