How to run a VPN speed test

Anton P. | April 5, 2022

A VPN speed test is the easiest way to check how a VPN affects your internet performance. After all, a common misconception involving VPNs is that they drastically diminish speeds. 

In reality, the differences between download and upload speeds are minimal and practically impossible to detect while performing everyday activities. However, a VPN speed test can also showcase drops, likely due to outdated VPN protocols and encryption routines. Let’s discuss how to perform it and tips for improving your VPN connection. 

vpn speed test

Will a VPN connection have slower speeds? 

Remember the basic VPN functionality. You connect, and all traffic gets encrypted and rerouted through remote servers. Although this process is seamless, it can take a toll on your usual internet connection. The goal of every VPN provider is to reduce and smoothen this strain as much as possible. 

A VPN speed test helps figure out how your connection works after and before connecting to servers. The chances are that the results will show slight drops upon establishing a VPN connection. However, the privacy it gives you is worth it. The speeds should remain more than satisfactory if the VPN infrastructure is sophisticated enough. 

Also, let’s not forget that a VPN speed test might not always be accurate. It depends on the current conditions of your network as well. For instance, common connectivity issues can also impact the results. On certain occasions, a VPN can improve your connection, like when ISPs perform throttling

Details to know for the VPN speed test

Many connectivity factors will come into play for your VPN speed test. Let’s establish the main points you should consider and how to prepare for the test. 

Prepare your network for the test

You can improve the accuracy of a VPN speed test by going through the following checklist: 

  • Restart your modem and router to return them to their fully operational state. 
  • Restart the device that will run the VPN speed test. 
  • Clear your browser’s cache. 
  • Close all extra applications that use the internet. 
  • Still, take the results with a grain of salt. 

Remember your internet plan

Your connection will always reflect your current internet plan. Thus, while you expect to see impressive numbers, it might not be possible. Usually, Internet Service Providers present a variety of plans, with the flexibility to upgrade whenever. 

If you notice that the current plan no longer works for you, contact your ISP to negotiate. Of course, you should also consider external factors, like your router’s position and possible interference. 

Time of the VPN speed test

Internet speeds can fluctuate during hours of peak usage. Additionally, there are times when your ISP can throttle connections or enforce data caps. 

Therefore, it is best to run a VPN speed test several times. Multiple tests will highlight how overall internet usage influences your connection speeds. 

What VPN server have you chosen? 

The server you have connected to is an essential factor for your VPN speed test. For instance, Atlas VPN operates hundreds of servers in 40 locations, and we consistently add new options. This variety helps serve thousands of users regardless of their original location. 

The general rule is that the closer VPN servers are to your region, the better speeds you will get. For instance, if you live in Estonia and connect to servers in the US, the time it takes to reroute your traffic increases. 

If you are after the best possible speed, connect to servers in your country. However, it might not always be possible if you want to reach content unavailable in your region.

VPN infrastructure and protocols

The inner workings of a VPN determine how it can withstand interruptions and maintain speed. You should always choose providers that employ sophisticated techniques for building a VPN. 

Additionally, some VPN protocols are also better suited for delivering better speeds. For instance, WireGuard is the latest and most advanced protocol. It is modern, lightweight, and can excel in supporting bandwidth-heavy activities. 

How to perform a VPN speed test? 

There are multiple options for running a VPN speed test. You can use Speedtest or Fast. For this example, we will use Speedtest. 

  1. Consider all the factors mentioned above. 
  2. Open Speedtest and click GO. 
  3. First, run the speed test without a VPN. Screenshot the results or write them down to compare them later. 
  4. Connect to VPN servers. We recommend picking locations closer to you. 
  5. Run the VPN speed test on Speedtest again. 
  6. Compare the results with the numbers presented after the first test. 

Understanding the VPN speed test results 

Your results on Speedtest will look something like this: 

These three numbers describe your internet connection. 

  • Ping indicates the reaction time in milliseconds for your device to receive a response. Essentially, it describes how fast you can see something appear on your screen. A fast (lower) ping typically means that you have a responsive connection. For instance, having a ping of 150 can make most of your online activities difficult. Usually, people have a ping of 100 or below. A ping from 20 to 40 is low ping, highly desirable for gaming and watching shows online. 
  • Download speed reveals how quickly data reaches your device. It plays a considerable role when visiting websites, downloading files, or playing online games. The higher your download speed is, the better. Average speeds differ worldwide, but they should be at least 25 Mbps. 
  • Upload speed shows how fast you send requests online. Typically, this indicator is higher than download speed. It plays a role while browsing, sharing content, or participating in online meetings. Generally, the upload speed should be at least 5 Mbps.

How to improve your VPN speed

The results from a VPN speed test can present minor connection drops or ping increases. The slight differences in numbers won’t manifest during your everyday activities in most cases. However, if you notice a significant impact, try connecting to servers in locations nearby. Also, adjust your VPN protocol (like switching from IKEv2/IPSec to WireGuard). Lastly, you can disconnect from the VPN and reconnect to the same location. 

Atlas VPN prioritizes speed and hopes that users won’t have to sacrifice speed for security. We offer several VPN protocols and hundreds of servers to reassure that each client gets the best connectivity possible.

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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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