How Much Cellular Data Does a VPN Use?Does VPN Increases data usage/ download speed slower?(explained)
Virtual Private Network, better known as VPN is a way to hide your Internet Protocol (IP) address and also secure your privacy, and gives you access to websites not available to your region. As good as that might sound, it comes at a price.
The VPN is a sort of pathway between your computer, phone, or tablet and the server of the VPN provider. This pathway encrypts all the data that passes through the two points (your computer and the VPN server.)
Browsing using a VPN requires more cellular data because the data initially goes through servers of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) before getting to the servers of the VPN.
In other words, the encryption required for VPN to work effectively will add an extra layer of data compared to data used if you don’t use VPN.
The amount of extra data consumed when using a VPN is not high compared to browsing without a VPN. Numerically, there is a 5 to 15 percent increase in cellular data consumption when using VPN.
If you are thinking of minimizing the amount of data, you consume while using VPN then you might opt for a 128-bit PPTP.
This protocol requires the smallest amount of data; it also provides the least level of security. Meaning that it is not a good idea to use a VPN with this protocol. Another protocol that doesn’t need much data is the 128-bit L2TP/IPSec, like the 128-bit PPTP it is not secure enough.
One VPN that has an average security level and low data requirement is the 128-bit OpenVPN protocol. To round off the 128-bit VPN protocols is the 128-bit Stealth OpenVPN this offers a high level of security and the high data requirement of all the listed VPN protocols.
If you want to merge data savings and excellent security protection, then the 256-bit L2TP/IPSec is an ideal option. The VPN protocol offers reasonable data consumption combined with an excellent security cover.
Like its cousin the 256-bit L2TP/IPSec, the 256-bit OpenVPN offers fair data usage along with strong security encryption. The best in terms of security is the 256-bit Stealth OpenVPN, it comes at the cost of higher data usage than all others.
If you need stealth and IP cloaking then you need a VPN, choose the best protocol that suits your needs, and enjoy.
Table of Contents
- 1 Does a VPN increase my Data Usage?
- 2 Which VPN Encryption Takes Up More Data?
- 3 Does VPN Give You Unlimited Data?
- 4 Why Does My VPN Use So Much Data?
- 5 What Happens When VPN Is Connected?
- 6 Does Connecting Your Router to A VPN Slow Down Your Internet Speed?
- 7 Why Is My Download Speed So Slow with VPN?
- 8 Internet Speed Drops After Connecting to VPN
- 9 Conclusion
Does a VPN increase my Data Usage?
Yes, it does, with the way VPN works there’s no way your data usage won’t increase with VPN.
The data usage is minimal, if you use one gigabyte of data a month without VPN for instance with VPN the highest extra data you will use is about 150 megabytes.
The reason for this is simple, for the VPN to add the extra layer of security to your data, the VPN has to encrypt or encode it. This encryption ensures that only you and the VPN can interpret the data you send.
These encoded data need a little more space than normal unencrypted data. The extra space is what is known as encryption overhead.
Which VPN Encryption Takes Up More Data?
VPN encryption overhead or data usage depends on the type of VPN you are using,
VPN is mainly divided into two parts 128-bit and 256-bit. The 128-bit protocols or encryption have lower encryption overhead compared to 256-bit encryption.
128-bit protocols have 4 different subdivisions; PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, and Stealth OpenVPN.
Their encryption overhead and encryption capabilities increase down the line. For the 256-bit encryption, there’s the L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, and Stealth OpenVPN.
Like in the case of the 128-bit protocols or encryption, the most secure encryption and one with the most encryption overhead is the 256-bit Stealth OpenVPN. Overall the range of encryption overhead is about 15%.
The difference in overhead between the 128-bit PPTP and the OpenVPN is minimal, while the difference in their encryption capabilities is considerable. So go for the OpenVPN as the PPTP is not secure.
Does VPN Give You Unlimited Data?
When you get buy data contracts from your ISPs, there is usually a data cap or quota. Once you have reached that quota, you will no longer have access to the data. There are generally two types of data caps or quotas, the soft and hard caps.
Soft caps are usually unlimited data with higher speed for a chunk of the data usage than slower speeds after you have used the volume of data.
