How to Run a VPN Speed Test

We all have a good reason to be using a VPN these days. It seems that more and more, everyone from private companies to governments has a vested interest in keeping tabs on and analyzing our online activities.

If you are to (wisely) invest in a VPN service, you, of course, want it to be as fast as possible. A slow VPN will be detrimental to your online experience, and may even have you questioning whether having one is worth it at all.

This site is all about making sure that does not happen. We guide you in figuring out if you need a VPN, assist you with finding a quick provider and help you diagnose speed issues with your existing one.

But, the one vital piece we have not yet explained is how exactly you should test the speed of your VPN. How do you know how fast or slow it is? Seems like an important piece of the puzzle, doesn’t it?

The most common method of testing VPN speed is to use a service called SpeedTest.net. However, what use is knowing how fast your VPN connection is if you have nothing to compare it to. Therefore, your first step should always be to run a benchmark test against your Internet connection with the VPN disabled.

Measuring the speed of a VPN connection

The benchmark will give you an idea of the maximums your upload and download speeds can reach. Then, with those numbers in hand, you should be able to get a clear view of how much, if at all, the VPN connection is slowing down your Internet.

To run a baseline test on your Internet connection, follow the steps below.

  1. Make sure all VPN connections are disconnected, and clients turned off.
  2. Double check you have no other applications running that may be using up your bandwidth.
  3. Go to www.speedtest.net. Please note that to use this site, you will need to have a Flash plugin installed for your browser.
  4. Click the green “Begin Test” button.
  5. Let the website do its thing. It will first pick a server close to your physical location. Using that server, it will then run a ping (network latency) test, followed by an upload and a download test.
  6. The reported test results are in milliseconds for the ping and megabits per second for the upload and download speeds. Take note of all three numbers and re-run the test again at least twice.
  7. With all three tests done, pick the highest (best) numbers for each of the three metrics reported in any of the tests. These are your benchmark numbers.

Now that you have something to compare against, it’s time to test the speed of your virtual private network.

  1. Double check you have no bandwidth intensive application running in the background.
  2. Enable your VPN client and connect to a server closest to your physical location using the OpenVPN protocol over UDP (most if not all providers should offer this option).
  3. Open up a browser and follow steps 3 through 6 of the baseline Internet test above.
  4. After you run your three VPN speed tests, pick the best ping, download and upload speed numbers from any of the runs. These represent your VPN’s performance.

The difference between the best metrics from the baseline tests and those from the VPN tests is what running your virtual private network is costing you in performance. Armed with that knowledge, you can now start tweaking things to improve the speed of your VPN, or if all else fails, start your search for a new faster provider.