Best fast VPNs: the speediest services in 2021
Choosing the fastest VPNs can be quite a challenge, especially when you consider that there aren’t many fast VPNs to begin with.
However, a fast VPN is a must if you use the internet for more than just checking your email. Activities like streaming, gaming, and torrenting require good speeds, and a sharp speed reduction won’t allow you to enjoy whatever you’re doing online.
Thus we compiled this list of the best fast VPNs in 2021 to help you pick the fastest VPN services of the year.
Top fast VPNs for 2021:
- NordVPN - speed combined with security
- Surfshark VPN - a speedy, inexpensive solution
- VyprVPN - best feature/price ratio
- ExpressVPN - perfect for streaming platforms
- Hotspot Shield VPN - award-winning speed test results
Will using a VPN affect my internet speed?
Yes, using a VPN will affect your speed. Unfortunately, a VPN will most likely make your download and upload speeds slightly worse, as you are adding an extra stop in your connections. The fact that the data needs to be encrypted and decrypted doesn’t help the situation as well.
Fortunately, a good VPN won’t affect your internet speed too much even when you’re connected to a faraway location. This is possible thanks to the speedy tunneling protocols like WireGuard or OpenVPN UDP.
It’s quite interesting that, in some rare cases, you might even see your speed improve. This can happen if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) happens to throttle your connection.
To sum up, a carefully chosen VPN won’t cause you any lagging when watching movies or torrenting. In fact, you might notice a decrease in speed only when deliberately performing a speed test.
Fastest VPNs – our detailed list:
Picking the best fast VPN services by yourself would be an impossible task, as it involves lots and lots of testing. Luckily, we did all the hard work - all you have to do now is simply choose a tool from the list below.
Think about all the reasons why you need a VPN with good speeds (streaming, torrenting, unblocking content in a restrictive country), read the short reviews, and choose your new favorite tool.
1. NordVPN - best fast VPN service
|Servers/countries:||5,500+ servers in 59 countries|
|Current deal:||Get NordVPN, now 72% OFF + 3 Months FREE!|
As the top choice on our list of the fastest VPNs, NordVPN doesn’t disappoint. Its speeds are truly amazing thanks to the revolutionary NordLynx technology that makes use of the best WireGuard qualities while upgrading its security.
During our tests, we didn’t experience any major speed downgrades while connected even to the farthest locations. Quite the opposite - the speeds generally decreased only by a few percent.
Besides NordLynx, NordVPN also offers OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), as well as IKEv2. The tool implements military-grade AES-256 encryption, and it’s also good to know that NordVPN uses RAM-only servers that get completely wiped out after every reboot.
Movie buffs will be happy to find out that NordVPN is able to unblock almost every single geo-restricted streaming service in existence. Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, you name it. It also helps that the VPN has the SmartDNS feature that will allow you to stream movies on smart TVs and gaming consoles.
You might also like the myriad of extra features NordVPN offers. These include an ad blocker, split tunneling, Double VPN, Dark Web Monitor, and Presets. And you get all of this for as low as $3.30 a month.
To find out more, read our full NordVPN review.
- Extra fast speeds
- Split tunneling
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- SOCKS5 support for torrenting
- Obfuscated servers
- 7-day free trial
- No router app
2. Surfshark - a fast and inexpensive VPN
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3,200+ servers in 65 countries|
|Current deal:||Get Surfshark, now 81% OFF!|
Surfshark is definitely one of the fastest VPN providers around. If you connect to a location near you, you are bound to experience only about a 6% of speed drop, which is really impressive.
This is made possible thanks to a wide selection of speedy tunneling protocols. You can choose between WireGuard, OpenVPN UDP, IKEv2, and a couple of others.
I also love the fact that Surfshark will unblock just about any streaming platform you can think of. It allows you to access 30 different Netflix libraries, as well as Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube.
Now wait until you hear about Surfshark’s features. Firstly, the SmartDNS feature will help you watch geo-blocked content on devices that don’t support VPN connections. Also, you might appreciate split tunneling if you only want to use the VPN on certain websites or apps. Finally, let’s not forget GPS Spoofing, Camouflage Mode, and dedicated P2P servers.
You should also know that Surfshark is incredibly cheap. You can pay as little as $2.49 a month and still get all the perks and features. Oh, by the way - the VPN offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which makes it the perfect choice for those who own multiple devices.
To find out more, read our in-depth Surshark VPN review.
- Really fast speeds
- Split tunneling
- Shadowsocks protocol
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Cheap long-term plan
- Unblocks lots of streaming sites
- No split tunneling on iOS
- Slightly weaker Apple applications
3. VyprVPN - a fast VPN tool for your every need
|Servers/countries:||700 servers in 70 countries|
|Current deal:||Get up to 12 months FREE!|
VyprVPN is a tool for just about everything. It’s great for streaming, torrenting, and keeping yourself anonymous online.
