You’re in the 10th straight hour of a weekend Cobra Kai binge on Netflix, enjoying all of the 4K HDR goodness that is Johnny Lawrence on your new UHD Smart TV. Suddenly, you notice the video isn’t quite as sharp as it had been. Is that pixelization? And why does Netflix indicate you’re watching their 1080p stream?
You pay for a 60 Mbps connection – and yet, you see speed numbers like this:
Welcome to the wonderful world of ISP throttling.
What is Throttling?
Throttling is best defined as when your Internet Service Provider (ISP) intentionally slows the speed of your broadband internet connection.
Throttling is usually a reactive measure used by ISPs and other types of communication networks to regulate a network’s traffic and alleviate network congestion.
Any network is made up of servers and clients. Servers are specially set up computers that store massive amounts of data, which are accessed by clients. Clients are computers and other devices on the network that request data from the servers.
On the internet, the servers are best defined as the machines that serve up the websites and other online content – such as video and audio – that you access from your computer or mobile devices, which are the “client” part of the equation.
Every network – even one as large as the internet – only has a limited amount of bandwidth available. The more traffic on the network, the slower things run. (Think the 5 freeway in Los Angeles at rush hour.)
Internet Service Providers run a Wide Area Network (WAN) in their service areas. Their network is connected to the WAN which is better known as the internet. An ISP’s customers connect their computers and other devices to the ISP’s WAN, which allows them to send and receive data on the internet.
During peak traffic hours, ISPs may throttle their users’ bandwidth to ease their network’s congestion.
This is generally seen as beneficial to all users. While users may experience a slower connection, they can at least connect to the websites and services they need to, instead of being completely unable to connect.
Bandwidth-throttling could be considered the same thing as when an electrical utility resorts to rolling brownouts during peak electrical demand times – such as when it’s early August and everyone has their air conditioner on at the same time. Rolling brownouts are designed to alleviate demands, so the whole power grid doesn’t go down.
While bandwidth-throttling is not exactly like rolling brownouts, Internet Service Providers do say throttling helps ensure everyone gets access to the internet they pay for. While not as important as keeping your grandpa’s iron lung running, many consider fast internet to be a “right” these days.
This is the good side of throttling, which is beneficial to all concerned. However, there is a darker side to ISP throttling, and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article.
Why Do ISPs Throttle Your Connection?
Any Internet Service Provider can throttle your single connection to the internet due to any one of a number of reasons. (COUGH! Excuses. COUGH!)
Throttling can take place when your ISP believes you have used too much data in any given time span, have reached your data cap for the month, or as we previously discussed, simply when the network is congested.
However, ISPs have also been known to throttle certain kinds of traffic on their network particularly. This can include streaming traffic, such as Netflix and Hulu, torrenting traffic, or if a user is backing up massive amounts of data to their cloud storage account.
By throttling certain kinds of data, ISPs can encourage the type of behavior they’d prefer to see from their customers.
While FCC rules have outlawed bandwidth-throttling by ISPs for any reason other than slowing service when a user reaches their monthly data cap, it looks as if things will be changing.
In April 2017, the Trump administration’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, said throttling of websites and online services might actually help customers. The FCC repealed many of the Net Neutrality rules. Many of those rules prevent ISPs from throttling a user’s data stream.
Pai reportedly believed there might not be any need for any rules at all concerning Net Neutrality and the accompanying subjects of bandwidth-throttling and preferred treatment for content providers willing to pay for an “express lane” for their content. While current U.S. President Joe Biden has encouraged the FCC to reverse Trump administration changes in Net Neutrality, nothing has been officially announced.
Under current Net Neutrality rules, ISPs cannot limit customers’ access and downloading of content (let’s say music or movies, just for fun) unless the content and the act of obtaining it were proven to be illegal.
“Illegal” can cover a number of things, but mostly it includes copyrighted materials, as well as truly evil content like child pornography and anything that was shown on the WB network while it was still around.
Which ISPs Throttle?
