- Best VPN for UK 2021
- Censorship in the UK
- Surveillance in the UK
- Freedom of Speech in the UK
- Online Dangers in the UK
- What Makes a VPN the Best for the UK
- 1. Best VPN for the UK: ExpressVPN
- Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN
Well-known for its royal family, famous landmarks and football, millions of people explore the UK every year. It’s not just the weather that’s gloomy, though. Privacy in the UK is a growing concern, so even if you’re just placing a bet online at the local pub, it’s wise to protect yourself with our best VPN for the UK.
Wherever you are, it’s a good idea to use a virtual private network. It’ll protect you from online dangers and enable you to access restricted content without having to queue nicely. Though geoblocks are a pain, there are other reasons you’d benefit from using one, so put the kettle on and let us explain them.
Best VPN for UK 2021
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Paymentwall
- : Unlimited
Censorship in the UK
Though some countries have strict censorship (read about China’s Great Firewall for an example), UK citizens enjoy a free internet experience with only a few categories subject to blocking (except for certain blocks implemented in schools — read our best VPN for school piece).
Those categories include child sexual abuse, content that promotes extremism and terrorism and content that infringes on copyrights. Proxy websites are included in internet service providers’ blocking lists, too. Optional filters are available to protect children under certain categories, but legitimate content often gets caught, as well.
Surveillance in the UK
The UK has some of the most invasive surveillance systems in the world. Bulk surveillance is a particular concern. Intelligence agencies are able to develop secret programs by using loopholes in laws that shield them from judicial oversight.
In 2013, U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the secret surveillance practices of the U.S. and other governments, including the UK Government Communications Headquarters.
The GCHQ works closely with the NSA on a program called Tempora. It monitors phone and internet traffic around the world, including emails, browsing history and Facebook messages, and the NSA has access to the database.
With the help of telecom companies, GCHQ had probes installed at the British landing points of undersea fiber-optic cables. The probes intercepted data carried by the cables, including private messages, which was then accessible by the agencies. Tempora allows the UK to collect millions of users’ data per day.
The 2016 Investigatory Powers Act defines the surveillance powers of authorities. It authorized intrusive bulk surveillance measures, such as interception of communications, equipment interference and data retention. Journalist Ewan MacAskill said the act introduced the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world.
Requirements for internet companies to cooperate with investigations were increased, too, including being ordered to remove protection from encrypted communications or data. Plus, your internet history can be viewed by government agencies without a warrant (so use a VPN if you want to dabble in the dark web — or anything else for that matter).
In April 2018, parts of the act on data retention were ruled inconsistent with fundamental rights in EU law by the High Court. It noted that access to retained data should be limited to serious crimes and require oversight.
In March 2018, it was revealed that UK-based analytics company Cambridge Analytica had illegally collected the data of millions of U.S. voters and possibly influenced them with targeted ads. Facebook is known for collecting and selling people’s data to advertisers, so keep that in mind.
The UK is also part of the Five Eyes alliance. That’s an intelligence coalition that includes the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Those countries are bound by the UKUSA Agreement, under which they cooperate with one another and share intelligence information gathered through their surveillance.
Freedom of Speech in the UK
The UK doesn’t have a written constitution. Instead, the UK has rules and laws that provide for individual rights and freedoms. That said, there are broad laws against hate speech. In 2017, the government announced plans for a national hub to monitor hate speech and push for prosecutions.
Section five of the Public Order Act punishes threatening or abusive words or behavior. Section 127 of the Communications Act punishes grossly offensive communications sent via the internet. Both cases are punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine.
Section one of the Malicious Communications Act makes targeting individuals online with abusive or offensive content to cause distress or anxiety, including revenge porn, a criminal offense for which punishment is two years in prison.
Under the Terrorism Act, if you publish statements that encourage terrorism you can end up with a prison sentence and fine. Individuals are frequently arrested for posts that promote terrorism, are threatening or are racially abusive.
Online Dangers in the UK
Fraud and hacking for financial gain are present in the UK, and cyberattacks have been increasing. Plus, the worldwide cyberattack WannaCry had a significant impact on the UK. It crippled the National Health Service by barring access to patients’ case files and delaying services.
You can’t tell what’s lurking on public WiFi, so if you plan to use a hotspot, you should install a VPN and a good antivirus to protect yourself against cybercrime.
