NordVPN slow? Here’s how to fix your VPN speed

Slow speeds when using NordVPN can be frustrating. It can make browsing the web a slog, prolong download times, and reduce productivity. Poor performance can also have an even more negative impact on bandwidth-intensive activities. For example, it can make streaming, torrenting, and online gaming all the more challenging.

Many different factors influence a VPN’s speed. Even the fastest VPNs, such as NordVPN, can occasionally suffer from slow speeds. The good news is that they can almost always be fixed, and doing so is usually pretty quick and easy. Below, we’ll take you through the various potential fixes so you can get back to enjoying NordVPN’s fast speeds.

How fast is NordVPN?

First, it’s important to have an idea of the kind of speed NordVPN is capable of. According to our most recent speed tests, NordVPN averaged 300 Mbps, which puts it among the fastest VPNs on the market. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily experience the same speeds.

Server speeds can vary from one minute to the next. Many other factors must also be taken into account, including your baseline internet speed and the distance between the VPN server and your physical location. Therefore, it’s a good idea to test your internet speed with and without NordVPN connected. Remember, the closer the VPN server to which you connect, the better the speeds are likely to be because the data doesn’t have to travel as far. We have a guide on how to run a VPN speed test.

Arguably your best bet is Speedtest by Ookla. All you need to do is click “Go” and it will start running a speed test which only takes a few seconds. Note that you’re looking for your download speed, measured in Mbps. Be sure to run a test when connected to NordVPN and then without the VPN connected. If possible, try to ensure that each test has the same conditions (same wifi network, same number of apps open and closed).

You’ll almost certainly find that your internet speed is slower when connected to the VPN. This is to be expected because when you use a VPN, your data is encrypted and routed to the VPN server before being forwarded to its destination. These extra steps in the process cause some slowdown. However, if your baseline internet speeds are fast and you’re experiencing speeds far slower than expected, another issue may be at play.

How to fix NordVPN’s speed

Chances are that if you’re suffering slow speeds with NordVPN, one of the following solutions will fix the problem:

Connect to a server close to your location

If you’re in the US but are connecting to a server in Europe, for example, you can expect slower speeds. This is because data has to travel thousands of miles over the Atlantic Ocean and back. Connecting to a NordVPN server in your country (preferably in the city closest to your physical location) is likely to produce the best results.

Switch servers to find a low-load server

NordVPN doesn’t list individual servers and their respective load unlike some VPNs. This would make it easier to find a low load server for faster speeds. However, NordVPN’s quick connect feature is supposed to find the best available server. Things can change quickly though, so it’s a good idea to connect to a different city or country to see if speeds improve.

Change your VPN protocol

When you go into NordVPN settings, you’ll find that it’s set by default to use the recommended protocol. This is likely to be NordLynx, which is built around the very fast WireGuard protocol. NordLynx is the fastest protocol available on NordVPN, so check your settings to ensure it is selected.

Test your speeds once again and if you’re still having trouble, try connecting to the OpenVPN protocol instead. Of the two options (UDP and TCP), UDP is faster.

Use a wired connection

Switching from a Wi-Fi to a wired connection can improve your VPN and internet speed. One reason for this is that Wi-Fi connections can suffer from interference from other wireless signals, and the signal degrades over distance and through obstacles. Ethernet cables can often handle higher data speeds and generally have lower latency than Wi-Fi connections.

Temporarily disable your security software

Security software such as firewalls and antivirus programs can slow down data transfer speeds as they inspect the internet data for threats. If you suspect that your security software is slowing down NordVPN, it’s worth temporarily disabling it to see if there’s an improvement in speed.

Of course, disabling security software can pose some risks so it’s important to remember to re-enable it after testing. Some security software allows you to disable specific features that might be affecting your VPN speed such as real-time scanning or network monitoring. This allows you to improve NordVPN’s speed without completely turning off the protection.

Restart your router and modem

Restarting your router and/or modem can enhance NordVPN’s speed. It forces your router to assign IP addresses and manage connections more efficiently. Rebooting the router may even trigger it to install any pending firmware updates, which can offer performance improvements. To restart your router or modem properly, turn it off for at least 30 seconds before turning it on again.

Update your VPN software

VPN updates can include optimizations that can boost speed. Specifically, they may introduce new features or protocols that offer better performance and reliability. NordVPN’s apps automatically check for updates by default. However, this may be toggled off in Settings General, in which case, you should toggle it on if you want to stay consistently up-to-date. Otherwise, the app includes a Check now button so you can see if there’s an update pending.

Contact your VPN’s customer support

NordVPN’s customer support should be able to provide advice on the best servers and protocol (likely NordLynx). They can also advise based on any infrastructure-related issues they might be having, be it server overload or network congestion. It’s helpful to have your account details (the email address associated with your NordVPN account), device information, and a clear explanation of your issue. This should help speed up the process.

Fix NordVPN’s speed: FAQs

Can my ISP affect NordVPN’s speed?

Yes, your ISP can affect NordVPN’s speed, as well as the speed of any other VPN you use. If your ISP provides a slow or unstable connection, your VPN will be limited by that baseline speed. In some countries, particularly those with strict internet censorship, VPN traffic may be throttled or blocked. Although NordVPN provides obfuscated servers to combat this, you can still expect a slower connection speed when you use them.

Conversely, if your base internet speed is more than 300 Mbps, then you will likely max out NordVPN’s available bandwidth, and won’t be able to take advantage of your ISP’s higher speeds.

What is split tunneling and how can it improve NordVPN’s speed?

Split tunneling is a feature that allows you to choose which part of your traffic is routed through the VPN tunnel and which part can access the internet directly without the VPN’s encryption. This reduces the amount of data that’s being encrypted and decrypted by NordVPN, decreasing the load on your VPN connection and potentially increasing speeds.

For example, if you’re using a streaming service that doesn’t impose geographic restrictions, you could have it bypass the VPN. The streaming would likely be faster as a result. NordVPN offers split tunneling on its Windows, Android, and Android TV apps.

Can the number of devices connected to NordVPN affect its speed?

NordVPN offers unlimited bandwidth so you should be able to connect multiple devices without it affecting their speed. Indeed, NordVPN allows up to six simultaneous connections per account (although some VPNs don’t impose a limit at all). Of course, you’re not the only person using NordVPN and sometimes you may experience slow speeds due to the sheer number of users that are on a particular server. Switching to a different low load server is then your best bet.

What should I do if none of the suggested solutions fix NordVPN?

If you’ve tried all of the potential fixes above and have also contacted NordVPN’s support yet still don’t have a solution, it may be time to consider some alternatives. NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs on the market but in our most recent speed tests, several VPNs were even faster. This includes SurfsharkMullvadProtonVPNAtlasVPNIPVanish, and Hotspot Shield.

Trying a different VPN using a different protocol may well do the trick. Just keep in mind that some of these VPNs may not be able to provide the same level of unblocking as NordVPN, particularly when it comes to streaming platforms.

Related: How to fix ExpressVPN speed issues