Virtual Private Networks (commonly referred to as VPNs) are must-have tools for a variety of reasons ranging from simple data security and privacy to bypassing censorship and navigating other restrictive internet policies. While using a VPN for online streaming is required to maintain freedom and privacy, this same ability of theirs can slow your connection. This is especially annoying when streaming videos with services such as Kodi or Netflix.
There are multiple factors affecting your connection speed when using a VPN. Among these are hardware, internet service provider, VPN protocol used, VPN server location, and even the encryption level chosen. How these elements all work together is very important. In this MTM article, we outline some simple solutions to help you troubleshoot and speed up your connection. If you are frustrated by slow streaming speeds while using a VPN, then you have come to the right place. We’re here to help speed your VPN connection up!
Let’s take a look at a few easy solutions to get your internet connection zooming along at lightning speed. Well, we can at least stop the constant buffering if your hardware and internet connection are capable of this. There are many reasons for slow connections, and we’ve experienced many of them ourselves. One thing we’ve learned over the years is the #1 best way to speed up a VPN connection is by using the fastest protocol the hardware will allow within your security tolerances.
Hardware VPN Connection
The hardware that is being used to stream has a big impact on a VPN and how well it functions. For example, Android TV boxes have become very popular as a low-cost streaming option, but most can’t match the processing speed of the latest full tower PC.
While RAM and processing power really matter for speed, the Firestick , Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Cube can’t be beaten for streaming convenience on your television. This is especially true if you like to travel light.
Less secure protocols don’t require as much computing power, which lets slower hardware move faster. This is a very tough trade-off, but a necessary one to conquer before essentially going out into the world wide web with your naked and raw data being freely offered to anyone wanting it. If you absolutely must have low buffering with high-speed throughput for streaming high-quality video without great hardware, then at least use a lower security VPN protocol. It is far better than freely providing your info to all the hackers laying in wait to gather your data.
VPN Protocols Explained
There are many VPN protocols, each with the goal of encrypting data over the internet. Each protocol is suitable for different types of online activities. There are pros and cons to be considered with some harnessing better encryption or speeds than others. The most common VPN protocols in use today are explained below.
PPTP: Obsolete Security Privacy Technology
PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is one of the oldest VPN protocols still in use today. Although it is universal and easy to set up, it has some limitations. The main issue with PPTP is that security measures have been torn apart over the years. It was originally designed in the late 90s, installed with Windows 95, and created to work with dial-up network connections. Even though it is not a secure protocol, it’s still widely used when streaming video and other bandwidth-intensive content like Netflix or Kodi streams.
While not good at securing online banking, it a good VPN connection for changing IP Address and apparent locations quickly to unlock location-blocked websites or Kodi add-ons. Smart DNS or a simple proxy server, while not private or secure, might be a better option to provide geo-restricted content rather than PPTP. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol can leak your private information like the Titanic but provides a ton of speed. If simply streaming video from a trusted source while knowing the laws in your area don’t forbid your doing so, PPTP isn’t a terrible option. Otherwise, steer clear and pick another option for better VPN connection speeds.
L2TP/IPsec: Tunnel & Encryption Bundle
L2TP/IPsec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol), developed by Microsoft, is similar to PPTP in that it’s also a tunneling protocol. L2TP doesn’t have its own built-in encryption technology features either but is often bundled with another protocol that does. L2TP is often plugged into something else to secure data packets before and after it leaves the L2TP tunnel. L2TP has been bundled together with IPsec so often it has become a standard protocol commonly used today. Unlike PPTP, when combined with IPsec, this protocol doesn’t have the same super-fast tunneling speed. It does provide good security for most applications, though.
One major problem with L2TP/IPsec is it defaults to Port 500, which makes it easily detectable and blocked. If you live in an area that blocks the use of VPNs, this may not be your best option.
SSTP: Proprietary Microsoft Protocol – Windows Only
SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) doesn’t suffer from the VPN blocking vulnerability that L2TP does. There are many benefits to the SSTP secure protocol. However, this protocol is specific to the Windows operating system. SSTP is a proprietary protocol wholly owned and operated by Microsoft. If seeking a Windows-based protocol, this might be your best choice. If using another operating system, you may be out of luck without adding layers of processing complexity that can slow your streaming connection.
One key advantage of SSTP is it can defeat many forms of VPN blocking by using TCP port 443, which is the common port all SSL websites use. There’s a good chance you can access SSTP to get around VPN blocking if running Windows. This is so common in most parts of the world that SSTP is rarely recognized by online snoops.
OpenVPN: Open Source Trusted Secure
OpenVPN is the most widely used, secure and flexible protocol you can take advantage of. Being very mature and receiving constant attention from developers around the world, OpenVPN is an extremely secure and robust protocol. Due to the nature of open source development, security flaws are quickly found and fixed. This open nature makes OpenVPN very secure. Everyone can see the code and tell if there are vulnerabilities. When updates are suggested, the community looks them over to make sure they are secure and have no backdoors or worse attached.