Another of its biggest appeals is outstanding speeds. These are possible because of WireGuard, the super-fast tunneling protocol that’s simply a must for a high-quality VPN service.
Our tests showed that VyprVPN was able to deliver amazing results. When connected to a UK server, we experienced only a 1% of speed drop, which is a rare feat to achieve for a VPN. The speed decline was a bit steeper with other countries, though. For example, a US server slowed down the speed by 11%.
As for streaming, you’ll be able to access a wide variety of platforms when using VyprVPN. The VPN unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, YouTube, and Hulu. In addition, you can set it up on your router if you want to watch content on devices that don’t support VPN connections.
What I also love about VyprVPN is its price. This tool is the cheapest on this list of the best fast VPN providers. When buying a 3-year subscription, you can pay as little as $1.66 a month.
To find out more, read our full VyprVPN review.
- Very inexpensive
- Fast download speeds
- Strong security features
- Good for torrenting
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No split tunneling
- No SOCKS5 support
- Only 700 servers
4. ExpressVPN - expensive, yet reliable
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3,000 servers in 94 countries|
|Current deal:||Get ExpressVPN, now 35% OFF!|
It’s not a mere coincidence that ExpressVPN is among the fastest VPN services available today. The secret lies in Lightway, its proprietary tunneling protocol built upon OpenVPN, which neatly combines speed and security into a single entity.
We tested the protocol with multiple servers and generally got great results with speed reductions as small as 8%. However, there were some speed inconsistencies, as the speed drop was quite noticeable when connected to remote locations like India.
It’s worth noting that ExpressVPN is an amazing choice for streaming. It not only unblocks multiple platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, but also offers a router applet that will let you stream content on basically any device connected to your router.
ExpressVPN also offers split tunneling, a feature that will allow you to include or exclude the websites and apps that use the VPN connection.
The VPN has released high-quality apps for all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. It also offers browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Edge.
The main thing that makes users choose other fast VPN services is its high price of $8.32 a month (which is the lowest available). Luckily, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can try it out for free.
To find out more, read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks most streaming sites
- May work in China
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- RAM-only servers
- Split tunneling
- Expensive subscription
- No SOCKS5 support
- Some speed inconsistencies
- Few extra features
5. Hotspot Shield VPN
|Based in:||United States|
|Servers/countries:||1,800 servers in 85 countries|
|Current deal:||Save up to 40%!|
Hotspot Shield is yet another fast VPN. In 2019, the service won Ookla’s Speedtest badge as the fastest VPN tool that year.
And even to this day, the speeds of Hotspot Shield don’t disappoint. The VPN service uses their proprietary Hydra protocol that is both fast and secure. We tested it and were happy with the results: our download speed didn’t suffer when the VPN was in use. Depending on the distance from the server, the speed drop varied from 1% to 28%.
When it comes to streaming, Hotspot Shield might be hit or miss. While it unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube, it struggles with DAZN and Hulu. This means that you might want to look for another VPN if you want to unblock it all.
Keep in mind that different subscription plans of this VPN offer different features. For example, you can buy a plan with an antivirus and a password manager included - how cool is that?
- Free version
- Split tunneling
- Good download speeds
- Hydra protocol is great with weak connections
- Unblocks many streaming sites
- No SOCKS5 proxy support
- Somewhat expensive
- Based in the US (5-Eyes)
VPN speed test methodology
To pick the fastest VPNs out of a huge selection of reputable VPN providers, we performed lots of speed tests. More precisely, we tested 10 different server locations for each VPN provider and compared the results.
We tried to use the same locations for every provider. However, if a provider didn’t have any servers in a particular location, we chose the closest server to the target region.
Also, all of the tests were performed on the same device and the same fiber-optic network with the baseline speed of bidirectional 300 Mbps. In addition, all of the VPNs were tested during the same month.
Finally, we used all of the available protocols of each provider because sometimes, the fastest protocol on paper doesn’t actually deliver the best results.
It’s important to note that some VPNs also allow you to use proxy connections, which are much faster than VPN connections but much less secure. Therefore, we decided to exclude the proxy results from our comparison.
How we selected and tested these VPNs
Even though this article is mainly about VPN speed, we considered overall quality as well, which pushed some services higher or lower (where speed differences were negligible). Here are some of the other factors that helped us choose the best fast VPNs:
- Tunneling protocols. We prioritized VPNs that offer WireGuard, which doesn’t fail to provide good speeds and a high level of security. Tunneling protocol variety is also a huge plus – different protocols may come in handy in different situations.
- Logging and jurisdiction. It goes without saying that a reputable VPN doesn’t keep any user logs. Independent security audits are also a good indicator of quality. Additionally, a VPN should be located in a privacy-friendly country.
- Streaming capabilities. All the best fast VPNs on this list unblock plenty of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
- Torrenting support. Torrenting and P2P-friendly servers were high on our priority list when compiling this list of fast VPNs.
