ISP throttling is an unfair practice, but in many cases you can effectively reduce buffering by using a VPN. Today, we cover the best VPN providers that offer fast speeds and enhanced privacy, so that you can download, browse and stream without any lag or slowdown.
One of the most frustrating issues facing modern content consumption is buffering. Everyone encounters it each time they load a video; it’s that annoying spinning circle trying to distract you while the content loads in the background. Sometimes buffering only lasts a few seconds, but sometimes you sit there for what feels like forever, waiting impatiently, wondering if your video will ever load.
In the wake of artificial throttling issues and the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, buffering has taken on an entirely new importance. More people experience more internet slowdown than ever before, all thanks to greedy companies trying to charge more for faster internet. The good news is there are tools to fight back, the best of which are virtual private networks.
These lightning-fast VPNs are the best way to beat throttling, buffering, and slowdown:
- NordVPN – Fastest VPN Connections – NordVPN’s mature network and sophisticated encryption minimize slowdown while obliterating ISP throttling and video buffering.
- Surfshark – Making use of the most advanced tunneling protocols, Surfshark offers private, buffer-free connections anywhere in the world.
- ExpressVPN – ExpressVPN has made its name delivering outstand speeds. Ideal for lag-free streaming.
- PrivateVPN – This lightweight VPN is quick, responsive, and above all, private.
Below we take a closer look at the best and fastest VPNs to use to reduce online buffering. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching Netflix on your PC, Kodi on your Fire TV, or YouTube on your smartphone, a good VPN can eliminate buffering issues in a flash.
VPNs – The Best Way to Reduce Buffering
The best way to put a stop to throttling and buffering issues is to run a good VPN with fast and reliable servers. Virtual private networks are powerful and easy to use, and you can run them on every device you own, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, even Fire TV. Simply by signing up and connecting, you can eliminate certain buffering issues in an instant.
How VPNs Stop Buffering
Virtual private networks provide privacy and anonymity thanks to data encryption, a process that wraps each packet of information in a layer of unbreakable code before it leaves your device. No one can see what’s inside these packets, not even your ISP, which means they can’t enact throttling measures against your connection. You’re further protected from these dangers thanks to the anonymization features provided by VPNs, cutting out buffering delays while providing smooth and serene videos every time you connect.
Getting the right VPN takes more than picking a service at random. Privacy and censorship issues are very real considerations. If you don’t research and choose your VPN wisely, you could put your data at risk and suffer through buffering and slowdown issues on a more frequent basis.
Below are the main criteria you should use when selecting a good VPN with fast speeds. We used the same features to make our recommendations in the next section, allowing you to find the fastest, safest, and most reliable VPN around.
- Speed – Some VPNs are slower than an unsecured connection. If you want to put a stop to buffering, make sure they offer fast servers around the world.
- Network – The larger a VPN’s network, the better your connection.
- Security features – Encryption strength, DNS leak protection, and kill switch features are crucial to keeping your connection safe.
- Logging policy – To ensure true privacy, always choose a VPN service that has a strict zero-logging policy.
Best and Fastest VPNs to Reduce Buffering
Speed is everything when it comes to reducing buffering by using a VPN. Check out our recommendations below to get the fastest and most reliable VPNs in the business.
NordVPN’s biggest stand-out feature is the incredible size of its network. The company operates over 5,500 servers in 59 countries, offering an amazing number of fast connection across the world. That’s roughly twice the coverage offered by other VPN providers. Many of these servers are configured to handle specific types of traffic, as well, delivering unique and useful features such as double encryption, location obfuscation, dedicated IP addresses, and DDoS protection.
NordVPN keeps absolutely no traffic logs, time stamp logs, bandwidth logs, or IP address logs, plain and simple. It’s one of the more all-encompassing logging policies in the VPN world, which makes NordVPN a great choice for a privacy-conscious individuals. NordVPN’s apps also provide 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch to keep you safe and anonymous even if something goes wrong.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- SPECIAL OFFER: 2-yr plan (68% off - link below)
- No bandwidth caps
- Allows up to 6 devices to be connected at once
- Strict zero logs policy on both traffic and metadata
- Live Chat Support.
