What if the VPN slows down your internet? Let's check!

by Daniel Segun January 13, 2020


VPN is a popular nowadays technology that is used for online security. This software is known for a lot of advantages, but sometimes users are tormented by legitimate doubts. The most common question is: “Does VPN affect speed reduction?” Some of them even don’t start using a VPN because of that fear. However, it is overestimated, because there is a lot of factors that can affect the Internet velocity besides this. 

Some changes are still allowed. For example, your online traffic can be routed when you connect to a VPN. It’s easy to explain. And some legitimate Internet Service Providers can give you velocity with an insignificant reduction. Usually, it goes about 5-6% of the regular speed. Let’s learn more about your Internet performance when you use the web securely and privately. There are different causes of speed reduction.

How to Check Internet Speed

You can compare the difference only if you periodically check the velocity of your Internet. Here are a few steps to help you do this:

  1. Disconnect your VPN service;
  2. Visit a testing tool and run the speed test;
  3. Wait a few seconds;
  4. Profit!

After that, you’ll receive the report with the details of your Internet. It will help you to understand if there’re any issues.

If your Internet is initially slow, of course, it will be slow and after launching a VPN. 

Why Can The Internet Be Slow?

  • Rush hours. A major dropdown is a natural process during peak hours when a huge number of users connect to the provider’s network. As a rule, this happens at 6-7 pm on weekdays.
  • Provider equipment. Even changing the tariff plan to a more expensive one will not help. After the ISP replaces the equipment, the Internet speed, accordingly, increases sharply.
  • A router can be the reason for the low speed of the Internet. A router, regardless of a specific model or manufacturer, is itself a weak link in the chain of devices for high-speed data transmission in a network.
  • The number of Wifi users. Equipment that provides access to a home or public place has a limit on connectable devices.
  • Software. A decrease can be caused by the activity of applications on the computer that need the network.
  • Malware. Malicious software runs in the background and uses an Internet connection to send spam, to download junk files to your computer, and sometimes it can even block access to the Internet.
  • The quality of the encryption. The better encryption the bigger it hits your velocity.

So, what about VPN?

Of course, we cannot exclude the possibility that issues with the Internet connection happen due to VPN. And we can check that to know exactly. Such a pinpointing isn’t the simplest task, but there is a simple test with approximate data.

Let’s imagine that we’re using a 100 Mbps internet from an internet service provider, that is located in Romania, Bucharest. It is not necessary to choose this country exactly, it’s up to you. 

Testing different protocols

Here you can see results without using a VPN: 


As you can see, everything is relatively in order. There no promised results 100 Mbps, but it is OK because a small deviation is accepted.

Then you can check your connection with different VPN protocols and compare results obtained. 



Things are pretty smooth again. As you can see, we’ve saved a lot of upload and download speed. That means we’re losing only about 10%, which doesn’t have a huge impact on an Internet connection.

OpenVPN (UDP):

Even using OpenVPN that is famous for its complicated encryption, you will get an even better connection than with TCP.


OpenVPN (TCP):


A really noticeable difference in speeds appears only now. This protocol causes a relatively huge decrease, comparing to others.

Testing different locations

We’ve tested various VPN protocols and now it’s time to continue with testing out what speeds we’ll get when we change our location.

IKEv2 | London

And here is confirmation that everything depends on the location of the provider. The IKEv2 protocol is considered to be fast, but now we can see a huge drop because of the distance.


IKEv2 | Montreal

And if you’ll switch to a server that is located far away, for example on another continent, your speed will decrease even more, as you can see here.


So we found that VPN itself does not affect speed reduction. It is the server location that has one of the essential roles in this performance. And your activity does matter, too. For example, if you use the Internet for simply browsing the web, you’ll not mention the drop in the speed after the VPN launching. If you use the web for watching video content, then you’ll need faster streaming. The first thing you can do is to change your service location. Connecting to a closer one may help increase your speed. The simple interface of good VPNs usually makes wandering with your connection easy peasy.

We have some more useful tips for you.

What can you do to speed up?

Firstly, make sure who is the bad guy here. You need to know that your VPN works enough fast. Run a quick test at least 2 times and compare results received.

If you see that your Internet works pretty slow and VPN doesn’t affect it, you can upgrade your hardware, or the second option: to change your Internet plan. Maybe it is outdated and your ISP has a lot of new attractive offers.

The next stage is to experiment with your protocol settings. Some premium VPN software is offered with different features that can affect your speed. But you can change that. Just open “Advanced Settings” on your app and try choosing another Internet protocol. If this option is available, of course. Some users prefer a stable connection even if it a bit slow. In this case, you can go for TCP and change these two protocols when you need it. Keep in mind that “faster” and “slower” are relative, as most users don’t notice any difference. Think twice before you change something, to be sure you really need that.

What else can you do?

The simplest option possible is to restart your router or modem. It is a common reason for slow speed. So if you see these devices are running slower than expected, just restart them. Yes, today that sounds a bit old-fashioned, but it will most likely help. Remember that if you launch the VPN from your smartphone or laptop, the connection will be faster than if you connect from the router. In cases when the difference is really tangible, get rid of the router or modem. And never use both at the same time if you don’t want to get the slowest connection ever.

By the way, the same advice with restarting is acceptable if your phone or computer is just “tired”. That means you can increase your speed giving your gadget a fresh start. Most likely it will get you back to enjoying your web surfing securely.

Make sure you’ve turned off all software that can slow down your speed. If you disable them, you can see whether a firewall or something else is causing your velocity issues. However, be careful, because you use a VPN for safety, and the firewall has the same task. How can you use one safe application but get rid of others? It’s much better to lose some speed but keep your data secure.

The better option is to consider such an option as a wired connection. Of course, we know how awesome WiFi is, but let’s be honest, it costs you some speed. It is especially relevant to situations when users connect all devices they have at the same moment (all of us do that). To transmit data it needs a shared channel, that’s why your speed may be slower. So, if it is possible, think about switching to a wired connection. You can vary that options if needed. 

And what about encryption?

We’ve already mentioned that the better encryption you have, the bigger it hits your speed. That’s why, depending on your VPN or device, you can change the type of encryption. But this advice isn’t for beginners. Don’t play with protocols if you are not acquainted with their differences and possible risks. 

We’ve described some things you can change to increase your velocity. All of them are useful and can help you if needed. But it is important to understand that the VPN wasn’t made to make your web surfing faster. It is an indispensable application that is all about privacy and security. It opens a lot of opportunities offered by the web. Try to consider slight drops as something normal, as a little sacrifice to make your online experience safe and comfortable

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