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The Fastest VPNs in 2023

Fastest VPN
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.

Fact-checked by JP JonesAdditional Testing by Luke Williams

All VPNs slow down internet speed, but we’ve found the best VPN services that minimize this effect, enabling higher quality geo-blocked content, quicker torrent downloads, and reduced gaming latency.

To ensure unbiased results, we test VPN speeds using our independent internet speed testing utility. Unlike other VPN review websites, we do not rely on third-party testing tools such as Speedtest by Ookla.

DID YOU KNOW? You can manually select and compare the speed test results of 65 VPNs in nine countries using our VPN speed comparison tool.

What Is the Fastest VPN in 2023?

Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN in 2023. After measuring the connection speeds of 65 VPNs while connected to servers in six continents, Hotspot Shield was the only option that consistently maintained a download speed loss of below 2%.

You can see how much faster Hotspot Shield’s download speeds are compared to other popular VPNs in the graph below:

Graph showing the speed test results of the 5 fastest VPNs

Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Hydra protocol delivered a download speed of 99Mbps when connecting to international server locations. Other top VPNs, like Surfshark and ExpressVPN, recorded an average international download speed of 83Mbps and 85Mbps respectively.

IPVanish is the second-fastest VPN, with speeds of 95Mbps on nearby servers and an average of 88Mbps on international servers. Unlike Hotspot Shield, IPVanish uses WireGuard, an open-sourced and trusted VPN protocol. Hide.me, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN place third, fourth, and fifth place respectively.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

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:

VPNs Speed-Tested65
Weekly Speed Tests1,950
Server Locations Assessed9
Monthly Cost of Speed Test Tool$2,000+
Best Average Download Speed99Mbps
Worst Average Download Speed1Mbps

Comparison Table of the Fastest VPNs

Use the table below to quickly compare the five fastest VPN services. You can view each VPN’s download and upload speed, as well as other factors, like its price and refund period.

Analysis of the 5 Fastest VPNs in September 2023

  1. 1. Hotspot Shield: 1% Average Download Speed Loss

    The fastest VPN, and the winner of our 2023 speed test results.

    Ranked #1 out of 55 VPNs for Speed
    Hotspot Shield mobile screenshots
     Rated 4.4 out of 5 
    5 reviews
    Visit Hotspot Shield

    • The fastest download speeds of any VPN
    • Servers in 80 countries
    • Unblocks HBO Max, BBC iPlayer & other streaming sites
    • Supports torrenting on all servers
    • Can be installed on a router for gaming

    • Slow international upload speeds
    • Relatively slow ping
    • VPN protocol is closed-source
    • Doesn’t unblock US Netflix

    Overall Speed Rating: 10/10

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

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

    Our extensive speed test results show that Hotspot Shield is by far the world’s fastest VPN. Even during peak hours, the VPN had virtually no impact on our download speeds, recording much faster results than every other VPN we tested.

    The VPN offers unlimited bandwidth and doesn’t throttle or restrict any type of web traffic. This makes it a superb choice for streaming geo-blocked content in 4K, downloading torrent files quickly, or browsing the internet as fast as possible.

    Testing Hotspot Shield's internet speeds using our proprietary speed testing tool.

    Hotspot Shield’s download speeds are exceptionally fast.

    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection99Mbps
    Countries With Servers80
    Fastest VPN ProtocolHydra
    Cheapest Price$2.99/mo over 36 Months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Hotspot Shield Speed Test Data

    Bar chart showing Hotspot Shield's average download speed in nine different server locations

    The Fastest Download Speeds in Every Server Location

    We were particularly impressed by the consistent performance of Hotspot Shield’s speeds across all server locations. In all nine locations, the VPN’s download speeds exceeded 98Mbps on our 100Mbps baseline connection, even in far-away countries like Japan and Australia.

    Hotspot Shield can achieve these fast speeds because it uses Hydra, its proprietary protocol. However, as Hydra is a closed-source protocol, it can’t be externally checked for security vulnerabilities. All other VPNs on this list use WireGuard or Lightway, both of which are open-source and widely trusted protocols.

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

    Slow International Upload Speed

    Hotspot Shield’s upload speeds are slower than the other VPNs in this list. Although it remained relatively fast at 90Mbps on a nearby server, we recorded upload speeds as slow as 18Mbps on a South Africa server and 56Mbps on a UK server. ExpressVPN’s upload speeds were up to three times faster in these regions.

