How We Run VPN Speed Tests
We test VPN speeds through two different methods:
1. Automated VPN Speed Tests
We have test servers set up in 11 cities around the world, with 16 of the most popular VPNs installed on them.
These servers send data to one another 24/7, to create an accurate, long-term picture of how fast each VPN truly is.
We’ve capped connection speeds at 100Mbps to reproduce what a typical internet user would experience on a home fiber optic broadband connection.
Moreover, the data transfer has been designed to function as consistently as possible.
The data we send is regulated, without compression, and free of any additional protocols or ports slowing it down.
We run 121 tests every six hours per VPN and create an average, making sure to get rid of any glaring errors.
The data you see on the graph above is a daily average of all those tests. It’s not perfect, but we think it’s the best tool on the internet for seeing how VPNs actually perform.
Our speed test collects data every six hours
We use average speed loss as our go-to statistic as it’s the most informative piece of data for VPN users at home. You might have different internet speeds at home compared to our 100Mbps servers. In that case, all you have to do is take the speed loss percentage for the VPN you’re interested in and apply it to your own speeds.
For example, if a VPN takes 10% off our server’s speeds, you can presume that your home internet speeds of 50Mbps without VPN will reduce to 40Mbps while using it.
It’s important to have the fastest VPN possible because everything you do while connected to your VPN is affected by it. Obvious speed-dependent tasks like gaming and torrenting will be affected most, but even everyday tasks like checking your social media or sending an email are affected by it, too. Take a look at the results of our testing and make your choice carefully.
Which VPN Services Do We Test?
We use our tool to test the following 16 VPN services:
- Hotspot Shield
- Private Internet Access
We’ve picked these providers as they’re some of the biggest and most popular names on the market. It’s by no means a comprehensive list, and we’re looking to add to it every chance we get. We’re mostly restricted to VPNs that run the OpenVPN protocol, although by communicating with some providers we’re able to utilize their own, faster protocols, too.
Where Are Our Speed Test Servers Located?
We have speed test servers located in 11 cities around the world:
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Frankfurt, Germany
- London, UK
- New York, US
- Paris, France
- San Francisco, US
- Sydney, Australia
- Tokyo, Japan
- Toronto, Canada
- Vancouver, Canada
While your city may not be on this list, we hope that the global spread is wide enough that you can find one near enough to you to estimate what your own speeds might be like.
2. Manual VPN Speed Tests
When we review VPN services, we also carry out manual speed tests.
These manual tests are very different to our tool’s automated tests. We use the results of our manual tests to determine how we’ll score a VPN for speed and consistency.
Our manual speed tests are designed to be identical to how you would test your VPN’s speed at home.
We simply connect to the VPN we’re testing, and then browse to speedtest.net.
We run a speed test three times, then take an average of the numbers it shows us. If any of them seem like massive outliers, we try it again until it gains some consistency.
We test four major server locations: a local one (which for us is London, UK), one in Western Europe (somewhere like Germany that’s a little further away from us), one on the East Coast of the US (usually New York, a popular location for anyone using a VPN for streaming), and Australia (which is the farthest possible location from us).
You can look at the distance each of those countries from our location, and apply it to your own situation.
We ensure consistency by using the same computers for testing. These computers are connected via Ethernet cable to a dedicated router that isn’t used by any other devices.
The standard internet speed is capped at 100Mbps to replicate a typical home connection in the US, UK and similar countries.
Each VPN we test is installed on a clean virtual machine. In essence, they have a completely clean, unused operating system to themselves with no clash or interference from other VPN software.