How to Optimize VPN Speeds When Watching Netflix

VPNs feel like a godsend to people who are stuck with limited content libraries in their countries. These tools easily unblock any shows and movies by hiding users’ real geo-location. And they do that with only a few clicks!

Despite how amazing they are, VPNs have one problem – the speeds. Basically, they often lower them. Usually, it isn’t too noticeable. But depending on various factors, you might experience noticeable slowdowns.

For example, you might have 400-500 Mbps speeds, and a VPN could lower them to around 100-200 Mbps or even 20-40 Mbps. 100-200 Mbps isn’t so bad, but constant 20 Mbps speeds can get annoying.

How to Optimize VPN Speeds When Watching Netflix

How to Optimize VPN Speeds When Watching Netflix

So if you’re dealing with slow Netflix speeds while using a VPN, try the following solutions:

1. Use Lightweight Protocols

Protocols are basically the rules VPNs use to negotiate and establish a connection between the VPN server and app.

Right now, OpenVPN is the most popular protocol among VPN users. It’s not hard to see why – it offers excellent security, it’s open-source, and pretty much any top VPN provider on the market offers it.

But here’s the problem – OpenVPN is very resource-intensive. That’s mostly because it has anywhere between 70,000 and 600,000 (when combined with OpenSSL) lines of code.

So it can cause slowdowns when you’re binging Netflix.

Instead of OpenVPN, try the following options that are more lightweight:

  • IKEv2
  • SoftEther
  • WireGuard
  • L2TP/IPsec

PPTP is also very fast, but be very careful with it. It offers poor security to the point where PPTP encryption can be cracked. If you really want to use it for streaming, use OpenVPN or a more secure protocol when logging into Netflix (so that your login credentials are safe), and switch to PPTP when watching shows/movies.

2. Use OpenVPN Over UDP

Maybe the VPN provider you’re using only offers the OpenVPN protocol. Or maybe you only want to use that protocol.

If that’s the case, make sure you set OpenVPN to run over UDP instead of TCP. It will be much, much faster that way. Less stable, sure, but it’s a convenient trade-off.

In one test we ran, we saw an increase from 11-12 Mbps speeds (with OpenVPN over TCP) to 100 Mbps speeds (with OpenVPN over UDP). So the difference is very noticeable.

You can usually make the switch in the settings section of your VPN app – specifically where you choose which protocol to use. If you don’t know how to do that, ask your provider’s support team.

3. Use a Server That’s Close to You

If the distance between you and the VPN server is too big, it will take much longer for data packets to travel between the VPN app on your device and the VPN server. Translated, that means you get slower speeds.

Not only that, but your VPN connection is also more likely to drop because data packets can be lost in transit.

So try connecting to a VPN server that’s closer to you. For example, if you’re in Japan and want to unblock the Netflix US library, use a server that’s in Seattle or Portland. Don’t use one in cities like New York or Philadelphia that are on the other side of the country.

wired connection

4. Use Wired Connections Instead of WiFi

As convenient as WiFi is, it can really tank your VPN speeds if you have a weak signal. And you’ll always have one if you’re too far away from the router (like in a different room).

Try getting closer to the router to see if your speeds improve. If they don’t, connect your device directly to it with an ethernet cable. That way, low WiFi signal is no longer a problem. Alternatively, consider getting a WiFi range extender (like these ones from TP-Link).

5.  Use Split Tunneling

This is a feature that lets you choose which web traffic gets encrypted and which doesn’t. Since there are fewer data to encrypt and decrypt, your VPN speeds will be smoother.

To use it effectively, set the VPN app to only encrypt traffic from the browser or app you use to watch Netflix.

Still, Getting Bad Speeds? Time to Get a Faster VPN!

Unfortunately, some VPNs just have poorly optimized servers or limited bandwidth. If you tried everything we mentioned above, and are still getting bad speeds, it’s time to look for a better VPN.

Of course, you don’t just need to make sure it’s a speedy VPN. You also have to be sure it can unblock Netflix 24/7. Luckily, you can easily find one by checking these quality VPNs for unblocking Netflix. It’s a cool guide to the best VPNs for Netflix from ProPrivacy. They tested them all to make sure they work with the site, and they also included information about what speeds they offer.

Can a VPN Improve My Speeds When Watching Netflix?

VPNs don’t normally increase speeds, but you might notice a boost if your ISP has been throttling your bandwidth. That pretty much means they’ve been intentionally lowering your speeds when you use too much data watching Netflix (so when you spend over two-three hours binging content).

Here’s the thing – without a VPN, your ISP can see your web browsing. They know what sites you visit and what web apps you use. And they know how much data you use on each one. So it’s easy for them to selectively throttle your speeds.

But with a VPN, they can’t see that anymore. Your traffic is encrypted, so they can’t spy on it. Also, they’ll only see that you’re connecting to a VPN server IP address. They won’t know you’re visiting Netflix or using the Netflix app.

How Do You Improve VPN Speeds When Watching Netflix?

Do you use the tips we mentioned in this guide, or do you have other ways to boost your VPN speeds? If you do and they work really well, please tell us about them in the comments or on social media.