VPN review and comparison often use speed test results. The screenshots look nice, and the visitors get an idea of which service performs better. Unfortunately, most of the time, the results are not based on any solid foundation and can even be deceptive.
The basic problem of any regular VPN speed test is that too many factors influence the results. Your traffic takes a much longer route from your PC to the VPN server than it does from there to the speed test server. This makes it difficult to say how fast the VPN infrastructure is.
Here’s how it works:
As you can see, there are many points where the connection can slow down, affecting speeds. But that’s just one of the issues when testing your VPN’s performance.
The majority of VPN speed tests give you the numbers from a single moment in time. What you see is a single speed reading from a single location during a particular hour and minute. Changing any one of the parameters will have an impact on the results. Now imagine changing all three and others that weren’t mentioned yet.
Here are just some of the reasons VPN speeds may vary:
Hopefully, this gives you an idea about the relevance of most VPN download and upload numbers that you encounter online.
In short, our speed test is better because it removes more variables from the equation than your regular speed reading. Let’s discuss each of these variables in a bit more detail.
The diagram below should give you an idea about the differences in the VPNpro speed testing tool compared to any regular online speed test.
Here’s how it works, step by step:
For starters, we take the measurements and compare them automatically, which is not possible for a user unless you dedicate your life to VPN speed testing. By eliminating the user’s ISP from the test, we exclude the following factors:
These three factors alone can influence the speed test results more than the quality of the VPN.
Let’s say you live in Europe, and you connect to a VPN server in the USA. Then you run an online speed test and get the results. In such a scenario, the route your traffic takes from your PC to the VPN server in the US is a lot longer than the route from the VPN server to the speed test server.
Having all this in mind, we measure VPN speed within the same country. This allows us to have as few hops as possible between the data centers that host our speed test and the VPN server. Even if the user is in the US and runs a speed test in the same country, his traffic would likely still travel through more hop than a dedicated VPN speed testing tool like ours.
Even though we try to remove as many unnecessary steps as possible from our VPN speed tests, we don’t try to get better results than a regular user could. We use a precise algorithm that takes each VPN provider’s OVPN configuration file (where available) and uses real account credentials.
At the moment, this method has one disadvantage – VPNs use different tunneling protocols. For example, Surfshark has WireGuard, while NordVPN offers its WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol. Therefore, these services are way faster than any other that uses OpenVPN.
Other VPNs that have introduced next-gen tunneling protocols include:
We hope to integrate all of them into our VPN speed test as soon as possible.
To ensure that we exclude any network or other technical anomalies that can influence any single measurement result, we test 1 provider per location approximately every 5 minutes. This roughly translates to 1 new reading per provider/location every hour. This allows us to average out the results and give you comparable data on how each provider performs.
It would be near impossible for the user to run the same number of tests. And even if they did, the factors mentioned above would deem the results subjective. That’s why it’s not even worth the trouble, and that’s why you should always remember to look at the tests that other users have taken with at least five pinches of salt.
VPN providers usually have multiple VPN servers per country, which is why we always use more than one server for our tests – any specific server may be under more load at the time of testing, which can skew the results. Some providers offer a recommended server based on the load, distance, and other factors. We use this feature whenever possible for the best results.
Finally, VPN providers constantly upgrade their infrastructure and move servers around. For that, we have implemented sophisticated monitoring measures, which help us react to any unusual readings and provide you with the most accurate data possible.
We run regular tests for each VPN and provide the average speed for the last three months or overall. When testing, we try to remove as many factors as possible, such as location, infrastructure, and time of the day/week. We always take measurements within the same country to minimize the number of hops.
As you may have seen from the illustration above, there’s a significant difference in the number of steps involved in a regular and our in-house speed test. We remove the unnecessary steps and conclude only after gathering enough data, so there won’t be daily changes in the number one spot.
It’s just one of the ways to display the average VPN speed. You can also check these stats separately and make your own calculations.
Currently, we only test the best and most popular VPNs on the market. These are the VPNs most users are interested in – and they’re also faster than most VPN providers outside of our Top 10.
With that said, eventually, we hope to include more VPN services in our speed test.