Speed tests prove Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN
In a June 2018 study done by The Independent IT-Security Institute AV-Test GmbH, Hotspot Shield was the fastest Virtual Private Network (VPN). If speed matters to you when you’re watching streaming content, downloading/uploading files or just browsing your favorite websites, then we should be your first choice for VPN privacy and security protection.
The easiest way to compare VPN speed is the download speed test. This test shows how we compare to other services when downloading things like webpages, files, and pictures. As you can see, Hotspot Shield is more than twice as fast as the next closest competitor.
We believe in quality
Although we performed very well in these tests, we’re constantly upgrading our servers, software, and network connections to give you the best possible VPN experience. But don’t take our word for it, give it a try for yourself.
There are a few different ways to measure VPN speed. If a VPN claims that it’s the fastest service, it may be referring to only one category or it may not have any data to support that claim at all. Here is how we placed in each of the 4 VPN speed categories.
This test shows how fast you're able to download streaming content like YouTube videos or Google Play podcasts, measured in kilobytes per second. We had the highest streaming data rate, which means you’ll have the best possible streaming experience, when using Hotspot Shield VPN.
Again, we ranked #1 when it came to upload speed. This means that you won’t have to wait as long to transfer your files to services like iCloud or Google Drive.
Torrent download speed
Many people use a VPN to hide their identity when using P2P services, so the AV-Test study specifically tested for this scenario. According to the results of this test, we were about 20% faster than the closest competitor.
Frequently asked questions about VPN speed
How do I make my VPN faster?
The manual process for setting up a VPN will vary depending on your operating system. Generally speaking, however, you can expect to:
01 › Switch service providers - If you're not using Hotspot Shield VPN and you're having issues with a slow connection, then your solution may be as simple as switching your VPN provider. Click here to try Hotspot Shield VPN and compare it to the VPN you're using now.
02 › Change servers - The individual VPN server that you're connected to may be experiencing an unusually high load or may have a temporary technical issue. Simply disconnecting and reconnecting can connect you to another server. You may also be able to manually choose which server you connect to, depending on which VPN service you use.
03 › Use a wired connection - If you're connected to the internet via a wireless connection, then there may be interference between you and your wireless router. Switching to a wired connection could solve your speed issues.
04 › Switch devices - Older devices or mobile devices with less processing power may not be able to handle the additional load of a VPN connection. Move to a more powerful device and see if that solves your problem.
05 › Restart your modem and/or router - Just like restarting your computer, rebooting your modem and router can give your internet connection the fresh start that it needs to operate at full speed again.
Does a VPN slow down your internet?
A VPN does slow down your internet connection speed because there is an extra step involved when you connect to the internet via a VPN server. It is a small price to pay for the extra privacy and security protection that a VPN connection provides. However, if you’re using a high-speed VPN service, the decrease in speed can be so small that you may not even notice it.
Is the fastest VPN always the best?
Not always. You also have to consider the ease-of-use and security of a VPN solution. A VPN provider could use a minimal amount of data encryption, or no encryption at all, and have a screaming-fast VPN service. But the information that you transmit over that connection would be at risk.
The trick is to find the ideal balance between security and speed. Our solution to this problem was to create our own proprietary VPN protocol called Catapult Hydra. It solves many of the latency issues that we noticed with the IPsec and OpenVPN protocols that we used to use. This protocol is also very secure, which showed in our best-in-study results in the areas of privacy and security.
You also have to consider how easy it is to use a VPN solution. After all, it’s something that you’ll probably be using on a daily basis, and you don’t want it to slow you down. Other companies can require as many as 13 steps to install their software. If it takes that many steps just to install their software, imagine how difficult it must to be to actually use their software. Our software only requires 2 steps to install and the study ranked us as one of the easiest to use VPN solutions overall.
Give it a try right now and experience the difference.
AnchorFree has developed multiple patented and patent-pending performance-enhancing solutions as components of its Hydra technology suite. The following information is technical in nature.
What is CATAPULT hydra?
The first performance-enhancing solution is a proprietary transport protocol CATAPULT (an acronym for Congestion Adaptive Tunnel with Active Payload mULTiplexing).
CATAPULT Hydra optimizes TCP connections to differentiate between 2 different types of packet losses:
01 › Packet losses caused by congestion. For instance, if ISP caps the bandwidth to 25 Mbps but servers try to send the packets at 50Mbps, 50% of these packets would be lost.
