When we are streaming our favorite movies and shows, we want to do everything we can to ensure the best possible viewing experience. However, it can be challenging to sort through all of the advice available online. A common question is, “Will a VPN improve live streaming?”
What people are usually asking is, does a VPN make streaming faster? Will it reduce buffering? Can it improve available screen resolution? If you are considering getting VPN help with streaming, you will want a little more insight into what it can and cannot do to improve your experience.
Does a VPN Make Streaming Faster?
Yes. A VPN can make streaming faster and give you a better viewing experience. There are a couple of ways it does this, including bypassing ISP throttling and bypassing inefficient connections.
Bypassing ISP Throttling
Even if you have a reliable internet connection speed, you still may find that you have trouble streaming video content. This may be because your internet service provider (ISP) is throttling certain types of traffic. You may be stuck with an ISP that slows down streaming content from popular services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Disney+, SlingTV, etc. A VPN can help you avoid this. Since it hides your activity from your internet provider, your ISP can’t see what sites you are accessing and, therefore, can’t throttle your streaming traffic.
Bypassing Inefficient Connections
Even if your ISP isn’t throttling, it may still be slowing things down and negatively impacting your experience of streaming movies and other content. For various reasons, some ISPs use inefficient routing. In other words, the data coming to you from your streaming service may be taking a longer than necessary journey over lower quality connections, and that slows down streaming. A VPN can often work around that by sending all your traffic through their server and then straight to you.
Are you a streamer on Twitch? Find out more about VPN when streaming on Twitch
Does a VPN Slow Down Streaming?
A VPN can, in fact, slow down internet speeds and impact streaming–however, it is rarely noticeable. It is still useful to understand the factors that could make a VPN connection slower than an open connection.
VPNs create a secure connection by taking several steps. Downstream data, like streaming videos, doesn’t come straight to you. It first goes to your VPN’s secure server, where it is encrypted before getting to you. Depending on your configuration, this might be a relatively long journey. For instance, if you are located in New York City, and you are streaming from a site in California, but your VPN server is in Germany, that data will be traveling from California to Germany and all the way back before you see it.
But, in reality, even with all that, a VPN is not often noticeably slower than an open connection. In fact, it can be faster in some circumstances, and there are also some other advantages.
Other Benefits of a VPN for Streaming
Whether or not it increases your internet connection speed and reduces buffering, there are still advantages to using a VPN for streaming. First of all, you can use a VPN to unblock geographically restricted content. Much of the content on major streaming providers is only shown in a limited geographical area. This is often due to licensing restrictions or government bans. With a VPN, you can set your geolocation to anywhere your provider has a server. With the right VPN, you can choose your region, country, or even city.
Another advantage of using a VPN for streaming is simply the fact that it hides your activity from your ISP and identity from the sites your visit. This also keeps you hidden from any legal authorities looking to enforce copyright infringement. This may be critical if you are using services like Popcorn time or other P2P (peer to peer) clients.
What to Do If Your VPN Does Slow Down Your Connection
If you decide that it is best for you to use a VPN for streaming, but you find that it is slowing down your connection, increasing buffering, and negatively impacting your streaming experience, there are some steps you can take.
Here’s how to improve streaming speed with a VPN:
- Try different VPN Protocols – Sometimes, your VPN setting can impact speed. Check to see if your connection is using TCP and switch it to UDP, which is faster. If it is already set to UDP, it could be causing stability issues, so try TCP.
- Connect to a Closer Server – Unless you need your VPN server in a specific location, try switching to one closer to you. Increasing your proximity to the server may improve your connection speed.
- Choose the VPN Server with the Lowest Load – In addition to proximity, your speed may be impacted by the load of the server you are using. Servers with high load are already seeing heavy use. Choose one with a lower load for more available capacity and better speeds.
- Disable Additional Features – Some VPNs come with extra features, including additional layers of security. If speed is more important than security for what you are doing, experiment with turning some of these features off.
What Makes a Good VPN for Streaming?
Here are a few things to look for when choosing the best VPN for Streaming Video:
- Speed – Look for a VPN that offers HD streaming.
- Large Server Network – Be sure that your choice has servers worldwide, especially in major cities. Also, take a look at the total number of servers—more servers equal a lower load on each server and a faster connection.
- No Logging Policy – If you truly want to keep your browsing activity private, be sure your VPN keeps no logs. With no logs, there is no record of what sites you have visited.
- Support of P2P Traffic – This is especially important if you want to stream content from P2P sites like Popcorn Time.
- Unblocking of Streaming Services – Not all VPNs can help you work around geographic content restrictions. If that is important to you, be sure your VPN offers this functionality.
- Additional Security Features – Many VPNs now come with other features to keep you safe online. These include advertising and malware blocking, auto-reconnect to ensure you aren’t ever connecting without your VPN, IP address leak protection, and an internet kill switch, which disables your connection if the VPN is not available.