Getting online anonymously and securely is vital in an age of open Wi-Fi networks and trackers. The solution is a VPN, which can also help overcome region-blocking, not to mention local government censorship.
Virtual Private Networks improve privacy by encrypting your internet traffic and routing it through a secure server. Signing up to a VPN is simple, but not all VPNs are equal. For instance, some are slower than others.
No one wants to browse the web slowly, however securely. So, we’ve found five fast VPNs for you to consider.
Why You Need a Fast VPN
A VPN is software that encrypts and routes your internet connection through a third-party server. This improves your privacy considerably, making it appear as if your connection is coming from that server instead.
There are many situations in which VPNs are useful, such as:
- Accessing region-specific websites and services.
- Getting around network-related routing issues.
- Encrypting your connection on public Wi-Fi.
- Adding an extra layer of privacy when browsing or downloading.
The choice of VPN services is huge, each offering encrypted privacy for a monthly subscription. As the market has grown, some providers have developed their VPN services, embracing developments in technology.
Big names in the VPN industry are making VPNs faster. This has considerable implications, not least for streaming video and online gaming.
(Some VPNs claim to be developing technology delivering faster internet access via a VPN than your ISP. In this scenario, data takes a more direct route to the destination website via a VPN.)
What Is the Fastest VPN Service?
If you want a top-tier VPN service, you’ll have to pay for it. This could be up to $15 per month depending on what the service offers. But if you don’t want to pay for a service you may not use very often, you can always turn to a free VPN instead. But before you do, consider the disadvantages of a free VPN
The fast VPN services we’ll be looking at are:
- ProtonVPN Free
VPN Speed Testing Methodology
A VPN can slow your internet down if the VPN’s max speed is lower than your ISP’s speed. On the other hand, if the VPN’s max speed is higher than yours, you won’t notice a slowdown.
To see how each VPN affects my own speed, I’ve recorded my baselines using Speedtest.net averaged over three tests. The results without a VPN:
- Download: 42.47Mbps
- Upload: 10.64Mbps
- Ping: 14ms
Going forward, remember that if the speeds go down, it means that the VPN service is limiting my speed, but if the speeds stay the same, it means that the VPN service is not throttling my connection (or the limit is higher than my ISP connection).
For speed testing, I’ve used a VPN server in the same country. This underlines the speed of the connection to the VPN service and via their server. internet traffic is more likely to impact long-range testing.
My testing results for ExpressVPN:
- Download: 41.45Mbps
- Upload: 10.01Mbps
- Ping: 16ms
- Negligible impact on speed with ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has great performance and offers:
- 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
- Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, and Linux
- Five concurrent connections
- ExpressVPN claims it doesn’t keep activity or connection logs
ExpressVPN remains a top choice for all VPN uses, from avoiding region blocking on Netflix to private torrent downloads. TRY OUR #1 RANKED VPN: Save 49% on ExpressVPN.
See our full ExpressVPN review
for more details.
Testing CyberGhost I found:
- Download: 41.59Mbps
- Upload: 10.08Mbps
- Ping: 17ms
- Faster than ExpressVPN during testing
CyberGhost offers a range of superior VPN features. It is particularly suited to video streamers and torrenters. So, if you’re cut the cord and relying on the internet for your media, CyberGhost should be your top choice. It offers:
- 7,100+ servers in 90+ countries
- Apps for desktop, mobile, consoles, media boxes, routers, and browser extensions
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video
- Seven simultaneous connections
My testing results for Private Internet Access are as follows:
- Download: 42.06Mbps
- Upload: 10.29Mbps
- Ping: 15ms
With a big reputation, PIA offers:
- 3301 servers in 30 countries
- Apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iPhone/iPad
- 10 connections from a single account
- Good for torrenting, inadequate for Netflix or BBC iPlayer geoblocking
Learn more in our full Private Internet Access review
In testing Windscribe, average speed was:
- Download: 36.84Mbps
- Upload: 9.47Mbps
- Ping: 27ms
Windscribe is a solid, fast VPN service. It boasts:
- Servers in over 63 countries and 110 cities
- Windows, macOS, Linux, and iPhone apps, plus browser extensions
- Free option, limited to 2GB bandwidth—upgrade to 10GB by confirming your email address
It’s worth noting that Windscribe’s free option is difficult to find. Simply sign-up for an account and download the app to use it. While Windscribe claims to be able to help you watch Netflix libraries from other countries, this isn’t currently the case.
Check our Windscribe review
to find out more.
5. Need a Fast and Free VPN? Try ProtonVPN Free
Very few VPNs are fast and free. Along with Windscribe’s free version, ProtonVPN has a free VPN. Note that while free and reasonably fast, a paid VPN is a faster solution.
My testing results for ProtonVPN Free:
- Download: 39.36Mbps
- Upload: 10.14Mbps
- Ping: 21ms
As you can see, that’s pretty fast for a free VPN. ProtonVPN Free gives you:
- Three countries
- Medium speed
- Apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android
- Support for one device
- No logs, no data limit, and no ads
- You also get free access for seven days to the standard ProtonVPN package
As free VPNs go, ProtonVPN Free is fast enough to compete with the others in this list.
Downsides to Using Free VPNs
A lot of tech-savvy users don’t trust free VPNs. After all, when somebody offers you something for free, you should always be skeptical. Why would they do such a thing?
True altruism is rare when services are concerned. Here are some of the more common risks to weigh.
- Data caps. Most free VPNs will cap you to a certain amount of data transfer every month. This data usage includes browsing the web, playing games, downloading files, calling VoIP, etc. A data cap is extremely reasonable and is usually a sign that the service is genuine.
- Speed caps. If you aren’t capped by data, then you’ll definitely be capped by speed. Avoid these services if you want to stream videos, play multiplayer games, or download large files.
- Unreliable performance. Some free services are known to suffer from regular outages, especially during peak times. Even if the service itself doesn’t go down, you may experience deteriorated speeds during peak times.
- No privacy guarantees. One way a free service can make money is by selling your personal information. Not all free services do this, but it’s impossible to know either way.
- Fewer server locations. Free services usually limit which of their servers you can use. This might be because it’s easier to consolidate all free users to a handful of servers. Alternatively, they just want to nudge you towards buying a paid plan.
Still want a free VPN? If you understand the risks, that’s fine. Otherwise, consider one of our subscription suggestions above. Consider a free VPN if you’re new to VPNs and want to understand them better.
Use a Fast VPN For the Best Results
Be careful when using a VPN that you don’t fall victim to a false sense of security. While you should use one, be aware that VPNs are not as secure as most people think.
There are many more paid VPN services out there and most of them aren’t worth it. While we’ve selected the five fastest, others have more to offer. Check our best VPNs guide
to learn about the alternatives.