For gamers, streamers, and sports fans who frequently change planes, a speed-driven service is the ideal option when choosing a virtual private network.
When looking for a VPN, reliability, security, strength, and cost are all crucial considerations.
However, speed and reliable connections are the two most crucial factors for gamers connecting to servers around the world, streaming addicts who don’t want to miss their favorite shows while traveling, and sports fans caught between two teams’ watching territories.
So how can you locate the industry’s quickest VPN service?
Our fastest VPN guide will help with that. To find the fastest VPNs for gaming, streaming, and anything else you may want, we hands-on tested all the main VPN providers. Before we discuss what our test findings showed, bear the following in mind:
First of all, it’s challenging to speed-test a VPN in a way that yields useful customer guidance.
One reason is that using a VPN, no matter how fast it is, can considerably slow down your browsing.
Additionally, the speed of a VPN can vary from day to day.
The impact of US internet speeds is also a factor; these speeds can differ greatly depending on your VPN provider and the state in which you reside. The fastest VPN service in one location could not be the fastest VPN service in another. Finally, testing a VPN client in a digital world that has little in common with the operational environment most of us live and work in will be possible only if all potential variables are taken into account, including individual machine idiosyncrasies and network interference.
I prefer to design a VPN testing environment that is similar to what you, the ordinary VPN user, will probably encounter for all of these reasons and more.
Because of this, I’m more interested in calculating the speed loss caused by VPNs across both slow- and high-speed connection types (which, for most VPN clients, is typically 50% or more).
I’m interested in how effectively a VPN can handle torrenting, streaming, and other high-traffic activities in addition to browsing. I also want to know how it will function on a household internet connection with numerous simultaneous connections on Mac or Windows devices.
You may anticipate this list to vary occasionally when it is updated with our most recent test findings due to the always changing field of leading VPN contenders, so be sure to check back.
Here are the VPNs that, at the time of publication, were the quickest of those we have thus far tested.
ExpressVPN is back on top and is currently the fastest VPN we’ve tested in 2022 after causing us to lose less than 2% of our entire internet speeds in contrast to its earlier struggles with a 52% speed decrease.
Surprisingly, the 2% speed drop was observed even using both the lightning-fast open source Lightway protocol and the OpenVPN protocol.
ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol is much more adaptable to diverse connection types than the Wireguard used by the other two providers on this list. This enables you to stay connected and avoid being disconnected if your internet connection is prone to lagging or occasional problems.
All of our top-rated VPNs are highly compatible with a variety of platforms and operating systems, but ExpressVPN has a distinct user advantage thanks to its library of setup instructions, comprehensive FAQs, and troubleshooting articles.
Additionally, it offers a 30-day, no-questions-asked money return guarantee and 24-hour customer service.
Since its founding in 2009, ExpressVPN has grown to have a sizable network of over 3,000 RAM-only servers dispersed across 160 sites in 94 countries.
For $100 a year, ExpressVPN’s top subscription provides five simultaneous connections (which includes three extra months, for a limited-time deal totaling 15 months of service).
Additionally, you have the choice of a $13 monthly plan or a $60 six-month payment.
With the exception of ExpressVPN, which topped my 2019 tests with less than 2% speed loss, Surfshark, a relative newcomer in the VPN sector, finished 2019 with just 27% speed loss, placing it far ahead of all of its rivals.
Although ExpressVPN speeds had dropped to 52% speed loss in my most recent tests, Surfshark was still outpacing the competition with 17% speed loss as 2020 came to a conclusion.
The astounding aspect of Surfshark’s speed is that it doesn’t struggle to make up for significant speed losses in any one test zone.
On race day, this monstrosity showed up and, seemingly without effort, took home the gold for the fastest speed.
My non-VPN base speeds throughout testing averaged 194 Mbps, whereas Surfshark’s total average was 161 Mbps.
I averaged the results from five testing locations and discovered that none of the averages there dipped below 100Mbps.
That represents a complete victory over its rivals in every test column.
While the competitors below appeared to have trouble with US connections, Surfshark had an average speed of 204 Mbps.
One way I could have manipulated the statistics in this article is by selecting servers across the US with the lowest VPN traffic load since the VPN service provider gives you the option to select which VPN server to connect to (with a handy visual icon to signal overall crowdedness of each VPN server location).
And I really wanted to report on New York speeds, for instance.
Because NordVPN still annoyingly lacks that capability, though, that wouldn’t have been fair, so I chose to use Surfshark’s automated server selection feature instead (as I did with the other test subjects).
In contrast, NordVPN only averaged 89Mbps on US connections throughout testing, falling far short of Surfshark’s American speeds.
In tests conducted in the UK and Europe, Surfshark once again beat its rivals, averaging 165Mbps and 171Mbps, respectively.
Future tests might include other European nations, but for the time being I aim for a combination of French and German ties.
Frankfurt speeds typically drag down the average, regardless of VPN, whereas connections in Orange and Paris significantly increase the number of connections.
Although Surfshark’s German numbers were greater than its rivals’ average speeds, this was still the case for its speeds.
Australia is typically where we see a drop in numbers because of significant lag due to the continent’s distance from my test site in Kentucky.
Even when latency remained high, this blazing-fast VPN service maintained an average download speed of 126 Mbps, seemingly unconcerned.
That is comparable to the average speed of 122Mbps I observed for ExpressVPN’s European connections.
Speeds are always competitive in Singapore.
With an average national speed of 181Mbps, the speed-testing website Ookla, which I and the majority of other reviewers use, placed Singapore’s internet speeds as the fastest in the world in 2018.
