Did you know that a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds?
It’s not surprising that individuals and companies have become increasingly concerned regarding the security of their data. Over the last ten years, virtual private networks (VPNs) have become the preferred solution for internet users to protect against cyber threats.
Whether you work for a cloud-based service provider and you’re trying to upload your latest enterprise software pricing models, or you’re streaming the latest movie on your laptop, you want to ensure your VPN provides a speedy connection as well as protection from hackers and spyware.
No one wants to deal with a slow VPN. Not only is it annoying, but it can have serious repercussions, particularly for businesses. A slow VPN can lead to callers being kept on hold, and long hold times create unhappy customers.
However, we have to accept that when using a VPN, data is sent across the globe after being encrypted and decrypted along the way, so there are bound to be some speed issues. Some key factors that affect VPN speed include:
Painfully slow download speeds, lost internet connections, or buffering when taking part in international calling wastes time and causes frustration. So what can you do about it?
Yes, it sounds obvious, but sometimes the problem can be simply resolved by closing programs and rebooting the device! A reset can rectify simple OS issues or connection problems, especially if the device has not been shut down completely for a long time.
Another issue could be the internet speed. A slow internet connection will slow even a good VPN down. You can check the performance of your internet connection using an online tool to test the speed of your internet. (Make sure you disconnect your VPN first and connect directly to the internet before doing the test.)
Once you know the connection speeds, check this with the speed promised by your internet service provider (ISP). If the speeds are not reaching the levels promised, it is likely the cause of your slow VPN.
Hopefully, this should have an easy fix - you can position your router closer to your device or reset it. However, if that still doesn’t work, you may need to contact or change your ISP to ensure you have the optimal internet speeds for your needs.
Yeah, Wi-Fi is great. Who needs wires that get in the way and keep us stuck in one place? Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not as fast or as stable as a cable. Using an ethernet connection provides a direct pathway to the internet, while Wi-Fi allows for signal interference. Besides, hackers can easily steal personal details of the users with free Wi-Fi spots. Some newer devices no longer have an ethernet port, but adaptors are available. Even the inconvenience of wired connections is better than signal interference when making important business calls or streaming the latest episode of that must-watch series.
Running apps in the background eats up bandwidth and therefore reduces the amount of data that can be transmitted through an internet router. So if you’ve been downloading apps or have some games set to auto-update, check they’re not still going!
Many apps are constantly connecting to the internet while you type away without noticing while they search for updates or sync across devices. Anti-virus software and malware are prime examples.
You can change the settings for automatic updates in the app or program, and delete unwanted programs to ensure your device can focus on what you really need it to do. Just be aware that you may put your device at risk if you don’t regularly check for updates manually.
If you’ve eliminated the above possibilities, then it's time to look at the VPN connection itself.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that when data has to travel further; it takes longer. If you are making a call from browser, don’t choose a server on the other side of the world - the distance will only reduce the speed and allow for interference.
Most VPN service providers have what is called a “ping tool” which allows you to choose the geographically closest server, so the data doesn’t have to travel as far. Some VPN services like Trust.Zone connect to the closest VPN server automatically.
You may have to experiment using different servers. At certain times of the day, some servers may have more traffic than others. Find the server that works best for you. Whatever you do, if you’re making a call from New York to Boston, just don’t use a server based in Australia!
To establish a connection and encrypt data, VPNs use certain protocols which can be changed or tweaked to ensure optimal connection speeds. However, some protocols offer more security than others and you may need to sacrifice the level of encryption if you want faster speeds.
Tinker around with the protocol settings in the VPN program and find the optimal setting that meets both your speed and encryption needs.
It stands to reason that if your VPN is going to be the fastest it can be it needs to support the fastest VPN protocol.
WireGuard is a next-generation VPN protocol that uses cutting-edge cryptography. If you’re thinking of changing your VPN or getting a new one, you’ll need it to support WireGuard.
After you’ve tried all the above and you’re still experiencing slow VPN speeds, then perhaps it's time to consider that your VPN provider simply can’t provide you with the speeds you need.
Some VPN providers have limited bandwidth or use throttling to reduce the amount of data used. They may also have poor infrastructure and network connection. If VPN speeds are compromising the service you provide, then it’s time to move on.
Another option is to use two VPN service providers. Servers can become busy, so it may be useful to have a second provider as backup.
It is a buyer's market, so shop around. Look for a VPN that meets all your requirements, be it security, speed or budget. Just make sure you do your research. Check their clients' reviews and consumer information. It’s important your chosen VPN is trusted and reputable, hiding your activity from your provider and keeping your data secure.
Sluggish VPN speeds waste time, money and cause endless frustration.
Whether you’re a business, or someone who wants to beef up your home cyber security, finding the best VPN service provider that offers the right levels of speed and encryption to meet your needs and your budget can take time. Hopefully, the strategies above will help you achieve the optimal performance levels from your VPN. It may require patience, but it is worth the effort to ensure your data is secure.
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile.