10 Fastest VPNs in 2020 – Only These Passed Our Speed Tests

Table of Contents
Which VPNs are fastest?

The fact is that all VPNs will slow down your connection speed: It’s simply a side effect of encrypting data and sending it to servers around the world—some of which are thousands of miles away. I saw lots of VPNs that claimed to be the fastest, but most fell flat, leaving me with slow downloads, laggy streams, and lots of wasted time.

I’ve spent months testing over 300 VPNs to find the fastest; In addition to thousands of speed experiments, I also looked at security, privacy features, and ease of use to see which VPNs offer the complete package.

After all this testing, I found just 10 VPNs that are indeed fast enough to give you a smooth internet experience. There was one standout winner with a speed drop of just 2% (spoiler: it’s NordVPN). My research found that the fastest VPNs utilize technologies and techniques to minimize speed loss – and in some cases, you won’t notice any difference at all. I’ve also found some useful hacks and tricks you can use to speed up your VPN and even some VPNs that you should avoid if streaming and torrenting are important for you.

Short on time? Here are the fastest VPNs

  1. NordVPN – had just a 2% speed drop. It’s the fastest VPN and the best for streaming and torrenting.
  2. ExpressVPN – had just a 3% speed drop. A multipurpose VPN with advanced security features.
  3. Private Internet Access – had a 22% speed drop. Features a built-in ad and malware blocker.
  4. PrivateVPN – had a 23% speed drop. User-friendly VPN with a solid server network.
  5. Hotspot Shield – had a 32% speed drop. With Catapult Hydra protocol for faster internet connections.

And five more high-speed VPNs | Our VPN Research Methodology | FAQs

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What Affects a VPN’s Speeds?

When you connect to a VPN, your traffic is routed through a private server before it reaches its final destination. If you use a service with a Double VPN or MultiHop feature, your traffic might even be routed through two or more VPN servers to give you better anonymity.

You can think of each of these servers as a stop on a journey. The more stops there are, the longer the journey gets.

An internet connection with one stop (such as a VPN connection) is always going to take longer than a connection with no stops (such as your direct ISP connection). Therefore, you can always expect some drop in speeds when connected to a VPN.

However, the best VPNs should be so fast that you don’t notice this decrease at all. The VPNs on my list have vast global networks or unique protocols that are specially designed to mitigate delays.

VPNs can make your connection faster in some cases: Many ISPs are purposely limiting their users’ connection speed (throttling) when they use Torrenting platforms. A VPN may give you the ability to break free and enjoy faster speeds.

A fast VPN is vital for buffer-free streaming, rapid torrenting, smooth online gaming, and stress-free browsing. A slow VPN can make all of these activities difficult or even impossible.

The 10 Fastest VPNs – Full Analysis (Updated May 2020)

I put over 300 services through speed testing to bring you this list of the 10 fastest VPNs. I spent months testing these services, and I tested them repeatedly to ensure consistency—and I’ll continue testing them to ensure you’re always seeing the most recent results.

I also looked at features like streaming and torrenting capabilities, security, and privacy to finalize my ranking. I’m happy to report that every VPN on this list is fast enough for streaming and torrenting. Most are even fast enough for latency-free gaming, and they’ll all protect your personal information and identity.

1. NordVPN – Lightning-Fast Speeds for Effortless Streaming

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with NordVPN.
  • 5,400+ servers in nearly 60 countries, including fast P2P-optimized servers
  • SmartPlay for overcoming geoblocks and CyberSec security software for online threats
  • Six simultaneous connections and unlimited data and bandwidth
  • 24/7 live chat and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, Sling TV
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Apple TV, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, routers

NordVPN is the complete package: It’s reliable and secure, and it’s constantly at the top of our lists of favorites for streaming, gaming, and more. Check out its impressive results – you’ll see why it’s really no surprise that it’s also our best VPN for speed.

During my tests from the US, NordVPN came in with an average download speed of 47.56 Mbps, and its fastest average of 57.42 Mbps came when I connected to another US server—that’s a speed drop of just 2%.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 32 ms 57.42 Mbps 11.32 Mbps 465 km 2 %
Manual connect US server 30 ms 52.20 Mbps 9.73 Mbps 4,500 km 11 %
Quick connect UK server 123 ms 47.35 Mbps 11.02 Mbps 6,700 km 19 %
Manual connect UK server 121 ms 45.01 Mbps 11.26 Mbps 6,800 km 23 %
Quick connect AU server 263 ms 40.33 Mbps 10.00 Mbps 14,700 km 31 %
Quick connect FR server 284 ms 45.61 Mbps 11.46 Mbps 7,100 km 22 %
Quick connect BR server 160 ms 45.01 Mbps 5.33 Mbps 6,950 km 23 %

I saw my slowest speeds when I connected to an Australian server nearly 15,000 km away. But even then, I use the term “slow” loosely, as the average speed of 40.33 Mbps was still much higher than the fastest speeds of other providers.

