Using a Netflix VPN? Some of you might have noticed that your speeds are slowing down while watching your favorite movies and TV series – especially if you’re doing it in Ultra HD (4K quality).

Don’t worry – that’s normal. VPNs rely on your initial speeds, so they will slow them down a bit.

Still, a few of you might experience annoying slowdowns (less than 25 Mbps). If you’d like to know why that is happening, there’s a chance the OpenVPN protocol has a role to play. Pretty much all VPNs use it by default nowadays, so you’re likely using it too every time you use Netflix with a VPN.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at what makes OpenVPN slow, and we’ll show you some actionable ways to increase your OpenVPN speeds.

Why Is OpenVPN Slow?

OpenVPN wasn’t exactly designed with speed in mind. Sure, it offers excellent security and privacy, but it’s also extremely resource-intensive (its code base ranges from 70,000 to 600,000 lines).

Besides that, here’s what else makes it so slow:

  • OpenVPN is single-threaded, so it only uses one CPU core (even if you have a powerful eight-core CPU). That means the encryption and decryption process will be slower, which – in turn – makes your speeds more sluggish.
  • OpenVPN uses the TUN/TAP driver which is pretty slow.
  • Finally, OpenVPN is a pretty old protocol, and has had numerous extensions over time (which likely contributed to the large code base it has today).

How to Improve Your OpenVPN Speeds

If you’re experiencing slow OpenVPN speeds, here’s what you can do to optimize them:

1. Use a Nearby Server

If the distance between you and the VPN server is too big, your OpenVPN speeds will be slower. That’s because it will take longer for data packets to travel between the VPN app and server.

So do your best to use the closest server to you. For example, if you’re trying to unblock Netflix US, and you’re in Japan, use a server on the West Coast or in Hawaii (if possible). Avoid servers on the East Coast since they’re too far away.

How do you know all the countries a Netflix title is available in, though?

Well, the easiest way to do that is to use StreamCatcher. It’s an online service owned by ProPrivacy that tells you where Netflix titles are available. Just look up the name of a movie or show, and you’ll instantly see what countries you can watch it in.

This tool should make finding a nearby VPN server location much, much easier.

2. Switch to UDP

Some VPNs use OpenVPN over TCP by default. It’s because that network protocol is connection-focused, meaning it’s more stable. It negotiates and establishes connections, uses error detection and correction methods, and requires an acknowledgement for each received packet.

UDP, on the other hand, is connectionless. It doesn’t number packets or bother with error detection and correction. Sure, that means it’s less stable, but it also means it’s much faster than TCP.

Whenever we use OpenVPN over UDP, we experience pretty noticeable improvements. On average, our speeds increase by around 50-60 Mbps compared to when we use the protocol over TCP.

3. Use Wired Connections

WiFi is convenient, yes, but the strength of its signal will affect your OpenVPN speeds. If it’s very weak, it will tank your connection speeds. It’s not uncommon to see a huge drop (like from 100 Mbps to 20-30 Mbps) whenever you move to a room that’s too far away from the one where the router is.

With wired ethernet connections, that’s not a problem since there’s no WiFi signal that gets in the way. So hook up your device directly to the router.

If you can’t do that, either bring the device as close as you can to the router, or get a range extender.

4. Try Split Tunneling

Split tunneling is a feature that lets you decide which web traffic you want the VPN to encrypt or ignore. If the app and server have to encrypt, decrypt, and route less data, your OpenVPN speeds should be slightly faster.

To get the best results, you should make the VPN app only route traffic from:

  • The Netflix app installed on your device.
  • The browser you use to watch Netflix. Just make sure you close any tabs you don’t need.

5. Configure Your Antivirus & Firewall

Sometimes, your antivirus and firewall can interfere with your VPN connection. Some online guides and support reps say you should disable them, but please don’t do that. VPNs can’t protect you against malware infections, no matter what anyone says.

What you should do instead is whitelist the VPN app in your firewall and antivirus software.

6. Restart Your Router

If your router suffers memory leaks, it will pointlessly allocate memory, slowing down your online (and VPN) speeds in the process.

The best way to fix memory leaks is to restart your router.

7. Disable Background Apps

If you don’t have enough RAM memory or a powerful CPU, having other web-connected apps running in the background will slow down your VPN speeds. So turn off all non-essential apps while using a VPN with Netflix.

For example, only keep the VPN and Netflix app/browser you use with Netflix on. Don’t leave your torrent client, Steam, Skype, or any other similar app running.

Can Obfuscation Improve OpenVPN Speeds?

It could be possible. Obfuscation is meant to hide OpenVPN traffic, so it could theoretically improve your speeds if your ISP, network admin, or government is throttling OpenVPN traffic.

Unfortunately, we can’t say what kind of speed boost you’d see. We never experienced OpenVPN throttling, so we never had to use obfuscation to avoid it. Though, some of our readers who dealt with this did say they saw a noticeable improvement.

How Else Can You Boost OpenVPN Speeds While Watching Netflix?

If you know other tips that work, please let us know in the comments below. Also, if you can mention what speed increases you noticed (how many extra Mbps) after applying those tips, we’d really appreciate it.

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