Article updated on February 26, 2024 at 6:45 AM PST

Fastest VPN of 2024

Most VPNs will ruin your internet speeds. We tested VPNs to find the fastest on the market.

Our Experts

Written by 
Attila Tomaschek
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Attila Tomaschek
Attila is a Staff Writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services with a focus on virtual private networks. He is an advocate for digital privacy and has been quoted in online publications like Computer Weekly, The Guardian, BBC News, HuffPost, Wired and TechRepublic. When not tapping away on his laptop, Attila enjoys spending time with his family, reading and collecting guitars.
Expertise Attila has nearly a decade's worth of experience with VPNs and has been covering them for CNET since 2021. As CNET's VPN expert, Attila rigorously tests VPNs and offers readers advice on how they can use the technology to protect their privacy online and
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We intensively test each VPN, making sure it meets our standards for privacy, speed and usability.

See Price at NordVPN

Best VPN for Speed


Perfect for power users

  • Reliable, competitive speeds
  • RAM-disk servers
  • Feature-rich software
  • Visual server map could use additional functions
  • Discounts steeper for longer contracts
  • Only six simultaneous connections allowed
Price 67% off + 3- month VPN coupon with every 2-year plan bought
Latest tests No leaks detected, 11% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 6,000-plus servers in over 60 countries
Jurisdiction Panama

NordVPN remains a popular virtual private network option thanks to its fast connections, privacy-focused features and excellent geo-unblocking for streaming services. Its user-friendly design that doesn't compromise on settings makes it an outstanding choice for casual VPN newcomers and seasoned power users alike. 

In our 2024 speed tests, NordVPN solidified itself as the fastest VPN we tested, sporting an overall average internet download speed loss of just 11.1%. Our CNET Labs team clocked an average speed loss on its NordLynx VPN protocol of  merely 3.2% with Windows and 12.6% on MacOS. With OpenVPN, its speed loss was a blazing-fast 10.1% average on MacOS and 18.6% using Windows. We do recommend an OpenVPN connection for more privacy-critical users, but other users should be fine to use the marginally speedier NordLynx protocol. With apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android/Android TV, iOS/iPadOS, browsers and even Apple TV, Nord runs on almost any platform you can think of.

We appreciate NordVPN's commitment to privacy and security. In addition to features like Onion over VPN (Tor) and a Double VPN, which deliver additional encryption, a 2023 audit by Deloitte backed up its no-log claims for improved transparency. Folks with serious privacy needs can even buy a Nord subscription with cryptocurrencies for pseudo-anonymity. While zero-logging policies are challenging to verify with absolute certainty, third-party audits provide peace of mind. On the entertainment side, we had no issues streaming US and UK Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus libraries on most devices. 

NordVPN’s global server network comprises more than 6,000 servers spanning more than 60 countries. That’s a little short of the international reach of competitors like Surfshark and ExpressVPN, but a planned expansion in the first quarter of 2024 should increase Nord's server count to 100 countries. At $13 monthly, $60 annually or $96 total for two years, NordVPN initially sets you back less than premium VPN rivals like ExpressVPN, but more than budget-oriented companies like Surfshark and PIA. However, subsequent price hikes drive the price to $100 per year, which aligns with many other VPN providers, including Express. Overall, NordVPN sports advanced privacy features in an intuitive service.

See Price at Surfshark

Best Cheap VPN


Extensive features at a great price

Savings $2.69/mo with 24-mo plan (+4 free months)
  • Lots of unique security features
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • RAM-only server network
  • Inconsistent speed performance
  • 14 Eyes jurisdiction (Netherlands)
  • No transparency reports
Price $11 per month, $48 for the first year (or $59.54 for 2yrs)
Latest Tests No leaks detected, 17% speed loss in 2023 tests
Network 3,200-plus servers in 100 countries
Jurisdiction Netherlands

Surfshark briefly dropped off our fastest VPN list with a disappointing showing in our previous speed tests, slashing our internet speeds by an average of 40%. At the time, Surfshark’s speeds were wildly inconsistent, especially through OpenVPN on Windows, where it cut our speeds by 77%. Surfshark promised to fix its OpenVPN speeds on Windows, and we were impressed with the improvement in performance after recently re-testing the VPN’s speeds. During our most recent tests, we recorded an overall average speed loss of 17%, with OpenVPN speeds on Windows cutting our speeds by an average of 28% (a marked improvement from the previously recorded 77%).    

