10 best VPNs for the UK in 2021 (and a few to keep away from)

Last updated by   Ruheni Mathenge
Disclosure
Not every service can protect you from government, ISPs, and corporate snooping—also, only a few help stream BBC iPlayer and the likes abroad. Here is a list of the best UK VPNs that actually work.

A virtual private network (VPN) is an essential tool to have in the UK today. It will enable you to access geo-blocked in other countries such as the Netflix US and local sites like BBC iPlayer if you have traveled abroad. The VPN will also protect your data and activities from third parties such as the government, your ISP, and hackers.

In 2016, the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) came into effect that legalized surveillance of UK citizens. It allowed the government to snoop on your messages, phone calls, emails, and even online activities.

On top of that, there are strict laws that prohibit copyright infringement. You risk up to ten years in jail if you are caught downloading or sharing copyrighted material. That is why we insist that it is necessary to use a VPN in the UK.

In this guide, we have compiled the best VPNs for the UK, the benefits of using a VPN, factors to consider when choosing a UK VPN, and much more.

A quick summary of the top 5 UK VPNs

  • NordVPN – Our number one recommended VPN for the UK. Fastest VPN servers, advanced security and privacy features, impressive unblocking capability.
  • Surfshark – Budget-friendly, emphasis on privacy, fast speed servers, 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • ExpressVPN – Offers good speeds, robust security and privacy, unblocks geo-blocked content and services.
  • PrivateVPN – User-friendly apps, incredible download speeds, operates several UK servers, robust security.
  • IPVanish – Unlimited simultaneous connections, a no-logs policy, compatible with all operating systems.

Easy steps to get a UK IP address

  1. Get a well-established VPN. We recommend NordVPN as it boasts many UK servers, robust security, and impressive unblocking capabilities
  2. Download and install the VPN on your device or router
  3.  Launch the VPN app
  4. Connect to UK servers and access the content, apps, or services you want

Best VPNs for the United Kingdom

Due to the huge number of VPNs on the market, it is a bit hard to choose the best service. We tested over 40 providers to determine which works well in the UK.

Below is our list of the ten best VPNs you can use in the UK today:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Best VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 5,500+ servers in 59 countries
  • SmartPlay feature
  • Unlimited bandwidth and data
  • P2P sharing
  • Quick Connect feature
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Kill switch
  • CyberSec suite
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
NordVPN review: Offers good speed and security but has a minor (ignorable) snag
NordVPN

NordVPN takes the first position on our best VPNs in the UK list. This is a premium service with high-quality features and fast speeds at an affordable price. It is also one of the fastest VPNs on the market. 

First of all, the provider operates a massive network of more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries. In fact, it has over 440 servers in the UK alone. This means you will be able to access both international and local blocked content. 

The Quick Connect feature makes getting a reliable connection easy. It finds and connects to the fastest server available based on your location. Alternatively, you can manually connect to the servers if you want to access geo-blocked content from a specific region. 

NordVPN has the impressive unblocking capability. The SmartPlay feature will help you to trounce stubborn geo-blocks while maintaining your privacy and security. It easily unblocks all popular streaming sites, including Netflix, Fox Sports Go, Hulu, and more.

Most of its servers are super fast, so your streaming quality will be in high-definition. It is also a good option to unblock websites blocked in schools and workplaces such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

The VPN supports P2P sharing, and some of its servers are even optimized for torrenting. With unlimited bandwidth and fast-speed servers, you can torrent as many files you like effortlessly. NordVPN also has SOCKS5 proxies to improve your torrenting experience. In addition, it works well with all the popular P2P clients such as Vuze, BitTorrent, and uTorrent.

Besides streaming and torrenting, NordVPN is also an excellent option for gaming. If you are an avid gamer, you know how buffering is frustrating and can even make you lose a game. NordVPN is powerful enough to handle high-demanding games like Far Cry, Final Fantasy, and The Witcher. It does not leave any room for slow speeds, and your connections will always remain steady.

The VPN employs all the necessary features to keep your data, encrypt internet connection, and activities safe and secure. It has AES 256-bit encryption, the highest encryption level available, fortified with a 2048-bit DH key and SHA2-384 authentication. There is also perfect forward secrecy (PFS) to ensure data gets wiped entirely after every session. It also offers OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec, two of the most secure connection protocols.

Does NordVPN gather logs? No. In fact, it observes a strict no-logs policy, so it will not keep any of your identifiable information. Moreover, Panama, where the provider is registered, doesn’t have data-retention laws and is outside the 5/9/14 Eye Alliance. Other privacy features include DNS leak protection, Tor compatibility, and automatic kill switch. This is great for privacy as you will be assured that no one will ever intercept your activities.

