How to Use a VPN for Gaming [Extensive Guide]

VPNs are surprisingly useful gaming tools. They help you play on the same servers as your friends, let you unblock censored games, help you avoid IP bans, and even prevent bandwidth throttling.

But how exactly do you use a gaming VPN? Do you need to set up any scripts, rent servers, or deal with command lines?

No, it’s nothing that complicated. Using a VPN while gaming is actually very simple. We’ll show you how to do that in this article. Besides that, we’ll also show you how to speed up VPN connections while gaming.

How to Use a VPN for Gaming (5 Easy Steps)

It’s as simple as downloading, installing, and running an app (no, really). You can game with a VPN in just 5 steps:

  1. Subscribe to a good gaming VPN. We like Surfshark, NordVPN, etc the most because it’s very fast.
  2. Download and install the VPN provider’s app on your device.
  3. Run the VPN app and connect to a server. If you need to play on region-locked servers or unblock certain games, connect to servers in the country where the game/server is available.
  4. Run the game you want to play.
  5. Start having fun!

Gaming using VPN

Here is a screenshot of what it looks like when we play a game of Dota 2 while connected to US VPN server from Surfshark.

Most VPN apps have a very user-friendly and minimalistic design. They’re intuitive – even if you’re new to VPNs! And they don’t take up any screen space (you can minimize the apps), so they won’t interfere with your gaming.

Need More Help?

Want to learn even more about VPNs and gaming? Check out the gaming VPN beginner guides on GamerGirl. It’s a blog from ProPrivacy, one of the biggest VPN review sites on the web. It has tons of useful articles about VPNs, gaming, and staying safe online.

Best of all – all the information is written in a very reader-friendly manner. There’s also no technical language, so it’s really easy to understand all the explanations.

Troubleshooting Slow VPN Speeds

VPNs slow down online speeds because:

  • They encrypt your data, making it heavier (so it takes longer to transfer it).
  • The VPN server is too far away from you (it takes longer for data packets to travel between it and your device).

Obviously, slow speeds are the last things you want to deal with while gaming online. Luckily, there are some things you can try to increase your VPN speeds. All methods are tested by us, so we can confirm they really work.

Connect to Servers That Are Nearby

Like we just said, the VPN app-server distance matters when it comes to speeds. If you want minimal slowdowns, you need to keep the distance as short as possible. That means you need to connect to nearby servers. The ones in your country are the best way to get fast speeds.

And if the VPN app displays load percentages, keep them in mind too. If a server is near capacity, the speeds will be slower. Always pick servers that are not overcrowded.

Use Lightweight Protocols (WireGuard, ideally)

Many gamers make the mistake of using OpenVPN. It’s true that it’s a very secure VPN protocol, but it’s also very slow. Why? Because it only uses one CPU core – usually the same one your operating system uses.

When gaming online, it’s better to use faster protocols. We personally prefer WireGuard. It’s a modern protocol that’s very fast. It’s also safe to use just like OpenVPN – it’s even open-source too.

L2TP/IPSec is another option. It’s not as fast as WireGuard, but you should still get better speeds with it than OpenVPN.

Just don’t use PPTP. It’s extremely fast, but it’s not safe at all. Its encryption can be cracked, meaning it can’t secure your login credentials.

Use 128-Bit Encryption

Some VPNs let you pick the level of encryption the VPN connection uses. AES-256 is the standard, but some VPNs also let you use AES-128.

If you want slightly faster speeds, stick with AES-128. Don’t worry – it’s just as safe as AES-256!

Use Ethernet Connections

WiFi just isn’t reliable enough for you to get fast VPN speeds while gaming. The WiFi signal’s strength easily goes down if you don’t sit right next to the router. Also, the more devices are using a WiFi network, the slower the speeds.

With an ethernet cable, you eliminate the need for a WiFi signal since your device is hooked up directly to the router. Also, bandwidth congestion isn’t such a problem since your device has the quickest connection to the router.

Oh, and using an ethernet cable doesn’t mean you need to sit right next to the router. Ethernet cables go up to 100 meters (328 feet) in length, though you likely won’t need such extreme lengths. A 20-meter (65-foot) cable should be more than enough.

Use Split-Tunneling

Split-tunneling lets you choose which traffic goes through the VPN server and which traffic goes through your local network. Basically, you can make the VPN only route traffic from the online game you’re playing. It has to encrypt, decrypt, and route less data that way, so you’ll get faster speeds.

Not all VPNs offer this feature, though (Surfshark, the provider we recommended, does).

Disable Web-Connected Apps You’re Not Using

Do you really need to keep Chrome with 20+ tabs open in the background as you play CS:GO?

Do you really need a torrent client downloading something at the same time as you play Fortnite?

It’s best to get rid of bandwidth hogs to make sure they won’t interfere with your VPN’s connection speeds.

How Many of You Use Gaming VPNs?

We’d love to hear how many of our readers game with a VPN. Please tell us about your experience – is it pleasant? Is it hard to use a VPN? Are the speeds any good?

Also, if you know other ways to speed up VPNs while gaming, please mention them in the comments.

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