Disclosure: Top10VPN is editorially independent. We may earn commissions if you buy a VPN through links on our site.

The Fastest VPNs in 2022

3 Comments
Fastest VPN
Simon Migliano
3 Comments

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio

Based on our most recent speed tests, here are the fastest VPN services. To find the right option for you, use the table below to compare local speeds, international speeds, and price.

By encrypting your internet traffic, every VPN slows down your internet speed to some extent. The fastest VPNs minimize this speed loss, making it unnoticeable.

A fast VPN is essential for buffer-free streaming, quick torrent downloads, and lag-free gaming.

We thoroughly tested all five VPNs we recommend, ensuring they meet our requirements for speed, security, and privacy.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing VPNs for speed, using our VPN speed test process to recommend the fastest VPN software.

These are our key VPN speed test statistics:

  • VPN services reviewed: 71
  • Weekly speed tests: 3,000+
  • Shortest connection distance tested: 1 mile
  • Longest connection distance tested: 10,553 miles
  • Best local download speed loss: 1%
  • Best international download speed loss: 9%

Top VPNs for Speed: Summary Test Ratings

Use the table below to compare how the five fastest VPNs perform in each key testing category:

The 5 Fastest (and Secure) VPNs

  1. 1. Hotspot Shield: 0% Speed Loss

    The world's fastest VPN and winner of our 2022 speed test results.

    Ranked #1 out of 71 VPNs for Speed
    Hotspot Shield mobile screenshots
     88% 
    (5 user reviews)
    Visit Hotspot Shield

    Pros

    • The fastest VPN available
    • Works with US Netflix & Hulu
    • Unrestricted torrenting on all servers
    • Allows router-level installation for gaming
    • Large server network in 82 countries

    Cons

    • Less trustworthy VPN protocol
    • Kill switch is only available on Windows

    Overall Speed Rating: 9.8/10

    This VPN's overall speed rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 1010/10
    • 1010/10
    • 88.0/10

    Our latest speed test results show that Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN available. It delivers the fastest connection speeds on both nearby and far-away servers, it doesn’t throttle or block torrenting traffic, and it streams US Netflix in 4K UHD.

    Local Speed100Mbps
    International Speed94Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolHydra
    Cheapest Price$2.99/mo over 36 Months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    The fastest VPN across all locations

    Hotspot Shield’s speeds are unmatched — we recorded no impact on our download speeds when connected to most VPN servers.

    No other VPN service comes close to competing with Hotspot Shield’s lossless speed performance. It’s clear from our tests that if you want the very fastest speeds, you should get Hotspot Shield.

    We experienced the slowest speeds when connecting to Japan, over 5,000 miles from our location. On average, our speeds dropped by 27% when connected to this server.

    This was much slower than other locations and stands out as an anomaly. We hope Hotspot Shield can fix this as soon as possible.

    Besides that, Hotspot Shield is able to achieve its fast speeds through its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol.

    Our tests show that this makes Hotspot Shield much faster than standard VPN connections.

    Hotspot Shield speed test

    We found that Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN in every location.

    Hotspot Shield Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    UK
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    Germany
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    USA
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    Brazil
    97.91Mbps
    2%
    South Africa
    96.97Mbps
    3%
    Japan
    72.61Mbps
    27%
    Australia
    94.12Mbps
    6%

    Unblocks US Netflix, Hulu, and more

    Hotspot Shield’s fast speeds will allow you to stream content in HD without any buffering or lag. We found that Hotspot Shield works with most major streaming sites around the world, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Hulu.

    The VPN comes with an impressive app for Amazon Fire TV, too, so you can unblock your favorite TV shows and movies on your biggest screen. However, if you want to use a fast VPN primarily for streaming, there are better VPNs for streaming available.

    Other fast VPNs, like ExpressVPN, can stream over four times as many Netflix libraries as Hotspot Shield — giving you access to more TV shows and movies.

    Less secure VPN protocol

    The drawback to using Hotspot Shield is that it uses a closed-source VPN protocol that is not as reputable as open-sourced and established protocols, like OpenVPN or WireGuard.

    Catapult Hydra is a VPN protocol developed by AnchorFree, the company that founded Hotspot Shield.

