What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (2023)

Don’t let ISP throttling slow down your Friday night.

  • Have you noticed slow speeds on YouTube videos?
  • Do Netflix videos take forever to load and buffer?
  • Is your ISP throttling your streaming video traffic?
  • Use a VPN to bypass throttling and peering conflicts.

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (1)

What is ISP bandwidth throttling, exactly?

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (2)

Throttlingis when an internet service provider (ISP) intentionally slows down your internet based on what you’re trying to do online.

With the rise ofstreaming video serviceslikeNetflix,HBO Max, and even YouTube that demand high bandwidth, ISPs have begun inspecting your data and restricting your download speed if they detect packets from those services. ISPs claim this is to reduce congestion on their networks, but the truth is more complicated.

Why do ISPs throttle the internet?

There are several reasons for ISP throttling. If you’ve used a certain amount of data in a certain period of time, your ISP might start throttling your connection so you’ll use less data. Streaming sites use a lot of bandwidth, so ISPs tend to start throttling when they notice you streaming. And during periods of network congestion, ISPs might throttle connections to balance their network speeds, helping as many users as possible get decent service. Finally, ISPs in countries with heavy censorship throttle on some sites to frustrate users, discouraging them from visiting that content without outright blocking it.

How to tell if your internet is being throttled

The best way to know if your internet speed is being throttled is by running an internet speed test—with and without a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts your internet traffic, shielding your online activity from your service provider. If your internet speed improves with the use of a VPN, there's a good chance your ISP is throttling your internet connection.

Bandwidth throttling hurts customers

Some ISPs already have the capability to handle the extra data but choose to throttle content providers’ traffic because it competes with their own streaming content libraries. Some ISPs have forced Netflix to pay a fee to escape throttling, allowing the ISP to avoid paying for much-needed upgrades. Lack of competition among ISPs and broadband providers means that companies can even get away with overcharging customers for faster internet.

Learn more about other topics related to internet freedom.

What is peering?

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (3)

Peeringis when two ISPs connect and exchange traffic. Mutually beneficial under normal circumstances, peering causes problems when a popular streaming service (such as Netflix) forces one ISP to exceed the agreed traffic ratio, prompting the other one to ignore congestion and refuse to make adjustments.

That means you could be denied the internet speeds you paid for simply because your ISP refuses to resolve a peering conflict with another company.

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (4)

What’s the best way to bypass bandwidth throttling?

If your ISP is throttling your bandwidth, and switching providers is not an option, the easiest solution is to connect through VPN. Your ISP won’t be able to inspect the data packets, so it won’t be able to throttle that traffic based on what service you’re using. The result is unlimited bandwidth for pure, unrestricted streaming video.

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (5)

How to bypass peering conflicts with a VPN

Using a VPN also solves the congestion caused by peering conflicts. Instead of going through a third-party ISP to reach your content, your traffic travels on a privately maintained network, taking the most direct, least congested path between you and the content you love.

How to stop your ISP from throttling Netflix

Many ISPs throttle streaming services such as Netflix, with Comcast admitting to having done so in the past—though it‘s since claimed that this is no longer in practice. But if you want to be sure, a VPN is your best bet for throttle-free streams all day, no matter which ISP or network you’re on.

How do I know if my ISP is throttling my Netflix?

The simplest ways to know is by running a speed test on your internet connection while watching Netflix. Do this with and without a VPN. If it’s faster with a VPN, that is a good indication that you’re being throttled.

Defeat ISP throttling in 3 easy steps

Step 1

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Sign up for ExpressVPN, with its blazing-fast speeds.

Step 2

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (7)

Connect to a VPN server locationin one of 94 countries.

Step 3

What is ISP Throttling and How to Bypass It | ExpressVPN (8)

Enjoy faster speeds and no more throttling based on content. Bye-bye, buffering.

Frequently asked questions: ISP throttling

Is throttling illegal?

Internet privacy laws vary from country to country, but in general, ISP throttling is not illegal.

Does bandwidth throttling affect mobile data?

Yes. If your mobile device internet connection is being throttled, it may lead to higher mobile data usage. This is particularly beneficial for ISPs, as high mobile data usage encourages users to purchase more data.

How do I stop my ISP from throttling me without a VPN?

