Recommended VPNs for the UK 2020

What is a Virtual Private Network?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software application that enables users to set up a secure connection to the internet. When you are using a VPN, all your internet traffic is tunneled through an encrypted channel, making it difficult for snoopers, hackers, or governments to track your activities and collect your private data.

Normally, when you try to access content on the internet, your internet service provider receives the request and redirects you to the specific server. This means that your ISP can access and monitor all of the traffic that goes through their servers. That’s where VPNs come in.

When you browse the internet using a VPN, your communications are encrypted, preventing your ISP, the government, and other third parties from tracking your online activities. The application also masks identity by assigning remote IP addresses and can allow you to legally access streaming media content.

Why you need a VPN for the UK

If you are located in the United Kingdom, you may want to consider investing in one of the best VPNs for the UK. With the passage of the Investigatory Powers (IP) Act 2016 – fittingly dubbed the Snoopers Charter – the government was given the power to monitor online activities. The legislation allows Internet Service Providers (ISP) to collect personal details and grants public bodies access to these records.

Despite a widespread public condemnation and a successful legal challenge early this year, the legislation is still very much in effect. However, with a good VPN software, you can reclaim your privacy. A VPN allows you to establish a secure connection and keep your personal data away from prying eyes.

If you live in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, there are a number of good reasons why you might need to use a VPN. These include:

Privacy

Following the implementation of the IP Act, online privacy isn’t exactly what it used to be. Under the legislation, ISPs are required to collect subscribers’ data and log the records for at least one year. Even if you have nothing to hide, the idea of being watched and tracked isn’t appealing for most people who value their privacy online.

When choosing a VPN service in the UK, you want to go for a provider from outside the Five Eyes countries. Often shortened to FVEY, Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. If a VPN service is registered in a FVEY country, it’s obligated to comply with all laws and cooperate with the country’s surveillance agency. This can mean giving up access to the data stored on a VPN network.

Additionally, watch out for the Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes alliances. Any data from one of these countries subject to the surveillance protocols implemented by intelligence-sharing alliances.

  • Five Eyes countries: (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand)
  • Nine Eyes countries: (Five Eyes + Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Norway)
  • Fourteen Eyes countries: (Nine Eyes + Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain)

Recommended VPN: ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is not a member of the Five, Nine, or 14 Eyes alliances.

Censorship

You’ve probably heard of the Digital Economy Act 2017. One key part of the legislation that has garnered lots of media attention is the added barriers to accessing legal adult content sites. The best VPN applications can allow users to overcome this and at the same time keep their identity a secret.

Torrenting

While torrenting itself isn’t illegal, downloading or streaming copyrighted material can land you on the wrong side of the law. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish which items are legal to torrent and which aren’t. When using torrenting sites like The Pirate Bay, anyone in the swarm can easily see your IP address. We stress that torrenting should only be done with content that you have the license to. The best VPN services can come in handy for those seeking to safeguard their security and protect their identity.

Netflix & BBC iPlayer

With a VPN , you can change your IP so that you are not traceable back to the UK. This way you can be sure that your internet activity is private and anonymous. All of our top UK VPNs are also recommended VPNs for Netflix. Similarly, if you’re a UK expat looking to catch up on BBC TV via the iPlayer or Channel 4 via All4 etc, it’s a good idea to use a VPN.

Security

Public wifi networks – like those in airports, coffee shops, or schools – are not as safe as you might think. Although they’re incredibly convenient, these hotspots are often severely insecure, leaving you vulnerable to snoopers and hackers. All your traffic can be intercepted by anyone on the same network, putting your personal details and sensitive data such as passwords and credit card info at risk. This makes it highly important to always use a VPN, especially when connected to a public network.

Will a Free VPN Work?

Do free VPNs work? Sure. But compared to the best VPN services with paid plans, their features are quite limited. Free VPNs are ok for sporadic uses like encrypting your data when on an unsecured network, but can be unreliable in the long term.

For instance, most free VPNs don’t work at all with Netflix and BBC iPlayer. If you are looking for maximum security and privacy when online, then you’d be better off using a paid service. Free VPNs tend to offer PTTP connections only which, as we already know, can be insecure. On the other hand, a paid VPN service will provide you with high-encryption protocols such as SSTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPsec, enabling you to tunnel your connections more securely.

In addition to being less secure, free VPNs offer slow connection speeds, making it tough to stream content from your account with Netflix or iPlayer. These apps are notorious for stealing users’ bandwidth, injecting targeted ads, and in serious cases, they can log your browsing history and sell it to advertisers. So, before selecting a free VPN, it’s important to review the provider’s policies to ensure that they have a zero logging policy.

If you’re concerned about your privacy and security while online, it’s advisable to opt for a paid VPN service. You’ll enjoy faster and more stable connections, better security, and reliable customer service.

FAQs: VPN for UK

Is it legal to use a VPNs in the UK?

The simple answer is yes. There’s isn’t any law in the country that prevents you from using a VPN service. However, you’ll need to be a bit careful when selecting a VPN service. If you choose a UK-based service, know that they still fall under the IP Act and are, just like the ISPs, obligated by law to provide information to the government.

How do I install a VPN on my PC?

It’s easy to install a VPN application on your personal computer. Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be set up in a matter of minutes.

  1. Go to your preferred provider’s official website. Go the downloads page, and click on the download tab.
  2. Navigate to your downloads folder, and double-click the installation file you ’ve downloaded.
  3. If prompted with, “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?” pop up, click Yes.
  4. When the installation window opens, click Install.
  5. Wait for the installation process to complete.
  6. Once the installation process has been completed, you can launch the app and connect to the server of your choice.

Can I use a VPN on my Kodi box?

Absolutely. There are lots of VPNs that are compatible with the popular Kodi boxes such as Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, NVidia Shield TV, and a host of other TV boxes.

Can I use a UK VPN on my phone?

Absolutely. Most UK VPNs have Android applications allowing you to install and run them on your phone at no extra cost.

Isn’t a good anti-virus/malware enough?

While good antivirus software can scan, detect, and protect your device against viruses and malicious links, it won’t encrypt your connection, meaning your personal data can be seen by anyone who’s trying to peek. Still, an antivirus/malware software is an essential tool that everyone should use. To remain as safe and secure as possible, we recommend using both a VPN and an antivirus when online.

Conclusion

If you are in the UK you might want to consider getting a VPN installed on all your devices. Not only will it keep your personal data secure from hackers and other malicious individuals, but also, it’ll completely obscure your traffic from your ISP and other IP Act compliant third parties preventing them from tracking and monitoring your online activities.

Written by: Joel Timothy
22 October 2018

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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