- Sometimes slow in procesing refunds (but always do).
There are really two main factors when it comes to connection speed: (1) how effectively your VPN stops throttling and (2) how laggy the VPN network is. In both cases, Surfshark excels, with its thoroughly modern routing infrastructure and privacy methods.
By default, Surfshark selects either OpenVPN (usually the fastest for desktops) or IKEv2/IPSec (optimized for cellular connections) or the brand new, ultra-quick WireGuard protocol. The choice is automatic, and based on factors include what is currently performing the fastest, and which is best suited to getting past any detectable Internet restrictions. That’s right, Surfshark is constantly on the lookout for censorship, throttling, DPI, or other forms of censorship.
No matter which configuration you end up with or which of Surfsharks 800+ servers you connect to, you get the same ultra-powerful 256-AES-GCM encryption guarding your datastream. And if you suspect your ISP knows you’re using a VPN, switching to Surfshark enables always-on Obfuscation.
- Every server optimized for unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more
- Every server is a speciality server
- No questions asked money back guarantee
- Based in the British Virgin Islands, where there are no data retention laws
- Responsive customer support available 24/7.
- Growing network doesn’t have same coverage as more mature VPNs
- New-kid-on-the-block status may not instill same trust as larger providers.
Read our full Surfshark review.
When speed is your top priority, ExpressVPN demands a second look. The company operates a large network of well over 3,000 servers in 94 different countries, each providing fast and stable connections around the globe. This enables you to use any video streaming service and watch high-quality content without fear of buffering or throttling. ExpressVPN even offers in-app speed tests so you can measure performance and switch servers for an optimal connection at all times.
ExpressVPN delivers all of this speed without sacrificing privacy or security. Your data is wrapped in tough 256-bit AES encryption, and no traffic logs are ever created, keeping everything invisible to third parties, including your ISP. Other features include unlimited bandwidth, no restriction on P2P or torrent traffic, no speed caps, and easy to use software for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime
- Superfast servers (minimal speed loss)
- AES-256 encryption
- Strict no-logging policy
- Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
- Month-to-month plan has high cost.
PrivateVPN is a fast and reliable VPN that’s so easy to use, anyone can get started in a matter of seconds. VPN newcomers will appreciate the software’s straightforward design and interface, while privacy veterans will love the extra security features. PrivateVPN’s fast speeds and reliable server network makes it a fantastic choice for keeping your data safe, all while reducing buffering and eliminating throttling issues.
PrivateVPN runs a network of over 150 servers in 60+ countries, delivering great speeds and a variety of useful IP addresses to all of your devices. The company locks down data passing through this network with 256-bit AES encryption, and it keeps your connection safe with an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a zero logging policy on traffic.
The Basics of Buffering, Throttling, and Internet Slowdown
What causes performance issues with your internet connection? How can you solve them without tearing apart your entire computer? We’ve got the info right here.
Buffering is a normal part of the internet, and it will likely never go away completely. The process allows data to be front loaded before it plays, providing smoother video streams that don’t stutter or skip. When buffering happens at the beginning of a video and only lasts a few moments, everything is fine. Even the occasional pause in the middle of a video to catch up on cached data is normal.
Excessive buffering, however, is an obnoxious issue. It could mean your internet connection is slow, the company delivering your video has slow servers, or something is wrong with the video itself. In most cases, however, buffering issues come down to a problem with your ISP. If your internet speed just isn’t up to snuff, you’ll probably spend more time watching buffering animations than videos themselves. The same is true of downloads which continually stop and start, or else simply grind to a craw.
Throttling is the process of artificially slowing down an internet connection. ISPs such as Verizon often throttle connections in an attempt to conserve data and charge users more to access faster streams. It’s an unfair practice, for sure, and it can cause all sorts of buffering issues on a variety of devices.
