The Internet is free and open in the UK, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a VPN. The government is watching what its constituents are doing and has no problems sharing the user data with other countries through agreements such as 5, 9 and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Also, access to some websites could be blocked in a school, university, workplace and so on. And I’m not necessarily talking about adult content here — there are places blocking access to YouTube for some reason.
Not if you have a good VPN, which could also let you access US versions of popular streaming services like Netflix and HBO MAX. Cause their UK counterparts don’t have the catalog that is as vast as the one offered in America.
Finally, a VPN will get you anonymity online so that no government agency nor tech giant can track your whereabouts. Here are the best VPNs for the UK:
- 5,000+ servers in the network
- Easy to use - install it and forget it
- One license is good for up to 6 devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Chrome extension is just a proxy
- You can't pay with PayPal
Its network includes more than 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries, which directly translates into faster speeds. NordVPN is also very secure, relying on the strong 256-bit encryption combined with secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec). But as a user, you get a seamless experience with all this technology "doing its thing" in the background.
NordVPN is well suited to pretty much every task you throw at it — whether it's accessing a banned site from some country that filters out the internet, torrenting, accessing streaming services, or just wanting to keep a low profile on the web. It also doesn't keep any logs.
We highly recommend NordVPN to anyone looking for reliable service.
- Feature-rich yet easy to use
- One of the best VPNs around
- Strong no-logging policy
- Reliable support you can reach 24/7
- Limited number of servers in Africa and the Middle East
- Kinda pricey
ExpressVPN has great desktop apps for Windows and Mac, mobile apps and browser extensions. Also, it is well suited for video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others.
However, what makes it stand out is its ease of use. We can't emphasize this enough. One could tell a lot of time has been spent making sure even the advanced features are easily accessible. And we love it for that. Plus, let's not forget ExpressVPN's speed which tends to leave other services in the dust.
- It's super fast!
- Works with Netflix, BBC and others
- Easy to use apps, browser extensions
- You can try it for free!
- Some advanced features are not configurable
- Not the best for high-censorship countries
Furthermore, thanks to the availability of browser extensions - Hotspot Shield is also one of our top choices for Chrome and Firefox VPNs.
Your privacy is equally well protected, with the software only collecting some anonymized that help continually improve its service.
There is one caveat though - it won't work in high-censorship countries like China. If you don't need that in the first place, we highly recommend Hotspot Shield.
As that's typically the case with most VPN services out there, the longer you commit - the better deal you get. However, what makes Hotspot Shield even better is the fact that it offers a 7-day free trial of its service. A few other top VPN providers do the same. Plus, its money-back guarantee lasts for 45 days, making for a risk-free purchase. Cause, you can always get your money back. Sweet and just the way we like it.
- Reliable download and upload speeds
- Works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Lets you use it on unlimited number of devices
- Low number of servers in Africa and Australia
You can rely on it for streaming and torrenting, with included extra features like CleanWeb and MultiHop, delivering a that much better — and more secure — experience.
Surfshark, the company, is based in the British Virgin Islands and with its zero-logs policy makes for a powerful combo to anyone looking to keep its web whereabouts under the radar.
The service is easy to use and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- One the best VPNs for torrenting
- Works well with Netflix
- Simple setup on all popular devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Doesn't work with BBC iPlayer
- Doesn't work in China
Its desktop apps are not among the prettiest ones, but they get the job done. The important thing is that installation is easy and straightforward, and that no logs are kept by the company.
When it comes to pricing, IPVanish is somewhere in the middle — it's not the most affordable option but also not the most expensive one. As noted, it will be most appreciated by heavy BitTorrent users, and — related — Kodi fans.
Increased surveillance in the UK
Since the mid-2000s there has been a gradual shift toward increased surveillance and police measures in the UK.
National security concerns, terrorism and crime, and issues regarding child protection have resulted in the state introducing extensive surveillance measures over online communications as well as filtering and tracking practices. In some cases, these are encouraged and even required by the state and used by state agencies. In others, they are voluntarily implemented by ISPs and mobile operators.
That being said, the Internet is still open and widely available in the UK. But, because of its surveillance practices – Reporters Without Borders listed the UK among the “Enemies of the Internet” in 2014.
For what it matters, this category is “reserved” for countries like China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
What’s being blocked in the UK?
Internet users in the UK are prohibited from accessing many websites by default because they have their Internet access filtered by their ISPs. This filtering program has applied to new ISP customers since the end of 2013 and has been extended to existing users on a rolling basis.
All four major ISPs have agreed to this voluntary code of practice, which luckily, has an opt-out option.
If you don’t opt-out, expect to have select sites in the following categories blocked: Dating, Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, File sharing, Gambling, Games, Pornography, Nudity, Social networking, Suicide and Self-harm, Weapons and violence, Obscenity, Criminal Skills, Hate, Media Streaming, Fashion and Beauty, Gore, Cyberbullying, Hacking and Web-blocking circumvention tools.
Yes, you’re better off with a VPN in the UK
Whether you want it to access US versions of streaming services, anonymously download files via BitTorrent or just to keep a low profile on the world wide web – a good VPN could help you out.
Also, a VPN will keep you protected when accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots, which — sometimes — we all gotta use. If you’re in such a situation, a VPN will encrypt all data coming to and from your devices and the rest of the Internet, making it impossible for tech-savvy malicious actors to get ahold of your personal information.
And that’s just a start, with VPNs offering so much more — making them must-have tools in the world we live in. A good VPN will:
- Protect your privacy from the government and big corporations
- Bypass restrictions imposed by the government or various organizations
- Change your IP address so you get unrestricted access to Netflix, Disney+, iPlayer, HULU, and other video streaming services
- Encrypt and protect private data from cybercriminals
- Download files with BitTorrent anonymously
The top contenders that check all these boxes include the following: