VPN: What Is It & Does It Impact Internet Speed?
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, have lately grown exponentially, and why shouldn't they? Many VPN users use them to access region-locked content or specific types of content that may be restricted or inaccessible in a particular location.
That being said, the use of VPN doesn’t come without its own concerns. The most notable of which is whether or not it overclocks internet connections and impacts total net speeds in certain instances.
In this article, we’ve analysed the impact of VPN on the internet speed. However, before we start, it is important to determine what a VPN is, as well as whether or not it has any impact on internet speeds.
If you're traveling outside the country, a VPN can let you bypass geo-restrictions and watch your favorite shows from wherever you are.
What Is A VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) is a type of Internet security platform that allows consumers to access the internet as if they were on a private network. VPNs encrypt Internet traffic and maintain user behaviour private.
Consumers utilize VPNs when they require an extra layer of anonymity and protection on the Internet; as a result, VPNs are highly popular among businesses with remote or globally scattered workforces. However, VPNs have a built-in disadvantage: they frequently cause delays.
How Does A VPN Work?
Typically, the majority of Internet traffic is unencrypted and relatively public. When a user establishes an Internet connection, such as by accessing the website in a browser, the customer's device connects to their Internet Service Provider (ISP), and the ISP connects to the Internet to locate the suitable web server with which to communicate in order to retrieve the required website.
Every stage of the website request exposes information about users. The ISP and every other mediator can retain logs on the user's surfing activities because the user's IP address is accessible all across the process. Furthermore, the data travelling between the user's device and the website is unencrypted, which allows hostile actors to monitor the data or conduct assaults on the user, such as an on-path assault.
A user connected to the Internet over a VPN service, on the other hand, enjoys a better level of security and privacy. The four stages involved in establishing a VPN connection are as follows:
- The VPN user establishes an encrypted connection with the ISP.
- The ISP establishes an encrypted connection between the VPN user and the VPN server.
- The VPN server decodes the information from the user's device and then links to the Internet in an unprotected transmission to access the website.
- The VPN server establishes an encrypted connection with the user, referred to as a 'VPN tunnel.'
The VPN tunnel between both the VPN user and VPN server travels via the ISP, but because all data is encrypted, the ISP cannot observe the user's activities. The VPN server's Internet interactions are unsecured, however, web servers will just register the VPN server's IP address, which provides no data about the user.
What Does Latency Refer To?
Latency refers to the amount of time that passes between a user-initiated action and the ensuing response; in other words, it is the lag that can be visible when a visitor clicks a specific link to the point when the link totally opens up.
Now that you know everything there is to know about latency, you may be asking why the issue was brought up in the first place. When using a VPN, latency increases significantly, resulting in slower internet speeds.
How Do VPNs Add to Overall Latency?
VPNs enhance the total delay that happens during an online search or when playing specific material in three ways.
- One of the first is higher travel time for customer requests and answers. Imagine a user who resides in India and uses a VPN service headquartered in the United States. When the customers search for anything, the data goes to the United States, where it is encrypted and transmitted to a web server, which then sends a response back to the VPN provider. As a result, there will be a general delay.
- Higher server loads as well play a role, particularly for more widely known VPN services, because in normal conditions, a VPN is under pressure, and if a client connects to the VPN while, say, 2000 other consumers are using the service, the overall delay will continue to increase, not just for the involved user, but for all participants who use the specific service.
- Lastly, as previously said, a VPN needs encryption because it adds an extra layer of data, and encrypting this data takes extra time, with the most secure VPNs consuming the most time as they leave no stone left.
Set up your VPN on your home router because no other devices on your network will require a separate VPN software after it is set up.
What Factors Influence VPN Speed?
The upload/download speeds you experience while connecting to a VPN server are determined by a variety of variables. Some of these are managed by your VPN service provider (server speed, server load, routing, available locations, etc). Nevertheless, your home network and connectivity options have a significant influence on speed (available bandwidth, server choice, protocol, router speed, etc).
So, in rough order of significance, let us rate them:
- Your Total Internet Connection Speed: No matter how efficient the VPN service is, it will still be constrained by the bandwidth of the connection you use to link to the VPN server. You can't really expect 50mbps speeds if your home connection is barely 10mbps.
- Location Of The Server: Closer servers are nearly usually quicker than distant ones. With just a 100mbps connection, you may easily obtain 95+mbps on a close server and just 5-10mbps on a server on the opposite side of the planet.
- Clogging And Server Bandwidth: The bandwidth of a VPN server is directly affected by how congested it is. If 100 users share a 1000mbps server, they can only average 10mbps each person as a group. Since they can manage more server capacity per user, more premium VPN services are generally quicker.
- Strength of Encryption: Encrypting a data stream necessitates the addition of additional data (this is referred as encryption overhead). This implies that enabling encryption consumes part of your available bandwidth. As a result, lesser encryption equals quicker speed.
- VPN Protocol: The protocol you use has a direct impact on encryption strength, but it could also have an impact on your speed. As it does not need the server to verify the reception of all data packets and resend missing packets, the UDP (OpenVPN) protocol is nearly always quicker than TCP (OpenVPN). The protocol also sets the encryption technique, which has a significant influence on performance and latency.
- Routing: The manner in which your data is sent to the VPN server has a direct impact on performance. Furthermore, the manner in which your VPN service distributes your connection between many servers in the same physical area might have a significant influence. VPN providers that are newer or less experienced may perform this function inefficiently.
- CPU/RAM: Encrypting data on the fly necessitates the use of computational resources. These requirements rise almost linearly with your speed (twice as much data per second, twice as much CPU power). If you reach high enough speeds, you may encounter hardware limits on less capable devices such as smartphones and even certain computers.
- Your Network Configuration: A powerline ethernet connection is always quicker than a wireless connection. There are costs associated with both convenience and speed. If you don't want to be attached, at the very least invest in a high-quality router.
Do Free VPNs Slow Internet Speed Down More?
If you've considered all of your alternatives but still want to use a free VPN, that may be a good alternative for you. However, it should come as no surprise that this might have an effect on your speeds in some circumstances.
Free VPNs frequently limit the number of servers that non-paying users may access. This can put a pressure on those few servers, causing them to slow down for free consumers. Some servers are exclusively available to paying users, who may then enjoy full-speed service in non-congested areas.
So, in general, when it comes to the internet speeds when utilizing a VPN, you frequently get what you paid for.
Will A VPN Prevent Buffering?
Buffering difficulties are typically a result of ISP restrictions. If your ISP notices that you have been streaming or using a lot of bandwidth, they are much more likely to limit your speed. Because a VPN conceals what you've been doing from your ISP, they can't limit your speed, so you'll experience significantly fewer buffering difficulties.
Almost all VPNs allow you to pay on a monthly basis, but if you truly want to save money, pay annually!
How to Test VPN Speed Accurately
Before you can experiment with settings and pinpoint your performance bottleneck, you'll need two things:
- A reliable speed testing technique
- A starting point
Where To TestThere are several speed testing websites, each with a somewhat different technique. At Selectra, we provide an advanced speed test tool that shows the speed of your internet connection in real-time.
How To TestTo begin, obtain a baseline speed without the VPN attached. This offers you an indication of your actual internet connection speed (which may or may not correspond to what your ISP offers). Then, on all of the VPN servers you use the most regularly, do a few tests.
How to Obtain Faster VPN Speeds
There are certain tactics you may take to boost your VPN performance if you are experiencing poor surfing speeds when connecting to a VPN server.
- Change to a new VPN server — If you believe that your network is having problems, moving to a different server may prevent you from getting bottlenecks and service interruptions. To be efficient, you should change to a webserver with an alternative IP address range. The servers are on distinct bands as long as the first two sets of numbers vary.
- Change to a server that is closer to you — The greater the distance between you and the server you are linked to, the higher the delay of your connection, which reduces your surfing speeds. Linking to a server which is far away increases the likelihood of network problems for both you and the server.
- Experiment with multiple protocols — The majority of VPN programs support the IKEv2 and OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) connection protocols. If you're having trouble with poor browsing speeds, we recommend trying each protocol to determine which one gives you the greatest results. IKEv2 is the most commonly used VPN protocol. UDP is the fastest OpenVPN connection protocol, followed by TCP.
- Briefly deactivate your antivirus as well as firewall — Antivirus and firewall products sometimes can slow down VPN connections. To check if your surfing performance improves, briefly disable them and return to the VPN server.
- Quit data-transferring programs — Certain data/file-sharing programs that operate in the background, like torrenting programs, might slow down your browser. Close them and rejoin to test the quality of your connection.
- Ensure your VPN app is fully updated — If you use the VPN software, be sure you upgrade to the most recent version. If you're using a third-party OpenVPN application, make sure you're using one we suggest and that you're running the most recent version. New features will provide performance enhancements or support for quicker cipher suites, which will increase overall performance.
Which VPN Provides the Fastest Connection?
According to our rigorous testing, ExpressVPN is the finest VPN, with consistently fast connection speeds across its various server and protocol options.
ExpressVPN not only boasts a large number of foreign servers, fast connections, and robust security, but it also provides excellent 24/7 live chat customer service – ideal for finding the fastest setup for what you're doing.
You may receive quick 24/7 live chat with qualified professionals that are happy to assist you with anything you need to get done. Timely customer service is merely another layer that assists you in maintaining peak speeds.