Does a VPN Slow Down My Internet Connection?

Updated on: 20 February 2019
Updated on: 20 February 2019

Whether you have used a VPN before or not, there are many reviews and report of people who claim to have a far slower internet connection with a VPN than without. However, is that really down to the VPN or is it to do with something else?

In this post, we answer whether or not a VPN can be held responsible for slowing down your internet connection, and if there are some VPNs which are better than others when it comes to speeds.

1. You Get What You Pay For

Ok, so to start off this post, we first of all need to address a very important point. The reasons we are starting with this is due to the fact that the service you get from a quality VPN, such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, is far far different to that of a so-called free VPN.

That old saying, ‘’you get what you pay for’’ is true in most cases, and where a VPN is concerned, is certainly is; here’s why.

When you use a VPN, you have to, first of all, connect your computer with their network. This means that any request you send to the internet needs to go through them first, before making its way to the ‘other side.’
In the case of a free VPN, you can almost always be assured that there will be someone at the other end doing something that you do not know about with your data. This takes time.

Another key point to consider is that in order to provide a quick connection, your chosen VPN company will need to have lots of high-performance servers in place, in order to deal with the request.

Consider at peak times, when ‘everyone’ is trying to connect to the internet, their servers need to be capable of processing thousands upon thousands of requests per second.

A free VPN will typically not have enough real estate in terms of the number of servers or the quality of the performance of those servers in order to provide users with lightning-quick services.

Add to this fact that many people use VPN for high-impact downloading activities, such as streaming, and the traffic and issues become compounded.

So, if you want to use a free VPN and avoid paying out just $3 per month, you can expect a slow internet connection, interruptions to downloads, lagging, being cut-off, and every other annoying thing that can occur when you have a poor internet connection.

2. Why Some VPNs Offer Faster Connections Than Others

As we have already outlined in the above point, there are lots of reasons that a VPN can become slow. They are also plenty of things which can be done about it in order to ensure that customers of the VPN companies get the best connections and superb speeds for actions that require lots of bandwidth.

Multiple Servers

If you have been looking online to find the quickest VPNs or have simply searched for the best VPNs, you may have noticed each company, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, talking about how many servers they have. This is precisely why it matters. Speed, and the reliability of those speeds.

The more servers, the better. The more high-quality servers, even better still.

With Express VPN, they have over 2,000 individual servers in operation at any one time. With NordVPN, similarly, they have over 4,000 servers used exclusively for their customers.

Compare this with a free VPN service who might have 10 servers at most; you can start to see why it is better to pay a small fee for a hugely better VPN service. Another final note on this point is reliability. If a server becomes operational, for any reason.

While that server is offline, you need others to be able to quickly take its place. A company with thousands of servers is able to lose servers at any point during a day without it impacting upon the speeds of service their users receive. A free VPN company cannot offer the same assurances.

Multiple Server Locations

Another key reason that some VPN companies offer better connection speeds than others is due to the locations of their servers. For instance, if a company is based in a country which offers slow speeds and only uses servers in their home country, this results in the same speed of service being offered to their users.

However, if a VPN company spreads their servers out and operates across multiple server locations, this can significantly boost the connection speeds, especially when those servers are located in countries with lightning fast speeds.


As a final point, we wanted to touch upon the point of encryption. This is a fundamental process that ensures any information you transmit online is completely secure. It involved sending your web traffic through a specific tunnel that is otherwise undetectable to the outside world. The practice of doing this does tend to use up a little more data, around 10-15% to be precise.

Because of this extra workload, in some cases, it can make your connection a little bit slower. However, for those companies such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, due to the very large number of servers they have, the difference is marginal, and to many people, it goes unnoticed.

If you game online, stream media, listen to music, or download large files, you do not want a VPN that is slow. It can interrupt your activities, slow you down, and make an otherwise enjoyable experience frustrating and more time-consuming than it needs to be.

For this reason, you want to ensure you use a reputable company for a VPN, such as ExpressVPN or NordPVN, and give yourself the best experience, that is highly-secure, reliable, and above all else enables you to watch or do what you want without being interrupted or stopped in your tracks.

In order to use a VPN that will not slow you down, avoid free VPNs at all costs. Not only will they slow you down, but they will also probably leak your personal information and grind your internet activities to a complete halt.

Written by: Elizabeth March

Advanced ITSEC Specialist Based in Cambridge, England, Elizabeth has held notable positions for a range of high-profile vendors and clients in the European IT Security and Communications Sector. As a former IT Trainer, Technical Specialist, and Product Manager; she transitioned into the role of an expert IT Copywriter in 2015. Since then, her works have been published globally, and she continues to help people easily decipher complex technical challenges and make informed decisions about their digital lives.

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