Does a VPN slow down your internet speeds?
Many people ask questions like ‘does a VPN make your internet faster or slower?’ The short answer is, when used properly, using a VPN can actually bring a slight improvement in your download and upload speeds – but it is important to make sure that certain things are in place in order for this to happen. Just like saying ‘will fitting a turbocharger make my car accelerate faster?’ the answer might be ‘Yes, so long as you haven’t left the handbrake stuck on’! Let’s look at the various factors affecting internet speed in conjunction with using a VPN:
Is running a VPN better on Wi-Fi or LAN cable?
It shouldn’t really make any difference, as a Wi-Fi connection is nothing other than a short-wave radio connection between your device and a router that’s connected to the internet. Usually, even if not using a VPN, when you perform a speed test using any of the popular speed-testing platforms available, you’ll find the difference between Wi-Fi speeds and LAN cable-connected speeds is almost nothing – unless you are in a building with very thick stone walls and your device is a long way from the router itself. If this is the case, installing a LAN cable to wherever your device might be, or using a Wi-Fi booster unit, will bring the speed back up to the best it can be. Whether or not you’re using a VPN won’t make any difference. However, read on…
Connect to school Wi-Fi using VPN to access social media
It might be that you’re at school and want to check your Twitter page, but the school Wi-Fi has a block so that students can’t access Twitter, TikTok and all their favorite social media platforms. If you have a VPN browser extension on your device, the school Wi-Fi can’t block that access, because the VPN hides your activity from the router’s block list. As far as the school’s Wi-Fi is concerned, an anonymous user has connected to it with the correct password, but it can’t tell the activity of that user, so no blocks are imposed. In this case, using a VPN with Wi-Fi doesn’t just speed up your connection, it removes content blockages completely.
Does a VPN make your internet faster or slower?
There are two reasons why a VPN might be able to make your internet access speed slightly faster. The first is the hosting location of the website itself. Let’s imagine that you want to access a website dealing with British classic cars, and the host is based in the United Kingdom (UK). If the hosting is paid for by a poorly funded museum using a cheap web host provider, that’s going to slow things down, especially if the site is built in, say, WordPress and the hosting server’s version of PHP software is outdated. Accessing that website from the UK could make loading pages into quite a crawl but using a VPN server with an IP address in the UK will speed things up simply due to the geo-location proximity of servers.
The second reason that using a VPN can increase your internet speed is that it avoids your internet service provider (ISP) from ‘throttling’ your data. Throttling is a practice most often carried out nowadays on 4G connections rather than fiber-based landline internet, but both conduits can have throttles applied to them. In the small print of many ISPs’ contracts with their end users, there’s a ‘fair usage policy’ whereby only a certain amount of Gigabytes of data can be downloaded or ‘used’ by each individual customer. If a particular customer is a particularly heavy data user, perhaps streaming 4K movies all day or playing online computer games, then at a certain point in the billing cycle, the ISP’s meter detects that you’ve had your fair share and slows your internet speed to a crawl, so that, in effect, you can’t download any more data.
But using a VPN browser extension circumvents this problem because your internet use is encrypted and hidden behind the VPN’s cloak – your ISP knows that someone is connected to its server, but it can’t find your IP address, so it doesn’t know you’re using the data – hence it can’t apply its throttling technique to your home connection.
Is VPN good for gaming?
The same issues as above apply to gaming servers. In some cases, using a VPN browser extension can actually speed up your gaming experience, because the data packets can be routed by the VPN directly to the gaming server, rather than taking a longer route. Think of a car in a traffic queue, the driver knows a shortcut down a side street that goes straight to his destination, so taking it improves the journey time. This is known as ‘lowering ping’ – but simply means that any lag in gameplay is reduced.
Is having a VPN worth it?
Yes, every time. Not only does a VPN protect your device and/or browser from malware, ransomware, and spying by potential hackers, but it also gets around geo-location blocks so that you can access streaming platforms like Hulu even if you’re based in Africa. Many platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime impose geographical restrictions, but using a VPN means that you can choose from one of the very many servers around the world with unblocked IP addresses.
How much speed will I lose with a VPN?
As above, if your machine is set up correctly, you should not lose any internet speed at all when using a VPN, and in fact, in many cases, you will experience a slight speed improvement by sticking to the advice above. It’s true to say that if your laptop or mobile device is ‘stuffed’ with too much data or software, that’s going to impact its performance, but that would happen if you weren’t using a VPN anyway. The VPN app takes up a minuscule amount of processing power and hard drive space. In short, if your device is too full of stuff, your internet speed will be slow regardless of whether a VPN is on or off. In some cases, where there is a sudden ‘flood’ of users all on the VPN at the same time, speeds might be slow for a short while, but Urban VPN has a mechanism that identifies such events and automatically calls upon more servers, so such overcrowding is only ever very short-lived.
All in all, a VPN will not slow your device and internet access down if your machine is set up to proper standards, and you might well find that in many instances your internet access speeds slightly improve using a VPN. In summary, with all the added security and geo-unblocking benefits to consider, there’s absolutely no reason not to use a VPN, so download the browser extension and surf away!
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