It’s not uncommon for VPNs to tank internet traffic speeds while protecting your connection — but what if you could use a secure VPN and hardly ever notice it’s on? Our list of the fastest VPN providers reveals the top-performing VPNs on the market today. We tested over 20 of the most popular VPNs using their fastest protocols to bring you the results.
Cloudwards has created an automatic VPN speed comparison and testing system for our VPNs, we will be updating this article to reflect this objective data.
- Our speed testing results showed that many VPNs excel in a single category of speed (uploads, downloads or latency), yet fail to reach the same performance in other categories.
- ExpressVPN is the most consistent performer across the board and earns the title of the fastest VPN.
- NordVPN and VyprVPN are the only other services that managed to take a top 10 spot in every category in our testing, making them great alternatives to ExpressVPN.
However, we need to warn you to not take this list at face value. The fastest VPN isn’t always the best (or even good, in some cases). That’s because some of the fastest services include VPNs like StrongVPN and Speedify — services we certainly wouldn’t recommend over more reliable names like Windscribe and ExpressVPN.
We updated the list with new, more reliable testing. Our latest tests include new innovations, like ExpressVPN’s Lightway and NordVPN’s NordLynx protocols.
Without a doubt, Windscribe is the fastest free VPN. Its free version only comes with 10GB of data traffic, so upgrading to the full version might not be the worst idea if you’re planning on doing things that eat up a lot of data.
No, a VPN will not make your internet connection faster. Quite the opposite: It will slow it down. However, as you can see in our speed test results below, many VPNs only lower your speed by a percentage point or two.
Top Fastest VPNs
Average speedDownload Speed72 MbpsUpload Speed8 MbpsLatency145 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
Average speedDownload Speed89 MbpsUpload Speed8 MbpsLatency140 ms
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 30
Average speedDownload Speed45 MbpsUpload Speed8 MbpsLatency143 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed89 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency119 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
The Fastest VPN Providers
Without further ado, here are the results of our VPN speed tests. The data below represents the impact of the VPN service on your internet connection, presented as a percent of the unprotected speed. Keep in mind that a VPN will decrease your download and upload speeds, but increase your latency, so the results in the latency table will go over 100%.
We reiterate that these results represent raw data and are not fully indicative of a VPN’s quality.
Fastest VPN Provider: Download Speed Tests
Fastest VPN: Service: Upload Speed Tests
Fastest VPN Services: Latency (Ping) Speed Tests
The Fastest VPNs vs the Best Fast VPNs
As you can see from the charts above, the results of our speed testing were a mixed bag, with most services excelling at one category, but failing in other areas. Let’s look at why it’s important to perform well in all three metrics with the example of a video call.
If you have poor upload speed, then your image and sound will appear choppy, since your input signal will be slow. If you have slow downloads, then you’ll see and hear everyone else in the call as choppy. Finally, if your latency is high, then you’ll see everyone’s image and sound with a delay, and your signal will likewise appear delayed to others on your call.
The 5 Best Fast VPNs
Judging from the results of our testing, as well as the VPNs’ overall performance, we picked the best five fast VPNs.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: $6.67 per month for the 15-month plan
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- Great downloads, uploads & latency
- Excellent security & privacy
- Accesses all major streaming services
Besides the impressive showing in VPN speeds, ExpressVPN is also our choice for the best VPN overall. It’s incredibly simple to use across all platforms: You pretty much just push a button and it works, which is why it’s the best VPN for beginners. It is also one of the most secure VPNs, with server obfuscation built in to help thwart detection.
ExpressVPN’s Lightway Protocol
ExpressVPN uses a custom open-source protocol called Lightway that is both secure and light on your connection. We believe it was the main culprit behind ExpressVPN’s excellent VPN speed performance, reaching better results than even IKEv2 — typically considered the fastest VPN protocol.
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with ExpressVPN. The truth is it’s one of the most expensive VPNs, and for some that might be a deal-breaker. You could opt for a longer-term plan to help soften the blow to your wallet, but we still wouldn’t consider it one of the best cheap VPNs. See our ExpressVPN review for more details, or try ExpressVPN out using its 30-day money-back guarantee.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: $3.67 per month for the two-year plan, plus three free months
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- Good overall speed
- Specialty servers for different applications
- Affordable two-year plan
- Slow uploads & poor latency
- Some advanced features are complicated to use
NordVPN often trails behind ExpressVPN as our second choice for most purposes, and that’s the case again when it comes to VPN speeds. NordVPN’s VPN connection had a bit more of an impact on our speeds than we expected, but it still managed to pull through and reach the top 10 in all our tests, proving its overall good performance.
