Does a VPN Drain the Battery? Tips to Avoid VPN Battery Drain [Updated]

Updated on June 24, 2024
Does a VPN Drain the Battery? Tips to Avoid VPN Battery Drain [Updated]

A VPN can drain your device’s battery quicker due to the additional computational processes, data routing, and constant connectivity it demands. While the added security and privacy benefits are valuable, it’s essential to be mindful of these factors, especially on mobile devices with limited battery life.

In this guide, we’ve explained everything related to the battery consumption of the VPN and tried to answer the most asked question: “Does a VPN drain the battery?”

So go through the guide, learn why a VPN drains battery, and learn the tips on optimizing your device’s battery life while using a VPN.

VPN Battery Drain Experiment

We experimented to measure the impact of VPN usage on battery drain across the following devices:

  1. iPhone
  2. Android smartphone
  3. Laptop

This experiment aimed to test how VPNs affect battery life on various devices. Following were the testing protocols carried out with every device:

  • Phones and the Laptop were fully charged before use.
  • Devices were connected to a Germany-Frankfurt Server.
  • Streamed Netflix for 60 minutes on all devices with a VPN connection.
  • Streamed Netflix for 60 minutes on all devices without a VPN connection.

iPhone VPN Battery Drain Test

We used AstrillVPN on iPhone 13 Pro Max for the iPhone VPN battery drain test, having iOS version 17.5.1, and the results are as follows:

 With a VPN ConnectionWithout a VPN Connection
Initial battery level100%100%
Final battery level70%81%
Battery consumed30%19%

The variance between the battery drain with and without a VPN on an iPhone is around 11%, which shows that if the VPN is used smartly on the device, there would be no issue.

Android VPN Battery Drain Test

We used a Samsung S23 Ultra with an Android version for the Android device VPN battery drain test.

 With a VPN ConnectionWithout a VPN Connection
Initial battery level100%100%
Final battery level89%92%
Battery consumed11%8%

The difference in battery consumption with and without a VPN on an Android device is just 3%, which is negligible. This shows that a VPN on an Android device doesn’t drain much battery.

Laptop VPN Battery Drain Test

We used a Lenovo IdeaPad Creator 5 15 with Windows 11 pro version for the VPN drain test. Following were the results with and without the VPN usage:

 With a VPN ConnectionWithout a VPN Connection
Initial battery level100%100%
Final battery level22%45%
Battery consumed78%55%

Since laptops have a lot of processes running in the background, the battery consumption is always high. The difference in battery consumption on a laptop with and without a VPN is 23%, which is very high.

Why does using a VPN drain the battery quicker?

VPN is a powerful tool for enhancing online security and privacy and accessing geo-restricted content. However, it has drawbacks, including the potential impact on battery life, especially on mobile devices. There are several reasons why using a VPN can drain your battery quickly:

Encryption level

One of the primary reasons is the level of encryption employed by VPNs. VPNs use encryption to secure your data and protect your privacy. While this is essential for online security, it requires additional processing power, leading to higher battery consumption.

As your data is encrypted and decrypted before it’s transmitted over the internet, the constant encryption process can strain your device’s CPU, causing it to use more power than usual.

Data Routing

Data routing is another key factor contributing to increased battery drain when using a VPN. VPNs route your internet traffic through servers in various locations, often in different countries. Your data may take a more circuitous route to reach its destination. The additional “hops” that data makes can lead to longer data processing times and greater transmission distances, all of which require more power. This prolonged data routing can be particularly noticeable when connecting to servers that are geographically distant from your actual location.

Mobile Signal

The strength and stability of your mobile signal play a role in how a VPN affects your battery. When your device’s signal is weak or fluctuating, it must work harder to maintain a stable VPN connection.

\This additional effort can increase the device’s power consumption. In areas with poor signal quality, you might notice a more significant battery drain when using a VPN, as the device constantly attempts to maintain a reliable connection to the VPN server.

Background Services

VPN apps often run in the background, even when you’re not actively using the internet. This continuous background operation ensures your VPN connection remains secure and ready for use.

While it’s a necessary feature for maintaining security, these background services can notably impact battery life. They keep your device’s network interfaces active, consuming power to sustain the VPN connection.

Choice of VPN Protocol

The choice of VPN protocol can significantly influence how a VPN impacts battery life. Different VPN protocols come with varying levels of encryption and data processing requirements. For instance, robust protocols like OpenVPN offer high security but tend to consume more battery power due to the intensive encryption processes.

In contrast, lightweight protocols like IKEv2 are less power-hungry, making them a better choice if you’re concerned about battery drain.

AstrillVPN offers four top-of-the-line VPN protocols:

If you’re looking for a VPN protocol that works well for browsing purposes only, choose OpenWeb protocol. However, if you’re looking for a protocol to protect your overall apps and system, go for StealthVPN.

Device Hardware and Software

The specific device you use also plays a crucial role in determining how a VPN affects battery life. Newer, more powerful devices with larger batteries can handle the additional processing a VPN requires more efficiently than older or less capable devices.

Additionally, the efficiency of your device’s operating system and the quality of the VPN app can influence the overall impact on battery life. Therefore, not just the VPN itself but also your device’s capabilities and software matter.

Location and Network Conditions

Your physical location and network conditions can also affect how much a VPN drains your battery. Data must travel greater distances when connecting to a VPN server far from your location. This can increase the time and processing required for data to reach its destination, leading to higher battery consumption.

Additionally, connecting to a VPN server in an area with weak or congested network conditions can exacerbate battery drain as your device struggles to maintain a stable connection.

