A lot of people love the idea of using a VPN to protect their privacy online, but actually sticking to it is a whole other job entirely. Although they’re great for keeping your identity under wraps while browsing notoriously data-hungry sits like Google and Facebook, most VPNs are also a burden on internet connections. They can slow once rocket-fast connection speeds to a crawl, and make streaming, gaming, or downloading one of the ultimate tests in patience.
But did you know there are a few tricks and tips you can use to be sure your VPN is pumping on all cylinders at all times? Read on in our guide to find out how you can get the most out of your monthly subscription and scream past the rest of the competition using these handy tricks.
Choose a VPN Server Closer to You
To get the more obvious solutions out of the way first, this is one of the most common mistakes that people make when setting up their first VPN.
VPNs work by routing your internet traffic from your computer to an offsite server, which then communicates with any webpages or services you’re trying to use from there. Each one of these hops takes a little bit more out of your connection, so the best way to optimize your speed is to be sure that the server you’re connecting to is as close as possible to wherever you’re browsing from.
For example, when I use ExpressVPN, I live in Portland, but the closest server is in Seattle. But even though the two connection points are about 300 miles away from one another, I still only experience a loss of about 3Mbps because I’m linked up to a server that’s near my home. If I were to connect to a server farther away (say New York City for example), this loss in speed would be a lot more noticeable.
By choosing a server that’s close to your home, you can be sure your connection is never left in the digital dust.
Properly Configure Your VPN’s Settings
If you still notice lag while you’re in a multiplayer game or your ping continually rates higher than the rest of your team after changing your server location, tweaking your VPN settings can be another reliable way to be sure you’re getting the absolute max speed possible out of your VPN subscription.
The first step is to try switching around your VPN’s connection protocol, which can affect how the VPN communicates with outside servers like you might find in a particular game or streaming service. While it’s still up in the air whether or not one protocol is categorically better than the others for every different kind of application, the only way you can be sure is to test them all out for yourself on the game you want to run and see which returns the best results.
Sometimes PPTP might be faster due to its minimal encryption standards for a Netflix stream, while L2TP would provide a decent balance between security and speed for users who are still concerned about their privacy while they’re blasting baddies out of the sky in an online multiplayer battle.
Next, dig into your VPN’s configuration settings to see if you can selectively edit which type of traffic is routed through the VPN server, and which is left unencrypted for optimal speed. Although the feature isn’t available on all VPNs, it’s a surefire way to guarantee that your more personal data (like you might use while browsing the web or shopping online) is still protected by the VPN, while the traffic that’s used for gaming or streaming is allowed to circumvent the VPN server and connect as your internet normally would.
It’s not often that you hear the words “VPN” and “lightning-fast speeds” in the same sentence, but if you use our helpful tips and tricks above, you should have no problem hitting the top of the leaderboards or streaming in 4K while still protecting your privacy at the same time.