Unfortunately, this high security comes at a price. Slow speeds have been the biggest challenge of OpenVPN, though recent updates have boosted its throughput speed somewhat.
There are two updated versions of OpenVPN to choose from. One uses the OpenVPN UDP (User Datagram Protocol) internet transportation protocol while the other utilizes OpenVPN TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). UDP is typically faster than TCP, but this isn’t always the case. It’s also typical for TCP to be more stable than UDP, but again, this is not always the case.
While TCP is the most commonly used protocol on the internet for its stability, UDP may in fact be more stable depending on other factors in your VPN tunnel connection. The hardware a VPN app runs on also makes a big difference between the speed and stability of UDP vs TCP. We recommend running both stability and speed tests with each TCP and UDP VPN server connections to find out which works best with your hardware and connection.
IKEv2/IPsec: Superior Speed & Stability – Blocking & Leak Vulnerability
IKEv2/IPsec (Internet Key Exchange version 2) provides speed as its defining feature. Though the latest version of IKEv2 still relies on Blackberry technology for security, it now also supports other platforms. The newest version is groundbreaking with its focus on mobile security, allowing shifts between internet connections such as WiFi and broadband cellular networks without dropping the VPN connection speeds or tunnel. IKEv2/IPsec also offers an improved ability to reconnect when internet connections are interrupted.
Many VPN providers hesitate to support this technology due to its Microsoft and Cisco corporate ownership and development. It is believed vulnerabilities could be built into the IKEv2 protocol at the behest of government organizations.
Very few VPN service providers utilize an open source IKEv2 implementation for great connection speeds and the security of community oversight. IPVanish VPN utilizes the most secure implementation in the world with the greatest community of encryption experts working on it. Along with full IPsec encryption, this IKEv2/IPsec combination has lately proven one of the favored protocols for high-speed internet connections through an encrypted VPN tunnel.
Is Your VPN Service Slow?
While slow speeds are an issue with many low-end and so-called free VPN providers, most top-tier VPN service companies invest heavily in global servers and protocol optimizations. Check our article on free VPNs if curious about the best free VPN service providers and how they pay to keep their servers running. Before transferring to another service provider for faster VPN connection speeds, we recommend switching protocols or hardware.
How To Change VPN Protocol
First, check under the VPN software settings for the option to change from one protocol to another. If you want extra security and speed is less of an issue, you may want to choose OpenVPN TCP protocol. For the best streaming video speeds, try OpenVPN UDP protocol. Note that the stability of OpenVPN UDP is not up to the stability of OpenVPN TCP.
Note that depending on the hardware you are using, all protocol options may not be available. Most Android TV boxes such as Fire TV, Firestick and Fire Cube are usually given two options, OpenVPN UDP or OpenVPN TCP. In that case, it is a “simple” choice between encryption strength and connection speed.
Encryption Strength VS Connection Speed
While most VPN users want the best encryption possible, there are trade-offs. Security and speed are often at odds with protocol providers. We suggest trying different protocols and running speed tests to strike a balance between safety and security. Slow hardware can use a less secure VPN Protocol to gain speed because these protocols don’t require as much computing power.
If your internet connection speed seems slower than you believe it should, then try lowering the level of encryption. This should be a last resort solution in our opinions. If streaming a video that you’re certain is fully licensed or even public domain, then turning down encryption levels might be acceptable to stop any potential buffering.
VPN Optimized Hardware Router Solution
If you’d like the best speeds available with a secure VPN, try loading the IPVanish VPN app onto a NETGEAR Nighthawk AC2600 . A VPN capable router of this sort provides the best pairing of VPN and hardware to get an ultra-fast connection speed while also providing the most securely encrypted throughput available.
Placing the IPVanish VPN app on a fast VPN-enabled router also allows far more devices to be connected that the IPVanish VPN 10 device limit on your account. Every device accessing the network through a router with IPVanish VPN enabled gets the full protection of their military-grade encryption and worldwide IP address masking.
The only thing left to check is the quality of your internet service itself. Dealing with your ISP (internet service provider) is far beyond the scope of this article. Just make sure you are encrypting all your transmitted data through a securely encrypted VPN server. If not doing so, it’s very likely your ISP is slowing your connection down when streaming and even block access to much of the internet. This is especially true for users of free movie streaming apps and free live sports streaming Kodi addons.
VPNs are a modern day requirement for online security, privacy and getting around censorship and other network restrictions. Using the proper protocol can assist in speeding up or adding more security to a connection.
Even with all the options available, beware substandard VPN providers. We’ve tested the speed and security protocols associated with different VPN providers thoroughly. This has caused us to choose IPVanish VPN and implement their service on our own connections. We also promote this single VPN on MTM because we feel avoiding corporate control and taking advantage of the unparalleled privacy offered by open source protocols is of utmost importance. Make privacy a priority today and…
May your streams never run dry!