Does A VPN Slow Down Internet Connection? Lets Investigate !!

The use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a technology used for internet security, which begs the question does a VPN slow down internet connection? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, it does have an effect on internet speeds. This loss of speed is due to the data encryption process. The process keeps your internet presence and data secure while online.

Most trustworthy VPN services will provide adequate speeds while connected to the internet with only minimal degradation of speed. This reduction in internet speed is considered acceptable and is somewhere between 5-6% of the ISP’s ( Internet Service Provider ) regular speed.

Check Internet Speed ( Your ISP )Internet Speed

First, before putting sole blame on the use of a VPN service for your slow internet speeds, you must ensure your ISP hasn’t already implemented speed restrictions on your internet service.

This is important because if your ISP provider is already throttling your internet speed, then this would also contribute to the VPN’s slow internet speeds.

To check your internet speed you must disconnect your VPN connection. Some ISP providers have internet speed test on their home dashboards you can access to test speeds, or you can download free speed test apps. Next would be to retest with VPN connected, this will show how much slower if any while connected to VPN. If, you are starting out with a slow internet speed connection chances are it will be slow when you are connected to your VPN service.

While there is not one pinpoint answer as to why the use of a VPN service slows your internet speeds, there are a variety of factors that could contribute to the cause of slow internet speeds. Some of these are

  • The Use Of A Free VPN Service Provider
  • Geographical Location Of VPN Servers
  • Encryption Level
  • Server Loads
  • VPN Protocols
  • ISP – Speed Restrictions – Throttling
  • Split Tunneling

These are a few of the probable causes we will look at in more detail.


Free VPN Service Provider

While the use of free VPN service providers may sound attractive the fact is it’s not really free. You may be jeopardizing your privacy and security by using one. A lot of these free providers offset the cost of providing free service by gathering your browsing history, searches, surfing activities and sell to 3rd party sites that will in return start placing unwanted ads, spam, and diverting you to unwanted and unauthorized websites.

They also do not give you full functionality, they may impose bandwidth limits, time limits, data usage and speed throttle the connection. Which in turn will cause slow Internet speeds, and this will compound if your ISP is also throttling your internet speeds.

Location Of Servers ( Geographical )Server

VPN internet speeds could be affected by the geographical location of the server you are trying to connect to. The greater the distance from your actual geographical location, there could a slower internet speed realized compared to a server that is located close to your actual location. So if you are a British citizen located in England and tried to connect to a server located in France the speeds realized would be faster, compared to trying to connect to a server located in Canada.

Encryption Level

The higher the encryption level the slower the internet speed. If your VPN uses 256-bit key encryption the process to encrypt your data takes longer and because it is a longer key it will slow down the internet speed. Compared to the 128-bit key which is half the length, therefore, speed will be faster. In any event, you want your data encrypted with what is considered to be the gold standard 256-bit key anything less is less secure. So, in the end, this may be one place where slower internet speed is what you want.

Server Loadsserver

The amount of load on a VPN service is determined by the number of users connected to a server. When there are many users connected to the same server you could experience slower internet speeds, one way to avoid this is to switch servers as most reputable VPN service providers have multiple servers to choose from.

Switch server until you find one which not many users are connected. Some VPN service providers will monitor server load and provide data making finding a more suitable server with faster speeds easier.

VPN Protocols

Some VPN service protocols are used for greater security while others are used to provide a lower level of security but have a faster speed. Most of the trustworthy VPN service providers will use all the more popular protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP, each of these protocols provide different levels of security and speeds.

For example, the L2TP protocol provides a high level of security with less speed. The PPTP protocol provides a lower level of security at a faster speed. While on the other hand OpenVPN which is considered to be the best protocol as it provides both high-level security and adequately fast speeds.

ISP (Internet Service Providers) Speed Restrictions – ThrottlingThrottling

The speed that your ISP provides can also affect VPN speeds. While controversial some ISP providers will throttle Bandwidth.

