Online privacy is a huge concern, or at least it should be. If you’re a gamer who spends most waking hours immersed in League of Legends or another online universe, you probably don’t want to be flying naked with a bare bones access service that lumps you in with a million others and to whom security is an afterthought.
Listen up. If you’re not already there, it might be time to upgrade to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). And while it makes sense to take advantage of a service that encrypts all your data, the downside is that you might notice reduced speed. That idea probably makes you throw up in your mouth a little, but take heart. There are tweaks to be made to get that beast up to speed. Here are a few.
Check Your ISP Speed First
Since a VPN does not replace your ISP, take time to ensure you’ve got a solid basic internet connection. In other words, put your ISP through its paces to make sure it’s performing as advertised. We’re talking about a speed test. For a truer reflection of reality, plug into the ethernet jack rather than using the wi-fi. If the results come in slower than what you’re paying for, it might be time for a conversation with the company. Keep in mind that, if you have a multi-device household, you might need to upgrade to a faster plan before worrying about a VPN. Your entire system is only as fast as its slowest link.
Closer is Better
All things being equal, you’ll get better performance by choosing a VPN physically located closest to you. VPN companies have lots of servers, so choose wisely. Also pay attention to where the gaming server is. You might want to consider moving there. Just kidding, but the same idea holds. No matter where you are in the wide world, a server in nearer geo-proximity to where the game is served from will likely provide the fastest connection and response time. That being said, don’t buy until you’ve done your VPN service research and understand the factors that separate a good one from – well – something less than that. Here’s your first clue. Free is a bad idea.
You’re not the CIA
Since the big deal about a VPN is that it encrypts your data when you connect with the internet, you might be tempted to think, “Well, heck I’ll go for the highest encryption possible.” The bad news is that a higher level of encryption means slower game speed and that might get you killed – metaphorically. Keep in mind that Top Secret government standards are only 256-bit encryption, so you might not need to go that high unless gaming for the CIA is your job. Consider choosing a lower level of encryption when you sign up.
UDP Not TCP
You don’t really even need to know what these two acronyms mean. Just keep in mind that, if your VPN service allows you to choose which protocol to go with, take UDP (User Datagram Protocol). TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is the most reliable but requires a re-delivery of lost packets, which slows the process. UDP is a gamer’s choice. It’s slightly less reliable but has fewer restrictions and delivers faster speeds.
When Segregation is Good
Mixing standard internet activities with your gaming connection will likely slow the latter. Lucky that you live in amazing technological times. A high-end gaming router that separates pointless regular internet traffic like checking email and arguing with your friends on Facebook from gaming data. You’re looking for something called a VPN router, so if you suspect that Mom’s obsession with online solitaire and cat GIFs is cramping your style, maybe you can talk her into buying it for you if you throw a big enough fit. A good one will probably set you back a few hundred bucks in the event you end up buying it yourself.
The Bottom Line
While your experience might vary, there are some situations where a VPN might add a much-needed boost to the online gaming experience. In particular, a VPN could allow you to use a better server, circumvent some countries content-blocking policies, protect yourself from hacker attacks on the game server, and, of course, the aforementioned higher level of security.