VPNs are becoming increasingly popular these days as privacy and personal data issues have become a bigger concern.
VPNs affect your lag (also called latency) which we measure with ping time. We can send a request to the server and back again to know the exact ping time.
Do VPNs Affect Ping?
Using a VPN will always increase your ping time. Depending on the location of the VPN server you can get ping times that are almost as fast as without a VPN. Choose a VPN server close to your geographical location for the lowest possible ping time.
Here’s everything you need to know to get the BEST POSSIBLE ping time!
How do VPNs Affect Ping Time?
When we turn on the VPN we will get a longer ping time. This is because the internet connection will not connect to your nearest ISP location but instead send your traffic around the VPN server, which is located elsewhere.
Let’s see how the ping time is when we use a VPN server.
I have 3 VPNs installed on my computer right now because I’m in the middle of testing a bunch of VPNs. Let’s see how they stack up when it comes to ping times:
|Nearest server||17 ms||17 ms||18 ms|
|Server 500 miles away||44 ms||43 ms||48 ms|
|Server 1000 miles away||74 ms||70 ms||82 ms|
|Across Atlantic||196 ms||193 ms||249 ms|
As you can see, you can get REALLY good low ping times with a VPN. Normally it will increase your ping time but not that much if you take a little time to test the different server locations.
The reason why we get a higher ping time is that the VPN will send our traffic by their server to encrypt and secure the data that is sent. You can scroll down a bit and look at the illustration below to see exactly how and why the internet connection is delayed a bit when using a VPN.
So, the answer is that the ping time can be affected as little as a few milliseconds or it can be affected much more.
Depending on the location of the server you use with your VPN provider.
What Is a Good Ping Time?
Let’s establish what a good normal ping time is.
A ping time between 15-50 ms (milliseconds) is really good and typically you will have a ping time closer to 50 if you’re not placed really close to the ISP. I’m currently using a fiber connection with a REALLY good ping of only 15 ms.
But for gaming, everything below 50 is typically considered a good ping.
How Do I Get The Best Ping Time on My VPN?
In order to bet the best ping time with your VPN provider, you need to choose a server that’s close to your geographical location. By doing so you will make sure the data travels the shortest distance to answer your requests.
This is important because the data must travel physically through data cables (or fiberoptic cables) to the VPN server and from there it will be sent to the server that can offer you the data you requested.
Can You Improve Your Ping Time Using a VPN?
You cannot improve your ping time by using a VPN. This is because the VPN server will always be an extra stop on your data requests route. With a VPN your internet traffic is sent around your VPN servers router before any request is made. So it’s a longer route and it will always be at least a bit slower.
This is because you add that extra stop on the trip between you and the server that holds the information you ask for (websites):
So, it’s virtually impossible to get a better ping time when you are using a VPN.
What Is The Lowest Ping I Can Get With VPNs?
I’ve managed to get REALLY good ping times with several VPNs. I’ve been testing a whole bunch of VPNs as we’re putting out tests on our site here.
As you can see at the table at the top of the post I’ve managed to get ping times all the way down to 17 milliseconds! That’s really good and probably the best you can get.
These are the lowest ping times I’ve come across:
- XpressVPN: down to 17 ms
- CyberGhost: down to 17 ms
- Windscribe VPN: down to 18 ms
I don’t think you can get any better ping times than this with a VPN. Unless you are located right next to your ISP and the nearest server from the VPN provider is also located in your city (or very close by at least).
But remember, I’ve on a super-fast fiber connection.
Here at our office, we have fiber-optics based internet that runs around 100/100 Mbit. That’s really good and also means that my baseline for the test is extremely low.
Remember, you can never get a better ping than what you have with your internet connection without the VPN. SO, the better the ping you have to begin with the better the ping over your VPN will be.
So, make sure you have the best possible connection for your home. This is done by checking out which of the different internet providers (AT&T, Verizon, Cable One, Comcast, MediaCom, etc.).
Make sure you are connected to the broadband provider that has the closest connection point for your area.
You can check this by calling them. Or even better, check the ping time of all your neighbors that use a different broadband provider than you do. Once you’ve found the best one you should use that provider together with a VPN provider that also has a server close to you.
Now you have the best POSSIBLE ping time on the planet!
Do VPNs Have Low Enough Ping for Gaming?
We need the absolute best ping time for gaming. But how does that work with a VPN?
Is this possible?
That’s a good question. And as always, it depends.
There are 4 factors that come into play here:
- The location of the game server
- The location of your VPN server
- Your location
- The ping time of your ISP
- How many people use the same VPN as you
The only factor you can impact is probably number 2 on the list. Unless you want to move or change to a better broadband provider.
You need to test all the available VPN servers close to you.
Test them all.
You might be surprised to find that there can be differences that are not 100% correlated to how close they are to you. Maybe the server in the next city is running extremely smoothly and maybe there are fewer people browsing through that server.
That will mean that you will be sharing the bandwidth with fewer people and you will get a faster connection and a better ping time as well.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article you probably want to aim for a ping time of no more than 50-60 ms if you are into first-person games where it’s all about speed and reaction time.
This can certainly be possible as I showed in the examples above (the table) where I compare ping times for some of the most popular VPN service providers.
If you’re lucky, you can find a VPN server really close to your city and you will have a ping time that’s almost as good as if you didn’t use a VPN at all.
But remember, your opponents in the game may have a slower ping than you even though you’re on a VPN.
If you have a strong broadband connection with a really low ping, to begin with, it doesn’t matter much that you route your traffic around a VPN server. That can end up adding as little as 5-10 ms to your ping.