02 › Random packet losses not caused by congestion. For instance, if 1% of the packets are lost over long-distance connections between countries on different sides of the globe, the same 1% of the packet losses may remain if your bandwidth is 10, 25 or 50 Mbps.
Popular TCP algorithms usually treat both types of losses the same way. Any loss is considered a signal that says “connection is congested,” at which point bandwidth should be reduced.
CATAPULT Hydra effectively ignores the second type of packet loss. It limits the bandwidth only if real congestion occurs. As a result, total bandwidth between the VPN client and VPN server becomes much higher, as if the client and the server moved closer to each other.
It’s important to note that CATAPULT Hydra is not a VPN protocol, like OpenVPN or IPSEC, but a reliable transport protocol (like TCP or SCTP), which is used to deliver the data inside the already established secure connection, such as a VPN tunnel.
How we establish fast, secure SSL connections
AnchorFree uses the standard OpenSSL library (same as used by OpenVPN) to establish its secure connections and encrypt the payload. Secure connections are created using TLS 1.2 with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE). AnchorFree only uses the modern, highest-security choices from the multiple options provided by the OpenSSL library: AEAD mode that both encrypts and authenticates the encrypted data, and 128-bit AES, 256-bit AES, and chacha23-poly1305 cyphers.
AnchorFree’s use of SSL connections for its Hydra-based products makes them as secure as the best online banking sites. Code used by the AnchorFree products to interact with OpenSSL library was independently reviewed and approved by security experts from several large security companies that integrate the Hydra technology.
At the same time, use of the SSL connections allows AnchorFree to start the secure session much faster than it happens for OpenVPN or IPSEC: instead of waiting for 5 to 10 seconds until an OpenVPN or IPSEC connection is established, an AnchorFree secure connection can start as fast as a regular HTTPS request to a bank’s website.
Combined technologies achieve better performance
As a transport protocol, CATAPULT Hydra can be used with different types of secure connections. For instance, it could accelerate traffic through the VPN tunnels established by IPSEC or OpenVPN.
To achieve the best performance acceleration, Hydra combines CATAPULT with Transparent Performance-Enhancing Proxy (TPEP).
Standard VPN tunnels forward traffic packets between the client and the content provider’s server through the VPN server. In this case, the content server detects every packet loss between itself and the client, usually over reacting to the random losses.
The Hydra TPEP server terminates each client connection, and then establishes a new connection with the content server. In this case, the content server can only detect packet losses between itself and the nearby AnchorFree server. AnchorFree controls the transport protocol between the client and its server, using CATAPULT Hydra to ignore random losses.
Hydra TPEP also helps to decrease new connection’s latency (time to establish new connection to a content server). The AnchorFree client and server keep a persistent connection during the secure session, so the new connection only needs to be set up between the content server and the nearby AnchorFree proxy.
For instance, let’s consider the case where the AnchorFree client in San Francisco wants to access the website of a newspaper in the UK. The time to establish a direct connection to its content server from San Francisco could be as high as 160ms. However, if user first connects to AnchorFree server in London and then uses it as a proxy to connect to a newspaper, the additional time to establish the TCP connection becomes lower than 20ms.
Some types of traffic, such as voice-over-IP or video conferencing, use their own custom transport protocols that don’t benefit from TPEP. Hydra detects these types of traffic and sends them in bypass of TPEP, through the standard VPN tunnel.
As a result, Hydra-based security products are not just VPN clients and servers, but hybrid solutions that combine functions of Performance-Enhancing Proxy and a VPN to achieve both high performance and low latency.
When a client (for instance a web browser) wants to access a new website, it first issues a Domain Name Service (DNS) request to find the site’s IP address from the domain name.
If the VPN is on, such DNS requests must first travel through the tunnel to the VPN server, creating additional latency.
One of the Hydra technologies is a patented “DNS acceleration,” which makes such additional latency between the AnchorFree client and server effectively disappear. The client instantly receives a specially crafted DNS response while actual DNS resolving happens on the server.
Disclosure: The speed test was commissioned by AnchorFree to establish quantitative data on VPN speeds and other factors. While many VPN companies claim to be the fastest, we back up our claims with data.