VPN is great but there's some pitfalls

Hey guys, so I've been using Private Internet Access for a while.  I've done some extensive tests because I've noticed that when i started to use VPN, the performance increased pretty well on just about all mediums but gaming.  Now I've tried every type of possible connection, but my ping is WAY too high on gaming where i get some pretty substantial lag, almost as if i was on dial up.  The download and upload speed is great, but ping is HORRIBLE beyond belief.  I've done it with LoL, Diablo 3, CS:GO, etc., etc..

This doesn't stop there, now i understood my download speed was around 60Mb/s and upload around 30Mb/s without the VPN and more around 90Mb/s download and 30Mb/s upload so performance is noticeable.  Now after about a week of VPN usage, i stopped and tried to go normal around the web, wanted to see if the performance really made a difference or if it was just a placebo on "perceivable performance gains".  

I use Cox Cable, considering their owned by Time Warner (Cox doesn't really work with the same policies as Time Warner, and is just being ran financially....for now), i'm quite a happy customer.  Only had 2 down times in a year (great when considering Century Link(prior ISP) being down once a week and ridiculous performance for the price).  So overall great service before going VPN.  Now, I noticed my ping being a TON better on gaming, where it got me thinking, "is it even worth having VPN with these stupid issue with ping?".  So i started going on websites like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc(sites with high media content).  Now i notice that my internet speed went down dramatically....and i mean DRAMATICALLY.  This didn't make sense, So i did a speed test and now my download speed went down to 30Mb/s and upload around 15Mb/s.  So i gave Cox Cable a call to inquire why my speed went down drastically.  Nobody understood, and had to send me to higher level techs.  After about 40 minutes of getting passed around to a higher tech, one guy told me that i was spotted using a VPN which gave them questions.  They were asking me why i would be using a VPN, type of VPN, all the details about it and yati yati ya......you get the picture.  So i was a little ticked off and i asked them why they would even care about having a VPN since it's 100% perfectly legal.  The guy told me that a VPN is "unsecure" to their network because it "violates protocols" within their routing system.  So to make sure that i wouldn't abuse their system, they put me on a watch list (whatever that means....smh).  This doesn't affect me while i game though, my ping is fine, my download and upload speeds are great, etc.  So this "watch list" sounds like putting people on a blacklist watch where "blacklisted sites" and i mean it loosly like Netflix, YouTube, etc. are ridiculously slow and don't function properly.

If i turn on VPN, i'm perfectly fine, but gaming just blows on this VPN, so during my gaming needs i turn it off.  Not a big deal, but a bit of a pain when you forget and some games that require an authentication, giving you a red flagging and then you have to unlock your account because they found your account logging in California or wherever the VPN goes.  Had this scenario happen with Blizzard, because i logged in Texas, they froze my account until i informed them of my VPN service.  

I've been told by some IT buddies of mine that Intel NIC's get affected by using a VPN service because it creates another network device and then creates alternative network protocols and that probably that's the issue, but what bugs me is that Cox Cable knew i was on a VPN as soon as i called them and asked them why my internet was going slow.

I'm not complaining, not a big deal because at the end, i still get my speed when VPN is on and gaming isn't affected when it's off.  If there are any others that had a scenario, i'd like to hear your story.  This was just to inform others who may be interested in VPN services and give some insight of potential problems that may occur.

I dont understand why people say that a VPN is faster then theire physical internet connection, my Logical brain cant get that.

If you have a 100 mbit up and 50 mbit down connection from your physical provider, and you connect to a VPN, how can the speed of the VPN be higher, then the speed of the incomming line you got?

If you connect to a VPN server, the connection still goes over your physical providers line, only its encrypted. The speed in my opinnion can never be higher, then the speed you get provided by your physical isp.

I tested tons of VPN´s my selfs, and as far as my Logical Theory goes it allways showed me right. If i connect to a VPN no matter which one, my speed drops just dramaticly.

Thats why i rarely use a vpn. i only use a vpn, if there is a sports stream which is locked for my country for example.

Think of it as being more efficient, not faster at doing certain tasks.

Why did you tell them you use a vpn?


ROFL Cox Cable isn't playing ball and VPN is almost never good for gaming.

PS if it bugs you that they knew you were on a VPN just imagine what they knew before you started using a VPN.


A VPN cant make your internet faster than the max speed you are purchasing, But If your ISP is shaping your traffic by protocol e.g. bittorrent or VOIP or streaming media the VPN will hide that protocol from  your ISP so they cant single it out and slow it down.

at first i didn't say anything, then they said they spotted the vpn, name brand and everything, even my location.

i didn't say that the VPN made my connection faster.  I said that my download speeds went up.  That's a sign that i'm being throttled, given protocol adjustments or whatever they do in their facilities to slow down my speed.  Essentially that means they're giving everyone the 100Mb/s internet and just locking them down by whatever they do on their server side.

