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The Fastest VPNs in 2022

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Fastest VPN
Simon Migliano
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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.

A key requirement of a top-rated VPN service is to have unlimited bandwidth and fast speeds across its VPN server network.

We regularly test 56 VPN services for local and international connection speeds across our worldwide test servers.

Based on our December speed tests, the fastest high-quality VPN services are:

  1. NordVPN – World’s Fastest VPN (4% Speed Loss)
  2. Surfshark VPN – Fastest Cheap VPN (5% Speed Loss)
  3. Proton VPN – Fastest VPN for Security (6% Speed Loss)
  4. Private Internet Access – Fastest VPN for Privacy (4% Speed Loss)
  5. ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN for Streaming (7% Speed Loss)

Comparison of the Fastest VPNs

To find the right VPN 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 VPNs we recommend, ensuring they meet our requirements for speed, security, and privacy.

Fastest VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

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

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

Unlike many review websites, we’re completely independent and focused on VPN software. We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing VPNs for speed using our VPN speed test process to recommend the best ones.

Here are some of our key VPN speed test statistics:

VPN Services Reviewed56
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
Shortest Connection Distance Tested1 mile
Longest Connection Distance Tested10,553 miles
Best Local Download Speed Loss4%
Best International Download Speed Loss14%

Analysis of the Fastest Top VPNs in December

  1. 1. NordVPN: 4% Speed Loss

    The winner of our 2022 speed test results.

    Ranked #1 out of 56 VPNs for Speed
    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     Rated 4.7 out of 5 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    • 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

    • Fewer server locations than some other top VPNs
    • Doesn't accept PayPal payments
    • PC & Mac clients can't be resized
    • Renews at a much higher monthly price

    Overall Speed Rating: 9.0/10

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

    • 99.0/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 99.0/10

    Our latest speed test results show that NordVPN is the world’s fastest VPN service. It delivers fast 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 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

    NordVPN is the fastest VPN for the UK and the US. While using it, 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 just as impressive on international connections. We recorded a speed loss result of 3% when connecting to the US and a speed of 76bps 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
    95.79Mbps
    4%
    Germany
    96.03Mbps
    4%
    USA
    96.36Mbps
    4%
    Brazil
    97.38Mbps
    3%
    South Africa
    77.85Mbps
    23%
    Japan
    76.30Mbps
    34%
    Australia
    74.79Mbps
    25%

    NordLynx is highly-secure and speedy

    NordVPN can achieve these impressive speed results due to the WireGuard protocol, which it labels as NordLynx. 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. It’s a terrific and highly-secure service.

  2. 2. Surfshark: 5% Speed Loss

    One of the fastest VPNs available for just $1.99.

    Surfshark app
     Rated 4.1 out of 5 
    (131 user reviews)
    Visit Surfshark

    • Very fast speeds on nearby servers
    • Reliable performance across its server network
    • Works with 10 Netflix libraries
    • Most affordable on long-term plans
    • A good option for anonymous torrenting
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • Delay when connecting to some servers
    • Slow WireGuard performance
    • Sometimes leaks IPv6 addresses
    • Kill switch not enabled by default
    • Unaudited logging policy

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.9/10

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

    • 8.58.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.88.8/10

    Surfshark is the second-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 Speed84Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolOpenVPN (UDP)
    Cheapest Price$1.99/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 5%.

    Surfshark performs well on international connections, too. When connecting to the US, our speed dropped by just 10%, and by 7% when connecting to Brazil.

    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
    95.50Mbps
    5%
    Germany
    95.58Mbps
    4%
    USA
    90.03Mbps
    10%
    Brazil
    92.73Mbps
    7%
    South Africa
    94.44Mbps
    6%
    Japan
    80.38Mbps
    20%
    Australia
    72.19Mbps
    28%

    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.

  3. 3. Proton VPN: 6% Speed Loss

    The safest and most secure fast VPN.

