Do VPNs Reduce Your Internet Speed

People are often worried that using a virtual private network (VPN) will reduce their internet speed. Whether this is true or not is not an easy question to answer, and to solve it, you need to understand how they work and how they can be used. Only then will you be able to know to what extent they influence your networking speed.

At the end of the day, using a high-level VPN for Windows or Mac should decrease in overall internet speed by only about a 5 or 6 percent. There are however many factors that influence this.

Factors That Could Affect Your Connection Speed

Before making any changes, it is a good idea to determine how fast your connection is by running a speed test without the VPN. When using a VPN for Windows, many things could affect your internet speed. The ones listed below are the most common:

Server Location

If data has to travel further, it will take longer, and hence the speed will be slower. Users in Canada will connect to US servers much quicker than they would to Australian ones. It helps to use companies with a wide variety of server locations, as this will enable you to use reliable locations closer to you.

Strength of Encryption

As a general rule, stronger encryption will take more time, thus decreasing speed. Most major VPNs do however allow users to choose how strong the connection should be encrypted. Nowadays many companies use the AES-256 bit encryption, which is generally seen as one of the best security standards globally.

With good VPNs, there should not be a significant decrease in speed. Although, this type of encryption could well use up a good percentage of CPU power, especially if the computers are older. The trick is to find the balance that works for you.

General Slow Speed

If your internet speed is generally slow to start off with, there is not much you can do about it as this is most like due to factors at the ISP (Internet Service Provider). If you use a VPN in this case, it will only make things worse.

Huge User Numbers

This problem typically only occurs with low-quality VPNs for Windows. If an excessive amount of users is connected to any specific server, it will use up all the bandwidth. When selecting a VPN service provider, ensure that they have at least a thousand servers, so that you always achieve faster speeds.

How to Increase a VPNs speed

Before selecting one specific provider, use FastestVPNGuide’s best VPN lists to narrow down your options to a handful of fast services. Proceed to use the free trial period offered to determine which one works best for you. While you won’t be able to find free VPNs that are fast, at the end of the day you should not have to pay more than between $5 and $12 per month.

When doing research before buying, consider the features below.

Split Tunneling

This option allows network traffic to be divided into apps where encryption is required and those where it’s not. You may, for example, choose to use email and banking through the VPN, but keep social media accounts unconnected. If you do this, the speed automatically increases as fewer things have to be encrypted, saving both computing power and bandwidth.

Using a Router

VPNs that can be installed on a router have the highest levels of privacy and security. This does, however, mean that all internet connections are handled by the VPN, which could result in a substantial speed reduction. This is due to the internet to all devices moving through a single channel, and they therefore all compete for the same bandwidth. This could very well cause a bottleneck, reducing the speed.


Internet speed is king, whether you browse the web, play games, or stream movies. The growing number of digital hacks and threats does, however, mean that you have to be very careful. This makes it critical to find the best VPN for all your devices, including Mac and Windows, allowing you to get the safety you need with the speed you want.

5 Ways in Which a VPN Doesn’t Give You Privacy

A VPN – virtual private network – is an essential part of staying safe and secure online. You might have complete confidence in your network or home security, but a VPN is the only way to use public Wi-Fi safely.

The problem is that having a VPN presents a trust issue in itself. That is that no one is able to discover the websites you access through your connection.

This is important for keeping personal information such as banking details private and it helps to conceal other online activity too. The complex nature of data encryption and secure transactions mean that you need to have one to get the other.

Issues with VPN Privacy

Something worth keeping in mind though is that a VPN may not be as private and secure as expected. While they may offer an extensive range of impressive-sounding benefits for your security and use a lot of fancy terms, the reality is that very few VPNs actually provide truly private browsing experiences. Here are the reasons that a VPN isn’t as private as you might think.

1) There’s No Such Thing as Full Anonymity

What is your VPN service costing you? Unless you’ve opted to go for a multi year subscription with an inexpensive provider like Surfshark (which has its own issues), we’re guessing at least $120 annually. Why do you do it? For the promise that your connection is private and you are completely anonymous when you use the internet.

The bad news is that you aren’t truly anonymous. A VPN service provider may promise that they provide complete anonymity with their service and that they don’t keep logs, but there’s no real way to verify their claims and know for sure they don’t. It’s always something of a leap of faith. You are trusting them to their word.

What would you say is the most important thing for a VPN service to offer – anonymity? Transparency? We believe that finding the right VPN provider you trust is much better than ending up with one that purports the false notion of complete anonymity and no log keeping at all.

