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Does a VPN Drain Battery Life? Find Out How Much It Uses

Does VPN Use More Battery

Key Takeaways 

  • VPNs consume just as much phone battery as any other app that’s running in the background.
  • Make sure to use VPN protocols that are lightweight to reduce battery consumption. NordVPN has fast and secure protocols for both iOS and Android platforms. 
  • If you don’t want the VPN running in the background, you can install it on a router. This way, the VPN can provide online security even if you don’t install it on your phone.
  • VPN apps might drain up to 15% more battery life in extreme cases

If you use your Android or iOS phone a lot, battery life is likely one of your top concerns. Even if smartphones get larger and more efficient batteries, battery drains too fast anyway. Throughout the day, you might carry a charger everywhere you go. When you’re traveling, you might need an external battery bank so your phone battery won’t die. 

Now, Android and iOS device have good security features. However, they can’t protect your data while you’re browsing online. Using a VPN is one of the most popular ways to encrypt your online traffic. That said, VPNs can also drain your phone’s battery. Check out the rest of the article to find out by how much, and what you can do to limit battery usage. 

Does a VPN Drain Battery Life?

Yes, using a VPN can affect battery life. In fact, any app running on your phone will impact battery consumption, including VPN apps that run 24/7 in the background. 

Using a VPN on your Android or iOS device will consume on average 5-15% more battery power. However, this depends on several factors: 

  • If you use a VPN protocol that increases CPU usage. 
  • If the VPN apps are optimized for mobile devices. 
  • If you use mobile data instead of a wireless connection.
  • If you have tons of apps running in the background.    

Why Does a VPN Drain Battery?

  • Encryption – All data that goes from your devices to the VPN server and viceversa must be encrypted and decrypted. This way, you can hide your traffic. However, both encryption and decryption require processing power, which also uses battery power. The more advanced the encryption level is, the more battery it consumes. 
  • Protocol – Some advanced security protocols use more power to route your connections. For example, OpenVPN drains a phone’s battery life faster than WireGuard and IKEv2/IPsec.
  • Non-optimized CPUs – New smartphone batteries support hardware-accelerated AES encryption. This feature speeds up the encryption process and doesn’t drain battery so fast. Older devices that don’t support this feature have a reduced battery life.
  • Background Use – If you don’t turn your VPN off, the VPN app will run in the background. If you have other apps running in the background, this will increase battery consumption. Keep in mind that apps require more power from both your mobile CPU and the mobile radio chip in your phone.
  • Poor Signal Strength – A low signal from your WiFi or mobile network tower can burn the battery. That’s because your device will crank up the power to connect to the weak signal. So, using a VPN when you have poor signal strength can drain your battery even faster.

How Much Battery Does a VPN Use?

A VPN can increase battery usage by 5-15%. However, this depends on several factors. For example, new mobile devices are better optimized so your phone will last longer even if you’re spending hours on social media or streaming. 

Also, if you’re using the VPN while connect to a weak WiFi network, your phone will die faster. With strong signals like 4G and 5G, you’ll use less battery power since your phone won’t increase its signal receiver.  

How to Save Your Battery Life with a VPN 

  • Don’t use the VPN all the time. Turning your VPN off when you use a safe WiFi connection it is the easiest way to save battery life. However, we strongly recommend keeping your VPN on when you connect to unsecure, public WiFi.   
  • Install a VPN on your home router. This way, your mobile device will automatically use the VPN connection, instead of running in your phone’s background. Popular VPN services have helpful tutorials on how you can install the VPN on routers.
  • Check your VPN settings. If you’re using OpenVPN, switch to WireGuard or IKEv2/IPsec. These protocols consume less data so they won’t drain your phone’s battery fast.
  • Use a VPN with low battery consumption. Top VPN providers have well-optimized, lightweight Android and iOS apps. On top of this, the VPN apps are bug-free and intuitive to use. 
  • Turn on Battery Saver Mode. If you think that using a VPN drains your phone battery quickly, turn this feature on. This way, the phone will automatically turn the VPN app off if it consumes too much data. 

Best VPNs That Will Make Your Phone Battery Last Longer

Here are some providers that have an iOS or Android VPN app that doesn’t put a huge strain on a device’s battery life:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is our top VPN service because it has secure and fast protocols. Also, it has a bug-free VPN app for mobile that comes with a bunch of security feature to protect your online data.

For example, it has Threat Protection Lite which blocks ads and connections to malicious sites. This way, your internet speed will be faster and your battery life will last longer. Also, this security feature is optimized for mobile platforms so it won’t increase power usage too much.

The VPN provider uses IKEv2/IPsec and NordLynx, which is its proprietary protocol built around WireGuard. Both protocols provide a lightweight VPN connection.  

