Best fast VPN 2024: which provider is fastest?

Best fast VPN
(Image credit: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock)

Speed isn't everything when it comes to VPNs – but it certainly helps. The very nature of running all your internet traffic through an extra set of secure servers and encrypted tunnels means that, unless you choose one of the fastest VPNs, you run the risk of interruptions to your streaming and gaming.

In addition to being generally some of the best VPNs on the market, the services I've shortlisted in this article are all seriously fast. I know that because the Tom's Guide team of experts and I tests each provider, multiple times, allowing me to pick out a fastest five and include the results in my analysis below.

Speed is only one part of the equation, though, and it's worth noting that unless you have access to a 1 Gbps connection you probably won't feel much of a difference between these providers. I've seen plenty of super-quick VPNs that fall short in other areas, like privacy, ease of use, and overall value for money. So, keep reading to check out my top five fastest VPN picks as well as an in-depth analysis of each provider. In a rush? No worries, take a look at the top three contenders:

The 3 fastest VPNs at a glance

1. Surfshark – Top speeds and cheap prices

1. Surfshark – Top speeds and cheap prices
Surfshark claims the top spot in my list with electric WireGuard and OpenVPN speeds – but the accolades don't stop there. The service is incredibly beginner-friendly, has clutter-free apps for virtually all devices, and unblocks any streaming platform you point it at. 

With unlimited simultaneous connections, you're getting real value for money, and at less than $2.50 a month, Surfshark is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market, too. Test it out with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. NordVPN – My overall #1 VPN is super fast

2. NordVPN – My overall #1 VPN is super fast
NordVPN is a massively popular provider that's taken the VPN world by storm. It's one of the quickest providers you'll come across, which means you'll have no trouble watching Netflix in HD, gaming online, or joining video calls. NordVPN is also jam-packed with privacy-enhancing tools to secure your day-to-day browsing – it's a win/win!

All NordVPN plans are fairly priced as well, and you can take the service for a test drive with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Proton VPN – No VPN has more impressive privacy

3. Proton VPN – No VPN has more impressive privacy
I've admired the Swiss provider Proton VPN for a good while now, largely thanks to its reassuring privacy smarts, verified no logging policy, intuitive apps and handy free plan. But in our latest speed tests, it now ranks alongside the fastest VPNs, too – particularly when using WireGuard,

Prices are generally affordable, with a special price of $3.59 a month available for Tom's Guide readers, but you can also check out Proton VPN's nuts and bolts with its tempting free plan.

Recent updates

Following the results of our latest VPN speed testing, I've given the rankings a reshuffle. Surfshark has jumped back up ahead of NordVPN thanks to its incredible speeds using both WireGuard and OpenVPN. Proton VPN and Mullvad are new entries to my top five and, for the first time I can remember, there's no room for ExpressVPN.

My expert-tested list of the fastest VPNs of 2024

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The fastest VPN overall

Fastest VPN Surfshark on a range of devices

(Image credit: Surfshark)

1. Surfshark

The fastest VPN you can get right now

Number of servers: 3,200 | Server locations: 100 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, C4, 9Now, 10 play | WireGuard or alternative modern protocol?: Yes | Maximum tested speed on 1 Gbps line: over 950 Mbps

A super-speedy service
Unblocks virtually all streaming platforms
Packed with features
Plans are inexpensive
Others have better support
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want uncompromising speeds. Surfshark soared to the top spot in our rankings by maxing out my 1 Gbps line and going big on OpenVPN.

✔️ You need multi-device protection. With unlimited simultaneous connections, you can install Surfshark on just about any device in the home.

✔️ Ads have got to go. Nobody likes being pestered by popups, but the CleanWeb tool can put a stop to intrusive ads.

Avoid if:

You really count on your kill switch: I was able to break the Surfshark kill switch during testing, and while it's unlikely to happen in real life, it's worth noting.

