Discussing specific performance of this or that VPN service is tricky, because results are dependent on the server chosen and general Internet conditions at the time. We tested over a Frontier FiOS connection, which guarantees and reliably delivers 15 Mb/s down and 5 Mb/s up to our home office. Obviously, there are faster services available, including from Frontier, but this suffices for a comparison.
When we ran with no VPN enabled and let Speedtest.net select the best nearby test target, we fetched an 18ms ping, 15.40 Mb/s download and 5.57 Mb/s upload. This is right against the ceiling that Frontier clamps over our account.
|Seattle, WA (6 Locations | West Coast)||Portland, OR (West Coast)|
|London, UK||Hood River, OR (West Coast)|
|Ad Darah, Syria (Middle East)||Seattle, WA (West Coast)|
|✗||Tripoli, Libya (Middle East)|
|✗||Amman, Jordan (Middle East)|
To illustrate what a difference a slow VPN server will make, we connected to the ill-advised Portland LOC1 and tested a server in nearby Hood River, Oregon, roughly 80 miles away.
This yielded a ping of 33ms, a downlink of 8.48 Mb/s, and a 0.15 Mb/s uplink.
From there, we had HMA! VPN into the Seattle, WA LOC1 and retest the same Hood River server.
Our ping climbed to 41ms, but downloading jumped to 13.25 Mb/s and uploading to 3.67 Mb/s. Clearly, that’s not too shabby. Yes, you take a little performance hit, but for most applications, including streaming content, the results will be acceptable if you mind your server numbers before connecting.
What if you want to VPN from overseas? We experimented with this in ways, but a couple of examples will suffice. We connected to the London LOC2 VPN server and the Ad Darah, Syria server. In both cases, we had Speedtest.net select its best, closest target and then our Hood River, OR server using OpenVPN protocol. All of this together yielded the following:
As you can see from the charts above, when you keep your VPN server and the remote server you're accessing close to home, the impact is fairly light. Once we hop across the pond, though, throughput tumbles. Of course, there will be plenty of times when losing most of your bandwidth in exchange for privacy and protection is a fair trade. Just set your expectations accordingly.
HMA! is one of the costlier services available, but its user-friendly interface, very accessible and thorough support, and global server distribution make this one of our favorite VPN options.