ISPs have long disliked P2P/BitTorrent-type traffic on their networks. At one time or another, every ISP has waged war on this kind of traffic.
In 2007, TorrentFreak reported that Comcast used an application from Sandvine to throttle BitTorrent traffic. Sandvine’s app would break every seeding connection with a user’s new peers after only a few seconds if it was not a Comcast user.
A 2008 report claimed Cox Communications made a habit of interfering with BitTorrent traffic on a regular basis. The Max Planck Institute for Software Systems released a study that showed Cox did so around the clock and not only at times of “peak congestion,” as the provider had claimed.
I believe it is safe to say that no matter which ISP you use, it has throttled a customer at one time or another.
While throttling has, in recent years, been basically outlawed in the United States, it still takes place in many countries – especially in underdeveloped nations where broadband still has yet to make heavy inroads.
With a change of regimes in the U.S., it looks as if bandwidth-throttling could be making a big, unwelcome comeback in the near future. I can imagine that ISPs are currently brushing off their old techniques while tuning up some new ones they’ve developed, in eager anticipation of once again being able to data-throttle as they please.
A few years ago, the New York Attorney General charged internet provider Charter, who recently merged with Time Warner Cable, as having promised internet speeds it couldn’t deliver, resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.
While most reports of outlandish throttling by U.S. carriers peaked around 2008 or so, when the FCC first started taking a closer look at how internet providers used bandwidth-throttling, it’s likely to once again become a favorite tool to control user’s bandwidth-hungry habits if the FCC chairman’s proposals become rules.
U.S. ISPs are not the only providers to throttle. A number of reports from the United Kingdom indicate U.K. providers are just as apt to throttle their customer’s bandwidth as stateside providers once were.
Bandwidth-throttling numbers for recent years are absolutely anorexic, with most reports showing data from around 2012 or so. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any more recent data.
However, in 2012, a report from Google-backed Measurement Lab showed that the United Kingdom ranked 12th among countries where ISPs throttle P2P data streams. 28% of all U.K. BitTorrent traffic was throttled. The United States showed a much lower throttling percentage, coming in at 14%.
Is Throttling Legal?
While bandwidth-throttling has been frowned upon by the FCC the last few years, when it comes to actually cracking down on ISPs that throttle, it’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.
In September 2011, the FCC released its final rules for “Preserving a Free and Open Internet.” The rules stated that providers must not block lawful content or unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.
However, in January 2014, a Washington D.C. Circuit Court ruled the FCC has no authority to enforce Network Neutrality rules, as service providers are not “common carriers.” Since that ruling, AT&T has submitted several patents that allow throttling of data streams.
In February 2014, the FCC announced plans to formulate new rules to enforce Net Neutrality while complying with the court’s rulings. The new scheme would still prevent providers from throttling data of particular types of streams, but it also allowed ISPs to make deals with content providers, such as Netflix, that would offer a “fast lane” to prioritize their content.
As bandwidth on any network is finite, it stands to reason that prioritized traffic would have to be given preference over other types of data.
This means that while ISPs would no longer throttle particular types of data, it would give preference to other kinds, which comes close to the same thing as throttling.
The FCC in February 2015 ruled in favor of Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service, making it a common carrier.
So, the short answer to the question of whether throttling is legal? It depends on who you talk to and when you talk to them.
How to Tell if Your ISP Is Throttling You
As I mentioned from the get-go, you may get the feeling occasionally that your ISP is throttling your data connection.
After a long Netflix binging session, you may notice the quality of your video has gone down, or that it’s buffering more before playing. Or, your torrents may slow way down, or might sometimes completely stop working.
While these are more anecdotal indicators than official indicators, there are more concrete ways to tell if your ISP is throttling you. While none of the tests would likely stand up in court, they’ll at least reassure you that you’re not just paranoid. (Well, at least about the throttling thing.)
The Internet Health Test checks your connection for signs of any type of degradation. The site that hosts the Internet Health Test also hosts a petition to encourage the naming of pro-Net Neutrality candidates to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission.
