Do VPNs drain the device battery? The simple answer is – Yes! They do.
Just like any other application that runs on your device (computer or smartphone), even a VPN drains the battery. But, what is it that makes it drain away the battery (and sometimes at a much faster rate)? And, since a VPN is an important tool to safeguard privacy, can you keep it enabled all the time? We’ll find answers to all such questions and much more in this post.
Our Experience When Using VPN
We tried using a VPN for 1 hour each on two major operating systems – Android (Version 10) and Windows 11 (Home). Below mentioned are their specs –
Samsung Galaxy M20; CPU – Octa-core (2×1.8 GHz Cortex-A73 & 6×1.6 GHz Cortex-A53)
HP Laptop 15s; Processor – Intel R Core(™) i3 – 10110U CPU @ 2.10 GHz, 2592 Mhz, 2 Cores
We surfed websites, streamed OTT platforms, and did a few other things. We used AES-258 bit encryption and OpenVPN protocol and broadly found after using a server that was quite far away from our base location, there was a 20% dip in battery usage. That means as compared to normal usage, the battery was consumed approximately 20% faster.
Why Does A VPN Drain Battery (Sometimes At A Faster Rate)?
Here are some reasons why battery-related problems arise when using a VPN –
1. Constant Encryption/ Decryption
VPNs encrypt and decrypt data which requires additional processing power. The constant encryption and decryption of data results in increased CPU usage. As a result, the battery life is impacted.
2. VPNs Run In The Background
Many VPNs run background processes in order to maintain the connection even when you are not using the internet actively. These processes consume a significant amount of system resources and drain away the battery.
3. Network Handshakes
VPNs often engage in frequent handshakes with servers in order to facilitate secure connections. This communication leads to increased power consumption and hence a VPN depletes your device’s battery levels.
4. Security Protocols
Protocols are an integral part of any VPN. Protocols like OpenVPN use more battery than others as it has heavy encryption ciphers. The higher encryption levels and sophisticated processes it employs for secure connections demand more computational resources, leading to increased power consumption. Additionally, the continuous maintenance of a secure connection and encryption/decryption processes contribute to a slightly higher battery drain.
How To Tackle The Battery Drain Issue When Using A VPN?
In the light of above reasons, here are a few ways in which you can use a VPN and at the same time keep the battery consumption to the minimum –
1. Opt for A Feature-rich & Lightweight VPN
For instance, for Windows PCs, Systweak VPN is one of the best VPNs available. Here are some notable aspects of Systweak VPN –
- While it comes with AES-256 encryption you can even switch to AES-128 for lower battery consumption.
- Switch between OpenVPN and IKEv2.
- Choose from over 4500 servers in more than 53 countries spread across 200+ locations. You can always find a server nearer to your base location.
- Choose whether you want to run Systweak VPN on startup or not.
- Drop network connections if the VPN disconnects.
- Auto-connect to VPN if encrypted Wi-Fi is detected.
You can explore the ins and outs of Systweak VPN, and how to use it in this detailed post
2. Choose Wi-Fi Over Mobile Data
Whether or not using a VPN, cellular, or mobile data consumes more power than Wi-Fi. Especially, when the connection is weak, the power consumption in case of mobile data surges. So, whenever possible, try and use a VPN with Wi-Fi and ensure that you are close to the access point.
3. Use A Lightweight VPN Protocol
There are many VPN providers that offer multiple VPN protocols. For example, you can use a protocol like WireGuard. You can also opt for IKEv2 since it is comparatively lighter in terms of resource usage and provides a decent level of security.
4. Use a VPN Only When Necessary
We don’t deny the fact that VPN helps conceal your digital activity. However, you can bring VPN to force when doing sensitive tasks or when trying to bypass geo-restrictions. Also, if your VPN permits you to, you can put it to sleep when not using it.
5. Use A VPN Router
A VPN router takes care of all resource-intensive VPN activities such as encryption and decryption. Plus, it helps protect devices that may not support VPN apps. With a VPN router in place, your device (Smartphone or Laptop) will use battery power only for connectivity.
6. Close Apps That You Don’t Need
Whether it be Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, or any other operating system when using a VPN, you can switch off all those apps that you don’t need.
Guard Privacy With Less Battery Consumption
Exploring the impact of VPNs on device batteries, we delved into various factors causing faster drains. The constant encryption/decryption, background processes, network handshakes, and heavy security protocols contribute to increased power consumption. To minimize this, opt for lightweight VPNs like Systweak VPN, select Wi-Fi over mobile data, use efficient protocols, activate VPN only when necessary, consider a VPN router, and close unnecessary apps. This way you can strike the right balance between privacy and preserving your device’s battery life.
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