    Catapult Hydra is based on TLS 1.2, it uses 128-bit AES encryption, and it incorporates Perfect Forward Secrecy. In this way, its encryption matches other leading VPN protocols.

    However, technology developed by VPN services themselves cannot be error-checked by security experts and enthusiasts. Open-source VPN protocols, like OpenVPN, have been built upon for over 18 years by a large community of contributors.

    On the other hand, Hotspot Shield claims Catapult Hydra has been audited by “third-party security experts,” but gives no further details on how frequent or how rigorous these examinations are.

    To summarize, Hotspot Shield is undoubtedly the fastest VPN in 2022. It is fast enough to  download torrent files in seconds, stream Netflix buffer-free, and have a minimal impact on all browsing activity. Although the VPN uses a less-reputable protocol than other VPNs, it’s still the number one choice if speed is your priority.

  2. 2. NordVPN: 4% Speed Loss

    Fast speeds for secure browsing and buffer-free streaming.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     94% 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    Pros

    • Exceptional speeds across most locations
    • The fastest implementation of WireGuard
    • Torrenting permitted on most servers
    • Unblocks all major streaming services
    • Fully-featured app for Fire TV Stick
    • Low ping for gaming

    Cons

    • Fewer server locations than some other top VPNs

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.9/10

    This VPN's overall speed rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 8.58.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.89.8/10

    NordVPN is a well-rounded and extremely fast VPN. Although slightly slower than Hotspot Shield, NordVPN has many advanced features. These include Double VPN, Smart DNS support, and the ability to unblock lots of Netflix libraries.

    Local Speed96Mbps
    International Speed83Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolNordLynx
    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingPermitted
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Average download speeds of 96Mbps

    We found that NordVPN is fast on both local and international connections. On the whole, the reduction in our internet speed was unnoticeable.

    When connecting to a nearby server in the UK, we recorded an average speed of 96Mbps — which is faster than most other top VPNs.

    The VPN’s performance was even more impressive on international connections. We recorded a speed loss result of 10% when connecting to the US and a speed of 69Mbps when connecting to Japan.

    NordVPN also scored the highest of any VPN service for reliability. This means you can count on the VPN to deliver fast and consistent speeds, no matter the server location.

    NordVPN speed test

    NordVPN’s speeds were reliable and quick.

    NordVPN Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    UK
    95.58Mbps
    4%
    Germany
    95.31Mbps
    5%
    USA
    90.36Mbps
    10%
    Brazil
    81.00Mbps
    19%
    South Africa
    93.25Mbps
    7%
    Japan
    68.64Mbps
    31%
    Australia
    69.23Mbps
    31%

    NordLynx is highly-secure and speedy

    NordVPN can achieve these impressive speed results due to the NordLynx protocol, which is its implementation of WireGuard. NordLynx allows for much faster connections compared to UDP OpenVPN connections, without sacrificing privacy or security.

    WireGuard is also open-source, which means anyone can view and inspect the mechanics of the codebase. This is in contrast to Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra, which is a closed-source protocol that has only been viewed by certain parties.

    Ultimately, this transparency makes WireGuard more trustworthy and will allow it to improve over time from the contributions of a large error-checking community.

    Great for torrenting & Netflix

    NordVPN provides lots of great VPN features that take full advantage of its fast speeds. The VPN unblocks 11 different Netflix libraries from around the world in 4K UHD.

    It also comes with a fully-featured app for Amazon Fire TV, and a Smart DNS feature — so you can unblock geo-blocked content on all of your devices.

    In addition, torrenting is permitted on over 85% of NordVPN’s servers. The app conveniently lists these in the ‘P2P’ section under ‘Specialty Servers’.

    Alternatively, you can use NordVPN’s server recommendation feature to find the best torrenting server based on your location. After connecting to our recommended server, we were able to download a legal torrent in seconds.

    Overall, NordVPN is a superb, fast VPN that is a great choice for most users. It’s the best WireGuard VPN and includes more advanced VPN features than almost all other top VPNs. Although it misses out on the number one spot based on raw speed performance, it’s a terrific and highly-secure service.