Tips on How to Reduce Battery Drain While Using a VPN

Using a VPN is essential for maintaining online security and privacy, but understandably, you should minimize its impact on your device’s battery life. Here are some practical tips to help you reduce battery drain while using a VPN:

1.   Choose Energy-Efficient VPN Protocols

Selecting a suitable VPN protocol can make a significant difference in battery consumption. Protocols like IKEv2 and L2TP are known for their efficiency and lower impact on battery life. Opt for these lightweight protocols if possible, especially when not engaging in compassionate online activities.

2.   Disconnect When Not in Use

One effective way to conserve battery life is to disconnect the VPN when necessary. Most VPN apps allow you to toggle the VPN connection on and off quickly. Turn off the VPN to reduce battery usage when not accessing sensitive data or region-locked content.

3.   Close Unnecessary Background Apps

Background apps and services can significantly contribute to battery drain. Close any unnecessary apps running in the background to reduce the impact on your device’s battery. This will not only save power but also improve the performance of your device.

4.   Choose a Server Close to Your Location

When you connect to a VPN server, opt for one geographically closer to your actual location. This reduces the distance data travels and the number of hops it makes, resulting in less power consumption. Selecting a nearby server can also improve network speeds.

5.   Reduce VPN Usage for Low-Bandwidth Activities

For tasks that don’t require the added security of a VPN, such as general web browsing or checking email, consider disconnecting from the VPN temporarily. Only connect when engaging in activities involving sensitive data or requiring access to geo-restricted content.

6.   Monitor Battery Usage and Adjust Settings

Most modern devices provide tools to monitor battery usage. Monitor which apps or processes, including the VPN app, consume the most power. Adjust the settings within the VPN app to optimize battery life if such options are available.

7.   Upgrade Your Device

An older device with limited processing power and battery capacity may experience a more significant battery drain when using a VPN. Consider upgrading to a newer device with better hardware to handle VPN operations efficiently.

8.   Use a VPN with a Kill Switch

Some VPN services offer a kill switch feature that automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection is lost. While this adds an extra layer of security, it can also prevent your device from continually attempting to reconnect, reducing battery drain.

9.   Keep Your VPN App Updated

Regularly update your VPN app to take advantage of any performance improvements or battery-saving features the provider may release in newer versions. These updates can help optimize your VPN experience.

Why security is more important than battery

The debate between prioritizing security or battery life when using a VPN is important and ultimately boils down to your individual needs and circumstances. However, in many cases, security should take precedence over battery life. Here are several reasons why:

1.   Protection of Sensitive Data

Security is paramount when it comes to the protection of sensitive information. When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted, making it nearly impossible for cybercriminals and eavesdroppers to intercept and exploit it. This level of encryption ensures that your personal information, financial data, login credentials, and other sensitive details remain confidential and safeguarded against potential threats.

2.   Online Privacy and Anonymity

Security plays a vital role in safeguarding your online privacy and anonymity. By masking your IP address and routing your internet traffic through remote servers, a VPN shields your online activities from prying eyes, including internet service providers, advertisers, and even government surveillance. This increased privacy is crucial for those who value anonymity and freedom from surveillance.

3.   Bypassing Censorship and Geo-Restrictions

VPNs provide a valuable tool for accessing geo-restricted content and bypassing censorship, which is especially important for individuals living in or traveling to regions with strict internet regulations. While using a VPN for this purpose might impact battery life, the benefits of unhindered access to information and content are often worth the trade-off.

4.   Secure Public Wi-Fi Usage

Security should always be a top priority when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, such as cafes, airports, or hotels. These networks need to be more secure and can expose your data to threats. A VPN provides a secure tunnel for your data to travel through, reducing the risk of data interception and ensuring your information remains protected, even on unsecured networks.

5.   Business and Work-Related Activities

For business professionals and remote workers, security is non-negotiable. VPNs are essential for maintaining the confidentiality of company data and communications. Even if it means a slightly faster battery drain, the peace of mind that comes with knowing your business-related activities are secure is invaluable.

6.   Prevention of Hacking and Cyberattacks

The risk of hacking and cyberattacks is ever-present in today’s interconnected world. Using a VPN reduces the likelihood of falling victim to various cyber threats, such as man-in-the-middle attacks or data breaches. This proactive security measure far outweighs any minimal reduction in battery life.

7.   Avoiding Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious concern, and protecting your personal information is essential to avoid becoming a victim. VPNs contribute significantly to this protection by securing your internet connections and preventing cybercriminals from stealing your identity or financial data.

FAQ

Does private DNS consume more battery?

Private DNS can consume slightly more battery due to the additional processing required for DNS queries. However, the impact is minimal and varies depending on the device and usage.

Does casting YouTube drain the battery?

Casting YouTube to another device (e.g., a smart TV) may consume more battery on the casting device, but not significantly.

Does watching Netflix drain the battery?

Watching Netflix or any streaming service on a mobile device can drain the battery more quickly due to the continuous screen and network activity.

Does YouTube dark mode save battery?

Enabling YouTube’s dark mode can save battery life on devices with OLED or AMOLED screens. These screen technologies use less power when displaying dark or black backgrounds.

Does battery-saver mode affect my VPN?

Yes, battery-saver mode can affect your VPN by restricting background activities and reducing app performance. This can lead to slower VPN speeds, interruptions, or even disconnections as the device prioritizes conserving battery over maintaining active connections.

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About The Author

Arsalan Rathore

Arsalan Rathore is a tech geek who loves to pen down his thoughts and views on cybersecurity, technology innovation, entertainment, and social issues. He likes sharing his thoughts about the emerging tech trends in the market and also loves discussing online privacy issues.

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