The test measures whether interconnection points are experiencing issues. It tests the speed of your ISP across multiple interconnection points with other providers. Wildly different results between each check (step) the app runs indicate if there are issues between your ISP and other networks.
The test indicates whether your ISP’s connections to networks where popular content and services are hosted show any congestion. If one connection is noticeably slower than the others, there is a good chance your ISP may be throttling content from that network.
As you can see in the screenshot below, my connection was not being throttled while connecting to the networks included in the test, as all readings were close to the same number.
Use the WhatsMyIP.org port scanners tests to see which ports are being blocked. You can use their P2P Port Test to see if your ISP is throttling your BitTorrent connection.
A valuable tool that is no longer available, but still has valuable information available about ISP “traffic shaping,” is Glasnost.
The testing app ran on Java applet technology, which is no longer supported in modern browsers. Apple even shut down Java runtime ability in its OS X operating system a few years ago. While the test is no longer available, check out the website for some useful info.
How to Stop ISP Throttling From Happening
The best, proven way to stop your ISP from throttling your data streams isn’t to call and complain, hire a lawyer or contact the FCC. Nope. Any of these will take months, if not years, of hassle to show any benefit – if they ever do. The easiest way to get around your ISP’s throttling efforts is to use a proxy server or a VPN.
Use a Proxy Server
While a proxy server will offer much slower download speeds, it has the advantage of usually being free.
While there are pay-for-play proxy servers available, which provide improved performance, I believe if you’re going to pay for a service, you should go ahead and sign up for a good VPN provider. A VPN offers data encryption, better protection, and better performance than any proxy server.
A proxy server is a server that acts as an intermediary, taking requests from client computers (that would be your computer) and delivering content from other computers to the clients.
A proxy server can easily be set up to make P2P requests. While it’s beyond the scope of this article to detail how a proxy server can be used for P2P/Torrenting, NordVPN has a nice tutorial on how to set up your proxy server.
When searching for an honest proxy server provider, it’s a good idea to stick to trusted vendors. CyberGhost offers an excellent proxy service, which can be used without the fear that someone is monitoring everything you send through the proxy server.
Use a VPN
A VPN is an excellent choice for blocking your ISP from throttling your traffic, especially P2P/Torrenting traffic.
A good VPN encrypts the data you are sending and receiving, directing it through a protected tunnel. Your ISP will be able to see that you’re sending and receiving data, but it won’t be able to tell what kind of traffic it is.
It should be noted that although using a VPN connection will stop your ISP from detecting that you’re using your internet connection for torrenting or any other type of traffic that the ISP throttles out of hand, it won’t protect you from data-throttling that kicks in when you’ve used too much of your monthly data allotment.
That said, let’s look closer at using a VPN to prevent throttling.
What to Look For in a VPN
In order to shield your internet connection from a throttle-happy ISP, you‘ll need to find a VPN that offers the following features:
You want your VPN to have a no-logs policy. That way, even if your ISP somehow finds out which VPN provider you’re using, they can’t request the logs showing your usage via the VPN because those records don’t exist.
Note: You might also look for a VPN that allows you to pay for a subscription via Bitcoin or another encrypted currency.
If there is no credit card information connected to the account, no matter what your ISP can find out, there is no connection to you. If Bitcoin is out of your comfort zone, some VPN providers also take merchant gift cards as payment, which is another great anonymous form of payment.
If you do use cryptocurrency or a gift card, you should also use a disposable email address, which will add another layer of protection for your subscription identity.
Deep Packet Inspection Prevention
ISPs have a new favorite go-to tool to detect users who are making use of a VPN to keep their connection under wraps.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) allows ISPs to identify the source of data via inference based on the data packet head. A good VPN will protect against this, so even the data packet head is encrypted and anonymized.
“Kill Switch” Data-Leak Protection
It’s just the nature of the beast that your VPN service will occasionally go down while you’re connected to it. When that happens, it’s possible your data usage could “leak” to the ISP.
You will want a VPN with a built-in “kill switch” which disconnects any data-using apps if the VPN disconnects. You’ll also want to look for a VPN that can protect against IPv4, IPv6, and DNS data leaks.
