VPNs are an essential tool for those who want to have access to everything the Web has to offer, while still protecting our private information. The good news is that buying and setting up a VPN is dead easy these days. It usually takes less than ten minutes to get up and running with a quality VPN service. The bad news is that using a VPN comes at a price. That price is network performance since a VPN introduces various forms of overhead into the data transmission and reception process. Therefore, let’s talk about how to speed up slow VPN via a series of helpful steps that you can take.
10 Simple Steps to Speed Up a Slow VPN
Finally, let’s talk about what you really want to know. Here are 10 different ways to speed up slow VPN applications. So, let’s see how to take full advantage of your VPN while maximizing its performance.
1. Connect to the Closest Server
Distance is an important factor when it comes to network speed. The further away the VPN server is, the longer it takes for data packets to get there and back. Don’t forget that the server itself also has to wait for data from the websites and services it’s accessing on your behalf. The longer the distance between your router and its destination, the more stops it has to make which can both introduce delays and reduce the overall amount of bandwidth.
Most VPNs will show you the latency (in milliseconds) of a given server. Picking a server in your own country or a neighboring nation will usually yield the best speed results. Of course, if you’re trying to access geo-blocked content and don’t just want to obscure your identity, then the best you can do it to pick the fastest, closest server in the region you are trying to use.
2. Select the Right Type of Server
Depending on your VPN provider, there may be different classes of servers that are optimized to do different jobs. For example, it’s common for specific servers to be assigned to P2P traffic or Tor network communication. If your VPN provider has application-specific servers, try to connect to the right one for the job that you’re trying to do.
3. Invest in a Dedicated VPN Router
The piece of software that you load on your computer, smartphone or tablet when you use a VPN is called the client. It handles all the VPN housekeeping on your end of the connection. This includes encryption and decryption of every packet of data that passes through that machine’s connection. If your computer or device is a little light on processing power, it may slow the entire connection down as it tries to keep up with the VPN’s needs.
If you have a VPN-supporting router you can configure the VPN client on the router itself, letting the processor in that device handle all the work. Even if you already have a router that can act as a VPN client, you might be able to improve VPN connection performance by buying one with faster hardware.
4. Or Don’t Use a Router as a VPN Client
Yes, we know that we just said that using a dedicated VPN router can improve your VPN performance, but that’s assuming the router is up to the task. Even if your current router can be configured to act as a VPN client, that does not mean it will do a good job.
If you aren’t willing or able to buy a router that’s designed to handle a VPN workload, you might see a speed improvement if you switch to per-device clients. This especially goes for a powerful Windows PC that’s running downloads or other high-bandwidth apps over the VPN.
5. Take Advantage of Split Tunneling
Performance hits from a VPN don’t affect all types of Internet services equally. For example, a little extra latency is hardly noticeable if you’re browsing Facebook. If you’re playing online video games, an extra 100 milliseconds can make the game unplayable.
The same goes for high-bandwidth services such as video streaming. If you don’t need to hide your identity from the streaming service or aren’t trying to unlock content from another region, it doesn’t always make sense to have the VPN on.
Some VPN providers offer a feature known as split tunneling. With split tunneling, you can specify which devices on your network are covered by the VPN. This means that you can let your PlayStation or Apple TV access the Internet directly, while your smartphone gets the privacy protection of the VPN.
6. Try Using a Different VPN Protocol
Different service providers and VPN companies support and offer different VPN protocols. Some protocols perform better than others in general. Sometimes a specific combination of routers and service provider just goes faster with a specific protocol. If you have the option of switching VPN protocols, it could be worth rotating between them until you find one that gives you the best performance.
7. Tone Down the Encryption
While most good VPNs will provide 256-bit AES encryption these days, that does not mean you have to crank the encryption all the way. As we said earlier, encryption takes processing power and if your smartphone, router or even PC isn’t up to crunching all those numbers, you might consider stepping the encryption down a notch.
Not all of us need the incredibly high level of security that 256-bit encryption provides. Going down to something a little further down the chain might only change the chances of a breach from practically impossible to merely astronomical. It’s not the ideal solution, but in lieu of buying faster hardware, it may be a good compromise.
8. Connect to the Web via Ethernet
Wi-Fi is an awesome invention and is the only truly practical way to serve all the devices in a given home with Internet access. However, a WiFi connection will never be as fast or stable as a direct Ethernet connection.
Wi-Fi is susceptible to all sorts of interference. Your walls, the distance to the router and other people using devices on the same radio frequency can slow down a Wi-Fi connection considerably. Luckily, it’s easy to see if an Ethernet connection will make things run a little quicker. All you have to do is hook it up to your computer and run a speed test for comparison.
9. Stay Away From Free VPNs
VPNs are expensive to build and run. In our group review of free VPNs, we found that the fastest services tended to have the tightest data caps and vice versa. If you can live with the compromise they bring, then a free VPN can be a great choice under certain circumstances. If however, you seek peak performance then, in general, you might want to strongly consider getting a premium VPN service.
10. Switch to a Faster VPN
This may seem like an obvious one, but not all VPN networks perform the same. Some are faster than others and the difference can be astounding. That’s why you so often see VPN speed tests like our own recent VPN speed comparison. We’re always looking for the fastest and easiest-to-use products around.
If your VPN really is much slower than your naked Internet connection, it might simply be that your VPN provider is giving you a slow service. This means the answer can be as simple as switching services. Luckily many VPN providers either offer a free trial or a money-back guarantee if you aren’t happy with their services. Which means that you can look for the fastest option without any real risk.
Dear readers and visitors, that would be all for now. We hope that we managed to bring a few usable solutions on how to speed up slow VPN. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to post a comment below.