For many VPN users, speed is the most important factor when deciding which VPN to get. Streaming, torrenting and general use all benefit from a fast connection, so for most of our best VPN services it is important to deliver stable and fast down- and upload speeds across all servers.
Services with good consistency can be pretty hard to find: it seems like many VPNs suffer from low speeds and poor connections (you can read about one in particular in our PureVPN review).
In this article, we’ll be reviewing the five fastest VPN services that we tested in 2018. As it stands, the fastest VPN in our tests was ExpressVPN, which has consistently scored highest in speed test, as well as beating the competition in our VPN comparison.
ExpressVPN also provides the fastest VPN servers, which provide good connections with consistent downloading and uploading speeds that make them a joy to use for streaming and torrenting.
Best Fast VPN of 2018
What Makes a VPN Fast?
A fast VPN is one that maintains download and upload speeds close to the speeds of the original connection, all while providing a fairly low latency. In our tests, we account for the distance of the server from the tester when we compare the services, so speed is always relative to our reviewer’s original internet speed and location.
In our tests, we looked at pure download and upload speed to try and see if the service is intentionally throttling the speed of our connection. If the speeds cap out at a certain point across several servers in different locations, it would be reasonable to assume that the service has set speed limits for its users.
While this usually comes with the territory of running a VPN service, we naturally prefer services that have good load balancing to compensate for higher speeds.
For that reason, the top-scoring VPN services on this list are those that provide near-unnoticeable changes in speed and ping, ideally allowing the tester not only to torrent and stream, but also to play ping-sensitive video games or to hold video conference calls without a hitch.
Without further ado, here are our top picks for the fastest VPN services of 2018.
ExpressVPN has consistently been the top-scoring VPN on Cloudwards.net for over a year, as well as our best VPN for Netflix. One of the service’s best features is its excellent speed, which remains consistent across its 145 server connections.
Our reviewers often rave about ExpressVPN’s great speeds, its ease of use, and the wonderful customer support that the service offers its users, which has proven to us, time after time that they do not throttle your connection speeds.
ExpressVPN also has some good security features, such as a kill switch, proving to us that they are also concerned with privacy and security as well as blazing fast speeds. On top of that, it has great mobile support, making it the fastest VPN for Android on the market now.
While ExpressVPN is a bit pricy compared to other VPN services, the service offers unmatched speeds compared to other industry-favorites, such as Private Internet Access (read our PIA review for more on this service).
Our tests showed that ExpressVPN easily supports connections with download speeds faster than 135 Mbps, which is a rare sight in the VPN business. Torrenting and streaming are a breeze with these kinds of speeds, so a big thumbs up from us there.
Another reason we love ExpressVPN is its ease of use: the service’s applications are quick and intuitive and are a joy to interact with. All of these great features come at a price though — a fairly steep one at that. ExpressVPN is considerably more expensive than its competitors, clocking in at $12.45 a month for the monthly subscription and $8.33 for the yearly subscription. For more information, check out our ExpressVPN review.
- No bandwidth caps
- Over 1500 servers
- Only 3 connections
- Slow to connect
TorGuard was a close second to ExpressVPN in our tests. Although our speeds weren’t quite as fast as they were with ExpressVPN, the down- and upload speeds were still impressive enough to warrant the service second place.
In addition to generally good speeds and a large selection of servers, TorGuard’s excellent security protocols allowed our reviewer to circumvent their ISP’s speed throttling, actually improving their baseline speeds in the process.
These results really show how well-secured TorGuard’s connections are compared to other services — ISPs can usually tell if you’re using a VPN when you use other services.
In addition to great download and upload speeds, TorGuard features unparalleled security. The service features a smart DNS service, which makes sure that your connection is completely anonymous. The service is also fairly inexpensive, which makes it look good compared to ExpressVPN’s fairly high price point.
TorGuard is great for both streaming and is one of the fastest VPNs for torrenting: high speeds combined with great security features make it a great option for heavy downloaders. If you’re looking for a fast VPN with stellar anonymity features, TorGuard should be right up your alley.
If you’d like to hear more details, make sure to check out our full TorGuard review.
- Easy to use
- Great for torrents
- Over 1600 servers
- Pay extra for Netflix
- Speeds vary
- IPv6 leak bug
IPVanishIPVanish takes third place on our list, primarily because the speeds we experienced during our tests weren’t quite as stellar as TorGuard or ExpressVPN.
Despite these slight slow-downs, IPVanish makes up for these issues with a fantastic range of servers and connections. Boasting around 850 servers in over 60 countries, the sheer amount of choice that the service offers make it a strong third place in our tests.
Download and upload speeds across these servers were good but not great: we experienced some slow-downs with the recommended servers based on our location.