You hate price hikes: Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPNs around to sign up to. But once the initial term is done, you'll see prices fly up.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Surfshark is seriously quick – there aren't many providers that can match it in terms of unblocking power and value for money. Put it to the test risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Testing for my updated Surfshark review saw the affordable provider return to the top of the VPN speed charts. It blew me away with its peaks of up to 950 Mbps on my 1 Gbps connection using WireGuard, and an unmatched 640 Mbps using OpenVPN – no other service can beat it in a pure footrace.

> Sign up to the fastest VPN I've tested

There is one slight caveat to note on those results. Those electric OpenVPN speeds are so jaw-droppingly high because the provider is running something called OpenVPN DCO. It's quite a technical point, but effectively means that faster speeds can be achieved at the expense of being able to easily obfuscate your connection.

Outside of speed, Surfshark is one of a handful of providers that can unblock tons of streaming services – Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime included. You'll see a lot of VPNs promising the world in terms of their unblocking capabilities and ultimately falling short, but Surfshark actually delivers. Plus, it even unblocks smaller, regional services like ITVX and 10Play.

In terms of usage, it's plain sailing. The apps are robust and reliable, but still super simple to use. Surfshark can automatically choose and connect to a server when you launch the app, and its kill switch ensures that your privacy is never at risk – even if the VPN connection happens to drop. The CleanWeb feature is a real stand-out, too, and gets rid of annoying ads, trackers, and malicious links that might otherwise ruin your day.

It's impossible to review Surfshark without mentioning its unlimited simultaneous connections. What's the big deal? Well, unlimited connections mean you can install the VPN on every device you own (or share the love with friends and family) with just one subscription. That's serious value for money from a provider that already offers budget-friendly plans.

Overall, Surfshark is the total package – and one you can grab for an absolute bargain. In addition to being the best cheap VPN around, Surfshark also provides stellar 24/7 support via live chat and email, so you'll have no problem troubleshooting even the most technical queries.

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Surfshark test results
DesignClean and clutter-free, ideal for VPN newbies⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIncredibly easy to navigate⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest VPN in my most recent speed testing⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks virtually everything⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacySome kill switch issues, but otherwise impressive⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 support is available in addition to a whole host of articles⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceBargain prices that are hard to beat⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best overall VPN

Nordvpn best fast vpn

(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

The best VPN is also among the fastest

Number of servers: 6,300 | Server locations: 110 countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, C4, 9Now, 10 play | WireGuard or alternative modern protocol?: Yes, NordLynx (WireGuard) | Maximum tested speed on 1 Gbps line: over 950 Mbps

Great speeds across the board
Works with most streaming services
A generous network of servers
Privacy-focused features for all apps
App UI can feel cluttered
Renewing your subscription is pricey
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want 24/7 access to Netflix. NordVPN has no trouble unblocking libraries from around the world – which is why it's my #1 VPN for Netflix.

✔️ You're looking for a full privacy toolkit. Every NordVPN subscription is packed full of features designed to secure your browsing.

✔️ You want a premium service without a premium price. While there are cheaper providers out there, NordVPN does a great job of balancing functionality, speed, and fair prices.

Avoid if:

You need simple apps. The NordVPN interface has a fresh design, but it can feel cluttered compared to Surfshark's straightforward approach.

You'll be doing a lot of torrenting. Only a handful of NordVPN servers support P2P traffic, and those that do can be pretty slow.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

NordVPN is a popular service that lives up to the hype with blazing-fast speeds, and a 30-day money-back guarantee gives you time to try the VPN for yourself before committing.

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, NordVPN certainly isn't afraid of shouting from the rafters.

There's a good reason for it, too. After the most recent NordVPN review, it currently ranks as my absolute favorite VPN (finally leapfrogging ExpressVPN to the top spot), and constantly impresses with its connection speeds. Using my superfast 1 Gbps line, I reached speeds of over 950 Mbps when using the NordLynx protocol (active by default in just about all apps).

To put that in perspective, the average U.S. home has a connection capable of around 100 Mbps and, in practice, NordVPN will be totally undetectable in terms of Internet slow-down. This, plus NordVPN's robust stability, means that you can leave it switched on without being massively impacted.

