One question that is consistently repeated by users via ourself or social media sites is to question if your internet connection will be faster when using a VPN. Another question that goes hand in hand with the original is will my internet connection be slower when connected to a VPN. The answer to the question has a multitude of responses depending on the situation. The mistake many users make is when first signing up to a service they run a speed test with a popular speed testing service such as speedtest.net. It is a natural reaction to want to test the speed of your connection now you’ve parted with your cash for the service but the answer is not clear cut.
While you can at times get an accurate speed reading from a service such as speedtest.net there are many cases and instances where the speed you get will be higher than your actual home internet connection. The first order of service is the debunk the myth that a VPN can speed up your connection over the originally intended speed of your internet service. So if you have for example a 30Mb/s internet connection yet the reading of a speed test site is giving indication that your speed is higher than that then it is an inaccurate reading.
There are many examples of users receiving reports of a 90Mb/s download speed on a 30Mb/s connection when testing with such sites. The answer to this question is a resounding “No”, it is not accurate, it is more of a mistake. When using a VPN your data is more than likely compressed which in turn leads the speed testing site to inaccurately record your speed.
A quick real world test would be to download a file from any other location either via your web browser or a download manager at which point you’ll notice that the speed never goes over your actual home internet connection speed.
Although a VPN will not speed up your maximum internet connection speed over your limit it can however speed up specific types of internet activity depending on certain circumstances and the policies of your internet service provider. The instances where this is likely to occur is when your ISP enforces something such as Traffic Management or Traffic Shaping, this could take on various other guises but the end result is the same.
What Traffic Management does is depending on the type of activity they “Manage” depends on the speeds you’ll receive when carrying out that type of activity. An example that many western ISP’s impose such management on is Torrent access. Upon detecting Torrent access within certain time frames your ISP may choose to restrict the speed of your connection or the connection to the torrent services. This could mean you lose half of your speed for that specific action. They do this by noticing the type of traffic you are making use of.
Although a VPN can not speed up your connection above its maximum speed it can in the instances of Traffic Management obscure the types of traffic you’re accessing thus making it impossible for your ISP to restrict the speed as they would not know what type of data you are accessing or the types of activity you’re carrying out. The result in this instance would be that torrent access speeds went at the maximum speed of your internet connection.
The most likely scenario or the biggest worry of most consumers is the case of overall speed actually dropping. It is all very well having your privacy and security covered but if it results in awkward and unsatisfactory internet use then the purpose of it is pretty much pointless. Luckily there are many factors that result in lack lustre or reduced speeds when connected to a VPN server. The most common culprit is the actual service you sign up to.
As I’ve said in articles previous not all VPN providers are made the same, with this I mean that the quality of their infrastructure, servers & connections are not all similar. There are top end providers, generally good providers and then just some downright dreadful providers. Doing your research like reading through our VPN reviews section can greatly reduce the chances of ending up with a poor provider. So first off is the provider themselves, once you’ve assured yourself that they’re a decent provider the next is to consider the server you’re connecting to.
Although I have successfully connected to servers as far away as Australia with top end VPN provider’s, no matter how good a service is there is always going to be a speed hit and with a bad provider that speed hit is likely to be greater. If you’re suffering from poor speeds yet have signed up to one of the quality providers listed on our VPN comparison table then the first thing to consider is the distance of the server you’re connecting to and attempt to connect to a server physically closer or an alternative server in a similar location, this in most cases will alleviate any poor speed performance.
If you’re still experiencing slower than you would like speeds then speaking with your provider can in many cases resolve any issues. However the final message to take from this article is a VPN will never give you a speed greater than your ISP maximum speed.
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net