Shared IP Addresses
An IP address is how other computers on the internet find you and know where to send the data you request. It’s also how your ISP knows what you’re doing on their network.
When you connect to a VPN provider that assigns shared IP addresses, your ISP can’t tell your activity from the hundreds of other people who are also sharing that IP address. Plus, that anonymity helps protect your connection from Denial of Service attacks.
Any good VPN provider will offer multiple protocols you can use to protect your connection. The protocols encrypt your connection to protect your data from prying eyes. A good VPN will provide multiple protocols and allow you to switch to them whenever you’d like.
Best VPNs to Protect Against Throttling
I put all of my favorite VPN providers through extensive testing, and the results proved that these seven VPNs worked best to protect against throttling:
- NordVPN: Top anti-ISP throttling VPN. This provider provides fast, well-protected connections via its impressive global server network. All of its connections are well-protected by 256-bit AES encryption, hiding your online activities from your ISP. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: Best budget bet. This budget-priced provider offers unlimited encrypted connections for most popular device platforms. The provider’s “MultiHop” server option offers additional online protection and anonymity.
- ExpressVPN: Premium VPN services. This provider’s fast connection speeds are never affected by bandwidth limitations or data caps. A great option for users willing to spend a bit more on a top-notch VPN.
- CyberGhost: Easy to use VPN services. A great option for first-time VPN users that are looking to prevent their ISP from throttling their connection, thanks to its easy-to-use apps. The provider also offers streaming- and downloading-optimized server options.
- Private Internet Access: Well-established online protection. This respected VPN provides reliable protection from connection throttling, while also providing top-notch online security and privacy. PIA delivers fast, reliable access to content around the globe.
- PrivateVPN: Small but mighty VPN. A reliable VPN option for users that are looking to keep their ISP from throttling their speeds. Easily keeps your online activities undercover.
- Atlas VPN: Reliable anti-throttling. While this provider’s global server network could be larger, it provides reliable throttling protection, while providing access to geo-blocked content.
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I evaluated and ranked the top anti-throttling VPNs by the following criteria:
- Hides your online activities
- Keeps no logs of your online activities
- Provides fast connection speeds
- No bandwidth throttling and no data caps
- Allows P2P file-sharing activity
Best VPNs for stopping IP throttling – Summary table
We’ve compared the most important features of the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice.
|No value||NordVPN||Surfshark||ExpressVPN||CyberGhost||Private Internet Access||PrivateVPN||AtlasVPN|
|Website||NordVPN.com||Surfshark.com||ExpressVPN.com||CyberGhost.com||Private Internet Access.com||PrivateVPN.com||Atlas VPN.com||Ranking for IP Throttling||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||Avg Speed (Mbps)||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||73 Mbps||39 Mbps||100+ Mbps||Devices Supported||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, Routers||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, Routers||Windows, MacOS, Linux (command line), iOS, Android, Smart TVs Routers||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TV's, Routers||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Routers||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV||Total number of servers||5,595||3,200||3,000||9,073||146||200+||750+||Simultaneous Connections||6||Unlimited||5||7||Unlimited||10||Unlimited||Activity logs||Some||No identifying data||No identifying data|
|Best deal (per month)||$2.99|
SAVE up to 69% + 3 months free
SAVE 86% + 3 mths free
49% off plus 3 months Free!
Save 83% 2 years + 2 months free
Save 82% on a 2 year plan + 3 months FREE
SAVE 85% on the 3 year plan
SAVE 86% 2 years + 6 months free
Here’s my list of the top seven VPNs to stop ISP throttling:
NordVPN meets all of the criteria I laid out above. It also offers a wealth of other features, making it perfect for any user looking for great all-around VPN protection.
The service provides fast connections, which are perfect for downloading and sharing files, streaming videos, and other ISP-throttleable online activities.
The provider’s more than 5,400 servers located in 60+ countries deliver reliable access to geo-controlled content around the world.
The service also provides support for P2P/BitTorrenting and respects its customers’ right to use the VPN connection in any manner they prefer.
