VPN Speed Testing Methodology
A VPN can slow your internet down if the VPN’s max speed is lower than your ISP’s speed. On the other hand, if the VPN’s max speed is higher than the ISP’s, you won’t notice any slowdown.
To see how each VPN affects my own speed, I’ve recorded my baselines using Speedtest.net averaged over three tests. The results without a VPN:
- Upload: 9.22Mbps
- Ping: 17ms
Going forward, remember that if the speeds go down, it means that the VPN service is limiting my speed, but if the speeds stay the same, it means that the VPN service is not throttling my connection .
For speed testing, I’ve used a VPN server in the same country. This underlines the speed of the connection to the VPN service and via their server. internet traffic is more likely to impact long-range testing.
My testing results for NordVPN:
- Upload: 10.08Mbps
- Ping: 17ms
CyberGhost offers a range of superior VPN features. It is particularly suited to video streamers and torrenters. So, if you’re cut the cord and relying on the internet for your media, CyberGhost should be your top choice. It offers:
- 7,100+ servers in 90+ countries
- Apps for desktop, mobile, consoles, media boxes, routers, and browser extensions
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video
- Seven simultaneous connections
My testing results for Private Internet Access are as follows:
How A Free VPN Works
A free VPN app will connect your device to a server run by the VPN provider. The data that travels between your device and the VPN server is encrypted meaning nobody else can see it. All your data is routed through the VPN server, which acts as a gateway to the internet, and as a result, your real location is concealed and you can pretend to be elsewhere and browse the web in complete privacy!
If you’re new to VPNs, you can get up to speed quickly with our handy guides for beginners:
The 7 Best VPNs In September 2021
- The latest encryption technology protects your data
- Untraceable IP addresses keep you anonymous online
- High-speed servers and unlimited data
- Get the best VPN deals and enjoy free trials
The #1 VPN on the market, ExpressVPN can do it all. Connect to the fastest server to secure your internet connection and stay hidden from the prying eyes of government agencies, your ISP, and hackers. 5 simultaneous connections to secure your entire network.
- Maintains your high-speed internet connection with no slowdowns
- Excellent security features kill switch, leak protection, and no data logs
- No technical knowledge required – connect with a single click
- No questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee
- Servers in over 90 countries
- Compatible with multiple platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Over 6,000 people have picked ExpressVPN in the last 30 days
An easy-to-use VPN, CyberGhost uses the latest encryption technology to secure and anonymize your internet connection. 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Over 6,900 secure servers in 90+ countries
- Automatically connects to optimized servers based on your needs
- Apps for PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Fire TV, Kindle, and more
- Excellent customer support
Although its based in the US, PIA doesnt store logs and maintains a high level of privacy for its users.
- Securely connect to public Wifi and unsecured hotspots
- High-level encryption for anonymous browsing
- Unlimited bandwidth and data transfer
- 40,000+ IP addresses
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The Best VPN Services Today At A Glance
ExpressVPN Excellent privacy, streaming and simplicity make ExpressVPN the best VPN today
NordVPN Impressive security features that can rival the very best VPN services
Surfshark The best VPN if you’re looking for premium performance on a budget
Hotspot Shield If you’re after a superfast, no-frills service, Hotspot Shield is a good choice
CyberGhost Some of the best VPN features when it comes to streaming, but can’t unblock everything
Private Internet Access Great features like port forwarding make for one of the best VPNs for P2P
IPVanish Unlimited connections and cheap short plans make for a very flexible service
VyprVPN Chameleon protocol makes this one of the best VPN services for using in China
How To Use A VPN
The majority of todayâs VPNs are exceptionally easy to use. Once youâve created an account with the provider, all you need to do is download the VPN app on your computer or smartphone. Once youâve signed in with your account, you typically choose from a list of remote servers located around the world. Click on the one youâd like, and the system should automatically connect you. Once you get confirmation that youâre connected, you can use your device as you normally would without your VPN. You can disconnect or change your server from your appâs home screen.
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Are There Any Limitations To A VPN
Companies like Netflix and the BBC are playing a constant game of whack-a-mole to lock out VPN endpoint addresses, so only a few VPNs cater to region-shifting for video streaming.
Similarly, full torrenting support with a SOCKS5 proxy is a niche feature among VPNs.
Recently, services including Netflix have allowed some suspected VPN users to connect to any of its regional sites, but only show them their local catalogue. Our tests check for region-exclusive content in order to accurately guard VPN services streaming prowess.