I’m happy to report that these speedy connections were consistent when connecting from other countries, too. For example, a colleague in the UK connected to a US server, and she saw an average download speed of 53.16 Mbps, a drop of about 16% from her starting speed.

NordVPN is able to offer such fast speeds because it has a massive global network of over 5,400 servers, including 4,600+ P2P-friendly servers. There’s also its SmartPlay technology that combines the masking properties of Smart DNS and the encryption features of a VPN to securely hide your location and bust through annoying geoblocks.

This VPN is actually capable of unblocking every major streaming site, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and hundreds of others—no matter where you’re actually located. It’s for this reason that NordVPN is our top recommendation for streaming. The service is also our first choice for torrenting, thanks to its speed and security.

NordVPN protects your identity and online activity with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption and strict no-logs policy. Even if your connection drops, sensitive data like your true IP address and DNS info are never exposed thanks to DNS/IPv6 leak protection. Its CyberSec security software blocks advertisements and malware so you don’t have to put up with annoying pop-ups while browsing or risk infecting your devices when torrenting.

All of this protection is available on up to six devices at the same time, with broad compatibility with all major platforms and operating systems. If you need help, you have access to 24/7 live chat, plus you can try the service risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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2. ExpressVPN – High-Tech VPN With a Focus on Security

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with ExpressVPN.
  • 3,000+ speedy servers in 94 countries
  • MediaStreamer for faster streaming on more devices
  • Military-level encryption and TrustedServer technology
  • Five device connections and unlimited data and bandwidth
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, BBC iPlayer, Disney+
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, routers

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are constantly battling it out for the title of fastest VPN—NordVPN wins for now, but ExpressVPN is not far behind.

During my tests from the US, ExpressVPN’s average download speed was 45.89 Mbps, and its fastest speeds came from a nearby US server—that average speed of 56.74 Mbps is just a 3% drop from my starting speed.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 22 ms 56.74 Mbps 11.12 Mbps 430 km 3 %
Manual connect US server 73 ms 51.96 Mbps 11.12 Mbps 1,100 km 11 %
Quick connect UK server 123 ms 44.42 Mbps 11.09 Mbps 6,880 km 24 %
Manual connect UK server 110 ms 43.35 Mbps 11.05 Mbps 6,870 km 26 %
Quick connect AU server 294 ms 39.72 Mbps 10.08 Mbps 15,000 km 32 %
Quick connect FR server 265 ms 43.20 Mbps 11.03 Mbps 7,100 km 26 %
Quick connect BR server 135 ms 42.13 Mbps 6.89 Mbps 6,950 km 28 %

As you can see from the speed averages above, ExpressVPN had impressive results. Many VPNs suffer huge speed drops when you connect to overseas servers, but I connected to the UK with just a 24% drop in speed and to Brazil at a 28% decrease.

When researchers from London and Manchester, UK, conducted tests for me, they found their connections to the US dropped only 13% and 16%, respectively. During most tests, ExpressVPN was slowest when connecting to Australia, but it was still many times faster than many other picks on this list. The bottom line: You don’t notice any real difference at all between your usual ISP connection and connecting to ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN’s incredible speeds can be attributed to its huge network of 3,000+ servers across 94 countries. When there are this many servers, you won’t see the congestion that often leads to slowdowns—this means fast downloading, streaming, and torrenting.

With ExpressVPN’s ability to get around even the strictest geo-restrictions, there actually aren’t many sites or platforms that won’t open up to you with blazing-fast speeds. I was able to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO GO, and many other streaming providers. I could even use MediaStreamer, an unencrypted DNS proxy service, to stream buffer-free on devices that don’t typically support VPNs.

For all of your other internet browsing, you’re protected by AES 256-bit encryption and DNS/IPv6 leak protection. ExpressVPN supplements its no-logs policy with TrustedServer technology that writes data to its RAM, which is then completely wiped when the server is powered down.

Another useful feature is split tunneling, which lets you choose what traffic you route through your VPN and what traffic remains with your regular connection. This can further speed up your connection as you’re not routing unnecessary traffic through the VPN.

ExpressVPN lets you use its apps on up to five devices at the same time. It has a very friendly and helpful 24/7 live chat service and a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try the service risk-free.

