Most people want the fastest VPN for their money – that's common sense, right? Well thankfully, in recent years. many of the best VPN providers have found their mojo and seriously sped up their connections, so much so that you're unlikely to feel any slow-down with any of the fast VPNs below.
However, it's worth noting that every VPN has an impact on your connection thanks to the simple fact your traffic is going further, so making sure that slow-down is as minimal as possible is a top priority. Without subscriptions to all the fastest VPN services yourself it's impossible to test this, so that's why we've put together this list to help you make an informed decision.
What makes a great fast VPN?
In this guide we're prioritizing speed over everything else. However, every fast VPN service here will also deliver top-quality privacy and security too, so to max out your connection there shouldn't be too many sacrifices to be made.
For those interested in the tech behind it, you'll notice that most of the fastest VPNs use protocols other than OpenVPN. While the old favorite is still safe and reliable, new protocols like list-topper NordVPN's WireGuard-based NordLynx and ExpressVPN's Lightway are leading the way in terms of sheer speed.
If you've got a pretty standard Internet connection that tops out below 100Mbps, it's unlikely you'll notice any difference in speeds between the fast VPN services below. However, for those on ultrafast lines, there are a few blistering options to pick from.
1. NordVPN – the best fast VPN on the market
There's quite simply no other way to put it: NordVPN is the fastest VPN we've tested. With reliably searing speeds of up to 880Mbps (on our 1Gbps line), it certainly won't be slowing you down – and overall it's also one of the best services you can buy.
2. ExpressVPN – excellent speed, reliable connections
ExpressVPN is our top-rated VPN overall, but it's just pipped to the post by NordVPN for absolute speed. However, it's still super fast, and is the most well-rounded service on the market. Plus, Tom's Guide readers can also claim three free months on the 12 month plan – generous!
3. ProtonVPN – speedy, secure, supremely versatile
Whether you use the WireGuard or OpenVPN protocols (or don't really care which), ProtonVPN delivers incredible speeds. Plus, you'll get excellent streaming performance, unique privacy features, and comprehensive mobile apps to stay safe on the go.
The best fast VPNs available today
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, when it comes to connection speeds NordVPN has no equal. On our superfast 1Gbps line, we consistently reached speeds of up to 880Mbps when using the NordLynx protocol (active by default in just about all the apps).
To put that in perspective, most homes have speeds of up to 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. 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 the very fastest VPN connections available, NordVPN is our provider of choice.
NordVPN is the fastest VPN we've tested
With super fast and reliable connections, NordVPN tops our list of fast VPNs. 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.
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 580Mbps 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 49% off plus 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.
ProtonVPN has emerged as one of the fastest VPN services on the market, and it delivers an unusual combination of a seriously privacy and security-focused service that's still capable of incredible connection speeds.
And while some VPNs go sky-high when using the new WireGuard protocol but disappoint when it comes to the old faithful OpenVPN, ProtonVPN is a fast VPN no matter what you use. In fact, when using Proton's VPN Accelerator features, you can boost OpenVPN connections to 460Mbps – some of the fastest we've ever seen!
WireGuard connections are fast too at an impressive 740Mbps, but what makes ProtonVPN really appealing is the fact that it's super secure at the same time.
Plus plans include access to the Secure Core servers which route you through one of three ultra-safe servers before heading to your chosen location, and if you're a big streamer, you'll be able to access just about any streaming service, anywhere – in fact, only ExpressVPN outdoes it as a Netflix VPN.
Overall, ProtonVPN is an excellent service, and as it stands, it can only become faster and even more powerful over time.
IPVanish has slightly fallen down the ranks as of late – not due to any fault of its own, but simply because the competition has improved so dramatically. However, somewhere that the US-based provider has shown promise is its connection speeds – and it's seriously impressive.
In our testing, IPVanish topped out at an incredible 900Mbps. While that's marginally faster than NordVPN, our list-topper was a little more consistent, but even at the worst of times IPVanish didn't drop below 750Mbps.
Unfortunately, IPVanish has had a little trouble with unblocking streaming services recently, and while it's able to access BBC iPlayer outside the UK (a real feat in itself), Netflix and the rest are unfortunately unavailable. This is changeable and fluctuates day to day, but in our last testing, IPVanish struggled.
However, outside of streaming, it's a seriously fast and secure service with tons of features that we highly recommend.
A new addition to this guide, in our complete Hide.me VPN review we were really impressed. With excellent WireGuard speeds of up to 780Mbps and standard OpenVPN connections reaching an impressive 390Mbps, it's right up there with the very best.
The real surprise comes from Hide.me's VPN Bolt feature, which boosted OpenVPN speeds to an incredible 860Mbps. While Bolt won't be the perfect choice for everyone to use, if you fancy the best OpenVPN speeds around, it's a great option.
Hide.me is also a very powerful VPN in its own right, and its apps offer a huge amount of customization not often found in consumer VPNs. With tons of protocols, and features like port forwarding and flexible server lists, it's great for experts who love to tinker. However, all of that could be a bit daunting to those who are new to VPNs.
While we had a few issues with the kill switch in our testing, and the fact that it takes a little longer than average to connect, Hide.me is certainly worth checking out, even just for its powerful free VPN.
What is the best fast VPN?
For outright speeds, we rate NordVPN as the fastest VPN today. Its NordLynx protocol is 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 connections 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.