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The 10 best VPNs for the UK: regional specificities, tested services

Last updated: August 21, 2020 By Dean Chester

After the launch of the Snooper's charter, the UK Internet users’ privacy has become an empty phrase. Taking into account the restriction to several websites, it becomes clear why VPN in the UK has got so wide use. In this article, we will consider the best VPN services. They will easily help to solve privacy and website restriction issues.

Best VPN for UKControl over Internet users has been tightened almost all over the world. In some countries, it happens due to the restrictions of freedom, whereas for others the fight against terrorism has become the main reason. Sometimes censorship is introduced as a form of moral defense. Fortunately, the UK is a free country. There are no reasons to talk about total political censorship nowadays. However, the struggle for safety and morality has gone too far. Therefore, people more often use VPN services to overcome restrictions, ensure confidentiality and anonymity.

VPN in the UK solves three major problems:

  1. Information openness about network activity (Internet providers collect and store data on users’ activity).
  2. Sensitive data leaks (Any person can be monitored at the request of the police).
  3. Access restriction to certain sites.

In this article, I will cover how to use a VPN correctly for privacy and safe access to blocked websites, taking into consideration the UK law. I’ll offer 5 tested high-quality VPNs and 5 free VPNs that allow increasing privacy, however, with some restrictions.

I’ll also raise the issue on how to access geo-restricted content of American Netflix. You will learn how to access the UK content (such services as BBC iPlayer, UK Netflix, and others) while traveling to other countries.

 
The five best VPNs for UK
  1. ExpressVPN: The most private and reliable service. It has passed all the security tests and uses diskless servers.
  2. NordVPN: The most user-friendly and powerful VPN that supports additional privacy protection.
  3. Surfshark: The cheapest ($1.99) among professional VPNs. It has advanced privacy settings.
  4. CyberGhost VPN: The largest VPN service. It is great for streaming (Netflix, BBC, Amazon, and others).
  5. Mullvad: No restrictions for a 7-day trial period. Test all features and 500+ servers worldwide on any of your gadgets.
 
The five best free VPNs for UK
  1. Windscribe: Its free subscription includes 10GB of traffic.
  2. ProtonVPN: It doesn’t limit traffic but doesn’t support torrenting for free.
  3. hide.me: It offers not bad speeds, supports all platforms but allows only 2 GB per month for free.
  4. TurboVPN : It is a popular VPN for mobile devices.
  5. VPN Gate: It uses users’ computers instead of servers. In general, it owns Asian locations.
  • Advice. Lots of newbies try to use free VPN services. However, while using free servers, connection quality, speeds, and a number of locations are limited. As a rule, Netflix is not available. Therefore, it’s better to use paid VPNs which offer a money-back guarantee (all VPNs from Top 5).

The peculiarities of VPNs for the United Kingdom

Having analyzed the UK laws, which directly or indirectly affect Internet users, I came into conclusion that the most suitable VPN services for the UK should have the following technologies and features:

  • Modern privacy protection which copes with possible traffic interception
  • Reliable protection for visited sites
  • High reliability, especially while mobile use
  • High speeds
  • Bypassing streaming services restriction
  • Torrenting support
  • No Logs policy
  • Wide choice of locations (countries)

I want to note that among several dozens of popular and advertised VPN services, only a small part meets the criteria mentioned above. Many providers have too outdated and simplified functionality, undeveloped technical base, or support not all platforms, etc.

I also want to share my experience in choosing a VPN. All good VPNs offer from 5 to an unlimited number of connected devices simultaneously. It means that within only one subscription, your VPN is available for all your family or even more. Therefore, it is important to take into consideration such feature as support of various platforms. The paid VPNs presented in this article support all Oss (and even offer user-friendly software for them), TV, and gaming platforms. Basing on my experience, I selected those services that combine a maximum number of goodies for users.

Let’s figure out how legal VPN in the UK is.

Today (in 2020) Virtual Private Network is completely legal. There are no laws that ban bypassing restrictions imposed by Internet service providers (ISPs). Besides, VPN use doesn’t contradict the law that obliges ISPs to collect and store information about Internet users’ network activity. Moreover, it doesn’t conflict with the fact that courts must allow surveillance of people at the request of the police.

Thus, despite some contradictions take place, VPN technology is absolutely safe for ensuring your own privacy and bypassing restrictions in the territory of the UK.


What restrictions does a VPN get past in the UK?

There are three types of resources, which have limited access at the ISP level (excluding resources that directly violate the law):

  1. Torrent trackers
  2. Sites with adult content
  3. Gambling sites

All these resources can be unblocked with the help of VPN.

However, incorrect use of virtual networks is not safe while torrenting. I want to share the unpleasant experience of a friend of mine from a London suburb.  His name is Jerry. Two years ago he received a warning letter and then a fine for using torrent trackers. He downloaded files from torrent trackers. He used an ordinary VPN. Despite this, his ISP was able to detect a restricted activity. It turned out that his VPN often lost connection with a server and reconnected. Jerry didn’t notice that his P2P traffic was visible.

How to use torrent trackers safely?

To protect yourself, it is enough to hide torrenting from ISP with the help of a VPN. However, you have to do it correctly. (for more detailed information on how to do this and which VPN services to use, read or article about VPN for torrenting).

Shortly, you have to use VPN servers with a Kill Switch function, which blocks all device traffic while reconnecting to a server. All presented in this article free providers have such a feature.

  • Advace. Before using torrent clients, torrent apps for Kodi, Popcorn Time, and other software that use Peer-To-Peer technology, make sure that Kill Switch is activated in your VPN app (this feature sometimes has another name, but, anyway, it blocks all device traffic when there are some problems with the connection to a VPN server).

All these will allow masking a fact of using P2P.

As for unblocking websites with pornographic materials, everything is much easier. Those users who will visit such sites for personal viewing won’t have any problems. I do not recommend sharing such materials. However, this is completely another article of the law and does not relate to VPNs.


The best VPN for the UK that meets all modern requirements

Today ExpressVPN is #1 VPN service that combines a maximum number of functions and parameters which are necessary for users in the United Kingdom.

Other services which showed good results while testing are NordVPN and Surfshark.

All services were tested for sensitive data protection, protection of visited websites’ addresses, DNS and WebRTC leaks, safe torrenting, streaming support, and other crucial parameters.

Further, we will consider all recommended paid and free VPN services.


1. ExpressVPN: Best solution for the UK

ExpressVPN - #1 for UK

According to the last tests results, ExpressVPN is a perfect solution in terms of confidentiality, security and restrictions bypassing.

Also, being a VPN provider, it has very fast speeds and supports any OS and platforms including TV, game consoles and routers.

ExpressVPN has lots of positive reviews on Reddit. Customers usually recommend it for privacy, streaming, and torrenting.

Pros:

  • Proven safety even when using default settings
  • Kill Switch with the proven efficiency
  • Over 3000 servers in 94 countries worldwide
  • Stable unblocking of Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services from any part of the world
  • Official torrenting support
  • Compatibility with all modern platforms
  • Doesn’t keep logs (confirmed), uses diskless servers

Cons:

  • Lack of a 2-year and 3-year plans with an additional discount

Additional features:

  • Split tunneling
  • Protocols option
  • Best extensions for Chrome and Firefox in the market
  • 24/7 support
  • 5 simultaneous connections per 1 subscription

Price*:

The provider isn’t on the list of the cheapest VPNs. Nevertheless, it provides a good price/quality ratio within an annual subscription. Its price differs a bit from its nearest competitor and amounts to £5.51 monthly.

No VAT for the United Kingdom residents. Other VPNs on the list VAT can be up to 20%.

ExpressVPN’s price compared to other service.

(compared to the same-length subscriptions of the VPNs on our Top 5)

Provider 12-month plan (monthly) 6-month plan (monthly) 1 month
ExpressVPN £5.51 £8.84 £11.47
NordVPN £5.38 - £9.20
Surfshark £4.79 - £9.49
CyberGhost VPN £4.59 - £11.99
Mullvad €5 €5 €5

* prices in pounds can differ slightly depending on the rate of exchange to the USA dollar

ExpressVPN Preview
Best VPN connection quality combined with 100% confidentiality

Full review ExpressVPN


2. NordVPN: Powerful multifunctional VPN

NordVPN

NordVPN has not only functionality that is good for use in the UK but also is the largest, according to Google Trends, and the most popular VPN provider in the world.

VPN-Review regularly tests the service, these results show the superiority of NordVPN over most competitors for more than a year. NordVPN is also my personal choice (It is not advertising information. I use a regularly paid subscription.)

Pros:

  • Proven safety even with default settings
  • Kill Switch
  • Double VPN
  • More than 5400 servers with access to each of them, servers are located in 59 popular countries
  • Stable Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and many other streaming services support for all regions
  • Torrenting support
  • Extremely user-friendly apps interface
  • Support of all modern platforms
  • Does not keep logs

Cons:

  • On Windows, it sometimes connects 2-5 seconds longer than usual. Everything depends on your processor power.

Additional features

  • Available in Mac App Store (uncommon for a VPN)
  • Obfuscation for countries with censorship
  • Interactive map for choosing locations
  • Possibility to choose a certain server, but not only a location
  • Protection against malicious sites
  • One subscription allows 6 devices simultaneously

Price:

The cost of NordVPN depends on the duration of the subscription. It starts from £2.68 per month for a 3-year subscription with a 70% discount.

The provider guarantees a full money refund if you cancel your subscription during the first 30 days.

Cards, 3 cryptocurrencies, Amazon Pay, and other payment systems are accepted.

Note: For citizens of the United Kingdom an additional 20% VAT is charged.

Full NordVPN review

NordVPN Preview
Do you need a high level of privacy while staying in the UK?

3. Surfshark: High privacy level at a record low price

Surfshark supports the UK

Surfshark is rapidly gaining popularity among users from many countries, including the United Kingdom. This relatively young VPN (was launched in 2018) deals seriously with ensuring a high level of privacy and supporting the popular direction of using virtual networks – streaming and P2P/torrenting. Besides, it has lots of advanced features that aren’t supported even by the largest VPNs. And all these advantages are at a really low price ($1.99 per month).

You might wonder why this VPN is not in the first position.

Perhaps, it is slightly inferior to our leaders in speed. However, you may notice this only if your ISP’s speed is higher than 50Mbps.

Surfshark has a good reputation and lots of truly positive reviews.

Pros:

  • 1000+ servers in 61 countries
  • Proven safety even with default settings (except Linux Ubuntu)
  • Kill Switch on all OSs
  • Strong streaming support
  • Torrenting is allowed on all counties
  • Anti-snooping
  • Supports all modern platforms, including FireTV or gaming consoles
  • Does not keep logs
  • Obfuscation

Cons:

  • No options to choose specific servers inside locations
  • Insufficient safety on Linux

Additional features

  • Protection against malicious sites
  • Protection against tracking (BlindSearch is available at extra pay)
  • MultiHop VPN (a chain of servers)
  • Unlimited number of devices at one subscription

Price:

Surfshark is a perfect VPN service even if you do not take into account its price. However, if you compare the prices of the leaders of the VPN market, it will become more interesting. The minimum price (for a 2-year subscription) is £ 1.59 per month.

The provider guarantees a refund in case a customer refuses the services within the first 30 days after subscribing to a 2-year subscription.

The payment methods are the following: PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and cryptocurrencies.

Note: For citizens of the United Kingdom an additional 20% VAT is charged.

Full Surfshark review

Surfshark Preview
Stay protected when surfing from the UK!

4. CyberGhost VPN: Suits perfectly for torrenting and streaming

CyberGhost VPN is suitable for the UK

CyberGhost VPN is the second largest VPN in the world. It has more than 5400 servers in 80 countries. Its peculiarity - specifically set servers for streaming and torrenting. They are conveniently located in separate lists and available through a menu of the app. Besides, its settings fully correspond for use in the US (constantly switched Kill Switch, tracking protection, AES-256 protection, and many others).

For almost 10 years of its work, CyberGhost VPN hasn’t been noticed in any scandals or negative activities. You may trust this service.

Pros:

  • Proven safety even with default settings
  • Kill Switch is always turned on
  • Special servers for streaming with 15 video services support in various regions
  • Special servers for torrenting
  • Ability to choose a certain server and not only a location
  • Anti-snooping
  • All modern platforms support, including Firestick
  • Doesn’t keep logs

Cons:

  • Does not have obfuscation protocols for masking in countries with strict censorship
  • Simplified functionality on iOS

Additional features

  • Protection against malicious sites
  • Protection against tracking (NoSpy)
  • Dedicated IP
  • One subscription allows 7 devices simultaneously

Price:

CyberGhost VPN is especially profitable when paying for a 3-year subscription. In this case, its price will be £2.15 per month, including a 79% discount.

The provider guarantees a money refund. However, in case a customer refuses the services within 45 days after paying for a subscription.

Cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and BitPay are accepted.

Note: VAT is not charged for citizens of the UK.

Full CyberGhost VPN review


5. Mullvad: WireGuard and double VPN for maximum protection

Mullvad is suitable for the UK

Mullvad VPN is a perfect fit for users who are located in the United Kingdom. However, there is a thing they should know. The VPN does not unblock Netflix and some other popular geo-restricted streaming services. As for the rest, it is a fast and modern service with advanced VPN protocol WireGuard. It allows creating a chain of two servers and has other useful functions.

I like how stable its apps work. Besides, due to the use of WireGuard, it connects fast even on Windows.

The provider does not keep logs and cares about its reputation. In general, users’ reviews are positive.

Pros:

  • Modern protocol WireGuard
  • Proven safety even with default settings
  • Kill Switch (Block when disconnected)
  • Torrenting is allowed
  • Does not keep logs
  • Does not request email for registration

Cons:

  • Supports only 36 countries
  • Does not support unlocking of geo-restricted content
  • There are no possibilities to choose specific servers inside locations
  • Does not have an app for iOS
  • Does not have Split tunneling
  • Does not provide configurations for manual set up

Additional features

  • Its own DNS servers
  • Double VPN (Bridge mode)

Price:

Mullvad VPN doesn’t have regular pricing. The price does not depend on the duration of the subscription. It is due to the fact that the provider does not identify accounts with user’s data (good anonymity). Therefore, it can’t see the duration of the subscription.

The price for the service is fixed. It is €5 per month.

PayPal, bank cards, Swish, Bank wire, cash, and cryptocurrencies are accepted.

Note: VAT is not charged for citizens of the UK.

Full Mullvad review


Best free VPN for the UK with the least limitations

Now let’s consider a free VPN. Let’s have a look at what it offers, if it is safe, and how it differs from paid ones.

If you use Virtual Private Network for increasing privacy on the Internet, then ProtonVPN is the best free VPN service. However, if a number of countries matters, then Windscribe is the best one.

  • Warning. All free VPNs have significant limitations. For UK users, the most important limits are speeds and traffic volume. These are exactly those two major characteristics which limit all free VPNs. Besides, many free providers use built-in advertising. Its display reduces privacy due to the scripts which are carried out in the app.

A free VPN differs from a paid one in the fact that it is not suitable for torrenting and is almost not usable for streaming.

Read further and you will learn 5 free VPNs for the UK. They were chosen regarding the results of regular testing and after analysis of users’ reviews.


Free ProtonVPN1. Free ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN has the best combination of affordable traffic and speeds within its free subscription. It is one from a few VPNs that don’t limit traffic but limits its speed. At the same time, it is quite suitable for web surfing or watching low- and medium-quality movies.

However, torrenting is fully banned and blocked, netflix.com and other streaming services aren’t available.

Pros and cons of free ProtonVPN

Pros Cons
Good reputation Limited speeds
Apps for all platforms Torrenting is banned
Unlimited traffic Doesn’t support streaming
Credit card isn’t necessary 3 countries
Doesn’t keep logs Challenge-response test

Conclusion:

If you compare all free services, ProtonVPN is the best for continuous use. However, it is only in that case if speeds don’t matter and torrenting or streaming services aren’t needed. The provider is safe, has a good level of connection protection. However, internet resources don’t trust free servers, they are usually viewed as servers with suspicious actions.


Free Windscribe2. Free Windscribe

The free plan of Windscribe differs from free ProtonVPN in the following features:

  1. Torrenting is allowed
  2. Speeds are lower
  3. Better functionality
  4. Traffic is limited to 10GB per month
  5. 10 countries are available

As a result, there are both advantages and disadvantages. The only thing is evident: Windscribe is the best free VPN, which is suitable for torrenting.

Pros and cons of free Windscribe

Pros Cons
Torrenting is allowed Extremely low speeds
Unsullied reputation Doesn’t support Netflix
Apps for all platforms  
10GB traffic per month  
Extended functionality  
Credit card isn’t required  
Support of nonstandard protocols  
Does not keep logs  

Conclusion:

Free Windscribe is not suitable for everyday usage. However, it perfectly deals with torrenting within limited traffic. As for its ability to ensure privacy, tests showed a high level of software safety.


VPN Gate3. VPN Gate

Today VPN Gate is the only non-commercial and fully free VPN. It allows every person to use the Internet safely and popularize progressive and safe protocol, SoftEther VPN.

But I want to point out a significant drawback of VPN Gate. It doesn’t use classic servers located in a data center.  It uses computers of other users. Anyone can install SoftEther software and become a “server”.

VPN Gate was developed in a Japanese university and it’s supported by it. It is the main reason why the majority of available locations are based in Asia.

These and other peculiarities you may find in the table below.

Pros and cons of free VPN Gate

Pros Cons
Relatively safe Speeds are slow
Fully free Almost all locations are in Asia
No traffic limits Servers can disconnect at any time
  App only for desktops
  Not convenient for inexperienced users

Conclusion:

VPN Gate is hardly a service for everyone. For its use, the basic knowledge of the network operation is needed, as well as patience while searching for suitable locations. At the same time, even delicate tasks can be solved with the help of this provider (but remember that logging appears at the discretion of the owners of a particular server).


TurboVPN4. Free hide.me

Hide.me is comparable with Windscribe. They have similar free versions.

There are only 3 differences:

  1. Traffic is only 2GB
  2. Speed is higher
  3. Has more limited functionality and no nonstandard VPN protocols

The most significant feature for practical use is traffic volume limitation. 2GB is not enough. Especially if consider good hide.me speeds.

Pros and cons of free hide.me

Pros Cons
Good speeds Simplified functionality
Unsullied reputation Does not support Netflix
Apps for all platforms 2GB per month
Credit card is not required  
Torrenting is allowed  
Does not keep logs  

Conclusion:

Free Hide.me is especially effective for a one-use or infrequent use. It is not suitable for regular web surfing on sites with video content.


Free TurboVPN5. Free TurboVPN

There is only one VPN with built-in ads in our list – Turbo VPN. This provider works only on mobile platforms. However, it provides unlimited traffic and quite good speeds.

I recommend this VPN only for those who don’t care much about their privacy. I’m not sure if this service is robust enough. As we know, for effective advertising, which pop ups a lot during the apps use, VPNs should provide users’ geo data and other private information to advertising services.

Pros and cons of free TurboVPN

Pros Cons
Good speeds A lot of built-in ads
No traffic limits Does not support Netflix
Credit card is not required Available only on Android and iOS
Torrenting is allowed No extended functionality
High popularity No clear and transparent info on creators

Conclusion:

Free TurboVPN is suitable for regular web surfing while using mobile devices. There are not enough speeds for watching video content, constant data loading is annoying. As the VPN uses ads, there are no 100% privacy guarantees.


FAQ

? What VPN is suitable for routers?

Not all VPN services can run on a router. To distribute Wi-Fi through a VPN, you have to get the provider’s configuration files. As a rule, it is an OpenVPN configuration. In some cases, it is a PPTP or L2TP configuration, but these variants are not safe.

Among servers that provide manual settings for routers, the best one is NordVPN. It is not the best according to its technical characteristics but also has the detailed manuals for setting up 15 varieties of routers.

The following VPNs will also suite well:

? What VPN is better for connecting to the UK?

It often happens that one needs a UK IP address to access regional content from any locations in the world. This may be necessary for visiting the UK sites, which limit access from other countries for security reasons, or accessing the content of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services and TV channels in the UK.

To solve this problem, you need a VPN that owns UK servers.

Fortunately, there are lots of providers that offer locations in the United Kingdom. Even if they are rented in the same data center, they do not guarantee high speeds.

VPN-Review recommends using the largest VPNs for accessing UK locations. The larger a provider, the more evenly the traffic is distributed. It contributes to higher speeds and crosses out situations when all locations are unavailable.

Here is a list of servers with the highest number of fast servers in the UK (March 2020):

VPN service Number of servers in the UK
NordVPN 608 in one location
CyberGhost VPN 456 in 3 locations
ExpressVPN 5 locations
IPVanish 97 in 3 locations

It does not mean that other VPNs do not suit. We publish those which provide such information.

⚙ What settings should you use for a VPN in the UK?

To answer this question, you have to consider regional peculiarities. The main settings, which you need to use for optimal VPN settings, can be divided into three groups:

  1. General settings of Virtual Private Network
  2. Privacy settings
  3. Settings required to unlock geo-restricted content
  • Providers that are mentioned in this article offer all the settings listed below.

The first group of settings provide a high level of security. It includes the choice of a VPN protocol, type of encryption (if any), DNS settings, and other rarer settings.

I recommend don’t change default settings as their combination is time-tested. All good VPN services use the most optimal default settings even before app installation.

The second group is needed for more private access to the Internet. It includes safe torrenting and bypassing blocks in corporate networks. I recommend you to activate the Kill Switch option. In some cases, it is useful to activate obfuscation, anti-snooping, blocking of malicious websites.

The third group of settings allows you to unblock Netflix and other services effectively. You need to select a necessary country in the majority of VPNs. But some providers (for example, CyberGhost VPN) offer a special list of servers for streaming. In this case, you need to connect to the appropriate server from the list.

? What sites are restricted in the UK?

I offer a list of the most popular domains which are banned:

  • thekat.nl (KickassTorrents)
  • x.org (1337x)
  • putlocker.is (Putlocker)
  • thepiratebay.org (The Pirate Bay)
  • torrentz.eu (Torrentz)
  • limetorrents.com (limetorrents)

There are nearly 100 torrent websites, dozens of websites with adult content, gambling websites, and others which are restricted by local ISPs.

? What sites are available only with a UK IP address?

There are lots of websites which can be accessed with the help of UK IP only. I will give a shortened list of such sites. This information will be useful both for residents of the United Kingdom who travel abroad and for those who wish to access UK content.

  • bbc.co.uk/iplayer (BBC iPlayer)
  • netflix.com (Netflix UK content)
  • amazon.com/amazonprime (Amazon Prime UK)
  • sky.com (Sky Go UK)
  • channel4.com UK

Read also:

VPN-Review - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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3 user reviews for The 10 best VPNs for the UK: regional specificities, tested services

HBO

Say I wanted to watch some HBO while in the UK? What VPN should I choose for that?

thx

Thanks for this review guv, real useful

Urban VPN review for UK

I’d like to share my experience with the self-proclaimed “BEST VPN FOR UK” Urban VPN. I was daft enough back in the day to actually use it and have regretted it greatly. Thing is, these sods offer you not only a VPN but also an adblocker. Don’t know why you would get it when there is Ublock Plus but whatever, as I said, I was stupid back then. Well, imagine my shock when it did block ads but only to replace them with its own ads! Add to it a multitude of errors and the bloody service NOT WORKING AND LEAKING MY IP ADDRESS. What a bellend service! Don’t repeat my mistake and stay well away from it!