Want to know more? Explore our ExpressVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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3. Private Internet Access – Blocks Ads and Malware by Default

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Private Internet Access.
  • 3,200+ servers in 46 countries
  • Military-level encryption and a no-logs policy
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Live chat support and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Sky Go, HBO Now, Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, routers

Private Internet Access is a smart choice for multi-device households and those concerned with privacy. Its overseas speeds aren’t always the best, but it beat out a majority of the competition.

My research showed Private Internet Access to have an average download speed of 27.00 Mbps. It was fastest when I connected to a US server, coming in at 45.58 Mbps—22% slower than my regular connection.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Fastest US server 23 ms 45.58 Mbps 11.22 Mbps 435 km 22 %
Other US server 31 ms 39.57 Mbps 10.38 Mbps 1,400 km 32 %
Fastest UK server 113 ms 24.75 Mbps 11.21 Mbps 6,740 km 58 %
Other UK server 128 ms 21.62 Mbps 11.39 Mbps 6,700 km 63 %
Fastest AU server 226 ms 9.20 Mbps 11.25 Mbps 15,000 km 84 %
Fastest FR server 117 ms 21.28 Mbps 11.48 Mbps 7,100 km 64 %
Fastest BR server

While Private Internet Access’ connection speeds dropped up to 64% when connecting to Europe from the US, speeds were still 21+ Mbps, so I saw no noticeable lagging when browsing or streaming. When a Canadian researcher connected to a US server, she only experienced a 27% drop in speed; and a UK tester saw a decrease of about 43% when connecting to the States.

Even though my connection to Australia resulted in an 84% speed drop, I was still impressed to see speeds of 9+ Mbps. Many other VPNs that did not appear on this list were only seeing 2 to 3 Mbps. I could not test a connection to Brazil as this VPN didn’t have any servers there, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to bypass South American geo-restrictions.

Private Internet Access’ global network is made up of 3,200+ servers in 45+ countries. The bulk of these servers are located in the US, which explains why it’s able to provide such fast speeds there, with the rest spread primarily through Europe, Asia, and the rest of North America.

These strategic server locations allow the VPN to get around lots of geo-restrictions, including those of Netflix, Sky Go, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Now. You’ll notice that Hulu and BBC iPlayer are notable exceptions to this list—Private Internet Access can’t access them right now.

Private Internet Access’ security is top-notch. It offers both AES 128-bit and 256-bit encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and an array of security protocols to satisfy your needs. It also has a built-in ad and malware blocker called MACE that speeds up your connection by blocking harmful or annoying interruptions.

Private Internet Access allows up to 10 simultaneous connections—this is a lot more than most services and ensures you can protect all your devices, including computers, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.

You can use Private Internet Access’ live chat for help, but disappointedly, it’s only available during certain hours. You also have access to a ticketing system and a knowledge base. To ensure your satisfaction, the VPN offers a 30-day guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our Private Internet Access review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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4. PrivateVPN – User-Friendly VPN with Solid Security

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with PrivateVPN.
  • 150+ streaming and torrenting-optimized servers in 60 countries
  • AES 256-bit encryption with 2048-bit DH key
  • Six simultaneous device connections
  • 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO GO, Sky Go, YouTube
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, Safari, routers

PrivateVPN may not have as extensive a server network as some of our other recommended services, but it’s still a quick VPN.

I tested its speeds from the US and found it to have an average download speed of 28.62 Mbps. When I connected to another US server, I saw its fastest average speeds of 45.02 Mbps, which is about 23% slower than my starting speed.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Fastest US server 25 ms 45.02 Mbps 8.47 Mbps 435 km 23 %
Manual connect US server 52 ms 39.51 Mbps 11.26 Mbps 1,630 km 32 %
Fastest UK server 118 ms 28.05 Mbps 11.15 Mbps 6,880 km 52 %
Manual connect UK server 126 ms 24.75 Mbps 11.05 Mbps 6,700 km 58 %
Fastest AU server 235 ms 12.46 Mbps 11.12 Mbps 14,600 km 79 %
Fastest FR server 131 ms 21.93 Mbps Mbps 7,100 km 62 %
Fastest BR server

Like my previous picks, PrivateVPN offers speedy connections to nearby servers. I maintained speeds of 39+ Mbps when connecting to US servers, which allowed me to torrent multiple files without long waits. When colleagues in the UK connected to European servers, they saw similar results with speed losses of 24 to 28%.

However, even when I connected to servers overseas in the UK and France, I was still seeing speeds of over 20 Mbps. As is the case with many VPNs, my slowest speeds came when I connected to Australia. I also need to note that even though PrivateVPN has a server in Brazil, I couldn’t connect because it was full.

