Do VPNs Increase Internet Speed?

While VPNs can provide you with a higher level of security while you’re online, the way they work can have an adverse effect on your internet speed. While many notice a decrease in their connection speeds when using a VPN, others have even seen improvements in certain cases.

So, can a VPN really boost your interest rate, or is this just a myth?

Why do VPNs affect connection speeds?

If you are not very familiar with how VPNs work, you may be wondering why a security protocol would have any effect on someone’s internet speed. So let’s quickly discuss why VPNs can disrupt your online connection.

When you use a VPN, you send your internet traffic through a remote server for encryption. It is this encryption process that can increase the time it takes for your device to connect to the Internet. When Individuals Use Double VPNsThis time may increase further as there are still more servers to reach before you can connect to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

So if the encryption process always has to happen when you use a VPN, your connection speed will always be negatively affected, right? Not necessary. Some people actually experience a boost in their internet speed when using a VPN. This is often the case with online gamers as VPNs can help them overcome bandwidth throttling.

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Bandwidth Throttling and VPNs

Bandwidth Throttling (also known as ISP Throttling) means that your ISP is intentionally reducing your internet speed. This can be done for a variety of reasons, including reducing congestion at peak times, when the number of people using the internet, and thus ping times, increases. In general, it is those who perform bandwidth-intensive activities that most often suffer from bandwidth throttling.

For example, if you do a lot of streaming, video calling, or online gaming, you may experience frequent bandwidth throttling without realizing it. This can be both frustrating and inconvenient and can make your internet experience less enjoyable. But VPNs can come to the rescue in such scenarios.

What’s important to remember is that VPNs can completely mask your internet activity so that your ISP has no idea what you’re doing online. Because of this, there’s no way your ISP can know if you’re doing a bandwidth-intensive activity, so you’re much less likely to experience bandwidth throttling.

However, if you’re not subject to bandwidth throttling in the first place, a VPN is unlikely to increase your connection speed. Different circumstances will lead to different outcomes. So let’s put a VPN to the test and see what happens!

Testing the theory

We run six different speed tests to see how a VPN affects connection speeds at three different times of the day. We test at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to bridge different peak and off-peak hours. Then we test the internet speed while streaming and gaming, with and without using a VPN.

Before we get into the test itself and the results, there’s one more important factor to note: the difference between upload and download speeds. Download speed refers to the speed at which data is sent from the Internet to your device, and upload speed refers to the speed at which data is sent from your device to the Internet.

For online gamers, upload speed is the most important. Online gaming requires every user to constantly send data from their device to the internet. On the other hand, when it comes to streaming, the download speed takes precedence as you receive content on your device from the internet.

Below are the download and upload speeds received during each test (run with speedtest.net

The 10 AM Tests

Download Speed ​​(Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps)
No VPN, no specific activity 69.02 18.44
VPN, no specific activity 48.79 17.17
No VPN, streaming 69.35 18.33
VPN, streaming 58.34 16.88
No VPN, gaming 70.23 18.21
VPN, gaming 50.79 16.24

Unfortunately, as you can see, using a VPN had no positive effect on connection speeds when tested at 10am. In some cases, using a VPN even significantly reduced internet speed, as seen in testing while playing an online game. A drop of nearly 20Mbps can take a huge toll on your online experience, so it seems the added benefit of security when using a VPN definitely comes at a downside in this case.

The tests from 13.00

Download Speed ​​(Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps)
No VPN, no specific activity 60.42 18.22
VPN, no specific activity 58.66 17.18
No VPN, streaming 70.56 18.23
VPN, streaming 60.78 16.95
No VPN, gaming 69.33 18.04
VPN, gaming 38.95 16.31

During the 1 p.m. testing, we got similar results. Using a VPN clearly lowered upload and download speeds. We saw a drop of almost 10 Mbps while using a VPN to stream on Netflix, along with a shocking drop of over 30Mbps when using a VPN to game online. But the upload speed only dropped by 1.73 Mbps in this case, which isn’t terrible.

However, as 1:00 PM is considered off-peak time for internet use, it’s unlikely that bandwidth throttling was used, so it’s no surprise that we see connection speeds drop when the VPN is activated.


The 19:00 Tests

Download Speed ​​(Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps)
No VPN, no specific activity 70.87 18.35
VPN, no specific activity 63.87 16.03
No VPN, streaming 65.78 18.38
VPN, streaming 62.57 16.41
No VPN, gaming 67.61 17.85
VPN, gaming 19.89 14.95

7pm is known as a peak time on the internet where many more people are online compared to the morning or afternoon. This is an example of when bandwidth throttling can be used by your ISP to reduce congestion, and when a VPN can help counteract it.

However, our results show that using a VPN did not affect internet speed positively. In fact, a pretty shocking drop of over 47 Mbps was observed when switching to a VPN during online gaming† A decrease in upload speed while gaming with a VPN was also experienced.

This suggests that there was no bandwidth throttling at the time of the test, as we would likely see increased speed while using the VPN if this were the case.

Do VPNs Slow Your Internet?

It seems that during every test we ran, bandwidth throttling probably didn’t occur. This is why we saw the expected drop in internet speeds when using a VPN, rather than any kind of boost.

So if your network isn’t subject to any kind of bandwidth throttling, using a VPN is unlikely to help at all in terms of connection speeds. If there’s no intentional throttling placed on your bandwidth in the first place, a VPN can’t do much to help when you’re streaming, gaming, or doing any other kind of bandwidth-intensive activity online.


VPNs are great for security, but not great for connection speeds

You can successfully mask your IP address and your online activity when using a VPN, but this usually has a downside. More often than not, using a VPN has a negative effect on your connection speeds, and this is something to consider before signing up for a VPN service (especially if your connection speeds are already quite slow).



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