Does VPN use data? How much mobile data a VPN consumes

Do you use a virtual private network (VPN) at home and when you have to work outside or travel? What if there’s no available Wi-Fi?

You might wonder if you can use a VPN with your mobile data, whether that’s safe, and how much data a VPN consumes.

VPNs can protect your online privacy using encryptions and split tunneling, etc., so even when on mobile data, it’s better to use a VPN.

We’ve done our research to understand how VPNs work and how much data they need. We also looked into various online resources instructing how to use VPNs wisely on mobile data.

In this article, we’ll help you learn the best way to minimize VPN data usage. So, stick with us until the end, and don’t miss out on essential measures to use VPN optimally.

How much data does a VPN use?

A virtual private network (VPN) conceals your Internet Protocol (IP) address, which includes your location. It also reroutes your internet traffic, so other people won’t access your online transactions. Hackers will have difficulty looking into your search history, recent purchase, or fund transfers.

That’s why you can choose your online location when you use a VPN. Although you’re in the US, you can set it up like you’re in Italy.

Since it encrypts your internet activities, a VPN can help hide your data from hackers, government agencies, and internet service providers (ISPs). It increases your level of online security and protects you from fraudulent activities.

However, VPN increases your data use by 5% to 15% because the encryption tunnels require more bandwidth.

For example, when you’re not using a VPN, you may need 1.5GB to watch a one-hour online video. But, when you use a VPN, you might need up to 1.73 GB to watch the same video.

But how much data does VPN use in a day? A VPN can use 1 to 2 GB daily, depending on your online activities.

It might seem like a slight increase, but when you use data for several days, a VPN will impact your expenses.

Which VPN Protocols use the least data?

JP Jones, the Chief Technology Officer of, made this list of five common protocols, how much they increase your data usage, how secure, and how fast they are.

VPN ProtocolIncreased data usageSecurity levelSpeed
WireGuard4.53%HighVery fast
IKEv2/IPSec7.88%MediumVery fast
PPTP8.24%LowVery fast
OpenVPN UDP17.23%HighFast
OpenVPN TCP19.96%HighModerate

WireGuard uses the least data and is also quite fast and secure. However, based on our research, its features are still incomplete because it’s a new protocol.

Second, IKEv2/IPSec offers the advantage of IPSec and IKEv2 for authentication and encryption. IKEv2/IPSec may need more data than WireGuard, but it’s more secure than the latter. In our previous article, we recommended using this protocol for confidential transactions.

PPTP is third on the list, but it has outdated security layers. It may be fast, but it’s not worth using when it can compromise your information instead of protecting it from scammers.

Lastly, OpenVPN UDP and TCP are both secure, but they’re above the 15% mark. For example, you may normally use 1.5GB of data, but because of these protocols, you can consume almost 1.80 GB.

Although WireGuard uses the least data, we found out that IKEv2/IPSec is the best choice regarding security and data usage. You can shop online, check your bank accounts, view restricted files, and watch videos without worrying too much about data consumption.

You can check out the list below for VPNs that use IKEv2/IPSec:

Can you use a VPN on cellular data?

Yes, you can still use a VPN on mobile data, and it works just the same when you use Wi-Fi. 

But do you need a VPN on a cellular network? 

Yes, especially when using public Wi-Fi, hackers can easily target your online identity. For example, connecting to the hotel or airport’s Wi-Fi may compromise your data. 

You can also use a VPN to access popular websites, such as Facebook or Google when going to countries where they’re blocked.

Once you’re at home and connected to a private Wi-Fi, you can turn off your data because using a VPN can increase data consumption by up to 15%, as discussed above.

But can you use VPN without data?

Unfortunately, you need cellular data or a Wi-Fi connection to protect your data. Also, using a VPN conceals your online transactions, so it’s contradictory to use a VPN while offline.

Can a VPN get around the data cap?

A VPN won’t block your data usage. Most people think that because a VPN can encrypt your online activities, ISPs won’t track your internet usage.

But not even a VPN can lift your planned data cap. Your ISP can still calculate the amount of data you consume.

Using a VPN actually means reaching your data limit faster because it increases consumption from 5% to 15%. Some protocols even use 19% more of your data.

So if you’re planning to get around your data cap, then VPN isn’t the answer. But it can help protect you from scammers and fraudsters, which we think is more important.

Can a VPN bypass throttling?

First, what is throttling? 

Throttling happens when your ISP limits your internet speed or bandwidth without telling you. As a result, you’ll experience a slower internet connection. It may become frustrating because you won’t be able to view some content, or you’d have difficulty accessing apps and websites.

Here’s how to detect data throttling:

  1. Run a speed test without using a VPN.
  2. Rerun it using a VPN and compare if there’s a big difference.

If you discover that your ISP throttles your connection, we recommend using a VPN since it can bypass throttling.

Your ISP can no longer detect your online transactions, so it won’t be able to access the content you view and selects you for throttling.

How to reduce the amount of data your VPN uses?

Although a VPN increases your data usage, you can still take some action to reduce the amount of data it uses.

  1. Choose the VPN protocol that uses the least data

Choosing the protocol that requires the least data is the best way to minimize VPN data usage.

You can choose between WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec, but we recommend using the latter for its authentication and security features.

WireGuard uses 4.53%, and IKEv2/IPSec consumes 7.88%. Those are low amounts compared to OpenVPN TCP, which needs 19.96% more of your data to operate.

  1. Turn off VPN when not in use

There are times when you don’t need your VPN. For example, when you’re not using your mobile gadget, you don’t have online activities that need concealment from prying eyes.

 You can also turn off your VPN when you connect to a home network because it provides a secure connection.

  1. Connect to the closest server

Most VPN providers allow you to choose the country you want to connect to. Although you have the freedom to choose your location, we recommend selecting the one closest to you.

Due to the short physical distance, less data travels between the VPN device and your gadget. For example, if you’re in the US, you can choose a private network from Canada, a neighboring country.

  1. Use split tunneling

Split tunneling allows you to access different security domains, such as a public network and a local area network (LAN), at the same time.

For example, you can select which apps use your real internet connection and which remain protected by the VPN. As a result, not all of your online transactions have to be concealed by the VPN.

  1. Enable data compression

If your VPN provider offers an ad tracker and malware blocker, it most likely has an option for data compression.

So how does an ad tracker and malware blocker reduce data consumption?

You might notice video ads and large banners whenever you visit a website. Since those advertisements also use data, you can limit VPN data usage when preventing ads from showing up.

  1. Avoid using a free VPN

Everybody wants free things and services but did you know that free VPNs may include pop-up advertisements that you’re trying to avoid?

So if you want to use a VPN on a cellular network, it’s better to opt for a paid app than a free one.

Is it worth it to use a VPN on mobile data?

It’s important to connect your device to a VPN even though it uses additional data. You can keep yourself safe from hackers, scammers, and identity thieves.

Besides, you can reduce VPN data consumption by choosing the right VPN, turning it off when not in use, connecting to the closest server, utilizing slip tunnels, enabling data compression, and avoiding free VPNs.

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