    Fast Ping Locally but Slower Internationally

    Hotspot Shield’s local latency speed of 4ms was faster than any other VPN on this page. Using it, we measured a high frame rate and didn’t experience any connection issues.

    However, when connected to a UK server location, Hotspot Shield’s ping was 80ms, which was slightly slower than other VPNs, like IPVanish and ExpressVPN. We experienced noticeable lag and latency issues when accessing gaming lobbies from abroad.

    Who Is Hotspot Shield Best for?

    Choose Hotspot Shield if:

    • You want the fastest download speeds. Regardless of the server location, Hotspot Shield provides the best possible download speed performance.
    • You want to stream geo-blocked video in 4K. Due to its unmatched speed performance, Hotspot Shield loads 4K and HD videos quicker than any other VPN.

    Avoid Hotspot Shield if:

    • You need the strongest possible security and encryption. Hotspot Shield uses a proprietary VPN protocol, which isn’t as trustworthy or established as WireGuard.
    • You want the fastest torrenting speed. Due to its slow upload speeds, it took longer to access torrent files with Hotspot Shield than any other VPN on this page.
  2. 2. IPVanish: 11% Average Download Speed Loss

    High-performance VPN with exceptional upload speeds and strong security protocols.

    IPVanish VPN
     Rated 4.8 out of 5 
    175 reviews
    Visit IPVanish

    • Exceptional upload speeds
    • Low ping
    • Works with US Netflix
    • Supports WireGuard
    • Faster torrenting speeds than any other VPN

    • Slightly slower local download speeds
    • Doesn't work with many streaming sites
    • Servers available in only 53 countries

    Overall Speed Rating: 9.8/10

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

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 1010/10
    • 1010/10

    Our testing found that IPVanish is the second-fastest VPN on the market. Its upload speed and ping times are especially fast, making it an excellent VPN for torrenting and gaming.

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

    Testing IPVanish's internet speeds using our proprietary speed testing tool.

    IPVanish has the fastest upload speeds of any VPN.

    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    Countries With Servers53
    Fastest VPN ProtocolWireGuard
    Cheapest Price$3.33/mo over 2 years See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    IPVanish Speed Test Data

    Bar chart showing IPVanish's download speed in nine different server locations.

    Improved Download Speeds Using WireGuard

    Previously, IPVanish was one of the slowest premium VPN services as it used OpenVPN, a slower and older protocol. Now, using WireGuard, we recorded up to six times faster download speeds when connecting to distant server locations, like Japan and Australia.

    From our location in the US, our speed remained at 86Mbps in Australia, 86Mbps in Japan, and 83Mbps in South Africa. Apart from Hotspot Shield, IPVanish is the only other VPN to achieve download speeds faster than 80Mbps in every location.

    That said, IPVanish’s local download speeds are the joint-lowest in the top five recommendations. This is still just a 5% speed loss, though, which we felt was unnoticeable in regular use.

    The Fastest Upload Speeds

    IPVanish outperformed all other VPNs in terms of upload speeds. The results were especially impressive for international connections, where we recorded an average upload speed of 94Mbps. This is almost three times faster than NordVPN and over two times quicker than Hotspot Shield.

    When torrenting, this fast upload speed allowed us to seed files to more peers. As a result,
    IPVanish has the fastest P2P bitrate of any VPN, allowing us to download the file as quickly as without a VPN connection.

    Low International Ping for Gaming

    Similarly, IPVanish’s ping speed is faster than any other VPN. While connected to a UK server to access a gaming lobby, we recorded a ping speed of just 72ms. This low latency allowed us to play fast-paced games, like CS:GO, without any noticeable lag.

    Who Is IPVanish Best for?

    Choose IPVanish if:

    • You want a secure high-speed VPN. Unlike Hotspot Shield, IPVanish maintains fast speeds while still using secure encryption and open-source protocols, like WireGuard and ChaCha20.
    • You want a VPN for Kodi. IPVanish’s fast upload speeds and user-friendly Firestick app make it the best choice for Kodi.