What you want to do is find a VPN provider that genuinely appreciates your privacy and offers you anonymity, but these networks are very hard to come across.

2) Anonymity and Privacy Are Not the Same Things

Several VPNs offer tools to help you stay in control of your privacy. These features can help manage who has access to private and personal data, but the data that may be used to identify you still exist and can be accessed.

Even if you go to the next level and combine your VPN service with the Tor network and used encrypted messaging, you don’t have full and total anonymity. These “privacy” tools can all be subverted if needed to track someone if they are considered a “Person of Interest” by the authorities, and that includes you. While what you do is private due to the encryption, there are still records that show that you were using the internet at the time and that you did something while connected.

Edward Snowden explained all of this himself when he exposed the NSA and made us all realize just how much we were being watched. He said that there are some basic things you can do to encrypt your hardware and network communication that make you more resilient to surveillance than an average user.

These steps make it difficult for regular mass surveillance to watch what you are doing. Despite all of that though, you are not protected against targeted surveillance. Make no mistake about it, if a government agency such as the NSA wants you and there is a warrant out there for your information, they will find you no matter what.

3) Read Through the Provider’s Privacy Policy

You should be able to find Information about the logs a VPN service keeps on the privacy policy page of their website, but there are other good reasons to take a look at their policies. More often than not, what is promised by the marketing doesn’t match up with the small print in the written policy.

You’ll find that in just about every case, the VPN logging system will track your username, operating system, IP address, and when you connect to their services and disconnect.

That doesn’t sound all that anonymous now, does it? Think about all of the information that can be gleaned from this “minimal” amount of data. Just an IP address alone can be used to determine things like your name and location.

4) The Myth of Zero Logging

VPNs are in a war to get your attention, not to mention your money, and one way they get you is by promising that they don’t log what you do. Their “no logging” policies are hugely attractive selling points, but sadly they are a total myth. Even the best of the best VPN providers are lying when they say that they don’t keep any logs at all.

The reality is that it is impossible to run and maintain a server without keeping any logs. Without these logs, VPN providers wouldn’t be able to handle any DNS requests, troubleshoot connections, prevent abuse, and limit specific VPN accounts access and use based on their subscription plan – such as placing caps on how much data users can use with the service.

With there being many reported cases of VPN service providers who claim not to keep logs handing their data to the authorities when requested, you’d think it would be evident to everyone now that the concept of “no logging” isn’t what you think it is. Either “no logging” doesn’t really mean what you believe it means, or it’s just become some de facto marketing term for the VPNs that should be ignored at this point.

How about VPNs that allow you to use their services without signing up, meaning they are only able to share information you provide them with? Well, those VPNs are entirely unreliable, low-quality services that make surfing the web about as painful as visiting the dentist.

Are you concerned about how the VPN you use collects and uses logs? If so, then you should check their website for a reference that tells you just what information these services retain, and then use that to determine whether they are a good fit for your needs or not. If you can’t find any information about how a VPN provider handles their logging and the information they keep, then don’t even entertain using them. Find another service and don’t look back.

5) Leased or Rented Hardware Requires Logging

At the heart of it all, there are two main kinds of VPN providers; those who have servers of their own they can use, and those who rely on a cloud solution. As we know by now, it’s difficult to keep a server running without maintaining logs. Running an online account controlled by a subscription is practically impossible without logs.

With all of the VPN providers that use third-party servers, it’s downright impossible for those services to be run without anyone collecting logs. While a VPN service might not create and obtain records of their own, the servers that they rent and provide to users do. They have to because of the demands of the hosting providers who lease them their servers.

Here’s one excellent example of this for you; someone who used EarthVPN and believed themselves to be anonymous and used their “anonymity” to issue a bomb threat. They were later apprehended after the Dutch police managed to obtain a court order to seize the server the user was on from the datacentre of the third party.

From the datacentre, they were able to find the user’s IP address – which was likely used by the datacentre in their efforts to prevent DDOS attacks.

Virtual Private Networks are “Virtually” Private

Whether you use your VPN to shop online securely from the local café with a coffee in one hand and your mouse in the other, or you want to avoid anyone finding out about what you are torrenting, keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a completely secure VPN service.

Are you surprised by the lack of privacy that a VPN really offers? Are you now reconsidering whether or not to use a VPN? Or maybe you’re planning to change how you behave online? Either way, you’ll be on the right track.