On a desktop computer, you can go about your day-to-day internet use with a VPN connected without much fuss — although you may need to reconnect your VPN if your connection to your ISP or Wi-Fi network drops. However, using a VPN on a mobile device can increase battery consumption.
Not all VPNs prevent all data leaks, for example via IPv6, WebRTC, or even outdated or misconfigured VPN protocols.
What Does The Internet Think
As mentioned before, there’s no easy way to give you a comprehensive evaluation of VPN performance, especially from one tester. So, we gathered up the results from ten separate sites . Across all 10 sites , we identified performance results for 30 VPNs.
Of those 30 VPNs, 15 of them were only reviewed on one site. Because we’re explicitly trying to find performance across sites, we removed all of the one-hit wonders. We also removed another seven VPN providers that showed up on only two sites. None of them scored near the top of their respective reviewers’ lists, so there was no great loss.
That left us with eight providers tested on three or more sites, giving us some useful aggregate data to examine.
The VPN providers quickly stratified into three groups: ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, and NordVPN led the pack with average aggregate scores between two and three. The next group consisted of Private Internet Access, StrongVPN, and Surfshark, with average aggregate rankings between three and five. Finally, at the bottom of our list were CyberGhost and IPVanish, both of whom netted an average aggregate score of six or worse.
Let’s take a look at our chart, and we’ll deconstruct a few more important aspects of our study.
There are two data series modeled on the chart. The vertical columns represent the average ranking for each vendor. Lower is better in this case, so a vendor with an average rank of 2.00 performs better than a vendor with an average rank of, say, 6.33.
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Which Is The Overall Fastest VPN Service
Our research shows that there is no clear leader as far as the fastest VPN is concerned.
Of course, one VPN service has to come out on top.
Our research only shows that no VPN service has a clear advantage over the other one.
Instead of having a clear winner, our research shows that there are several VPN services fighting for the top spot.
Some VPN services offer better latency rates while others offer better upload and download speeds.
After researching a bit more on the matter, we have little choice but to come to the conclusion that TorGuard VPN is the best VPN service when it comes to speed with NordVPN and IPVanish close by.
TorGuard is a fast VPN and our research shows that it decreases download speeds the least.
It can also hold its own when it comes to not affecting upload speeds against the best VPN service providers in the world.
As such, it came in second in the category of not affecting upload speeds.
But TorGuard isnt just a good VPN for these points.
It has lots going for it elsewhere as well.
TorGuard offers a good volume of add-ons to users who want them.
It has the facility to offer users a 10 Gbit network.
The company also offers users static IP addresses which websites and streaming services find hard to bock.
Overall, TorGuard is a competitive VPN service.
And it is so because of the work it has put in to improve.
How To Choose The Fastest VPN Server
There is no way that each server will provide similar speed performance around the world. What you will get depends on several principles including the quality of your internet connection, distance to the desired VPN server, protocol selection, and crowdedness of the servers
Considering the factors affecting the speed, here are some of the things you can do to find the best VPN server for a greater speed performance:
- Browsing: If you are living in a country where fiber infrastructure is great, then you can connect to the closest local server.
- Streaming: In case you want to stream a service abroad, then find the least crowded server of the specific country and connect to it. For example, If you want to watch Netflix USA in Europe, connect to the closest, less populated New York server if you are in Japan-Asia, for example, you will get the best streaming results from California servers. The closer, the better.
- Gaming: For gaming purposes, you must connect to the VPN server closest to the game servers location. Learn more about the gaming VPNs in the article.
- Torrenting: Make sure to connect to P2P supported VPN servers. Those servers usually have better download/upload values and always keep the Kill Switch feature activated!
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Free VPNs That You Should Avoid
If you’re using one of ProPrivacy’s recommended free VPNs, you won’t need to worry about privacy risks or online security. The same cannot be said for every free VPN provider, unfortunately.
We scoured the privacy policies and terms of all the free providers we could get our hands on. And during our research, we were utterly shocked at how some providers completely disregard user privacy and actively put users at significant risk.
Here are some free VPNs that you should avoid at all costs.
Hotspot Shield VPN Free Plan For Windows
Hotspot Shield is an excellent choice if you are looking for a VPN that offers free Windows VPN software.
The Hotspot Shield client looks sleek and professional, so it wont take long before you get used to using the program.
You will be able to access a US server on the free version of their Windows app, which means plenty of US IP addresses to go around!
There is one device connection available at a time with this plan and a monthly data limit, which is enough for usual daily internet tasks such as online banking, sending private emails, and more.
The speeds offered by this VPN arent bad either but they tend to slow down during peak hours like most other services out there however, on the paid version, Hotspot Shields speeds are extremely fast.