  3. 3. Surfshark: 4% Speed Loss

    One of the fastest VPNs available for just $2.30.

    Surfshark app
     82% 
    (128 user reviews)
    Visit Surfshark

    Pros

    • Very fast speeds on nearby servers
    • Reliable performance across its server network
    • Works with 10 Netflix libraries
    • Cheap on long-term plans
    • Great for torrenting
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    Cons

    • Delay when connecting to some servers
    • Slow WireGuard performance
    • Sometimes leaks IPv6 addresses

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.6/10

    This VPN's overall speed rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 99.0/10
    • 88.0/10
    • 9.39.3/10

    Surfshark is the third-fastest VPN, despite being available at a lower price than other services. Its speeds are fast on both nearby and far away servers and it can be used on as many devices as you want, making it great for multi-device users.

    Local Speed96Mbps
    International Speed79Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolOpenVPN (UDP)
    Cheapest Price$2.30/mo over 26 months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingPermitted
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Fast speeds throughout its server network

    Our research found Surfshark to consistently be one of the very fastest VPNs on local connections. When connecting to a UK server from our location in London, we saw an average speed loss of just 4%.

    Surfshark performs well on international connections, too. When connecting to the US, our speed dropped by just 7%, and by 20% when connecting to South Africa.

    Surfshark is unique in that it caps servers at 40% load to avoid congestion. This results in faster internet speeds and more reliable connections.

    Surfshark speed test

    Surfshark recorded download speeds of over 95Mbps.

    Surfshark Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100Mbps
    0%
    UK
    95.91Mbps
    4%
    Germany
    94.76Mbps
    5%
    USA
    92.84Mbps
    7%
    Brazil
    77.64Mbps
    22%
    South Africa
    79.15Mbps
    21%
    Japan
    69.00Mbps
    31%
    Australia
    63.41Mbps
    37%

    Great VPN for streaming

    With Surfshark’s excellent international speed performance, you can access streaming services from around the world. It works with BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and 10 Netflix libraries.

    Using Surfshark, we were able to watch geo-restricted content in HD and 4K. This is in contrast to some other services we tested, like CyberGhost and Private Internet Access, which caused our streams to buffer and lag.

    Does not support IPv6 addresses

    Despite its speed, there are a few drawbacks that prevent Surfshark from being the best overall VPN service.

    Most importantly, Surfshark does not support IPv6 addresses. This means that Surfshark cannot always be trusted to protect against IP leaks. If this happens, any website can see your true location and identity.

    In addition, Surfshark is slower than most other VPNs to initiate a server connection. Our recent tests found that Surfshark takes twice as long as ExpressVPN to connect to a VPN server.

    Overall, Surfshark is a fast VPN that works well for almost every use case. You can securely encrypt your traffic, privately torrent, and secure unsafe public WiFi networks without having to worry about performance issues.

  4. 4. IPVanish: 3% Speed Loss

    A fast VPN for Kodi and Fire TV Stick users.

    IPVanish VPN
     96% 
    (175 user reviews)
    Visit IPVanish

    Pros

    • Extremely fast speeds on nearby servers
    • Uses OpenVPN and WireGuard
    • Fast torrenting speeds
    • Excellent Fire TV Stick app
    • Works with US Netflix
    • No-logs privacy policy

    Cons

    • Speeds fluctuate often
    • Complex applications
    • No VPN browser extensions

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.5/10

    This VPN's overall speed rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 88.0/10

    Our research found that IPVanish is the fourth-fastest VPN on the market. Its download speeds are especially fast on nearby servers, making it an excellent choice for torrenting and other web activities.

    Unlike Hotspot Shield, IPVanish uses trusted VPN protocols, giving it the advantage for security-focused users.

    Local Speed97Mbps
    International Speed78Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolWireGuard
    Cheapest Price$3.33/mo over 12 months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Improved speeds using WireGuard

    Before our most recent tests, IPVanish was among the slowest of the top VPNs. It has significantly improved its speed performance by adding support for the WireGuard protocol.

    Using WireGuard, IPVanish came second on our local connection speed tests. It came sixth on our long-distance tests.

    When connecting to a UK server from our location in London, we saw an average speed loss of just 3%. This is much faster than most of the other VPNs we tested.

    IPVanish’s speeds are less impressive when connecting to far-away servers. Connecting to the US, our speed dropped by just 17%, and by 34% when connecting to Japan. These results are still fast, but can’t compete with some other VPNs on this list.

    IPVanish Speed Test

    IPVanish’s local download speeds were very fast.

    IPVanish Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    UK
    96.75Mbps
    3%
    Germany
    90.88Mbps
    9%
    USA
    83.13Mbps
    17%
    Brazil
    80.65Mbps
    19%
    South Africa
    88.56Mbps
    11%
    Japan
    66.34Mbps
    34%
    Australia
    60.60Mbps
    39%

    Good choice for for torrenting

    IPVanish is a top VPN for fast P2P file-sharing. It downloads torrent files quickly and its private logging policy and strong encryption will keep your activity anonymous.

    It also has the best Fire TV app of any VPN we’ve tested. This makes it a good option for P2P-based Kodi add-ons. Using it, we were able to use Kodi add-ons, like Crackle, without any buffering or lag.

    Not the best for streaming

    IPVanish doesn’t work with as many streaming services as other top VPNs. In our tests, we couldn’t access HBO Max, DAZN, or Prime Video.

    The VPN does stream US Netflix and BBC iPlayer on desktop, but it doesn’t work on mobile or streaming devices.

    If you want a fast VPN for streaming, you should choose another VPN on this list. IPVanish’s relatively weak international speed performance and poor support for streaming services make it a poor option.

    Overall, IPVanish is a superb choice if you only want to connect locally. Only Hotspot Shield recorded faster local speeds. But, unlike Hotspot Shield, IPVanish uses trusted VPN protocols and has a better logging policy.

  5. 5. ExpressVPN: 7% Speed Loss

    Well-rounded VPN that's perfect for torrenting and streaming.

    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,778 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    • Excellent long-distance speed performance
    • Consistent and reliable speeds
    • Works with all streaming services
    • App for Fire TV Stick and Smart TVs
    • Includes Smart DNS functionality

    Cons

    • Slower on local connections
    • More expensive

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.3/10

    This VPN's overall speed rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our full testing methodology.

    • 77.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.88.8/10

    ExpressVPN is a fully-featured service that is one of the fastest VPNs on international connections but performs poorly over short distances. It’s also the most expensive VPN on the market, but its unrivaled streaming and torrenting support make it worth the extra cost.

    Local Speed93Mbps
    International Speed85Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolLightway
    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Very fast international speeds

    ExpressVPN makes it in the top five fastest VPNs due to its impressive performance when connected to far-away servers. Our speed tests showed that ExpressVPN is the second-fastest VPN over international connections, with an average speed loss of 15% across our six test locations.

    Results were particularly impressive when connected to a US server. ExpressVPN kept our internet speed at a fast 93Mbps, which was more than fast enough for HD streaming and uninterrupted gaming sessions.

    The disadvantage to ExpressVPN, though, is its relatively poor local speed performance. Our results show it is the seventh-fastest VPN when connected to a nearby server, beaten by typically slower VPNs, like PrivateVPN.

    Our speeds slowed to 93Mbps when connected to a local VPN server. While still fast enough for most uses, this isn’t competitive with the very fastest VPNs on this list.

    ExpressVPN speed test

    ExpressVPN’s local speeds are disappointing.

    ExpressVPN Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    UK
    93.42Mbps
    7%
    Germany
    92.79Mbps
    7%
    USA
    92.48Mbps
    8%
    Brazil
    84.74Mbps
    15%
    South Africa
    90.52Mbps
    9%
    Japan
    75.43Mbps
    25%
    Australia
    71.79Mbps
    28%

    Lightway protocol is safe and fast

    ExpressVPN uses its proprietary Lightway VPN protocol. Lightway has been developed in-house by ExpressVPN, and our test results have shown it to be faster than OpenVPN.

    It also uses wolfSSL encryption, which is widely regarded to be safe and secure.

