How fast are VPNs?

With increased incidences of internet theft and need for security, many internet users are turning to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to secure their data across public networks such as the Internet. While VPNs can be useful, speed of data transfer can be an issue if fast and reliable communication is to be achieved across networks. Many VPN subscribers are worried about connection speed if they connect via Virtual Private Networks. First of all, what potential users need to understand is that you will still need the services of your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to access internet services and that a VPN service does not replace your ISP.

what speed vpnsWhen you connect to a public network through a Virtual Private Network, the Internet Service Provider will still provide to you the internet services but data transfer will be more secure since the data traffic will be encrypted as it passes through your ISP to the VPN server. Apart from the added security, the connection will appear anonymous to other networks due to hiding of IP address and therefore you can enjoy geo-restricted services such as restricted TV services or bypass internet censoring filters in countries where the Internet is restricted or blocked.

So, how would the connection speed be affected when using this kind of service to route data across networks, or simply, how fast are VPNs? Having a fast data transfer rate will depend on a number of factors just like any other connection. Here, we discuss the key factors which can affect the speed you will achieve.

1. ISP Speed

The speed of your Internet Service Provider will play a big role in determining your connection speed. The VPN service provider does not provide internet connection so you will still need the services of ISP to connect to the internet. The VPN will usually use the speed provided by the ISP as the base speed of transmitting your data across public networks, therefore the speed of ISP will largely determine the rate of internet connection. The process of data encryption and decryption will invariably make the connection marginally slower so the faster the ISP connection you start off with,the better. If you start with a slow connection it is physically impossible for the VPN to speed the connection up, the maximum speed you can theoretically achieve is what your ISP provides.

2. Location of VPN servers

Another factor that determines a fast service is the location of VPN servers and the latency caused as the data packets move from one device to another. Basically, data transmission latency will increase as the distance between the VPN server and the physical location of the user increases.

VPN users are therefore recommended to subscribe to providers with servers close to their geographical location or the location they wish to target (ie when watching geo-restricted TV services). Travelling users should opt for providers who have servers in multiple locations and in different countries so that they can switch between servers as they travel. VPN providers who operate different servers can also offer increased speed since peak-time traffic can be off-loaded to other servers or be scattered across several servers.

3. Availability of IP address

Dynamic IP VPNs usually utilize dynamic IP addresses which are automatically and randomly allocated by the service provider from a pool of available addresses. That means users will need to be assigned IP addresses dynamically when they are available. If the provider has limited number of IP addresses, users will experience delays as they wait for IP addresses to become available and this can cause slow connections. Always go for a reliable VPN provider who can offer access of IP addresses from a larger pool.

4. Choice or VPN Protocols

Many premium VPN providers allow their clients to choose the type of VPN protocol they would prefer. The most commonly used protocols are PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP and OpenVPN – each of these has its own performance ratings on connection speed and can determine the speed and/or security of the service.

5. VPN configuration

While most VPNs are fairly easy to configure, software problems resulting from configuration settings or potential conflicting software such as security optimizers, packet filters and firewalls can cause a fast VPN to be slow.

The speed requirement of a VPN service will vary depending on user needs and while the task of determining the speed of a VPN may look daunting for average users, the best way to determine speed is by taking advantage of the offered free trials. This way, you will be able to assess if the speed will match up to your requirement before you can subscribe for the service.

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