We were also pleased with the overall consistency of Surfshark’s speed performance across the board. In our latest benchmarks, Surfshark’s speeds were generally fastest through WireGuard and server locations closest to our testing locations. Speeds through Surfshark’s New York and UK servers were the fastest, but speeds to France and Germany weren’t far behind. As expected, speeds to distant server locations like Singapore and Australia were generally a bit slower, but still fast enough for just about any online activity, including streaming. 

Surfshark is the only VPN at the top of this list that offers unlimited simultaneous connections, so it’s an excellent option if you have many devices or if you live in a large household. It’s also by far the most budget-friendly of the top three if you opt for a yearly plan. Surfshark’s monthly plan is expensive at $14 per month, but you’ll see considerable savings with its yearly plan at $48 for the first year (then $60 annually) or $54 for the first two years combined (then $60 annually). We don’t recommend signing on with any VPN provider for more than a year at a time, given how quickly things tend to shift in the VPN industry.   

Editors' choice
See Price at ExpressVPN

Best Overall VPN


Privacy protection and transparency

Savings 49% off with 12-mo plan (+3 free months)
  • Strong commitment to privacy and transparency
  • Forward-thinking security enhancements
  • Excellent for streaming
  • Streamlined, easy-to-use app across platforms
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (British Virgin Islands)
  • DNS leaks detected (but immediately addressed)
  • Expensive
  • Only eight simultaneous connections
  • Apple TV app needs work
Price $13 a month, $60 for six months or $100 for a year
Latest Tests DNS leaks detected, 25% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 3,000 plus servers in 105 countries
Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

ExpressVPN is currently CNET’s pick for the best VPN overall, scoring an 8.86/10 on our VPN rating scale. It’s a veteran VPN provider that consistently demonstrates a strong commitment to privacy and transparency. It’s also excellent for streaming and the easiest VPN app to use on any platform.

Though fast enough for most any online activity, ExpressVPN’s speeds aren't quite as fast as those of some competitors, based on our latest speed tests. In 2024, we measured a 24.828% average speed loss with ExpressVPN. This is still fast, considering that many VPNs can slash your internet speeds by 50% or more. However, we saw substantially better speeds from NordVPN (11% speed loss) and Surfshark (17% speed loss). Still, ExpressVPN’s speeds were largely consistent and aligned with our expectations across protocols and server locations. Overall, we registered the fastest speeds through ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol on MacOS (7% speed loss). On the other end of the spectrum, the slowest speeds we measured were through OpenVPN on Windows, at a 62.5% speed loss. Overall, speeds were generally faster to relatively closer server locations like New York City and the UK, and slower to distant locations like Australia and Singapore. Either way, ExpressVPN’s speeds were still plenty fast enough for general browsing as well as for more data-intensive activities like streaming, gaming and videoconferencing -- especially if you use Lightway.     

When we most recently evaluated ExpressVPN for privacy and security, we uncovered an alarming bug in its Windows app that sent our DNS requests to our ISP instead of to ExpressVPN’s dedicated DNS servers when we had the split tunneling feature enabled. This meant that our true IP address, general location and the websites we visited were exposed. We notified ExpressVPN, which immediately disabled split tunneling from its Windows app as a temporary solution while engineers got to work on a permanent fix. We were also impressed by the transparency with which the company acknowledged the situation -- it promptly published a and a comprehensive before fixing the problem a couple of weeks later. ExpressVPN’s privacy protections are top-notch and forward-thinking. The provider recently upgraded its proprietary open-source Lightway VPN protocol with Quantum Protection to help guard against future threats from quantum computers, along with encryption enhancements to better protect against threats like eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. And ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology elevates the protections of the traditional RAM-only server architecture by reinstalling the entire software stack with every reboot.   

