Does a VPN Drain Battery?

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Does a VPN Drain Battery?

Updated: January 23, 2017

Quick Answer

No. Using a VPN should not noticeably drain your battery any faster than it runs down already. Everything that is running on your tablet or smartphone will have an impact on the battery life, and a VPN is no exception to that. But the impact should be negligible assuming you are using a relatively modern device with fully updated software.

With that said --  you want a VPN provider that takes battery power into consideration. Some VPN apps are "heavier" than others, meaning they take up more power. In our experience, BufferedVPN is a good provider for those worried about battery draining. 


Detailed Answer

When VPNs were first emerging, pretty much everything we wanted to do online was done on our computer or laptop. But today the world is a very different place and for most of us, our smartphone or tablet is what we turn to first when logging on.

Needless to say, we expect the same level of security and privacy when surfing the web on these devices as we do on our computers, and of course many VPNs now offer software for the most popular smartphone and tablet operating systems.

But they are also having to handle another problem, and for many users it is the number one bugbear when using their smartphone or tablet. Battery life. The batteries in these devices are notoriously unreliable, and this means we always look to avoid running software which is likely to eat up battery life.

This has resulted in more and more people asking how much battery life a VPN should eat up.

So, how much battery life does a VPN eat up?

The short answer to this is very little. Everything you run on your device will contribute to running down your battery to some extent. This is unavoidable. But some programs are far more of a drain than others.

A VPN is a piece of software that should create minimal drain on your device’s battery. I use the word ‘should’ carefully because of course every individual VPN provider has different software that works in different ways.

The key function of the VPN to be considered is the encrypting of the data. This is a process which has the potential to use up a battery life if the software is not properly adapted to the operating system it is working on, or incorrectly setup.

However, with most VPNs now offering a version of the software for the most popular operating systems on mobile devices, it is not a problem most people should encounter.

What should I do if I think the VPN is eating up my battery?

If you suspect that your VPN is affecting your battery life, our first advice would be to check every other piece of software on the machine first, because it is highly unlikely that the VPN is the problem.

If however you are convinced it is the VPN causing the problem, the first thing to do would be to uninstall and reinstall the software and see if this improves the situation.

Another option is not to keep the VPN running all the time, but rather to switch it on only when needed. It is usual practice for a VPN on a mobile device to run in the background as this allows it to be ready if you open an app which connects to the web, or click on a link etc. Switching on and off manually will make the VPN a much less effective tool, but the option is there for you to try.

Another possible cause might be that you are still using an old piece of hardware.

Will a VPN run on older models of mobile devices?

Yes, a VPN will certainly run on any type of smartphone or tablet you might care to install it onto. But with the older devices, there is a higher risk that it could impact on the battery life. However, the cause of this is the device itself, not the VPN.

Older models will have less reliable batteries with shorter lifespans. They will also be impacted more by the running of software on the device, especially if that software has been updated to work with the later models.

It is for this reason that many people still using older iPhones, for example, will stop downloading the newer versions of the iOS operating system, because it will impact on their battery life. This is true of other software too, and many VPNs are no exception.

If this is the position you find yourself in, the best recommendation that can be made is to invest in a new device. But failing that, saying close to the mains or carrying a back-up battery with you are likely to be the only way around it.

Conclusion

Essentially, no, a VPN should not drain your battery life noticeably. However, if you are using an older device it is possible that it might have some impact, but no more so than any other software you might be using.

There are a lot of VPN providers to choose from, so with regards to battery power we recommend going with BufferedVPN. Why? Because the software app that they use is very light and thus is very soft on battery life. 


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4 Answers

  1. Barry Allen
    October 7, 2016 at 2:04 am

    I’ve noticed battery on vyprVPN when not connected, when the app is not in use it can drain my battery significantly unless I force stop it. I noticed this when my phone started running low before the end of the day, upon checking battery usage vyprVPN had used more juice than any other app that day and hadn’t been used even once.

    1. Chris Beattie
      October 7, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Hey Barry, thanks for the insight on VyprVPN and how it’s depleting your battery considerably. Very useful to know this and I’ll be sure to check this and update our VyprVPN review accordingly. Thanks again, Barry!

  2. Rossiel
    November 28, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    thanks for your post

    Actually i haven’t mind about batterry draining much before. I’m using HMA pro for my desktop and psiphon app for my smartphone.
    They all work well but some days ago i found that Google and even some websites are still able to track my own IP. I also read a post about VNP software/apps, they told these apps are totally useless, i don’t know if this is true or not, need confirmation. this makes me angry a lot, i don’t know if i should continue using this app or not. do you have any confirmation about this matter.

    1. Chris Beattie
      December 2, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Hey Rossiel, thanks for your comment! Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with the VPN providers you’re using. Can you please tell me how you determined that Google is still able to accurately determine your IP when connected to your VPN? I have not heard of this issue occurring in the VPNs we recommend here (Express, Buffered, Nord etc.) so I’m quick surprised to hear you’re having this problem.

      Could you also please share with me the article you mentioned that says VPNs are “totally useless”? We could not disagree with this statement more. A legitimate, trustworthy premium VPN service is more than useful in allowing you top-level privacy protection and global access to geo-restricted online services.

      Thanks again, Rossiel.

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