Other than its excellent connections, you might be drawn to NordVPN because of its security-focused service. With powerful features like Onion over VPN and Double VPN, it's a hacker's nightmare, and all but guaranteed to keep your most sensitive details out of the hands of crafty cybercriminals.

One of my only issues with NordVPN is its mobile app layout – the interface is taken directly from its desktop counterpart, and while it works well on larger screens, the map-based design is a bit awkward on phone screens. It's a blip on an otherwise polished and exceedingly usable app, and rivals (like Surfshark above) do it better. However, it's unlikely to put anyone off entirely, seeing as you'll only be using 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 a service that's also my number one Fire Stick VPN, NordVPN could well be your match made in heaven.

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NordVPN test results
DesignA fresh and fun interface that can feel somewhat crowded⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThe map interface is divisive, but otherwise easy to use⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceA real speed demon that is towards the top of the charts⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks all of the most in-demand streaming platforms⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyPacked with privacy features and robust encryption⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 customer support can troubleshoot the most technical issues ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceAttractive prices for one of the industry's top dogs⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best fast VPN for privacy

Proton VPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: Proton VPN)

3. Proton VPN

Where speed and security meets

Number of servers: 4,400 | Server locations: 91 countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, C4, 9Now, 10 play | WireGuard or alternative modern protocol?: Yes | Maximum tested speed on 1 Gbps line: over 950 Mbps

Fast on WireGuard and OpenVPN
Super secure clients
Verified zero-logging claims
Also has a free plan
A little expensive
Not the easiest for those new to VPNs
Subscribe if:

✔️ Your prime concern is privacy. From a super tight no-logging policy to tools to block trackers and malware, Proton VPN is among the world's most secure providers.

✔️ You like the idea of trying it for free. Proton's excellent free plan doesn't cap your data and is a useful tool to have if you don't think you'll need a premium service.

✔️ You're a Linux user. Unlike some of its competitors, there's a full Linux GUI available for Proton VPN's paid and free users.

Avoid if:

You're on a tight budget. While it is sometimes available cheaper during flash sales, the general pricing can't match the likes of Surfshark or NordVPN.

VPNs are new to you. Proton VPN's glut of options and customizability may be quite intimidating to those downloading a VPN for the first time.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Proton VPN is a new entry on this list, with previous performance in our speed tests proving disappointing. That's all changed now, however, with its WireGuard and OpenVPN speeds spring boarding it towards the top of our performance charts.

The highest new entry in my guide to the fastest VPNs, I discovered that this Swiss-based provider has been working seriously hard on accelerating its speeds during testing for my Proton VPN review.

It means that, like Surfshark and NordVPN above, it recorded speeds of more than 950 Mbps with WireGuard switched on and used on a 1 Gbps supply. But even on bog-standard OpenVPN on the same Internet connection, it managed a jaw-dropping 400 Mbps. Only Surfshark and Mullvad can go faster.

It's not just the speeds that impress me about this provider. Proton Mail has long been the go-to service for secure email, but the company has come on leaps and bounds on the VPN side over the last few years to make it a truly competitive option to consider against the market's very best.

Ranking strongly in our guide to the most secure VPNs, it's clear that privacy is a key concern to the company's engineers. Its range of Secure Core servers send your traffic through ultra-secure channels established in Sweden, Switzerland, and Iceland – all countries famed for their data protection laws. That's on top of an effective kill switch, independently audited logging policy and strong tracker and ad blockers.

Proton VPN's apps are nicely designed and easy enough to use, although we can see why somebody new to the world of VPNs might consider them just a little bit daunting. On the flip side to that coin, experienced users will cherish the sheer amount of features and customizability.

It's great as a streaming VPN, unblocking catalogs from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and many more besides. And there's an excellent free version to try before you commit to buying. If you do go ahead and get the premium edition, however, you'll pay more than for some other services unless you're lucky enough to be VPN hunting during one of Proton VPN's sale periods.

