VPN Speed Guide

It’s not us. It’s not you. It’s “The Cloud.”

Most speed issues have absolutely nothing to do with you or us. Despite the en vogue marketing of the Internet as a “cloud,” it’s ultimately a hodgepodge of wires and cables connecting a bunch of different ISPs’ hardware together around the globe.

So, although your ISP may promise you 100Mbps fiber optic “yada yada yada,” the reality is that your connection feeds into heavily shared hardware and connection media almost immediately. The issue is multiplied the longer the VPN tunnel is and the number of ISPs, interconnection points, and equipment your data must pass through.

For example, if your data’s route includes a congested submarine cable lying on the ocean floor plugged into an oversubscribed telephone company switch several thousand miles away from you, it’s going to slow things down even under optimal conditions.

The Encryption Tax

The encryption of a VPN can also levy a tax on speed. The faster your device’s processor and Internet connection are, the better.

Is it really slow?

Be sure to browse a bit before deciding. Online speed tests can often be inaccurate with regard to VPNs for a variety of reasons. They also only measure a snapshot upload/download of a few tiny files and this is very different than streaming or browsing speed over time. You may see what looks like a bad result, but find performance actually pretty snappy. Lastly, especially with popular media events, your end destination website, or the Internet route to it, may become overburdened which is out of our control.

We’re not making excuses, though!

If you think it’s too slow, that’s good enough for us, so let’s see how we might speed things up.

Stuff to Try
  1. Try reconnecting or connecting to a different VPN gateway.
  2. All of our VPN gateways have multiple servers and we’re always adding more. Still, despite our best efforts, a VPN server may become slow temporarily or your VPN tunnel simply needs a refresh. We have a bazillion servers, though, and allow you to switch at will, so don’t be shy.

  3. Choose the VPN gateway closest to you. It’s often fastest…but not always.
  4. In general, connecting to the closest VPN gateway will provide you the fastest connection. But, besides distance, performance can also be affected by how the ISPs that make up the Internet (yours, ours, theirs) connect to each other and the traffic on those routes. The Internet is more like a road system than a cloud.

    We deliberately, and at great expense, maintain huge connections to a multitude of ISPs and data centers to provide your data the best chance of getting their fast as possible.

    Suffice it to say, the fastest route may sometimes be through a more distant gateway, usually in a larger city as there are more varied and larger paths available. Again, we provide many gateways and provide unlimited switching so feel free to experiment.

  5. Use a different VPN type.
  6. Depending on your connection and other factors, a different VPN protocol may perform better for you. We provide openVPN (personalVPN Pro™ only), L2TP over IPsec, “Cisco” IPsec, and PPTP. We also allow you to switch between these VPN protocols as you please so don’t be shy. In general, plain IPsec and openVPN tend to be fastest.

  7. Maybe it’s temporary.
  8. Is there some event or Internet outage/issue that is causing temporary congestion that will resolve soon?

  9. Sometimes change is bad.
  10. Was it fast before but now it’s slow? Have you updated or installed software? Maybe, changed locations or networks? Picked up a virus? If you think this may be the reason, but can’t seem to resolve it yourself, contact us and we’ll be glad to help.

  11. Check your network.
  12. Try changing your Wi-Fi channel or checking for interference. Are you on a potentially congested public network? VPNs can be very sensitive to congestion or “choppy” bandwidth that won’t affect a “naked” Internet connection as much.

    Try your PPTP VPN option as a test. Although it should be slower, it tends to do better under suboptimal conditions.

  13. Check your gear as well as a potential software conflict.
  14. Encryption does take some additional processing power so an old machine, or one with a weaker processor (such as a netbook), might be slowed versus a more powerful machine.

    The VPN can also conflict with security settings, hardware, and software, especially antivirus packages. If possible, try turning them off to test or check known software conflicts.

    Sometimes, an old-fashioned restarting of your machine or turning your Wi-Fi on and off may clear out a connection issue too.

  15. Go Nerd on it.
  16. Traceroute – if it’s a general Internet issue, this tool will help locate it. If you’re not sure how to run a traceroute here is a decent link. Try tracerouting to site you are trying to reach, with and without VPN. You’re welcome to send results to us as well as it may help us track down the issue.

    DNS – Adjusting this fundamental Internet protocol in your WiTopia software, or on your device in general, can sometimes speed things up…and not only for your VPN.

    See DNS Options for more info.

    MTU – Although our engineers sometimes enjoy spirited debates about Maximum Transmission Units, you likely don’t. To keep it simple, try the below. You won’t break anything.

    Launch your WiTopia VPN software and go to Preferences –> Networking and locate TUN MTU field and try entering different values to see if it improves speed.

    Typically, Ethernet and Wi-Fi uses an MTU of around 1500.

    We usually use a default of 1400 for the VPN.

    With that in mind, try entering values from 1250-1500, maybe starting low, and increasing in increments of 25 and see if performance improves.

  17. Reach out for some help.
  18. Don’t forget. We’re here for you live 24x7x365.