It made the fifth spot for average download speed, but unfortunately followed that up with two last places for uploads and latency. Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN uses a custom protocol — called NordLynx — which is built on a lightweight WireGuard base, with an added security layer.
A Slew of Specialty Servers
Unlike ExpressVPN’s homogeneous server network, NordVPN’s servers come in several “flavors.” There are so-called Onion Over VPN servers that route your connection through the Tor network for extra anonymity, as well as dedicated P2P servers for any copyright corsairs out there. It also features obfuscated servers (over the OpenVPN protocol), which hide the fact that you’re using a VPN.
The good news is that NordVPN is a smidge more affordable than ExpressVPN, at least on the longer plans. If your budget is a bit too tight for ExpressVPN, NordVPN is an excellent substitute. Our NordVPN review reveals more details on the service, or you can use its 30-day money-back guarantee to try it out before you buy.
More details about VyprVPN:
- Pricing: $8.33 per month for the yearly plan
- Provider website: vyprvpn.com
- Good upload speeds
- Secure Chameleon protocol
VyprVPN isn’t normally associated with speed, but rather with its mission to provide a secure and truly private VPN. This is part of the reason it’s incorporated in Switzerland, the country with the best privacy laws. However, VyprVPN still managed to snag a top 10 spot in all three categories, placing it third on our list of the best fast VPN providers.
Despite poor download performance (where it placed tenth) and the latency test (where it came in eighth), it was just shy of the top five for upload speed.
VyprVPN’s Chameleon Protocol
Although we used the faster WireGuard protocol in our testing, VyprVPN offers Chameleon, its own proprietary protocol. Chameleon uses an obfuscation layer on top of an OpenVPN core to make your VPN use undetectable. This is especially useful in places where VPNs might be banned, like China and Russia.
Although VyprVPN used to be one of our top budget picks, that is no longer the case; it has become one of the most expensive VPNs on the market, with prices higher than even ExpressVPN.
With that in mind, we certainly wouldn’t recommend it over ExpressVPN, unless you really need an obfuscated connection. Our VyprVPN review tells all about the VPN, and you can use its 30-day refund policy to try it out.
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month for the two-year plan
- Provider website: surfshark.com
- Fast uploads
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Poor latency
Surfshark had the third fastest uploads and seventh fastest download, but failed to reach the top 10 in the latency tests. However, the service more than makes up for that with stellar performance overall.
It’s packed with security features, including an ad and malware blocker, a double VPN feature that routes your traffic through two separate servers for extra security, and a “NoBorders” mode that lets you browse the web in countries where VPNs are banned.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
One of the biggest perks of using Surfshark is that it puts no limits on how many devices you can protect with it. Not only does this mean you can protect all of your computers, laptops and mobile devices at once, you can cover your entire family’s devices as well.
Surfshark is the most pocket-friendly VPN on our list so far if you subscribe to its two-year plan. Even so, if you don’t feel like spending that much, you can always share your Surfshark subscription with friends and split the bill, thanks to the unlimited simultaneous connections. Learn more about the VPN in our Surfshark review or take advantage of its month-long money-back guarantee.
More details about Windscribe:
- Pricing: Free; build-a-plan option at $1 per VPN location
- Provider website: windscribe.com
- 10GB free data
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Excellent latency results
- Slow download speeds
If you don’t feel like spending a dime on a VPN, you really can’t go wrong with Windscribe. It’s the only truly free fast VPN on our list, and it’s also one of the best performers. Windscribe topped our list for latency and made the top five for uploads, but failed to reach the top 10 for downloads.
Like a lot of VPNs on this list, Windscribe has an ad and malware blocker, affectionately dubbed R.O.B.E.R.T. (though it doesn’t explain what the acronym stands for). Besides this, it offers some standard features, like split tunneling and a kill switch. We have to give special praise for its kill switch for completely blocking access to the internet outside of the VPN tunnel, which no other VPN does.
Completely Free Fast VPN
Windscribe is free to use for up to 10GB of traffic per month, but doesn’t put any limits on speed (unlike ProtonVPN, as you’ll see in a bit). The free plan also limits you to 10 locations worldwide, although they cover popular spots like the U.S. and U.K., and it even has a free server location in Hong Kong to serve Asian customers.