    Avoid IPVanish if:

    • You want to stream geo-blocked streaming websites. Although it can stream US Netflix in HD with its fast international speeds, IPVanish cannot access many other popular services, like HBO Max, Prime Video, and YouTube TV.
    • You need a VPN for all of your devices. IPVanish doesn’t have browser extensions, or an app for routers, nor does it have Smart DNS functionality for devices like Smart TVs and Apple TV.
  3. 3. Hide.me: 13% Average Download Speed Loss

    Fast speeds hindered by limited server network coverage.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    1 reviews
    Visit Hide.me

    • Impressive speeds in most locations
    • Uses WireGuard by default
    • VPN Bolt enhances connection speeds
    • Streams geo-blocked streaming apps in HD
    • Includes SOCKS proxy

    • Slow to establish connections
    • Limited server coverage in 49 countries
    • Slower download speeds in South Africa
    • Comparatively expensive

    Overall Speed Rating: 9.8/10

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

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 1010/10
    • 1010/10

    Hide.me is a new entrant to the list of fastest VPNs, having significantly improved its speed performance in recent months.

    However, there are better overall options available. Its network performance is excellent but unexceptional, plus it has servers in fewer countries. When we tried connecting to some server locations, we often had to wait over 10 seconds to establish a connection.

    Testing Hide.me's internet speeds using our proprietary speed testing tool.

    Hide.me has very fast connection speeds.

    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection96Mbps
    Countries With Servers49
    Fastest VPN ProtocolWireGuard
    Cheapest Price$3.45/mo over 26 months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Hide.me Speed Test Data

    Bar chart showing Hide.me's download speed in nine different server locations.

    Significant Improvement in International Download Speeds

    Since the last time we tested it, Hide.me’s international connection speeds have improved a lot, now ranking third-fastest in average download speeds.

    Download speeds have more than doubled in Japan and Australia, and we measured a 59% improvement in the UK. This improvement is mainly due to Hide.me’s custom VPN Bolt feature, which includes several optimizations that increase the speeds and reliability of the VPN.

    The improvements in local download speeds were marginal, just 8%, but Hide.me was already a fast VPN on nearby servers.

    Quick Upload Speeds

    Using Hide.me, we recorded the joint-fastest local upload speed of 94Mbps. This meant we were always able to quickly download torrent files, especially as Hide.me supports P2P traffic on all of its servers.

    International upload speeds were not as fast, averaging 86Mbps, still easily outperforming NordVPN and Hotspot Shield. But IPVanish is still the better option if you want the very fastest upload speeds.

    Not Suitable for Gaming

    Hide.me’s poor latency and ping speed performance make it a poor choice for gamers. With the slowest local ping among the top five VPNs on our list, we experienced lag during gameplay, which made it difficult to play many types of games.

    Who Is Hide.me Best for?

    Choose Hide.me if:

    • You want a fast VPN with excellent privacy & security features. Unlike IPVanish, Hide.me has never logged user data, and unlike Hotspot Shield, it uses trusted open-source protocols like WireGuard.
    • You want to stream US Netflix and other streaming sites in high resolution. Unlike Hotspot Shield, Hide.me works with US Netflix and five other Netflix libraries, and unlike IPVanish, it can access HBO Max and Prime Video.

    Avoid Hide.me if:

    • You’re located outside of Europe or North America. Hide.me’s server coverage is limited in countries outside these regions, and connecting to distant servers will result in slower connection speeds.
    • You primarily use mobile devices. As Hide.me takes a long time to connect to a server, it’s a poor choice for mobile as you’re regularly switching between cellular towers.
  4. 4. ExpressVPN: 13% Average Download Speed Loss

    Vast server network for optimal performance in torrenting, streaming, and gaming.

    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     Rated 4.8 out of 5 
    1,849 reviews
    Visit ExpressVPN

    • Impressive download and upload speeds in every location
    • Integrated Speed Test feature to identify the fastest server
    • Huge server network across 94 countries
    • 10Gbps servers minimize slowdowns
    • Unblocks every popular streaming service
    • Router app for gaming and streaming devices

    • Slower speeds when connecting to So​​uth Africa
    • No WireGuard support
    • Expensive

    Overall Speed Rating: 9.7/10

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

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 1010/10
    • 1010/10

    ExpressVPN is a well-rounded service that is the second-fastest VPN for download speeds on both local and international connections. With servers in 94 countries, you’ll always be able to connect to a nearby and fast server.

    Though ExpressVPN is the most expensive option, its unrivaled streaming performance and vast server network make it worth the extra cost.

    Testing ExpressVPN's internet speeds using our proprietary speed testing tool.

