When choosing between different ISP (Internet Service Provider) plans, you are comparing how much you need to pay to get a certain Web speed. Therefore, you expect to get that speed at all times – since you’re paying for it, after all. However, this isn’t always the case, and you should always read the fine print. This is especially true today since we no longer have Net Neutrality protecting us. So, do you think that you’re being throttled? Do you want to learn how to bypass ISP throttling? Join us as we answer those questions.
What you need to know is that we'll be talking about VPN applications in this article. This is because VPNs are the best and by far the most effective way to bypass ISP throttling. These applications do this by encrypting and hiding your Web data - so that your ISP can't see what you do online. As a result, selective throttling isn't applicable in this case, which is how you can achieve the maximum possible speed of your Web connection. Make sure to learn more about what are VPNs, how do VPNs work, and don't forget that there many benefits to using VPN applications - aside from fighting against your ISP.
So, let's get to the point. Here's the most effective way to bypass ISP throttling.
- First, you need to find a reliable VPN application. A good place to start if our overview of the best VPNs right now. However, make sure to keep on reading to get some additional recommendations (please note that we'll recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for this use case).
- Next, sign-up for the chosen VPN and pay for the chosen subscription. This will get you a username and password that you'll need to proceed.
- Download and install the VPN on your computer, smartphone, tablets, or any other device. You can even install VPNs on a router as well.
- Finally, launch the VPN and connect to the nearest server. Many VPNs help you choose the best server based on your location, which in turn should provide the best possible Web connection speed. That's it - as long as the VPN session is active, you can bypass ISP throttling, no matter what you do online.
We've given you the overview of bypassing ISP-imposed throttling. Now, to learn the specifics and to see some recommendations, make sure to keep on reading.
Which VPN Can Bypass ISP Throttling in 2019?
We won't give you a ton of recommendations. We'll keep this article on-point, and we'll tell you about two of the fastest-performing VPNs you'll find right now.
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Our first recommendation for bypassing ISP throttling is a VPN named ExpressVPN. After reviewing dozens of VPNs so far, this is our editorial team's favorite VPN service. Simply said, it checks all the right boxes - in terms of keeping you safe online and providing you numerous high-end features at an affordable price.
ExpressVPN comes with more than 3,000 servers, all of which come with a privacy-first infrastructure. The speed tests we've done show that you can count on fast performance, allowing you to fight against ISP-imposed throttling via a number of different VPN protocols. To learn more about these, make sure to check our ExpressVPN review.
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IVPN is a highly-reputable VPN service, based in Gibraltar. Even though it doesn't come with the highest number of servers, it does one thing right. This is the first option on our list of the fastest VPNs right now. No matter which VPN protocol you decide to use, and no matter which server you connect to, you can expect incredibly fast speeds.
IVPN is also proactive when it comes to more advanced features. For example, it's one of the first VPNs to implement the WireGuard protocol. This one is designed to bring high-end security without sacrificing the performance of your Web connection. If you'd like to learn more, check our IVPN review.
What You Should Know About Bypassing ISP Throttling?
To understand what needs to be done to bypass ISP throttling, you first need to to understand how this happens. So, continue reading to learn more about how to unleash the full potential of your Web connection.
What is Limited Bandwidth?
To be fair, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why you may be getting bad Internet speeds. It may be something as simple as a problem with your local connection or a busy local exchange. Sometimes, too many people are trying to use the Internet in your area, which usually means that the Internet service companies have to expand their capacity, which can take a while.
Problems can range even further out than this. For example, undersea fiber cables that connect the world can be damaged by ships’ anchors or earthquakes. This means that there’s less bandwidth to go around until the problem is fixed. The thing is – when these sorts of problems are at fault, everything you try to do on the Internet is slow, but sometimes only some things are slow. It’s a mystery, right? Or maybe, just maybe, something more sinister is going on.
What is ISP Throttling?
If your Internet speed isn’t consistent across the board, you may be experiencing something known either as Internet throttling, ISP throttling or Internet shaping. These terms aren’t 100% interchangeable but generally refer to the same sort of ISP shenanigans.
When your Internet connection is being throttled on purpose by your ISP, certain websites will open at full speed. However, some websites will be slow to load and use – which can be especially painful when it comes to media streaming websites. It could be that those funny cat memes on Facebook load instantly, but when you try to watch Netflix or YouTube, the videos either take forever to load or are forced down to lower quality levels.
Why Would an ISP Throttle Your Web Connection?
ISPs sell Internet connections in units of speed and total data. In some parts of the world, you can buy your data by the gigabyte. Generally, those sorts of Internet packages are not throttled in any way. When you’ve used up your data allocation, your connection shuts off until you pay for more data. That’s not a way to sell Internet services, however, so instead most ISPs sell you 'unlimited' or 'uncapped' deals at a particular speed. The problem is that they’re buying Internet bandwidth in bulk from a bigger service provider and need to make a profit.
This means that it’s not in the best interest of your ISP for you to use your connection. Any bandwidth you don’t use, your ISP can sell to someone else. It’s in the ISPs best interest to oversell their capacity and then hope their customers won’t use all of it.
So, low-impact services like Web browsing are okay to run at the blistering speed advertised in bold numbers, but torrents, video streaming, and video game downloads must be knocked down to a lower service level. Sometimes the reasons are extra shady, for example, if your ISP also runs its own video streaming service in competition with Netflix or Hulu, they could sneakily degrade competitor services without you knowing.
How Do ISPs Throttle Your Connection?
In general, your ISP isn’t interested in your My Little Pony obsession, but it is interested in what OTT (over the top) services you are using. You see, although you have one Internet pipeline running from your home to the ISP, it has different kinds of traffic that run through it. Think of traffic on a real highway. You can easily pick out if a vehicle is a private car, a company van, a truck or an ambulance.
The little data packets that make up your internet traffic can be identified in the same way using something called a deep-packet inspection to figure out what sort of traffic it is. Sometimes it’s even easier since some services only use specific ‘ports’, which you can think of as a sort of virtual lane.
Now imagine if each type of traffic on the highway were given their own speed limit or were told they could only use a certain number of lanes. That’s how Internet throttling works.
What is Peering?
To help you understand what is peering, we'll start from the basics. In case you didn't know, the Internet is not a massive network that stretches across our planet. It consists of numerous smaller networks that communicate with each other. This means that these networks need to have some kind of a relationship.
In essence, it all comes down to two types of relationships. There's a transit relationship where one network pays the other network to carry its data. And there's also a peering relationship where two networks agree to send data back and forth without charging each other. In simple terms, two ISPs can connect and exchange their Web traffic - which is often the case in the USA and across the world.
Now, the biggest problem here is that one ISP can exceed the agreed traffic ratio, which forces the other network to block all access to the services in question. If this is Netflix, for example, you will be forced not to use the full bandwidth of your network. Once again, customers are in the middle of a peering conflict between two companies (networks).
Is ISP Throttling Illegal?
That’s a good question! The answer is sort of complicated, and it depends on where in the world your ISP is based. In general, ISPs do act in accordance with the law. If you look at the fine print of your agreement with them, there may be fancy terms like ‘quality of service and limiting peer-to-peer traffic’. ISPs sure do reserve a lot of rights when it comes to what they are obligated to give you for your hard-earned cash!
Globally, there’s a big debate going on about something called Net neutrality. If a government rules in favor of Net neutrality, this means that ISPs cannot legally limit certain sorts of Internet traffic for any reason.
In 2016, US courts ruled that Internet connections should be treated as a utility. This is awesome news, but big Internet companies are already appealing the decision, and it could be years before the legal issue is finally settled. In the meantime, ISPs can keep throttling your services.
How to Check If Your Web Connection is Being Throttled?
First, you should check the speed of your Web connection, and you can use Ookla's Speed Test for that purpose. Click on the provided link, wait for the page to be fully open, and then click on the 'GO' button. This will give you some baseline stats that you can then compare to the results you'll get while downloading a torrent, for example.
Another popular target for throttling is peer-to-peer traffic. You may think that this only applies to BitTorrent, but more and more software clients are using peer-to-peer technology to provide downloads. So even if you aren’t actively using peer-to-peer services, throttling can still affect you! The easiest way to check if you aren’t getting your full speed on P2P services is to download a (legal!) torrent and compare the reported speed to a normal speed test. And if you're not into torrents, the Internet Health Test is a great way to see if there’s a bottleneck in your ISP’s network where your speeds are being deliberately cut.
How to Stop Throttling on iOS and Android?
Everything we’ve previously said also applies to iOS and Android devices. This means that you need to use a VPN to bypass ISP throttling on iOS and Android. However, this is where you need to be careful about picking a VPN, since not every provider has a native app for Android or iOS. However, don't worry - as the recommend VPNs from above can keep you safe on pretty much any platform.
Once again, we would like to recommend ExpressVPN since this provider has stellar apps for pretty much every popular platform. Once you sign up for a new account, you can download the VPN app from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. Log in, pick a secure server, and you’re ready to go. For additional options, you can check the best VPN for Android, as well as the best VPN for iOS.
How to Bypass ISP Throttling When Torrenting?
A number of our readers have told us that their ISP is throttling P2P traffic. This makes it impossible for them to download torrents, which is a huge obstacle. The truth is that torrenting is often associated with piracy, which is why many ISPs forbid this type of activity.
This is yet another scenario where a VPN comes into play. Still, not every VPN supports P2P network, so you need to be careful about which one you pick. To give you an example of a reliable VPN, ExpressVPN does not have any limitations – making it highly suitable for downloading torrents. Also, feel free to check our list of the best VPN for torrenting.
How to Stop Throttling on Netflix?
To watch videos in HD or 4K, you need to have a fast Web connection. Since this type of online activity requires a lot of bandwidth, many ISPs are deliberately throttling your Web connection. All you have to do is to hide your Netflix binge-watching from your ISP - so make sure to check the best VPN for Netflix. And if you're outside of the USA, you should know there's a way to watch the US-version of Netflix, so check our guide.
How to Stop Throttling on YouTube?
You have probably encountered geo-blocks on YouTube many times before. Due to licensing obstacles (and due to many other roadblocks), certain videos might not be available in your country. Don’t worry, we have a highly helpful article that you can check – the best VPNs for YouTube.
Can You Bypass ISP Throttling Without a VPN?
Even though you can find some tips on how to battle your ISP, you should not rely on those. If you wish to try to come up with a solution that doesn't include a VPN, you'll most likely spend a lot of time without any viable results. Even if you find something that works, that solution can never be as effective as a top-rated VPN.
What you need to keep in mind is that VPNs are not only used to overcome throttling. These are used to highly secure your connection and to make you anonymous online (at least as much as possible). Therefore, you need to think of them of all-around solutions for your online safety. And we can all agree that spending a few dollars each month on something like this seems like an excellent idea.
Finally, don’t forget to share this article online if you'd like to help us spread the word on bypassing ISP throttling. And also, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s stay in touch!