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Does a VPN Drain Battery Life? 2023 Test Results Reveal How Much

does vpn drain battery

Are you wondering why your device seems to be running out of juice faster with a VPN? It may be a VPN that drains your battery in the background.

In this article, we will discuss how a VPN might impact your device’s battery life. We’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of how a VPN interacts with your device’s power.

Discover practical tips on how to manage your VPN usage to keep your battery lasting longer.

Getting to the bottom of battery drainage can be a game-changer for anyone on the go. In the forthcoming sections, we’ll unpack how a VPN can be a silent battery consumer and how much battery it uses.

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 will consume on average 2-15% more battery power.

Limiting your battery charge 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 a weak but active connection to the internet. 
  • If you use other apps at the same time.

Test Your VPN Knowledge – Take A Quiz!

How Much Battery Does a VPN Use? Experiment Test Results

To determine how much battery life a VPN might consume, we conducted a series of tests. These tests were designed to measure the battery drainage with and without a VPN active across various device types. We used NordVPN as our provider.

The devices tested were:

  • iPhone 12
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Dell XPS 13 laptop

Each device underwent the same web browsing activities for a duration of one hour with the VPN activated and repeated without the VPN.

iPhone VPN Battery Drain Test

For the iPhone test, we used an iPhone 12 with the latest iOS version. Here’s what we found:

ActivityVPN Off (%)VPN On (%)Battery Drain Increase (%)
Browsing462

The iPhone 12 showed a minimal increase in battery consumption by 2 percentage points with the VPN turned on. While VPN use did escalate the battery drain to some extent, the impact was relatively low over the test period.

Android VPN Battery Drain Test

Next, we tested a Samsung Galaxy S21 running on Android. The results were as follows:

ActivityVPN Off (%)VPN On (%)Battery Drain Increase (%)
Browsing583

The Android test demonstrated slightly higher battery usage with the VPN active, showing an increase of 3 percentage points. The Galaxy S21, although more affected than the iPhone, still demonstrated that a VPN does have an observable effect on battery life over time.

Laptop VPN Battery Drain Test

Finally, for the laptop, a Dell XPS 13 was used, which is a common model for professionals and casual users alike:

ActivityVPN Off (%)VPN On (%)Battery Drain Increase (%)
Web Browsing8102

The Dell XPS 13 experienced a similar increase in battery consumption as the iPhone 12 when running a VPN. The results indicate a 2 percentage point increase in battery drain during web browsing activities.

In conclusion, the tests showed that there is a measurable change in battery consumption when a VPN is active.

However, it’s important to note that this increase isn’t exceptionally high for any of the devices tested. It emphasizes that while a VPN does use additional battery life, the extent of its impact can depend on the specific device and its existing battery efficiency.

Why Does a VPN Drain More Battery?

The reasons why a VPN uses more battery are the level of encryption, VPN protocol usage, the device’s CPU optimization, background events, and Wi-Fi signal strength.

  • Encryption – All data from your devices to the VPN server and vice versa must be encrypted and decrypted. This way, you can hide your traffic. However, encryption and decryption require processing power, which also uses battery power. The more advanced the VPN encryption level is, the more power usage it has. 
  • Protocol – Some advanced security protocols use more power to route your connections. For example, OpenVPN drains a phone’s battery life faster than tunneling protocols like 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 the 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 while having constant internet access, 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 Cellular Signal Strength – A low cellular 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 with poor cellular signal strength can drain your battery even faster.

How to Reduce VPN Battery Drain?

To minimize the impact of a VPN on your device’s battery life, you can take several proactive steps. Here are some tips:

  • Lower the Encryption Level: Some VPNs allow you to choose the level of encryption. Opting for lower encryption can reduce battery usage, although this decreases security.
  • Use a Lightweight VPN Protocol: Protocols like WireGuard are more efficient than older protocols like OpenVPN or IPSec. This leads to less battery consumption.
  • Change VPN Settings: If your VPN has a “battery saver” or “power saving” mode, enabling it can help reduce battery drain.
  • Disconnect When Not Needed: Only activate your VPN when necessary. Keeping it connected all the time will increase battery usage.
  • Limit Background Data: Reduce battery drain by restricting background data for apps that don’t need to use the VPN.
  • Update Your VPN App: Ensure your VPN app is up-to-date. Updates often include optimizations that can minimize battery usage.
  • Adjust Screen Settings: Lower screen brightness and timeout can save battery life overall.
  • Close Unnecessary Apps: Apps running in the background can tax your battery. Close them to reduce overall device strain when using a VPN.
  • Monitor Battery Usage: Keep an eye on battery usage stats to identify usage patterns that lead to excessive drain.

These tips can help you save battery life when using a VPN.

Best VPNs for Battery Longevity – our detailed list:

1. NordVPN

🌐 Website:nordvpn.com
🏢 Headquarters:Panama
📍Servers/Countries:5800+ servers in 60 countries
₿ Accepts CryptocurrencyYes
💸 Deals & CouponsGet 68% off + 3 months extra

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 features 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.  

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

🌐 Website:surfshark.com
🏢 Headquarters:The British Virgin Islands
📍Servers/Countries:3,200+ servers in 100 countries
₿ Accepts CryptocurrencyYes
💸 Deals & CouponsSave 84% Now!

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.     

Pros

  • A very affordable VPN provider
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • 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

Cons

  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. Atlas VPN 

🌐 Website:atlasvpn.com
🏢 Headquarters:United States
📍Servers/Countries:1000 servers in 49 locations
₿ Accepts CryptocurrencyYes
💸 Deals & Coupons85% OFF + 3 Months FREE!

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 give 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. 

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Limited Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

4.  PrivateVPN

🌐 Website:privatevpn.com
🏢 Headquarters:Sweden
📍Servers/Countries:200 servers in 60 countries
₿ Accepts CryptocurrencyYes
💸 Deals & CouponsSave 85% Now!

PrivateVPN is another good VPN provider that has optimized apps for Android 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 worldwide, so you can find a nearby server to decrease battery power consumption. Also, the VPN allows 10 simultaneous connections, which is very convenient. 

Pros

  • Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
  • Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
  • Unblocks most streaming platforms
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Free Static IP servers
  • A fast and light WireGuard protocol
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Not as many servers as other VPN providers
  • No split-tunneling

5.  ExpressVPN

🌐 Website:expressvpn.com
🏢 Headquarters:The British Virgin Islands
📍Servers/Countries:3000+ servers in 94 countries
₿ Accepts CryptocurrencyYes
💸 Deals & Coupons+3 months FREE!

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 that’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.      

Pros

  • Works with streaming
  • Supports torrenting
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
  • Premium security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Expensive subscription plans
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

Conclusion — VPNs and Battery Usage

Overall, VPN services might increase battery usage from 2% 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.  

VPN Battery Drain FAQs 

Does a VPN Affect Battery Health?

A VPN alone is not likely to cause long-term battery health issues. However, because it can increase daily battery use, the extra charge cycles may lead to the battery wearing out over time.

Does a VPN Drain Your Phone?

Using a VPN can drain your phone’s battery faster due to encryption and decryption of data. This effect varies by device and usage.

What Is the Best Battery-Friendly VPN?

WireGuard protocol-based VPNs, like NordVPN, are generally the best for battery life. This is because of their efficiency and optimized apps for power saving.

Should I keep my VPN connected all of the time?

Maintaining an always-on VPN connection ensures privacy and data protection. However, if battery preservation is a priority, consider connecting only when necessary.

 

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