Best WiFi Encryption for Speed ​​and Why

Wi-Fi is basically a collection of different technologies that work together to get bits of data from one device to another wirelessly. You have quite a few options when it comes to configuring the various bits and pieces that make up these wireless connections.

One of these choices is which encryption standard to use, some of which are faster than others. So which wifi encryption standard is best for speed and why is it faster?

Here are your Wi-Fi encryption options

At the time of writing, there are only three choices when it comes to Wi-Fi security standards: WEP, WPA, and WPA2.

WEP or Wireless Equivalent Privacy is the oldest and least secure Wi-Fi encryption standard. It uses TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) for encryption. WEP is the slowest standard and has been officially abandoned since 2004. The security vulnerabilities are well understood by hackers and can be easily broken into.

WPA or WiFi Secure Access was a temporary security upgrade to WEP, which provided increased security. It still uses TKIP and is also relatively easy to break into these days. There is a newer, much more secure encryption standard known as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) that can also be tied to WPA. This is preferred and AES is still considered the gold standard at this point.

WPA 2 is the latest standard currently available and uses AES exclusively. It is by far the safest stand, but cracks are starting to form. So it won’t be forever. For now, however, we strongly recommend using WPA 2 in any situation.

If you want a more detailed overview of WEP, WPA, WP2, AES, and TKIP, read What’s the difference between WPA2, WPA, WEP, AES, and TKIP?

WPA 2 is the fastest option

Without a doubt, WPA 2 with AES encryption is the fastest option of all currently available. The only exception to this is in the case of older routers that were designed for WPA but later got WPA 2 capabilities. They may be slower when using this standard because the built-in hardware is not designed for it.

If your router came with standard WPA 2 from the factory, this is the only choice you should consider. Unless there is a device on your network that cannot access WPA 2 networks. Even then, it’s better to upgrade that device than risk the compromised security of older standards.

WiFi is not so secure

That said, even WPA 2 is starting to become a liability. Several exploits have been found, such as: CRACK† Fortunately, these exploits are not practical for mass attacks, but in some cases they can be used against specific local networks.

The biggest security problem with WPA 2 comes from public Wi-Fi hotspots. Since the Wi-Fi passcode is also the encryption key, anyone accessing the same Wi-Fi network can see each other’s network traffic. This is why HTTPS and a private VPN (Virtual Private Network) are essential when using public Wi-Fi.

WPA 3 is coming

In July 2020, WPA 3, the latest WiFi security standard, became mandatory in all new devices to gain WiFi certification. WPA 3 uses better, individualized encryption methods. By closing the door to key vulnerabilities in WPA 2, the security of public Wi-Fi hotspots is greatly improved.

On paper, WPA 3 should be both more secure and perform better than WPA 2. However, despite its release, it will be years before WPA 3 networks without WPA 2 devices become the norm.

There will be a long transition period, especially as people buy smart devices like TVs and IP cameras that are not replaced as often as smartphones or laptops. Since WPA 3 requires newer hardware in many cases, those devices will remain on WPA 2 until replaced.

More recent routers may be ready for a WPA 3 update, so check with the manufacturer to see if this is possible for yours.

WiFi signal and bandwidth are much more important for speed

While it may seem like simple or no encryption would speed up Wi-Fi performance, the impact of AES encryption on Wi-Fi speed isn’t remarkable. It is much more important to use the correct Wi-Fi band and optimize network conditions to improve performance.

So instead of worrying about your Wi-Fi encryption standard slowing things down, check the following factors:

  • Do you have sufficient signal strength?
  • Are you using the fastest band with good signal strength?
  • Are there any sources of interference or many other Wi-Fi networks?

If you want to improve your WiFi performance, check out How to Boost Wi-Fi Signal on Android for Faster Internet?† Those tips will do more for your Wi-Fi performance than changing encryption types!

Finally, remember that there is a difference in the speed of the Wi-Fi connection to your device and the speed of your service provider’s internet connection. If you do an internet speed test, the result is only as fast as your internet service.

If you want to test the speed of the local Wi-Fi network, you need another type of tool, such as: LAN speed test† For more tips on how to improve local network transfer speeds, see Why is my network data transfer so slow?

If you want real speed – use Ethernet

If performance is the most important thing to you, consider ditching WiFi completely and switching to a wired Ethernet connection instead. Wired connections are not subject to the factors that fluctuate Wi-Fi performance and can give you the full benefit of a fast connection. Assuming your Ethernet card, cable, and router all support a certain speed.

Strongly consider using a VPN

As we mentioned above, WPA 2 is the fastest and most secure Wi-Fi encryption standard that anyone can access. At least until WPA 3 becomes more widespread. However, WPA 2 is too insecure to use on its own in public hotspots and, in some cases, does not provide adequate protection even on private home networks.

So it is a good idea to use a good commercial VPN. A VPN may have a small negative effect on your internet performance, but the added features, benefits, and security of a VPN are well worth this small trade-off.

A VPN means that even if your Wi-Fi security is cracked, your data is still protected in another layer of encryption. You also have the advantage of privacy from your own ISP, as your data is encrypted even when you leave your network and access the Internet. If you’re considering a VPN, check out our Best Virtual Private Network Comparison.

With all that out of the way, you no longer have to worry about which Wi-Fi encryption type is best for speed. Set it to WPA 2 and forget about it until WPA 3 becomes available.

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