PrivateVPN has servers in 150+ locations in 60 countries. This isn’t a lot, but these are high-quality servers that are optimized for P2P and streaming, which is why the service is able to offer such fast speeds. As we saw with Brazil, congestion can sometimes be an issue, but my team and I never saw this when connecting to more popular countries like the US, the UK, and Germany.

PrivateVPN can unlock many streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, and multiple Netflix libraries. It even labels its servers so you can get around geo-restrictions faster. I was consistently able to access these services during my tests, and my picture was crystal-clear with no buffering issues.

All of PrivateVPN’s security measures come as default for ease of use. They include 256-bit military-grade encryption, a 2048-bit DH key, and DNS and IP leak protection—all of which guard your personal info from hackers and snoopers. There’s also an automatic kill switch that cuts off your internet connection should you somehow disconnect from the VPN.

You can connect up to six devices to PrivateVPN at one time, and you can test the VPN at no cost by using its 7-day free trial. Want a bit longer? There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, too.

If you need help getting set up, there’s a live chat function, but it’s not open all the time. You might find its online knowledgebase more helpful, depending on your time zone.

Want to know more? Explore our PrivateVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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5. Hotspot Shield – Catapult Hydra Protocol for Faster Connections

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Hotspot Shield.
  • 3,200+ torrent-friendly servers in 80+ countries
  • Catapult Hydra Protocol for faster connections
  • Connect up to three devices at once
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Fox Go, CBS All Access, HBO GO
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, Opera

Hotspot Shield has been around a long time and is regarded as a high-quality VPN. It’s on my list here because it’s an innovative service that manages to maintain steady speeds while providing superior security.

From the US, Hotspot Shield provided an average download speed of 24.28 Mbps. Its US servers gave the fastest average speed of 39.59 Mbps, a decrease of 32% from my regular connection.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 42 ms 37.06 Mbps 11.44 Mbps 130 km 37 %
Manual connect US server 91 ms 39.59 Mbps 11.82 Mbps 2,380 km 32 %
Quick connect UK server 132 ms 20.53 Mbps 11.30 Mbps 6,880 km 65 %
Manual connect UK server 121 ms 23.22 Mbps 11.40 Mbps 6,770 km 60 %
Quick connect AU server 235 ms 9.64 Mbps 10.54 Mbps 15,000 km 84 %
Quick connect FR server 123 ms 20.29 Mbps 11.18 Mbps 7,100 km 65 %
Quick connect BR server 126 ms 19.61 Mbps 11.26 Mbps 7,100 km 66 %

My tests showed that Hotspot Shield’s speeds were great—my connections to Europe stayed above 20 Mbps, and a UK researcher reported just a 49% drop in average speed when he connected to the US. I was also happy to see strong results with my connections to Australia and Brazil—and my upload speeds stayed super-consistent no matter where I connected, so I could continue using services like Skype and WhatsApp.

The secret to Hotspot Shield’s fast speeds is Catapult Hydra, the VPN protocol the company invented to use instead of OpenVPN. This unique protocol reduces the time it takes you to connect to a VPN server and to transfer data. Hotspot Shield also has 3,200+ P2P-friendly servers in 80+ countries, so that definitely prevents congestion and increases speed.

Tons of servers also means more power to break through geoblocks. During my testing, I was able to access Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and even Netflix. Binge-watching was easy as there was no lagging or blurring thanks to the speedy connections.

Hotspot Shield’s apps come with good security features, including 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IP leak protection, and anti-malware software. However, take note that only its Windows client has an automatic kill switch. This means your information could be exposed if you get disconnected from the VPN on any other app.

A significant drawback of Hotspot Shield is that it doesn’t have a strict no-logs policy. It keeps some non-identifying logs like your operating system and device model, but it doesn’t store any data pertaining to your usage or online behavior. This might not suit users who want complete privacy, like journalists or activists, but it’s fine if you want a speedy VPN for streaming or downloading.

You can only connect three devices to the VPN at the same time, which isn’t great, but that’s still enough to cover your smartphone, tablet, and laptop or desktop.

Hotspot Shield gives you a generous 45-day money-back guarantee so you can test it as much as you like, risk-free. Its 24/7 live chat is super prompt—I got a response within minutes of submitting my question and the representative provided just what I needed to know.

Want to know more? Explore our Hotspot Shield review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with VyprVPN.
  • 700+ streaming and torrent-optimized servers in 60 countries
  • Chameleon and VyprDNS to bypass blocks
  • Connect up to five devices at the same time
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, routers

VyprVPN has its pros and cons, but it’s still a speedy service worthy of your consideration.