A VPN that offers an ad blocker is always regarded highly. It is a vital feature to safeguard you from trackers, online profiling, and phishing scams. What’s more, it also blocks intrusive ads that may slow your speeds. NordVPN provides an inbuilt adblocker known as the CyberSec suite. We tested it for over 3 hours, and it blocked all the annoying ads, even on YouTube.

The VPN offers three main plans. You can opt for the monthly or annual plan, but the two-year plan has the best value for money. Fortunately, all the plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test the features before committing.

Pros

  • Several UK servers
  • Consistent speeds
  • Effortless to use apps

Cons

  • Inconsistency between desktop and mobile apps

2. Surfshark

SurfShark 600x300

Key features

  • 3,200 servers in 65 countries
  • P2P sharing
  • CleanWeb ad blocker
  • Automatic kill switch
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  •  MultiHop mode
  • Zero-logs policy
  • Camouflage mode
  • SmartDNS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Ultimate Surfshark Review: Affordable But Does It Provide Enough Value?
Surfshark

Surfshark is another excellent VPN for the United Kingdom. It is a newcomer in the industry but has already made a name. The provider uses the latest technology and features.

It has recently expanded its network, surpassing even established brands like ExpressVPN. Now it has over 3,200 servers in 65 countries, including the United Kingdom. So, you will be able to access international geo-blocked content if you are in the UK. On the other hand, the UK servers will enable you to access locally blocked sites like PiratesBay.

Fast and reliable speeds make a VPN more valuable. A slow VPN will impede your ability to browse, torrent, stream, or play games. Surfshark has blazing-fast servers and only caused a 4% drop in our regular speeds.

This is one of the best VPNs for streaming due to its unblocking capability and reliable speeds. It can bypass geo-restrictions of almost all popular streaming services, including HBO GO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Videos, Netflix, and more. The high speeds mean you’ll be able to stream smoothly without buffering or lagging.

Surfshark is a dependable choice for torrenting. The VPN supports P2P sharing, and some of its servers are optimized to improve your torrenting experience. It offers unlimited bandwidth and data, so you’ll torrent as much as you want without restrictions.

Our several tests show that Surfshark is a safe VPN. It uses multiple high-end features to protect your data and activities. First, there is the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption that prevents third parties from accessing your information. Second, it offers MultiHop mode (double VPN) that routes your traffic through two servers. Although it might affect your speeds, it is a great security feature.

You know how popups can be frustrating if you stream content online. Some even contain malware that can infect your device. Surfshark offers CleanWeb that eliminates pesky ads to make your overall streaming experience smoother. It also blocks malicious trackers and malware.

Its Camouflage Mode is a useful feature if you want to stay completely anonymous. It will disguise your VPN traffic and make it look like regular traffic. This means no one will see that you are using a VPN, including your ISP.

Surfshark is based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Island. It is not a member of the 5/9/14 Alliance, so you should not worry about your privacy. The privacy policy confirms that the provider does not store connection or usage data.

The monthly plan is a bit pricier than its competitors. However, you can opt for the 6-months plan that cut the cost by 50%. The two-year plan has the best value for money with an 81% discount. You’ll get a 100% money-back guarantee for the first 30 days on all the plans.

Pros

  • Several UK server locations
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Reliable speeds

Cons

  • Slow connection on some servers

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Best VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 3,000 servers in 92 countries
  • P2P sharing
  • Smart Location feature
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Network Lock
  • Split tunneling
  • Tor compatibility
  • TrustedServer technology
  • Obfuscated feature
  • Five simultaneous devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN Review: A fast and furious solution to your internet privacy
ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is an all-around ideal VPN for the UK. It offers feature-filled apps for all devices, unblocks streaming services, and is excellent at torrenting and gaming.

The VPN operates a network of over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. It has several servers in 4 UK locations, including London, Wembley, East London, and Docklands. With this expansive server network, you will likely get a server closer to your location for better speeds.

Does ExpressVPN bypass geo-blocks? Yes, and it is one of the best VPNs to unblock geo-blocked content and services. The VPN has several servers in the US, which is great if you would like to access Netflix US. It also unblocks other popular streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime Videos, Disney+, and more. You will be able to stream in HD as the servers are pretty fast.

Since ExpressVPN offers fast speeds, your gameplay will be remarkable. It will manage to maintain data-intensive games like Fortnite without any buffering or lags while gaming. You will be able to play in high definition and keep up with your fellow teammates.

The best part is that it allows P2P sharing across its entire server network. Since it does not cap its bandwidth and data, you can torrent completely unrestricted.

Using the Smart Location feature connects you to the fastest server available. We tested it, and our normal speeds dropped by only 3%, which is impressive. The speeds will remain steady even if you connect to international servers like the US.

ExpressVPN uses top-tier AES 256-bit encryption to maintain your security by encrypting the internet traffic. What does this mean? One key is used to encrypt and decrypt your data, making it almost impossible to break. Just like NordVPN, it braces the encryption with SHA-512 HMAC authentication and a 4096-bit RSA key.

On top of that, there is also perfect forward secrecy that assigns you a new encryption key every time you start a session. This makes your browsing activities completely secure. In addition, ExpressVPN uses several security protocols to protect your connections. OpenVPN UDP is the default protocol, but you can opt to switch to OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP.

ExpressVPN has a straightforward privacy policy. It does not store any of your activities or connection logs. The only information it keeps is the data you provide when creating an account. Fortunately, the provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is not a member of the 5/9/14 Eye Alliance.  

The kill switch is an essential privacy feature. It ensures your traffic does not leak if the VPN connection drops, keeping your activities completely private. Besides, the DNS/IPv6 leak protection is solid and guarantees your complete anonymity. In addition, ExpressVPN is compatible with the Tor network and supports the Tor over VPN setup for maximum privacy.

Another incredible privacy feature is the TrustedServer technology. It ensures that the servers run on RAM, which is incapable of holding any data. This means that your data is deleted out after every session. It wipes off everything, and the operating system is reloaded afresh, making you less vulnerable to attacks.

The VPN even has servers in countries with heavy online censorship, like Pakistan and Turkey. If you have traveled in such regions, the obfuscated servers will mask your VPN activities to avoid censorship.

ExpressVPN is priced slightly higher than its competitors, especially the monthly plan. However, you can take advantage of the 49% discount and three free months on the annual plan. Luckily, all the plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Several UK server locations
  • Strong security
  • Does not store logs

Cons

  • A bit expensive plans

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Key features

  • 150 servers in 60 countries
  • Unlimited P2P sharing
  • No-logs policy
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Unrestricted bandwidth
  • Stealth mode
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

PrivateVPN is a simple VPN with all the features you find in advanced brands. Although it has a relatively small network, the servers are superior and will handle any task.

Fortunately, the provider runs several UK servers in London and Manchester to easily access locally blocked sites. It also designated streaming servers in Canada, Germany, the US, and Peru. These servers offer improved speeds to stream smoothly.

PrivateVPN supports unlimited P2P sharing and offers unrestricted bandwidth so you can torrent securely and anonymously. In addition, port forwarding is available on specific servers to improve the torrenting experience. As its name indicates, PrivateVPN is privacy-friendly as it does not keep any identifiable logs.

The PrivateVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure your connections. It also offers multiple security protocols such as OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, and IKEv2. OpenVPN is the default protocol, but you can switch to the other protocols depending on your needs.

Pros

  • Multiple UK servers
  • Allows torrenting
  • Does not keep logs

Cons

  • It lacks an ad blocker

5. IPVanish

IPVanish

Key features

  • 1,600 servers in 75 countries  
  • P2P servers
  • 250GB SugarSync storage
  • No-logs policy
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  •  Automatic kill switch
  • 24/7 live chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

IPVanish is an excellent VPN for the UK. It offers an impressive list of advanced features at a competitive price.

The VPN runs over 1,600 servers in 75 countries. There are 118 servers in the UK; 18 in Manchester, 15 in Birmingham, 12 in Glasgow, 4 in Maidenhead, and 69 in London. You will get better speeds when you use these servers in the UK. International servers also offer reliable connections if you would like to access content and services in other regions.

IPVanish is nowadays able to unblock almost all streaming sites. Its biggest concentration of servers is in the US, so you’ll have multiple options to access the US version of Netflix. We got the fastest connection with the Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Boston servers.

The VPN allows P2P sharing on most of the servers. It also offers unlimited bandwidth and data so that you can torrent unrestricted and secure. The provider partners with SugarSync to offer free 250GB secure storage. This is a good place to back up your work, music, and movie files.

It will safeguard your data and activities with AES 256-bit encryption, which is almost impossible to break. This means third parties such as your ISP, government agencies, and hackers cannot see what you are doing because your internet traffic will be encrypted.

The DNS request can take an accidental route through your internet service provider servers even when using a VPN. This can reveal your IP address, and the ISP can track your activities. IPVanish prevents this from happening with its DNS leak protection feature. On top of that, it offers an automatic kill switch that stops exposure of your data and activities if the VPN connection drops.

IPVanish is based in the US, a member of the 5-Eye Alliance like the UK. However, according to its privacy statement, it follows a strict no-logs policy to keep your information private. This means there will be no data even if it is forced to hand over user information.

It is compatible with almost all operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. You can also install it on your router to connect devices that don’t normally work with VPNs. Fortunately, IPVanish allows you to connect unlimited simultaneous connections.

The VPN has a confusing pricing structure with two monthly and yearly plans billed differently. We noticed that the 30-days money-back guarantee is only available on the annual plans. You can easily get in touch with the customer support through the live chat for clarity. The Help Section on its website is extensive, covering all the common issues.

Pros

  • Operates several servers in the UK
  • Does not keep logs
  • Solid security

Cons

  •  Live chat not supported 24/7

6. Vypr

VyprVPN Best Free VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 700 servers in 70 countries
  • Zero-logs policy
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Chameleon technology
  • WireGuard protocol
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

VyprVPN is another excellent choice VPN for the United Kingdom. It has a good balance of speed and privacy so that you can use it in many applications.

The chameleon technology will enable you to bypass geo-blocks of all streaming sites. It unblocks Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Hotstar, DAZN, and more. Since it has a server in London, you will be able to circumvent restrictions of locally blocked sites.

In terms of protection, VyprVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch. The NAT firewall will prevent malware and trackers. It also offers OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and WireGuard security protocols to protect your connections. 

VyprVPN adheres to a strict zero-logs policy and does not store logs. In fact, it has undergone an independent audit to verify the claims. Furthermore, the provider is registered in Switzerland, which is well-known for its privacy stance.

 Pros

  • UK server location
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • User-friendly apps

Cons

  • Confusing pricing structure

7. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Private Internet Access VPN

Key features

  • 29,011 servers in 99 locations
  • Support P2P
  • AES 128-bit encryption
  • WireGuard protocol
  • MACE ad blocker
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a trustworthy VPN for the UK. It has a massive server network and packs all the necessary features you’d need in a VPN.  

The recent expansion makes it the most extensive network in the VPN industry, with over 29,000 servers spread in 70 countries. There are over 1,800 servers in three UK locations, including London, Manchester, and Southampton. This makes an excellent choice for accessing content and services from other regions. There are many options to choose from in case one of your connections is blocked.

PIA offers full P2P support on most of its servers. You can torrent as much as you want since it does not cap the bandwidth and data. The provider has a no-logs policy, so your torrenting activities will remain anonymous.

It will keep you safe with the 128-bit encryption. You can also choose between the OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and WireGuard protocols to protect your internet connection. Moreover, the MACE feature will prevent not only ads but also malicious trackers and malware.

Pros

  • Several UK Servers
  • Solid security
  • Impressive privacy

Cons

  • Shaky geo-spoofing abilities

8. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Key features

  • 6,902 servers in 89 countries
  • Optimized servers
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Seven simultaneous connections
  • HTTPS protection
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost is a well-established VPN for the UK. It is an excellent option for beginners as the apps are elementary to use. The best part is that it offers optimized servers for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.

It is one of the most extensive networks on this list, with over 6,902 servers in 89 countries. Fortunately, it runs more than 712 servers in 3 locations in the UK. This means you will be able to access content in many regions, including locally.

We tested it and found out that closer servers are faster than international connections. However, the speeds are enough for surfing the internet, even on the slowest servers. Nearby servers have a low ping rate, which means you will stream, torrent, and play games buffer-free. Quick speeds will also enable you to make high-quality VoIP calls.

CyberGhost is powerful enough to bypass geo-blocks. In fact, it offers streaming-optimized servers for faster speeds and reliability. If you are in the UK, you will access popular streaming sites in other countries. We were able to unblock sites such as USA’s DirecTV in the UK, Netflix US, Hulu, CBS, Fox Sports Go, and more. It also has multiple servers in the UK if you are abroad and would like to access locally blocked sites.

Is CyberGhost good enough for gaming online? Yes. Although the gaming-optimized servers are supposed to offer better speeds, they didn’t during our testing. In fact, these servers had a ping rate of more than 400ms, which is not ideal for gaming. Instead, we recommend you connect to servers closer to your location to get better speeds.

The provider uses AES 256-bit encryption to keep you safe online. This is the highest encryption available, and even the most powerful computer cannot intercept your information. CyberGhost also offers OpenVPN as the default protocol on all its apps. You can also switch to WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols. WireGuard is the latest protocol and is adopted by most VPN services because of its improved security and speeds.

CyberGhost has a strict zero-logs policy. This means that it won’t keep any of your logs so that no one will trace your activities and information. In addition, the provider is headquartered in Romania, which is not part of any intelligence alliance.

The VPN offers user-friendly apps for almost all devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, Linux, and iOS. There are also free Chrome and Firefox browser extensions though they come with limitations. CyberGhost allows you to have seven simultaneous connections.

Like Surfshark above, the monthly plan is on the higher side. In this case, it also only comes with a 14-day money-back. However, the price drops by nearly 70% for the one and two-year plans. The provider has recently introduced a 3-year plan. It has the best value for money as you’ll get an 83% discount plus three free months.

Pros

  • Runs over 700 servers in the UK
  • Minimal configuration
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Less reliable in some locations

9. Ivacy

Ivacy VPN

Key features

  • 3,500 servers in 100 countries
  • P2P servers
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • DNS leak protection
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Ivacy VPN is perhaps the most affordable VPN for the UK. It is secure, does not keep logs, and supports unlimited server switching.

The provider operates a decent-sized network with over 3,500 servers scattered across 100 countries. More importantly, there are more than 58 servers in the UK so that you can access locally blocked content and services. With over 12,000 frequently recycled IP addresses, you will always find a reliable connection.

It can unblock Netflix, CBS, Discovery GO, and Hulu, among other popular streaming sites. Most of the servers are fast enough to stream without buffering or lags.

Ivacy protects your activities with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption in conjunction with multiple protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, IPsec, and IKeV. Besides, the VPN offers a kill switch that will cut your traffic if the VPN connection is leaking.

Pros

  • Operational UK servers
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • Affordable plans

Cons

  • Inadequate macOS app

10. Windscribe

Windscribe Best Free Netflix VPN

Key features

  • 179 servers in 63 countries
  • ROBERT ad blocker
  • Free version
  • DNS leak protection
  • Stealth mode
  • 3-day money-back guarantee

Windscribe is the best free VPN for the UK. It offers feature-packed apps for all devices that are extremely easy to use.

The VPN has a smaller network though its servers are spread out in 63 countries. There are five servers in the UK; 3 in London, 1 in Edinburgh, and 1 in Manchester. In addition, it offers dedicated servers for streaming labeled as Windflix on the selection menu.

Windscribe offers an ad blocker called ROBERT. It does not only prevent annoying pop-ups but will also protect you from invasive and harmful content. Other security features include AES 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, and kill switch.

The only issue with the free version is the limited data of only 500MB per month. Otherwise, you will still get complete protection and privacy. Fortunately, the Pro version is affordable, with the annual plan offering a discount of 54%.

Pros

  • Fast UK servers
  • Effective ad blocker
  • Prevent leakage

Cons

  • Limited free plan

Why do I need to use a VPN in the UK?

A VPN is an essential privacy tool you need to use if you live in the UK. It is designed to keep your online activities anonymous, encrypt internet traffic, and prevent third parties from intercepting your traffic. The UK is well known for surveilling its citizens and was the founding member of the 5-EYE Alliance. So, the VPN will allow you to use the internet without worrying about someone monitoring your activities.

Besides, when you connect to a remote server, you’ll be assigned a new IP address. This makes you look like you are in a different location to access geo-blocked content. It is also a good way to gain access to websites blocked by ISPs.

As a member of the 5/9/14 Eye Countries, ISPs must collect data on citizens then share it with the government. The information is also shared with other organizations and government authorities. In addition, internet service providers are forced by the government to block access to specific websites. You can use a UK VPN to bypass frustrating censorship and avoid government surveillance.

Benefits of using a VPN in the UK 

Benefits of using a VPN in the UK
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Beyond online anonymity and safety, a VPN is useful in many other ways. Here are some of the lesser-known benefits of using a VPN.

Be safe while working remotely

You probably connect to an internal or local area network (LAN) if you work in a corporate office. As many people are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a VPN will help you access your office and work from anywhere securely.

However, remember that corporate VPNs may be a little bit different from the regular VPNs we covered above. In most cases, the VPN software is manually installed on devices. Nonetheless, you may need the consumer-grade VPN to access blocked sites in your workplace.

Avoid ISP throttling

Have you ever heard about bandwidth throttling? This is where your internet service provider limits your bandwidth if you exceed the set threshold. It significantly lowers your online speeds. Many ISPs use this strategy to ensure fair distribution of bandwidth to all users and to eliminate congestion. However, some ISPs engage in bandwidth throttling to encourage you to upgrade your data plans.

Fortunately, a VPN will encrypt your traffic, so your ISP cannot monitor your activities. The ISP won’t know that you are using too much bandwidth to torrent, stream or play games. You will have the freedom to do whatever you want.

Access regional sports coverage

Some VPNs will help you access geo-blocked sports coverage. American sports like the NBA and MLB have a massive following in the UK. However, most of the live sporting events are available on US channels like NBC. A VPN will enable you to connect to a US server and watch whatever sporting content you want in real-time.

All you need to ensure is to choose a VPN with several servers in the US so you will always maintain a consistent connection. Watch live as LeBron James works his way to the basket, and Steph Curry makes incredible three-pointers.

Bypass firewalls

Many institutions, workplaces, airports, and hotels have network firewalls to prevent access to particular sites. For example, most schools block social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to encourage students to concentrate on their studies.

The good news is that you can easily bypass those restrictions with a VPN. It will change your actual IP address and make your traffic appear like it is originating from somewhere else.

Secure torrenting

Torrenting is an excellent way to download and share content. It is not necessarily dangerous, but you can compromise your privacy if you don’t use a VPN. Keep in mind that other peers in the network can see your actual IP address. This is an issue as a malicious actor can easily trace your location and your ISP.

What’s more, you can get into hot waters for accidentally downloading copyrighted material. A VPN will protect your torrenting activities to keep you safe.

Improve your gaming experience

A VPN masks your IP address and encrypts your connections. This is one of the main reasons you should use it to improve your gaming experience. It will enable you to access banned games, play in any geographical location and stay safe from DDoS attacks. A good VPN will also help you avoid IP bans.

Avoid price discrimination

Many airline companies and online retailers show prices depending on the geographic location. They do this to manage market segments and improve profitability easily. It’s unfair for you to pay more for a similar service/product because you are in a different location.

A VPN will mask your IP address and hide your real location. You can get better prices if you connect to a server in a less developed country like Malaysia.

Keep in mind that a VPN will not always enable you to get lower prices. This is because some websites use cookies to remember your device. That is why it is advisable first to clear your cache when using a VPN to avoid price discrimination.

WiFi protection

Most public WiFi hotspots are free, making them a hub for hackers and other malicious actors. These cybercriminals can intercept your traffic and steal your sensitive data if you don’t use a VPN. Choose a service with robust security features to keep you safe. Some providers like CyberGhost offer a specific Wi-Fi protection feature. 

What makes a VPN great for the UK

What makes a VPN great for the United Kingdom
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Since all VPNs claim to be the best, it is quite challenging to choose the right provider.

Some have more features and shine in more areas than others. Here are some of the most important factors you should consider when choosing a VPN.

Security

A VPN works by encrypting your traffic and data, thus safeguarding your connection. It receives your request, encrypts your traffic through encrypted servers, and makes the request on your behalf. Your traffic will seem to be originating from the VPN servers. This prevents third parties from tracking your activities, giving you the freedom to browse safely and anonymously.

Therefore, look for VPNs with strong encryption. AES 256-bit encryption is the industry standard, but you can also choose 128-bit encryption. Some providers such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN combine encryption with other security features for optimal protection.

Speed

As much as security is essential in a UK VPN, don’t forget to pay attention to the speed. Remember that the VPN connection may take a toll on your speeds because of the encryption process.

So, choose a VPN with consistent speeds and does not affect your base speeds. With reliable speeds, you will be able to do any task, including streaming, torrenting, and gaming. You can check out our tested list of the fastest VPNs on the market.

Privacy policy

One of the main reasons for using a VPN is to maintain online privacy. With the increased surveillance in the UK, you would want a provider that does not keep identifiable logs. Many VPNs claim to observe a strict zero-logs policy, but it is not always the truth. So, please pay attention to the data collection policy and choose a provider that follows it strictly.

Some of the privacy features to look out for include the kill switch, DNS leak protection, and Tor compatibility.

Jurisdiction

Where is the VPN provider located? Some countries compel local companies to collect users’ data and submit it when required. Other countries participate in international pacts that share intelligence information.

The three main alliances include the Five Eyes (the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), Nine Eyes (5-Eye countries plus Holland, France, Norway, and Denmark), and 14-Eye (9-Eyes plus Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, and Germany). Therefore, be wary if a VPN provider is headquartered in these regions.

Server network

It is crucial to consider the size of the server network when choosing a VPN. You might experience slow speeds if the VPN does not have enough servers to handle the traffic. Few servers get congested easily, leading to slow connections.

Therefore, choose a VPN that has massive server networks. This way, the load will be distributed among the servers, decreasing the impact on the bandwidth. Besides, you can always switch servers if you experience slow speeds on your connection.

Moreover, an extensive network with servers distributed worldwide means you can access geo-blocked content from other countries. When you connect to a server in that country, the site you are visiting will think you are local.

Compatibility

Not all VPNs are compatible with popular operating systems. So, choose a VPN with multi-device and multi-platform compatibility if you have multiple internet-enabled devices. Check whether the VPN service works well with the platform you wish to use.

The VPNs we have listed above are compatible with Windows and macOS and have Android and iOS apps. Some VPNs support routers, allowing users to connect devices that generally don’t work with VPN. Others like IPVanish and Surfshark do not limit connections, and you can connect as many devices as you want.

Payment

Which method are you comfortable with to make your payments? Are you okay paying with your credit card or prefer anonymity?

Many providers offer a wide range of payment methods, including credit cards, Amazon Pay, Paypal, prepaid cards, and more. Choose a provider that offers a cryptocurrency method if you would like to make anonymous payments.

How will a VPN improve my speeds?

How will it improve my speeds
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In most cases, a VPN will not improve your speed. This is because your speed will depend on the ISP data plan you have subscribed to. All VPNs work by encrypting your traffic and routing through remote servers, which causes some latency. So, a VPN is more likely to cause slow connections than the other way round.

Even so, your ISP may be throttling your bandwidth for doing data-intensive tasks like torrenting or gaming. A VPN will mask your activities to avoid throttling, thus improving your speeds. This is the only way a VPN will help you increase your speeds. However, the VPN will not help improve your speeds if you have subscribed to low-speed broadband.

Are there websites blocked in the UK?

Popular sites such as The Pirates Bay and even some of TPB alternatives, Popcorn Time, 123movies, and many more are not available in the UK. This is because UK ISPs block them. What’s worse, the list of blocked websites is expected to grow. Indeed, these sites harbor copyright infringements, which is why they are on the government’s radar.

Due to the strict copyright laws, we recommend you use a UK VPN when accessing torrenting sites. It will help you stay out of trouble even if you accidentally download or share copyrighted material.

Premium vs. free VPNs in the UK

A dependable VPN cost in the UK ranges between $5-$12 (£4- £9) per month. This will vary depending on the provider, with even others offering a free version.

Many premium VPNs offer subscriptions over a month, year, or longer. In most cases, the longer the plan, the less you pay per month. For instance, the monthly plan can cost as high as $12, but you can get discounts of up to 80% on the two-year plan. Luckily, almost all plans come with a money-back policy so that you can test the services risk-free.

Never attempt to use a free even if you are on a tight budget. This is because many free VPNs use inadequate security that can jeopardize your privacy. Besides, many of them cannot handle data-intensive tasks such as gaming, torrenting, or streaming.

Reasons why you should avoid free VPNs in the UK 

Reasons to avoid free providers
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Allow government agencies to collect your data

Premium VPNs are revered because they offer robust security to prevent third parties from spying on users’ activities.

On the other hand, free VPNs don’t have enough resources to provide advanced security features.

As a result, your IP address and activities can become visible to anyone. The government can trace your activities if you do any illegal activity like downloading copyrighted material or stalking.

Infected with malware

A recent study by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) found out that 60% of free VPNs contain malware. In most cases, the malware is related to advertising. This is not a surprise, as most free VPNs make money through advertisements.

Malware can cause detrimental damage to your device, network, and data. The extent of damage will mainly depend on the type of malware, the device you are using, and your data’s nature.

Many premium VPNs like NordVPN and Surfshark come with an in-built ad blocker and malware protection. So, you can use the internet securely without worrying about getting infected with malware.

Embedded with trackers

The same CSIRO study found that 7 out of 10 free VPNs embed trackers in their software. The trackers are used for analytics, advertising, and tracking purposes. Some free VPNs even sell the information to the highest bidder. Whatever the case, a VPN is supposed to maintain your privacy and not share your information with third parties.

Notably, the CISRO study found that premium VPNs have few trackers. This means you will get the privacy you are looking for when you subscribe to premium service. The ad blocker used by most premium VPNs also prevents trackers.

Slow your connection

Managing and operating a VPN network is very expensive. Free VPNs can only provide a handful of servers since they don’t have the resources. These servers are mostly congested, so you’ll likely get slow connections no matter if you deploy hacks to make VPN faster.

This is not a problem you will find with paid VPNs. Most of them have extensive networks with servers spread across the world. You’ll have several options to choose from if any of your connections are blocked. In fact, a premium VPN may even help to improve your speeds if your ISP is throttling your bandwidth.

Fail to unblock content

Many streaming services like Netflix offer content based on geographic location. This means content varies from region to region.

For example, some of the US Netflix library titles may not be available in the UK. A VPN will assign you a US-specific IP address if you connect to the US server. This will trick the streaming site you are accessing that you are within the US so that it won’t block your connection.

The problem with free VPNs is that they cannot get past restrictions put by many streaming sites. Even if you occasionally manage to get a connection, it is likely to get flagged.

So, you want a formidable service like NordVPN to unblock geo-blocked content. It offers state-of-the-art features and recycles IP addresses frequently so the streaming site won’t cut your connection.

Invasive ads

As mentioned before, free VPNs rely on advertisements to make money. These ads can be very annoying when streaming content online. Besides, they may slow your speeds and even contain malware.

Premium VPNs offer adblockers to prevent intrusive ads. NordVPN is an excellent example with its CyberSec suite that is built into the app. Alternatively, you can check out our article on the best ad blockers if your VPN provider does not offer the feature.

Hijack your browser

Some free VPNs have a reputation for hijacking and redirecting users’ traffic to other sites. The CSIRO study found out that HotSpot Shield redirected its users to ebay.com and Alibaba.com without consent.

The verdict here:
Invest in a premium VPN is the best decision you can make. Since you’ll be paying a subscription, these services do more to safeguard your data and activities. It will also enable you to bypass geo-restrictions and avoid slow speeds. There are very affordable premium VPNs, so you shouldn’t risk your privacy with entirely free VPNs.

VPNs to unblock UK streaming services

Unblock streaming services
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As we have mentioned above, a VPN will help you to access geo-blocked content from anywhere. It allows you to connect to remote servers in any country so you can access whatever you want.

Using a VPN to stream outside the UK

If you have recently traveled or an expat living abroad, you’ll need a VPN to access UK streaming services. Most of these services use geo-blocking technology to restrict access outside the UK’s boundaries. Accessing BBC iPlayer abroad is one of the best examples here.

All you will have to do is to connect to a UK server. You can choose any of the recommendations above because they are up to the task. Once you connect to a UK server, you will be assigned a UK IP address. It will enable you to access UK streaming services and enjoy your favorite content.

Using a VPN to stream inside the UK

On the other hand, a VPN will also allow you to pretend to be in another country. So, if you are in the UK, you can connect to servers in Canada to access local blocked content. This is an excellent way to access movies and TV series not available in the UK.

Internet freedom in the UK

Under the common law and Human Rights Act, UK citizens have the right to freedom of expression. On the downside, the right is subject to a lot of exceptions, conditions, and formalities.

The law also prohibits interference with privacy. However, there has been a steady shift towards increased surveillance in the UK since the mid-2000. Security concerns such as terrorism have made the government introduce far-reaching surveillance measures that impact online privacy.

In fact, the UK is included in the Enemies of the Internet list by Reporters Without Borders. This is a group of countries with a high level of internet censorship and surveillance on their citizens. Other major countries in the list include Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, and Pakistan.

So, the best way to avoid government censorship and surveillance is to use a VPN. If you choose a reliable service like NordVPN, you will enjoy the internet privately and anonymously.

Avoid UK government surveillance

Avoid government surveillance
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The UK government heavily surveils its citizens. In fact, the GCHQ is the agency responsible for monitoring and spying on everyone. It then hands the information to the government and armed forces.

Furthermore, the government takes advantage of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 to force ISPs to gather user data. Surveillance is slowly becoming prevalent and pervasive in the UK. A VPN is the only way to keep your online activities private.

Therefore, it is essential to use a VPN to keep your internet traffic encrypted if you are concerned with your privacy. Some of the information your ISP can gather and store include:

  • Your IP address
  • Payment details, address, etc
  • Communication metadata
  • Log of every site and time of visit

Top VPNs to avoid in the UK

While we advise you to use a VPN when accessing the internet, not all VPNs are safe to use. Some services are worse, and you will be better without them. Here are some of the VPNs you should avoid if you care about your privacy.

Hola

Hola promises to unblock sites in other countries. Unlike other free services like Windscribe, it does not limit data usage. Instead, it claims to offer completely free services through a peer-to-peer network. This is the first red flag as the company does not have servers around the world. The disadvantage of a P2P connection is that your traffic is visible by other peers in the network.

Worse of all, it has a commercial version dubbed as Luminati brand that sells VPN service to businesses. The brand has been involved in a botnet attack in the past. This type of attack infects many devices and harnesses their power to carry out a bigger attack. That is to say that cybercriminals hijacked all devices belonging to Hola users.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incidence. The provider is known to turn free user’s devices into exit nodes allowing the paying customer to utilize their unused bandwidth.

Facebook Onavo VPN

The in-built feature that Facebook uses is known as Onavo VPN. Although the VPN might be effective at protecting your traffic, it has a significant disadvantage. Onavo will gather your traffic data to improve Facebook’s services and products. Sadly, there is no way you can prevent Facebook from collecting your information unless you deactivate your account.

Bottom line

Some countries such as China, Russia, and North Korea are well known to have oppressive internet regulations. However, the United Kingdom manipulates the law to infringe on its citizen’s online privacy.

As the UK government continues to increase its surveillance, a VPN is the best way to browse securely and anonymously. Many VPNs claim to provide top security and privacy, but only a handful can. After thorough research and testing, we present you with the ten best VPNs for the UK. Our top recommendation is NordVPN, as it has multiple UK servers, watertight security, and affordable plans.

Is it illegal to use a VPN in the UK?
Why do I need a VPN in the UK?
Do ISPs block VPN connections?
Can I watch BBC iPlayer from abroad?
Are there VPNs I should avoid in the UK?
How do I start using a VPN?
Will Netflix block my VPN connection?
Can I use a VPN based in the UK?
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About the author

Ruheni Mathenge
Ruheni Mathenge

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy.

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