There are a number of ways to avoid throttling besides using a VPN. Using a proxy server is a potential solution, but it’s ineffective for several reasons, one being that proxies tend to be slow—defeating the purpose of stopping throttling. The other, easier solution is to upgrade your internet plan to receive more mobile data, ensuring that you don’t get close to your limit.

A VPN is still your best bet to bypass ISP throttling. ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try us risk-free.

How can I boost my internet speed?

There are a few methods you can try to boost your internet speeds:

  • Use an ad blocker

  • Clear your browser history and cache regularly

  • Disconnect devices that aren’t being used

  • Use fiber optic cabling

Getting a more powerful router, preferably one with a VPN, is another excellent method of improving your internet speeds.

Is there a device to stop internet throttling?

Some Wi-Fi devices are said to stop internet throttling, but there has been no real evidence that these devices actually work.




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Is it possible to bypass ISP throttling? ›

What's the best way to bypass bandwidth throttling? If your ISP is throttling your bandwidth, and switching providers is not an option, the easiest solution is to connect through VPN. Your ISP won't be able to inspect the data packets, so it won't be able to throttle that traffic based on what service you're using.

How do you prove your ISP is throttling you? ›

To do this, connect a computer to your modem using an Ethernet cable and run our speed test. Then, open a virtual private network (VPN) client—we provide a list of the best VPNs—and rerun the test. If your connection is significantly faster while using the VPN, your ISP is likely throttling your service.

How do I Unthrottle my Internet speed? ›

How to stop internet throttling
  1. Download a VPN to your device;
  2. Create your account and sign in;
  3. Connect to a server location of your choosing;
  4. Enjoy the internet and all of your favorite online services with no more lag.
Jan 2, 2023

How is ISP throttling legal? ›

Also known as data throttling or bandwidth throttling, internet throttling is legal if your ISP expresses the possibility of limiting your internet speed in the fine print of your contract. The exception is if your ISP falsely advertised unlimited data but went on to place a cap on your service.

How to bypass ISP restrictions? ›

Here are the best ways to bypass blocked sites and access whatever page you want.
  1. Use a VPN. The most popular way of accessing blocked internet sites is to use a high-quality paid Virtual Private Network (VPN). ...
  2. Use a Smart DNS. ...
  3. Use a Free Proxy. ...
  4. Use a Site's IP Address. ...
  5. Use the Tor Browser.

Can I sue my ISP for throttling? ›

Can you sue your ISP for slow internet, fraudulent advertising, or throttling services? Yes, you can.

What hides your ISP? ›

Using a reliable VPN is the best way of hiding your activity from your ISP. Not only does it encrypt all the information about you, it also transfers your IP address to the VPN's server. This means that your ISP can't track your location when you use the internet.

How to bypass ISP throttling with VPN? ›

How to stop ISP bandwidth throttling with a VPN
  1. Download a reputable VPN from your device's app store or from the VPN's website. We recommend NordVPN - get 63% OFF!
  2. Create an account with the VPN.
  3. Sign in and connect to your desired server location.
  4. Enjoy your fast internet!
Feb 10, 2023

Can your ISP track everything? ›

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can see everything you do online. They can track things like which websites you visit, how long you spend on them, the content you watch, the device you're using, and your geographic location.

How do I bypass ISP throttling without VPN? ›

You can use a web proxy to bypass ISP throttling without a VPN, but the proxy must encrypt your traffic. An encrypted proxy conceals your internet browser's traffic and spoofs your online location. This means your ISP can't monitor your browsing activity and throttle your internet connection.

Does a VPN stop your Internet provider? ›

A VPN hides your device's IP address and encrypts everything you do online, effectively making you anonymous. So yes, a VPN does hide you from your ISP.

Why is my internet so slow but speed test is fast? ›

It might be because of an outdated router or a less-than-ideal router location. You might be able to solve slow speeds with an easy fix, like upgrading to a mesh network (which also has to be set up in the right spot) or simply restarting your modem and router.

Can your ISP block you? ›

Yes, Internet service providers can deny your access to certain websites. To do that, ISPs apply various techniques, such as firewalls, DNS filters, and deep packet inspection (DPI). These methods allow them to control your traffic and block a particular IP address or redirect you to another site.

How to bypass ISP DNS block? ›

Use a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, is a service that encrypts and routes your internet traffic through a remote server in another location. This way, you can hide your IP address and bypass any DNS filtering that your local network may impose.

How do I mask my ISP? ›

5 ways to hide your IP address
  1. Use a proxy. Proxy or a proxy server has its own IP address and acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. ...
  2. Use a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and this is the most common way to hide your IP address. ...
  3. Use TOR. ...
  4. Use mobile network. ...
  5. Connect to public Wi-Fi.

How to bypass Internet restrictions free? ›

Unblock websites with VPN

By encrypting your data and hiding your IP address, a VPN lets you bypass Internet restrictions and access geo-blocked content from anywhere in the world.

Should Internet throttling be illegal? ›

Is Throttling Legal? Throttling an internet connection is like a sneaky business that shortchanges its customers. Nonetheless, throttling is a legal practice, as long as ISPs adequately explain it to their customers.

Can my ISP report me to the police? ›

An ISP, or any other company that stores client information is subject to the Data Protection Act and has a legal duty to keep your details safe and secure. To release such information, even to the police, without the request being made in the correct manner would make you liable for prosecution.

Can an ISP force you to use their modem? ›

Of course they can. They're private companies and it's their infrastructure. There are practical reasons for this. By requiring that you use their hardware, or hardware from an approved list, they ensure security and control support costs.

Can my ISP see my incognito mode? ›

Incognito or private mode will keep your local browsing private, but it won't stop your ISP, school, or employer from seeing where you've been online. In fact, your ISP has access to all your browsing activity pretty much no matter what you do.

How do you know if your IP address is being monitored? ›

There's just no way of knowing who is running your IP address through any type of IP lookup service. It could be your bank, your real estate agent, or a tech-savvy teenager who's also a hacker. It is possible to be traced by someone—a stalker, an investigator or even a criminal—via your IP address.

Can my ISP see my Google searches? ›

Internet service providers (ISPs) can see more of what you do online than almost anyone. They can track your browsing history easily, and, in some cases, they can share that data with third parties. Your data has become incredibly precious, surpassing even the value of oil.

Why is my ISP throttling me? ›

Why do ISPs throttle internet? ISPs throttle the internet mainly to regulate network traffic and clear up network congestion. ISPs can also throttle users when they reach a data usage limit within a fixed period. Throttling gets more questionable when ISPs use it to influence your internet habits and profit off of you.

Can my ISP see my messages? ›

Your Emails

If your email service does not use Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption, your ISP can easily read the content of your email. If you use an email provided by your ISP, there is nothing that they cannot see.

How long does ISP keep browsing history? ›

Your Internet Providers keep track of your online activities and are mandated to retain your history and other associated data for a while. How long they can keep this data usually varies from country to country. Usually, this period may range from 90 days to 3 years.

Can my ISP see my browsing history if I use a VPN? ›

Your ISP can't see your browsing history when you use a VPN. Everything you do stays private when you connect to a VPN server. Premium VPNs, like PIA, reroute your traffic through their own DNS servers, which conceals your DNS requests from your ISP.

What does a VPN not hide? ›

A VPN does not hide your browsing activity from the websites and apps you visit. Using a VPN hides your browsing activity from your ISP and WiFi administrator, but it doesn't hide that activity from the website or app you're using – they can still see exactly what you do on their service.

Can government track VPN? ›

Can police track online purchases made with a VPN? There is no way to track live, encrypted VPN traffic. That's why police or government agencies who need information about websites you visited have to contact your internet service provider (ISP for short), and only then your VPN provider.

How do ISPs know you're Torrenting? ›

Your ISP will only know that you are torrenting when someone who has monitored your IP address engaged in torrenting and proceeds to tip the ISP off. That said, ISPs can usually guess when you are torrenting by analyzing the amount of bandwidth you are consuming.

Why is my internet slow even though I have full bars? ›

A slow data connection on your phone is usually caused by a poor connection in your location, network congestion, or too many background apps running. Slow iOS or Android internet is a familiar problem for smartphone owners, and there are many reasons why your phone internet is slow.

Why does Wi-Fi get worse at night? ›

Slower internet speeds at night are often the due to network congestion. Just like rush hour traffic, when everyone uses the internet at the same time, the network's limited bandwidth struggles to keep up.

