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Is my VPN abnormally slow?

I am new to the (virtual private network) VPN arena. Our company has a Checkpoint firewall/VPN system. The remote users are complaining that the VPN is slow using Checkpoint's SecuRemote client. I've talked to other consultants and was told this is the "nature of the beast." My new boss doesn't want to hear this. He's contacted a consultant that has told him that we should ditch Checkpoint and implement a Cisco VPN solution. This just doesn't seem right to me. In your experience with VPNs, is the connection generally slow?

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The answer is "yes." In my experience, VPNs are generally slow. Using a VPN is always going to be slower than not using a VPN because of several factors:

  1. You're forcing traffic to go through the VPN, which may not be the optimal path (especially if traffic is then going back out to the Internet).
  2. You're adding a couple of extra devices in the path of the traffic, and every device adds some latency.
  3. Some encryption and decryption needs to occur, which requires math, which is processor intensive.

With that said, items No. 2 and No. 3 don't need to cause a noticeable performance decrease as long as your VPN device is fast enough to handle the traffic you're throwing at it.

This was first published in August 2003

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