Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

TWC speedtest and speedtest.net show me getting my advertised 50Mbps, however, streaming youtube or Netflix, the speed drops to around 3 Kbps when a VPN isn't active. With my paid VPN service, it slows the speedtest drops down to around 45Mbps, but I can stream 4k on youtube with no buffering, as I could before I moved here.


Something seems really fishy. Why is streaming only feasible when I have a VPN turned on. I think I know the answer, but this is really disappointing, I feel robbed. 


Is there anyway I can get this, well, to not happen so I don't have to pay another $10 a month to get the internet speeds I pay for already? 


Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

You have something set up wrong. You should not be streaming thru a VPN... unless it's from the VPN!


Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

All I know is, when I have the VPN on, even though I lose some overall speed in Speedtest, all streaming servies are much, much faster. Youtube is basically unusable if I don't have the VPN service running. 


With the VPN service turned off on my pc, I cannot watch anything over 480p without severe stops to buffer. The connection speed to youtube should not be (as of this post to check) 5Kbps on youtube. When I turn the VPN service on, the connection speed on the video reads (again, as of this moment after going to check) 17 Mbps, and buffers very quickly. 


Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

Are you using a real physical router or something PC based?


Spectrum Employee

Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

Try a traceroute to a known site both on and off the VPN tunnel and see what the differences are?  Any sort of firewalls active on the PC you're streaming from?  Sounds to me like this is a routing issue.

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Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

I can confirm that I am having the exact same issue. It's been happening for the past few weeks now where whenever I'm trying to stream anything it just slows way down.(On the 30mbps plan)


I got a VPN set up, and it's a whole new world. 


Seems to me that TWC is blocking/limiting GREATLY streaming applications. 


I'm not trying to take your post, just confirm I'm seeing the same thing. 


Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

[ Edited ]

I have the same issue here. I use a VPN from Private Internet Access with the location set to NYC, and youtube works totally fine with the VPN (easily hitting my ~50 megabit/s plan limits) but without the VPN I often times get speeds peaking of ~1.5 megabit/s.


These speeds are found via youtube "Stats for Nerds" or the Windows 10 task manager or my routers dashboard (I use OpenWRT) on a TP-Link TL-WDR3600 v1. This is a wired connection to my router which is fed from a Motorola SB6141 modem.


Interestingly enough, sometimes I get slower speeds when attempting to stream 720p+ compared to 480p. Without a VPN, I easily hit my max speeds when downloading games from stream or other bandwidth intensive tasks.


Here is a traceroute without the VPN

Tracing route to youtube.com []
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1     1 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  OpenWrt.lan []
  2    29 ms    15 ms    14 ms  cpe-66-65-144-1.nyc.res.rr.com []
  3    22 ms    11 ms     9 ms  tge-0-10-0-4.msptny0101h.nyc.rr.com []
  4    21 ms    23 ms    12 ms  agg109.nyclnyrg01r.nyc.rr.com []
  5    15 ms    31 ms    15 ms  bu-ether29.nwrknjmd67w-bcr00.tbone.rr.com []
  6    15 ms    18 ms    14 ms  0.ae1.pr0.nyc30.tbone.rr.com []
  7    10 ms    11 ms    13 ms
  8    42 ms    17 ms    16 ms []
  9    15 ms    22 ms    15 ms []
 10    18 ms    13 ms    36 ms
 11    16 ms    18 ms    17 ms
 12    13 ms    18 ms    15 ms
 13    16 ms    14 ms    17 ms  lga15s49-in-f5.1e100.net []

Trace complete.


And a tracert with the VPN location set to NYC

Tracing route to youtube.com []
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1    21 ms    14 ms    17 ms
  2    19 ms    15 ms    13 ms []
  3    14 ms    20 ms    19 ms  core1-0-2-0.lga.net.google.com []
  4    18 ms    15 ms    13 ms
  5    19 ms    26 ms    17 ms
  6    54 ms    26 ms    30 ms
  7    22 ms    26 ms    19 ms
  8    22 ms    25 ms    19 ms
  9    22 ms    20 ms    33 ms  iad23s25-in-f14.1e100.net []

Trace complete.

I am not quite sure as to what the traceroute would help with though considering this is to the youtube website instead of any of the CDN end points.


I am aware of the article by TWC but, as the comments say, this is likely due to TWC being the usual TWC regarding peering. I am far more likely to believe a company like Google instead of TWC considering TWC's past behavior. For others spotting this from googling, consider this arstechnica article on how others are dealing with this.

Seasoned Contributor

Re: Abysmally slow streaming when VPN is not active.

Your first step is to check is the Google Video Quality Report.  Since you trust Google over TWC you can go here: https://www.google.com/get/videoqualityreport , put in your zip code and see if TWC is HD Verified.  This will tell you if the overall speed in your area will sustain HD video.  It won't tell you about your address but if your neighborhood is HD Verified but your performace is poor it suggests a local problem.


Second in the traceroutes your posted we see the VPN version taking almost exactly twice as long.  That because the side effect of DNS queries or other geolocation is sending you to a Google cache in a data center in Virginia (IAD) rather than one in the metro area (LGA).


There are a couple of tools out there that can help you visualize network problems.  One is the "new" speed test at DSLReports: https://www.dslreports.com/speedtest which, while it rates a 50Mb connection D, your overall score is related to latency and consistent speed.  Another (java based) network assessment tool is the Berkeley Netalyzr: http://netalyzr.icsi.berkeley.edu