How well did Surfshark fare there?
On average, a relaxed 142Mbps.
Was it an anomaly?
Was it just a nice day for my VPN connection?
Was that day’s overall server traffic on Surfshark particularly light?
It is possible to do all of those things.
This is why I intend to continue testing the newly crowned speed queen and why I always advise using VPNs that provide money-back guarantees and permit you to test their services for a period of 30 days while using them normally.
However, I haven’t had similar speeds with any VPN I have tested to date.
The beast that is Surfshark.
The service provider you need right now if you’re looking for pure fast speed is this blazing-fast VPN.
It should be noted right away that NordVPN’s speeds have been constantly increasing ever since I tested it for the first time last year.
While other speed-testing websites have consistently seen the VPN provider leap ahead, my most recent tests show it behind by 2 percentage points behind ExpressVPN.
NordVPN has been more assertive since its embarrassing third-party server breach last year (which seemed to inflict little harm).
It has cranked up its engine and made a number of fleetwide privacy upgrades to its servers.
Granted, some of these might be related to NordLynx, a new security protocol that NordVPN launched.
It is based on WireGuard, a still-evolving protocol that some claim is less secure than OpenVPN (an option offered by all the VPNs listed here and one I use in testing), but which eventually builds a speedier VPN tunnel.
It received endorsements from AV-Test and Ookla for the enhancements.
Despite the praise from others, NordVPN’s overall worldwide average speed during my tests was 91Mbps in a dataset with average non-VPN speeds of 194Mbps, for a speed loss of around 53%.
Although it’s common for a VPN to reduce your internet speed by 50% or more, it’s important to note that NordVPN’s average speed throughout my five test zones never dropped below 85Mbps.
It’s still one of the most reliable, consistent VPNs I’ve used.
Singapore topped the VPN speed test averages with 98Mbps, while UK speeds narrowly outperformed European connections.
French and German VPN connection speeds averaged 91.90Mbps, while the UK’s VPN connection speed edged them out by 0.03Mbps.
Another close call occurred during testing for NordVPN, with Australia outperforming the US by 88Mbps to 86Mbps.
None of these are ratings that you should belittle.
How I evaluated the quickest VPN providers
I conducted manual speed testing using the OpenVPN protocol, which is usually regarded as the most popular and secure open-source protocol, to find the fastest VPN service.
It should be noted that several of the manufacturers have their own unique protocols that might provide a faster speed, but I wanted to keep this a side-by-side comparison.
I measure my internet speed without a VPN first.
I next choose five servers in various parts of the world and link my PCs to the virtual private network.
I use the well-known Ookla Speedtest to test those five servers five times each over the course of two to three days.
I then determine how much of my typical internet speeds are lost when using each VPN by calculating the average download speed of each.
(Learn more about our evaluation and review process for VPNs here.)
There are configurations that can help you maximize your speeds regardless of the VPN you’re using.
Nevertheless, depending on the VPN you use, some of these recommendations can result in a compromise in privacy overall.
However, if you’re curious, here are three methods to increase your VPN speed:
Verify your protocol: If a VPN transmits your internet traffic via encrypted tunnels, the protocol describes how the VPN excavates the tunnel.
For various reasons, VPNs employ several security protocols, and the majority of VPNs let you freely switch between them.
Generally speaking, your VPN speeds will be slower the more secure a protocol is.
Although IKEv2/IPsec is faster, you can increase your VPN app’s speeds by sticking with the OpenVPN protocol, which is safe without being burdensome.
Pick servers in your area:
Your information will travel more quickly the closer you are to a server physically.
Choose a server that is as close to you as feasible to receive a quick data return.
Make sure you choose a server that is managing a low amount of traffic if your VPN, like IPVanish, visibly indicates how busy each server is.
Split-tunneling: This function, which is available from the majority of top VPN providers, lets you choose which of your apps’ internet traffic should go via your VPN.
Speeds may be increased by limiting the amount of device data you send through your VPN.
Except for NordVPN, which only provides split-tunneling through its mobile applications and through desktop browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, all the VPNs covered in this article enable split-tunneling directly through their apps.
What VPN has the quickest speed?
Surfshark is now CNET’s top pick for the fastest VPN due to its lightning-fast speed and outstanding performance.
In terms of speed, ExpressVPN comes in second place and won the CNET Editors’ Choice Award for best VPN overall.
The third-best option, NordVPN, is a fierce heavyweight.
It is by far the most dependable service I’ve tested, costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, and has a vast network that’s continually becoming faster and more secure.
Should I use a VPN?
The use of a VPN is advantageous for those who access the internet via a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Almost always, a VPN service will increase your privacy by encrypting your internet activity.
Since all communications between the VPN server and your device are encrypted, neither your internet service provider nor a hacker on your Wi-Fi network will be able to see the websites you visit.
Additionally, they won’t be able to see confidential information like usernames, passwords, and financial or shopping information.
A VPN should be used by everybody who wishes to safeguard their online security and privacy.
Which free VPN is the best?
Neither of them.
VPNs are sadly not one of the many great free security and privacy tools available online.
A free VPN service is nearly always a malware-filled data snoop, and safe VPNs are expensive for businesses to operate and maintain securely.
The good news is that rates for even the finest VPNs consistently drop to less than $5 per month because the expanding VPN business is currently highly competitive.
In fact, the least costly VPN we’ve come across is among the fastest and safest overall.
To select a VPN that fits within your budget, look through our concise list of cost-effective VPNs.