My tests showed that VyprVPN has an average download speed of 23.00 Mbps. I had the fastest average speed—25.76 Mbps (a slowdown of 55% from my starting connection)—on its US servers.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 44 ms 25.76 Mbps 11.13 Mbps 1,250 km 56 %
Manual connect US server 65 ms 26.34 Mbps 11.13 Mbps 1,480 km 55 %
Quick connect UK server 136 ms 21.64 Mbps 10.98 Mbps 6,880 km 63 %
Manual connect UK server
Quick connect AU server 235 ms 23.51 Mbps 11.25 Mbps 15,600 km 60 %
Quick connect FR server 153 ms 19.30 Mbps 11.08 Mbps 7,100 km 67 %
Quick connect BR server 152 ms 21.47 Mbps 9.15 Mbps 6,950 km 63 %

At this point in my list, you’re going to start seeing some steep drops in connection speeds; they’re still fast enough for browsing and streaming, but you’ll see better results for gaming and torrenting from a VPN that ranks higher.

Right off the bat, VyprVPN took more than 50% off my connection speed when I connected to other US servers. This is the kind of drop I saw when connecting overseas with other top services, so it was a bit disappointing to see. However, I have to give credit where it’s due: VyprVPN’s speeds were consistent no matter where I connected, so even my connection to Australia averaged over 20 Mbps.

As far as unblocking power, VyprVPN did a good job: Its 700+ servers in 60 countries allowed me to access several different Netflix regions, as well as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. This is all possible due to VyprVPN’s impressive Chameleon technology that prevents Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to get around anti-VPN software.

VyprVPN uses military-grade encryption to ensure your traffic is hacker-proof. Its VyprDNS protocol goes one step further by encrypting your DNS requests, too. The result is that third parties like ISPs and government agencies can’t monitor your online movements or prevent you from accessing censored content.

You get five simultaneous connections with one VyprVPN subscription. Its apps are easy to install and use, but there’s a 24/7 live chat if you have any issues. You can test Chameleon tech and VyprDNS for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our VyprVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with UltraVPN.
  • 100+ torrent-friendly servers in 55 countries
  • Strong encryption across all user-friendly apps
  • Three simultaneous device connections
  • 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Crunchyroll, HBO Go
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, routers

As with the other vendors this far down on the list, UltraVPN is slower than our top picks, but it’s still faster than most.

Its average download speed is 21.13 Mbps. I had the fastest average speed of 26.93 Mbps, a decrease of 54% from my regular connection, when I connected to another US server.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 34 ms 26.93 Mbps 11.21 Mbps 625 km 54 %
Manual connect US server 113 ms 21.09 Mbps 11.04 Mbps 3,900 km 64 %
Quick connect UK server 142 ms 15.19 Mbps 11.25 Mbps 6,700 km 74 %
Manual connect UK server 125 ms 23.67 Mbps 11.19 Mbps 6,900 km 60 %
Quick connect AU server 280 ms 16.46 Mbps 10.92 Mbps 11,400 km 72 %
Quick connect FR server 131 ms 24.03 Mbps 11.15 Mbps 7,150 km 59 %
Quick connect BR server 130 ms 20.59 Mbps 6.65 Mbps 6,950 km 65 %

When I used UltraVPN’s quick-connect feature, I connected to a US server that slowed my connection down by 54% on average. My connections slowed further as I tried more distant servers, but even the slowest UK server still gave me an average of about 15 Mbps—more than enough for HD streaming. Even a researcher in Australia saw 10+ Mbps speeds when she connected to US servers, so she could stream in HD, too.

UltraVPN network of 100+ servers in 55+ countries isn’t as large as other vendors, and that plays a role in the slowdowns—depending on the time of day you use the service, you may encounter congestion. However, I tested lots of services with much larger networks, and they couldn’t perform as well as UltraVPN, so it’s deserving of a spot on this list.

As far as streaming, my UltraVPN connections could unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Sky TV. However, it couldn’t access Disney+, Sling TV, or BBC iPlayer. I also tried torrenting as UltraVPN supports P2P across all of its servers; it worked, but there are definitely faster options.

UltraVPN has a strict zero-logs policy and doesn’t store any of your information. Military-grade encryption ensures your connection can’t be hacked, and an automatic kill switch prevents your data from leaking if the VPN connection is interrupted.

I found UltraVPN incredibly easy to use—all of its apps are very simple and clear, and the VPN’s 24/7 live chat was fast and responsive. Sadly, you only get three simultaneous connections, but UltraVPN offers a 7-day free trial so you can test whether that’s enough for you. You can also use the 30-day money-back guarantee if you want a longer trial period.

