Why is my VPN so Slow?

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Why is my VPN so Slow?

Updated: March 30, 2016

Quick Answer

There could be a number of reasons why your VPN connection seems to be quite slow. These can range from problems with your internet connection or your device, being connected to a server a long way away, and interference from other software. There are usually simple solutions to many of these problems, and in this article, we will outline a few of the most common ones for you.


Detailed Answer

Quite simply, there could be a number of different reasons why your VPN connection seems slow. Some of these are related to the VPN itself, others may be as a result of different factors. But in most cases there are a few simple tips you can follow to try and improve things.

However, the first thing all VPN users should note is that using a VPN is always likely to slow down your internet connection a little bit.

A VPN connection involves routing your internet connection down an encrypted pathway to a remote server, and then onto the site you are trying to visit. Both the diversion and the additional security provisions of encrypting all of the data being sent and received by your machine are likely to have a small impact on your connection speed.

It is therefore a little bit like a contraflow system on a motorway. You are sent down a different route and slowed down a bit for your own safety, but in the end you still get where you needed to go.

For the most part, a VPN connection shouldn’t slow your service down more than 10% or 15%. Many users may not notice any difference at all. However, if your connection seems to be noticeably slower than this, there may another factor at play and there are a number of solutions which may help you to fix the problem.

The most common of these include:

1. Change your Server: Sometimes, if you are connected to a server a long way from where you are located, this can have an effect on the speed on your connection. This is as a result of lower latency usually, but also if the server is a popular one, congestion can also be a factor.

To get around this, by far the easiest thing to do is change servers, ideally to one closer to where you are located. Choosing one in a less popular location (usually somewhere most people are not familiar with) can also prove effective as well.

2. Improve your Internet Connection: VPNs are reliant on your internet connection. Therefore, if your Wi-Fi connection is not especially strong, this can in turn affect the function of your VPN. If you think this might be a problem, try moving closer to your router or even investing in a faster connection.

Another simple trick is to connect to the internet via a wired connection rather than a Wi-Fi one. Because Wi-Fi connection use a shared channel to transmit data, other users can slow the service. If you are connected via a wire, you are the sole user of the connection and should therefore get maximum speeds out of it.

3. Change Devices: Some devices, particularly older ones, find the encryption requirements of a VPN connection difficult to cope with and the speed on them can slow as a result. Devices that might be susceptible to this problem include early iOS and Android devices, NAS, and even some routers.

If you are using such a device and experiencing slow speeds, the only real option for you is to invest in a more modern device which is able to cope better.

4. Restart Your Modem: If your modem hasn’t been switched off in a while, this can lead to it slowing down due to issues such as memory leaks. A quick restart of the device shouldn’t take more than a few moments and can lead to a noticeable increase in your connection speed.

5. Restart Your Device: The old ‘have you tried turning it off and on again’ trick is a cliché these days, but it does work. If you leave your computer or tablet turned on for a long period of time this can lead to free memory or resources running low, and a subsequent impact on performance.

Restarting the device will solve this problem and should help the speed of your connection improve pretty swiftly.

6. Try a different connection: Sometimes there is a problem with your ISP which affects your connection speeds. The easiest way to check this out is to connect somewhere else, such as using a public Wi-Fi network or a personal hotspot from your mobile phone, and see if the service improves. If it does, the problem is likely to be with your ISP.

7. Temporarily Disable Local Security Software: Your security software can slow a VPN connection down by checking each packet of data being sent. By temporarily switching it off you can find out if this is a problem, and if it is look into finding an alternative which impacts your service less.

Conclusion:

There are various reasons why your VPN might be running slowly, but with a few simple checks and some due diligence, you should be able to easily deduce the cause of the problem and work out how best you can resolve it.

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