If 10GB of data isn’t enough to last you a month, fear not. Windscribe is a fairly affordable VPN. Though its yearly plan won’t turn any heads, it has a build-a-plan option that allows you to unlock a single server location for just $1 a month and get unlimited data for another $1. Our Windscribe review has more details on its pricing, or you can give its free plan a try.
- : Unlimited GB
- : Unlimited
VPN Services That Didn’t Make the Cut
Alas, there are only five spots on our list, though there are a few VPNs we think warrant a mention. Here are a few of the top performers in each category that didn’t make the short list, as well as some popular VPNs that just didn’t cut it in our testing.
ProtonVPN was the surprise winner of our download speed showdown, but failed to break the top 10 in any other category. We still think it deserves a mention for being one of the rare trustworthy free VPN services.
Unfortunately, the free plan soft-caps your speed by placing you on the busiest servers, so you’ll have to pay for those blazing-fast downloads. Read our full ProtonVPN review for more details.
Speedify topped our upload speed testing round, but like ProtonVPN, failed to pull through in any other list. However, Speedify doesn’t have a no-logs policy and collects a massive amount of data (for a VPN), including your IP address, your WiFi’s SSID and your device configuration.
That sort of defeats the whole purpose of using a VPN. In short, we do not recommend this VPN, despite its speeds. Read our full Speedify article for more details.
StrongVPN didn’t top any charts, but it did take the silver for its fast downloads, edging out ExpressVPN. It’s at least better than Speedify in that it keeps no logs of your activity, but we wouldn’t recommend it over any of the top performers.
Our StrongVPN review paints it as a fairly middle-of-the-road VPN that doesn’t really excel in anything, and it’s not even cheap enough to make up for it.
We’ve never known CyberGhost to be a speed demon, and our testing certainly proved that to be the case, with it only making an unimpressive second-to-last-place appearance for downloads.
However, it’s one of the better VPNs out there, and we still recommend it if you don’t mind the lackluster speeds. Read our full CyberGhost review for more details.
We have to give it to Hotspot Shield for appearing twice on our charts, and even making fourth place for uploads, though we expected more from the self-proclaimed “world’s fastest VPN” and its Catapult Hydra protocol.
However, it’s not a VPN that we would ever recommend, as it collects more data than we’re comfortable with. This includes sensitive data like your approximate location, which virtual private networks should never log. Read our full Hotspot Shield review for more information.
How We Ran These Speed Tests
To run our speed tests, we first used Ookla’s Speedtest to meter our unprotected internet speed. We ran this test before connecting to each VPN to minimize the impact fluctuations in our connection’s speed could have on the tests.
First, we took a measurement of our bare internet speed, then connected to a VPN using the fastest available protocol (we tried several) and the nearest VPN server location and measured our connection speed again.
We ran these tests several times to discover the average speeds a VPN can reach. Then we calculated the VPN’s impact on our connection speed as a percentage of the unprotected speed.
How to Speed up Your VPN
Here are a few tips on how to get a faster VPN speed.
1. Use the Fastest Protocol Available
One of the most impactful things on your VPN connection speeds is the VPN protocol you’re using. For example, ExpressVPN chooses between several VPN security protocols automatically, but you can manually set your protocol to Lightway to get a faster speed.
2. Connect to a Server Near You
How far you are from a VPN’s server location is the most important factor for a fast VPN connection. To reach the fastest VPN speeds you can get, connect to a server that’s close to where you are. It’s also better if that server is physical, as opposed to virtual. A virtual server location might appear close, but it could be hosted on a physical server farther away.
3. Disable Heavy-Duty Security Features
The primary purpose of a VPN is security, but you don’t need every security measure active at all times (unless you’re in, say, China). Features like double VPN and obfuscation are useful in some cases, but they slow down your connection more than usual, and the speed lost might not be worth the trade-off.
Bear in mind that features like DNS leak protection and kill switches are essential and do not impact your speed. See more in our VPN features guide.
Final Thoughts: Fastest VPN Speeds
That’s it for our VPN speed test guide. As expected, ExpressVPN came out on top. Although it wasn’t the fastest in any of our speed testing categories, it made the top five in all of them, which most VPNs failed to do.
Besides ExpressVPN, we saw the most consistent performance from NordVPN and VyprVPN, which managed to place in the top 10 in all three of our speed test categories. Surfshark and Windscribe maintained good internet speeds, although each had one area in which they faltered.
Do you agree with our speed test results? What has been your experience with the VPNs we chose? What is the fastest VPN you’ve used? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.