High ping and lag can kill your game and ruin the fun, so gamers need fast internet connections to help them keep the upper hand. VPNs have become popular for unblocking websites and access streaming content in countries where the content would otherwise be inaccessible. But can a VPN in Germany enhance your gaming experience when you connect from a different country?

From Lag to Smooth Gameplay: How VPN Can Enhance Your Gaming Performance

Some people believe that, since a VPN connection directs all your traffic through a remote server, VPNs can slow your game. But it’s not quite as simple as that.

You can definitely benefit from using a VPN for gaming in certain situations. Let’s look at some common causes of lag, lowering pings, and improving your game with a VPN.

What is a VPN and what does it do?

VPN masks your Internet Protocol (IP) address and encrypts your internet connection by creating a private tunnel between your device and the internet. All your network traffic travels via an encrypted connection from your device to the VPN server, so no one can see what you’re doing on the internet.

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Because a VPN stands between your device and the internet, it can protect you from some of the known toxic gaming cultures and improve your game in many subtle ways that far outweigh the “extra” connection point.

What causes lag in gaming?

When you pull a trigger, duck, or reload, you’re sending signals to the server to let it know what your actions are. It takes a few milliseconds to transmit the signals. The longer it takes, the slower and more frustrating the gaming experience. You can measure that delay pretty accurately, which is how discussions about ping and latency come into this debate.

Ping and latency are different, but the terms are often used interchangeably. Ping refers to latency as measured in milliseconds. Lower ping results in better gaming performance.

Pings under 20 milliseconds (ms) are the ultimate aim for serious gamers. Pings between 20ms-50ms are the norm for local servers. 50ms-100ms pings are relatively standard for international servers. When the ping goes up to over 300 ms, most games become unplayable.

What causes high ping rates, and can a VPN help?

There may be several other reasons why your game is slower than you’d like, and a VPN can help in almost every case.

From Lag to Smooth Gameplay: How VPN Can Enhance Your Gaming Performance

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Your ISP is probably throttling you:

Internet service providers intentionally slow down the connections of users who use a lot of bandwidth. If they discover that you’re a gamer, they pay particular attention to your traffic and will restrict your speed to benefit their more conventional users. This scenario is far more common than people think, and it happens daily.

A VPN can’t hide how much bandwidth you’re using, but it does hide the fact that you’re gaming from your VPN. Your ISP won’t be able to penalize you based on your gaming activities.

Half-truths about ISP’s download and upload speeds:

ISPs usually crow about high internet speeds but fail to mention the differences between upload and download speeds. In gaming, a high upload speed is far more important than the download speed. A fast upload speed means you can shoot, run, duck, and reload instantly without lag.

A VPN can’t improve your ISP’s infrastructure, but gaming-optimized VPN servers focus on providing you with high upload speeds, so they certainly can’t hurt.

Firewalls add extra time to check data packets:

Firewalls protect you from malicious data packets, but it takes precious milliseconds to check each packet. You could add a firewall exception for your game to avoid these tiny delays but be aware that doing so will expose your device to high scrutiny from cybercriminals.

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However, a VPN can protect the contents of the data packets and prevent cybercriminals from tampering with them en route.

From Lag to Smooth Gameplay: How VPN Can Enhance Your Gaming Performance

Outdated hardware:

The quality and age of your PC and router can affect gaming speed. You can improve high ping rates by buying the best hardware. There’s a reason why gaming PCs, laptops, and routers are so popular. They’re specially built to handle massive packets of data and can easily outperform a regular home or office device.

A VPN can’t make your PC go faster, but it can protect older equipment from intrusion while you’re saving up for your next upgrade.

Slow game server:

Gaming companies walk a never-ending tightrope between having enough players on each server to provide a stimulating environment without overcrowding it. Some servers are more popular than others. Don’t assume that the problem lies on your end. Check for overcrowding by pinging game-specific servers (e.g. Minecraft or Roblox) using Pingdetector or Game Server Ping.

A VPN can’t improve Minecraft’s game server speeds, but it will protect your identity on the gaming server while you play.

To improve your ping, follow these steps:

  • Close apps to reduce the number of apps grabbing bandwidth from your connection.
  • Turn off those extra smart devices that aren’t needed for gaming to free up internet bandwidth. If everyone in the household is on the internet at the same time, you may have a hard time getting a decent connection.
  • Use Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi, because a wired connection provides a more stable connection and lower ping for gaming. Fiber optic connections generally offer the fastest connection speeds.
  • Some games allow you to tweak your gaming settings to optimize for a lag-free experience.
  • Restart your router regularly to free up memory and trigger hardware or firmware updates.
  • If your game allows it, play on a local server. Otherwise, pick a VPN server in the same country as the game server you’d like to connect to.
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There are other benefits more important than speed

Gaming VPNs conceal your IP address. In an environment where gamers become famous (or notorious), a secure VPN can prevent rivals from obtaining your IP address and directing DDoS attacks against you. A VPN can also protect you against phishing and malicious in-game links. Similarly, it can help prevent bad losers from pinpointing your IRL address, which helps to protect you from swatting.

A VPN’s job is to protect your logins and personal data, so don’t settle for substandard encryption. Your VPN should use no less than the AES-256 gold standard for encryption.

Gaming is safer and more stable with a VPN

Gaming VPNs protect your privacy and security without distracting you from your gaming experience. Look for a stable connection via fast gaming-optimized servers both near you and in other areas for when you need an IP address in a different country.

It costs a lot of money to maintain and improve VPN servers. Look beyond price, and don’t just settle for the cheapest subscription. Your VPN could potentially track everything you do. Never trust a “free VPN.” If the product is free, that means you are the product, and they’re selling your data. Rather choose a reputable company with a proven privacy track record.

From Lag to Smooth Gameplay: How VPN Can Enhance Your Gaming Performance