VPNs are a fantastic tool for maintaining your online privacy, in that they keep your connection secure and your details anonymous while you’re browsing the web. One key flaw for many VPN users is the lag they can sometimes add to your connection. Because your uploads and downloads are being redirected via a VPN server rather than going straight between you and the sites you visit, there can be a delay on things like video buffering and download times.
While some level of performance adjustment is to be expected, there are measures you can take to speed up your connection while browsing through a Virtual Private Network. A good place to start is by seeking out an affordable subscription VPN service instead of automatically opting for a free one – not because a free service can’t be useful, but because their servers are often overloaded by a huge number of users that leave no spare bandwidth available.
If you’re keen to avoid lagging connections while you’re surfing anonymously online, here are a few potential solutions to keep things running smoothly.
Switch to a wired connection
WiFi speeds in themselves can be unpredictable, with WiFi technology lacking in consistency what it makes up for the inconvenience. WiFi routers share network channels, so here possible, it’s a good idea to use a wired connection where there’s less of a fight for bandwidth, and the chance of higher average upload and download speeds.
The added bonus of using a wired connection to browse via VPN on a desktop computer or laptop is that it can save bandwidth on your home WiFi for other devices. Though it’s wise to use a private network regardless of what device you’re on, using a wired connection for bigger tasks like video downloads will relieve some of the pressure – allowing for faster mobile VPN speeds on devices that can’t wire up.
Try a different VPN
There are a number of popular protocols that VPN clients and servers use to communicate, which define the type of encryption used and the level of encryption provided. One of the most popular is OpenVPN, but this is sometimes restricted or throttled on certain networks. In this case, using an alternate protocol might solve speed issues.
Many services will give you the option of L2TP/IPSec as a protocol choice, which uses 256-bit encryption. It’s a strong alternative connection, and can sometimes result in faster speeds. If you have the option of using SSTP then this is a highly secure and well-recommended choice, but failing that, PPTP may also be an option.
PPTP is a less secure encryption type so it’s not the first pick if you’re going to be doing online banking or sending other sensitive data. But, if you just want to stream videos, you may find you spend less time watching the buffering bar over PPTP than OpenVPN.
Use device VPN rather than router VPN
The obvious benefit of setting up a VPN on your router is that you don’t need to remember to connect via VPN each time you go online – the protection is already there. The downside is that older technology often can’t keep up with the new stuff in terms of processing power. Routers don’t need to compete in the same way that smartphones and laptops do when it comes to CPUs, which means they sometimes struggle to keep up.
Older smartphones are often still faster than the newest routers, so if you’re finding that your data is taking its time uploading and downloading, knocking the VPN off your router and sticking to app-based use should help.
Alternate between server locations
In almost every case, a server that’s closer to your actual geographical location will be faster than one which is further away. You may also get improved data speeds from servers that aren’t being used as heavily as others.
VPN providers usually make it really easy to switch servers, so the only limit is how many servers your particular client can offer. The more servers they have available, the more options you can quickly jump through to find one that works at a higher speed.
This is another place where a router VPN setup can get in the way, as the process for switching locations will be much more long-winded. On an app, you should be able to simply select a new option from a drop-down list or map. If in doubt, run a speed test after you’ve connected so you can see whether the new connection is working more effectively.
The failsafe: turn it off and on again
They say the old ones are the best, and as a last resort, it’s always worth a classic – turning your device off and then back on again. Restarting your wireless router can also be worthwhile, if you’re using a wireless connection. It’s a retro technique, but it genuinely can help.
Processors can sometimes get ‘stuck’ in a looped process or persistent state of request-sending, particularly in older devices. The off-and-on trick essentially brings your device or router back to a fresh state, where it isn’t trying to run a large number of programs at once. Conflicting commands or buggy programs can cause issues, and a reset is sometimes all it takes to get rid of a lag.
With a decent VPN service who can offer a wide array of server options around the world, you shouldn’t run into speed delay issues. But if you do, one or other of these tricks is all it should take to get things moving quickly again.