- Available applications. All of our selected VPN services offer a wide variety of desktop and mobile apps. Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS - you name it. It’s also great if a VPN can be installed directly onto a router or offers browser extensions.
- Pricing options. A fast VPN doesn’t mean an expensive VPN. That’s why our list features a few budget options that won’t make you spend more than a couple of dollars a month.
Fastest VPNs compared
Now here’s a table that lets you compare our selected VPNs at a glance. It includes the download speed of the server that was closest to our current location, as well as the average international speed, the cheapest monthly subscription, and the number of countries.
- Baseline: 300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|VPN service||Closest server||Average international speed||Cheapest monthly price||Countries|
|NordVPN||281 Mbps||249 Mbps||$3.67||59|
|Surfshark||272 Mbps||263 Mbps||$2.49||65|
|VyprVPN||289 Mbps||242 Mbps||$1.67||70|
|ExpressVPN||275 Mbps||226 Mbps||$6.67||94|
|Hotspot Shield||294 Mbps||255 Mbps||$7.99||80|
As you can see, Hotspot Shield scored the best results when connected to the nearest server. However, its high price and comparative lack of features prevented us from placing it too high on the list. After all, $7.99 is quite a lot when you compare it to the monthly prices of other reputable VPNs. Also, its upload speeds weren’t that impressive.
If it’s a wide selection of countries you’re looking for, then ExpressVPN might do the trick for you. Yet again, its price might not be the best compared to the other services, and it may not be worth it if you don’t really care about the number of VPN regions.
VyprVPN might seem like the optimal choice (keeping in mind its low price and high speeds). However, it only offers 700 servers overall, which falls on the lower side of the spectrum, and doesn't have features like Smart DNS or split tunneling.
This leaves us with NordVPN and Surfshark. Both providers use WireGuard (in NordVPN’s case, a modified version of it), which allows for some outstanding speed results. And while Surfshark is the cheaper one of the two, NordVPN is a slightly more solid service overall.
How to get faster VPN speeds – top tips
If you start experiencing bad speeds with your current VPN (and you’re sure there’s nothing wrong with your internet connection), there are a few things you can do before you start looking for a new VPN:
- Use the nearest location. If you don’t need a particular region and simply want your traffic encrypted, you should simply choose the nearest server. This might fix your speed problem in an instant.
- Change your server location. In case you need a particular location for watching Netflix or doing other things, try picking another server in the same country. Your current server might simply be overcrowded.
- Change the tunneling protocol. Sometimes, changing your protocol fixes slow VPN speeds. You can try going through the whole list of available protocols and pick the one that works best for you.
- Downgrade the encryption. Strong VPN encryption comes with a price, and the price is your connection speed. You might try using AES-128 (or any other available option) instead of AES-256 if you experience connection problems.
Of course, you can also restart your router or your device. Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best ones!
Which free VPN is the fastest?
Generally, free VPNs are extremely slow. Why? Because they don’t usually have a great server infrastructure. This means that servers (especially those located in popular regions like the US) have to handle a massive flock of users. And the more crowded a server gets, the slower it becomes.
However, as weird as it sounds, the bad speeds are the least of your worries when using a free VPN. That’s because free VPN services can collect your browsing data and sell it to third parties, which puts your privacy in grave danger.
Also, they are often blocked by websites and streaming services, which makes them totally useless to a large percentage of VPN users.
That being said, there are some good freemium VPN options, one of the fastest ones being Atlas VPN. It offers three different locations (Japan, Australia, and the US), as well as the IKEv2 tunneling protocol.
Another freemium option is Hotspot Shield VPN. However, it has a daily 500 MB data cap and offers only one country.
If you want a fast VPN, picking a service randomly can be hit or miss. That’s why it’s best to choose a tested tool that has already proven itself.
Luckily, all of the VPNs on our list are able to deliver great speeds thanks to top-notch tunneling protocols and good infrastructure.
Even better - all these tools are able to unblock a bunch of streaming platforms while also offering torrent support, which means they’ll be much more useful to you than just simply hiding your real IP address.
More VPN guides from CyberNews:
Best VPNs for streaming: unblock Netflix, Disney+, HBO & more
Best VPN for Netflix: beat the proxy error & unlock geo-blocked libraries
Best Cheapest VPNs in 2021: get a premium VPN at the lowest price
What is the fastest and most secure VPN?
NordVPN is the best fast VPN at the moment. It consistently delivers good connection speeds, operates in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, and has a no-logs policy that has been audited twice.
Which type of VPN is the fastest?
If you want good speeds, you should choose a paid VPN with fast protocols like WireGuard. This kind of Virtual Private Network tends to deliver the fastest speeds.
Which is faster, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
Currently, NordVPN is faster than ExpressVPN. Both services have their own proprietary tunneling protocols (NordLynx and Lightway), but NordVPN's speeds are both better and more consistent across more locations.