There is a fairly long list of things that you should care about when it comes to VPNs. These services are primarily designed to provide data and identity protection when you’re navigating the online world, so they need to provide powerful encryption that secures all of your traffic.
With this in mind, you should only consider investing in a VPN that provides advanced security features like split tunnelling, IP protection, ad blocking, and a kill switch. All of this is vital for securing your online identity and data, which is really important at the moment. The online world can be a dangerous place, and VPNs are effective tools for protecting yourself against viruses, malware, hackers, and other threats.
Interest in VPNs is booming, although it’s not only down to an increased awareness of the importance of cybersecurity. A lot of people are investing in VPNs for an altogether different reason: streaming TV shows and movies from all around the world. VPNs hide your real IP address, and by connecting to a server in another country, you can bypass geo-restrictions to unlock streaming sites from other countries. This is the quickest and easiest way to increase your content options without subscribing to a new streaming service.
There are some VPNs that specialise in streaming, and others focus on security. Something that connects both camps is connection speed, because nobody wants to use a slow VPN. Whether you’re looking for a VPN to hide your idenity, protect your data, or bypass restrictions, you’ll need something that delivers when it comes to speed. We’re not saying that connection speeds trumps every other feature. We’re saying that speed is an essential partner to everything else that’s offered by a VPN.
Should you use free VPNs?When you come to consider investing in a VPN, you will find a few different subscription options. Firstly, you are likely to come across free versions of popular services. Then, you might check out free trials of VPNs with full access to everything a premium plan offers. And after that you’re left with paid subscriptions. So which direction should you go?
Not many VPNs offer a free version of their service, but you can sign up to something popular like TunnelBear without spending a penny. There is always a catch with these free versions though, and it’s normally in the form of limited data usage. If you’re only an occasional user, these plans will be perfectly fine. If you’re planning on streaming or downloading anything, then we would not recommend even trying to make a free plan work. It’s just not going to happen.
There are some VPNs that offer a free trial to new users, like PureVPN. These trials generally come with everything you get in a paid plan, which is great for deciding whether you want to subscribe or not. Obviously, these trials don’t tend to last very long. So by all means try a trial, but this isn’t a long-term solution.
We know this probably isn’t what you want to hear, but the best option for streaming securely and accessing the online world without restrictions is with a paid subscription to a VPN. For access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you’re going to have to dig into your pockets. Fortunately, there are plenty of services that offer cheap plans, especially if you’re willing to make a serious commitment.
As with most services and products, you get what you pay for. The very best VPNs are generally the most expensive, and that’s why it’s so important to make the most of the deals that drop fairly regularly.
Why is connection speed important with VPNs?We’ve already made it clear that connection speed is really important when it comes to VPNs, but why? Connection speed has an impact in a couple of key areas:
Latency — You’ve probably heard about latency before, especially in the context of video games, but what is it exactly? It’s a measure of the time between when your computer sends a request and when it receives a response — also known as ping time. Latency is absolutely crucial when playing video games with a VPN, as lower latency results in a more responsive experience with less lag. Latency can be the difference between success and failure, so if you’re planning on gaming with a VPN, connection speed should be at the top of your list of priorities.
Download and upload speed — We shouldn’t really need to explain what download and upload speed is, but we’re going to anyway. Download and upload speeds measure how much data is moved over your connection in a certain amount of time. It’s normal for a VPN to decrease both download and upload speed, but the impact can’t be too great, otherwise you are going to struggle to get stuff done. Nobody wants to wait all day for a file to download, even if you are totally secure whilst doing it.
Connection speed takes all of this into consideration, so it’s obvious why it matters. If you want to get anything done online, you’ll need a speedy VPN. Understood?
What is the fastest VPN?We have checked out a wide range of VPNs, including popular names like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. We’ve tried to find a nice balance between speed and security, so whilst this list might be missing a particularly fast service, it’s probably because it doesn’t offer the advanced security features that every user needs.
We have lined up the fastest VPNs that still offer powerful encryption, multiple connections, diverse servers, and more. Most of these providers are also pretty handy when it comes to streaming, so if that’s your objective, this list should work nicely.
These are the fastest and best VPNs in 2023.
There are cheaper options out there, but if you want a VPN that can unlock just about every streaming service with strong speeds, ExpressVPN should be at the top of your list.
ExpressVPN tops this list because of its consistently high connection speeds, but also because it offers a large network of servers based all over the world, apps for every operating system, and unlimited bandwidth for all your downloading.
ExpressVPN also looks great, with a seriously attractive and user-friendly interface. This isn’t an essential, but it’s nice.
Surfshark is a really solid option for anyone new to VPNs, with a strong set of user-friendly features available at a low price. It’s also all packaged in an attractive interface, which is nice.
Surfshark lets you connect an unlimited number of devices under the same plan, and is effective at bypassing geo-restrictions to unlock Netflix. Users also get an ad blocker and around the clock customer support, which could be useful if you’re a VPN newbie.
There are more advanced VPNs in this roundup, but if you want something fast, straightforward, and secure, Surfshark could be the best service for you.
Private Internet Access isn’t the most attractive VPN on this list, but that hardly matters when users get consistently high connection speeds and access to over 25,000 servers located all around the world.
This popular VPN provides everything you need to secure your online world, whilst ensuring that you get a trouble-free streaming experience without any buffering or slow loading times.
Private Internet Access also offers unlimited bandwidth, meaning you can download without disruption.
PureVPN is one of the few services to offers a free trial, which is useful for assessing whether or not you want to invest in the VPN.
It provides access to thousands of servers located all around the world, with 10 multi-logins so everyone in your home can stay connected at the same time.
Besides decent connection speeds, PureVPN provides users with 256-bit AES encryption, split tunnelling, and other advanced security features. It probably doesn’t have the best user experience, but if you do have issues, you can rely on its helpful customer support.
NordVPN tops a lot of security and privacy lists, but it also offers decent speeds for browsing, shopping, and streaming online.
It offers impressive levels of online protection and encryption for your data and identity, and can comfortably unblock libraries for streaming sites like Netflix and Prime Video.
Users can select from over 5,000 servers worldwide, and can connect six devices at the same time. It’s also really easy to use, which is important.
Joseph joined Mashable as the UK Shopping Editor in 2018. He worked for a number of print publications before making the switch to the glittery world of digital media, and now writes about everything from coffee machines to VPNs.