    ExpressVPN has high-performance servers in all popular locations.

    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection97Mbps
    Countries With Servers94
    Fastest VPN ProtocolLightway
    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    ExpressVPN Speed Test Data

    Bar chart showing ExpressVPN's average download speed in nine different server locations

    Excellent Download Speed Performance, Except for Africa

    Our download speed decreased by just 3% to 97Mbps when connecting to a nearby server and by 7% when connecting to the UK. On average, our download speeds fell by only 15% when connecting to international locations outside of North America, a figure beaten only by Hotspot Shield.

    The only drawback was the VPN’s performance when connected to South Africa, where our download speed fell to 66Mbps. Depending on your baseline internet speed, you may experience connection issues when connected to this server location.

    Uniquely, ExpressVPN’s Mac app includes a Speed Test feature to help you find the fastest VPN servers. When connecting to the recommended servers, we experienced as much as 5% faster speeds compared to the standard server location.

    Fast Upload Speeds Across Its Server Network

    At 91Mbps, ExpressVPN’s local upload speeds are slower than most of the other VPNs on this page. However, in our hands-on experience, this difference was imperceptible, and video calls and file-sharing were completed quickly.

    Upload speeds were more impressive internationally. In fact, our speeds were faster when connecting to distant locations like the US West Coast, Canada, and the UK, registering an average upload speed of 85Mbps.

    The Best Choice for Gaming

    ExpressVPN is our top choice for gaming, with a local ping measurement of 8ms and one of 74ms when connecting to the UK. These speeds were fast enough for playing at almost native latency with every type of game.

    The low latency is primarily due to ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which has been optimized for quick data transmission. Notably, unlike Hotspot Shield’s Hydra, Lightway is open-source and has undergone several audits, eliminating security concerns. However, we would like the option to connect using WireGuard for added versatility.

    Who Is ExpressVPN Best for?

    Choose ExpressVPN if:

    • You’re using a VPN for gaming. As well as fast ping, ExpressVPN offers a dedicated router app, so it can be used on Xbox and PS5. It also supports P2P traffic, ensuring compatibility with all game types.
    • You want an IP address from many different countries. ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries, which is significantly more than IPVanish, Hide.me, and NordVPN.

    Avoid ExpressVPN if:

    • You’re on a budget. At its cheapest, ExpressVPN costs $6.67 per month, which is significantly more expensive than the other recommended VPNs.
    • You want an IP address in Africa. ExpressVPN’s speeds in South Africa are over 25% slower than other regions. If your baseline connection isn’t fast enough, you may experience lag and buffering.
  5. 5. NordVPN: 13% Average Download Speed Loss

    Budget-friendly VPN with slow international upload speeds and limited server locations.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     Rated 4.7 out of 5 
    246 reviews
    Visit NordVPN

    • Joint-fastest local upload speeds
    • Low latency for gaming
    • Ad block lowers web page loading time
    • Compatible with all popular streaming platforms
    • Budget-friendly pricing

    • Slow international upload speeds
    • Limited server locations
    • Torrenting not supported on every server

    Overall Speed Rating: 9.7/10

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

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 1010/10
    • 1010/10

    NordVPN was the fastest VPN in 2022, but its performance has worsened recently. Though its download speeds are still fast enough for most purposes, its international upload speeds are extremely poor.

    Testing NordVPN's internet speeds using our proprietary speed testing tool

    NordVPN’s speeds have worsened recently.

    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    Countries With Servers60
    Fastest VPN ProtocolNordLynx
    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    NordVPN Speed Test Data

    Bar chart showing NordVPN's average download speed in nine different server locations

    Consistently Quick Download Speeds

    Connecting to a nearby server in the US, we recorded an average speed of 95Mbps, making it the joint-lowest of the five VPNs on this page. However, it still outperforms other leading VPNs, including Proton VPN and CyberGhost.

    The VPN’s performance was more impressive on international connections. We recorded a speed loss result of 3% when connecting to Canada and a speed of 11% when connecting to Japan. In these locations, NordVPN is faster than all services except Hotspot Shield.

    Over our month-long testing period, NordVPN consistently maintained its download speeds, peaking at 97Mbps and dropping to a minimum of just 86Mbps. Its excellent built-in ad blocker also prevented 78% of online ads from loading with the web page content, resulting in faster page loading times compared to other VPNs.