    Although we typically prefer for VPN providers to adopt established protocols, ExpressVPN has open-sourced the Lightway codebase. By contrast, Hotspot Shield only provides Catapult Hydra’s code to third-party security companies.

    Lightway is slightly less proven than the very best protocols right now, but we expect it to challenge WireGuard soon.

    The best VPN for streaming

    ExpressVPN’s fast international speeds are put to good use, too, as it is the very best VPN available for streaming. It unblocks every streaming site including Hulu and BBC iPlayer, as well as 10 different Netflix libraries. For each of these services, our speeds remained fast enough to stream in HD without any buffering.

    Unlike most other VPNs, ExpressVPN also comes with a Smart DNS feature. This will allow you to unblock geo-blocked content on devices that don’t support VPNs, so you can stream on PS4, Apple TV, and Smart TVs.

    All this functionality does come at a cost, though, as ExpressVPN is the most expensive VPN on this list. The cheapest price is on the fifteen-month plan, which works out to $6.67 a month. You do get plenty of features for that price, so it’s worth the extra cost.

    Overall, ExpressVPN is a great choice if you want a VPN for more than just raw speed. It beats out every other VPN on this list when it comes to general use, but it doesn’t match them when it comes to pure speed results.

VPN Speed Test Results

All data findings on this page are from our manual speed tests. This involves physically using and speed testing VPN software.

This speed testing methodology produces findings that mirror your experience as closely as possible.

Local VPN Speed Test Results

Here are our VPN speed test results when connecting to a local server with our 100Mbps internet connection:

Graph showing the results from our local VPN download speed tests

Only four VPNs recorded a download speed of above 95Mbps.

As the graph above shows, Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN on local connections. 90% of the VPNs we tested sustained speeds of over 92Mbps, though, which is an extremely impressive result.

PIA performed the worst — registering slowdowns of up to 10.6%. This is still fast enough for most tasks, but you may struggle to perform high-bandwidth activities with this VPN.

International VPN Speed Test Results

Here are the results when connecting to international servers with our 100Mbps internet connection:

Graph showing the results from our long distance VPN download speed tests

Only one VPN recorded an international download speed of above 85Mbps.

The results from our speed tests are clear: Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN service.

Hotspot Shield is faster than all other VPNs, on both nearby and far-away servers. With this VPN you can stream, torrent, and game without worrying about your network speed slowing down.

How We Test VPN Speed

To ensure our VPN speed test findings are as accurate as possible, we follow a strict scientific process refined over many years.

Our methodology is designed to extract just raw data, to remove any risk of bias or human error in our results.

To find the fastest VPNs, we measure:

  • A VPN’s average download speed when connected to a nearby server.
  • A VPN’s speed performance when connected to multiple far-away locations.
  • How reliable and consistent a VPN’s speed results are.

Here’s a more in-depth overview of the measurements we take when finding the fastest VPN, along with how much of our overall rating they make up:

1. Local Download Speed: 45%

Minimum Requirement: Speed loss of 20% or less.
We Recommend: Speed loss of 10% or less.

As you’ll be connecting to a local VPN server most often, we prioritize short-distance speeds in our tests.

We’ve developed a test to measure the average local download speed of every VPN.

Here’s how we test for a VPN’s local speed performance:

  1. We perform this test every Friday of each month.
  2. We use a virtual machine with just the VPN we’re testing installed.
  3. Using Ookla’s Speedtest app, we record our download speed three times without the VPN running.
  4. We launch the VPN and connect to the nearest server location. We record our download speeds three times.
  5. We repeat the above steps for every VPN.
  6. At the end of the month, we work out the mean result without the VPN running and while connected to the nearest server location.
  7. We calculate the download speed loss for each VPN. The lower the speed loss, the better.
  8. The top-performing VPNs are ranked from 1-10. Depending on their position, each VPN service is given a rating from 5.5 to 10, with each position being a difference of 0.5.
  9. We update this page with our new findings.

2. International Download Speed: 45%

Minimum Requirement: Speed loss of 50% or less.
We Recommend: Speed loss of 20% or less.

VPNs can be used to watch geo-restricted Netflix libraries and play games on servers from the other side of the world. Because of this, it’s important that a VPN also has fast international speeds.