Securing Internet Connections with VPNs

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been mentioned in the news many times lately. It was first revealed that Apple had removed VPNs from the App Store in China, and then it turned out that VPNs were actually useful to safeguard against the Wi-Fi vulnerability known as Krack.

Although there is often publicity, many people don’t actually know what VPNs are and how to use them. The name might, in fact, sound abstract and strange to average consumers. Using a VPN is however actually very simple. Let’s explore why this software is essential to safeguard your digital life and take a quick look at what is actually does.

How VPNs Work

When the internet is accessed without using a VPN, the computer connection is totally unprotected and open, and your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can see exactly which content is being accessed. This includes games, torrents, and streaming sites. When the connection is however made via a VPN, the VPN performs as a go-between between the web and your computer.

The communication flows as follows: your computer sends requests to the VPN server, and the VPN then forwards these requests to the servers where the required content resides. For any responses from the content servers, the process is executed in reverse. Your ISP will however only see that you access the VPN as it is between you and the content. It will therefore not be able to see your internet activity. VPNs offer protection in two other ways: by giving you a new IP address, thus hiding your real IP, and by encrypting your internet traffic.

Using a VPN on a phone for security

Encryption Basics

On the most basic level, encryption can be described as making data unreadable to third-parties by using advanced mathematics. This will make the data look like rubbish to anyone other than you and your VPN. A VPN actually hides internet traffic not only from ISPs but also from anyone that uses the same Wi-Fi networks that you do. That means that VPNs are indispensable tools for public Wi-Fi in places like libraries and cafes.

The Importance of IP Addresses

VPNs furnish you with a new IP address. Not only does this safeguard your anonymity, but it also increases the volume of content you’ll be able to access. An IP address is used to let internet servers know where they should send content and information requested. As a VPN supplies a new IP address, websites will only know the VPN’s IP, and not the one belonging to the computer.

Many content providers such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix use an IP address to determine whether or not to block access to content that is limited to specific locations. If a VPN server in a different country is however used, a foreign IP address is allocated and this unlocks vast amounts of media you may not have had access to previously.

Proxies vs. VPNs

If you know what proxies are, or have ever used one, all of the above may sound very familiar. Proxies are often used to browse the internet. The main difference between VPNs and proxies is however that VPNs hides all internet activity, including games and torrent clients, while proxies only mask traffic that goes via a web browser. This means that if you’re looking for total online encryption and privacy, a VPN is definitely the right choice.

How to Select a VPN

Now that you understand what a VPN can do for you, you may be ready to get one for yourself. To help you choose which VPN service is best suited for your unique needs and requirements, we discuss three questions that may help you decide.

Does the VPN Have the Locations You Want

If one of your requirements is that you want to access geo-blocked content from a specific country, you need to make sure that the service provider you select has a server location available in that country. Some of the bigger VPNs have server locations in nearly 100 countries. This means you should have enough choices available to find the one that’s right for you.

World map of a VPN's server locations

Are VPN Protocols Important

VPN protocols determine how data is sent and received between the VPN server and your devices. Although PPTP is the fastest VPN protocol available, it is also the least secure. On the other end of the scale, OpenVPN is likely the most secure, but it might not work on all your devices. Good VPN providers have several protocols available, and this should allow you to select the one that meets your requirements.

Is a VPN Suitable for All Devices

The bigger VPN services are able to provide you with a working solution wherever you go. If you are on the road, the VPN needs to support your tablet or smartphone. If you’re working or connecting from home, the VPN requires to be running from your network router, laptop or desktop computer. When you investigate which platforms a VPN service provides supports, make sure you understand the provider’s device usage policy and find out if you will be able to access the VPN from multiple devices at the same time.

Although these basic points are essential, VPN providers typically offer a whole host of different features. Although the various options and fancy features like proprietary security protocols are good to have, the most important thing at the end of the day is trust.

As you are handing the VPN provider with the keys to your privacy, you should first make very sure they have the reputation and track-record to live up to that responsibility.

Haystack Network is Back!

After a long hiatus, Haystack Network is back. Instead of creating our own solution, however, our new mission is to leverage the software designed by others to deliver users the most secure and private internet experience possible.

Specifically, that software is virtual private networks, or VPNs, for short.

Our mission has not changed. We’re just taking a different approach of delivering on our original idea. We are committing to providing the most up to date VPN news, as well as relevant resources like links to trustworthy reviews and tests.

We want to enable anyone, located anywhere in the world, to be able to make an educated pick of whatever online security and anonymity solution best suits their needs.