Since a slow internet connection can ruin any gaming experience, both serious and casual gamers might be curious to know if the best VPN can speed up their internet when gaming.
For those who are unfamiliar with VPNs, they can protect your online privacy by rerouting your internet connection through a secure server, which can be located anywhere in the world. This prevents your internet service provider, as well as hackers and other nefarious forces, from spying on your online activity.
With a VPN, you can browse the internet as it would appear in another country, simply by rerouting your connection through a server in that region, and even watch streaming content that is exclusive to other countries.
In this article, we go over whether using a gaming VPN can speed up your internet connection, and help avoid network throttling that can kill your gameplay.
We're looking at how our readers use VPN for a forthcoming in-depth report. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the survey below. It won't take more than 60 seconds of your time.
- Want more viewing variety? Here's how to change region on Netflix
Do VPNs slow down your internet?
To some extent, it is true that a VPN can slightly slow your internet connection – VPNs add a layer of encryption that may lead to a small reduction in speed. In addition, if you’re using a VPN with a limited number of servers (common with many free VPN services), the servers may become overloaded. This will almost certainly lead to slower internet speeds.
If you choose to connect to a server in a country that is far away from you when using a VPN, you may also experience additional lag time when browsing the internet. This is because of the physical distance that the data packets need to travel.
Most premium VPNs are aware of these issues and take measures to reduce them, like having plenty of servers available worldwide to prevent overcrowding.
However, it is possible that using a fast VPN can actually speed up your connection, because of the practice of bandwidth throttling. Let us explain…
What is bandwidth throttling?
Bandwidth throttling is when your internet service provider (ISP) slows your internet connection as a response to certain online activities. Common activities that may lead to bandwidth throttling include streaming, torrenting, and gaming. ISPs engage in bandwidth throttling for many reasons, such as to prevent network congestion during peak usage hours.
If you’ve been experiencing either a fluctuation in your internet connection speeds or significantly slower speeds than usual, you may be experiencing bandwidth throttling at the hands of your ISP.
Fortunately, an easy way to get around bandwidth throttling is by using a VPN.
- What is a VPN? Here, we explain all
How do VPNs solve bandwidth throttling?
A VPN makes your internet activity completely anonymous from your ISP. If you connect through a VPN when gaming, your ISP won’t be able to see what you are doing and won’t be able to throttle your internet connection in response to your activity.
There are other benefits to adding a VPN to your gaming setup. Protecting your privacy online is essential, especially if you ever game on a public Wi-Fi network. Such networks are commonly unencrypted, making you particularly vulnerable if you want to play at a hotel while traveling or on your phone at a coffee shop.
You can also use VPNs to get around geo-blocks, accessing region-specific in-game perks or even trying out games that aren’t available in your country yet. You can use a VPN to get around geo-blocks on many streaming sites, unlocking content from around the world and ensuring that you’ll never run out of things to watch.
The best providers offer mobile VPN apps for your tablet and smartphone, making it easy to connect on any device that you use to game.
Having your ISP artificially slow your internet connection because of your online activity is a frustrating experience, not to mention a violation of your privacy.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to circumvent unfair bandwidth throttling. Using a VPN completely hides your online activity from your ISP and ensures that you’ll always have the speeds you need to finish that battle campaign with your friends.
When selecting a VPN for gaming, look for one with a variety of servers to prevent overcrowding, as well as fast connection speeds. We like ExpressVPN for all these reasons, and it has a VPN app for routers, so you can beat back bandwidth throttling on any device that you use.
What do we recommend?
ExpressVPN stands out from the competition in terms of price, features, and value. With over 3,000 servers in nearly 100 countries, all the security features necessary, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for those after security with no compromises.
While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free.