When we choose our ISPs, connection speeds are at the top of our wishlists – so when picking the best VPN services, we should be considering the same. That's why we hand-test the speeds of every provider we review, and factor them in to the scores we give them.
All the services listed here are seriously fast VPNs, but it's worth noting that if you haven't got access to a 1Gbps+ connection, you're unlikely to feel the difference between any of them.
In that case, it's worth going for the VPN that offers the best general privacy, or certain niche features you'll use. However, if speed is your primary concern, we've rounded up the five fastest VPNs around.
What makes a great fast VPN?
In this guide we're prioritizing speed over everything else. However, every fast VPN service featured here will also deliver top-quality privacy and security too, so you won't have to sacrifice usability for class-leading speeds.
If you're interested in what's under the hood, you'll notice that all the fastest VPN services use protocols other than OpenVPN – whether it's plain WireGuard or an in-house protocol like ExpressVPN's Lightway or NordVPN's NordLynx.
And, if you're super concerned about connection speeds, you're likely looking to game and stream content in HD or 4K. It's worth making sure that
NB: The order of this article is based on maximum connection speed. However, we have prioritized VPNs we consider to be better products when speeds are similar.
1. Surfshark – The best-value VPN on the market
If you're looking for the fastest VPN on the planet, sign up to Surfshark. With virtually no slow-down, even on our ultra-fast connection, it's quite simply unbeatable. Plus, it's simple to use, super secure, and an absolute bargain at less than $2.50 a month.
2. NordVPN – Big name offers serious security
With speeds very close to Surfshark, NordVPN delivers a slightly more premium package but maintains its simplicity of use. It's one of the most private providers around, and it's remarkably affordable, too.
3. Hide.me – Incredibly fast in every situation
With blazing fast connections when using both WireGuard and OpenVPN, Hide.me is a speed freak's dream. Its super-configurable apps are very powerful, and if you can cope with Hide.me's complexity, it's an excellent choice.
The best fast VPNs available today
Over the four or so years it's been on the scene, Surfshark has been making some serious waves. Starting off a something of a minnow and gradually growing into its namesake, it's now a well-rounded VPN that's private, pleasant to use, and – most importantly – really freakin' fast!
In our last Surfshark review, it was the fastest VPN we tested bar none. We've seen improvements in speeds over the last year or so, but it blew us out the water this time with peaks of up to 950Mbps on our 1Gbps connection. That's almost impossible to top.
It's not just a swift swimmer, though. Surfshark's one of the few providers who that can unblock just about any streaming service, from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime to smaller services like All4 and 10Play.
In terms of usage, it's plain sailing. The apps are robust and reliable, but still super simple to use. Nifty features like auto-selection of the best server, split tunneling, and a kill switch make it a simple choice for staying safe online – and its unlimited simultaneous connections policy means you'll be able to install it on every device you own.
If you're planning on using OpenVPN a lot, it's worth checking out providers below like Hide.me or Mullvad. The vast majority of users will be using the default WireGuard protocol, though, so this won't be an issue.
Overall, it's a complete package, and to top it all off it's an absolute bargain. if you're looking to surf the web at a real rate of knots, Surfshark's your best option.
Surfshark is the fastest VPN on the market
Whether you're just looking to secure your browsing or want to unblock overseas streaming or torrent in safety, Surfshark is a hugely tempting proposition. At less than $2.50 a month it's very cheap compared to the competition, but it punches well above its weight.
If you've heard of just one VPN, it'll be NordVPN. The old favorite is hugely well-known, and with marketing ploys ranging from YouTube plugs to sports team sponsorships and TV ads, Nord's certainly not afraid of shouting about itself.
And with good reason. Ranking as our second-favorite VPN overall after our most recent NordVPN review, when it comes to connection speeds it's impressive. On our superfast 1Gbps line, we consistently reached speeds of up to 820Mbps when using the NordLynx protocol (active by default in just about all the apps).
To put that in perspective, the average US home has a connection capable of around 100Mbps, and in practice NordVPN will be totally undetectable in terms of Internet slow-down on an average line.
Other than its excellent connections, you might be drawn to Nord because of its security-focused service. With its powerful and additional features like Onion over VPN and Double VPN it's a hacker's nightmare, and is all but guaranteed to keep you anonymous online.
A slight issue we have is with the layout of the otherwise polished and exceedingly usable mobile apps – the interface is taken directly from its desktop counterpart, and while it works well on larger screen, the map-based design is a bit awkward on phone screens – rivals such as ExpressVPN are just a little more usable. However, that's unlikely to truly put anyone off, as you'll only be in the app for a minute or two to select a server or adjust settings.
Overall, if you're after a combination of ease of use, excellent speeds, and powerful streaming ability, NordVPN could well be your choice.
NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we've tested
With super fast and reliable connections, NordVPN is a great choice for speed. Not only is it fast, but it's secure, powerful, and has apps for just about every device. Plus, its 30-day money-back guarantee means you can give it a test drive risk-free.
Hide.me is a slightly divisive VPN – it's one of the fastest VPN we'd recommend and its apps are incredibly powerful almost across the board, but in our Hide.me review we found it lacks some of the usability of the top-flight providers like Surfshark, ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
That said, for those who are keen on fiddling with their software rather than just plugging and playing Hide.me could be a no-brainer.
