NordVPN wants to help you test the speed of your VPN connection

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Although a lot of different variables including the user interface, apps, servers, locations, protocols and security come into play when choosing the best VPN (opens in new tab) for your use case, speed will likely be the most important one.

However, measuring the speed and performance of a VPN can be difficult which is why NordVPN (opens in new tab) has developed a new open-source tool (opens in new tab) and methodology to help objectively measure and compare the speed of different VPN services.

The company's new tool accounts for a broad array of testing use cases and allows users to add and compare different VPN services while also providing detailed reporting.

Cybersecurity expert at NordVPN, Vykintas Maknickas explained in a press release (opens in new tab) why the company decided to develop its own speed testing tool and make it publicly available on GitHub (opens in new tab), saying:

“Connection speed is one of the most important factors that affect user experience when they use a VPN. People want to secure their internet traffic without having to sacrifice speed. However, testing VPN speed meaningfully is a complex procedure because countless factors can impact it. A unified, standard speed-testing methodology would go a long way towards solving the problem for all of us. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

Measuring VPN performance

The lack of a unified approach towards how performance is measured in VPNs has led to a situation where different researchers from different outlets showcase different results ranked in a different order.

By providing potential customers with conflicting information, it has made it difficult for them to make informed decisions when shopping for a VPN (opens in new tab). At the same time, it can also be hard for VPN providers to evaluate how their performance will measure up when they're working on improvements to their service and infrastructure. 

According to NordVPN's whitepaper (opens in new tab) on the matter, its VPN provider network performance testing tool will support its own VPN as well as those of ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), SurfShark (opens in new tab), PIA (opens in new tab) and PureVPN (opens in new tab) upon release. However, other VPN providers can be added by crating a personal branch of their tool's project on GitHub and updating the code. NordVPN's developers will then review the code and merge it into the master branch making it available for everyone.

The whitepaper also explains that the company has chosen Ookla (opens in new tab) as part of its tool because its one of the most popular tools for testing network performance, it can be used via a command line interface (CLI) and Ookla allows third parties to configure speedtest servers on their own infrastructure.

In the same way that TechRadar tests VPNs (opens in new tab), NordVPN's new tool will use OpenVPN (opens in new tab) as a baseline so that these results can be compared to a VPN provider's proprietary protocols (opens in new tab) like ExpressVPN's Lightway, Hotspot Shield's Catapult Hydra, VyprVPN's Chameleon or NordVPN's NordLynx.

Those interested in testing out NordVPN's new new open-source VPN speed test tool can download it here (opens in new tab) from GitHub and we'll likely hear more once other VPN providers and researchers begin participating in its development.

We've also rounded up the best VPN (opens in new tab) services

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.