    Fast Local Upload Speeds but Slow Internationally

    Tied with IPVanish for the fastest local upload speeds on this list, NordVPN recorded an average of 94Mbps. We experienced no issues or interruptions during video conferences or cloud backups.

    However, NordVPN’s upload speeds are extremely slow when connected to distant locations. We measured an average upload speed of 24Mbps while connected to international server locations, over 70% slower than IPVanish, Hide.me, and ExpressVPN.

    Even when connecting from New York to a Los Angeles server, our upload speed dropped by 86% to 14Mbps, causing slowdowns when torrenting. You’ll likely experience significant upload speed reductions if you’re not close to a NordVPN server.

    Minimal Latency in Every Location

    NordVPN reliably delivers a low ping throughout its server network. While connected to a nearby server, we observed a ping speed of 8ms. In our experience, this was quick enough to compete in ping-sensitive games, like Warzone.

    Who Is NordVPN Best for?

    Choose NordVPN if:

    • You want more than raw speed performance. NordVPN offers a wide range of features, including multi-hop servers, an effective ad blocker, and the ability to build your own VPN server network.
    • You need an affordable fast VPN. NordVPN’s cheapest subscription plan costs just $3.29, making it 50% more affordable than ExpressVPN.

    Avoid NordVPN if:

    • You frequently download torrent files. NordVPN blocks P2P traffic in 15% of server locations and it has slow upload speeds in many locations. Consequently, torrent files sometimes took a while to download.
    • You game on consoles. NordVPN lacks a dedicated router app, making it difficult to set up and configure the VPN on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like Xbox and PS5.

How We Tested & Chose the Fastest VPNs

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.

Unlike other VPN review websites, we measured the speeds of 65 VPN services, not just the most well-known ones. For instance, CNET and TechRadar only assessed 5 and 14 VPNs, respectively.

Our testing process closely replicates a typical VPN connection and controls for all possible variable factors. Each VPN was tested on a Windows 10 PC connected to the internet via Ethernet, and all speeds were measured using our unique speed testing tool.

Our fastest VPN ratings are calculated using three primary metrics:

  • Download speed (80% of overall rating)
  • Upload speed (10% of overall rating)
  • Ping (10% of overall rating)

Below is a summary table of the ten fastest VPNs, showing their quantitative ratings in each subcategory, along with their overall rating.

To remove the risk of bias or human error in our results, our methodology is designed to extract raw numeric data with no room for interpretation. By following our methodology and using our data, you can reproduce our findings yourself.

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

1. Download Speed (80% of Overall Rating)

Download speed is a measurement of how quickly your device can retrieve data from the internet.

The vast majority of internet use relies on download speeds. Using a VPN with a fast download speed, you can stream video content in higher quality, download private files quicker, and browse geo-blocked web pages without waiting.

As a result, download speed constitutes 80% of our overall speed rating. We also break down the rating by server location, so you can see how well a VPN performs all across its server network.

Our server location weighting is as follows:

  • Local (New York, US): 40%
  • US (West Coast): 10%
  • UK (London): 10%
  • Canada (Toronto): 5%
  • Brazil: (São Paulo): 5%
  • Japan (Tokyo): 5%
  • Australia (Sydney): 5%

We prioritize short-distance speeds as you’ll be connecting to a local VPN server most often. The UK and the US are weighted the second highest, as getting an IP address from these locations is useful for accessing geo-blocked streaming services and bypassing US sports blackouts, respectively.

All other locations have a 5% weighting because they are typically equally desirable. If you’ll be regularly connecting to one of these locations frequently, find the fastest VPN by using our VPN speed test comparison tool.

You can see the full results of our download speed tests in the table below:

As you can see, Hotspot Shield’s download speeds are faster than every other VPN in all server locations.

In Australia, Japan, and the UK, we achieved speeds of over 99Mbps, while other popular VPNs such as Astrill and Pure VPN could only maintain speeds of around 78Mbps in some of these locations.

2. Upload Speed (10% of Overall Rating)

Upload speed is a measurement of how quickly your device can transmit data to the internet.

Upload speed is important for fewer web activities, so it’s weighted just 10% of our overall rating. A faster upload speed is beneficial for certain torrenting activities, video calling, and uploading files to the internet.

You’re unlikely to be performing these tasks while connected to VPN servers around the world, so we only factor in the results from the local VPN server.