In addition to offering excellent privacy protections, ExpressVPN delivers the most consistent and streamlined VPN app experiences across platforms. Its minimalist interface is simple to use, whether you’re an advanced VPN user or have never used one before. The app settings are easy to navigate, and finding a server location is straightforward. We like how the app always connects in a snap, which isn’t necessarily the case with other VPNs -- like Surfshark -- which often struggle to connect immediately on the first attempt. If you want the best for streaming, ExpressVPN is a good bet because it effortlessly unblocks all sorts of streaming content, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. The provider also recently bumped its simultaneous connection allowance up to eight, which is slightly more generous than NordVPN’s six simultaneous connections but considerably less than the unlimited simultaneous connections allowed by others like Surfshark, PIA and IPVanish

But for the best, you’ll need to pay a premium -- ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPN providers currently on the market. The service costs $13 per month, $60 every six months or $100 per year, which is considerably more expensive than the $11 per month or $60 per year that Surfshark charges. NordVPN is more in line with ExpressVPN on price, at $13 per month or $100 annually (after a promotional $60 price for the first year). If you aren't satisfied with the service, you can request your money back within 30 days of your purchase. 

The fastest VPN in 2024

If you're using a virtual private network for data-heavy online activities including streaming, gaming, video conferencing or torrenting, your VPN speeds will be a major consideration. Even if your internet is fast, remember that many VPNs can cut your speeds in half, which can drain your overall online experience. A fast VPN ensures that your streams are smooth, your games are lag-free, your calls are stable and your downloads are quick.

Determining the fastest VPN is a time-intensive, imperfect process. CNET's VPN experts have spent years testing and reviewing dozens of VPNs and have developed a speed-testing methodology that seeks to mirror the typical VPN user's conditions. This way, our analysis of the fastest VPNs can provide the most practical value to VPN consumers. Keep in mind that this is a list of the fastest VPNs as we measured them throughout 2023 (we'll test more as this year progresses), and it should be referenced as a general guide to how you may expect these VPNs to perform. Your results may vary depending on a variety of factors, including what platform you're using, your location and the level of service you're receiving from your internet service provider.

VPN service on a laptop

With a fast VPN, your speed loss will be virtually unnoticeable.

Sarah Tew/CNET

VPN speeds compared

2020 tested speed loss*2022 tested speed loss*2023 tested speed loss*2024 tested speed loss*Net change from previous test
NordVPN 53%13%10%11%Same in 2024 tests
Surfshark 17%19%17%17%Same in 2024 tests
ExpressVPN 51%2%18%25%Slower in 2024 tests
PIA N/AN/A24%49%Slower in 2024 tests
IPVanish 65%58%26%TBDTBD
Proton VPN 9%17%36%TBDTBD

*Lower number is better.

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What's the fastest VPN right now?

NordVPN is currently the fastest VPN, based on our latest speed tests. Out of the VPNs we speed tested, NordVPN's speeds were the most consistently fast across the board. NordVPN averaged just a 11% speed loss overall, with its best result being a 3% speed loss through WireGuard on Windows. Surfshark came in second place, with a 17% overall speed loss and a best result of 9% speed loss through WireGuard on Mac. Rounding out the top three, ExpressVPN had a 25% average speed loss, with its best result being a 7% speed loss through Lightway on Mac.

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Other VPNs we tested


The speeds we measured through Private Internet Access (PIA) were underwhelming, with a middling 49% average internet download speed loss. Although that’s fine for casual users with fast connections -- think fiber, not satellite internet -- it falls well below a 20% average, which we expect from the fastest VPNs. ExpressVPN clocked 24.8%, Surfshark 17% and NordVPN a mind-blowing 11%, leaving PIA in the dust. If you're unconcerned with speed loss but looking for an OG VPN provider that's cheap, delivers excellent privacy and offers unlimited simultaneous connections, then PIA is a good choice. Subscriptions cost $12 per month, $40 per year or $80 every three years, which makes PIA one of the most budget-friendly VPNs in the industry. 


