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Support Center / Troubleshooting / Understanding and Increasing VPN Speeds

Understanding and Increasing VPN Speeds

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 162.210.192.158 to 162.210.192.159, switch instead to 209.58.129.97. 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 – ProtonVPN applications are configured to use UDP by default, as are our OpenVPN config files. If you are using our applications, you can go into Settings to ensure you are using UDP as UDP is much faster than TCP.
  • 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 caps, 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.

Best Regards,
The Proton Technologies Team

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28 comments

  1. Akshay Shende

    Connection Failed
    Maximum Connection Limit Reached…
    I’m getting this error while connecting the vpn after user authentication done successfully.
    I’m a free plan user and facing this issue since last week

  2. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello Akshay, please contact our customer support team and we will do our best to help you out – https://protonvpn.com/support-form

  3. Emilio Marrello

    Hello,
    I am finding Proton function as others in the market, this is life on VPN. There are applications that bother you while using and others such as streaming that will work provided the upfront IP speed is adequate.
    MS Outlook hates VPN and the correct port needs to open i order to send email. If you are mindful the out box can get full and bite you. I do not use Proton for all emails, work activity does not warrant Proton.
    One application that I was looking to test is Netflix. No luck, it appears that Proton uses public server farms that Netflix targets and blocks.
    Would you have any new insights into Netflix, everything else works fine.

  4. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello Emilio, please contact our customer support team and we will help you out! https://protonvpn.com/support-form

  5. al

    You may need to chain Connects. For example, from my work I have to chain three Connects in order to then access us-tx-04-tor.protonvpn.com.udp1194.ovpn. This means x3 slower than regular connect and also may not work on all Proton users’ devices. The particular servers I use is likely not relevant to you, but you may need to connect to other Proton VPN servers first to accomplish whatever you are trying to accomplish. Netflix is very unreliable that way. hth

  6. benoitc

    Hotel wifi seems to actively block the usage of the vpn. Is there any possibility to fix it?

  7. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello Benoitc, In cases like these, the only thing to do is try different connection protocols that use different ports to connect to the VPN, thus quite possibly finding the open port that the VPN connection could work with.

  8. Snafutoo

    Have recently changed to fibre broadband but the VPN seem to be very slow on my android TV box. Using Open VPN as the android app only works on phones. Is there anything I can do to increase speeds

  9. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello Snafutoo,
    That is most likely because of the OpenVPN architecture and how it works, because no matter how many cores or threads your android-box has, OpenVPN uses only one core and one thread for all encryption and decryption operations.
    So, the only way to increase the speed currently is to connect to closest servers possible with least load on them. Also, we are going to publish IKEv2 android tutorial soon, so stay tuned.

  10. Quacko

    Hi,
    Does the auto connect to the fastest server automatically connect you to a p2p server? Or is there a way to make it connect only to p2p servers so that it does?
    I haven’t been able to find such an option in your windows app or any documentation about it.
    Thx in advance

  11. ProtonVPN

    Hello,

    At this time, we do not have a profile that connects you specifically to the fastest P2P server. However, you can create a custom profile and choose the desired P2P server, so you can easily select that profile and make it a default one. If you make it a default profile, every time you press the “Quick connect” button it will connect to that certain server.

  12. ProtonVPN Team

    Hey! At the moment it is not possible, but you still can set your preferred P2P as a profile.

  13. Big Derf

    Hi
    I am testing the free version of protonVPN on Android and considering to upgrade. So far my experience has been very positive except 2 issues:
    – ProtonVPN drains a lot of battery, even when the phone is sleeping (it represents more than 10% of the overall spent energy).
    – Sometimes the connexion to Internet seems down (or extremely slow). I need to disconnect ProtonVPN and re-connect it to have the connection properly working again.
    Are they known issues that are planned to be fixed any time soon? Have I misconfigured something?

  14. ProtonVPN Team

    Hey, we are constantly collecting feedback and working on the issues that raise up. Both of the issues you have mentioned are not too persistent and it is an overall app stability field, which we are improving with every app update. Please feel free to write us an e-mail if you would like to do some troubleshooting via https://protonvpn.com/support-form

  15. Vince

    300 Mbps? Surely you’re making that up.
    I have a pro subscription, but using TCP speeds don’t even reach 11 Mbps. With UDP it’s even worse, with speeds not even reaching half of that. Without ProtonVPN I easily manage 180 while wireless and with AirVPN there was not a care in the world. Both my Mac and iPhone are now snail pacing, with apps even timing out on the latter.

    Your customer service is being of no help at all, directing me to this page (while I clearly stated I had already tried all the offered ‘solutions’ above).

    What’s going on? There is (unfortunately) no application for Mac to update, switching servers does not produce any significant improvement, and so on… I like the idea behind Proton, and would love to make it work, but so far this has been a very one-sided relationship.

  16. ProtonVPN Team

    Hey Vince, we have answered to your ticket and hopefully will be able to resolve your issues through there.

  17. SBarger

    Vince, were the issues you described ever resolved? I am curious about your experience. Thank you.

  18. Hema

    I really like your service and use it to keep my information private and mine, as much as possible. I’m very grateful for your service. I do have some issues though that I would like to let you know about so that you may use it to improve services. An iPhone app with a kill switch would be so nice. The kill switch really works well on my computer but I’m vulnerable on my iphone when service drops out and I don’t notice. OpenVPN does nothing to alert me of the breach. I’m not super worried now, but I feel it in my gut this needs to be addressed soon because of negative forces in the world ramping up their efforts with the help of ever increasing technological advancements and the collection/storage of personal information for nefarious purposes. I want to stay safe and out of the way. Also please, a little more speed. Please do the best you can to keep speeds at a level that allows Plus users (Yep, I support you) to video stream 480-720p. Sometimes things get bad and it doesn’t matter what server I’m connected to. But thankfully it never lasts and I do enjoy 1080p sometimes. Thanks for all your work and providing a service that keeps people and their information safe on the internet.

    Hema

  19. ProtonVPN Team

    Hey Hema, thank you for your comment! Our iOS app is in the works, but it is too early to tell when we will be releasing it for beta testing.

  20. Hillary Clinton

    hai! ProwtonVPN cownecxion keeps droppin until i manyualy diskonnect and changje serveh.
    dis MUST stawp.
    or else

  21. ProtonVPN

    We have recently made a change that should fix this problem.

  22. Steve

    Speeds on the SE-AU Secure Core configuration have been too slow to permit video streaming. This problem was resolved by using the Australia Country Connect config.

  23. Proton

    Can you add a feature to see what servers are Plus servers (in the list of VPN servers in the ProtonVPN program) and which are not Plus servers ? As an ProtonVPN Plus user, I only want to connect to Plus servers, but I don’t know which they are..

  24. ProtonVPN

    Yes you can get this information from the server page: https://protonvpn.com/vpn-servers

  25. Marcos

    Will you be implementing methods to get around ISP throttling (SSH/SSL tunneling, use different ports, etc)? I have a 100MB connection but only seem to get 20-30MB max with ProtonVPN, no matter what servers I use

  26. ProtonVPN

    We will look into advanced obfuscation technologies in the near future. Currently our main priority is to get native client support for other platforms besides Win

  27. amdelamar

    Does the “Fastest” button in the Windows VPN Client consider location and network issues? My thoughts are that its purely ping response based.

  28. ProtonVPN

    it relies on several factors, including location, ping and server load

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