When I tested FastestVPN’s first iteration, I wasn’t impressed with its bare-bones app and lack of security features. So can its latest overhaul change my mind?
The answer is: yes and no. FastestVPN has undoubtedly made a lot of improvements to its service, including better security features and increased protocol support.
However, the VPN is still plagued by a range of reliability issues that make it frustrating to use. It’s by no means a terrible service; there are just better and more reliable VPNs out there for a similar price.
And is FastestVPN really the fastest VPN? You’ll find everything you need to know in my full review.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
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FastestVPN Features — Updated in August 2022
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
24/7 Live Chat Support
Speeds — Inconsistent Speeds That Get Worse Over Long Distances
It turns out that FastestVPN is not the fastest VPN after all. I speed tested servers in 4 countries at varying distances from my location to see how the VPN’s speeds hold up across its network. My results showed that, while some servers are very fast, FastestVPN’s speeds are not consistent at all.
I started by testing my base connection, so I could see how the VPN affected my speeds.
Without a VPN (UK):
- Ping: 28
- Download Speed: 275.88 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 36.52 Mbps
Ping refers to the time (in milliseconds) it takes for you to get a response from the website or server you’re accessing and it can be affected by physical distance. The smaller the number, the less distance your traffic has to travel and the faster your speeds.
Download and upload speed is measured in megabits per second and refers to how quickly (or slowly) data takes to travel to or from your device. The higher the number, the faster you’ll be able to browse.
FastestVPN has a Smart Connection feature, which is supposed to connect you to the best and fastest server for your location. It gave me the following results:
Using FastestVPN’s Smart Connect (UK)
- Ping: 22
- Download Speeds: 62.41 Mbps
- Upload Speeds: 35.02 Mbps
Connecting via Smart Connect resulted in a 77% drop in my connection speed. That might sound like a lot but my download speed was still 62.41 Mbps, which is more than fast enough for all online activities (you only need 25 Mbps to get Ultra HD).
Speeds on US servers were similarly fast if a little inconsistent. Here are the results from 2 US servers, 1 in Dallas and 1 in Charlotte.
US Server (Dallas)
- Ping: 133
- Download Speeds: 97.61 Mbps
- Upload Speeds: 29.96 Mbps
US Server (Charlotte)
- Ping: 123
- Download Speeds: 35.91 Mbps
- Upload Speeds: 33.04 Mbps
Despite being technically closer to me, the US server in Charlotte reduced my speeds by 87%, while the Dallas server gave me a super fast download speed of 97.61.
However, it wasn’t until I tested FastestVPN’s Australian server that I really saw discrepancies.
Australian Server (Sydney)
- Ping: 271
- Download Speeds: 0.91 Mbps
- Upload Speeds: 0.23 Mbps
Australia is on the other side of the world from me, so I’d expect the distance to slow me down somewhat — but 0.91 Mbps is barely fast enough to browse the internet. I’ve tested other VPNs for Australia that were much faster, even despite the long distance.
Server Network — Small Network, but One Server in Russia
FastestVPN has 500 servers in 50 countries — making it one of the smallest VPNs I’ve tested. Having so few servers means overcrowding is a big risk — leading to congestion and slow connection speeds for you.
What’s even more disappointing is that the VPN’s website claims to have more servers in more countries. It was only when I counted the servers available to me in the FastestVPN app that I realized the number on their website was incorrect.
Many VPNs claim to have more servers than they actually provide, but it makes me trust a service less when I feel it’s misleading.
Coverage is quite good across Europe and Asia, but South America is almost left out entirely (there’s just 1 server I could see in Brazil). There are no servers in Africa at all.
The best coverage is in the US, with 16 server locations ranging from east coast to west.
There’s also a server available in Russia. This is a rare find; many VPNs shut down their Russian servers after Roskomnadzor (Russia’s censorship agency) started to demand access to all VPN servers within Russian borders. It seems FastestVPN is small enough to slip under the radar.
Sadly, I was never able to connect to FastestVPN’s Russian server. I tried several times but couldn’t get the server to work for me — so I couldn’t test whether it worked with Russian sites.
Indeed, connection issues dogged most of my testing process. Other servers repeatedly connected and disconnected.
FastestVPN’s support team recommends switching security protocols if you have connection issues (which suggests that this is a common complaint). However, I didn’t want to have to use a slower or less secure protocol just to be able to connect to the VPN.
Security — Impressive Safety Measures Protect You Online
FastestVPN provides many sophisticated security features. Overall, I was impressed — especially with the ad blocker and the additional protection of a NAT firewall. However, as I dug deeper, I found out that lots of the features aren’t available on every device. Also, it doesn’t work with the Tor network either.
FastestVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption on all of its apps. That’s the highest encryption level you can get (it’s also known as “military-grade encryption”).
256-bit encryption means that your internet traffic is essentially impossible to decipher when you’re connected to the VPN. So no one can monitor or track your online activity.
FastestVPN supports IKEv2, IPSec, TCP, UDP, L2TP, and PPTP protocols — but the support varies across its apps:
You can also opt to set up OpenVPN manually. I prefer using OpenVPN for its great mix of speed and security, so I was pleased to see that FastestVPN’s website has a range of tutorials for setting up OpenVPN with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Linux.
However, I would prefer to see OpenVPN as an existing protocol option; it’s annoying to go through the manual setup process to use it when so many other VPNs include the protocol as a default option. If you’re looking for the fastest protocol on desktop, then it’s PPTP for Windows and IKEv2 for Mac.
