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Can a Gaming VPN Improve Your Ping?

High ping moments are pretty funny when they happen to some streamer. But when you’re just trying to have fun with your mates, it can really take you out of the experience. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to that problem – and that’s using a gaming VPN to reroute your data down a better network path. You’ll see what we mean in a moment.

In the meantime, we’ve prepared several lightning-fast VPNs fit for any gamer – whether you’re into MMOs, online shooters, or anything in-between. Check them out and scroll on to see what the magic behind them is.

Why Do I Have High Ping in Online Games?

The most obvious factors that affect your ping are the quality of your Internet provider and your connection speed. Got a great ISP and high network speeds in general, but still having trouble with lag? Then there may be a network issue somewhere down the line that’s preventing your data from reaching its destination fast enough.

See, you almost never connect to a game server (or any other service) directly. Your data needs to travel through several different routers and networks before the server can respond. Normally, this happens pretty fast (at about 100 ms ping it starts getting dicey). However, if one of those networks is experiencing technical issues, then the entire connection suffers.

Think of it like a (network) traffic jam. But, unlike real life, you can swerve the car off the highway and onto a faster route with a gaming VPN.

How Can I Test This Out?

You can easily test whether there’s a problem with the network path by running a traceroute (aka tracert) test. You just need the game server’s IP address and use the steps described in the link above. The game devs probably have a support page describing the same steps, as well as including the server address. Just look up “[game name] traceroute” and you should find it in no time.

Games like CS:GO also let you find the address of the server you’re playing on through console commands:

  • Open the CS:GO console.
  • Type “status” and press Enter.
  • You should get a wall of text with a bunch of details about your connection.

Look for the words “Connected to” and you’ll see an IP address (a series of numbers in this format x.x.x.x) or server domain name (csgo-example.leetgaming.com:27016). Copy everything that comes after “connected to” and use that info to do a traceroute.

How Can a VPN Lower Ping?

If you use the steps above to do a traceroute test, you’ll see the path your data takes all the way to the game server. You can also see which node takes the most to respond, in milliseconds (e.g. 350 ms). By connecting to a VPN server first, your data takes an entirely different path, meaning you avoid the network node that was causing your high ping.

How Do I Use a VPN for Gaming?

It’s pretty easy, actually. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Sign up with one of those providers we’ve linked in the beginning.
  • Install their app on your PC or mobile device. If you’re a console user, you may also install a gaming VPN on a compatible router. More info at the same link.
  • Sign in with your account details.
  • Select a server from the list in your provider’s VPN app. Generally, the closer the server is, the faster the speeds you’re going to get. Of course, you may want to switch to a server with a lower population if the one closest to you is too crowded. Some providers offer server lists where you can check this kind of info.

That’s it! Launch the game and enjoy lag-free fragging.

Is a Free Gaming VPN Worth It?

That big “free” sign is always tempting, but not really worth the trouble in this case. For one, free gaming VPNs usually offer slow performance. After all, it’s not like they can afford top-of-the-line servers like a subscription-based VPN. Not only that, but they usually have a small number of really crowded servers. Your overall network speeds may actually become worse than they started out.

What’s worse, free VPNs have been known to sell user data to third parties. Seven such VPNs managed to leak the private data of 20 million people online. To top it all off, their privacy policy even stated that they don’t log any user information. We don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like a good trade-off to shave a few milliseconds off your ping.

The good news is that there’s no risk in hopping onto a decent VPN subscription. That’s because each provider has 30 to 45 day money-back guarantees in place. Take advantage of that offer to test out their service for a couple of weeks and see if your ping improves. If not, hey, you get your money back without a fuss.

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