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Proton VPN test results
DesignClear and intuitive UX⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useVPN newbies may be intimidated by the vast range of features⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceFrom slouches to speedsters, Proton VPN is now seriously rapid⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks every streaming service we tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacySwiss-based service will give you confidence in anonymity⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportGood set of guides but no 24/7 support⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceBIt expensive, but free option is a bonus⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best of the rest

Mullvad being used on a laptop

(Image credit: Future)

4. Mullvad

Privacy-conscious provider with electric speeds

Number of servers: 650+ | Server locations: 41 countries | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Streaming sites unblocked: ITVX, C4, 9Now | WireGuard or alternative modern protocol?: Yes | Maximum tested speed on 1 Gbps line: over 950 Mbps

Audited privacy claims
Excellent security features
Easy to get started
Affordable monthly plan
No good for streamers
Not many servers
Subscribe if:

✔️ Anonymity is key. You don't have to give Mullvad any of your personal details when you sign up, and its no-logging policy has been independently audited.

✔️ You intend to pay monthly. There's one, set rolling monthly fee of €5. Affordable and easy.

✔️ Ads and trackers are your pet peeve. It includes effective tools for blocking malicious domains and annoying ads.

Avoid if:

❌ You want to stream overseas TV. Aside from a few niche services, Mullvad is completely impotent for getting around streaming geo-restrictions.

❌ A multitude of servers appeals. With fewer than 1,000 across only 41 countries, Mullvad's server selection pales in comparison to the other fast VPNs on this list.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mullvad's straight-down-the-line VPN is a very popular choice for internet users who are fed up of compromising their privacy. It extracts no more information or logging than it needs to get the job done, and the connection speeds are nothing short of extraordinary. Just don't expect any bells or whistles.

As you'd see in my in-depth Mullvad review, there's lots of things that this much-loved provider can't do. It quite rightly makes no claims to unblocking geo-blocked apps and streaming services, doesn't have customer support technicians available around the clock, and offers only the most meagre of server span.

Instead, it concentrates on delivering watertight Internet privacy in the least invasive or complicated ways possible, and with some of the fastest connection speeds we've seen on test.

Like the other providers above, it topped out at a remarkable 950 Mbps when I tested it using WireGuard on my 1 Gbps Internet connection. And even when I made the switch to OpenVPN, Mullvad was only bettered by Surfshark – I recorded it at 410 Mbps.

I always like it when a VPN provider open-sources their apps and clients, meaning that anybody can see exactly what's going on under the hood. And, continuing Mullvad's commitment to trustworthiness and transparency, it isn't shy to bring in independent auditors to give the thumbs up to the veracity of its security policies and servers.

There's something rather refreshing about the Swedish provider's pricing structure. Rather than enticing new users with highly discounted introductory offers and mega discounts, it keeps things very straightforward: it costs €5/month, no matter how long you use it for.

And its user experience is similarly pared down. The basic apps mean that getting started is super simple, but you may end up missing fairly commonplace features to other providers, such as list of favorites or commonly used servers and smart locations.

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Mullvad test results
DesignBasic apps are good for beginners, but lack handy features⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNo difficulties in this department⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceEarns its place on this list with extraordinary WireGuard and OpenVPN speeds⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingAvoid Mullvad if streaming is a priority
Security and privacyAt the very heart of everything this Swedish service stands for⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportNo live chat support is dissapointing⭐⭐⭐
PriceAffordable monthly payments, but no discounts for long-term⭐⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe devices

(Image credit: Windscribe)

5. Windscribe

Wickedly quick with a handy free plan

Number of servers: 400+ | Server locations: 69 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, C4, 9Now, 10 play | WireGuard or alternative modern protocol?: Yes | Maximum tested speed on 1 Gbps line: over 950 Mbps

Unblocks all major streaming platforms
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Built-in tracker blocker is excellent
No audit
No 24/7 live chat
Subscribe if:

✔️ You have a lot of hardware. Unlimited simultaneous connections make it easy to secure every gadget in the home.