The extra distance traveled will have an impact on your download speeds. Generally speaking, the further a VPN server is from your physical location, the slower your speeds will be.

We’ve formulated a standardized and unbiased test to calculate the average international download speed of every VPN.

Here’s how we test for a VPN’s international speed performance:

  1. We perform this test every Friday of each month.
  2. We use a virtual machine with just the VPN we’re testing installed.
  3. Using Ookla’s Speedtest app, we record our download speed three times without the VPN running.
  4. We launch the VPN and connect to seven server locations from across all six inhabited continents of the world — Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America.
  5. We record our download speeds from each location three times.
  6. We repeat the above steps for every VPN.
  7. At the end of the month, we work out the mean result without the VPN running and while connected to all far-away locations.
  8. We calculate the download speed loss for each VPN. The lower the speed loss, the better.
  9. The top-performing VPNs are ranked from 1-10. Depending on their position, each VPN service is given a rating from 5.5 to 10, with each position being a difference of 0.5.
  10. We update this page with our new findings.

3. Consistency: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Difference of up to 10Mbps on local speed tests and 40Mbps on international results.
We Recommend: Difference of up to 3Mbps on local speed tests and 10Mbps on international results.

It’s not enough for a VPN just to have fast peak performance. It needs to deliver fast speeds reliably, across every server location.

We’ve developed a method to calculate every VPN’s consistency. The more fluctuation present in a VPN’s speed test results, the lower we rate it in this category.

Here’s how we test for a VPN’s speed reliability:

  1. We complete this calculation on the final Friday of every month after all speed test results have been completed.
  2. We work out the standard deviation of each VPN’s local download speeds. A lower standard deviation means more reliable speed performance.
  3. Each VPN is ranked from 1-10. Depending on their position, each VPN service is given a rating from 5.5 to 10, with each position being a difference of 0.5. This constitutes 5% of the overall consistency rating.
  4. We repeat the above steps for each VPN’s international speed results. This tells us how reliable a VPN’s speeds are across every global server location, not just the consistency per country. This constitutes 5% of the overall consistency rating.
  5. We update this page with our new findings.

Control Variables

Here are the steps we have in place to ensure our speed test results are the most reliable findings available:

Dedicated 100Mbps Broadband Line

We have a dedicated 100Mbps fiber-optic broadband line that is only used for conducting our VPN speed tests. This means that our speed is not slowed down by any external factors, like bandwidth-consuming activities from anyone else on the network. Any drops in speed are a direct result of the VPN running.

Consistent Infrastructure & Equipment

All of our speed tests are done using a Lenovo ThinkPad PC running Windows 10 and on an iMac running macOS Big Sur. These devices are connected to the broadband line using a Cat7 ethernet cable.
By keeping all of our equipment consistent, we can always conclude that any speed changes are as a result of the VPN, and not any issues with our test devices.

Only Use the VPN’s Preferred Protocol

For our speed tests, we use the VPN with the fastest protocol available. This allows us to give an accurate representation of the speeds you can expect while using the VPN.

For the tests on this page, the protocols used were as follows:

  • CyberGhost, IPVanish, Mullvad, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, Surfshark — WireGuard
  • ExpressVPN — Lightway
  • Hotspot Shield — Catapult Hydra
  • HideMyAss, PrivateVPN — OpenVPN (UDP)

Same Speed Testing Tool

We use Ookla’s popular speed test tool for all of our tests. We elected to use this because a representative from Ookla assured us that it has “strong mitigations in place to prevent such behavior [VPNs prioritizing traffic to Ookla].”

None of the other speed test tools would provide this guarantee. In turn, this rules out the possibility of a VPN speeding up its service when it detects a speed test, which would give unreliable results.

Tested Over a Long-period

To minimize the risk of random and anomalous results, our final speed test result is the average from a series of tests, performed over a month. We tested all VPNs at regular six-hour intervals, equaling four different times per day. In total, we manually undertook thousands of VPN speed tests, ensuring our results most accurately represent the speeds of the fastest VPNs.

Research Limitations

Although we have taken steps at every stage to keep our speed test results as accurate as possible, there are still some unavoidable limitations to our research.