Also, it has 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries. This way, you can decrease battery usage by connecting to a nearby server. In addition, it offers 6 simultaneous connections, so you can connect 6 mobile device at the same time.  

  • Thousands of lightning-fast and well-optimized servers
  • Unblocks all the major streaming sites
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption to protect you from DDoS attacks and other online threats
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

With Surfshark, you can connect unlimited devices, which is very convenient. Also, it has an intuitive mobile VPN app that you can install in less than 3 minutes. 

Surfshark has IKEv2/IPsec and WireGuard, and both protocols are available for iOS and Android. 

In addition, it has 3200+ servers in 90+ countries. So you can decrease heavy battery usage by connecting to a nearby server.     

  • A very affordable VPN provider
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • A fast and light WireGuard protocol
  • Allows split-tunneling and has a multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and robust security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. Atlas VPN 

Atlas VPN is the best option if you’re looking for a free mobile VPN app. It has a free plan that gives you access to 3 locations in the Netherlands and the US. Also, with the free plan you get to use the VPN on unlimited devices. 

AtlasVPN has user-friendly apps for both Android and iOS devices. What’s more, you can use WireGuard and IKEv2/IPsec on both platforms. 

The paid plans gives you access to 700+ servers in 40+ locations. While its server network is relatively smaller, you can easily still find a nearby server to connect to. 

  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Helpful against an ISP throttling your connection
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol, DNS leak protection, and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Limited Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

4.  PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is another good VPN provider that has optimized apps for Adroid and iOS. On top of this, it’s very intuitive to use and you can install it in less than 2 minutes on your device, which is very convenient. 

This VPN provider is more suitable for iOS users, since it supports IKEv2/IPsec. On Android, the only available protocol is OpenVPN. 

PrivateVPN has a relatively small server network with 200+ servers in 60+ countries. However, the servers are well-distributed around the world, so you can find a nearby server to decrease battery power consumption. Also, the VPN allows 10 simultaneous connections, which is very convenient. 

  • Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
  • Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
  • Unblocks most streaming platforms
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Free Static IP servers
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Not as many servers as other VPN providers
  • No split-tunneling

5.  ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is another good VPN that’s optimized against battery drain. The VPN has apps for both iOS and Android devices. Also, you can use the VPN on 5 simultaneous connections. 

This VPN has Lightway, its proprietary protocol thata’s programmed for less battery usage. On top of this, the protocol is open-source, so anyone can inspect the code for technical issues. Lightway is available on both iOS and Android.

The VPN also has a dedicated router app. So it’s very convenient since you don’t have to manually set it up. This way, all your mobile apps can use the VPN encryption. 

ExpressVPN has 3,000 servers in 90+ countries. So it’s very easy to connect to a nearby server to get fast speeds and prevent battery drain.      

  • Works with streaming
  • Supports torrenting
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
  • Premium security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Expensive subscription plans
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

Conclusion — VPNs and Battery Usage

Overall, VPN services might increase battery usage from 5% to 15%. However, they don’t drain more battery than any other mobile app. Usually, battery drain depends on several factors. 

In general, a phone’s power usage depends on the device type, the quality of your internet connection, and the VPN encryption. 

All our top VPN recommendations use safe protocols that are optimized for mobile devices.  


Here are the most common questions people ask about using a VPN on their phone:

Does a VPN Affect Battery Health?

A VPN can drain the battery 5-15% faster. However, you can prevent this by switching to mobile-friendly VPN protocols. The most popular ones are NordLynx, IKEV2/IPsec, WireGuard, and Lightway. 

Another excellent option is to install the VPN directly on your router. This way, the VPN isn’t running in the background, so it won’t use phone battery. NordVPN, Surfshark, PrivateVPN, and ExpressVPN offer helpful step-by-step guides for manual router setups. 

Does a VPN Drain Your Phone?

On the contrary, a VPN keeps your phone secure and protects your personal data online. VPNs have a bunch of security and privacy features so your IP won’t leak online. 

For example, NordVPN’s Threat Protection Lite feature blocks ads, trackers, and connections to malicious sites. 

What Is the Best Battery-Friendly VPN?

Overall, NordVPN is the best battery-friendly VPN. It has mobile-optimized protocols such as NordLynx and IKEv2/IPsec. Also, it has 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries. Since it’s easy to find a nearby server to connect to, you’ll have fast speeds, meaning your phone battery won’t drain so fast.

Should You Leave the VPN on All the Time?

If you want to save battery usage, we recommend using a VPN only when you go online. This way, the VPN won’t run in the background and your battery will last longer.  

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