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

Is your Windows network connection slower than you would like? A quick web search gives you several libraries of advice 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 still works at all).

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

The company’s Windows VPN app includes a setting called “Optimize Windows Network to maximize Windows speed” that 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 piece? You can apply these settings now, even if you don’t use ExpressVPN. It only takes a few minutes and if it doesn’t work, no problem – just restore the original settings, restart and you’ll be back to normal.


The Windows ExpressVPN app provides an Optimize Network setting

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN Windows Network Acceleration Improvements

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’ve installed may have already changed these network settings, so it’s always worth checking them.

The ExpressVPN app enforces these two Windows TCP changes:

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

– Disable Windows scaling heuristics. Like Auto-Tuning, this tells Windows to check for connectivity issues and try to compensate for any problems it detects. This is fine in theory, but it doesn’t always work, and many network speedup guides recommend disabling it.

Will either help you? We can’t say for sure. To find out more easily, check your broadband speeds with a site like SpeedTest.net or nPerf.com before and after making the adjustments, to get a clear picture of any changes.

1. Open Windows Command Prompt

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

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

When highlighted, click Run as administratorand 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 Command Prompt and choose the option from the menu, or highlight Command Prompt, hold down Ctrl and Shift, then press Enter.

The Windows Command Prompt

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Check your current Windows network settings

Before making any changes, it is important to check your existing settings, as you can then restore them later if the changes do not work.

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

Look at the list of parameters, and note the level of reception windows automatic adjustmentL. This is the second setting in our Windows 10 system, and it may read “disabled”, “very 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 Windows Scaling heuristic valuenote whether it is enabled or disabled and save the details.

3. Apply ExpressVPN settings

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

If your Receive Windows Auto-Tuning Level is set to something other than “Normal”, copy and paste the command netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=normal in your command window, then press Enter.

Was the heuristic already disabled and the automatic setting is set to normal? Then you are already using ExpressVPN’s recommended settings. It gives you a boost for your top-notch PC setup, but otherwise you have nothing more to do.

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

The nPerf website has an internet speed test

(Image credit: nPerf)

4. Test your system’s network speed

Adjustments applied, go back to the speed test sites you tried previously, do a few more checks, and look for any changes.

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

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

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

5. Undo changes, if necessary

If there are problems and you want to get Windows back to how it was, restart the command promptrefer to your notes on the previous settings and use the netsh commands you entered earlier to restore them.

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

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