There is a lot a VPN must do well to be useful, and one of the most important things is to be fast. You can likely get around many other shortcomings. But, if your VPN is slower than a dial-up modem (for those of us who remember those), not only will you be less likely to use it, but will probably also curse it every time you do. It’s money well wasted.

You may have come here to see cold hard numbers, so let’s start with those. Below is a table of results of my local VPN server tests for what I consider the top providers in the market. Each service also has its own speed test page to which you can click through. There I show server performance for seven other popular locations around the world and give my thoughts on the results.

A VPN speed test has three relevant metrics: download speed, upload speed, and ping time. I talk a bit about which one is important when further down this page.

By default, the table below is sorted in descending order based on download speeds, commonly the most important of the three metrics. But you can sort it on any of the other ones should those be more relevant for you.

Finally, if you’re interested, also below the table, I explain exactly how I run the speed tests, and give you a few more things to think about when trying to pick the fastest VPN for your needs.

Provider
Download Speed
Upload Speed
Ping Time
Features
Cost

Speed Test | Server List
27.6 Mbps
4.5 Mbps
22 ms
Countries: 61
Servers: 1188
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, IPSec/IKEv2
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 6
Logging: No Logging
Location: Panama
1 Month Plan: $11.95/month
6 Month Plan: $7.00/month
Yearly Plan: $3.29/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 30 Days
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall

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Speed Test | Server List
27.4 Mbps
4.6 Mbps
25 ms
Countries: 94
Servers: 1500+
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Routers
Connections: 3
Logging: Total Daily Connection Duration, Total Daily Data Transfer Amount, Server Location
Location: British Virgin Islands
1 Month Plan: $12.95/month
6 Month Plan: $9.99/month
Yearly Plan: $8.32/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 30 Days
Payment: Credit Cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, Alipay, Paymentwall

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Speed Test | Server List
27.2 Mbps
3.9 Mbps
18 ms
Countries: 47
Servers: 130+
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, IPSec/IKEv2
Platforms: Win, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 3
Logging: No Logging
Location: Romania
1 Month Plan: $10.95/month
6 Month Plan: $7.16/month
Yearly Plan: $4.84/month
Free Trial: 24 Hours
Money Back: 15 Days
Payment: Credit Card, Bitcoin, Other Cryptocurrencies, Paymetwall

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Speed Test
27.2 Mbps
4.1 Mbps
17 ms
Countries: 60+
Servers: 850+
IPs: 40000+
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Chromebook, Routers
Connections: 5
Logging: No Logging
Location: US
1 Month Plan: $10.00/month
6 Month Plan: $8.99/month
Yearly Plan: $6.49/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 7 Days
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Alipay, 10+ other methods

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Speed Test
27.1 Mbps
4.6 Mbps
19 ms
Countries: 20
Servers:
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Connections: 5
Logging: OS Version, App Version, Total Data Used Each Month
Location: Canada
1 Month Plan: $9.99/month
Yearly Plan: $4.16/month
Free Trial: 500 MB Every Month
Money Back: No
Payment: Credit Card, Bitcoin

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Speed Test | Server List
27.1 Mbps
4.7 Mbps
23 ms
Countries: 25
Servers: 3253
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 5
Logging: No Logging
Location: USA
1 Month Plan: $6.95/month
6 Month Plan: $5.99/month
Yearly Plan: $3.33/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 7 Days
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Major Gift Cards, 6 other methods

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Speed Test
27.0 Mbps
4.7 Mbps
17 ms

+

Countries: 5 Continents
Servers: 700+
IPs: 200000+
Protocols: OpenVPN (Pro/Premier), L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, Chameleon (Pro/Premier)
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 3 (Basic), 5 (Premium)
Logging: Connection Time Stamps, Connection Data Transfer Amount, Your Connection IP, Server IP
Location: Switzerland
1 Month Plan: $9.95/month (Basic), $12.95/month (Premium)
Yearly Plan: $3.75/month (Basic), $5.00/month (Premium)
Free Trial: 3 Days
Money Back: No
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Alipay

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Speed Test | Server List
26.8 Mbps
4.6 Mbps
21 ms
Countries: 190+
Servers: 820+
IPs: 100000+
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP
Platforms: Win, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 2
Logging: Connection Time Stamps, Connection Data Transfer Amount, Your Connection IP, Server IP
Location: UK
1 Month Plan: $11.52/month
6 Month Plan: $8.33/month
Yearly Plan: $6.55/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 30 Days
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Bank/Wire Transfer, UnionPay

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Speed Test
22.5 Mbps
3.7 Mbps
31 ms
Countries: 22
Servers:
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, IPSec/IKEv2
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 2
Logging: No Logging
Location: USA
1 Month Plan: $10.00/month
6 Month Plan:
Yearly Plan: $5.83/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 5 Days
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Bitcoin

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Speed Test | Server List
18.9 Mbps
5.2 Mbps
84 ms
Countries: 141
Servers: 750+
IPs:
Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, IPSec/IKEv2
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers
Connections: 5
Logging: Connection Time Stamps, Connection Data Transfer Amount
Location: Hong Kong
1 Month Plan: $10.95/month
6 Month Plan: $8.95/month
Yearly Plan: $3.25/month
Free Trial: No
Money Back: 7 Days
Payment: Credit Card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Alipay, Major Gift Cards, CashU, Other Cryptocurrencies, Paymetwall

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How the Tests Are Done

Every VPN service I look at is tested both using a Windows PC and a MacBook Pro. In all cases, I use a fairly average 30 Mbit down and 5 Mbit up Internet connection.

Each test consists of two actual speed tests. One is done over a VPN connection, the other without one. The speed difference between the two shows the performance of the VPN.

The two speed tests are run as close to one another as possible to try to minimize any external factors that may affect them, such as a change in network load.

I run a total of three speed test pairs, at various times during the day. Doing so accounts for possible periods of heavy network and VPN server load. The quickest result of the three runs is what I use.

As far as tools, the tests are run using Speedtest.net and TestMy.net. Another decent option that I’m not currently using but may add later is SpeedOf.Me.

In addition to running a local test using the server closest physically to my location, I also run tests on US, UK, Canadian, Australian, Dutch, German and French servers (assuming, of course, the VPN provider supports that country). These seven are the locations to which users most commonly connect. You can find the results on each provider’s speed test page.

All speed tests use the OpenVPN protocol over UDP. It is the fastest protocol of the bunch (and the most secure I might add). Unless you have specific reasons not to do so, OpenVPN is what I recommend using.

The Time of Day Factor

One caveat to point out is that regardless of what VPN speed test results say, actual performance will differ depending on the time of day. There is, unfortunately, no way around this.

The more people connect to a VPN at the same time, the slower it will be. Though, with a good service, the slowdown should be minimal.

You can typically expect a less than optimal connection around dinner time or early in the evening than you would at 4 AM. Similarly, if any major event is happening, one that a lot of people may be streaming (a big World Cup game or the Super Bowl are great examples), you also shouldn’t expect the fastest performance.

Which Speed Matters?

A VPN speed tests will yield three sets of numbers: download and upload speeds and a ping time. Depending on what you want to use your VPN for, one or more of these metrics may matter.

Download Speed

Download speed tells you how quickly your device receives data. If you intend on pulling large files or a lot of them, you should make a good download speed your priority. The higher it is, the better.

Using file sharing (BitTorrent or other peer-to-peer networks), file hosting services (Usenet), or streaming video (especially in high definition) are prime examples of where high download speed is critical.

Upload Speed

The opposite of download speed, upload speed lets you know how quickly you can send data to a remote destination. It should matter to you if you often send large files or a considerable number of them. The higher this metric, the better.

Examples where a good upload speed matters include using file sharing services or backing up your pictures to the cloud.

Ping Time

Ping time, sometimes called latency, measures how long it takes for one packet of data to make the trip from your computer, through the VPN server, to its destination and then back again. It is specified in milliseconds. The lower this number is, the faster and better the connection.

Ping time is crucial if you’re using real time application like VOIP (voice over IP), or plan on playing online games.

Is Fast Always Best

Speed is certainly a critical factor when choosing a VPN provider. I rank it in the top three. That said, it does not have to be the end all and be all. You can put up with slightly lower performance (as long as it doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out) in favor of other features you find necessary.

Some of those features may include a good geographical distribution of servers, the number of devices you can simultaneously use, robust security and a minimal logging policy. Everyone’s needs are a little different and ultimately depend on what you want to use a VPN for.

If you are still in the process of picking a provider, don’t forget to read my guide on how to choose a VPN. It will help you navigate and identify all the features that may be important and help you pick a service that’s just right for you.