Want to know more? Explore our UltraVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with CyberGhost.
  • 5,700+ servers in 90 countries, including streaming and torrent-optimized connections
  • Decent encryption, a no-logs policy, and built-in ad and malware blocker
  • Seven simultaneous device connections
  • 24/7 live chat and 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, BBC iPlayer, Disney+
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, routers

CyberGhost makes it onto lots of our recommendations lists, including best VPNs for Windows and best VPNs for PC gaming, because it’s such a good, easy-to-use service. And during my tests, I connected to some servers that rivaled the speeds of top services like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. So why is CyberGhost not higher on my list?

During testing from the US, CyberGhost had an average download speed of 17.57 Mbps. Its US servers were the fastest on average, with a speed of 38.58 Mbps—this is 34% slower than my non-VPN connection.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 20 ms 38.58 Mbps 11.09 Mbps 435 km 34 %
Manual connect US server 33 ms 28.61 Mbps 10.98 Mbps 550 km 51 %
Quick connect UK server 129 ms 13.33 Mbps 11.17 Mbps 6,880 km 77 %
Manual connect UK server 127 ms 12.42 Mbps 11.26 Mbps 6,880 km 79 %
Quick connect AU server 249 ms 6.15 Mbps 11.12 Mbps 15,000 km 89 %
Quick connect FR server 131 ms 17.05 Mbps 8.81 Mbps 7,100 km 71 %
Quick connect BR server 257 ms 6.84 Mbps 10.96 Mbps 6,970 km 88 %

As you can see from the results of my speed tests, CyberGhost’s quick-connect US speeds are great. But after that, the service just isn’t consistent enough to be ranked higher. I saw speeds as fast as 50 Mbps on some servers, but I couldn’t regularly replicate it. When I connected to overseas, things got slower, but at least I could still stream in HD.

I will say, however, that my upload speeds did stay consistent, even when download speeds were all over the place. This means that if you’re picking CyberGhost for things like gaming or online phone calls, you’ll enjoy steady service.

CyberGhost has one of the largest networks around with over 5,700 servers. But if you’re looking for speed for streaming or torrenting, you’ll want to use the labeled servers that have been optimized for those activities. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some searching to find the fastest servers.

I was able to use CyberGhost to unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, and as long as I was connected to a speedy server, the picture quality was superb. Note that Hulu, though, was a no-go.

CyberGhost employs military-grade encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and an automatic kill switch to protect your personal data and identity.

You can connect up to seven devices at the same time, and you have access to 24/7 live chat for help. If you want to try the service out, be sure to sign up for a plan of six months or longer to qualify for the 45-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our CyberGhost review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Surfshark.
  • 1,000+ servers in 61+ countries, with P2P-optimized connections
  • Camouflage Mode to overcome blocks
  • CleanWeb blocks ads, malware, tracking, and phishing
  • Unlimited device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Sky TV, HBO GO, Disney+, Sling TV
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Apple TV, Linux, Opera, routers

Surfshark offered very consistent results: Its average download speed is 19.93 Mbps. Its servers in Brazil surprisingly provided its fastest average speed at 21.10 Mbps, a decrease of 64% from where I started.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Fastest US server 94 ms 20.57 Mbps 11.25Mbps 3,520 km 65 %
Manual connect US server 62ms 19.85 Mbps 11.30 Mbps 1,600 km 66 %
Fastest UK server 128 ms 20.57 Mbps 11.17 Mbps 6,900 km 65 %
Manual connect UK server 128 ms 18.13 Mbps 11.44 Mbps 6,700 km 69 %
Fastest AU server 309 ms 18.26 Mbps 11.43 Mbps 9,170 km 69 %
Fastest FR server 128 ms 21.01 Mbps 10.12 Mbps 7,040 km 64 %
Fastest BR server 132 ms 21.10 Mbps 10.96 Mbps 6,950 km 64 %

I was surprised by how linear Surfshark’s speeds were. No matter where I connected—from the US to Australia—I typically saw speeds between 18 and 22 Mbps. While these were more than a 60% decrease from where I started, they’re still decent speeds for browsing and HD streaming.

All of Surfshark’s servers are torrent-friendly, but when you connect specifically to its P2P-optimized servers, you’ll see faster connections for this data-intensive activity—so much so that those servers make Surfshark one of our top recommendations for torrenting.

Worried about your activity being monitored? Surfshark’s Camouflage Mode changes the look of your traffic so that it can hide your torrenting activity, even from your ISP. This feature also helps with getting around tough geoblocks. It helped me with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and others.

For your other online activities, Surfshark secures your data with AES 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and an automatic kill switch.