When I last tested FastestVPN, its apps automatically defaulted to PPTP. Now both my macOS and Android apps defaulted to IKEv2 instead. This is a welcome improvement; PPTP is an outdated protocol that is easily cracked, so I would never trust it to protect my privacy. IKEv2 is a much more secure option.
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I didn’t experience any leaks using FastestVPN. However, I did have some strange results. Normally, when testing for leaks using a tool like ipleak.net, your VPN’s IP and DNS address should appear. As long as your ISP’s IP and DNS addresses don’t show up, then you can be sure your VPN isn’t leaking your real location or browsing activity.
While my IP address was successfully masked on all 6 servers I tested, no DNS address was found.
I still felt a bit unsure about these results, so I contacted customer support for an explanation. They informed me that as long as their private DNS address was showing up under my network settings, that I had nothing to worry about.
FastestVPN offers its own private DNS servers to help keep your activity as safe as possible. When performing leak tests with other VPNs, it’s reassuring to see and confirm that your connection is using their private servers. However, with these test results it’s not as clear where your DNS-level traffic is heading. Hopefully they can resolve the issue to restore peace-of-mind in the future.
FastestVPN equips all of its apps with a kill switch. This is an important feature that cuts off your internet connection should you become disconnected from the VPN. The kill switch prevents any of your identifying information or online activity from being accidentally revealed to your ISP during the disconnection.
FastestVPN enabled the kill switch on my macOS app automatically. In fact, there was no option to disable it — but I wouldn’t want to anyway.
However, when I tried to enable the kill switch on my Android app, I got a notification saying the feature wasn’t compatible with IKEv2. That means you can only use the kill switch on Android if you change to the TCP or UDP protocol, which is a bit disappointing as neither protocol is as good as IKEv2 or OpenVPN for speed and security.
All FastestVPN servers include a built-in NAT firewall. The firewall acts as a barrier between your network and the rest of the internet, blocking any unwanted or malicious traffic from being sent to your device.
Only a handful of VPNs offer a NAT firewall, so this is a bonus when it comes to safeguarding your device against hackers and cyber threats.
Ad Blocker and Malware Protection
FastestVPN has a built-in blocker for ads. I tested the adblocker on several social media sites and YouTube, and it successfully got rid of ads for me every time.
Not all VPNs include an ad blocker, so this is great news when it comes to preventing annoying pop-ups and protecting your device from the malicious links sometimes hidden in ads.
Speaking of malicious links, FastestVPN also claims to include built-in malware protection into the VPN. However, its customer support team was pretty vague about how exactly this feature works. Instead, they repeatedly told me that it “added another layer of protection” without explaining what that protection was.
I suspect that — like most VPNs — FastestVPN’s “malware blocker” is more of a malicious website/link detector. Rather than actively blocking malware, these detectors simply keep lists of websites that are known to contain malware — and alert or block you if you attempt to access one.
I didn’t receive any alerts or click on any suspicious links during my tests, so the malware blocker never activated for me.
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FastestVPN supports Smart Tunneling (split tunneling) but only on iOS and Android.
Split tunneling is a helpful feature that lets you choose which traffic you route through your VPN. For example, if I wanted to access a foreign platform with my VPN but get local results on Google, I can choose to whitelist Google and only route the platform through my VPN.
At the moment, you can only use FastestVPN’s version of split tunneling on its mobile apps. Rather than selecting websites to whitelist, my FastestVPN Android app let me choose which apps I wanted to run through the VPN and which ones I didn’t.
I found this useful for browsing privately on my Brave browser but accessing my online banking app via my ISP as normal (because sometimes using a VPN with my banking app triggers a security alert with my bank). It’s a shame the feature isn’t more widely available on the VPN’s other apps.
Privacy — A Strict No-Logs Policy and a Privacy-Friendly HQ
Who Owns FastestVPN and Is It Safe?
FastestVPN is owned by Fast Technology Ltd., which Pakistani businessman Azneem Bilwani founded. I couldn’t find much about Fast Technology Ltd. online, but it seems Bilwani has a background in IT and digital marketing — currently heading up the Intermarket Securities Limited Group and an IT marketing company called Abtach.
More importantly, I found out that FastestVPN is located in the privacy-friendly Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands is not a part of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance — an international intelligence-sharing community — and it doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws.
That means the VPN is free from any legal obligation to record, store, or hand over any evidence of your online activity to government agencies.
A FastestVPN representative confirmed that Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Livechat are only used on the VPN’s website and have nothing to do with the running of the VPN itself — so they don’t negate the no-logs policy.
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Simultaneous Device Connections — Generous Allowance
You get 15 simultaneous connections with your FastestVPN subscription. I think that’s a generous offering; it was certainly more than enough to cover all the WiFi-enabled devices I have in my household.
Even better, FastestVPN gave me the option to add up to 20 further simultaneous connections at $1 each — so you could use the VPN on up to 30 different devices if you don’t mind paying extra. That’s a great option if you want to cover the rest of your household or use the VPN in your office.
Device Compatibility — Works With Most Major Devices and Platforms
FastestVPN is compatible with all major devices. The browser extensions are a simplified version of the app and only encrypt your traffic within the browsers themselves. They enable WebRTC blocking, which gives you extra protection online against IP leaks. I really liked that they include the ad blocker feature as well.
That’s an impressive list for such a small VPN. I was pleased to see that FastestVPN’s website also offers a thorough list of step-by-step installation and configuration guides for every kind of device it supports — great if you’re new to VPNs and need help getting started. But note that a lot of these devices are only supported by installing FastestVPN on your router.