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Occasional Bugs In The Service
Some of the things Im going to discuss in this segment might be a little subjective and because of the way that VPNs work, some bugs might not be easily replicable. However, I did notice some glitches that made it hard to overlook in the case of FastestVPN.
When I first paid for FastestVPN I was led to a download of their installation file after the fact. Installing it, I was surprised when I found I could not connect to any of their servers despite changing protocols and trying other things I noted in their knowledge base.
I finally had to talk to customer service, which asked me to do something strange download and install the OpenVPN GUI client and use that to connect. Having done that, I next found that the FastestVPN app could connect with no issues thereon, even after installing the OpenVPN GUI.
The next issue I noted was that connections to some servers were a little dodgy at times. This means that you may have to try connecting a few times before the connection will actually be made. There seems to be no real reason for this, but after a while things settled down and the problem went away.
The 5 Fastest VPN Services
Looking for a fast VPN but don’t want to pay too much for it? Here are the fastest VPN services that we’ve tested.
Getting online anonymously is vital in an age of open Wi-Fi networks and trackers. The solution is a VPN, which can also help overcome various online challenges, from region-blocking and ISP throttling to local government censorship.
Virtual Private Networks improve privacy by encrypting your internet traffic and routing it through a secure server. Signing up to a VPN is simple, but not all VPNs are equal. For instance, some are slower than others. To save you from browsing the web securely but slowly, we’ve found five fast VPNs for you to consider.
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Can A VPN Increase Internet Speed
In some cases, it can. Even though it sounds counter-intuitive, a VPN can increase your internet speed if your Internet Service Provider is throttling your connection. This is often done to regulate streaming and torrenting volume, but with a VPN, your ISP wont be able to see what youre doing online. Therefore, you will get the full speed.
How We Tested The Fastest VPNs
For this roundup, we tested 14 VPN providers, all of which you can find in our speed test spreadsheet . In order to maintain consistency across our tests, we configured every VPN with OpenVPN over UDP and AES-256. There are faster protocols, but this combination is available across all of the services we tested and offers a basis for comparison.
All of our tests were on a wired connection, and although our unprotected speed varied slightly between tests, we were within a few megabits per second of our base speed. We ran unprotected tests between each VPN service in order to maintain continuity throughout our trials.
As for the speed tests themselves, we ran everything through speedtest.net, manually selecting a testing location and using that same location across trials . Our goal was to gather accurate numbers while maintaining consistency, and running a speed test from the same server during each trial helps that effort.
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Which VPN Service Has The Best Upload Speeds
From our experience in reviewing VPN services, we have come to the realization that a lot of people simply do not bother about a VPN service affecting upload speeds.
However, there are always those users who want better upload speeds because they want to upload huge video files or otherwise to the cloud.
If you are that kind of user then IPVanish is the best VPN service for you.
IPVanish affects upload speeds by only 3 percent.
This mark is significantly better than the second best VPN service in this category which is TorGuard that reduces upload speeds by 5 percent.
Pretty similar to the download speed tests, our research shows that most of the VPN service in the market today only affect upload speeds by 7 percent and less.
This is, again, good for the industry.
KeepSolid VPN service reduces upload speeds up 70 percent and hence is the worst in this category.
GoldenFrog VyprVPN reduces upload speeds by up to 20 percent.
Why Should You Pay For A VPN With Bitcoin
Conventional payment methods like credit cards or PayPal cannot function without some personal data included. Banks only provide service if they can verify your identity, check your financial history, and numerous other bad practices for confidentiality.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies are known for their decentralized nature that doesnt require some authority to enable transactions. Anyone can start using crypto by setting up a wallet without any personal data involved. That way, any service you purchase using cryptocurrencies wont know your real identity.
Since virtual private networks are used to enhance personal privacy, it makes sense to purchase one anonymously. Then the VPN will have no way to trace your account back to you personally. Of course, the best VPN services dont track you anyway, but its better to be safe than sorry.
Best For Budget Conscious Privacy Hawks
- Privacy baked into its account system
- Strong stance on transparency
- Powered by privacy hawk Mullvad
- Simple, snazzy design
- Split tunneling on Android and Windows
- No privacy tools beyond VPN
- Few server locations
- Free version throttled, supported by targeted ads on Android
- Gathers significant, but anonymous, data
- No third-party infrastructure audit
- Part of the larger Bitdefender app ecosystem
- Expensive, monthly subscription not available in certain regions
- Needs to continue to improve its privacy practices
- Unclear where servers are located
- No recent transparency reports