Best VPNs For The UK: What is The Best VPN Service in The UK

article by Nicky Hoseck
March 22, 2020
Despite its reputation for being a liberal country, the UK has some of the most draconian cybersecurity laws in the world. When the Investigatory Powers Act was introduced in 2016, a United Nations spokesperson called it’s wide-reaching surveillance measures “privacy-intrusive” and “disproportionate”.

During this COVID-19 global pandemic, we recommend having a powerful VPN with speeds high enough to keep up with the increased demand for streaming content. With the large majority of people staying at home, streaming might be slowed down due to volume of users.

VPNs are legal in the UK, but the Investigatory Powers Act also requires “internet companies to cooperate with investigations, including potentially ‘removing electronic protection’ from encrypted communications or data”. In other words, a UK VPN isn’t the safest option and the best VPNs for the UK are those situated far away from such invasive legislation.

Government surveillance isn’t the only concern for those traveling to the UK and entering British cyberspace. Cybercrime is rife, costing victims over £190,000 per day and, between April and September last year, affecting over 13,000 people. The only way to stay safe in UK cyberspace is to stay hidden with a reputable VPN for UK.

What is the Best VPN for UK? Here are our top choices:

#1 ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Logo

Our number one pick for the best VPN for UK isn’t based in Britain itself, but in the British Virgin Islands where a very different approach to data retention and online privacy guides government policy. As a result, ExpressVPN can operate as a strictly no-logging VPN in the BVI where there are no data retention laws to hamper its dedication to user privacy. A UK VPN, on the other hand, would fall under the same jurisdiction as a UK ISP and would, therefore, be required to maintain logs including the domains you visit and your IP address

ExpressVPN uses the latest AES 256-bit encryption to protect your online privacy and data, hiding your online activity from everyone, including your ISP. Cutting-edge DNS leak protection, zero-knowledge DNS, and Trusted Server technology give ExpressVPN users superior protection and guaranteed anonymity.

Although ExpressVPN produces some of the fastest speeds, it doesn’t have the largest server network. Nevertheless, over 3,000 secure servers and a sprinkling of servers throughout the southern portion of the UK make for reliable connections and consistent speeds. You can even access sites like BBC iPlayer or one of the many torrenting sites banned in the UK.

With apps available for all major operating systems and a user-friendly interface, ExpressVPN is as effective for a beginner on a smartphone as it is for an experienced user on a Mac.

Find out more about what makes this VPN provider our choice of best VPN for UK by reading our full review here or simply sign up with ExpressVPN today and take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee.

#2 CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPN

There’s a lot to like about CyberGhost, from its extensive server network to its user-friendly interface, CyberGhost is a simple yet effective way of staying anonymous while surfing. Pre-configured streaming profiles automatically connect you to a server dedicated and optimized for that specific service, be it Hulu, Netflix, or Disney+.

CyberGhost opted for privacy-friendly Romania as its headquarters and operates under a strict no-logging policy. CyberGhost also releases regular Transparency Reports detailing all the requests it’s receiving from law enforcement agencies and governments over the past few months. CyberGhost has yet to jump on the independent audit bandwagon, however, and its no-logging policy is, at this point, unproven and untested.

CyberGhost has over 5,900 servers in 90 different locations, including around 900 or so scattered between Manchester in the North of England and London in the South. Using the same encryption as ExpressVPN, CyberGhost is as secure but not always quite as fast as the best VPN for UK. Nevertheless, ease of use has made CyberGhost one of the most popular VPNs in the world, with over 30 million users.

In addition to solid DNS leak protection and cutting-edge encryption, CyberGhost uses NoSpy servers to give its users an extra layer of defense. It also makes staying safe on public Wi-Fi a breeze with its auto-connect feature and kill switch. Peek under this hauntingly good VPN’s shroud of invisibility in our full review or just take a leap of faith and sign up with CyberGhost today.

#3 Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

As fast as its name suggests, Surfshark is nipping at the heels of the best VPN for UK with its high-speed secure connections. While ExpressVPN and CyberGhost have been around for a decade or more, Surfshark made its entry into the cybersecurity industry just a couple of years but its minimalist user interface and competitive prices have lured in customers from all over the world

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark enjoys the same freedom to operate as a strict no-logging VPN as ExpressVPN but it throws a few more features into the mix. One of the most notable aspects of Surfshark’s VPN service is that it allows for unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can protect everything from your Apple Watch to your smart espresso machine.

There’s nothing wrong with Surfshark’s security either and it adds to the standard encryption by introducing a Multi-Hop option for those in need of a second layer of encryption and protection. Surfshark allows P2P traffic on all its servers, and like ExpressVPN, runs private DNS across its network to prevent leaks and data breaches.

Surfshark has several modes available, including Camouflage Mode, which is designed to hide all activity from your ISP, making it ideal as a VPN for UK. Surfshark has six servers in the UK, reaching as far north as Glasgow, so users can quickly and easily access geographically restricted content on BBC iPlayer or ITVHub.

Although Surfshark’s customer support isn’t quite up to scratch, in every other respect it’s a good choice for a UK VPN, combining security and speed. It’s also very reasonably priced so why not sign up with Surfshark today, or make sure you’re familiar with its habits by reading our full review first.

#4 ZenMate

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Although ZenMate’s server network is comparatively small and primarily Eurocentric, it has over 200 servers in the UK which means high-speed connections and browsing with a UK IP address shouldn’t be a problem. Unlike our top three UK VPNs, ZenMate’s headquarters are in Germany, meaning it’s obliged by law to keep some logs which may include your IP address.