✔️ Ads and trackers have to go. Windscribe has some of the best blocking tools in the business.

✔️ You want a free service that works. Check out the free Windscribe plan for access to a very generous 11 countries.

Avoid if:

You need a security guarantee. Unfortunately, Windscribe hasn't undertaken a third-party audit yet.

You want to try before you buy. Windscribe's money-back guarantee is only valid if you haven't used more than 10 Gb of traffic – and within three days.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe has more to offer than many other free providers. Better premium options exist, however, and VPN newbies might want to opt for something more straightforward.

If you're looking for something a little different, and want a free VPN that won't skimp when it comes to speed, then Windscribe is your best bet. It's a fantastic service, with open-source apps, that you can try without handing over any cash – or for a very reasonable price.

Either way, you won't be disappointed by its performance. I put Windscribe to the test and saw that it maxed out my testing line like the other top contenders, so you'll be able to stream and game without battling extra slowdown.

Speaking of streaming, Windscribe can unblock most popular platforms – Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime included. The only hiccup I ran into was when I tried unblocking content from Netflix's Japan library.

You might've noticed that Windscribe's server network isn't as vast as other premium picks, but don't be deterred. Servers in around 70 countries is still more than enough to bypass the majority of geo-blocks. Plus, they're all RAM-based. Why does this matter? Essentially, it means that none of your identifiable information will be stored on the server for a prolonged period of time, reducing the risk of leaks.

A Windscribe subscription will also bag you access to some incredibly intuitive tools. I like the DNS-based R.O.B.E.R.T. functionality, which helps make the web a nicer, safer place to be by removing ads, malware, and trackers. Split tunnelling comes in handy if you're into torrenting, too.

Windscribe is a solid service and a very welcome presence in this top five – and proves that a service doesn't have to be a top dog to impress. The VPN is super-quick, has great apps for all platforms, and its free version is a great appetizer.

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Windscribe test results
DesignSlightly cramped UI⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNo problem for newbies, but other VPNs are even more intuitive⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceWireGuard speeds are up there with the fastest⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks everything (aside from Netflix Japan)⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyLacks an audit, but otherwise strong⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLack of live chat is disappointing, but support articles are available⭐⭐⭐
PriceThe free plan is well worth trying, although premium prices are expensive⭐⭐⭐

Toms Guide's VPN speed rankings

Want to know the raw speeds of my VPN picks? I've got you covered. All of the VPNs I review go through comprehensive speed testing, and you'll find the results in the table below.

It's worth noting that, when shortlisting VPNs for this guide, connection speeds are only one piece of the puzzle. I considered a whole range of factors, including unblocking power, privacy features, and price. That's why you might notice some discrepancies between the table rankings and this guide's top 5.

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VPN ProviderWireGuard or proprietaryOpenVPN
1. Surfsharkover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)640 Mbps
2. Mullvadover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)410 Mbps
3. Proton VPNover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)400 Mbps
4. Windscribeover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)240 Mbps
5. PrivadoVPNover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)220 Mbps
6. NordVPNover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)110 Mbps
7. Norton VPNover 950 Mbps (maxed out our testing)240 Mbps
8. PureVPN880 Mbps210 Mbps
9. Atlas VPN785 MbpsN/A
10. IPVanish770 Mbps230 Mbps
11. CyberGhost760 Mbps360 Mbps
12. FastestVPN730 Mbps170 Mbps
13. AirVPN710 Mbps300 Mbps
14. Hide.me690 Mbps210 Mbps
15. Hotspot Shield600 MbpsN/A
16. VyprVPN590 Mbps145 Mbps
17. TunnelBear480 Mbps180 Mbps
18. ExpressVPN410 Mbps210 Mbps
19. StrongVPN395 Mbps210 Mbps
20. Astrill VPN390 Mbps (unstable speeds)N/A
21. Private VPN350 Mbps125 Mbps
22. Private Internet Access330 Mbps270 Mbps
23. Mozilla VPN360 MbpsN/A
24. Google One345 MbpsN/A
25. UltraVPN300 MbpsN/A

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How we test VPN services

Tom's Guide takes VPN testing seriously – and it takes a long time to put every provider under the microscope. The team repeats these tests every six months, and speeds play a pivotal role in my evaluations.

