A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool that protects your identity when you're online. It does this by encrypting all your data, obscuring your IP address and browsing habits from view. At a time when cyber crime is at an all time high, it can be an invaluable service. But will a VPN affect your internet speed?
As a VPN adds layers of security, and therefore additional steps between you and the web, it can slow down your service. Many VPNs will actually advertise the maximum speed you can achieve with them.
How high this is depends on the quality of the product you use, with some better ones offering speeds comparable with normal browsing. The location of the VPN will also have an impact, as greater distances between your device and the VPN hosting location will increase latency, making your connection appear slower.
However, there are some instances where using a VPN can actually improve your browsing experience. For example, if you are accessing the internet at a busy time, your ISP may introduce throttling to spread the available bandwidth evenly across the network. As a VPN obscures you from view, your ISP cannot see what you're doing, meaning they can’t restrict your speed.