The Fastest VPN: Speed Test Results Using Consumer-Initiated Testing Method

VPN speed test using consumer initiated method
Speed tests raw data

The primary purpose of a VPN is to ensure the security and privacy of users online, but users do not want to compromise their internet speeds either.

As such high speed is always a top priority when deciding to purchase VPN among gaming and business sectors. Many providers recognize this fact and claim in their marketing to be the fastest VPNs in the world.

Does VPN slow down internet speed?

It is true that all VPNs slow down the user’s internet to some degree – some much more than others. The internet speed is the tradeoff for a more secure and private browsing session. The reduction in speed is the result of the encryption process of internet traffic or data that VPNs carry out to make the connections secure and private. [6]

After conducting our research using the Ookla speed test, we will reveal a list of the fastest VPNs indicating their download and upload speeds as well as the ping. We will further give you a few tricks and pointers to boost internet speeds while using VPNs. We will also delve deeper into how VPN speed tests are conducted. 

Key definitions

Ping – sometimes referred to as latency – is the reaction time of a connection. It measures in milliseconds (ms) how fast a connected device can get a response after a request has been sent out. Ping is an important factor in online gaming.

Upload – refers to how swiftly a connected user can send data from their devices to the internet. Measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Upload speed is crucial when frequently uploading large files or participating in online video chats.

Download – refers to how fast a connected user can receive data from the internet or servers to their devices or location. Measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Necessary for streaming videos and accessing other content large in size.

How to conduct a proper VPN speed test

Assessing the performance of the internet continues to be a significant and meaningful task for both internet service providers and consumers alike [3]. There are numerous methodologies that could be employed to yield different results. It is vital to note that getting different results could be frustrating especially in cases where the results do not complement individual user experiences.

The guide below is intended to assist users with carrying out standardized tests with common internet assessment methodologies. 

Factors to consider before conducting the test

A VPN consists of numerous components that affect the overall performance and speed of the internet. Some of the factors that lead to a drop in performance aren’t even determined by the type of VPN that an individual uses. Before jumping to the test it is vital that we review some of the elements that have been shown to directly impact internet connections.

  1. Internet speed – there are cases where the internet speeds were low even before installing and using a VPN. It is vital to test internet speeds and performance without the VPN.
  2. Location of the servers – the distance between internet users and the location of the servers have been shown to have a substantial effect on internet speeds. When servers are nearby, users get the best speeds. If users are located far from the servers, the drop in speeds is normal due to the amount of time it takes for devices to connect to the server and back. [1]
  3. Server hardware of the VPN – internet speeds can significantly slow down if users are connected to an overcrowded VPN server. Servers with higher bandwidth provide faster connections, and tasks such as downloading files and streaming don’t suffer from lagging or buffering. [3]
  4. VPN encryption – VPNs that utilize robust encryption algorithms can result in slightly slower internet speeds. VPNs that have invested in improving their encryption process and a faster and more secure VPN infrastructure tend to be more efficient. [4]
  5. VPN protocols – it is vital to note that not all VPNs are created in a similar manner utilizing the same VPN architecture. Some are more stable, some provide better and more stable speeds, while others give the user with the capability to tinker with the protocol settings. [1]
  6. Time of day – depending on the time of day that the test is carried out, the speed of the VPN might be effected depending on the number of connected users who vary by the time of the day. [3]

Running a VPN speed test

This equipment we used for this test: HP Elitebook 8460 (8GB DDR3,  Intel i7-2620M 3400MHz,  Intel HD 3000 1GB, Windows 10 Pro 64bit. The test was done on Ookla (Speedtest.net)

Step 1

It is important to make sure that all the applications, even those in the background, are disabled. This is vital to free up all valuable bandwidth.

Step 2

Open a new tab on a newly opened browser and visit www.speedtest.net. The website requires flash to run smoothly.

Step 3

Before beginning the test, choose the server location. This step can be repeated over and over when conducting tests for different locations.

Step 4

Once you authorize the test, Ookla will first check the latency (ping), followed by the download speeds then finally the upload speeds.

Step 5

Upon the completion of the test, the ping, download and upload speeds will be reported. The test can be run more than once.

Results

The tests were conducted on 3 different continents: North America, Europe, Asia. All speed changes were summed and divided by 3 to get combined worldwide average. All VPNs remained default settings during the testing process.

Speeds combined

Combined ping increased by +1023.34% on average

 

Combined download speeds reduced by -35.60% on average

 

Combined upload speeds reduced by 27.89% on average

 

Why some VPNs internet speeds were increased?

Some of the VPNs were positively impacted. This deviation from the norm where VPN has always been shown to slow down speed can be explained in two ways. First, when using a VPN, it has the capacity to break the chain of inefficient connections. When this occurs, a VPN can hide the user’s traffic, making the ISP send the traffic along a different path. When this happens, a VPN can increase internet speed.

Secondly, when using a VPN, it hides the user’s information to the point that ISPs are not able to detect or see what the user is doing. As such, they are not able to identify the user’s traffic for either throttling or shaping, leading to increased internet speeds. [8]

Conclusion – fastest safe VPNs

The best way to offset the slower speeds that comes with using a VPN can be done by choosing a VPN service that has numerous servers. this is vital since it increases the chances of a user finding a server that is not crowded with other individuals trying to use the same bandwidth.

According to our research, these are our recommendations that are both fast and secure, results are segmented by the purpose of use.

Streaming: NordVPN

Online gaming:  ExpressVPN

Working from home: Surfshark

Best overall: Surfshark

The best way to offset the slower speeds that comes with using a VPN can be done by choosing the right service.

Disclaimer: This research represents our own research conducted in a specific timeframe and therefore the future results may vary.

 

Raw data is available here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/2/d/e/2PACX-1vTjCLx0TGed2i2yZsH3WHVK-TVyof_znCop-BcAfLOJqcHku6CrRTgyFWy0dDV8IFSNm6h4sD9bXLGU/pubhtml


References

[1] Atxutegi, E., Liberal, F., Saiz, E., & Ibarrola, E. (2016). Toward standardized internet speed

[2] measurements for end users: current technical constraints. IEEE Communications Magazine54(9), 50-57.

[3] Bauer, S., Clark, D. D., & Lehr, W. (2010, August). Understanding broadband speed

measurements. Tprc.

[4] Kotuliak, I., Rybár, P., & Trúchly, P. (2011, October). Performance comparison of IPsec and

[5] TLS based VPN technologies. In 2011 9th International Conference on Emerging eLearning Technologies and Applications (ICETA) (pp. 217-221). IEEE.

[6] Miravalls-Sierra, E., Muelas, D., López de Vergara, J. E., Ramos, J., & Aracil, J. (2018). On the

[7] use of affordable COTS hardware for network measurements: Limits and good practices. Information9(2), 43.

[8] Kurniadi, D. D. (2015). The Difference Between Using Proxy Server and VPN. Jurnal Sisforma2(1), 19-22.

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