With more configuration options than just about any other VPN we've tested, you can dial in your experience exactly how you like it. You choose exactly how your servers are ordered, whether you tunnel via IPv4 or IPv6, and if you want to use random ports? Go for it. The split tunneling feature is more powerful than any other provider's too, and you can even set custom scripts for a number of functions.
Sounds like a techie's dream, right? But for the layman Hide.me still offers all the essentials – great privacy features, torrenting support, and the ability to unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and more.
Oh, and of course – it can hit a dizzying 880Mbps (if your base connection is fast enough) with its Bolt tech.
Hide.me won't be for everyone, and those looking for a simpler experience may want to consider the options above. But, since we're talking about the fastest VPNs here, we couldn't not include Hide.me.
In a similar vein to Hide.me, TorGuard is another VPN provider that's courting the expert audience. With incredibly customizable apps, a very knowledegable support team and ridiculously fast connections of up to 950Mbps, there's a lot to like.
However, just like Hide.me, if you're something of a newbie to VPNs, TorGuard is going to intimidating to say the least. Yes, you'll be able to set up auto-connect on launch, check your TUN/TAP adaptors each time you connect, and even delve into the nitty-gritty of static DNS, but for the average user this is going to tricky to parse.
What's nice, however, is the fact that you'll be able to use TorGuard on a generous 8 devices simultaneously, and when you come to purchase, there's a huge range of options when it comes to payment and plan selection.
Overall, if you're someone who – like the developers – is really interesting in this kind of thing, there's a huge amount of depth to TorGuard. But, if not, you might be better off with Surfshark.
We're big fans of ExpressVPN, so much so that it sits at the top of our full VPN rundown. However, in our latest round of speed testing, it wasn't the very fastest of the lot.
That's not to say it's sluggish, though – topping out at 560Mbps when using a 1Gbps line and the Lightway protocol, it's more than fast enough for any task, and on regular connections it'll be indistinguishable.
Beyond speeds, ExpressVPN knocks it out the park. It's simple to install, unblocks more streaming sites and Netflix locations than any other service we've tested, has rock-solid privacy credentials and has even been recently audited to prove it.
Extra features like split tunneling, a top-notch kill switch, built-in speed test plus DNS and WebRTC leak detectors make it a very powerful package.
If anything ends up not working as it should – or you've got any questions about how to use it – ExpressVPN's support is also unrivalled. In all of our testing the live chat operators have been very knowledgeable and quick to respond, and it boasts the best library of setup and troubleshooting articles in the industry.
So, while it's not the absolute quickest, in just about every other area ExpressVPN leads the pack.
Get three months FREE of ExpressVPN
Tom's Guide readers can claim an extra three months free if they sign up for an annual plan – that's 15 months for the price of 12. If it's not to your liking, you're covered by the 30-day money-back guarantee, so there's no risk if you just want to try it out before committing.
Our VPN speed results
When we review VPNs, we undertake comprehensive speed testing, and below we've rounded up the number for the best fast VPNs of 2022.
Be aware that when ranking providers for this guide, great connection speeds are an important part of our choice, but overall usability is also taken into account. That's why, for example, TorGuard doesn't rank above NordVPN, despite returning slightly higher speeds in our testing.
We have, however, made sure to include the fastest VPNs on this list.
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What is the best fast VPN?
For outright speeds, we rate Surfshark as the fastest VPN today. Its WireGuard speeds are ridiculously fast, and with its great streaming support you're pretty much guaranteed never to be left buffering with this fast VPN.
Why do I need a fast VPN?
While a VPN is a security tool first and foremost, usability shouldn't fall by the wayside in the process. A fast VPN means you can realistically use the service 24/7 without having any of the downsides commonly associated with VPN usage – poor streaming abilities, low connection speeds...
If you use a fast VPN, it makes it an easier transition from never having used one before, and for those who may have had bad experiences years ago or with crummy providers recently, any of the services on this list are sure to reinvigorate your trust in VPNs.
In essence, if you can get a fast VPN that does the job properly as well as delivering excellent connection speeds, why settle for anything else?
Why are some VPNs so slow?
Using a VPN put extra steps between your device and the sites you're visiting. That includes encryption, redirection to VPN servers and then on to the site you were initially heading for.
A fast VPN negates much of the slow-down by using modern servers and having massive bandwidth to share between its users. In many cases you'll now be limited by your own internet connection rather than your VPN provider.
While it's true that some VPNs still suffer from low connection speeds and struggle for bandwidth at peak times, top fast VPN providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN really can be relied to deliver superfast speeds at any time of the day. Plus, by avoiding throttling, you'll be able to use your connection for anything without being held back.
Is a fast VPN as safe?
Well, if you choose any of our top picks, the answer's a big yes! However, it's understandable to worry about this, as surely to get great speeds means you've got to sacrifice something, right?
In truth, most VPNs run on very similar architecture, utilise the same AES-256 encryption and use protocols such as WireGuard, OpenVPN or IKEv2. The biggest difference is the server number, capacity and maintenance, all of which contribute to how fast any individual connection will be.
Overall, in our eyes if we've included a VPN on any of our guides, we'd recommend it as safe for anyone to use.