With today’s ever-changing laws concerning online surveillance, privacy has become a hot button issue for people throughout the world, especially in the UK.
Many laws exist that grant the government sweeping powers to monitor web traffic easily, but that’s not the only issue at stake. Adversaries, as they are sometimes called, can be anyone from people in your own community, to criminals that seek your credit card information. Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, have the ability to send your online communication over an encrypted or private network. In other words, VPNs allow you to privatise what would otherwise be publicly seen over the internet.
Below are ten of the best VPNs for people in the UK, which were chosen for their speed and trustworthiness.
Why Choose a VPN
Theoretically speaking, if you were browsing the internet over an unprotected connection and view web content, it would be possible for someone else on the network to monitor your traffic. Public networks in places such as parks or libraries come to mind, but even your own personal connection could be viewed. Having a good VPN provider will block access to anyone that would otherwise be given the ability to see what you visited in such a situation.
Additionally, some internet service providers (ISPs) may block certain websites and applications due to copyright laws. For example, p2p programs that allow torrents to be downloaded have become more difficult to use over public IP addresses, and are often inaccessible.
Restrictions grow higher every year, and even the file sharing sites themselves have begun to spread awareness about the importance of hiding user IPs. From your IP address, your location, name, and even home address can be easily found by anyone that really wants to know who you are. With a VPN, connections are hidden, so your ISP will not be able to see anything that’s being uploaded or downloaded over such applications.
|# of Servers||Countries||P2P support||# of Devices|
|NordVPN||Over 3500||60||Yes||6||Visit NordVPN|
|ExpressVPN||Over 2000||94||Yes||3||Visit ExpressVPN|
|IPVanish||Over 500||60||Yes||5||Visit IPVanish|
|Hotspot Shield||23||22||Yes||5||Visit Hotspot Shield|
|Private Internet Access||Over 980||25||Yes||5||Visit PIA|
Top 10 Best VPNs For UK Users
NordVPN has just about all the features that one would hope to find in the category. For starters, their servers are protected with a 256-bit version of AES, which is one of the best and most popular encryption ciphers. This means that any information you send over public networks during your work/browsing won’t be detected. And even if it is, the data would be nearly impossible to decipher. There are literally thousands of servers for you to pick too, along with support for payments in Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies.
You’ll want to be patient when you’re connecting to the server though. It may take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or two to reach its destination. This seems to be an issue depending on the time of day that you go online with the VPN. Evenings are the moments that you’re most likely to experience long connection times. But other than this small critique, there’s not much else that’s bad to say about NordVPN. It’s a great choice for any and all people that want to take back their online privacy.
- Accounts and all messages sent over their servers are encrypted with PGP keys
- If the proxy loses its connection, all network communication will cease
- A maximum of six devices can be used for one account
- Payment can be made with cryptocurrencies
- May take up to a minute to establish a connection to the VPN
ExpressVPN is probably one of the most popular VPN services on the market. It has all the hallmarks that you would need to keep yourself anonymous online, and more. If you’re familiar with the Tor network, ExpressVPN runs a website specifically for .onion browsers. So on top of the cognition to keep your payment method hidden from public eyes (with Bitcoin), you can safeguard your connection to the transaction, too.
If you’re an advanced user, you might be a little disappointed over the lack of customization that’s given in the program’s configuration settings. And it may take a little while to pick up signals from regions that aren’t close to the UK. Yet ExpressVPN remains a highly recommended choice for anyone that doesn’t want to shop around, and wishes to settle on brands that have proven to be reliable.
- Supports all major and some alternative operating systems
- Uses AES 256-bit encryption
- Has a .onion web address (for users that browse over the Tor network)
- Advanced customization options for speed are limited
One of the greatest issues with some VPN providers is how they may log information from users without the customer being aware of the data that was collected. IPVanish aims to take away this problem by maintaining servers and accounts that’ll never save anything you provide them. As a result, when you log on and off will never be known by the company. In the unlikely event that their servers are ever compromised, rest assured that none of your info will make it into the hands of an adversary.
- The company maintains a strict policy of never logging personal information from their customers
- Very fast signup process
- Intuitive user interface
- Servers are US-based, whereby laws exist that do not offer UK citizens the same protections as US citizens
VYPRVPN is all about speed. If you have used a VPN that throttles and slows down your connection to their servers, then you know how annoying it can be when a disconnection occurs. While this won’t be an issue with VYPRVPN, the killswitch feature provided by them will prevent data from being leaked should it go offline. And don’t worry about your DNS settings. VyprDNS, which comes with the service, blocks the loophole from being seen by others during your browsing sessions.
One need for improvement would be the company’s lack of a payment option for people that prefer to buy with a cryptocurrency. They do offer Paypal and Alipay, but you won’t be able to keep your purchase anonymous with them. VYPRVPN may also log some of your user information, too. Your IP address and browsing sessions could be collected by the company, something to take note of if you’re worried about hackers gaining access to their servers. While that’s not likely to happen with this VPN, do consider some of the other choices if you must have one that maintains a higher level of confidentiality with their user base.
- Fast startup times
- Doesn’t reduce in speed when streaming movies or video online
- Features VyprDNS, which shields the user from unwanted DNS leaks
- Servers are controlled by the company; no third parties involved
- The user’s IP address and session times are logged by the company for at least 30 days
- Features no alternative payment methods (such as Bitcoin)
Windscribe is great for people that you using older laptops or computers. It’s fast to download and install, and won’t use up too much of your system’s RAM when logged in. There’s also a firewall feature to block your IP from leaking if the server ever shuts down for some reason. An ad blocker is also provided, which does a decent job of taking away annoying ad you see on the web.
- Doesn’t use up too much space on the computer
- Has a firewall that automatically blocks IP addresses from leaking in the event of a disconnection from the server
- Equipped with an ad blocker
- The amount of server locations is lacking when compared to the amount that are given by its competitors
TunnelBear deserves credit for their outstanding customer support, whereby you can create a ticket and have it answered within a few hours on most instances. Up to five devices are able to connect to their multiple servers, so there’s no need to purchase additional accounts if you’re planning on sharing it with someone else. If you torrent, most of the popular clients should have no problems when connecting over p2p, and speeds won’t regress amid high traffic hours.
- When in need of customer support, tickets are responded to quickly
- A free version is available that allows the user to test for speeds and reliability
- Five devices can be used at the same time, on the same account
- Works when downloading content over peer-to-peer networks, such as torrents
- When user traffic is heavy, speed drops are a common occurrence
Buffered is an oddly named client that exhibits fast browsing speeds. It’s also another VPN with outstanding customer service. Should any issue arise, you can contact them throughout the day or night. But it’s something that won’t happen very often, something you’ll realize when seeing just how fast it connects you to its numerous servers. Unfortunately, there’s no kill switch added to the mix, so use caution if you absolutely cannot have your IP address leaked.
- Customer support can be reached at any time during the day or night
- Very fast connections speeds, connects to servers within seconds
- Uses an open source network to connect its users to different countries (OpenVPN)
- There is no kill switch featured given with the VPN
8. Hotspot Shield
If you’re using a video streaming website but need to access it from a country that’s different from the UK, consider the Hotspot Shield. There’s a large number of countries and servers available here, which should make it easy to make a foreign account for any website you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Additionally, the company doesn’t log personal information after payment; you’ll be completely safe from any risk of intrusion.
- A free trial of up to seven days is allowed, to which the user will have unlimited access to everything that’s given after payment
- Has a large network of servers that span every region
- No logs, no privacy intrusions
- May not work with some torrents
9. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is suitable for people with slow connections. But even over high-speed internet, their service to any of the other providers shown thus far. There’s ad block, DNS protection, and multiple customization options for more advanced users. However, while speeds are typically fast, you might experience a drop when traffic peaks.
- Doesn’t leak IP or DNS, even on slow connections
- The ad blocking feature is particularly useful and prevents heavily marketed sites from bypassing its protection
- Speeds are consistent and don’t slow down regardless of traffic
- Headquarters is located in the United States and subject to changing laws
PureVPN finalizes the list by featuring multiple customization options, an easy to understand user interface and well above 100 countries added to their list of server locations. You will be able to stream your films online over high definition, never experiencing slowdowns. But the biggest letdown is the company’s lack of P2P support. In fact, most file-sharing networks are blocked from their servers. If you don’t intend on downloading or sharing data on such programs, then PureVPN should suffice for other privacy needs online.
- Loads of customization options
- Over 140 countries selectable to choose from
- Speeds are never throttled and no caps are given (regarding how much data can be used per month)
- The interface may appear dated to some users
- Complicated and confusing website navigation
Frequently Asked Questions
While some basic information was provided at the begging of the article that concerns VPNs, there’s still lots more that you should know about. You definitely don’t want to purchase one without knowing about the featured that are given, so use the tips below to narrow your top considerations.
How Safe is a VPN?
For the most part, there’s nothing to worry about with your average VPN provider. If you’re worried about a company gaining access your sensitive data such as bank accounts or emails, try to find one that stipulates a policy of keeping their customers anonymity unknown. Most providers will never sell your information to third parties, either. But no matter how paranoid or lax you are about this issue, always go over every network user agreement. Doing so will show you everything that the company is permitted to collect from you, or whether they will bother obtaining your data in the first place.
Do VPN Providers collect Personal Information?
As stated before, it depends on the company. Most of them don’t, but those that do will usually draw the line at logging the times that you log into the account, or connect to a server. This doesn’t mean that they will have unfettered access to your browsing habits. But due to current UK laws, any provider without logging should be high on the list of your considerations.
Are all Operating Systems generally Supported?
Almost every VPN shown above is a compatible application or program for the most popular operating systems and smartphones. If you have an Android or use the iPhone’s iOS, you can do so at the same time that your PC or laptop is connected. For those using Linux-based distributions such as Ubuntu, support is also given. However, you may want to check if you’re using a distro that’s less common. Chrome OS is based on Linux as well, so if you see a provider that doesn’t advertise the latter but supports Ubuntu, you should be in the clear for Google’s platform.
What Are Some differences between Paid and Subscription Services?
Talk to most advanced consumers, and they will tell you that free VPNs are not recommended. While this is debatable, the reason for this sentiment is often due to the way that free providers have a poor reputation for getting hacked. They are also much more likely to sell your personal information to third parties. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but you should definitely be careful if you’re going for a VPN that offers no paid service.
On the other hand, don’t conflate paid services with those that are absolutely free. Many of those listed in the reviews have free versions or trial offers available to consumers, which don’t exhibit the same risk as their cheaper counterparts.
Several years ago, a popular VPN service that was free was exposed for selling the bandwidth of its users, of which was obtained automatically by the users of their servers through a botnet.
Can I acquire a VPN with Bitcoin?
Most popular VPN providers offer payments to be made with Bitcoin, which is a better way of keeping yourself private than paying with a debit or credit card. Still, do keep in mind that Bitcoin isn’t entirely private, and operates under Blockchain, a digital record in which all transactions are made available to the public. One crypto that does keep payments private is Dash, and is an option for ExpressVPN and Nord. For more information, check with your product of interest’s payment choices. If they don’t take Dash, then you could try creating an anonymous Bitcoin wallet.
What doesn’t a VPN Help Protect?
The most valuable resource for keeping personal information safe online is the person behind the computer. With this in mind, the best VPN service will not protect a user that carelessly browses sites with malicious programs, or doesn’t take the steps needed to learn about the trustworthiness of the VPN provider. Still, a VPN switches your public browsing over to a private server, so other public information such as your user agent can be obtained to determine what operating system you are running, browser type, and software versions currently on your device.
To defend against this vulnerability, always keep your programs (including your VPNs) up to date and protected with an anti-virus. Some VPN companies feature their own dedicated firewalls with the application itself, which can help prevent unwanted programs from leaking your IP when connected.
What about Streaming Videos?
Many VPNs allow users to stream video websites with no problem. That means you’ll be able to access your favourite shows on Netflix or Hulu, no matter where you are. Fortunately, the UK doesn’t restrict streaming websites that are safe, but the server you are using may not allow you to make accounts from a foreign email address. Again, this problem is mainly a case for people that reside outside of the US, UK, and EU, so it’s unlikely that you will be blocked from anything. Music streaming websites are where things can get a little tricky. But with a dedicated VPN, applications such as Pandora (which is strictly based in the US) become available to UK users. Furthermore, there’s lots of content on the web that you can’t access without using a proxy. Just turn on the VPN, and you’ll be on your way to a wider range of tools that are restricted
There were many great VPN providers featured in the reviews, and the best should be left up to what you prefer to use. Nevertheless, the numbered list indicates the best as those with the lowest number. When scrutinised, the NordVPN and ExpressVPNs maintain great features for just about anyone, having speeds that will make you forget that you’re even using their services.
As for the rest, they are also highly recommended, to which most will work with file sharing apps of all kinds. There’s something here for everyone, and you’ll be on the fast track to private browsing from any location around the UK in no time.