The provider uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and other connection protections. They do not keep logs and offer a Bitcoin payment option, providing complete anonymity.
The provider also runs all of its servers 100% from RAM, writing no data at all to an SSD or physical hard drive. When a NordVPN server is restarted or shut down, all data is wiped.
NordVPN features an easy-to-set-up app, which is available for Windows, macOS (with native M1/M2 Mac support), iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Android platforms. Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browser extensions are available, and the provider works well with multiple router makes and models.
The provider’s customer support team is available 24/7 via live support chat, a support request form, and a searchable support library.
The service is reasonably priced; a small price to pay for great VPN protection. They provide nice discounts, especially if you connect through Pixel Privacy.
For more information, visit the NordVPN website.
- Fast, unthrottled connections
- Comprehensive online security and privacy
- Hides your online travels from your ISP
- Works with most popular devices
- Labels P2P servers in apps
- Doesn’t label streaming servers in apps
BEST VPN TO STOP ISP THROTTLING:NordVPN does a top-notch job of hiding all of your online antics from your ISP, ensuring the ISP won’t throttle your connection simply because it doesn’t like what you’re doing. NordVPN offers fast and well-protected connections from an impressive global server network and comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark hits all of the points for protecting your internet connection from throttling. It does so while offering its services at an extremely budget-friendly price.
The provider’s global server network boasts 3,200+ servers in 100+ countries, providing excellent access to content in most areas of the world.
Surfshark allows P2P on all of its servers. (When it detects P2P/torrenting activity, the provider switches your connection automatically to a P2P-optimized server.)
All Surfshark-provided connections are well-protected, thanks to its use of government-grade 256-bit AES encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, kill switch, and ad-blocking abilities.
The provider keeps no logs – which, as mentioned before, is always a great feature/non-feature. Their Bitcoin payment option means you can truly go incognito when using the service, so there is no connection between your payment info and your account.
Surfshark now runs its servers only from volatile RAM, never storing data on a physical hard drive. This ensures that all data is securely wiped from a Surfshark server when it is rebooted (on a regular basis).
It offers native app support for iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, macOS (With Native Apple Silicon Support), and Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablet platforms. Edge, Firefox, and Chrome browser extensions are also available. Router support is available for select makes and models.
Surfshark puts no limits on how many devices can simultaneously connect to its servers.
The provider offers around-the-clock support, with live chat, email support, a searchable support library, and much, much, more.
Surfshark is one of the most reasonably-priced VPN services available today, making it an excellent option for budget-minded users.
For more information, visit the Surfshark website.
- Unlimited, unthrottled connections
- Impressive global server coverage
- No P2P restrictions
- Keeps your online activities undercover
- One-month subscription are a bit expensive
BEST BUDGET OPTION TO STOP ISP THROTTLING:Surfshark provides top notch VPN protection by keeping your online activities undercover while not breaking the bank. They offer fast connections, P2P support, and never a data cap or bandwidth restriction. Surfshark provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
ExpressVPN hits all the right notes when it comes to protecting a user’s internet connection from throttling. This is a great, no-compromises VPN service that’s ideal for any VPN-related activity I’ve been able to think of.
The provider’s connections are quite impressive, easily handling file sharing, video streaming, and other popular online activities. The provider never ruins the online experience with data caps or bandwidth limitations.
ExpressVPN has the globe covered, stationing over 3,000 servers in 94+ countries.
As any full-featured VPN service should, it offers P2P/BitTorrenting support – with the usual caveat about illegal content and such.
Military-grade 256-bit AES encryption and kill switch protection are just some of the protections used by ExpressVPN to keep your online travels undercover, hiding them from your ISP to help prevent connection throttling.
The service keeps no logs of any kind and provides the ever-popular (at least around here) Bitcoin payment option. Instant anonymity, baby!
The provider’s entire global server network is run 100% from RAM, with no data ever being written to an actual hard drive. This ensures that all data is securely wiped from ExpressVPN’s servers when they are restarted or shut down.