If you encounter frequent buffering screens, you may want to check to see if you’re being throttled. Start by visiting BattleForTheNet’s throttling test site. Click the button and wait for the results to see if you’re being throttled by your ISP. If so, contact them immediately, or just use a VPN to bypass the throttle altogether.
Solving Slowdown Issues
There could be any number of causes contributing to buffering and slowdown issues. One of the more common directly relates to your ISP, especially if you’re being throttled. A good way around this is to deploy a reliable VPN with fast servers, one that can prevent buffering through the combination of a strong connection and sturdy encryption. These features work together to break through throttling blockades so you can enjoy smooth HD videos without waiting through buffering delays.
Other Methods to Reduce Buffering
Buffering isn’t always caused by throttling. VPNs can often reduce delays in other circumstances, usually without much effort on your part. If you still encounter slowdown, try these tips below for maximum speeds.
Tweak Your VPN Configuration Settings
Most VPNs will immediately put a stop to throttling efforts simply by connecting to an anonymous server. In some cases this may not be enough to reduce buffering, however. You can often change some of your VPN’s settings to try a more aggressive approach.
To begin, open your VPN’s configurations page and look for an option to change security settings. Inside, check for ways to alter the default port, toggle extra encryption protocols, or switch encryption types altogether. Below are a few common changes you might be able to make that often help stop throttling and reduce buffering.
- Use UDP or TCP port 1194, the official OpenVPN port
- Enable SSH connections on any port
- Activate SSL encryption on any port
- Switch to UDP or TCP port 80
- Try a high port, like 41185
Use an SSL/TLS Tunnel
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) tunnels are a reliable method for defeating ISP throttling efforts and reducing video buffering. Whenever you see a website with a green padlock icon, that means it was secured with HTTPS, or HTTP secure. This protocol uses SSL, and you can do the same for all of your internet traffic, making it fast, anonymous, and difficult to track.
Stunnel is the most popular piece of software for setting up and using SSL tunnels. It takes a little research to do properly, but once it’s complete you’ll be able to bypass throttling in an instant. You can also choose a VPN service that offers SSL tunnels by default, such as NordVPN, mentioned above. This method reduces the security of your connection by just a bit, but it’s much faster and can be the key to eliminating buffering altogether.
More Benefits of Using a VPN
VPNs are great multi-purpose tools that do more than just put a stop to throttling. They can help you access censored content, bypass government firewalls, even let you stream movies from other countries. While reducing buffering on your devices, don’t forget about the following benefits you’ll also have access to.
If you can’t watch Netflix in your country, or if you want to try streaming videos from other regions, a good VPN can help. They let you change your IP address to a new one in another area, fooling sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube into thinking you’re located in another country. Reload the page and suddenly tons of new TV shows and movies are ready to stream, and you didn’t even have to get up off your couch.
Secure Your Fire TV
Running a VPN on Fire TV is a great way to secure data leaving your streaming device so you can watch movies in peace. You might think you’re safe from throttling, buffering, or privacy concerns when using a Fire Stick, but ISPs monitor this hardware just like smartphones and PCs. VPNs put a stop to these problems right away, and they do it quietly and in the background, too.
Hide Kodi Streams
Kodi is a fantastic piece of software that allows you to stream content from around the world, all for free. Some add-ons for Kodi are known to access illegal content, however, which means governments and ISPs are more likely to monitor your streams, even if you use Kodi for legitimate and legal reasons.
Running a VPN with Kodi helps keep you safe every time you go online. Encryption prevents ISPs from checking your data, stopping throttling attempts before they even start, and reducing buffering automatically. You can also access all of Kodi’s add-ons with complete privacy. If you want to use Kodi even just once, make sure you’re running a VPN in the background.
Ready to cut out buffering while you surf and stream content from the web? The right VPN can reduce or eliminate frustrating buffering delays on a wide variety of devices and connections, from smartphones to PCs and even dedicated streaming boxes. All you have to do is pick the fastest service and enjoy.
Do you have any other tips for beating buffering that we didn’t cover? Share your suggestion in the comments section below.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. NordVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.