To keep things fair, I use the same Windows setup and a 1 Gbps Ethernet-based connection across the board. I'll start by testing my normal connection speed with the VPN turned off, then repeat the process with the VPN turned on. This test is repeated at least five times, with the help of (at minimum) three speed testing sites, and I'll use the median average as my result.

If a VPN is using OpenVPN as its default protocol, I'll run more tests using WireGuard or the service's proprietary equivalent (like NordVPN's NordLynx.)

Finally, all of my testing is done in the morning. This helps maintain an even playing field, and to combat location-based fluctuations in connection speeds, I'll also run tests in the U.S. and the U.K. to give you the fairest representation of what to expect.

Fastest VPN FAQs

What is the fastest VPN?

Surfshark is the fastest VPN today in terms of outright speed. Its WireGuard speeds are ridiculously fast, and you're able to put them to good use thanks to its unblocking capabilities. Say goodbye to those irritating buffering circles for good.

Why do I need a fast VPN?

While a VPN is a security tool first and foremost, usability shouldn't fall by the wayside. After all, what good is a VPN if it slows your device to a crawl?

Picking a fast VPN means you can realistically use the service 24/7 without experiencing any of the downsides commonly associated with VPN usage – poor streaming abilities, grim connection speeds, and system slowdown.

Speedy VPNs also make it easier to transition from never having used one before, too. If you've had a bad experience with a crummy provider recently (or years ago), the services on this list are bound to reinvigorate your trust in VPNs.

In essence, if you can get a fast VPN that safeguards your digital privacy and delivers excellent connection speeds, why settle for anything else?

What makes a great fast VPN?

I prioritize speed in this guide, as you might expect, but all of the services in my top five will also deliver awesome privacy and security features, so you're not sacrificing usability for a lightning-fast connection.

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 WireGuard or an in-house protocol like NordVPN's NordLynx.

Why? Well, WireGuard is more lightweight than OpenVPN, comprised of a measly 5,000 lines of code, which speeds up connection times and even reduces CPU usage. OpenVPN might still be a better pick if you're a privacy-first person, however, seeing as WireGuard lacks obfuscation capability.

Aside from that, if you're looking for the fastest VPN around, you're probably interested in maximizing your gaming or streaming experience. Whether you want to put a stop to lag or enjoy shows in HD (or even 4K), the best fast VPNs give you the means to do so. I've shortlisted services with awesome unblocking capabilities and plenty of international servers, so you can hop from continent to continent to team up with friends in online competition and check out shows from overseas, without hassle.

Finally, you'll want a VPN that's user-friendly and clutter-free. If you're still new to VPNs, and need some help getting set up, my jargon-free guide will walk you through how to use a VPN.

Why are some VPNs so slow?

Using a VPN creates extra steps between your device and the sites you're visiting. That includes encryption, redirection to VPN servers, and sending you to the site you were initially heading to. 

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 VPN providers like NordVPN and Surfshark have heavily invested in their infrastructure, meaning they can be relied upon to deliver superfast speeds at any time of the day.

Is a fast VPN safe?

Well, if you choose any of my top picks, the answer's a big yes! It's natural to worry about this, though, as you'll surely need to sacrifice something to get great speeds, right?

In truth, most VPNs run on a very similar architecture, utilize the same AES-256 encryption, and use protocols such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, or IKEv2. The combination of encryption and top-tier privacy tools means that the VPNs in my list are more than capable of keeping you safe. They'll ensure your personal details don't fall into the hands of hackers, prevent leaks, and even allow you to bypass censorship or blocks.

The biggest difference between them is their sever numbers, capacity, and maintenance, all of which contribute to how fast any individual connection will be.

So, if a VPN is included in my shortlist, I'm happy to recommend it as a safe option.

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We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example: 

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service). 
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad. 
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.