That being said, IPVanish also offers a great range of security features as well as a great interface that gives its users all the necessary info regarding their connection. While these security features weren’t quite as bulletproof as TorGuard’s, they are still a solid option for most serious users.
The downside, however, is that the interface can be a bit too complicated for the newcomer: IPVanish is really designed with the pro in mind. While we personally had no trouble maneuvering the applications, we could see how the layout of the applications was a bit more confusing than those of other more popular services, such as ExpressVPN.
With all that in mind, IPVanish is a great choice for the VPN-savvy user who needs good connection speeds coupled with a good selection of servers. If you’re interested in reading more about IPVanish, make sure to check out our full IPVanish review or see why it made our list of best VPN for torrenting.
- Easy to use
- Over 40K shared IPs
- Mediocre support
- Beginner unfriendly
CyberGhost comes in fourth place in our reviews, primarily because of the inconsistency of its connection speeds. Based in Romania, CyberGhost offers users a good overall package with decent download and upload speeds but is simply not as reliable as the other VPNs mentioned above. Either way, CyberGhost is probably a good choice for our European users, seeing as most of their servers are located in or around central Europe.
While CyberGhost’s download and upload speeds were pretty good, one of the issue that our reviewers had with CyberGhost was the connection quality. Since the service displays the amount of users currently routing through the server that you have selected, it is important to pick a server with less users in order to have consistent speeds.
If the service was overloaded, we experienced intermittent speed and connection problems while conducting our tests.
On the upside, CyberGhost offers a great selection of servers: as of the writing of this article, they have 1044 servers online across North America and Europe. Security-wise, the service also claims that they delete logs every 24 hours, which is a great feature for those that are worried about their privacy.
Overall, CyberGhost is a decent service that offers fast speeds coupled with a free-tier plan. If you would like to know more about CyberGhost, make sure to check out our Cyberghost review or read our article on best VPN for BBC iPlayer.
- Great deals
- 1044 servers
- Security conscious
- Shaky connections
- Interface is so-so
- Servers fill up quick
The last VPN on our list is AirVPN, a VPN service based in Italy and run by “a very small group of activists, hacktivists, [and] hackers,” making it one of the smaller, non-corporate options on our list.
Since AirVPN is based out of Europe and features fast speeds, a decent selection of servers, and great security features, we would recommend it first-and-foremost to our European users.
AirVPN’s download and upload speeds were pretty good during our tests, although they weren’t quite as fast as ExpressVPN or Torguard VPN.
What sort of makes up for these dips in speed was the transparency that AirVPN shows regarding their connections: the service provides easily accessible server stats and bandwidth reports, making it a good choice for those who want all the info about their connection.
Security was also a big strength in AirVPN’s portfolio of features. The service allows Tor compatibility and port forwarding, two features that are often missing even from the more security-conscious options on the market. That being said, AirVPN has a fairly low amount of servers — only about 60 servers across 14 countries — which makes it a less desirable choice just by virtue of their small selection.
All in all, AirVPN is one of the cheaper options available, coming in at around $5.04 per month with the yearly pricing plan.
If you’re interested in hearing more, take a look at our AirVPN review.
- Non-corporate provider
- Great for Europeans
- Small server selection
- Connections dip
Honorable Mention: PIAPrivate Internet Access is worth mentioning simply because of its large selection of servers and low price: at $3.33 per month for over 3,000 servers, you’re really getting a bargain.
That being said, the download and upload speeds aren’t quite as stellar as some of the other options on that list, ultimately disqualifying this service’s candidacy from our “Fastest VPN Services” category.
That wraps our overview of the fastest VPN services tested by the Cloudwards team in 2017. Due to its fast server speeds, extensive server selection and great feature-set, ExpressVPN is the clear winner of this year’s crown. TorGuard was a close runner-up, primarily due to its great execution of certain features that boost the anonymity and privacy of its users.
The next three best options all had slightly lower speeds than both ExpressVPN and TorGuard, but made up for their speeds in different ways. IPVanish, for instance, has a very informative application that makes it a great choice for advanced users. CyberGhost and AirVPN are two smaller-sized European options that offer decent speeds across Europe and Asia.
PIA earned a honorable mention during our tests. While the service was by no means as fast as the rest of the bunch, the price point and the number of servers that it offers are hard to overlook. At the end of the day, all of the services above are good options, albeit for different reasons. We suggest you use this guide as a way of seeing which service has the right features for your own personal circumstances. Make sure to read any of our VPN reviews to get the full picture.
Thanks for reading; let us know in the comments what you think about our rankings. Does ExpressVPN deserve to be at the top of the list, or would that spot go to someone else?