You can speed up your Windows network connection with this ExpressVPN trick

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Is your Windows network connection slower than you would like? A quick web search gives you several libraries of tips on how to speed things up, but the quality is, well, variable. You could easily waste time on a long list of complicated tweaks based on an obscure blog post from 2014, only to find that your speeds are worse than they originally were (and that’s if your connection is working. always).

What if you got advice from someone you can trust, though? Like, say, the market leader VPN ExpressVPN? So, maybe it’s worth paying a little more attention.

The company’s Windows VPN application includes a setting called “Optimize Windows Networking to Maximize Windows Speed” which aims to improve network and Internet speeds. The option is simple, only changes a few Windows settings, and could have a positive impact on your speed.

And the best? You can apply these settings now, even if you’re not using ExpressVPN. It only takes a few minutes, and if it doesn’t work, no problem – just restore original settings, reboot, and you’ll be back to normal.


Windows ExpressVPN app provides network optimization setting

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN Windows Network Acceleration Adjustments

ExpressVPN explains that: “The default Windows network settings for Windows 7 and 8 are not optimized for today’s fast internet traffic and VPN speeds,” and enabling its Optimize setting means that its app has applied the latest settings recommended by Microsoft.

Assuming you’re using Windows 10, other apps you may have installed have already changed these network settings, so it’s always worth checking them out.

The ExpressVPN application applies these two Windows TCP settings:

– Enables a feature called Windows Receive Windows Auto-Tuning, a smart technology that automatically adjusts data transfers to work better with changing network conditions.

– Disables Windows scaling heuristics. Much like auto-tuning, this tells Windows to check for connectivity issues and try to compensate for any issues it finds. This is fine in theory, but it doesn’t always work and many network acceleration guides recommend turning it off.

Will either of these help you? We cannot say for sure. To make it easier to find, check your broadband speeds with a site like SpeedTest.net or nPerf.com before and after making any adjustments, to get a clear picture of any changes.

1. Open the Windows command prompt

The easiest way to manually apply these settings is to use the Windows Command Prompt.

Click on Start, type CMD, and Command Prompt should be selected by default (if not, use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to select it.)

When highlighted, click on Run as administrator, and click Yes when asked if you want to allow this app to make changes to your device.

Don’t see a Run as administrator prompt? Right-click on Command Prompt and choose the option from the menu, or highlight Command Prompt, hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys, and press Enter.

Windows Command Prompt

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Check your current Windows network settings

Before making any changes, it’s important to check your existing settings, as you can then restore them later if the settings don’t work.

Copy and paste the command netsh int tcp show global in the command prompt and press Enter.

Look in the list of parameters, and note the level of automatic adjustment of the reception of WindowsL. This is the second setting on our Windows 10 system and may say “disabled”, “highly restricted”, “restricted”, “normal” or “experimental”.

Now copy and paste netsh int tcp display heuristic in the command line and press Enter.

This time, find the heuristic value of scaling windows, note whether it is off or on, and save the details.

3. Apply the ExpressVPN settings

If your Windows Scaling Heuristics setting is enabled right now, copy and paste the command netsh int tcp set heuristics disabled in the command prompt, then press Enter to turn it off.

If your Windows automatic reception adjustment level is set to anything other than “Normal”, copy and paste the command netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel = normal in your command window, then press Enter.

Was heuristics already disabled and auto-tuning set to normal? Then you are already using ExpressVPN’s recommended settings. It gets you a boost in setting up your top-notch PC, but otherwise you don’t have to do anything.

If you’ve made a change, however, it’s important to close all apps and restart when you’re done. TCP changes may not be fully active until your system reboots.

The nPerf site has an internet speed test

(Image credit: nPerf)

4. Test your system’s network speed

Tweaks applied, go back to the speed test sites you tried earlier, run a few more checks, and look for any changes.

Don’t be surprised if the performance is about the same. While there are advantages to the settings, they may not be immediately noticeable or may not apply in all situations.

If it’s a Windows laptop, for example, you might not see any changes at home, but a big speed boost on your favorite cafe’s wireless hotspot when it is running. is particularly busy.

In other words: be patient. See how your system works with all the networks you access and all your usual tasks, before giving your final verdict.

5. Undo the changes, if necessary.

If there are problems and you want to get Windows back to how it was, just relaunch the command prompt, refer to your notes of the previous settings and use the netsh commands you entered earlier to restore them.

If your Heuristics setting was enabled, for example, restore it by entering the command netsh int tcp set heuristics enabled

And if your original auto tuning level was off, go back with the command netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel = disabled

In either case, replace the last word of the command with the original setting, as recorded in your notes.

Again, restart when you’re done to make sure Windows applies the new settings correctly and your system will return to its original state.

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