When we tested IPVanish, we lost 58% of our speeds connecting through OpenVPN from the US and 19% from Budapest. Maddeningly, the app didn't always connect us to the fastest possible server when using IPVanish's Quick Connect feature. While IPVanish's speeds from within the US were fairly consistent, speeds to other locations fluctuated dramatically. Speeds to Europe, for example, peaked as high as 317 Mbps and dropped to as low as 40 Mbps. We got faster and more consistent speeds when abandoning the Quick Connect feature and choosing servers manually while connecting via OpenVPN.   

IPVanish's WireGuard speeds were better, dropping our speeds by only 14.5% on average. During one round of testing IPVanish in Budapest, the ISP we were connected through was noticeably throttling our speeds, causing many of our VPN speed readings to be faster than our non-VPN readings, which ultimately resulted in a mere 3% average speed loss for that round. Despite that anomaly, the inconsistent nature of IPVanish's speeds and unreliable Quick Connect performance put it out of the running for the fastest VPN. IPVanish costs $13 per month, $54 for the first year (then $90 annually) or $80 for the first two years combined (then $90 annually), which is on the expensive side for a VPN.

Proton VPN

Proton VPN had by far the most inconsistent speeds of the VPNs we tested. The peaks and valleys we experienced were staggering, regardless of protocol or testing location. Speeds would go up to 328 Mbps and drop to 3 Mbps in the same round of testing. Overall, Proton averaged a 36% speed loss, which is unexceptional at best. If you're looking for a VPN that consistently delivers fast speeds, Proton VPN is not the VPN you're looking for. Proton VPN costs $10 per month, $72 per year or $120 every two years, which is middle of the road compared with other VPNs.

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How we test the fastest VPNs

We conducted VPN speed tests throughout 2023 from various testing locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Hungary. In addition to testing OpenVPN speeds from these locations, we tested speeds through WireGuard for Surfshark, Proton VPN, PIA and IPVanish. Additionally, we tested ExpressVPN's speeds through its proprietary Lightway protocol and NordVPN's speeds through its NordLynx protocol. We conducted five rounds of testing on each VPN, consisting of five separate tests each to five locations globally for each protocol on Mac and Windows devices -- adding up to more than 3,700 individual speed tests.

Before each round of testing, we measured our non-VPN speeds five times to calculate the average speeds we were getting from our ISP. Then, we tested speeds five times each to VPN server locations in New York, the UK, Australia, France, Germany and Singapore. This way, we can get a good read on VPN speeds to popular locations across the globe. Once we completed the five rounds of testing at each location, we calculated our average VPN and non-VPN speeds to determine the percentage of speed lost overall through the VPN. 

Calculating the percentage of speed lost through the VPN allows us to clearly represent how you can expect these VPNs to perform for you. Your base internet speeds may be a lot faster or slower than what we got through the internet connections we used during our testing. Saying that we achieved speeds of 341.5 Mbps with NordVPN doesn't paint the full picture without putting it into the proper context of how much of a speed drop that was in relation to our base speeds.

We conducted all of our tests through the Ookla speed-testing platform because it's user-friendly and among the most widely used speed-testing sites. It's also the tool that most VPN users will likely use to measure their own speeds.

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Factors to consider in a fast VPN

Based on our years of experience testing VPNs for privacy, usability and speed, these are the most important factors to consider when purchasing a fast VPN:


If you're looking for the fastest VPN, then speed will naturally be your top consideration. There are a lot of VPNs that struggle with speeds and can slow your internet by 50% or more. Look for a VPN that drops your speed by only about 20% or less.


