In this article, we discuss the factors that impact VPN speed and how VPN speed can be increased. We also cover the speed differences between different ProtonVPN plans.
Because VPN is establishing an encrypted tunnel over your existing Internet connection, the speed of a VPN is largely limited by the speed of your current internet connection. Factors that might limit VPN speeds include:
- Limitation of your Internet service provider. Generally speaking, you can’t get speeds faster than how much data your ISP can transport over their network.
- International internet links. If you are connecting to an overseas VPN server, an issue with the network links anywhere between you and that server could lead to performance problems. This could include congestion caused by a failure of an undersea internet cable, or maintenance being performed by the network provider upstream to your ISP.
- ISP throttling. Some providers will intentionally throttle VPN connections or throttle your entire connection if you are using a lot of bandwidth. This would degrade your VPN speed as your entire connection would be running slower.
Because networks are always changing, VPN speeds will vary depending on where you are located, which servers you connect to, and even when you are connected. Furthermore, because connecting to a VPN might bypass a problem elsewhere on the Internet, it is even possible sometimes to get faster connection speeds to certain sites by using a VPN.
How to get faster speeds on a VPN
If you are experiencing slow speeds on a VPN, it could be caused by some of the factors described above, but there are still some tricks that can improve VPN performance.
- Switch to a different VPN server – A different server would be on a different connection and might not be impacted by network issues which can reduce speeds. When you switch servers, use a server with an IP address that is from a different range. For example, instead of switching from 188.8.131.52 to 184.108.40.206, switch instead to 220.127.116.11. As long as the first two sets of numbers are different, you will be in a different range.
- Switch to a server closer to you – The farther away the a server is, the higher the latency, which hurts speeds. A server further away also means it is more likely for something to be wrong in the network between you and the server.
- Use UDP instead of TCP – The ProtonVPN Windows application is configured to use UDP by default, as are our OpenVPN config files. If you are using our Windows application, you can go into Settings to ensure you are using UDP as UDP is much faster than TCP. Our Mac, Android, and iOS applications are configured to use only the IKEv2 protocol as it’s proven to be faster.
- Use servers that are not under heavy load – ProtonVPN applications, and also our VPN server page, will display the load of all our servers. Try to pick a server that has low load.
- Don’t use Secure Core – The extra security provided by Secure Core VPN unfortunately comes at the cost of performance since passing through our Secure Core network adds extra latency. If you are doing bandwidth intensive activity that doesn’t require the highest levels of security, you can get faster performance by not using Secure Core.
- Don’t use Tor VPN servers – ProtonVPN is unique in that we also provide Tor VPN servers which exit through the Tor network. However, because the Tor network is often slow, Tor VPN servers can also be slow.
- Use a newer VPN client – If you are using the ProtonVPN application, make sure you update to the latest version by clicking Update in the menu. If you are using a third party OpenVPN client, make sure to use one that we recommend, and also be sure that you are running the latest version. New versions will contain performance optimizations or support faster cipher suites which will improve overall performance.
Speeds of different ProtonVPN Plans
ProtonVPN maintains very high performance across our entire global VPN server network by using only the fastest servers and using specially selected networks. ProtonVPN is a free VPN service, but our global network is not free to operate. The operating expenses are mostly covered by paid ProtonVPN Plus users. Because of this, we provide much high levels of performance for ProtonVPN Plus and ProtonVPN Basic users.
Because ProtonVPN is a no-logs VPN service, we do not monitor or track user activity. Therefore, we have no bandwidth limits or bandwidth throttles, even for free users. However, speeds differ between Free, Basic, and Plus plans due to varying server load. Because we offer only a very limited number of free servers, those servers tend to have many more users crowded on them with leads to lower performance.
ProtonVPN Basic users benefit from high performance because they have access to servers without free users that are connected to higher performance networks. Finally, ProtonVPN Plus users have the highest performance because they have access to Plus servers which are only accessible to other Plus users. Because there are fewer Plus users, and because many of the Plus servers are on 10 Gbps networks, very high performance is possible. Indeed, speeds of up to 300 Mbps are frequently reported. Your actual speeds may vary however, depending on network conditions.
Still experiencing speed issues?
At ProtonVPN, we strive to not only provide the most secure VPN service, but also the fastest VPN service. To do this, we only deploy high performance servers in datacenters with the best network connectivity. If you are experiencing poor performance from one of our servers, we would like to know about it. Please tell us which server is performing poorly by contacting us.
The Proton Technologies Team