Although it always depends on individual needs, speed can be the most important element some folks are looking for from a VPN. And of course, because a VPN encrypts your online traffic, generally speaking that produces some additional overhead that can slow down your internet connection.
Some providers are better than others in this respect, though. Depending on the robustness of the company’s network, and the number of servers it offers – with closer servers generally sporting better speeds – some VPNs won’t have much impact at all on your performance.
It’s certainly good to know that you’re not getting slowed down while your internet connection is being made more secure.
Of course, those who are signing up for a VPN for casual use like simple web browsing won’t really notice much difference in terms of performance in any case. But if you’re using a VPN to unblock sites or services and perhaps stream video, speeds are obviously at a premium.
- Check out our guide to the overall best VPN
Our top picks for fastest VPN 2019
Best all-round VPN for speed
Number of servers: 3000+ | Server locations: 160 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
Best fast VPN 2019 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
ExpressVPN has over 3000 servers spread across 94 countries so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a nippier one. In our performance tests, we didn’t experience much variation throughout the network, and generally speaking we witnessed great speeds throughout. It's all about consistency. Even the most distant servers were fast enough for browsing, downloading and other general tasks.
The service also does well in the mobile department, with great apps for Android, iOS and even Blackberry. For desktop PC users, Windows, Mac, and Linux clients are available. All of these apps (mobile and desktop) automatically connect to the optimal server so you can experience the best possible performance right from the off.
On the security front, you get OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SSTP protocol support, and you can choose which one you prefer manually, or leave it to the software to select the protocol automatically. Furthermore, you get a kill switch, and private ‘zero knowledge’ DNS solution, among other privacy boons. And speaking of privacy, there is no logging of network traffic such as connection times or IP addresses.
The main disadvantage of ExpressVPN is the price of its subscription plans, which are a bit expensive, and there’s no way to try the service for free. Still, the provider does offer a hassle-free 30-day refund. Out of the three plans available, as usual, the annual subscription represents the best value, and you also get three free months free.
Get the best fast VPN 2019: $6.67 per month (with 3 months FREE)
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we'd choose if we were getting one! And the good news is that TechRadar readers can get a little perk, too. ExpressVPN has agreed to give readers three months extra free when you sign up. Here are its plans and prices in full:
2. Hotspot Shield
VPN with amazing performance
Number of servers: 2,500+ | Server locations: 25 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
Our latest round of testing found Hotspot Shield to have some of the fastest download speeds out there. Log in to pretty much any server and you'll barely feel any slow down at all when you're streaming and surfing. That appears to be largely thanks to its Catapult Hydra protocol (and no, that's not the most recent Mission Impossible film). And that even goes for locations in even the furthest reaches of the world. A small note regarding the protocol - since it's proprietary and there's no public information on how it works, there's no telling how will it perform in all situations.
Of course, the reason you've landed on this page is to find out about speed, but Hotspot has so much more going for it as well. In excess of 2,500 servers, for starters. And a 24/7 support service that we found genuinely helpful (even though there's no live chat support to speak of).
It's not all rosy, as it lacks Bitcoin support for example, and has a big black mark when it comes to trying to unblock US Netflix. These won't matter to everyone, though, and if you're just looking for raw speed at a very low price then Hotspot Shield is well worth a look.
Some excellent speeds
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5
VyprVPN fully manages its own network which allows the provider to deliver excellent speeds as we saw in our tests – download speeds were particularly strong, although, results weren't that good for servers in Asia. You won’t have trouble finding speedy connections, either, since this VPN operates more than 700 servers in over 70 locations.
Apart from the standard security protocols and 256-bit encryption, you also benefit from the VyprDNS service and NAT firewall. One of the more interesting security features is the provider’s own Chameleon protocol, which aims to prevent deep packet inspection, VPN blocking and throttling.
Great news on the privacy front, since as of late November 2018, the provider is officially a no-log VPN, which means that no logs of any kind are stored, including the session logging which was the case before.
VyprVPN doesn’t allow refunds, but there is a free 3-day trial, so you can dip your toes in the water before subscribing. If you decide to take the plunge, your best bet is the annual subscription since the monthly plans are expensive. The packages available are:
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $5 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $6.67 per month billed annually
Great balance of power and performance
Number of servers: 1200+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 10
With over a thousand servers available, you won’t have trouble finding a good connection with IPVanish. During our performance tests, we encountered excellent download speeds in particular and there were almost no connection failures. Normally, the performance dropped on longer distances, with average speeds in the US, and in Asia speeds were acceptable.
This VPN also offers impressive desktop and mobile clients, although we have to mention that we had some problems with the Windows client, and the odd network issue therein – but then your mileage may well vary.
Sadly, IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial to test out the service. The packages available are:
5. Private Internet Access
Cheap and reliable VPN
Number of servers: 3,300+ | Server locations: 52 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 10
PIA has a quite large server network with a smaller number of locations than some of the competition, but that should still be more than enough to find a good connection. In our testing, we experienced very reliable connections with normal latency and excellent download speeds. There were occasional inconsistencies and slower speeds in some locations though.
The fact that there is no free trial shouldn't be much of a problem since the subscription plans are very affordable. At the moment, the 2-year plan gives the best value and you also get three extra months. The packages available are:
- [$6.95 a month] 1-month
- [$3.07 a month] 1-year (+1 extra free month) - $39.95
- [$2.59 a month] 2-years (+3 extra free months) - $69.95
How to choose the fastest VPN
A lot of VPNs claim to be the fastest around, but as you can imagine, in many cases that’s an idle boast. In this article, we are going to pinpoint the providers that we’ve found really deliver on the performance front, going by our reviews and testing.
Of course, speed isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and we always expect solid security and privacy from any VPN. As mentioned, broad server coverage is important here in terms of getting a fast and stable connection. And user-friendly native clients never hurt.
Bear in mind that the VPN won’t be the only thing affecting the performance of your internet connection, and this can vary depending on your ISP, the time of day (particularly whether it’s peak traffic times), and also the status of the service or website you’re using.
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN