Got the need for speed? Here are some of the top VPN providers that don’t compromise on speed.
Whether you're in the market for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for security purposes or you simply want to get around geo-blocked YouTube videos, speed and stability are two of the most important factors to compare when shopping around.
There are many factors that contribute to VPNs speed and performance; the location and number of servers, the technology and tunnelling protocols used and the bandwidth each service allows for.
Then there's the consideration of your actual home broadband speed, which is another issue entirely (you can check your home broadband speed here).
The 5 fastest VPNs we've tested
We've speed tested over 10 different VPNs and scored them on download, upload and ping. The 5 VPNs in the table below scored the highest in all three tests.
Want to know how we speed test VPNs? Scroll further down the page for more details on the speed testing process and methodology.
VPN speed ranking 2018
We've speed tested a number of VPNs in 2018 and collated the results below. We run three consecutive speed tests for download, upload and ping speed with the VPN disconnected to establish a baseline broadband speed. Next, we run three tests across the same criteria when connected to the VPN's AU servers (where applicable) then another three tests connected to the VPN's North American servers (where applicable).
We then calculated the difference (increase/decrease) between the disconnected control test and the connected AU and US server tests and assigned each VPN a score based on its overall download, upload and ping performance.
Note: This selection of VPNs isn't indicative of the entire market. We're testing more VPNs every day and adding the results as we go.
In general, upload speed will be slower than download speed because most modems and Internet service providers prioritise downloads over uploads (simply because we spend far more time downloading than uploading).
The higher the upload speed, the better.
Most users look at download speed as the most important statistic associated with a VPN since it represents the rate at which data is transferred from the Internet to a user’s computer. It dictates how fast a page will load in front of your eyes and how long that 4K torrent of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will take to download.
The higher the download speed, the better.
The reaction time of your connection is known as ping. It's how fast the transaction of requests occur at. Where download speed may impact how long an image-heavy page like a photo gallery will fully load, ping impacts how fast the initial request to access to photo gallery is registered. This is particularly important to people gaming online as lag or low high ping can be the difference between winning and losing a match.
The lower the ping speed, the better.
What can slow down a VPN?
There are many factors that could slow down your VPN use. Here are just a couple to look out for when comparing VPNs.
The closer you are to the physical location of the server, the faster the data will move from one place to another. If you’re in NYC and the VPN server is in Philadelphia, you should get a pretty quick connection. If you’re in NYC and the closest server on your VPN is in Oslo, things can slow down considerably.
Your Internet speed
Regardless of the quality of the VPN you use, a lot of the speed factor is still going to be determined by your computer and its Internet speed. If your personal Internet connection lags or has periods where it goes down, that’s going to be reflected in the VPN’s performance.
VPN protocols define the level of security in your connection. The more encrypted your data is, the slower it will travel. This is ideal if you are entering credit card information to make a purchase. On the flip side, if you are using your VPN to stream video or torrent files, less protection will equal higher speeds.
Is the fastest VPN always the best?
While speed can make a large difference to usability, being able to clock high speeds does not necessarily make it the best VPN.
Speed can come at the price of security, depending on what type of technologies and features the VPNs have. Other factors like ease of use come into play as well. Depending on the user, the “best” VPN can vary significantly based on that person’s priorities.
How to make sure you’re getting the best VPN speed