The ISP providers will throttle bandwidth at peak usage times, mostly during the day, to limit the amount of data being processed, which in turn saves them from investing in faster equipment more suited to handle higher internet traffic. This throttling also helps to reduce congestion on the ISP’s network.

Some ISP providers have also been known to throttle the bandwidth of users with less expensive plans as a way to get users to upgrade to more expensive plans. While there are many more reasons why an ISP provider will throttle bandwidth, this throttling has a direct effect on VPN speeds.

Split Tunneling

Some more reputable VPN service providers have added to their service a relatively new feature known as “Split Tunneling” this new tool can split your internet traffic going into VPN service into both encrypted and unencrypted traffic. This allows user to select those apps whose data which will be routed through their VPN service for encryption while other unused apps to be directly connected to the internet.

Split tunneling allows for faster speeds because the traffic that remains connected directly to the internet takes less time to process compared to that of the traffic requiring encryption.

Final Thoughts

In the end, unfortunately, the use of a VPN service could cause a slow internet speed. For the most part, any speed loss should be well within acceptable limits. The use of a reputable VPN service should provide less chance of any significant speed degradation. However, the above-mentioned causes will have a direct effect on internet speeds.

To help minimize any possibility of internet speed irregularities it is recommended that you research which VPN service provides the features and tools to combat any of the aforementioned causes of internet speed degradation.

I hope you enjoyed this post if you have any questions or just want to leave a comment please do so below

Take care

Stay secure and always practice

Safe Text !!!


10 thoughts on “Does A VPN Slow Down Internet Connection? Lets Investigate !!

  1. Hi Butch this is super helpful. I actually had a VPN on my laptop & smart phone but disconnected due to reduced speed. I didn’t research it first and now reading your article I really need to do that ! As it certainly is something to increase security and I like the idea of A service with split tunneling which I’m sure will resolve the problem for me . Thanks!

  2. Hi Sass, Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment. I’m glad you found the post helpful, split tunneling works great, it is one of the options I have on VPN that I use. I haven’t had any noticeable speed issues since I changed VPN providers.
    Take care
    Stay secure

  3. Thanks for this article. I’m not that tech savvy so it was helpful to learn a bit about VPNs. I live in Portugal but like to watch BBCiplayer so knew I needed a VPN, even though I wasn’t 100% sure what it was. I’ve only ever used free ones and have never felt completely safe with them. Now I know why. Time to look for a reputable provider I think. Thanks again.

    • Hi Debbie, That is one of the best features of a VPN service, the ability to access content from another country. Thank you for taking the time to visit and I am glad you found post both helpful and informative.

      Take care
      Stay secure

  4. Ever since I’ve started using a VPN, I’ve always accepted the throttling down of my internet speed. Until I came across your article I had no idea that split tunneling was an option. I’ve gone back to my VPN provider and see they do offer this. I am going to play around with it and see how it works. Hopefully now my frustration of having to turn my VPN off while watching streaming services will finally end.

  5. Hi James, Glad you found the post helpful and informative. The addition of split tunneling has been a great feature, my provider has had it for a while and works great. It especially works well on streaming form a paid subscription where you don’t need lots of encryption so you get fast speeds!!! Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment.
    Take care
    Stay secure

  6. Hi Butch,
    Thank you so much for your article. It’s basically all the info I have never understood but was always too afraid to ask experts about because I know they’re going to laugh. It’s really well explained too! I’m going to share it with my brother who is getting interested in doing his studies on this topic, it will certainly help him!

    • Hi Floriane, I’m glad you found the post informative and helpful. You should never be afraid to ask a question. I’m happy I was able to help you understand a VPN, thank you for the comment and taking the time to visit. All the best, Take care

      Stay secure

    • Hi Sharon, Glad you found the post helpful and informative, I agree there is not much that is truly “free” and “free” almost always comes at a cost, and in this case, it is your personal data and information. Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment. All the best
      Take care
      Stay secure and always practice
      Safe Text

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