If you use a wired ethernet connection for your desktop or laptop, you may be wondering: Does VPN Work With Ethernet?
Many people use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to encrypt their internet traffic and access region-restricted content. But can you use a VPN if you connect to the internet via ethernet rather than WiFi?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. VPN services are compatible with ethernet connections. In fact, using a VPN with ethernet can provide faster speeds and more stable connectivity compared to using WiFi alone.
In this complete guide, we’ll explain exactly how VPNs and ethernet work together. You’ll learn:
- How VPN encryption functions over ethernet networks
- Tips for setup and troubleshooting when using a VPN with ethernet
- Whether ethernet affects VPN speeds
- The top VPN protocols that work seamlessly over ethernet
- Key security and access benefits of combining VPN and ethernet
By the end of this post, you’ll understand clearly how and why to use a VPN with an ethernet connection. You’ll know how to get your devices secured and unlock restricted content, regardless of how you connect to the internet.
How VPNs and Ethernet Connections Work Together
To understand how VPNs work over ethernet, it helps first to understand how each technology functions.
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, encrypts and reroutes your internet traffic through a remote server run by the VPN provider.
This hides your IP address and online activities, preventing surveillance and blocking from your internet service provider (ISP) or network admin. A misconception some people had they think their VPN can hide their device id , but it cannot hide your device id it only mask your IP address.
Ethernet refers to wired internet connections using an ethernet cable plugged into a router or modem.
Ethernet provides faster and more reliable speeds compared to WiFi by eliminating interference and giving you full access to your internet plan’s bandwidth.
The key point is that a VPN works by encrypting your traffic, regardless of how you’re connected to the internet.
The VPN software on your device will encrypt your data before it gets sent over the network.
So when you use ethernet, the VPN still encrypts your traffic – it just travels through the wired ethernet connection rather than WiFi. This allows you to get the privacy and security benefits of a VPN while also enjoying the speed and reliability perks of ethernet.
Using a VPN With an Ethernet Connection
Setting up and using a VPN with ethernet is a straightforward process. Here are the key steps:
On a Windows PC
- Connect your PC to the ethernet network using an ethernet cable.
- Make sure you have ethernet enabled by going to Network Connections in Settings. The ethernet network should be labelled as “Connected.”
- Sign up for and install your preferred VPN service – for example, ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
- Launch the VPN app and connect to a server, just as you normally would, to start encrypting your traffic.
On a Mac
- Plug your Mac into the ethernet network using an ethernet cable.
- Open System Preferences > Network and make sure ethernet is enabled and connected.
- Download and install the Mac app for your VPN service.
- Open the VPN app, pick a server location, and connect.
Once connected, you can verify your IP address has changed to confirm the VPN is active.
The process is the same as using a VPN over WiFi. The only difference is your traffic will flow through the wired ethernet connection first before being encrypted by the VPN.
Some tips for troubleshooting:
- Make sure your ethernet drivers are up to date
- Try toggling your ethernet connection off and back on
- Reinstall your VPN app and reset your connections
- Contact your VPN provider’s customer support
Using a VPN over ethernet provides the speed and reliability benefits of wired connectivity while still rerouting and encrypting your traffic to protect privacy.
Does Using Ethernet Affect VPN Speed?
One common question people have is whether using ethernet impacts the speeds they can achieve with a VPN connection.
The short answer is that ethernet generally improves speed. Still, VPN encryption can cause a minor reduction in maximum ethernet speeds.
|Connection Type||Typical Download Speed||Typical Upload Speed||Latency|
|Ethernet||400 Mbps||300 Mbps||2-4 ms|
|WiFi||15 Mbps||10 Mbps||15-30 ms|
The benefits of ethernet for bandwidth and reduced latency outweigh any minor speed impacts from the VPN. Here are some key factors to understand:
- Ethernet provides faster base speeds than WiFi, with reduced interference and latency. This gives you more headroom before the VPN encryption kicks in.
- VPN encryption does incur some overhead, so your max speeds may be slightly reduced versus unencrypted ethernet. But in most cases, this speed reduction is small.
- With gigabit ethernet connections, maximum speeds can reach ~940 Mbps unencrypted. With a VPN, you may see speeds capped around ~850 Mbps instead. But this is still much faster than WiFi.
- Factors like your ISP speed, router equipment, and VPN protocol play a larger role in determining overall speeds. The ethernet vs WiFi connection type itself is rarely the limiting factor.
- Using wired ethernet leads to lower latency and less packet loss than WiFi, producing a more responsive VPN connection.
So, while a VPN may cause a minor reduction in theoretical maximum ethernet speeds, real-world speeds are still faster and more stable than using WiFi alone. The benefits of security and reliability outweigh the small speed tradeoff.
VPN Protocols That Work Over Ethernet
VPN Protocols That Work Over Ethernet There are a variety of VPN protocols available, which all function normally over an ethernet connection:
OpenVPN: OpenVPN is a popular open-source protocol that uses SSL/TLS encryption. It provides excellent security and speed capabilities.
OpenVPN can be configured over UDP or TCP transport layers, with UDP generally being faster.
IKEv2 – IKEv2 is an IPsec-based protocol developed by Microsoft that uses strong 256-bit AES encryption. It offers great performance and compatibility across devices.
WireGuard: WireGuard is a newer protocol focused on simplicity, speed, and security. It uses state-of-the-art cryptography and is very fast over ethernet connections.
L2TP/IPsec – L2TP/IPsec is an older VPN protocol that tunnels traffic and encrypts using IPsec. It has wider device support but slower speeds than newer protocols.
SSTP: SSTP is a Microsoft proprietary protocol that uses SSL/TLS within the OpenVPN model. It has good speeds but primarily Windows support.
PPTP: PPTP is a very old protocol that has major security vulnerabilities. It does not provide effective encryption. Only use PPTP if no other protocol options are available.
To get the optimal VPN performance over ethernet, we recommend using OpenVPN or IKEv2.
Both offer excellent speeds while still providing air-tight security. WireGuard is also great if you have a newer device that supports it.
Avoid PPTP for any sensitive browsing.
With the right protocol configured, you can maximize your ethernet connectivity while keeping 100% private through the VPN tunnel.
Why Combine VPN and Ethernet?
There are several key benefits to using a VPN over ethernet rather than WiFi alone:
Enhanced Security: Public WiFi connections can be risky, with bad actors potentially intercepting traffic. Ethernet gives you a private, dedicated connection but still allows your ISP to monitor unencrypted activity. Combining ethernet with a VPN gives you full security.
Faster Speeds: Ethernet provides much faster speeds than WiFi, which allows you to leverage your internet plan’s full bandwidth potential. This improves VPN throughput compared to using WiFi alone.
Lower Latency: Wired networks have lower latency due to the dedicated connection and elimination of wireless interference. This can improve responsiveness when using real-time apps through the VPN.
Bypass Restrictions: VPNs allow you to bypass geographic restrictions and censorship to access blocked websites and content. This works over ethernet, just like WiFi.
Streaming & Gaming –Ethernet connectivity is great for gaming, streaming, and other high-bandwidth uses. The VPN tunnel prevents your ISP from throttling these types of traffic.
Device Support: Most VPNs support ethernet connections across Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. So you can secure all your devices.
Travel & Public Use: Combining a VPN with ethernet is perfect for securing public connections while traveling or working remotely.
In summary, using a VPN with ethernet provides the ideal mix of speed, reliability, and privacy across your devices.
The VPN encryption protects you, while the wired ethernet connection offers faster base speeds than WiFi. For maximum security and performance, VPN plus ethernet is the way to go.
FAQ About Does VPN Work With Ethernet?
The Last Word
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with an ethernet connection is a great way to enhance both your security and internet speeds.
VPN services encrypt your data and online activities, while ethernet provides faster-wired access compared to WiFi.
Together, they allow you to access the internet or region-restricted content at top speeds safely.
The VPN functions normally over ethernet, securely tunneling your traffic through an encrypted connection before it leaves your network.
While the VPN may cause a minor reduction in maximum theoretical ethernet speeds, real-world performance is still faster than WiFi.
Setting up a VPN over ethernet is simple on Windows, Mac, and other devices. And leading protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard all work seamlessly over ethernet connections.
So, if you want the best mix of speed, reliability, and privacy across your home or work networks, using a high-speed VPN with ethernet is the way to go. You get full data protection without sacrificing your internet speeds.