ExpressVPN’s excellent app support includes apps for iOS, macOS (runs natively on M1/M2 Macs), Windows, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire tablet, and Linux device platforms. Browser extensions are also available for the Chrome, Edge, and Firefox platforms. Impressive router support is also a plus from this provider. The provider even offers a new “Aircove” router that’s ready to go right out of the box.
ExpressVPN is a rather expensive provider, but the cost will be well worth it for some users.
For more information, visit the ExpressVPN website.
- Prevents your ISP from throttling your connection
- Impressive global server network
- Comprehensive online privacy and security
- Supports most popular devices
- Cost more than many other VPNs
- Doesn’t label streaming servers in apps
RELIABLY BLOCKS ISP THROTTLING:If you don’t mind paying a few bucks per month more, ExpressVPN may be the VPN option for you. Despite a slightly expensive price, the provider’s large global server network unblocks content for most devices, providing fast connections. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost is an easy-to-use VPN provider that makes for an excellent option for first-time VPN users who are looking to keep their connections unfettered.
The provider’s connection speeds are some of the fastest around, with never a data cap or a connection throttle to be found.
CyberGhost’s global server coverage is quite large, with 9,000+ servers in 90+ countries. The provider allows P2P file sharing but only on select servers. Simply select any server in the “For Downloading” list, and you’ll be good to go.
The provider protects your online travels with military-level 256-bit AES encryption, IP/DNS leak prevention, and a kill switch. The provider keeps no records of your online antics while connected to their servers. Plus, you can keep your payment info private by taking advantage of the provider’s Bitcoin payment option.
CyberGhost’s easy-to-use apps are available for most popular platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV devices. Chrome and Firefox users can protect their browsing with the provider’s extensions.
CyberGhost allows a generous seven concurrent connections via a single login. If that isn’t enough, you can expand your device protection by taking advantage of the service’s top-notch router compatibility.
In addition to its fine VPN services, CyberGhost offers other security and privacy protections and services. These include a password manager, warnings when your email address is exposed in a data breach – and Windows antivirus, anti-malware, and privacy apps and services.
- Excellent native app support
- Easy-to-use for first-time VPN users
- Speedy connections
- Top-notch security and privacy protection
- P2P activity limited to select servers
- Issues unblocking some streaming services
BEST VPN OPTION FOR FIRST-TIMERS:CyberGhost is the best VPN on this list for first-time VPN users. The provider’s apps offer one-click protection, while delivering above-average connection speeds and excellent protection. A 45-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
Private Internet Access (PIA) hits all of the points for protecting your internet connection from throttling. The provider does an excellent job when it comes to online security.
The provider’s download speeds are not the best of any VPN I’ve ever tested, but its speeds are easily up to handling streaming, sharing files, and other popular online pastimes.
The provider’s 3,300+ servers, located in over 80 countries provide reliable access to content around most of the globe. The provider allows P2P file sharing on its servers, keeping that activity well-undercover.
PIAs connections are protected using government-level 256-bit AES encryption, IP/DNS leak prevention, and a kill switch. PIA can also block ads, trackers, malware, and malicious sites when using the provider.
The provider keeps no logs – which, as mentioned before, is always a great feature/non-feature. Their Bitcoin payment option means you can truly go incognito when using the service, so there is no connection between your payment info and your account.
PIA app support includes offerings for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux devices. Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browser extensions are also available, along with Linksys, Asus, and Netgear router compatibility.
Up to 10 devices can be connected at once on a single account.
Live support chat, a trouble ticket form, and a searchable support/troubleshooting library have the support end of things covered.
For more information, visit the Private Internet Access website.
- Supports many popular devices and routers
- Comprehensive security and privacy
- Connect up to 10 devices at once
- Global server network could stand some improvement
- Doesn’t work in overly-restrictive countries
RELIABLE PREVENTION OF ISP THROTTLING:Private Internet Access delivers reliable protection for all of your online activities. Its comprehensive connection protection helps users prevent their ISP from throttling their connection. Check with PIA to make sure the VPN will work if you’re going to use it in a super-restrictive country. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
PrivateVPN is on this list of seven thanks to its fast connections, excellent security and privacy protections, and more.