You can see the full results of our upload speed tests in the table below:

Astrill, AVG Secure VPN, IVPN, and AvastVPN are all tied at 96Mbps with the fastest local upload speeds. In contrast, X-VPN registered the slowest upload speed on a nearby server, at just 55Mbps.

Despite being the overall winner in our speed tests, Hotspot Shield had a relatively slow local speed of 90Mbps and ranked as the fourth-slowest VPN internationally, averaging 44Mbps. On the other hand, Ivacy, Norton Secure VPN, and PrivadoVPN all demonstrated exceptional international upload speeds, exceeding 95Mbps on average.

3. Ping (10% of Overall Rating)

Ping is a measurement of the time it takes for a data packet to travel back and forth between your device and the speed test server.

For VPN users, lower ping is only useful for playing fast-paced online games without lag or any other performance issues. As such, it takes up just 10% of our overall speed rating.
We break down this into two server locations to account for the two use cases for using a VPN for online gaming.

Our server location weighting is as follows:

  • Local (New York, US): 6%
  • UK (London): 4%

The higher weighting for the local server is because users will most often use a VPN to hide their IP address or to change their NAT types. We also factor in one international location, the UK, for users who want to access easier gaming lobbies.

You can see the full results of our ping tests in the table below:

Control Variables

Here are the elements we kept constant to ensure our findings are as accurate as possible:

Proprietary Speed Test Tool

Every other VPN review website uses external speed test tools, but it’s unclear how accurate these are. Some popular VPN services are operated by the owner of Speedtest by Ookla, which could compromise the results. Many VPNs also host speed test servers on these tools, which may allow them to prioritize traffic from their IP addresses.

In response, we’ve developed our own internet speed testing tool, with all eight test servers controlled by us. On these self-hosted servers, we make use of OpenSpeedTest, an open-source interface for benchmarking network performance.

Put simply, our proprietary speed testing tool provides more reliable and accurate information compared to VPN review websites that rely on external speed test tools.

Invoice for renting a speed test server in New York

Our invoice to rent a speed test server in New York City.

Conducting One Test At a Time

To ensure any slowdowns can only be attributed to the VPN service and not the speed test server, we conduct only one test on each server at a time. This level of control would not be possible on a third party tool, like Speedtest by Ookla, that is used by thousands of people simultaneously.

Testing Windscribe's connection speeds

For accuracy, we do not test more than one VPN simultaneously.

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.

As a result, we can reasonably assume that any drops in speed are a direct result of the VPN running.

A screenshot of a speed test showing our 100Mbps baseline internet speed

Our baseline internet speed is consistently 100Mbps.

Test Equipment

All of our speed tests are done using a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop running Windows. This device is connected to the broadband line using a Cat7 ethernet cable.

Each VPN is installed on a unique virtual machine, to prevent them from interacting with one another and producing inaccurate speed results.

By keeping all of our equipment consistent, we can always conclude that any speed changes are a result of the VPN, and not any issues with our test devices.

A speed test running on a computer screen, measuring the performance of the VPN being reviewed.

We manually conduct every VPN speed test.

Time of Day

Network performance varies depending on the time of day. A VPN service is likely to be slower during peak hours (7-11pm) compared to off-peak hours (1am-7am).

To achieve a more balanced evaluation, we tested each VPN’s connection speeds between 3-5pm Eastern Standard Time (EST), thereby avoiding extreme network conditions associated with peak and off-peak hours.

By doing this, any variances in network performance were consistent across tests and could be attributed to the VPN service rather than network fluctuations.

Speed test running with the time of 15:57 clearly indicated.

All speed tests were conducted between 3-5pm EST.

Research Limitations

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

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

Network Fluctuations

Although we test each VPN at the same time each day, network demand is often different from one day to the next.

For instance, if there are many people simultaneously connecting to the internet on a particular day, the VPN being tested may experience slower speeds or connection issues.

Varying Device Performance

The speed test results of a VPN can vary widely depending on the device being used, as different devices have varying network cards, software, and performance capabilities. For example, desktop PCs often have larger and faster wireless cards than mobile devices.

Although we test VPN speeds on a commonly used computer running the most popular operating system, you may not always experience the same results as us on your device.

How to Speed Up Your VPN

How to speed up a VPN connection

Although some speed loss is inevitable when using 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 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 FAQs

Which VPN protocol is fastest?

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

Although some insecure 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.