Torrenting copyrighted material is illegal in the UK, and many torrent sites are blocked. Those who infringe on copyrights online may get a warning letter from the ISP. Theoretically, you could be prosecuted, but the UK Federation Against Copyright Theft targets illegal operators and distributors for the most part.
What Makes a VPN the Best for the UK
VPNs are made up of many features, but some are more significant than others. So you should make sure it’s a good choice for the UK first.
With all the government snooping in the UK, you need a VPN that has excellent security. That’ll help you stay hidden and to protect you from cybercrime. Privacy is also important, and it’s confirmed with a no-logs policy, which means your activities won’t be recorded.
A VPN that has a good server network is beneficial. The more servers available in as many places as possible the easier it’ll be for you to find a suitable one. For access to websites and services restricted to the UK, the VPN will need to have servers there.
Speed is important, too, especially if you plan to use streaming services or want to torrent. If you pick a VPN that’s too slow, you’ll be constantly waiting for content to load. It’s also a good idea to make sure it can get into the streaming service you want and that it has unlimited bandwidth.
Which devices it’s compatible with and how many you can connect in one go may influence your decision. User-friendliness, the quality of customer support and price are worth considering, too.
1. Best VPN for the UK: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is a favorite at Cloudwards.net and often features in our VPN articles. It offers a great service with excellent security that’s set at AES 256-bit encryption as standard. A kill switch is provided and enabled by default, so you won’t have to worry about it. Its security is one of the reasons why it’s our best VPN for cloud storage, too. There’s also strict no-logs policy, so your activities will stay private.
It has a huge server network that covers 94 countries. There are some in the UK, including locations such as Berkshire and London in England. Plus, there are servers in Jersey and the Isle of Man, which most providers don’t include.
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN on the market. Plus, if you want to stream, you’ll be pleased to know it ranked first in our best VPN for streaming and best VPN for Netflix guides. It also benefits from unlimited bandwidth and allows torrenting.
Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN
It supports Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. Plus, it has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. The interface is easy to use and it is great for beginners. You can connect up to five devices simultaneously.
If you have problems, there’s a handy knowledgebase online, so you can try to fix them yourself. If you need more help, you can contact a member of support via 24/7 live chat or email. Live chat will respond quickest, but email is the best option if you need more technical help.
ExpressVPN is an expensive choice, especially at the monthly rate. You’ll save money in the long run by choosing a lengthier subscription. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can make sure you’re happy with it. Read our ExpressVPN review for more.
- Accesses all streaming platforms
- Easy to use
- Massive knowldegebase.
NordVPN is another good choice for the UK. It’s a great service that is comparable to our first choice (read our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison). It has some of the best security available with its double-hop servers, which basically encrypt the connection twice over. It has a kill switch and a strict no-logs policy, too.
It has over 5,000 servers across the globe, and 678 of them are in the UK. It has good speeds, but they can slow over long distances. Switching servers is a breeze, though. There are no bandwidth caps and it can get into streaming services. NordVPN is our best VPN for torrenting, too.
Other Reasons We Like NordVPN
You can install its easy-to-use clients on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. You can connect up to six devices simultaneously, too.
For customer service, it has a good knowledgebase to turn to for minor issues. There’s also 24/7 live chat and email support. Live chat is the fastest route to get help, but the staff is helpful either way.
NordVPN is a good value for the money. It has an affordable monthly price, and it’s longer plans are even better for your wallet. It has a 30-day refund period, which is enough time to decide if you like it. Read our NordVPN review for full details on the service.
- kill switch
- No-logging policy
- Large server network
- Inconsistent speed across network
- Broken server recommendation system
CyberGhost is another good choice for the UK. It has great security and a permanently-enabled kill switch, so you don’t have to worry about that. There’s also a solid no-logging policy.
It has a large server network, including 309 servers in the UK. They’re in three locations there: Berkshire, London and Manchester. CyberGhost also has NoSpy servers which sit outside of the 14 Eyes, giving you better protection from government snooping. Read more on that in our CyberGhost review, and also read how NordVPN compares to CyberGhost.
Its speeds are fast, but, like NordVPN, they can slow over long distances. CyberGhost doesn’t limit bandwidth and it allows torrenting. Plus, it’s good at getting into streaming services and made our best VPN for BBC iPlayer list.
