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 the best VPN services of 2018
Our top picks for fastest VPN in 2018
Best all-round VPN for speed
Number of servers: 2000 | Server locations: 148 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
ExpressVPN has over 2000 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.
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 (to make 15 months in total). The packages available are:
- [$12.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.99 a month] 6-months - $59.95
- [$6.67 a month] 12-months (plus 3 free months) - $99.95
Best download speeds
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
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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. You won’t have trouble finding speedy connections, either, since this VPN service 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.
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.
If you want all the advanced features this provider offers, the Premium service is worth it, and doesn’t really cost that much more if you go the annual billing route. 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
- [40% off] - Special World Cup offer
Great balance of power and performance
Number of servers: 1000+ | 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.
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. You have three plans to choose from with the yearly subscription being quite an affordable option. The packages available are:
Best VPN for desktop PCs
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 45 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
In our performance testing, we experienced good download and upload speeds with this Hungarian VPN. What really impressed us, though, were the provider’s impressively low levels of latency – and that’s great news for gamers looking to avoid the dreaded spectre of lag.
While the range of server locations is smaller than some rival VPNs, it’s still a respectable number and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good server.
The service has native desktop clients: Windows and Mac, and Android and iOS as available mobile clients. There are also setup instructions available if you encounter any problems.
This provider is one of the pricier outfits, even with the annual plan which is the best option on offer. However, there is an excellent refund policy which will allow you to get your money back if you haven’t used more than 10 hours of time, 100 sessions or 10GB of bandwidth – whichever comes first (note that you must also make your request within the first 30 days of using the service). The packages available are:
- [$12.99 a month] 1-month
- [$9.99 a month] 6-months - $59.94
- [$7.62 a month] 13-months (1 free month for the first year) - $99.00
Best VPN for those with multiple internet connections
Number of servers: 150+ | Server locations: 50+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
The main attraction of Speedify is its ‘channel bonding’ feature which increases speeds and gives you better reliability by joining together multiple connections (Wi-Fi, cellular, fixed broadband). Not only should you experience better download and upload speeds, but also lower latency – so this is a great choice for those who have access to multiple connections.
However, even without using the channel bonding feature, in our testing we found performance was still pretty good. The provider offers a broad choice of servers, too, so you won’t have any trouble in that respect.
Security and privacy-wise, Speedify uses ChaCha-based 256-bit encryption, multiple security protocols, and clearly states that it doesn’t log any of the user’s online activity.
You can get Speedify clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The apps are pretty basic, though, with a very small number of settings available, so experts who really want to customize their VPN should look elsewhere.
Speedify only has two commercial plans but they are reasonably priced with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The service also offers a free plan with 1GB per month of data which should be enough for basic usage. The packages available are:
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN services of 2018
How to choose the fastest VPN service
A lot of VPN services 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.