FastestVPN review: A surprising upgrade for 2020

FastestVPN is a surprising little service. It's very affordable, makes the right privacy promises, and now works with Netflix.

Credit: FastestVPN

FastestVPN in brief:

  • P2P allowed: Yes
  • Business location: Cayman Islands
  • Number of servers: 250+
  • Number of country locations: 30
  • Cost: $30 per year
  • VPN protocol: IKEv2
  • Data encryption: AES-256-GCM
  • Data authentication: MS-Chap v2 and TLS
  • Handshake: SHA-II
fastestvpnconnected IDG

FastestVPN with an active connection.

Last time we looked at FastestVPN in early 2019, we weren’t that impressed, and the name? Not accurate in our experience. What a difference a year makes. The company added new country locations, and the overall server count has gone up from 150 to 250. As for the claim it’s the fastest? The company is more persuasive this time around.

Note: This review is part of our best VPNs roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

Features and services

FastestVPN gave up on the single-pane design we saw last year for a more traditional desktop look. It still has the trademark yellow lightning bolt we saw in 2019 for its connect button.

You have a left rail with a variety of options, but the only ones you’re likely to use are Home and Locations. The other two (About and Account) are informational.

fastestvpnsettings IDG

The settings screen for FastestVPN.

Settings is accessible from the upper-right corner of the home dashboard. This screen is very similar to what we saw in the last version of the app. You can switch your VPN protocol by simply clicking on one of five buttons: IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP, TCP, and UDP. IKEv2 is the default and is the right choice for most people.

Below the VPN protocol options is a series of checkboxes. The Internet Kill Switch is still there, as is the Launch at start option that is enabled by default. FastestVPN also added a default option to reconnect if the VPN connection drops, the option to autoconnect at launch, and to diconnect the VPN connection automatically if you shut down the app.

Going back to the default home screen you have the option to choose the country you want to connect to, or you can click Smart Connect. This is a new feature for FastestVPN, but one we’ve seen from other VPNs. The basic idea is that it finds the fastest VPN server compared to your real location. Typically, that’ll be the server that’s closest to you but not always.

The app on Windows also does ad blocking and malware protection. These two features are enabled by default and cannot be turned off as they are happening server-side. The company says it is able to provide ad blocking by blocking blacklisted (known ad network) domains based on the DNS requests users make. In our experience, the ad blocking was very effective.

fastestvpnabout IDG

FastestVPN’s About screen on Windows.

FastestVPN now supports U.S. Netflix and Disney Plus streaming. To use these streaming services, you can connect to the USA Miami server. Another option is to open the settings, switch the VPN protocol to UDP, and then you’ll see an option for USA Netflix on the server list.

In our tests, the Netflix feature worked just fine, but Disney Plus was more problematic on the Miami server. Every time we went to the splash page it wouldn’t display the “buy now” options, and we couldn’t log in. Disney’s anti-VPN measures aren’t as extensive as Netflix’s, however, and switching to another U.S. server made everything work out just fine for Disney Plus.

We asked the company about the issue with the Miami server, and whether the ad blocking features were preventing these buttons from displaying; the company said that was unlikely. Nevertheless, we can’t see any other reasonable explanation for it.

FastestVPN also plans to add split tunneling to its Windows app, but the feature wasn’t ready for release at this writing. Split tunneling, whereby traffic can be divided between the VPN and direct connection to internet per user specification, is currently available on the Android and iOS apps.

The norm for VPN services is to offer five simultaneous connections per account. FastestVPN doubles that and allows one account up to 10 device connections at once.

Performance

fastestvpncountrylocations IDG

FastestVPN’s country list on Windows.

Last time around we saw FastestVPN hitting about 30 percent of the base speed, which is pretty average for a VPN service. This time around speeds were commonly hitting 45 percent of the base spee, which is very good.

As usual, those results don’t tell the whole story. FastestVPN’s speeds were outstanding in the U.S., UK, and

Germany. Our tests in Asia and Australia were inconsistent. One day, we were able to get an amazing speed score out of Singapore, but often the results in that part of the world were unusable.

Despite that result, however, FastestVPN’s other locations were so good that it didn’t drag the score down that much. The scores were not good enough to beat the current speed champ HotSpot Shield, but overall the restults are still very good.

Privacy, anonymity and trust

fastestvpnmenuflyout IDG

FastestVPN’s left rail menu.

Fastest VPN’s official business location is the Cayman Islands. The company chose that location to avoid any laws requiring the company to keep browsing records on its customers. The service also has a business office in Los Angeles. The company CEO is Azneem Bilwani.

FastestVPN’s privacy policy says it does not log any information about its customers. The only thing the company keeps, it says, is the email address. The policy itself is also very easy to read, and is written as a FAQ.

To sign up for an account, FastestVPN requires an email address. The company accepts payments via credit card or PayPal.

Conclusion

FastestVPN is much better than it was the last time we looked. It offers more servers, more locations, it supports streaming services, and it has a nice look on Windows, and it’s easy to use. FastestVPN offers enough speed for most everyday uses, and it has some nice extra features like malware and ad blocking, internet kill switch, and split tunneling is coming soon to Windows.

We aren’t fans of exotic business locations to avoid keeping records, but at $30 for 10 connections it’s well worth considering.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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