Probably its best feature—Surfshark gives you unlimited device connections—ideal if you have a lot of internet-enabled gadgets at home. Hop onto the 24/7 live chat if you need help with any of Surfshark’s apps, or take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee for a risk-free try.

Want to know more? Explore our Surfshark review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with IPVanish.
  • 1,300+ servers in 75+ countries
  • Strong encryption and a no-logs policy
  • Connect up to 10 devices at the same time
  • 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Vudu, HBO GO, Disney+, FOX GO, CBS All Access, Sony Crackle
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Apple TV, Linux, Android Fire Stick, routers

IPVanish is last on my list, but its speeds are still fast enough for HD streaming and fast downloading. Its average download speed is 16.75 Mbps, with its fastest servers in the US outputting an average of 23.13 Mbps—a drop of 60% from my starting speed.

Connection Ping Avg. Download Avg. Upload Distance Avg. Speed Reduction
Starting speed – USA 15 ms 58.46 Mbps 11.88 Mbps
Quick connect US server 34 ms 19.82 Mbps 11.14 Mbps 435 km 66 %
Manual connect US server 107 ms 23.13 Mbps 11.48 Mbps 3,250 km 60 %
Quick connect UK server 148 ms 7.44 Mbps 7.74 Mbps 6,900 km 87 %
Manual connect UK server 135 ms 13.74 Mbps 11.12 Mbps 6,670 km 76 %
Quick connect AU server 252 ms 19.88 Mbps 10.73 Mbps 14,760 km 66 %
Quick connect FR server 142 ms 17.49 Mbps 11.02 Mbps 7,040 km 70 %
Quick connect BR server 185 ms 15.73 Mbps 11.19 Mbps 6,950 km 73 %

IPVanish’s large speed drops aren’t ideal, but the VPN’s far from slow—my webpages loaded quickly and I had no buffering issues while streaming. I was pleasantly surprised to see servers in Australia offering the same kinds of speeds as servers in the US, but I was disappointed to see that IPVanish’s quick-connect feature didn’t work as intended. In most cases, I found faster servers when I looked for them on my own.

IPVanish has a global network of 1,300+ servers in 75+ countries. This is a decent number and could get me around the region-locking of many streaming providers. However, it did struggle with the anti-VPN software used by some. For example, I was able to access Netflix, Vudu, Disney+, and HBO GO—but I couldn’t get to BBC iPlayer.

When you’re connected to IPVanish, all of your gadgets are protected by 256-bit AES encryption and a no-logs policy. The VPN also uses leak protection and an automatic kill switch to prevent your information from being exposed under any circumstances.

IPVanish is compatible with most devices and platforms and allows up to 10 connections at one time. That’s more generous than most VPNs and lets you cover a whole range of gadgets.

If you want to give the service a try, you have two options. There’s the 7-day free trial if you want to go the no-cost route. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you need help getting set up, there’s 24/7 live chat support.

Want to know more? Explore our IPVanish review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Quick Guide – How to Speed Test Your VPN

  1. Choose a VPN. I recommend NordVPN because it consistently ranked number one during my tests.
  2. Navigate to a speed testing service, like Speedtest or TestMySpeed, and click Go.
  3. Activate your VPN, connect to a server, wait a few minutes for the connection to stabilize, and run another speed test. Compare your results to see how fast your VPN connection is.
Tip: Having trouble with your VPN? Even the best VPNs have some blocked or slow servers. If you’re not getting great speeds with a server, try disconnecting and reconnecting to a different one.

Popular VPNs With Inconsistent Speeds

Not every VPN can offer lightning-fast speeds, so if you want to stream, torrent, or game, it’s probably best to avoid these. While some can break through geoblocks with ease or keep you secure online, they do it with a notable cost in speed.

Betternet

My speeds dropped so dramatically when I used Betternet that I got frustrated waiting for my stream to start. We know this VPN offers good security and a low price point, but it was too much work to find a server that gave us fast enough speeds. Read our full Betternet review to find out more about what it can do.

PureVPN

The speed drop with PureVPN was just too great—I can’t recommend this service for streaming and torrenting when there are so many better options. It is safe though, and it comes with a built-in ad blocker. Read our full PureVPN review to find out more about what it can do.

ProtonVPN

I couldn’t believe how slow my connection was when I used ProtonVPN’s Fast Connection feature. Other servers were better, but they’re still no match for my recommendations above. This VPN is definitely better for lighter duty tasks, such as web browsing. Read our full ProtonVPN review to find out more about what it can do.

Research Methodology

You can expect every VPN to slow you down somewhat—it’s just how they work. However, the best VPNs will be fast enough that you don’t notice any delays while browsing, downloading, streaming, or torrenting.

