A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to privately browse the Internet by eliminating threats or supervisions of any kind. It’s also a great way to reach Geo-blocked content. However, one of the biggest problems surrounding these types of providers is their inability to provide their users with a good connection speed.

It’s common knowledge in this industry that VPNs slow down your Internet connection. However, although most times it turns out to be true, this, in fact, depends on many factors. If you are thinking about purchasing a VPN, or you already own one and are experiencing problems, there are a few things that you should know when it comes to speed.

How does a VPN slow down your connection?

Choosing the wrong servers

When purchasing a VPN, you will get a set of features, including the number of servers and server locations. This means that the provider is offering you a list of IP address that will serve as a substitute for your own IP address, masking your real identity and location. Basically, this is the simple way of explaining how a VPN works. This and the encryptions.

However, the servers play a major role in determining your connection speed. Or more precisely, their distance and whether they are overcrowded or not.

If you are trying to connect to a server that is near you, obviously the speed will be much better as it doesn’t have to travel to such a far destination. However, if you are trying to access, let’s say a server in Japan, while your location is in Western Europe, chances are that the connection won’t be the fastest one ever. Also, it’s not always about the distance but the number of people using the server at the same time. The more people share a server, the bigger the chances are of buffering. Overcrowded servers are one of the main reasons for connection problems, not just speed. Additionally, if you have a provider with a large list of servers, then you’ll have greater chances of finding one with decent speed.

Encryptions and VPN protocols

The next and probably most obvious reason is the level of encryption your provider uses. A VPN encrypts all of the traffic traveling to and from your computer. It works as a safe tunnel between you and your Internet Service Provider, as well as the content you are trying to reach. This way you can bypass any restrictions and reach all content on the Internet anonymously. It’s the number one reason behind purchasing such a service. Nowadays, lurkers are everywhere, and by using a VPN provider you will be protected from any kind of supervision. However, this comes at a price, besides the basic meaning of the word. Stronger levels of encryption slow down your Internet connection. And not just the encryptions, but the VPN protocols as well.

There are a few basic protocols, and most of the providers offer the following: PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. Each protocol has its own encryption level, and depending on your needs, they are used on different occasions. From these protocols above, the most advanced is the OpenVPN protocol, which means that by using it the chances of a slower connection are the highest. The other two are somewhat less encrypted and won’t cause connection problems. In terms of encryptions, the most widely used and secure is the 256-bit encryption. According to the industry standards, it’s a military type of encryption. Some providers offer an additional layer of security, such as the SSTP protocol, which is actually fast and with the best ratio of encryption, but only available for Windows. Other strong protocols and encryptions are used only if you value privacy much more than the overall experience of using a VPN provider.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)

You might be looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Many times, it’s not the VPN with the faulty connection but your ISP. A high-speed connection may go up from 10Mbps to 1Gbps, and if this is the case, then your online experience won’t be affected on a large scale. However, if your ISP cannot offer these speeds, then chances are you’ll lose your patience when trying to download something, or even open a website.

When it comes to your IPS, someone else might be facing these problems or the interconnection between the ISP and the VPN could be bad. Sometimes due to this, you might lose even more than half of your speed after connecting to a VPN.

How can you improve speed?

After pointing out the main problems, the next step is to resolve them. The next four tips might help you with improving the speed while using a VPN provider. However, they are not a guarantee for an impeccable speed. At the end of the day, it all depends on the provider you choose.

Know how to pick your servers

Unless you need a more distant server, try to use the ones that are closer to your real location, and make sure the server you are using is not overcrowded. If you are trying to download content, stream or play games, it’s the best possible solution. However, this is only for latency-dependent things, meaning that you can easily browse the web (an activity that isn’t latency-dependent) regardless of your location.

Reduce the level of encryption

Again, it depends on what the main reason behind using a VPN is. If you are a privacy freak, reducing the levels of encryption won’t be the best solution. However, if you are using your VPN for something such as accessing region-locked content, it’s perfectly safe to lower your guard. The fastest, thus weakest security protocol, is the PPTP, OpenVPN, and SSTP. The protocol that will slow down your speed the most is the IKEv2/IPSe one, so try to avoid using it.

Don’t set up a VPN on your router

Setting up a VPN on a home router is considered to be a great option, mainly because it allows you to connect to as many devices as you need. In comparison, the typical VPN service provider allows 3-5 connections included in the deal.  However, unless you buy a special VPN router, chances are that connecting the network through this device will only result in connection problems. Routers are slow, therefore your Internet connection will be slow as well.

Change your ISP or VPN plan

Bottom line, sometimes no matter how much you try to fix a problem, you won’t get the wanted results. Therefore you are left with the last option – to change your VPN or ISP. If you located the problem in your ISP, it’s easy to find a better provider, one which will offer you a better connection speed. If that’s not the root of the problem, then you’ll be better off with a new VPN provider. Sometimes we go after the price or the false promises which these companies give, only to end up with a faulty connection and bad features. Before deciding on a new provider, make sure you carefully go through everything they offer and choose only the best ones. Never go for a free provider, because chances are you won’t get good service. Make sure you invest in your privacy, security, and speedy connection because it’s the best way of getting an impeccable service.