How to Make a Slow VPN Fast

On the internet, there are billions of packets routed between millions of devices each day. It is a massive and dynamic network. At any point, it is possible for some of the hardware routing the packets to become unavailable. When this occurs, data packets have to find a new path to reach their destination causing some slowdown, much like road traffic does during periods of construction. It may take time before an optimal new path is found or the old one restored. Therefore, speed issues are usually temporary. If they are not, here are a few things to consider.

The speed of any VPN will always be bound by the maximum speed of your internet connection. In fact in most cases, you should expect a VPN to be about 10% to 20% slower. This slowdown is due to things like data encryption and VPN server load and distance.

If you regularly find yourself having performance issues with your VPN, try some or all of the following.

  1. Switch the VPN Protocol or Port

    Devices typically connect to VPN servers using a predefined set of ports and a specific protocol. The maximum speed of these can be restricted by some internet service providers. Try playing around with various protocol and port combinations and use the one that gives you the best results.

  2. Switch the VPN Server

    The closer a server is to you, generally the faster the connection will be. Try picking a server that is as physically close to you as possible. Changing servers may also cause your data to avoid an area of the internet that is currently heavily congested.

    Picking a different VPN server

  3. Try a Different Device

    The device you are using may be unable to handle the increased load required to encrypt VPN transmissions. Older computers or smartphones are prime candidates. If you have access to a newer device with a better processor and more memory, try using it instead.

  4. Stop Using Wifi

    Your Wifi may be limiting the speed of your VPN connection. A single Wifi network can be simultaneously servicing multiple devices, with each eating into its maximum bandwidth. Plug in directly into your router with a cable if you can do so.

  5. Turn off Your Security Software

    Anti-virus software or a firewall can have a detrimental effect on a VPN connection. These applications typically scan and filter any outgoing and incoming packets. While you shouldn’t permanently disable your security software, try disabling it temporarily to see if your VPN speed improves. If it does, make soure your anti-virus application or firewall is properly configured.

  6. Restart Your Router or Device

    The longer they are on, the slower devices become. This applies to computers, smartphones as well as routers. This decrease in speed is generally due to issues like memory leaks. Simply restarting any or all of your devices and routers may cause a noticeable improvement in your VPN connection speed.

    Restarting your router may speed up your VPN

  7. Switch Locations

    Various internet service provider issues can cause VPN slowdowns. Take your device to a local coffee shop, library or the neighbor’s house and connected from there to see if your speed improves.

These seven points are some of the easiest and quickest ways to diagnose a slow VPN connection. If you find that none of these are helping, your next best step is to contact your VPN provider’s support department.

How to Get the Best out of Your VPN

For travelers to and residents of government censored countries like China, using a Virtual Private Network is a way of life. Access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and some of the other most popular websites in the world is either heavily restricted or completely disabled.

VPN service providers like IPVanish or VyprVPN provide packages that are easy to install and use. Unfortunately, many people will still run into unstable or slow connections from time to time, through no fault of the vendor.

There are a few ways to optimize a VPN connection for improved reliability and speed. These are a combination of this we apply ourselves and suggestions from the VPN providers themselves. Most of these solutions required very little technical knowledge and can be implemented by anyone.

Fast VPN connection

Pick the Fastest Server

Most VPN vendors offer several server, or gateway, locations in various geographical locations around the globe. There are two key stats to consider: throughput and latency. You should figure out which of them is important to you and pick the server based on that decision.

Throughput

Throughput, or how quickly large amounts of data can be downloaded and uploaded. It is important to users that stream videos or transfer large files. The best way to test throughput is to use a speed test website. Running these tests will tell you exactly what the up and down data transfer rate speeds are.

Latency

This stat is important to those individuals who use real-time applications. These applications include voice over IP, Skype, gaming, and even regular web browsing. Latency tells you how quickly data can get to from your device to the destination and back again.

Just as is the case with throughput, latency can be tested using any number of speed test sites. Running a command called ping from your operating system’s command line also tests latency.

Low VPN server latency

Make the Connection Faster

If, after picking the quickest server you have access to, you find your connection still isn’t quite up to par, here are a few other things you can try doing.

Contact the VPN Provider

All VPN services come with support. There is no harm in contacting them, explaining your issues and seeing what they suggest. At best your speed problem is going to be fixed. At worse, you’ll be in the same position as you were before contacting support.

Change Your Internet Provider

This is, of course, meant more for travelers, since changing your ISP at home can be quite involved. Particularly in a country like China. If you do travel abroad, you will certainly have an option of ways to connect to the Internet. Experiment with alternatives like a different cell phone company, your hotel’s WiFi, or a corner coffee shop.

Choose the Right Protocol

When you connect to a VPN server, you will typically be allowed to select one of a multitude of protocols. If OpenVPN is one of those options, that is the one you should choose. More precisely, OpenVPN over UDP, not TCP. Using this protocol will yield the highest VPN speeds in most cases.

There are of course other steps that can be taken to improve your VPN connection speeds. Most are however beyond the scope of this post. That being said, for those that are interested, we will likely touch on them shortly.