Other Reasons We Like CyberGhost
Clients are available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Its interface was updated not long ago and, though it’s better, it may take time to get used to it. That said, it’s not difficult to use. You can connect up to seven devices at a time, which is more than its rivals and why it came in second in our best VPN for multiple devices piece.
It has an extensive knowledgebase, as well as 24/7 live chat, which is quick but best used for simple questions. For more technical queries, you should contact support via email.
CyberGhost’s monthly rate isn’t great, but its other plans are inexpensive. You can take it for a spin with its free seven-day trial on Android and iOS. A money-back guarantee is in place, too, which covers all platforms. The monthly plan gives you 14 days and the longer ones give you 45 days, so it’s easy to get a CyberGhost refund.
- NoSpy servers
- Gets into Netflix
- No kill switch controls
Another provider you can use for the UK is AirVPN. It has great, customizable security. It doesn’t have a kill switch per se, but it does have “network lock,” which blocks communication through the connection unless it goes through AirVPN. A kill switch would only be active while you’re connected to a server, but network lock is always on.
With just over 200 servers in 20 countries, it doesn’t have a large server network. That said, it does have 16 servers in the UK, so you’ll be able to access blocked content. Its speeds are inconsistent but not bad, and it allows you to torrent. As for streaming, it can get into some services, but it’s unable to get past the Netflix ban.
Other Reasons We Like AirVPN
It’s compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android and iOS. The interface is aimed at experienced users, though, so newbies may find it difficult to use. That said, it’s good, if dated. You can connect up to five devices at a time.
There’s an FAQ section and a community to help you with small problems. There’s no live chat, so if you need more help, you’ll have to use the email service, which is available around the clock.
It’s priced in euros, but it’s not a bad rate. There’s a free trial, but you have to contact AirVPN and request it. If you don’t want the hassle, you can give it a try with its three-day option, which costs 1 euro ($1.12). AirVPN doesn’t have a refund process. You can read more in our AirVPN review.
- Decent server array
- Prompt customer support
- Blocked by Netflix
- Difficult to use
Our last pick is Windscribe, which has flaws but is a good choice for some features. It has good security that’s set at AES 256-bit encryption, but you can customize it. There’s a kill switch, but Windscribe confusingly calls it a firewall.
It has many privacy features, but some information is logged. That information doesn’t hold much value, though, and it can’t be traced back to you. If you prefer you can use a throwaway email and pay via bitcoin to be truly anonymous.
Its server spread isn’t as wide as most of our other picks, but it does cover 55 countries, including the UK. That said, Windscribe offers a free plan that some locations aren’t included with, but the UK is.
Its speeds are fine for most activities, such as streaming and torrenting, but its rivals are faster. It provides unlimited bandwidth with the paid version.
If you opt for the free version but don’t supply your email address, you’ll get 2GB. If you enter your email, you’ll get 10GB, so it’s a good idea to use a throwaway email address. There are ways you can increase your limit, too, as you can read in our Windscribe review. If you add a location for $1 per month, you’ll be given a further 10GB.
Windscribe can get into most streaming services, and paying users will have access to its Windflix servers. They’re built for streaming Netflix and are available in select countries, including the UK.
Other Reasons We Like Windscribe
You can use Windscribe on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. Its interface is simple to use, which is great for beginners, but if you’re more experienced you can tinker with the settings, too.
If you need help there’s a knowledgebase, FAQ, setup guides and a Windscribe subreddit. You can also use the live chat or email options, which are available any time. The live chat is controlled by an AI rep called Garry. During our testing, we found it to be helpful, though.
Windscribe’s monthly price is quite expensive, but you can save money on longer plans. There’s no free trial, but that’s because you can use the free version to test it. There isn’t a refund policy, either, but if you contact Windscribe within three days of purchase. it’ll refund you.
- Dedicated streaming servers
- Solid do-it-yourself support
- Generous free plan
- Lack of direct support options
Now you know why you should use a VPN in the UK, and we hope we’ve helped you choose a suitable one. You could just pick one of our best VPN providers, but you need it to have good security and privacy, as well as a good server spread that includes servers in the UK.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for the UK because it has excellent security and privacy. Plus, it has servers in the UK and in locations unavailable with other VPNs. It’s a good choice for streaming, too.
If you think we have missed anything or you have experience with using a VPN in the UK, please let us know in the comments section. Thank you for reading.