Will a VPN slow down my Internet connection?

VPN and download speedThe times when we surfed with modems are history and today we are used to download speeds exceeding several megabytes per second. However, to secure our personal information a VPN might be good. But, will it slow down my Internet connection?

Before continuing I recommend that you read our introduction to VPN article. Because to be able to understand the way a VPN influences the speed of your Internet connection, you need to understand what a VPN actually is.

VPN and download speed

When you connect to a VPN there are several things that will influence the way it impacts your download speeds. Here you can see some of those facts that might influence your speeds.

  • The amount of people connected to that actual server
  • The ping (speed) of the server
  • The actual speed of the server you are connected to
  • Geographical location of the server (kind of ping)

There might be a server in Brazil with great actual speeds, but if you are located in London the data will have to transfer such a long way before it arrives at the server in Brazil, which will cause a slow ping, and will end up giving you as a user a slower speed/download speed than before you connected to the VPN server.

This is a very typical problem when people in for example Thailand want to get an IP address in France (or somewhere else). Their connection in Thailand works great, the speed of the VPN server in France has great speeds. The only problem is the distance the data has to flee, and it will often cause some decrease in download speeds. The conclusion is therefore that if possible, connect to a server near you with great response time (ping) and which has a very good actual speed.

It is also important to know that a server might have good speed and ping, but if it is overcrowded, it might get slow anyway. Some VPN services have limits on amount of people connecting, thus making sure that users get maximum speed at all times, and when the amount of users connected would get higher and start ruining the speeds of the rest, they block new people from connecting, and make sure download speeds stay intact. Where such limits does not exist, you might experience poor download speeds, especially during sports events and big events which draw lots of people to their screens and when everyone want to connect to the same VPN server and see the same streamed video at the same time, or maybe tons of people want to watch Netflix at the same time, the users might be the ones suffering in the end. A good way to avoid this, at least if you use Netflix, is to watch films and series outside peak time.

I have sometimes been confused and believed that the VPN server I connected to was very slow, only to find out that it was my Internet provider that gave me the same speed. It can therefore be useful to always check your own download speed (before connecting to the VPN) and then compare it to the speeds you get once connected to the VPN.

Using VPN with a slow Internet connection

Slow Internet connection and VPNI am writing this article using a quite slow Internet connection giving me download speeds around 5,5Mbps. Out of curiosity I used HideMyAss and connected to the server nearest my actual location (2km) and with the best ping speeds. I wanted to find out if a slow Internet connection is slowed down even more when connecting to a VPN with good speeds and good ping. The server near my actual location gave me a download speed of 4Mbps. I then tried a server 150km from my actual location and got a download speed using VPN of 4,5Mbps. After both tests I disconnected from the server and did a simple download speed test (without using VPN) and got a download speed of 5Mbps.

All in all it can be seen that a VPN will slow down your Internet connection a little bit, but not much at all, at least not if you connect to a server with good ping and good download speeds.

These were just some thoughts on whether a VPN will slow down your Internet connection or not. I hope you found the article interesting and feel free to share insight, thoughts and comments!

4 thoughts on “Will a VPN slow down my Internet connection?

  1. To continue my article I did one more test some hours after writing this article. Without a VPN connection I had download speeds of 21,5Mbps. After connecting to the same HideMyAss server nearby I got a download speed of 14Mbps, an example of a VPN server either overloaded, or with a slower connection from the beginning. However, the connection isn’t that bad at all, because with a download speed of 14Mbps you are able to mostly whatever you want!

  2. Matt says:

    Thank you for the tip on using a vpn near your actual location. I have several options with my service and when I use the one closest to my actual location it does speed up quite a bit compared to the other available locations. Great tip!

  3. I have a similar problem with a server to server vpn. Without vpn, I get about 34mbps and when I turn vpn it goes down to less than 4mbps. This is only across town server. Is there any way to speed this up? I’m backing up a 2.5gb data for a client and only have 12hrs. It takes about 18 hrs. with the slow speed.

    Jim

    • Hello! If you are connecting to a slow VPN server there is little that can be done about a problem such as this. I would maybe try another server at a similar location, or another provider.. After all, there are quite some VPN servers that are really slow due to many users etc.

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