The provider’s speedy connections deliver reliable download speeds for streaming, gaming, and other online activities. No data caps or bandwidth restrictions to worry about here.
While PrivateVPN’s server count is a mere 200+ servers, their servers are well spread out among 60 countries around the globe. The provider allows P2P file sharing and recommends that file sharing enthusiasts use their servers based in Sweden.
All PrivateVPN connections are well-protected, using industry-standard banking-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak prevention, and much more to protect your online activities.
PrivateVPN saves no user logs of any kind and accepts Bitcoin to keep your payment information undercover.
Native app support from this service is limited to macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android. The VPN can be manually set up on Linux devices. No browser extensions yet, but the service is compatible with selected routers.
PrivateVPN offers a six simultaneous connections allowance on a single account.
Customer support includes online chat, email, and an FAQ section.
- Top-notch privacy protection
- Fast connection speeds up to par
- Up to six simultaneous speeds
- Very low server count
- Multi-platform support definitely lacking
GREAT PROTECTED CONNECTION SPEEDS:PrivateVPN’s fast connections are accessible on up to six devices at once. The provider’s server count is quite low, but the country coverage isn’t bad. App support is also somewhat lacking. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
Atlas VPN offers excellent device support, and comprehensive online protection and privacy.
Atlas VPN’s global server network has 750+ servers stationed in 32 countries. While those numbers could certainly stand some improvement, the network provides reliable access to geo-controlled content in countries where the servers are located.
The provider allows P2P file sharing traffic on its network.
Atlas VPN connections are fast, and are easily up to handling your favorite online activities, like sharing files or watching streaming videos.
The provider’s government-grade 256-bit AES encryption, kill switch protection, and more to keep your online antics undercover. Your online browsing sessions are protected from malicious online services and pesky ads by the provider’s Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus features.
The provider’s new MultiHop+ feature provides added online anonymity, thanks to how the feature selects a random exit server and rotates it as you browse.
Atlas VPN follows an industry-standard no-server-logs-ever policy. However, it does not accept cryptocurrency payment.
Users of Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV devices can benefit from native app support. While there is no Linux support, browser extensions, or router support, the provider says all are on the way. There is no limit on the number of devices that can be simultaneously connected to the service on a single account.
The provider’s customer support options include live subscriber chat, email, a contact form and a support library.
- Fast connections
- Comprehensive online protection
- Supports popular device platforms
- No browser extensions available
- No Linux support or router support
- Global server coverage could stand improvement
UNLIMITED ISP THROTTLING PREVENTION:Atlas VPN’s reliable encryption prevents your ISP from monitoring you and possibly blocking or throttling your connections. Better server coverage and device support would be appreciated. However, the provider continues to offer a decent return on investment. 30-day money-back guarantee available.
Read my full review of Atlas VPN.
Methodology for Assessing a VPN to Stop ISP Throttling
Not all VPN providers can reliably prevent your ISP from throttling your connection. Any VPN that you consider for that purpose should provide reliable protection for your online activities, such as file sharing.
The factors listed below are some that I consider when I’m deciding on which VPNs works best to prevent ISP throttling:
- Security and privacy: Banking-grade encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection are required at a minimum. Any additional security and privacy features are always welcome. A strict no-server-logs policy is also a must. NordVPN offers comprehensive online security and privacy protections.
- Streaming: Access to streaming sites is an important consideration for many VPN users. NordVPN delivers reliable access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and other popular streamers.
- Global server network: Preferably, a VPN will offer a large number of servers stationed in numerous countries around the world. Multiple servers in each location is a plus, as the more servers in a single location, the less chance an individual server will be overloaded with too many simultaneous users.
- Speed: Fast download speeds are an important factor for any online activity. Fast connections with low latency are of course preferred. NordVPN delivers some of the fastest connection speeds around.
