Cloudwards.net may earn a small commission from some purchases made through our site. However, any affiliate earnings do not affect how we review services.

2022 VPN Speed Comparison: 8 VPNs Tested for Upload, Download and Latency

Every VPN will claim to be the fastest VPN. Cloudwards was determined to find the truth. Keep reading this VPN speed comparison to see accurate, daily data for the fastest VPNs, including download speeds, upload speeds and latency for the U.S. and abroad.

Jackie Leavitt
By Jackie Leavitt (Editor in Chief)
— Last Updated: 2022-06-22T16:24:39+00:00

Welcome to the ultimate VPN speed comparison. See how these eight VPNs compare in upload speeds, download speed and latency with these interactive charts.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:
  • When connected to U.S. servers, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Mullvad, Windscribe and Speedify all offer impeccable speeds with less than 10% reduction in unprotected upload and download speeds and minimal latency. When averaging servers tested worldwide, NordVPN and Surfshark offer the best performance.

  • It is normal to lose 10-20% of your unprotected speed when using a VPN. However, when connecting to servers farther away from you, your speed will usually drop more.

  • 06/07/2022 Facts checked

    Due to India’s 2022 data collection law for VPNs, some VPNs in our speed comparison are removing their physical servers from the country and offering users virtual servers instead. For this reason, Cloudwards is changing its Asia speed test location from India to Singapore.

Cloudwards’ VPN Speed Comparison: Upload, Download & Latency

Many VPN providers claim to be the fastest service on the market. They can’t all be right, but the problem is, it’s really difficult to see which VPNs are fastest. That’s because reviews often rely on individual testers’ experience with the VPN.

Unfortunately, review sites — including Cloudwards — have testers all over the world with wildly different internet speeds that fluctuate all the time. Your internet speeds are impacted not only by where you are or what device you’re using, but also by what type of internet you use: DSL, fiber or cable internet. These factors make it hard to compare VPNs at a glance. 

That’s the challenge Cloudwards was determined to fix. 

To test a VPN’s speed as neutrally as possible, we decided to use a virtual machine using defined unprotected speeds to automatically test VPN server speeds all over the world.

How Cloudwards Structured the Automatic VPN Speed Tests

It was easier said than done. There were a lot of decisions we had to make when setting up these automatic tests.

Research

First, we did internet research to see the “average” baseline internet conditions, deciding to use a download speed of 100Mbps and an upload speed of 10Mbps for our testing. These are good internet speeds for browsing or streaming.

Speed requirements for online activities:

  • 1-5 Mbps: Online browsing and checking email
  • 5-25 Mbps: Stream in HD 
  • 40-100 Mbps: Stream in 4K
  • 100+ Mbps: Quickly download large files

Server Location Selection

Second, with the majority of our readership based in the U.S., we determined the virtual machine tests should originate from the U.S., but we should see how quickly VPNs connect to different servers all over the world. 

Here are the server locations we chose to connect to using the virtual machine based in the U.S.:

  1. North America: United States
  2. Europe: United Kingdom
  3. South America: Brazil
  4. Africa: South Africa
  5. Asia: India (Singapore after June 7, 2020)
  6. Oceania: Australia

If a VPN did not have a server location in the specified country, we either chose an alternative or — if there was not a server location nearby — did not perform the test for that region.

VPN & Protocol Selection

Third, we selected VPNs that — from our review testing — showed they were quality services with decent speeds. These VPNs also needed to be compatible with Linux to pair with our virtual machine. 

We chose eight quality VPNs to start with, though we could add more in the future:

After signing up for the services, we set each VPN service to the fastest VPN protocol option to give the optimal speed results. 

  • ExpressVPN: Lightway TCP protocol
  • NordVPN: OpenVPN
  • CyberGhost: OpenVPN
  • Surfshark: OpenVPN
  • Private Internet Access: OpenVPN
  • Speedify: OpenVPN
  • Windscribe: OpenVPN
  • Mullvad: OpenVPN

Data Collection

Fourth, we run the automatic speed tests every single day. Within each daily test, we measure the speed of each VPN server location — five times in a row. Then we remove the slowest connection time and average the four remaining results for that server. This provides an even, dependable result for download speed, upload speed and latency.

VPN Features That Might Affect the Speed Results

In most cases, using a VPN slows down your internet connection. That’s because your connection needs to pass through the VPN’s server location first before routing to your desired internet destination.

However, there are VPN features that can make that process even slower, including the VPN protocol, the distance you are from the VPN server and — to some degree — server load.

Protocol

First is the VPN protocol you use. A security protocol encrypts your internet connection. A strong encryption protocol, like OpenVPN, will usually slow down your connection more than a flimsy one.

It’s important to keep in mind that some protocols could be fast because the encryption is less secure. For example, Hotspot Shield claims to be the “fastest VPN in the world,” but its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol raises security concerns, which is why we didn’t include the service in these tests.

However, not all fast protocols have weak encryption. Some protocols have less code, which makes them more efficient and faster. A good example of this is WireGuard or ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol

Server Distance

Another important factor to consider is how far away you are from the server location. If you’re in the U.S. and the server is close by, you should see minimal impact on your speed and latency. However, if you are in the U.S. and want to connect to a server in Singapore or South Africa, normally your speed will decrease and your latency will go up.

If you’re considering a VPN with multi-hop servers, keep in mind that routing your connection through two or more servers will significantly slow your connection and increase latency.

Server Load

To a smaller degree, a VPN’s server load could affect your speeds. A server that is under 90-100% capacity could slow your connection down. The likelihood of this happening is slim if the VPN provider has a large server network that includes a lot of server locations around the world and a large number of servers in each location. 

Some VPNs even let users select which server they want to connect to — or at least choose the “best server” option. 

It’s worth noting we connected to the same server in each country location for our speed tests, which means if that server happened to be at 90-100% capacity at the time of testing, the speeds might be impacted disproportionately more than the other available servers.

The VPN Speed Test Results

The VPN speed test results have been spectacular. We now have the ability to see which VPNs consistently perform with exceptional speeds, which have speeds that fluctuate and which shouldn’t claim to be fast at all.

We set the U.S. as the default display location for these graphs, but you can see how the VPN performs when connecting to other server regions, as well as how it performs overall (averaging the results from all countries).

The Fastest VPNs: Download Speeds

When you compare the top VPNs’ speeds when connected to the U.S. server, you’ll see that many of them are neck-and-neck. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Speedify, Mullvad and Windscribe all deliver incredible results, losing less than a tenth of the unprotected speeds. However, PIA and Surfshark are a bit more inconsistent, while CyberGhost’s speeds fluctuate significantly.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:

When you zoom out to consider the worldwide server performance for each VPN, the pack spreads out more. NordVPN and Surfshark — both owned by Cyberspace — offer the best download speeds, hovering around 90 Mbps and losing about 10% of unprotected speeds. 

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:

Next comes ExpressVPN, hovering consistently around the 75 Mbps mark and losing about 25% of unprotected speeds. Speedify wavers around the same line, while the other VPNs fall further behind, between 30 Mbps and 60 Mbps.

The Fastest VPNs: Upload Speeds

When it comes to U.S. upload speeds, Speedify holds a clear lead over the other VPNs, consistently landing between 9 Mbps and 10 Mbps. 

It’s hard to distinguish any difference between any of the other VPNs — all sit atop each other around 9 Mbps, losing about 10% of unprotected speeds. However, you’ll notice that Surfshark is more inconsistent.

Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:

In a worldwide view of VPN upload speeds, you’ll see more fluctuation among the VPNs, but all VPNs — except one — sit between 7 Mbps and 9 Mbps. The one VPN that falls significantly behind in worldwide performance is Speedify; that’s because three of the six server locations face significant drops in performance: India/Singapore, Brazil and Australia.

Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:

The Best VPNs: Latency/Ping

Things get interesting when it comes to latency. When we measure the U.S. ping, six of the VPNs show single-digit performances, which is astonishing. Unfortunately, we see a moderate level of latency with Surfshark and CyberGhost in the U.S.

Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:

Not surprisingly, worldwide latency increases for all the VPNs, since the servers are physically farther away. However, Surfshark outperforms the other VPNs in its worldwide averages, sitting between 75ms and 130ms. The other VPNs have a worldwide average around 125ms to 150ms.

Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/09/22
Data for region:

Interpreting the VPN Speed Results

The best VPN for speed is one that least affects your unprotected internet speeds. You can figure that out by testing your current unprotected internet speed, then testing your internet speed again after you connect with a VPN server. If it is just about the same speed and latency, that’s great news. 

Defining Good Download Speeds (Mbps)

  • Very Fast VPN Speed: 0-20% reduction in speed
    For our tests: 100 Mbps – 80 Mbps
  • Fast VPN speed: 20-40% reduction in speed
    For our tests: 80 Mbps – 60 Mbps
  • Good VPN speed: 40-60% reduction in speed 
    For our tests: 60 Mbps – 40 Mbps
  • Slow VPN speed: 60-80% reduction in speed
    For our tests: 40 Mbps – 20 Mbps
  • Very Slow VPN speed: 80% or more reduction in speed
    For our tests: less than 20 Mbps
Download Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data averaged from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:

Defining Good Upload Speeds (Mbps)

  • Very Fast VPN Speed: 0-20% reduction in speed
    For our tests: 10 Mbps – 8 Mbps
  • Fast VPN speed: 20-40% reduction in speed 
    For our tests: 8 Mbps – 6 Mbps
  • Good VPN speed: 40-60% reduction in speed 
    For our tests: 6 Mbps – 4 Mbps
  • Slow VPN speed: 60-80% reduction in speed
    For our tests: 4 Mbps – 2 Mbps
  • Very Slow VPN speed: 80% or more reduction in speed
    For our tests: less than 2 Mbps
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data averaged from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:

Defining Good Latency (ms)

  • Very Fast latency: 0-40ms
  • Fast latency: 40-100ms
  • Good latency: 100-150ms
  • Slow: 150-250ms 
  • Very slow latency: More than 250ms
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data averaged from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:

How Fast Is My VPN?

See how fast each of the eight VPNs are with the following charts.

Download
91 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
4 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
92 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
22 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
92 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
2 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
70 Mbps
Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
37 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
89 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
4 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
95 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
8 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
115 ms
Good
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
85 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
4 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:
Download
Mbps
Upload
Mbps
Latency
ms
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 11/10/22 to 12/10/22
Data for region:

Final Thoughts: VPN Speed Comparison

No VPN speed comparison is perfect, but we aimed to get as close to it as possible with this automatic speed test. 

What do you think of the VPN speed tests? Is there something we could have done better? Is your favorite VPN missing from the test list? Let us know in the comments. As always, thank you for reading.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]