    Screenshot of Proton VPN's mobile app
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit Proton VPN

    • Fast speeds on every server
    • Reliable & consistent speed performance
    • Uses OpenVPN & WireGuard
    • Open-sourced & independently audited apps
    • Secure Core servers for extra encryption
    • Good for streaming & torrenting

    • More expensive than NordVPN & Surfshark
    • Unattractive applications
    • No 24/7 live chat customer support
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • No Smart DNS service

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.8/10

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

    • 7.57.5/10
    • 1010/10
    • 9.39.3/10

    Our research found that Proton VPN is the third-fastest VPN on the market. Its download speeds are fast on both nearby and far away servers, making it an excellent choice for all web activities. Proton VPN uses trusted VPN protocols, giving it the advantage for security-focused users.

    Local Speed94Mbps
    International Speed86Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolWireGuard
    Cheapest Price$4.99/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingPermitted
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Speed performance improving over time

    Prior to our most recent tests, Proton VPN was among the slowest top VPNs. It has significantly improved the VPN’s speed performance by adding its proprietary VPN Accelerator technology, which includes several optimizations that increase the speeds and reliability of the VPN.

    With this setting enabled, Proton VPN was the fastest VPN we tested on international connections.

    When connecting to the US from London, our speed dropped by just 5%, and by 20% when connecting to Japan. These results are much faster than most of the other VPNs we tested.

    Proton VPN speed test

    Proton VPN recorded download speeds of over 95Mbps.

    Proton VPN Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100Mbps
    0%
    UK
    93.84Mbps
    4%
    Germany
    95.25Mbps
    5%
    USA
    94.62Mbps
    5%
    Brazil
    86.67Mbps
    13%
    South Africa
    90.50Mbps
    10%
    Japan
    80.40Mbps
    20%
    Australia
    85.28Mbps
    15%

    Top choice for streaming & torrenting

    Proton VPN works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and DAZN. With the VPN’s excellent international speed performance, you can stream services from around the world easily.

    Proton VPN is also a top VPN for quick P2P file-sharing. It has optimized servers for fast torrent downloads and its private logging policy and strong encryption will keep your activity anonymous, too.

    Subpar customer support & app interface

    Proton VPN is one of the fastest VPNs, but there are a few drawbacks that prevent it from being one of the best VPNs overall.

    Firstly, Proton VPN’s apps are not as attractive or user-friendly as the other VPNs in this list. The interface is dark and could be intimidating to inexperienced users. It also uses a map interface, which we don’t like. We’d rather have a simple server list, with servers organized into subsections.

    Proton VPN also doesn’t offer 24/7 live chat customer support. Live chat is a convenient feature for small questions, such as finding a VPN server that’s working with Netflix. However, if you experience any issues with Proton VPN outside of operating times, you may have to wait over three days for a reply.

  4. 4. Private Internet Access: 4% Speed Loss

    Speedy VPN with the largest overall server network.

    Private Internet Access
     Rated 4.3 out of 5 
    (29 user reviews)
    Visit PIA VPN

    • Fast speeds on nearby servers
    • The largest VPN server network
    • Verified no-logs logging policy
    • Unrestricted torrenting on all servers
    • Works with US Netflix
    • Cheap on long-term plans

    • Slower over long-distance connections
    • Inconsistent with streaming platforms
    • Mac client has usability issues
    • Ineffective Smart DNS tool
    • Fire TV Stick app needs improvements

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.2/10

    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
    • 77.0/10
    • 88.0/10

    Private Internet Access is a speedy VPN service that’s great if you want an advanced and customizable option. Its speeds are extremely fast on local connections and it can be used on 10 devices at once.

    Local Speed96Mbps
    International Speed59Mbps
    Fastest VPN ProtocolWireGuard
    Cheapest Price$2.03/mo over 28 months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Fast local speeds, slower international speeds

    When connecting to a nearby server, our research found Private Internet Access to consistently be the second-fastest VPN. Connected to a UK server from our location in London, we saw an average speed loss of just 4%.