There are lots of different ways to test and interpret VPN connection speeds. Some review sites use labs and complicated configurations to make VPNs seem faster than they really are. We want you to have access to the best, most accurate data, so we used a simple but thorough process to really determine how fast these VPNs perform. Here’s how I spent several weeks testing over 300 VPNs:

  • I used speedtest.net and noted my connection speed before connecting to a VPN. As internet speeds are constantly in flux, I noted my starting speed before every set of tests and whenever I changed VPNs to be sure I had plenty of data points.
  • Using the same service, I noted my connection speed after connecting to a VPN, and then I worked out the percentage decrease in download speed per test. I conducted thousands of tests and carefully recorded my results after connecting to multiple servers across the world. I also called on researchers in 30+ countries so I could record their speeds and experiences.
  • To determine the fastest VPNs, I reviewed the collected data, averaged it, and ranked the VPNs in order of fastest, most consistent speeds. Note that VPNs with inconsistent speeds are ranked lower, even though they may have some servers that are super fast.

An important note about internet connection speeds: They’re never linear. There are just so many factors that affect speed, including the number of people in your area using the internet at the same time, the server to which you connect, and even hardware and software configurations like your router or anti-virus software.

We conducted thousands of speed tests on these VPNs to provide a snapshot of their capabilities. But remember that everyone’s experiences can be different based on location, hardware, and even time of day. VPNs are also constantly updating software and servers, which can affect speed from one day to the next.

How to Get Faster VPN Speeds – Simple Hacks

Using a VPN will slow down your internet connection, but if you follow these tips, you can minimize the impact.

  1. Use an ethernet cable. You’ll see the fastest base speeds when you hardwire your computer to the internet. A faster base speed will result in a faster VPN connection speed. Use WiFi only when necessary.
  2. Connect to a nearby server. In most cases, the further your data has to travel, the more your connection speeds will slow. Use the closest available server based on what you’re trying to do. If you just want to protect your identity and personal info, connecting to a server in your city or state is sufficient.
  3. Use the right VPN protocol. A VPN’s protocols determine the level at which it encrypts your data. Some protocols are super secure, but the tradeoff is that your encrypted data takes longer to travel back and forth. Other protocols reduce security, which improves speed. Determine which VPN protocol to use based on what you’re doing online and how much protection you need.
  4. Try different ports. Some anti-VPN technology works by blocking or restricting particular ports that VPNs are known to use. You can sometimes get around these limitations by trying a different port
  5. Review your software and hardware configuration. If you’re using an older computer, a weak processor or insufficient RAM could prevent you from realizing the fastest internet speeds. Likewise, some computer programs may interfere with VPN usage. If possible, temporarily shut down programs that may eat up bandwidth (torrenting software) or prevent your VPN from accessing the internet (antivirus software).

FAQs

⬆️ Will using a VPN affect my internet speed?

Due to how they work, encrypting data and sending it through a server, most VPNs will have some effect on your internet speed. The good news is that better services will have little to no effect, while the best services may actually increase your speed by overcoming any throttling that your ISP is imposing.

⌛ How much speed do you lose with a VPN?

VPN speed depends on a range of factors, including the size of its network, the server’s distance from your real location, and the current load on each server.

Services with bigger networks can absorb more traffic and don’t get slowed down by overloaded servers. VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN are so fast that you barely notice any loss of speed at all.

👍 What’s the fastest VPN for streaming?

As well as being my fastest VPN overall, NordVPN is the fastest VPN for streaming, too.

That’s due to its special SmartPlay technology that bypasses streaming geoblocks quickly and efficiently.

💰 What’s the fastest free VPN?

Sadly, you don’t often find the words fast and free together in the same sentence when talking about a VPN.

Free VPNs are usually much slower than premium services. That’s because they can’t afford the same infrastructure and innovation that makes the VPNs on my list so speedy.

Some free VPNs also limit the number of servers you can access, meaning their free servers become overcrowded and slow. Other free VPNs even restrict your speeds intentionally.

I will always recommend that you use a low-cost premium VPN like NordVPN instead—it’s the only way to get reliable, super-fast speeds.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a lightning-fast VPN, you’re spoilt for choice! Every one of the VPNs on my list gives you fast enough speeds for a whole range of online activities, including streaming, torrenting, and gaming.

If you want the very fastest VPN though, choose NordVPN—it’s so quick that you don’t notice any delay at all when connected.

It’s affordable as well, especially when you use our latest NordVPN coupon code.

Opting for a different vendor? We have VPN deals and coupon codes for those, too.

Want to know how to torrent even faster? Check out our guide to speeding up torrents and blocking throttling.

To summarize, the fastest VPNs in 2020 are…
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