A recent revelation that South Africa has been running mass surveillance of its citizens has raised privacy concerns.
South African intelligence agencies confirmed in an affidavit that they record “transnational signals” including data transmitted over undersea fibre cables.
While this revelation may encourage many South Africans to use a VPN to protect their data, there are downsides to this.
One of the biggest issues with VPNs that they can slow down your Internet experience.
There are three main reasons this is the case.
VPNs essentially spoof a user’s location, meaning that users are often operating through servers that are far away from their physical location.
While this can be useful for accessing content in other countries, it also means that your data has a longer distance to travel.
Without a VPN, data is transmitted through the fastest possible route – whereas using a VPN usually means your data takes a detour.
VPNs use various encryption and security techniques to ensure that they keep your data private.
This allows them to ensure that your actual location is not shown, allowing you to operate as if you were in the same country as your VPN server.
However, these additional security processes take time to complete over and above traditional security measures.
This results in your data transfer rates slowing down while these processes are completed.
It is worth noting that there is a trade-off between strong encryption and speed, meaning that the most secure VPNs might hurt your speeds the most.
VPNs often suffer from overloaded servers, meaning that your Internet speed is affected.
Most VPNs don’t offer clear insight into the load on their various servers, making it difficult to choose a server that is not congested.
To solve this, you can try different servers to find one that has a lower server load.
The effect of VPNs on speed
PCMag has performed tests on popular VPNs to determine the fastest services on the market.
The measurement used in these tests was the percentage by which a user’s Internet speed was slowed when using a VPNs. This means that a lower percentage difference is better.
The top five VPNs in these tests by download speed were.
- HideIPVPN: –52.8%
- TunnelBear: –74.7%
- Hide.me: –75.8%
- Trust.zone: –77.7%
- Private Internet Access: –77.7%