If you’ve been using a VPN in your gaming sessions, then you’ve probably experienced a noticeable dip in speed. Even more so if you’re using a free VPN for gaming, since your provider can’t afford top of the line servers like subscription-based services.

Thankfully, you can vastly improve your gaming speeds with these tried and tested VPNs. Here are some additional tips to get the most out of what your provider can dish out.

How to Speed Up Your Gaming VPN

There are multiple factors which affect your speeds while using a VPN. Here’s what you need to do to see a noticeable improvement.

Connect to a server near you

The less distance your data has to travel to and from the VPN server, the better. Check out the VPNs recommended in the beginning, as most of them have huge server networks. Some of those servers are bound to be close to your location.

Just keep in mind that closer doesn’t always mean faster. The more people are connected to a particular server, the more likely you’ll be faced with congestion. Try switching between nearby servers and test your speed with a YouTube video, or by comparing online speed test results. Several providers also list their servers and their current load on their website. Sometimes going for a less populated server may yield better results than just choosing the one closest to you.

#2 Switch to weaker encryption

VPNs aren’t optimized for gaming by default. Your provider will most likely use the OpenVPN protocol, which is amazing for security but can bog down your connection somewhat. Fortunately, some providers are switching to WireGuard, which is a definite upgrade – both in terms of speed and security.

If the VPN you’ve chosen doesn’t implement WireGuard, the fastest alternative is PPTP. Security-wise it’s horrible, to the point that Microsoft (its creator) recommends against using it. However, you’re probably not handling any sensitive payment info in-between headshots, making it a great option for gaming. IKEv2/IPsec is an okay option too, and way more secure than PPTP.

#3 Take advantage of split-tunneling

One neat feature you should use when gaming with a VPN is split-tunneling. It basically lets you exclude applications from the VPN tunnel, meaning your Internet provider will handle all the grunt work. Got something downloading in the background? Exclude your browser (or whichever applications are using network resources) from the VPN and watch your speeds soar.

#4 Better CPU = faster speeds

This might seem obvious when referring to game performance, but your CPU actually handles the VPN encryption process as well. Encryption is all just complex algorithms that jumble your data around so it can’t be read by hackers, your ISP, or government spies. A faster CPU will make things go smoother and increase your online speeds, though perhaps less noticeably than the tips above.

#5 Tweak your OS

Desktop operating systems can be quite the resource hogs nowadays, as Microsoft and Apple would rather you keep buying more expensive hardware than do some optimizing. Luckily, you can do some tweaking of your own to see better gaming performance:

Naturally, these tips will only get you so far. If your current provider has slow servers to begin with, your best bet is to try one of the high-performance VPNs for gaming linked in the beginning.

Why Do I Need a VPN for Gaming?

New to the whole gaming VPN business? Here are some ways they can make your life a little easier.

Stop people from DoS-ing you in online matches

Ever been on a winning streak and then your entire network suddenly went offline? The most likely cause was another player performing a denial-of-service attack (or DoS) by using your IP address. You can find a bunch of tutorials for simple DoS attacks on Google, so even someone’s annoying little cousin can cause some mischief.

How does it work? Well, without getting into the specifics, the attacker simply overloads your connection with spam requests. Of course, by using a VPN for gaming, your real IP address is replaced with the one assigned by your provider. Essentially, anyone that tries to take you offline will instead DoS your VPN’s server instead.

Considering VPNs deal with much bigger threats on a regular basis, you may continue taking down sore losers without a hitch.

#2 Bypass firewalls at school, work, or on campus

Pretty straightforward. If you want to play a quick match on your break, or can’t be bothered to listen to that one boring lecture, a VPN will let you get past the network filters and enjoy gaming in peace. Just make sure your headphones are plugged in right before you startle everyone in the lecture hall with CS:GO sounds.

#3 Reduce ping and prevent connection loss in some games

High ping in online games may be influenced by which path your network data takes towards its destination. Let’s say you live in Germany and the game servers are located in the UK. Your data is routed through several different networks before it finally reaches the game server and vice-versa. If one of those networks is experiencing any issues, your overall ping takes a dive.

By routing your traffic through a gaming VPN, your data will take an entirely different path and may solve those connectivity issues altogether. Of course, your overall Internet speeds will be slower due to how VPNs operate. Simply use the tips presented above and you’re good to go.