ZenMate isn’t a strictly no-logging VPN but it still does much to protect its users, their identities and their sensitive data. Using the same encryption and OpenVPN security protocol as other leadings VPNs, there’s no reason to think your secrets aren’t safe in ZenMate’s hands.

Those of you keen to hide your online activities from the UK government but reluctant to pay for the privilege will welcome ZenMate VPN’s free service with open arms. It’s not the fastest and it does restrict you to just four of its servers but it’s a  lot more effective and reliable than many other free VPNs with their bunded-in trackers and malware.

ZenMate’s Ultimate package is more comprehensive and great value for money, giving users the benefits of unlimited torrenting, ad-blocking software, five simultaneous connections, and a Chrome browser extension all for just $1.99 per month if you commit to a two-year subscription.

If you feel need a little more Zen in your life and a little more protection online, then ZenMate is well worth considering as a VPN for UK. Check out our full review for more information.

#5 ProtonVPN

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ProtonVPN may not be a household name but it’s no newcomer to cybersecurity either. In 2014, ProtonMail appeared on the market, offering military-grade encryption to keep email communications private and reduce the risk of phishing and other cybersecurity threats.

ProtonMail could only go so far, however, so “ProtonVPN project was born out fa need to better protect the activists and journalists that used Proton Mail”. Of course, you don’t have to be either to sign up for a ProtonVPN subscription or even just download its free VPN.

ProtonVPN’s free package is like ZenMate’s insofar as it covers just one device, gives users access to three server locations, and medium speeds. Its paid subscriptions start with the basic package which covers two simultaneous connections, all the way through to the Visionary option which includes Proton Mail, covers up to 10 devices and gives users the benefits of secure streaming, as well as access to both its Tor and Secure Core servers.

ProtonVPN has 12 servers in the UK but, unfortunately, none of these are available with the free service, so if you want to browse with a UK IP address, you’ll need to part with a few dollars a month. ProtonVPN is much smaller in terms of its server network than the other VPNs for UK discussed here but its emphasis on security makes it a good choice for a UK VPN. Explore its inner workings in our full review or just take the plunge and sign up with ProtonVPN today.

Digital Freedom and the UK Snooping Charter

When the UK passed its Investigatory Powers Bill, it managed to surpass the rest of Europe and even the US by creating a surveillance law that, according to some critics, “is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy”.

While heightened security is understandable given the high rate of cybercrime in the UK and issues of organized crime and terrorism, what’s more, difficult to grasp is precisely why a total of 48 different government agencies need access to your private browsing history and associated data. How knowing I spent an hour watching Netflix this morning would benefit the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board or the Food Standards Agency, for instance, is anyone’s guess!

Despite numerous challenges, the Investigatory Powers Bill marches on undeterred. In August this year, the High Court dismissed a legal challenge from a civil liberties group that claimed the Bill “breached European human rights laws”. Open Democracy reported, “the court’s ruling makes it clear that when it comes to mass surveillance, there’s no limit to how wide the government may cast its net”.

The UK government’s approach to cybersecurity may be fierce but there’s no denying it’s also trying to help protect its citizens. Former Prime Minister, Theresa May, defended the Investigatory Powers Bill, saying, “there should be no area of cyberspace which is a haven for those who seek to harm us, to plot, poison minds and peddle hatred under the radar.”

It’s great sentiment but, unfortunately, cybersecurity experts believe the Snooper’s Charter will have little impact on the UK’s cybercrime statistics.

BBC iPlayer and Other UK Streaming Favorites

As well-known as BBC iPlayer is, it isn’t the most popular streaming site in the UK. The international streaming giant, Netflix, enjoys more subscribers than any other streaming site, with Twitch TV a close second. This game-oriented streaming service offers a winning combination of live online games and Amazon Prime streaming content, securing itself an impressive 148 million subscribers.

BBC Online is visited more often than BBC iPlayer, probably because it’s free to use, and has music, news, and weather as well as content from the British Broadcasting Corporation’s popular terrestrial radio and television channels. ITVHub is the competition’s answer to BBC Online and offers a wealth of family-friendly content, comedy, and sport.

Pornhub is a popular choice for adult entertainment, while NowTV offers a range of content, from the latest movies to live sports, children’s entertainment, and the latest reality TV series from the US. Movie lovers will enjoy Mubi – a streaming site dedicated to global cinema – while British TV channel, Channel 4, has some nail-biting dramas and insightful documentaries available online.

Conclusion

The UK probably doesn’t register on our radar as a country with mass online surveillance and strict government policy on user data but it has one of the most far-reaching surveillance laws around.

Government spies are everywhere, and ISPs and other telecommunications companies are legally required to log and store information about a user’s online activities and communications. Staying private online has never been more difficult, which is why it’s so important to use the best VPN for the UK when browsing British cyberspace.

In addition to the threats to your online privacy, the UK is a popular target for cybercriminals with cybercrimes now accounting for more than half the illegal activities committed in the country. Although improved antivirus protection has made some impression on cybercrime in the UK, the threats are still prevalent.

The best way to protect yourself online in the UK and everywhere else in the world is with a reputable VPN. While ExpressVPN remains the best VPN for UK, rivals like Surfshark and CyberGhost are worth a look, with Surfshark providing a versatile budget option, and CyberGhost being the best VPN for beginners.

Even if you choose to look elsewhere for a VPN for UK, keep focused on the important aspects, like AES 256-bit encryption, a worldwide distribution of servers and a strict privacy policy, and don’t fall victim to an unreliable free VPN that will sell your soul to the devil and your data to the highest bidder.