Well at least i've got nothing to hide, i don't do anything out of the ordinary than just streaming, netflix, youtube, gaming and game dev.  This was just an experiment to see how a VPN affects a computer in different scenarios and then a slew of things happened lol.

I don't understand it either, but I'm paying for 18Mb/s down and when I use my Private Internet Access VPN, it jumps to around 50Mb/s down. It doesn't make sense to me either, but I've observed it happen. It doesn't affect my upload speeds, but it dramatically increases download speeds (at least, according to SpeedTest.net).

mafisometal, if what the tech support told you about putting VPN users on a watchlist is true, this is actually news. You wouldn't have happened to record your phone call with them? If so, you should upload it.

I'm a bit skeptical of about the vpn watchlist, though as they are pretty heavily utilized in enterprise, and I don't see why Cox would need to a keep a watchlist of so many users. Could be the tech support guy was just being an asshole.

Think of it like having two straws, one is transparent and the other opaque.

With the transparent one you can clearly see what is in it. If someone can see the traffic type they can manipulate it.

With the opaque one, no one can see what is in and thus can't manipulate it.

As where the ISPs get you is with the statement of speed.... "up to" meaning they don't have to provide that speed at all.

The reason you likely don't see an improvement is because of either your location relative to a VPN or the fact that your ISP doesn't play with traffic like the American ones are so fond of doing.

With a VPN the ping can suffer because the path the traffic takes is longer. The advantage is the size of the pipe for data is bigger for faster downloads / streaming.

try "TRACERT SiteYourTestingsUrl" from a console window with the VPN on and then off and see how many hops it takes.


tracert www.netflix.com

Sounds like that's probably what it is. Cox Cable isn't too worried about VPN usage because they probably have other things on the plate, or possibly Cox is actually being ran by some nicer lads than the rest of ISP providers.

Sorry didn't record...i definitely should have, but you may be right.  The guy may have just been an asshole and just told me some shit as a scare tactic or whatever was up his ass.

To play devils advocate, lets say they do have a watchlist.  VPN services may be paying some ISP's off to gain access and the access then now becomes exploited and abused.  It may be that VPN's are on a government watchlist because of the heavy association with BitTorrent, Piracy, Porn, Money scams, and other shit that may be dangerous. Just throwing out possible ideas why there may be a watchlist.

sounds logical

Thinking about this I realized its a 3 step test really. With VPN your data moves "hidden" to your VPN provider before hitting the net and routing to the destination. 

1. Normal

YOU ----route----- DESTINATION


2. Using VPN

YOU ....hidden.....VPN SERVER ----routing----- DESTINATION


So to look you need 3 step. Ill show below a test I did to us.blizzard.com as far as tracert showed.

Step 1 (no VPN).   Me to us.blizzard.com

14 194 ms 193 ms 304 ms

15 193 ms 193 ms 194 ms   // last 2 hops 15 total worked

Step 2 (no VPN).   Me to my VPN server.

 15   356 ms   356 ms   356 ms   //hidden the rest it took 15 hops.

Step 3 (VPN on).    Me to us.blizzard.com

16 528 ms 528 ms 530 ms

17 588 ms 526 ms 526 ms     // last 2 hops 17 total worked


So in conclusion:

no VPN its 15 hops of routing and around 194ms

VPN it is 15 hidden hops to my VPN server 356ms + 17 hops of routing and around 526ms

So no VPN is 15 hops. VPN is 32 hops that I could see without timeouts.


Hope this helped someone :)




Speed tests on VPNs can sometime be completely wrong. I've done speed tests while comparing it to my actual network traffic and the speed test was completely different. It's probably something to do with the compression. A better way to test the speed is by downloading a large file.

The fact that they have a "watch list" is the exact reason why people get a VPN. 

"to make sure that i wouldn't abuse their system"  HAHAHA this is the problem with ISPs they consider Netflix, YouTube, etc to be an abuse of their system. 

It seems to me that the ISPs are starting to fear the VPN because they cant control it.

So just to clarify, nothing about the original post was actually about VPNs or PIA, but actually about your internet service provider (besides the ping increase from adding another router or 15 to internet connections).

As always with VPNs, it's not possible to hide the fact that you're using one with anyone monitoring the traffic, such as your ISP. The throttling of your basic service, monitoring your connection, throttling specific sites, nonsensical tech support (this one includes your IT buddies), bad excuses/lies/possible blacklisting (either or) are all being done by your ISP. Your post is really about the pitfalls in using Cox Cable.