VPNs do impact the speed and latency of your internet connection. There’s no way around that as the VPN adds another step on your way to the web server when you request a website or anything else online.
Here’s the short answer.
Does a VPN Slow down My Internet Speed?
When you use a VPN to get remote access to a work computer it will not affect your Internet speed. But the VPN will inevitably slow down your Internet speed to some extent if you use the VPN as a gateway that tunnels all your traffic.
But there’s much more to say. Let’s dig into it and answer all your questions about VPN speed.
VPN Speed Comparison (Side-by-Side Test)
We are comparing a long list of VPN providers to be able to make objective recommendations. These are the ones we’ve been testing recently.
|Without VPN||99 Mbit||96 Mbit||132 ms|
|ExpressVPN||63 Mbit||60 Mbit||179 ms|
|Cyberghost||91 Mbit||86 Mbit||190 ms|
Most people only compare the download speed but I think it’s crucial to include the upload and ping as well. You probably need most speed on the download side as that’s what you use for watching Netflix, loading websites, downloading, etc.
But the upload is also important in some cases if you need to send bigger files. And the ping is crucial if you’re a gamer or if you just care about how fast websites start to load.
We’ll get back to ping times at the end of this article and you can also read more about average ping times for VPNs in our article here.
How Do VPNs Affect My Internet Speed?
When you hook your traffic up to a VPN you will have all your traffic sent by their servers for that sweet encryption and to get your IP hidden.
That’s an extra step on the way every time you request a new website or you hit play on YouTube. That’s why it will always slow down your connection to some degree.
Here’s a little diagram that shows how the VPN is inserted between you and “the Internet”:
As you can see, the VPN tunnel adds an extra layer to the route. That’s exactly the point as that step is there to blur your IP and make sure that all your whereabouts don’t get tracked or logged by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or your Boss, for that matter.
Can a VPN Increase My Internet Speed?
A VPN cannot increase your internet speed.
The VPN is an extra step between you and the online content you’re trying to access. The VPN will always slow you down to some degree. By choosing a good web server that isn’t too crowded you will get the best speed from your VPN provider.
It can sure feel like the VPN will speed up your connection if you change from a slow PVN server to a better and faster alternative but it only seems that way.
You will always get the fastest download and upload speed when you bypass the VPN and connect directly to the internet, without the added protection layer from your VPN provider.
How Much Do VPNs Slow Down My Internet?
As you can see from the table at the top of this article it varies a lot.
Some VPN providers will have fast servers nearby you and by connection to these servers you will have very low latency (ping) and if the server isn’t flooded with other users you should get a good speed on the connection.
You can reach out to your VPN provider and ask them about what server you will get the best speed on. VPN providers typically have 50-100 country locations and many more servers as they typically have several servers in the bigger countries. That means that they will have a good idea about which server that are the busiest and you ask them to recommend one that works well for your location.
Make sure to use that 24/7 chat service. They feel so lonely in there and they’re there to help you 😉
Do VPNs Cause My Wi-Fi To Slow Down?
It’s important to make a distinction here.
Your Wi-Fi signal strength is not determined by the VPN server it connects to. The strength of the Wi-Fi signal is determined by the router. The Wi.Fi is simply an interface that connects your device and your router. Nothing more than that.
But the internet speed that is carried with that Wi-Fi signal is definitely impacted by the VPN server it’s connected to.
So, it doesn’t matter whether you connect to your internet connection through a wired connection or if you use a wireless connection.
The VPN will slow your connection regardless.
How Do I Get The Best Speed With VPN?
You get the best speed with a VPN by choosing a good server location and by choosing a server that isn’t too busy. It’s important to factor in how much bandwidth the server call offer you and it depends on how many users it serves.
If a ton of people is trying to access the internet through that same server you will definitely be affected. And your speed will go down as you will have to share the bandwidth that’s available on the server.
Here’s what you can do:
- Test different servers from the VPN provider
- Start with the ones that are the closest to your location
- Ask the support for the fastest option for you
- Choose a premium VPN provider with a good reputation.
- Avoid ALL free VPNs.
- Use an ethernet cable (that always helps)
- Make sure you use the fast “OpenVPN” protocol
With these tips, you should be all set for the fastest possible experience with your VPN provider. The tips are not ordered by priority. Just start from the top and see what you can do.
What about internet speed on smartphones with VPN?
Some older smartphones will not get you great speed regardless of how fast the VPN server is. So, if you have problems with the speed you should first make sure you’re not using a smartphone that’s more than 8-10 years old.
If you doubt the capabilities of your device you can always try to connect a new phone and see what speed results you can get.
But other than that you should expect the internet speed on your iPhone or Android to be affected in the same way as we’ve mentioned above. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re on a smartphone, a laptop, a desktop computer, a smartTV. etc.
The internet speed will be the same no matter what device you’re using with your VPN.
Lastly, you should be aware that the battery on your phone is affected by the VPN. It will eat away on the battery to some extent but probably not too much. You should expect a VPN app to affect your battery to be drained around 15% faster.
Here’s an article we wrote about how VPNs affects the battery of your phone.
Which VPN Has the Fastest Internet Speed?
As you can see at the top of this article we’ve compared several VPN providers to see who does the better job when it comes to speed etc.
We recommend XpressVPN and Cyberghost, but there are many more providers out there. It all comes down to where you live as you need to connect to a local server to get the best speed possible.
But you’re also affected by how many people you share the bandwidth with. But in general, you will have VERY good load times with XPressVPN and Cyberghost!
Do VPNs Make Streaming Faster?
VPNs will not make your streaming faster either.
That being said, they can open up the streaming libraries from other countries as you get to choose the location you want to stream from.
But be aware that not all VPN providers will let you stream even though it’s not illegal in most countries – especially western countries. In some Asian countries and countries in the middle east, the governments will try to block all access to specific websites or sites like Facebook, etc.
We have a separate article here about how to stream Netflix with VPNs.
It’s worth a read!
How Is The Ping Affected by VPNs?
The ping time is also affected when you use a VPN. That’s because you will need the VPN server to also connect before you get access to anything.
We have a separate article with all the numbers you want to see about ping times for VPNs.
Which Country Has The Fastest VPN?
That’s a hard question to answer. It really depends on the time of day and how far you are from the nearest VPN server in your area. You probably find the best VPN servers around the major American cities as there is more demand.
The best thing is to ask your VPN provider about which location they recommend to you for the best speed. When you contact the chat support they will typically have access to a dashboard of all their web servers.
That will let them guide you toward the best possible connection.