- Value: A provider’s true value can be quickly determined by comparing the level of services offered by the provider and its asking price. I only list VPNs that offer good value for the money.
- Ease of use: The VPNs I recommend are powerful, yet easy to use. Keep in mind though, that some VPNs are easier to use than others. Native app support should be available for as many device platforms as possible. NordVPN offers easy-to-use and powerful apps for popular device platforms.
My research does not stop with the above. The factors listed above are just a few of the factors I consider with my VPN testing methodology. My data-driven approach helps me to understand each VPN and their services, allowing me to recommend only those VPNs that will fit my readers’ needs.
If you think your Internet Service Provider is throttling your connection, you’ll want to take a closer look at the speeds you’re receiving from your provider. You should:
Monitor Your Internet Connection Speed
Run speed tests at various times of the day. This way, you’ll get a true idea of what to expect over the course of the day. Also, pay close attention to when your connection slows and what you’re doing at the time.
Check Your Connection for Throttling
Run the throttling tests offered by The Internet Health Test and other websites. This will help indicate whether your internet connection is simply slow from heavy use in your area, or if your provider may be throttling connections to other provider networks.
Ask Other Users About Their Experiences
Check with other users of your ISP to see what their experiences with the provider have been. If they report experiences similar to yours, it could indicate your ISP does use throttling to control your traffic.
Subscribe to a Reliable VPN Provider
Find a reliable VPN provider (like my #1 favorite provider, NordVPN) to help you prevent your ISP from throttling your connection.
With just a little work on your part, you can detect and prevent ISP-throttling of your connection. Then you’ll receive the actual performance and content access you pay for each month.
ISP Throttling VPN FAQs
Can You Use a Free VPN to Bypass ISP Throttling?
You could give a free VPN a try, but I do not recommend it. Many free VPNs basically defeat the purpose of bypassing ISP throttling, as freebie providers often throttle their users’ connections and impose data caps, in order to preserve bandwidth for paying customers. Plus, free VPNs are less than private, as they have been known to log their users’ online travels, selling the info to advertisers and other nosy types.
When Might My ISP Throttle My Internet Connection?
ISP will throttle your internet connection for various reasons. These can include if you visit certain websites or if you stream content from some streaming services. If your ISP detects P2P file sharing activity it may throttle your connection speed. This is due to the fact that P2P file sharing is a popular way to share copyrighted materials. An ISP will also throttle your connection if you’ve reached your monthly data cap.
How Does a VPN Prevent Throttling?
ISPs that throttle customers' connections do so when they see users engaging in frowned-upon online activities, such as streaming from unapproved sources or sharing files via BitTorrent. A VPN hides your online activities. This prevents your ISP from monitoring your activities, meaning they can't see if you're streaming or sharing. What they can't see, they can't throttle.
What Other Reasons Can There be for Slow Internet Speeds?
In addition to being throttled, there could be other reasons for slow internet speeds. First, check to see how many connections are using data on your home or office network. Multiple connected devices can greatly slow your router network speeds, resulting in slower internet speeds. Also, if it's peak internet usage hours, such as at the end of the day when everyone returns home from school or work, this can slow the internet speeds in your area.
Also, check to see how many browser tabs you have open. If you have multiple tabs open, especially if those tabs are streaming multiple videos or downloading or sharing files.
- What is Throttling?
- Why Do ISPs Throttle Your Connection?
- Which ISPs Throttle?
- Is Throttling Legal?
- How to Tell if Your ISP Is Throttling You
- How to Stop ISP Throttling From Happening
- Best VPNs to Protect Against Throttling
- Best VPNs for stopping IP throttling – Summary table
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. Private Internet Access
- 6. PrivateVPN
- 7. Atlas VPN
- Methodology for Assessing a VPN to Stop ISP Throttling
- Action Points
- ISP Throttling VPN FAQs
- Can You Use a Free VPN to Bypass ISP Throttling?
- When Might My ISP Throttle My Internet Connection?
- How Does a VPN Prevent Throttling?
- What Other Reasons Can There be for Slow Internet Speeds?