Speed is an important factor in making a decision for a connection plan. The same factor remains important in choosing a virtual private network. Moreover, VPN speed is a lot more complicated than the bandwidth stated on the marketing material. Virtual private networks of similar bandwidths might not even have the same performance. The reason for this is the various factors influencing VPN speed.
A device still needs to an Internet connection to access a virtual private network. Regardless of the features of a VPN server, it would still be limited by the speed of Internet connection. For example, if the connection has a rated speed of 10mbps, the connection would only get up to that speed even if the VPN has a 100mbps speed.
When users talk about speed, they are usually only referring to the bandwidth of their connection. This is the amount of data passing through the connection for every second. What is not usually considered is the latency of the connection.
Latency is the amount of time for a device to receive a response from a server. The time varies on the distance between the device and the server. Therefore, if an ISP’s server has a considerable distance to the router used for the device, the latency would be quite high for the connection. This is not an issue for most tasks over the internet but latency becomes important when tasks require rapid exchange of data. Examples of such tasks are online gaming, video calls, and livestream broadcasts.
The distance between a device’s location and VPN server affects the amount of time required to receive data. Longer distances from a VPN server results to more lost data packets. This requires resending data that result to needing more time to complete the information.
Moreover, since the Internet is a series of interconnected networks, the greater distance requires data to go through more of these networks. These networks have varying bandwidths and prioritize selected traffic over others.
Aside from this, greater distances can also require the cables to pass through more underwater fiber optic cables. These cables have a lower data capacity than those on the ground.
A VPN server will have a certain bandwidth capacity. It will distribute this to each of its users depending on the provider’s allocation method and the price paid by the user. Generally, greater bandwidths result to faster VPN speeds.
The speed still depends on how VPN services allocate server bandwidth to their users. Some VPN services will efficiently distribute the whole bandwidth to connected users while others will assign a data cap. The first method often provides the most reliable connection speed. It tracks the bandwidth being used by users on the server. Since the whole bandwidth allocation is not used to fullest at all times, the server can allocate this to users that need it the most.
A VPN protocol is a set of rules used to organize the connection between a VPN client and a VPN server. The different protocols are PPTP, L2TP/IPSEC, OpenVPN TCP, and Open VPN UDP. These protocols have varying speeds. Usually, a faster protocol would have weaker encryption strength.
Due to the conflict between speed and security in VPN protocol, it is best to use a protocol that suits the intended purpose of the VPN. For example, media streaming requires fast speed but not high security so a PPTP protocol is the most suitable.
VPN services sometimes have limit themselves to only using certain protocol. Because of this, one must consider the purpose of their VPN before deciding on a provider.
Overall, one must consider three things when choosing a VPN: server location, server bandwidth, protocol used, and ping. For ping, this is the latency that can have varying results depending on the website or service accessed. It is best to use a service that has a server that can have low ping with the service or website accessed with the VPN.
Individuals who need an encrypted channel or a low latency connection require the benefits of a fast VPN. They could be online gamers who might want to play in restricted servers. This is often the case for most online games since regions have local servers. To moderate its users, they restrict these servers from foreign users.
Live-streamers can also benefit from a fast VPN. Streaming opens the possibility of exposing one’s IP address and location. This has been the case for live-streamers from Twitch and YouTube when they became victims of swatting, online theft, or other cyber-crimes. A fast VPN can protect their IP address, and provide a fast channel for the streaming.