Virtual private networks are great for things like streaming and gaming, but given that these activities require ample bandwidth, speed is king – so having a fast VPN is absolutely essential.
What’s great is that many of the most popular VPNs are capable of delivering impressive speeds alongside excellent security and privacy. But which providers are the fastest? That’s a difficult question to answer unless you’ve tested out several services for yourself.
However, you don’t have to worry, because we've tested all the best providers for privacy and, most importantly here, performance. In this guide we'll be running down the very fastest VPN providers on the market, so all you need to do is pick from the list below.
We've named Hotspot Shield as the best fast VPN today thanks to its frankly unbeatable speeds, and while it lacks a little of the flexibility of its rivals, if you need the fastest on the market, it's a perfect choice. But, read on to discover our top five, and then take your pick.
1. Hotspot Shield – the fastest VPN available
If you want a fast VPN, Hotspot Shield is your absolute top choice. With supercharged speeds from the Catapult Hydra protocol you'll never be held back by the VPN, and at just £2.69/$2.99 a month, it's excellent value, too.View Deal
2. ExpressVPN – the best fast VPN on the market
ExpressVPN is an excellent fast VPN, and probably provides the best services all-round – it's only second place here because Hotspot is just so swift. Plus, T3 readers can now claim three free months, and you'll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try before you commit.View Deal
3. NordVPN – the biggest name delivers excellent speeds
NordVPN is not only a very fast VPN service, but it’s also really affordable at £2.86/$3.71 per month. You’re provided with a great combination of impressive security, privacy and speed for this price. View Deal
The best fast VPN in 2021:
Hotspot Shield is known mainly for offering one of the best free VPN services on the market, but it also has a premium service that delivers, hands down, the fastest VPN connections we've ever tested.
When using the service on a US-based 600MB connection, we were provided with speeds twice as fast as ExpressVPN. And we experienced the similarly impressive speeds on our 75MB UK line. Unlike many other VPN providers, Hotspot Shield has developed its own protocol named Catapult Hydra - and that dark magic is one of the reasons why this provider is so much faster than other premium VPN services.
The downside to this is that you won’t be able to use more established protocols like OpenVPN, and while Catapult Hydra can deliver fast PVN speeds, it's not quite as flexible as OpenVPN, meaning it's not possible to set up manually without using the bundled apps. Another thing that is a little disappointing is that Hotspot Shield is known for logging certain user information, but thankfully none of this can identify the user or link them to any particular activity.
Apart from that, Hotspot Shield still provides a great VPN service, and if you want a fast VPN it's your best choice. You have an ample selection of 3,200 high-speed servers that can stream on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer and YouTube, so it's the ideal choice if you want absolute speed and want to avoid any kind of slow-down.
As the best overall VPN, the British Virgin Islands-based provider pretty much owns every area. And when it comes to speed, it also races miles ahead of almost all the competition (excuse the pun).
During our tests we were extremely impressed with how fast ExpressVPN was. On a US 600MB line, it offered high speeds of 250MB, and in our UK speed test, speeds topped 70MB on a 75MB connection. So, you shouldn't ever experience performance issues like buffering when streaming 4K media or playing graphics-intensive games on your console.
ExpressVPN provides more than 3,000 servers across the globe, and they deliver very fast speeds. What’s more, thanks to unlimited bandwidth, this service is great for any online activity that requires ample data. It’s particularly well suited to streaming, allowing users to unblock platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
If you’re new to VPNs, you’ll find ExpressVPN very easy to use. There are apps for operating systems like Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux, and they’ll let you connect to a server in seconds. But at the same time, there are advanced features like different secure protocols and kill switches should you want to make use of them.
One of our favourite functions is the speed test, which will let you ensure your connection is performing well, and ExpressVPN is highly secure overall. If we had to find an issue, it'd be that you can only use your subscription on five different devices, but its dedicated router app helps both make that subscription go further, and also allows the VPN to be used of Smart TVs and games consoles, which usually don't support VPN connections.
The chances are, you’ve heard of NordVPN before due to an extensive advertising campaign over the past few years. And it’s genuinely one of the best services out there, particularly when it comes to speed.
In our review of NordVPN, we put it to the test on a US 600MB connection and were very happy with the results. The service delivered speeds ranging between 125MB and 300MB, as well as 65-69MB on a 75MB UK connection, meaning you’ll never struggle with streaming or gaming.
However, you get more than just a fast VPN. Nord boasts some of the best features offered by a VPN service, including more than 5,400 servers, access to Netflix, double VPN (which uses two servers for even stronger encryption), malware and phishing security, browser extensions, a DNS leak test, and 24/7 support.
One of the biggest negatives of NordVPN is its 6-device cap, and the mobile interface is a little tricky to use. But again, this is still an excellent VPN service that offers lots of value. Plus, if you do sign up and decide to cancel your subscription, Nord provides a 30-day money-back policy.
It’s easy to think that premium VPNs are going to be expensive when you consider all the great things they can do, but Surfshark proves that isn’t always the case and that you can get a very fast VPN on a budget.
For the cheap price of around £2/$2.50 per month, you’re provided with one of the fastest VPN services on the market. In our tests, it reached speeds of 160MB when we used a 600MB US connection and 68MB on a 75MB UK connection. That’s sufficient enough for streaming HD movies and playing HD games. Plus, Surfshark has just introduced WireGuard support, so speeds are even faster than our previous testing suggested.
As well as good speeds, though, Surfshark is kitted out with features like a kill switch, a no-logging policy, 256-bit encryption, the ability to change secure protocols, cyber protection and more than 1,700 servers. But its biggest selling point is probably unlimited connections - and, of course, that bargain-basement price.
Just by looking at this provider’s name, you can tell it’s going to be one of the fastest VPNs around. And you’d be right in thinking that.
When we tested Speedify on a 600MB US connection, it was able to top speeds of 403MB. Meanwhile, UK speeds were 65-68MB on a 75MB connection. That’s hugely impressive, and it all comes down to Speedify’s ability to make use of multiple internet connections. That means, on mobile, it can combine your mobile data and Wi-Fi to multiply your connection speed.
Although it’s fair to say these speeds are hugely impressive, the downside is that Speedify is pretty lacklustre as a VPN app. For example, the only streaming platform you can access is YouTube, so you should probably look to the other providers if you intend on using a VPN for watching TV shows and movies on Netflix.
What makes a good fast VPN?
Although fast speeds are an integral aspect of all premium VPNs, they shouldn’t compromise on areas like security and privacy. This is because the primary goal of a VPN is to make the internet more secure.
The best fast VPNs also offer large, reliable server networks so that you can circumvent geo restrictions and access as much content as you want online. And you’ll want to be able to connect to these servers quickly through easy-to-use apps that are available for different operating systems.
Can I get a free fast VPN?
Some of the fastest VPNs, such as Hotspot Shield and Speedify, provide free versions. But you’re not going to get the same impressive speeds that you’d experience with the paid-for versions.
In most cases, free services impose speed and data caps, which means they’re not great for streaming and gaming. If you want a fast VPN, you’ll need to pay a premium. But you don’t need to spend lots of money; for example, Surfshark is a very fast service although it’s super affordable.
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