Why is my internet connected but extremely slow? ›

You can generally fix a slow internet connection if the issue is on your end. A simple restart of your modem and your router (or all-in-one wireless gateway) can sometimes speed up your connection. But your slow speeds may also be the result of problems on your provider's end—problems you just can't fix.

What is every ISP ordered to block? ›

A federal judge has ordered all Internet service providers in the United States to block three pirate streaming services operated by Doe defendants who never showed up to court and hid behind false identities.

Can a VPN bypass ISP blocking? ›

A reliable VPN is the very thing that helps you bypass various restrictions online. Yet your ISP, the government, organizations, or even websites can block your VPN connection. Luckily, by choosing a high-rated and trustworthy VPN you can avoid these restrictions and bypass VPN blocks.

Can I use VPN to prevent throttling? ›

While it is challenging to avoid bandwidth throttling entirely, here are a few ways to minimize it: Use a VPN. VPN will encrypt your traffic, and your ISP won't see what you do online. It helps in cases when throttling is implemented for specific websites or services.

Should internet throttling be illegal? ›

Is Throttling Legal? Throttling an internet connection is like a sneaky business that shortchanges its customers. Nonetheless, throttling is a legal practice, as long as ISPs adequately explain it to their customers.

How do I bypass ISP throttling without a VPN? ›

One way to stop your ISP from throttling you without using a VPN is to use a proxy server, which will hide your IP address from view.

How to hide traffic from ISP without VPN? ›

Here are some ways internet users can hide their IP address without VPNs for enhanced data protection and online privacy.
  1. Use a Proxy. A proxy is similar to a VPN because it acts as a middleman between the internet and connected device. ...
  2. Try Tor. ...
  3. Switch Networks. ...
  4. Ask the ISP to Change IP Address.

How do I get rid of ISP blocking? ›

How do I unblock a website from my ISP? You can bypass ISP blocks with the help of specific software, such as the Tor browser, Smart DNS, proxy server, or virtual private network (VPN). These tools spoof your IP address and redirect your traffic to a remote server. We recommend you to unblock websites with VPN.

Does a VPN trick your ISP? ›

A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and reroutes it through a VPN server before sending it to its destination. Because of this, your ISP can't see what you do online once you activate that VPN connection.

Can Netflix detect VPN? ›

Although Netflix wants to block VPNs from the streaming service, it's not always successful due to geo-restrictions (because of copyright laws). Netflix tracks down IP addresses it knows to be associated with VPNs and blocks those IP addresses.

How do I use VPN without slowing my internet? ›

How do I stop my VPN from slowing down my internet?
  1. Change your VPN server location;
  2. Change your protocol settings;
  3. Switch between TCP/UDP with OpenVPN;
  4. Turn on MultiHop;
  5. Restart your device;
  6. Restart your router;
  7. Turn off security software;
  8. Ditch your wireless connections.
Mar 27, 2023

Which VPN doesn t throttle speed? ›

Surfshark is the most budget-friendly VPN to overcome bandwidth throttling. Internet users can bypass geo-restrictions and enjoy streaming online without throttling, thanks to its 3200+ servers in 100 countries. We conducted a Surfshark speed test and discovered this VPN's super-fast streaming and torrenting speeds.

Does VPN boost speed? ›

Under specific circumstances, VPNs can increase speeds for certain services. ISPs sometimes throttle, or artificially slow down, specific types of traffic; for example, several major ISPs have throttled streaming entertainment services like Netflix.

What are examples of internet throttling? ›

Here are some examples:
  • Premium plans: ISPs could create a premium plan which gives you a faster internet connection, and regular users will get a slower network.
  • Throttle competitor websites: Companies could pay ISPs to have their website or app run faster than specific websites owned by their competitors.
Mar 2, 2023

Can an ISP throttle specific websites? ›

Most cases of ISP throttling are specifically tied to certain websites / services. Your ISP analyzes your traffic and, depending on the services you're accessing, it may have a policy to intentionally slow down that traffic.

Does internet get throttled at night? ›

Network congestion and throttling are the most common reasons for internet slowdowns in the latter part of the day. There is an internet rush hour that usually runs from about 7-11 pm on weekdays. This can interfere with your use of the internet for streaming, movies, and more.

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