For example, the first thirty gigabytes of your data plan are available at a faster speed when you have used the thirty gigabytes the internet speed is slower.
The hard cap is fixed, once you have exhausted the data you bought then you no longer have access to the internet until you subscribe to another data plan.
Your VPN in some cases can allow you to browse even without an active internet subscription, it does this by taking advantage of some loopholes in your ISP’s network.
It condenses all your data through these loopholes and allows you to access data even without a data subscription.
Some of the loopholes that VPN exploits are:
Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) Loophole
The Internet Control Message Protocol, ICMP, also known as PING is the most common loophole VPN exploits to access free data. Most network operators leave the ICMP open because they use it to troubleshoot or diagnose network issues.
So if you open the command center of your browser and ping a website, you receive pings back without hitches. After you have done this, use a VPN that has ICMP protocol and you can browse the internet free without hassles.
An example of a VPN that has ICMP protocol is the PD-Proxy VPN.
Domain Name System (DNS) Loophole
The Domain Name System loophole is another way that you can browse the internet free of charge with a VPN. The reason for this is that almost all firewalls do not restrict DNS requests, because you use the DNS protocol to decide an ISP address with its hostname.
The way the DNS protocol works is it utilizes the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) port 53 and the way most networks are designed, they allow all UDP packets headed for port 53 to pass through without any hindrances because they believe it’s a DNS request.
Even with limited or nonexistent data, but it is still possible to decide hostnames then you should be able to configure your VPN to connect to UDP port 53 then join your VPN for free internet access.
Host Header Loophole
This exploits loopholes in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), via the VPN’s Transfer Control Protocol (TCP). The VPN’s TCP connection gives your permission to make your HTTP header during connection.
In other words, the loophole is exploited when your ISP networks allow you to browse some networks for free. What the VPN does is to add what is called an HTTP Host Header while you are connecting to a VPN server, your ISP network believes you are connecting to a free site while you are connecting to the VPN server.
Other Open Ports
There are ports left open by your ISP, there are many reasons why they are left open. Probably to run other services unrelated to your internet connection or services similar to it. No one can be sure, what you can be sure of is there are many ports left open by your ISP networks.
These ports usually range from 1 to 65535, while some internet providers check the bind port or local port (the source port number or the port the VPN binds to), others check for either UDP or TCP packets that have specific source and destination ports.
To get an open-source, it is some sort of guessing game, you have to change and switch remote port numbers and local port numbers.
So where your data cap or quota has a soft or hard cap, here some of the ways your VPN can give you internet access even when you don’t have an internet subscription.
Why Does My VPN Use So Much Data?
There are many reasons why your VPN app seems like it uses so much data, the first reason is that all your data has to go through the VPN servers to be encrypted.
It seems every picture or video uploaded or downloaded first has to go through the VPN servers before arriving at the destination website.
So if you uploading a video on say Facebook, the picture first has to get encrypted on the VPN servers before arriving at the Facebook servers.
Also, in some cases, your VPN might be searching for the best server and the result might be a higher data usage than usual. The solution to this is to connect to a better server or an entirely different server on the VPN.
Another reason for high data usage by your VPN is if you are connecting to a free VPN service (a bad idea by the way), free VPN services are unreliable and they do a lot of strange things to your connection and data usage. Use the only VPN from reputable and verified sources.
What Happens When VPN Is Connected?
After connecting to a VPN, you should set your preferred security network and choose your preferred VPN server before venturing to the internet. Now that you are connected to the VPN server, the following things happen.
The VPN software encodes your computer’s data traffic, sends it to the VPN’s servers through your ISP all the time the encoded data is sent through a secure connection, preventing hackers from having access to the encoded data.
When the encoded data arrives at the VPN servers, it is decoded. The VPN servers then send this data to the internet, the internet sends a reply to the VPN servers that are meant for you. The VPN server encodes this reply and sends it back to you.
When this encoded information arrives at your device, the VPN software on the device decodes the data for you to understand and use.
The reason for encoding or encrypting your data is to hide your personal information from hackers, another reason is to hide your location giving you an aura of anonymity.
Since the information is sent to the internet through the VPN servers and not your computer or smartphone.
Does Connecting Your Router to A VPN Slow Down Your Internet Speed?
Connecting your router to a VPN service will almost always lead to slower internet. The level of dropped speed depends on several factors, they are:
Depending on how far the VPN server you are connecting to is from you, the speed will drop. The usual rule is the closer the server the faster the internet speed.
Usually, VPN protocols differ according to the security level. If the security level is higher like in the case of the 256-bit Stealth OpenVPN protocol, then there is a high probability that your internet speed might be slower.
The opposite is also true for the other side, low-level security VPN protocols like the 28-bit PPTP should have faster internet speed.
Some VPN software allows the users to see how crowded certain VPN servers are, the number of users on each server at a particular time. Connecting to a less crowded server means faster internet speed.
Why Is My Download Speed So Slow with VPN?
The simple reason is that whatever file you are downloading first has to go from the internet, to the VPN servers for encoding then through a secure link to your device for decryption and use. This process often slows down the internet speed.
There are some ways to speed up the internet while using VPN.
Pick the Right Server Location
When you are using VPN, it often seeks to send data through the fastest server available. This is to reduce latency (the time lag between the time your device sends the information to the server and when it gets to the internet and back to you) using a VPN server far from you will increase the latency.
To reduce this time lag, look for a VPN close to you. It helps speed up download times.
Update Your VPN Client
Your VPN client might also be a factor affecting your download speed, VPN Client is the software you install on your device to decode the encrypted message from the VPN server. Each version has its share of bugs that an update tries to fix.
If the Client on your device is an older version, try updating it. It could lead to faster internet and downloading speed.
Ethernet Over Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is more popular than Ethernet, this reason alone means there is going to be pressure on internet speed on the part of the Wi-Fi providers. A solution to this is changing from Wi-Fi to using Ethernet.
Usually, Ethernet speed is faster reducing download time significantly. The problem with this is that some laptops don’t have an Ethernet port, but if you have a PC or smart TV then you can sure there’s an Ethernet port.
Reduce Encryption Level
The encryption level on your VPN is also one of the reasons for reduced speed, the higher the encryption level, the slower the internet speed. If you have problems with internet and download speeds, why not try to reduce the level of encryption on your VPN.
Especially if your device’s processor can’t handle the high encryption levels, even if the internet speed is high and your CPU is having problems with the encryption level then all that internet speed is all for naught.
Try Both TCP and UDP Protocols
TCP is usually slower than UDP, this is because TCP needs a connection at both ends, and then confirm that all the data sent was received successfully for it to work effectively. UDP on the other hand just sends the data without any barriers across the internet.
In the case of slower download speed try switching between protocols, go to your VPN setting to confirm that manual switching is possible as some don’t allow it.
Internet Speed Drops After Connecting to VPN
VPN’s speed depends on the speed of your ISP, in most cases the speed of your VPN is a little slower than that of your ISP. If you are encountering slow internet speed after connecting to VPN, you could try changing VPN servers.
Look for closer and less crowded servers this will boost the internet speed. You can also change your VPN protocol, the higher the protocol the slower the internet speed. Rebooting your modem or router could help increase your internet speed.
Temporarily disabling your computer’s firewall might also help increase the internet speed, antivirus software often slows down the VPN speed by acting as a filter for incoming packets. Disabling it temporarily removes this barrier.
If all fails, restart your device. It frees up any memory that might be slowing up internet speed. Another option is overriding the DNS with third-party DNS servers that save time and internet speed.
Virtual Personal Network, VPN, is that bridge that grants you access to websites restricted to your region, gives you a cloak of anonymity and an added layer of security by encrypting your data on the internet.
Though it might consume a little more data than when you connect straight to the internet, the difference is minimal. When done right, it also allows you access to the internet even without an active data subscription.
VPN is a great way to access websites that are off-limits to your region, especially for those living in Africa and some parts of Asia. There might a reduction in data speed, but with the solutions listed above, you can enjoy the internet using VPN.
Am a Professional App Developer with 5 years experience, am also a Tech Author and Writer, I also spend my whole day either writing a script or writing an interest article about our tech world.
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