    With these results, PIA is a great choice for everyday use. You can securely encrypt your traffic, privately torrent, and secure unsafe public WiFi networks without having to worry about performance issues.

    However, PIA performs less impressively when connecting to international server locations. When connecting to Australia, our speed dropped by 59%, and by 51% when connecting to Japan — making it slower than most other VPNs we tested. This makes the VPN less ideal when it comes to unblocking geo-restricted streaming content.

    Private Internet Access speed test

    We test Private Internet Access’ speeds 12 times each month.

    PIA Speed Test Data

    Server Location
    Download Speed
    Percentage Speed Loss
    Starting Speed
    100.00Mbps
    0%
    UK
    95.89Mbps
    4%
    Germany
    90.58Mbps
    9%
    USA
    74.29Mbps
    26%
    Brazil
    72.77Mbps
    27%
    South Africa
    28.50Mbps
    72%
    Japan
    48.97Mbps
    41%
    Australia
    40.57Mbps
    59%

    Servers in 84 countries

    Private Internet Access has the largest server network of any VPN service, with over 17,087 servers in 84 countries. This means that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll be able to connect to a fast nearby server.

    The benefit of more servers is that it reduces server congestion and eases slowdowns. In turn, you can expect fast and consistent speeds with Private Internet Access, even at peak times.

    The only drawback to PIA’s server network for speed is that it uses a lot of virtual server locations. As a result, you may experience slower speeds than expected if the server is physically located in a location far-away from what’s advertised. These servers can be disabled in the app, though, so we recommend avoiding them if possible.

    Not recommended for streaming

    PIA VPN is inconsistent at unblocking Netflix and other streaming sites. You can typically expect at least one server to work, but this involves a lengthy process of cycling through servers until you find one that works.

    Besides, PIA’s relatively slow international speed performance means that, depending on your baseline internet speed, you may not always be able to stream content in HD or 4K. There are better streaming VPNs available, so Private Internet Access is only competitive when it comes to fast torrenting and lag-free gaming.

  5. 5. ExpressVPN: 7% Speed Loss

    Well-rounded VPN optimized for torrenting, streaming, and gaming.

    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     Rated 4.8 out of 5 
    (1,813 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    • Excellent long-distance speed performance
    • Consistent & reliable speeds
    • Unblocks most streaming services
    • App for Fire TV Stick & Smart TVs
    • Includes Smart DNS functionality

    • Slower on local connections
    • More expensive than most VPNs
    • No split tunneling on macOS

    Overall Speed Rating: 8.3/10

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

    • 6.56.5/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 88.0/10

    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 Speed80Mbps
    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 20% across our six test locations.

    Results were particularly impressive when connected to a US server. ExpressVPN kept our internet speed at a fast 88Mbps, 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 eighth-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
    92.53Mbps
    7%
    Germany
    92.53Mbps
    7%
    USA
    88.09Mbps
    12%
    Brazil
    87.25Mbps
    13%
    South Africa
    88.85Mbps
    11%
    Japan
    72.58Mbps
    27%
    Australia
    69.08Mbps
    31%

    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

    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.

Full 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 VPN speed tests when connected to a nearby server

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

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

Hotspot Shield performed the worst — registering slowdowns of up to 16%. 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 VPN speed tests when connected to far away servers

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

As the graph shows, Proton VPN is the fastest VPN service on international connections. From our six test server locations, we recorded an average download speed of 86Mbps.

How We Test VPN Speed

To ensure our VPN speed test findings are as accurate as possible, we follow a strict scientific process that’s been 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 average download speed when connected to multiple far-away locations.
  • The standard deviation of the VPN’s speed results to see how reliable and consistent it is.

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 ADVICE: 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 ADVICE: 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.

Fastest VPN FAQ

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.

Although some unsecure 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.

Should you use UDP or 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, so it’s able to transmit data faster across the network.