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How To Use A Gaming VPN To Reduce Lag

Michael Gargiulo - CEO, VPN.com

By: Michael Gargiulo, CEO at VPN.com

Updated: 4:22 PM ET Tue, July 21st 2020

Introduction

If you use a VPN for playing online games, it’s possible you’ve experienced a frustrating problem with lag. This can happen for several reasons. There are a lot of ways to get around gaming lag with a good VPN, but your VPN should be optimized for gaming. It also helps to have the right settings configuration. While you can’t control every factor that causes lag, you can often use a VPN to speed things up online.

Minimize Lag With A Low-Latency Gaming VPN

One of the major causes of gaming lag is high latency in the connection. Latency is a term that covers several different types of problems that can slow your connection down. If your VPN has limited server space you could experience VPN lag during peak hours. This is because too many other users are on the network. The spike in demand causes what’s known as a WAN error, which is like a traffic jam for data packets. The way around this is to choose a VPN for gaming that has either low demand or a large enough number of servers to avoid lag.

Another cause of high latency is old encryption. Gaming VPNs, like all VPN services, use complex encryption protocols. These protect your data as it streams in and out of your connection. Older encryption systems and out-of-date protocols can cause significant VPN lag. This is because every bit of data gets encrypted at your end and then slowly decrypted in the VPN server. Make sure the VPN you choose for gaming has the latest AES-256 encryption protocols standard to reduce lag in this area.

You can also get latency-related gaming lag as a result of using the wrong antivirus software. Many VPNs use antivirus routines to keep your hard drive safe from incoming malware. Unfortunately, some programs do this indiscriminately. That means you might have a VPN that inspects every single bit of incoming code for potential viruses, rather than sampling and whitelisting trusted sources. The delays this causes are a major source of frustration and cause gaming lag that can be hard to pin down to the VPN. An easy fix for this is to either list your gaming servers as trusted sources, or to use a VPN that’s optimized for gaming.

Choose The Right Location

Information can only travel so fast. No matter how fast your connection is, or how much bandwidth your servers have to spare, your speed limit is the speed of light. Signals move a bit slower over copper wires. Even at the maximum possible speed, it takes at least 29 ms to get a signal from San Francisco to London. It’s about 40 ms through a fiber optic wire. It’s even slower on conventional phone lines. This isn’t much, but the effect compounds as you send a signal from one server to another and then back through the network again.

The only way to get around this is to shorten the distance your signal travels. You can do this by installing a router next to your gaming machine at home. You can also choose a VPN server geographically close to your location. Most VPNs have multiple servers around the world to help with location masking. If you want access to services blocked in your own country, it makes sense to connect via a server overseas. If, however, you’re trying to reduce gaming lag, you might have to connect with whichever VPN server is close by.

Optimize Your Gaming VPN Settings For Little-To-No Lag

There are several things you can do on your own to improve your ping rate and reduce gaming lag. One of these is simply to close all of your background applications and just leave up your VPN and gaming software. Internet-enabled apps running in the background also make calls on the VPN and lag your connection. Shut down as many of these as you can to speed up your game.

Another way to reduce gaming lag while you play with a VPN is to reduce the number of devices you have connected to your WiFi. You can also switch to an Ethernet connection. Both of these measures isolate your gaming stream and speed up the processing through your VPN and game server.

Wrapping Up

No matter what kind of online games you enjoy, your safety and privacy depend on using a VPN to connect with other players. This slows things down some, but you can get around the worst gaming VPN lag with just a few modifications. Browse the research at VPN.com for more information about speeding up your connection with a gaming VPN and reducing lag for good.

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