Want to use a VPN to unblock foreign streaming sites and binge them all day long, or game on the same servers with your friends, but slow speeds are getting in the way of your fun?
We know how annoying that can be. While VPNs are great tools, they unfortunately slow down your online speeds. It’s not always by a lot, nut it can sometimes be noticeable.
If you’re dealing slow VPN speeds, we’ll show you how you can improve them in this quick guide. If you’re already convinced there’s nothing you can do, consider switching to a faster VPN provider. Just use this link (https://proprivacy.com/vpn/comparison/best-usa-vpn) to find one.
If you’d still like to give your current provider a shot, here’s what you can try:
1. Use Wired Connections Instead of WiFi
Yes, we know WiFi is extremely convenient. But here’s the problem with it – the signal influences your speeds. If it’s too weak, your speeds will tank – hard. And since a VPN already slows down your original speeds, your VPN speeds will be even slower.
And it’s often enough to leave the room where the router is for your signal to drop significantly. In our case, we saw drops from standard 80-90 Mbps VPN speeds to 10-20 Mbps when using WiFi in other rooms.
With wired connections, you don’t need to worry about weak signals lowering your speeds. So try connecting your device directly to the router with an ethernet cable.
If that’s not possible, try the following:
- Get as close as you can to the router.
- Get a WiFi range extender that makes your signal stronger in other rooms. TP-Link has some decent tools.
2. Connect to a Nearby Server
The bigger the distance between your device and the VPN server, the slower the speeds.
Because it takes longer for data packets to travel between them. Sometimes, they can even get lost in transit, resulting in dropped connections.
So always try using a VPN server that’s closer to your geo-location.
For example, let’s say you’re from New York and are trying to unblock BBC iPlayer. You’d use a UK server to do that. But instead of using a server in London, try using one in Belfast, Liverpool, or Glasgow if available. They’re slightly closer to your location than London (100-300 mile differences).
And if you don’t need to unblock foreign content, and just want to stop bandwidth throttling or secure your traffic, use a server in the US. Even better, use one that’s in the same city as you (or close to it).
3. Use Lightweight Protocols
Most VPNs use OpenVPN by default. It’s not surprising why – it’s often considered one of the safest options.
Unfortunately, all that security comes with a cost – slower speeds. OpenVPN is pretty resource-intensive, and (depending on how it’s configured) its code base can range from 70,000 to 600,000 lines.
So try using VPN protocols that are more lightweight. We personally recommend WireGuard and IKEv2. L2TP/IPSec is also pretty speedy, and so is SoftEther (but most VPNs don’t offer it).
PPTP is by far the fastest protocol, but you should avoid it. It basically offers no security since PPTP traffic can be cracked.
4. Set OpenVPN to Run Over UDP
What if you can only use OpenVPN? Or what if you don’t want to use other protocols?
In that case, make sure you configure OpenVPN to run over UDP instead of TCP. UDP is a much, much faster network protocol than TCP, so you should get better VPN speeds.
In our tests, we saw speed boosts of around 30-40 Mbps when using UDP instead of TCP.
5. Use Split Tunneling (If Available)
Split tunneling is a feature that lets you choose when web traffic gets encrypted and which doesn’t. If your VPN offers split tunneling, use it to encrypt only the data you need.
For example, let’s say you want to use BBC iPlayer. You should configure the VPN app to only encrypt traffic from the BBC iPlayer app or the browser you use to watch BBC iPlayer content. There’s no need for the VPN to also encrypt traffic from other apps and browsers.
6. Turn Off Background Apps
If you don’t have a powerful device with enough RAM and a strong CPU, having tons of background apps running can really slow down your VPN speeds. Don’t forget – CPU power is necessary for the encryption-decryption process.
The same goes if you have slow online speeds. Letting online apps run in the background will only eat up bandwidth which your VPN connection would need.
So make sure that the only things running are the VPN app and the app/browser you need it for.
7. Restart Your Router
Routers sometimes suffer memory leaks. Those are basically pointless memory allocations that slow down your Internet speeds.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to detect memory leaks (unless you want to deal with command lines). So it’s best to just assume your router is suffering such a leak.
To fix that issue, reboot the router. We never noticed any improvements after doing that, but we have seen people on Reddit saying they managed to get a decent boost.
Still Getting Bad Speeds? Time to Change VPN Providers!
You can try everything we mentioned in this guide (and more), but you’ll still get slow VPN speeds if your provider has poorly-optimized servers. Or if they’re using bandwidth caps or only rented servers with limited speeds.
The only thing that’s left to do is cancel your subscription, and pick a different VPN – one with really smooth speeds. Instead of spending hours testing speeds from different providers, try using ProPrivacy’s guide (https://proprivacy.com/vpn/comparison/best-usa-vpn). It’s a list of the best US VPNs that offer really good speeds.
How Else Can You Improve VPN Speeds?
If you know other tips we forgot to mention, please tell us about them in the comments. Also, please include the speeds you’re getting too (original speeds and VPN speeds).