Privacy is a major consideration for any VPN, regardless of its speed performance. The VPNs we've highlighted above all deliver top-notch privacy paired with fast speeds, so you'll get the best of both worlds with any of our recommended options. Look for basic privacy protections like a kill switch, DNS leak protection and a no-logs policy (preferably audited and/or tested in the wild). Other privacy features to look out for include obfuscation, multi-hop connections and Tor over VPN.


Some VPN protocols can deliver faster speeds than others. We recommend using the OpenVPN protocol for the best combination of speed and security. If you want to get the most speed out of your VPN, then you can use a lightweight protocol like WireGuard or your VPN provider's proprietary (usually WireGuard-based) VPN protocol.

Server network

You'll want a VPN service with a large network of servers worldwide. This will help ensure that you'll have access to fast, stable VPN connections wherever you may be located. Generally, around 75 server locations and above is a decent network. Some VPNs even have servers in 100 or more countries. The main thing you'll want in your VPN's network is servers located near where you are or where you plan on traveling. If a VPN only has servers in 50 countries, but covers all of the regions you plan on using, then its server network should suffice. 


If you're on a budget, then the overall value of your VPN will be a major consideration. If you want the largest savings, opt for a yearly plan, which will generally afford you better value over time than going month-to-month. A budget-friendly VPN can cost about $40 to $60 per year, while a more expensive VPN can run you upwards of $100 per year.  

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Fastest VPN FAQ

How do I speed up my VPN connection?

There are a few things you can try if you want to speed up your VPN connection. In theory, WireGuard and newer proprietary VPN protocols that more providers offer should offer faster speeds than OpenVPN. You can try one of these protocols to boost your speeds if gaining maximum speed is your primary objective and you’re not getting what you want out of your OpenVPN connection. 

If location is not a concern, you’ll want to connect to the server location closest to your physical location. This will cut down on the physical distance your data travels and, in turn, will deliver faster speeds.  

Connecting to a server overloaded with users can result in slower speeds. Many VPN apps include information regarding server load, so try to look for a server indicating a light load for optimum speeds.

Will a VPN slow down my internet speeds?

Generally, yes, due to factors including the distance between you and the VPN server you’re connecting to, the encryption used by the VPN and the overall load on the server you’re using.

Can a VPN speed up my internet?

In certain cases, your VPN can actually help increase your internet speeds. If your internet service provider is deliberately throttling your internet connection, a VPN can help because it hides your activity from your ISP.

Do I need a VPN?

You need a VPN if you want to maintain your privacy online and hide your internet activity from your ISP, government entities and other snoops. If you want to evade online censorship or unblock geographically restricted content, you need a VPN. VPNs can also be beneficial for gaming, torrenting, finding deals online and speeding up your internet connection if your ISP is deliberately throttling your speeds. Anyone who uses the internet can benefit from a VPN in one way or another.

How can I test my VPN speeds?

You can test your own VPN speeds using an online speed testing tool like the one provided by Ookla. First, test your base internet speeds with the VPN disengaged and make a note of your non-VPN speeds. Then, connect to a server through your VPN app, run a new speed test and note the speed change. It's a good idea to run multiple tests both with and without the VPN turned on to get a fuller picture of the VPN's speed performance. Most VPNs also offer a money-back guarantee, so it's a good idea to test your VPN speeds during that trial period. If you're not getting acceptable speeds even after trying different server locations and VPN protocols, you may want to give another VPN a try before the trial period ends. 

What's the best free VPN?

If you need to use a free VPN, we recommend using Proton VPN's free version. It's the only free VPN worth using because it's secure, comparatively fast and doesn't impose usage or data caps. Otherwise, we don't recommend using most free VPNs because the majority of them are essentially useless, if not downright dangerous. Free VPNs typically impose data and usage limits, employ weaker encryption and offer fewer server locations than their paid counterparts. Free VPNs also need to make money somehow, so you can expect them to sell your data to third-party advertisers. Some have even been known to contain malware.

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