These limitations may result in a VPN performing differently when you test it yourself. These include:

Speed Fluctuations

To quantify speeds and account for speed fluctuations, we would have to test every single VPN server during every second of the day.

To counter this, we pace our testing out throughout the day. Tests are performed four times a day, with a six-hour break between each test. Although not perfect, this allows us to test each VPN during both peak and quiet hours of the day, giving us an accurate, but not perfect, representation of typical speeds.

Upload Speed & Ping

The fastest VPN is not necessarily the fastest VPN for all activities. For example, a VPN with fast download speeds but slow ping time will be great for streaming, but poor for online gaming.

For this page, we’ve chosen to focus solely on download speed. This is because the vast majority of online activities rely on a fast download speed, and fewer need a speedy upload speed or ping rate.

If download speed is less important for your use case, you can read our dedicated recommendations for the best VPNs for gaming and best torrenting VPNs.

Varying Device Performance

Different devices, with different network cards and performance capabilities, can yield dramatically different speed test results. For example, desktop PCs will often have larger and faster wireless cards than mobile devices. This means that you may not always experience the same results as us, depending on your device.

To address this, we use two different test devices — one Lenovo ThinkPad and one Apple iMac. These devices are made by different manufacturers, which gives us speed test data from the two major desktop operating systems.

Overall, we have tried our best to eliminate all possible factors that could hold back our investigation into the fastest VPNs. However, with the VPN industry constantly changing, just keep in mind that we can only ever provide a snapshot and not an absolute answer for the fastest VPN.

How to Test VPN Speed at Home

To test your VPN speed at home, you’ll need to perform two separate tests — one while disconnected from the VPN, and one while connected to the VPN.

This first stage will give you your baseline internet speed. From this, you can calculate how much your VPN impacts your speed.

How to test VPN speed

You can test internet speed by using Speedtest by Ookla.

To test VPN speed, just follow the steps below:

Testing Internet Speed Without a VPN:

  1. Make sure that you are disconnected from your VPN.
  2. Ensure no other apps are running in the background.
  3. Visit speedtest.net and click ‘Go’ to start your speed test.
  4. Note your results for download, upload, and ping.

Testing Internet Speed With a VPN:

  1. Ensure no other apps are running in the background.
  2. Open your VPN app and connect to your chosen location.
  3. Visit speedtest.net and click ‘Go’ to start your speed test.
  4. Compare these results to the results you got when disconnected to the VPN.

EXPERT TIP: Your ISP will often exaggerate your baseline internet speed. Make sure to test your speeds while disconnected from the VPN before testing VPN speed.

For download and upload speeds, the smaller the difference between your original result and your VPN result, the better. Generally speaking, less than a 10% loss in speed is a great result for a local server, and under 40% loss in speed is a good result for a server in a different continent.

To compare the speeds of popular VPNs on servers around the world, use our automated VPN speed testing tool.

How to Speed Up Your VPN

How to speed up a VPN connection

Although some loss in performance is inevitable when running a VPN, there are a few things you can do to make this unnoticeable.

Here are four ways to speed up your VPN:

1. Use one of the VPNs we recommend

All of the services on this page have been verified by our team of experts as the fastest VPNs on the market. If you instead choose a slow VPN service, there is nothing else you can do to boost speed performance.

2. Use WireGuard or the VPN’s proprietary protocol

Although secure, our tests have found that OpenVPN is noticeably slower than WireGuard and proprietary VPN protocols, like Catapult Hydra. If your VPN app allows you to choose, make sure to use WireGuard or the VPN’s custom protocol.

3. Connect to the server closest to you

In general, connecting to a closer VPN server to your location will give you faster speeds. This is because your traffic takes a shorter route, allowing the packets to be delivered at a much faster rate.

4. Connect using an ethernet cable

Due to channel interference, WiFi connections are less efficient than wired connections. Connecting your device directly to your router with an ethernet cable will give you faster and more reliable speeds.

EXPERT TIP: Your VPN’s speed is dependent on your regular internet connection. The best way to maximize speed is to make sure you’re getting the fastest connection from your ISP.

What's the Fastest Free VPN?

