How We Test VPN Speeds
We test VPN speeds through two different methods. This page covers our automated speed test, which is what the tool above uses.
Automated VPN Speed Tests
We have servers set up in 11 cities around the world, with 18 of the most popular VPNs installed on them. These servers send data to one another around the clock, seven days a week, to create an accurate, long-term picture of how fast each VPN really is. We also test the servers with no VPN running at all.
We’ve capped the speed at 100Mbps so that the numbers look similar to what you’d see with a home fibre optic broadband connection, and the data transfer has been designed to function as consistently as possible. The data we send is regulated, there’s no compression, and it’s 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 Providers Do We Test?
We use our tool to test 18 VPN providers. They are:
- 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 restricted to VPNs that run the OpenVPN protocol – it’s the most widely-available VPN protocol out there, and we believe it’s the best. However, some popular VPNs don’t use it, which means that we can’t include them.
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.
Manual VPN Speed Tests
When reviewing the VPNs on our website we also carry out a manual speed test. This test is completely different to our automated tool. We use the results of this test to decide how we’ll score a VPN for speed and consistency, and it’s been designed to be identical to how you’d test your VPN’s speed at home.
There’s nothing too complicated to it: we simply connect to the VPN we’re testing and then browse to speedtest.net. We run the 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, but not too far), 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 that’s usually catered to by VPN providers).
You can look at the distance each of those countries is 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 100Mbps router in our office which isn’t used by any other devices.
Each VPN we test is installed on a clean virtual machine. This means that they essentially have a completely clean, unused operating system to themselves – no chance of clashing or interfering with each other. You can see these results in every single VPN review on our site – click here to see the full list.