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Why is my VPN slow? What can I do to make it faster?

Aug 16, 2018 · 4 min read

Why is my VPN slow? What can I do to make it faster?

VPN is a must-have tool for anyone who believes in private and unrestricted Internet access and wants to protect their communications from unwanted snoopers. However, the added security may be the reason why you are experiencing a slight speed loss.

Therefore, if you suspect that your VPN is not running at its maximum speed, and are looking for solutions to fix it, you have come to the right place. Let’s dig in to see what may be slowing down your VPN connection, and what we can do to increase its speed and performance without sacrificing the security of your private communications.

What causes the slow VPN connection speed?

To answer that question, first we’ll have to look at how VPNs work. When you connect to VPN, it creates an encrypted connection between your device and a server in a location of your choosing.

Let’s say, I’m a journalist with sensitive information in Ankara and want to send my research to colleagues working in the US office. I don’t want my information or sources exposed, so what I do is connect to a VPN server that is located in the US. From this moment on, the IP address of my device changes, and all my communications are rerouted through an encrypted virtual tunnel.

As far as snoopers are concerned, it will seem to them as if the connection is coming from the US, but they won’t be able to see my identity or the data I’m sending. The same setup allows me getting around content censorship or geo-restrictions. By connecting to remote VPN servers in different countries, I can access any website I want from anywhere in the world.

But since your connection isn’t direct anymore, it can be slower than without VPN. Your distance to the chosen server, the security protocol and the type of encryption used are all contributing factors that might affect your speed.

Here’s how to make your VPN faster

If you’ve noticed that your VPN is performing slower than usual, you may be able to fix it. Let’s take a look at 8 proven techniques to help you achieve the best VPN speed possible.

#1: Check your internet speed

If your connection is slow to begin with, a VPN isn’t the bad guy here. Therefore, it may be a good idea to run a quick test and check your Internet speed with and without a VPN. This way you will know for sure whether your VPN is responsible for the slowdown or you simply need to upgrade your Internet plan.

#2: Tinker with protocol settings

If you have the NordVPN app on your device, go to “Advanced Settings” and try switching to a different Internet protocol. Choose UDP for a faster connection, but be ready to accept the risk of possible instability. If you rather have a slower but more stable connection, go for TCP. Anyway, you can switch between these two as many times as you want.

#3: Restart your router/modem

This one is as simple as it sounds: restart that old dusty black box that is standing in the most remote corner of your house. If your router/modem is slower because of memory leaks, an old-fashioned restart will do the job of fixing it. Also, remember that VPN connection on a router is generally slower than connecting to VPN from your device. So if you have set up VPN on your router and the speed is too low, you may want to use VPN on your computer/phone only.

#4: Change server location

If you choose a server that is geographically distant from your actual location, it could slow down your Internet speed. Connecting with a closer server may help to lower latency and increase your VPN speed. For example, with my true location somewhere in Europe, I went from 5 Mbps to a 16 Mbps speed by simply changing my server from the US to Germany. You can fiddle around to see which one is best for you.

#5: Adjust your encryption level

You can also try changing the encryption that you’re using. However, I wouldn’t recommend that, unless you are using VPN for accessing geo-restricted content rather than for security reasons. Note: Before playing with protocols, study their differences and find out about any possible risks associated with them. For ultimate security, stay with the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec protocols used on the NordVPN apps.

#6: Use a wired connection

WiFi is awesome, but you have to be prepared to lose some speed, especially if you connect multiple devices to the same network. Wireless connections use a shared channel to transmit data to many computers and phones in your home, which can slow down your speeds. Therefore, if you have the option, switch to a wired connection to enjoy faster connectivity.

#7: Turn off firewall and other local security software

Firewalls and your antivirus software can slow down your VPN velocity because it filters through outgoing data. If you temporarily disable these tools, you can see whether they are causing your VPN speed issues. However, do it at your own risk. I’d rather lose some speed but keep my data secure by leaving VPN, firewall and antivirus turned on at all times.

#8: Restart your devices

Last but not least, your computer or smartphone may just be tired. Give it a fresh start by turning it off and on. This is another old-fashioned trick, but it could help improve VPN speed and get you back to enjoying your content.

These tricks should help make your VPN connection run faster. Try them and see which one works for you best.

Stay safe!


Lewis Lambert Fox
Lewis Lambert Fox successVerified author

Lewis is a content writer at NordVPN and a true explorer when it comes to cybersecurity. He’s always on a mission to examine the tech world through the lens of privacy and share his findings and useful tips with blog readers.


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