does vpn slow down internet
Internet Tips and Tricks

Does a VPN Slow Down Internet? Yes, But It Doesn’t Have To

Does a VPN slow down the internet? Let’s break it down. To start, a VPN (a virtual private network) is a popular tool for protecting your privacy and security online. To ensure that your sensitive information doesn’t get stolen over the internet, VPN works by sending all your web traffic through remote servers.  

However, many people wonder if they should use a VPN because it can slow down their internet connection. And it typically does. VPN’s biggest drawback is that it slows down your internet speeds because you connect to remote servers, meaning your data must travel longer. This can cause lagging for people trying to stream videos or download large files. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how VPNs slow down internet speeds by explaining how a VPN works and why it slows down your internet. But not all is lost; in some cases, VPN can even make your internet connection faster. Learn more below. 

does vpn slow down internet

How Does a VPN Work? 

A VPN is a tool that masks your IP address, ensuring you stay anonymous and safe in your online endeavors. Your online traffic won’t travel over the normal route but rather through an intermediary server that nobody knows about except you and your VPN provider.  

VPN encrypts your data, making it unreadable to anyone who may manage to intercept it, for example, a hacker or your ISP. Unfortunately, the process of encryption demands more processing power, which can slow down your online activities. 

Using a VPN Can Increase Your Latency 

Latency measures the time it takes for a packet of data to travel from one place to another. The higher the latency, the slower your internet connection will be and the more likely you’ll experience lag. A VPN service requires connecting to faraway servers. And because data travels to these distant servers, a VPN typically increases your latency and ping rate – the culprit behind slow internet connection.  

For example, if you’re watching Netflix on a slow connection, you might notice a time delay between pressing ‘play’ and your TV’s response to your command.  

The Need for Internet Speed: Premium vs. Free VPNs 

Not all VPNs are created equal. While some paid providers do offer free trials, there are also many free VPNs available you can download. But if your priority is high internet speed, free VPN services can be unreliable – and they might not even guarantee your online safety and security 

The reason for this is simple: most free VPN providers don’t have the resources that paid ones have when it comes to maintaining high-quality standards in terms of speed and security. Additionally, they have fewer servers available, so if they’re a popular choice, the servers are also overcrowded. 

Premium providers, on the other hand, have premiere features. Because of them, you might not even notice a difference in latency and internet speed. Firstly, they have more servers. They also offer multi-hop VPN (you can connect to more than one server) and VPN split tunneling (you can direct some traffic through the VPN, but not all). 

How to Increase Internet Speed on a VPN 

Does a VPN slow down the internet? In short, yes, but can speed it back up by yourself. We’ve shared our tips for improving your WiFi speed before, and they provide the basis for improving the internet speed with and without a VPN.  

When it comes to increasing internet speed on a VPN, consider these solutions: 

  • Change the server location (if you’re in the US and want to access content from Europe, connect to a VPN in Europe, not in Asia) 
  • Connect to an Ethernet instead of WiFi (Ethernet will boost your internet speed and keep your data private) 
  • Use a server with less traffic (avoid free VPNs with too many customers) 
  • Use premium VPN features, such as multi-hop or split tunneling (typically offered by paid VPN providers) 
  • Reboot your devices and router 

Whether you want to increase your internet speed with or without using a VPN, remember that there is no one-stop fix to this problem. You need to be cautious with the settings in your devices, and you’ll also likely need to speak with your ISP if you are experiencing consistent issues with your network. 

does vpn slow down internet

A VPN Can Also Increase Your Internet Speed 

In rare cases, a VPN can increase your internet speeds. For example, your ISP can throttle your connection to minimize network congestion. In some cases, they can decide which online activity will get less bandwidth – using streaming services, for example. 

Say your ISP is throttling your internet when using Disney+. If you connect online via the VPN, the ISP won’t know that you’re watching Disney+, which means you can enjoy full bandwidth without a hitch in your internet connection. 

Key Takeaways: A VPN Can Slow Down Internet, But It Doesn’t Have To 

Hopefully, you now understand that while a VPN can slow down the internet, it doesn’t necessarily have to. Now that you understand how VPNs work, you have all the tools you need to improve your internet speed while using one. 

In conclusion, VPNs typically slow down your internet only when you choose an unreliable free provider with very few overcrowded servers. On the other hand, if you’re using one with great encryption and premium features, such as VPN split tunneling and multi-hop VPN, then you shouldn’t perceive a change in your latency.  

Ultimately, you need to decide where your priorities lie. After all, the main purpose of using a VPN is to protect yourself from traffic and privacy leaks – and not to boost your internet speed. The best thing you can do is try a VPN yourself and see how it affects your online experience.