The fastest free VPNs are:

  1. Proton VPN
  2. Windscribe
  3. Hide.me

Free VPNs are typically much slower than paid options. This is primarily because free VPNs have more users, which results in server congestion and slowdowns.

Additionally, VPN services often provide better infrastructure for paying users while enforcing bandwidth caps on free servers.

There are a few free VPNs that deliver good speeds, though. After putting all the best free VPNs through our speed testing process, we found that Proton VPN is the fastest free VPN.

We recorded just a 5% internet speed loss connecting to both a nearby and far-away Proton VPN server. This level of speed performance matches results from some premium VPNs, so it’s very impressive.

Proton VPN is the fastest free VPN

Proton VPN is the fastest free VPN.

The reason Proton VPN is able to maintain fast speeds is that it reroutes traffic to a pool of over 200 servers, far exceeding the amount offered from other free VPNs.

This minimizes server load and keeps connections fast. Moreover, Proton VPN is the only safe free VPN without monthly data caps — so you can keep the VPN running at all times.

You won’t be able to use the VPN for streaming or torrenting, though, as both activities don’t work on Proton VPN’s free tier.

Though slower, Windscribe streamed Netflix (in six locations) and BBC iPlayer in our tests. We were also able to download torrent files quickly.

However, Windscribe limits usage to 10GB of bandwidth per month, which is not enough for many internet users.

Both free VPNs are useful if you’re on a budget, or just want to test what you can do with a VPN.

However, if you want the best and fastest VPN performance, it’s worth paying for a premium VPN service.

Additional research by Luke Williams

Fastest VPN FAQs

Which VPN protocol is fastest?

The fastest (safe) VPN protocol is WireGuard. In our dedicated speed tests, on average WireGuard was 75% faster than OpenVPN.

Our VPN speed test results have shown Catapult Hydra to be even faster than WireGuard, but this is a closed-source protocol and is only available on Hotspot Shield.

Although some older protocols, such as PPTP and L2TP, are faster than WireGuard, avoid using these under all circumstances. These fast connection speeds are due to the protocol’s weak encryption, so they are useless as a tool for privacy and security.

Which VPN server is the fastest?

VPN server speed is dependent on proximity and server load. In general, the closest server to your physical location will be the fastest server for you. For example, if you’re in India, an India VPN server will be the fastest.

However, overly congested servers will be slower than servers with fewer active users. Because of this, popular locations, like New York and London, often perform worse than other servers in the same country. Many VPN apps indicate live server load information, so make sure to avoid busy servers.

For the very fastest speeds, we recommend connecting using your VPN’s ‘quick connect’ feature. This automatically connects you to the fastest server based on a calculation of your location and the relative server congestion.

Can VPN reduce ping?

A VPN won’t reduce your ping time. Ping is the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to travel from one point in a network to another. So, the closer you are to a server, the lower your ping time will be.

When you connect to a VPN that’s located anywhere other than the same city as you, your ping will increase, as your data is having to travel further before it reaches its destination.

To reduce the impact of your VPN on ping, make sure you choose one with city-level choice in your country, as this will allow you to connect to the nearest possible server and keep your connection as responsive as possible.

Will a VPN stop buffering?

A VPN will only prevent buffering if your ISP is throttling your data. ISP throttling is when your ISP intentionally slows down your internet speed, typically during high-bandwidth activities, like torrenting or streaming.

Using a VPN will hide your online activity from your ISP, preventing them from slowing down your connection during certain activities. The VPN will bypass any throttling measures, allowing you to benefit from continuous peak speeds and less buffering.

In general, though, ISP throttling is rare and the additional layer of VPN encryption is much more likely to slow down your connection. However, all the VPNs we recommend on this page will only reduce your speeds by a negligible amount.

Should you use UDP or TCP?

Your VPN app will often allow you to toggle between UDP and TCP. In general, you should use UDP for the very fastest speeds.

TCP is slightly slower because it uses error protection and guaranteed delivery, ensuring that each data packet is sent in the correct order. UDP doesn’t have these protections or verification steps, so it’s able to transmit data faster across the network — but don’t worry, it’s still perfectly safe.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio