The Best VPN For UK 2020
A VPN is essentially a connection method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks, like the internet. Personal VPNs are becoming increasingly popular as more of our everyday life transitions to the web. A VPN improves privacy because the user’s initial IP address is replaced with one from the VPN provider. Those subscribed to a VPN can obtain an IP address from any gateway city the VPN service provides. Make sense?
So why do you need a VPN in your life? Well without one you are basically cruising the online world naked, baring all to the world. A VPN keeps you covered up by:
Hiding/changing your IP address
Hiding your location
Encrypting your data transfers
So hopefully we are clear on what a VPN is, and what it does — but should you pay for one? The answer really depends on your priorities. A paid VPN is generally going to have the edge on most features. A paid VPN will most often be faster, available in more locations, and offer greater support (but not always). If anonymity is top of your list of priorities however, then a free VPN may be the better option as a free VPN provider won’t usually ask you to sign up to use its service.
Before making your selection, you should think carefully about what you want from a VPN and which aspect of the service you want to prioritise.
With over 1,000 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN is a user-friendly service that comes packed full of features like a kill-switch, ad blocking, malware blocking, P2P support, streaming tools and DNS leak blocking. The user interface is straightforward, with customisation options neatly organised. The website isn’t quite as easy to navigate, however, which makes finding user support options difficult.
NordVPN has four subscription options, each of which allows for 6 devices to be connected at the same time. This is perfect for families and tech geeks like me.
All plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee. Nord accepts Bitcoin payments, as well as PayPal and credit card.
A month-to-month plan costs $11.95
A six month plan costs $7.00 a month, billed every six months
An annual subscription is $5.75 per month
A two-year plan drops down to $3.29 per month
NordVPN delivers consistent, but slightly slow performance. Ping dropped considerably when connecting to remote servers in placed like in India and Australia, yet download and upload speeds were fairly consistent overall.
NordVPN has a strict no log policy, and does not record time stamps, IP addresses, traffic logs or bandwidth. And since the company is based in Panama, it falls outside the jurisdiction of US and European data collection agencies.
- Privacy-focused service
- Won’t break the bank
- Suitable for power users
- Apps for all major platforms
- 24/7/265 support
British Virgin Islands based ExpressVPN maintains more than 1,000 servers in 94 countries, and offers fast connection speeds coupled with 24/7 customer service. Many of their servers support P2P and BitTorrent, and there’s a smart DNS option to help you geo-spoof your location. A kill switch comes standard with all their plans, the UI is extremely easy to use, and there are apps for many different types of devices including Playstation, Xbox, AppleTV, and Kindle Fire.
ExpressVPN has 3 different pricing plans to choose from:
A 30-day plan costs $12.95
An annual subscription costs $8.33 per month
A 15-month plan is $6.33 per month
There’s no free trial, but there is a 30-day money back guarantee. The biggest knock is that you’re capped at 3 simultaneous connections.
ExpressVPN performs admirably well during tests, with servers in the US maintaining a normal download speed of 20 to 25 Mbps. Even remote servers like those in Pakistan maintained a steady speed of around 18 Mbps. Latency clocked in around 85% of a normal, direct connection and downloads around 80%.
Their Terms of Service state that they will never log traffic data or browsing activity, but they do collect data related to server selection, connection dates, and the total amount of data exchanged. IP addresses and connection times are not logged.
- Runs on almost any platform
- Enterprise-level encryption
- Speedy VPN servers in 94 countries
- Superb 24/7 live customer support
IPVanish claims to be ‘The World’s Best VPN’, and although we wouldn’t quite agree, the service does have some impressive stats: 40,000+ shared IPs, 1,200+ VPN servers in 60+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, ten simultaneous connections, 24/7 customer support and a 7-day money-back guarantee.
The apps are a powerful highlight. Not only are there loads of them (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, even Fire TV), but they’re absolutely stuffed with unusual features, options and settings, trampling all over the horribly basic “list of flags and a Connect button”-type apps you’ll usually get elsewhere.
The good news continued when we tried some real-world tests. Servers were always up, and connected quickly; download speeds were above average; torrents are supported on every server, and we were able to unblock BBC iPlayer and US Netflix.
There are some issues, too. The apps are powerful, but that means there’s a lot to learn, and we noticed a few small usability issues. A small number of servers didn’t appear to be in the advertised locations. There are no kill switches on the mobile apps, and the price is very much at the premium end of the VPN range.
Overall, though, if you need its ten simultaneous connections, or the power and configurability of its apps, take the plunge with this VPN service, and if somehow you end up unhappy you’re protected by a 7-day money-back guarantee.
- Owns and manages its own servers
- Speedy live chat support
- Powerful, configurable apps
- Excellent download speeds
PureVPN comes packed with advanced features like IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, and a split-tunneling option that lets you choose which traffic goes through the VPN and which goes through your regular ISP. And with more than 500 servers in 141 countries, they offer some of the best global coverage on the market. The cherry on top is their VPN browser, which gives users a speed boost of up to 20Mbps, regardless of the speed of their regular Internet connection. The biggest knock for me with PureVPN is that the user interface is pretty lacklustre. It’s rather clunky for my personal tastes, and some options are hard to find since they’re buried in sub-menus.
From a pricing standpoint, PureVPN is extremely competitive:
Unfortunately, there’s no free trial available, but there is a 7-day money back guarantee and all 3 subscription options will allow you to connect 5 devices at a time.
30 days of service will cost you $9.99
A six-month subscription is $7.99 per month
A 2-year plan is $59.99
Performance-wise, PureVPN is great. They consistently maintain download speeds of 80%, and sometimes even improve on regular download speeds by up to an impressive 400%. Upload speeds are also pretty consistent with regular speeds and latency is around 5% higher than normal.
PureVPN logs the total amount of bandwidth used, and the amount of time you remain connected to any one server. Websites you visit, files you download, and connection dates are not logged. And since the company is based in Hong Kong, you’ll be safe from prying eyes and over-reaching government agencies.
- Good server coverage
- Split-tunneling option gives you control over what data uses what servers
- Consistent high-speeds
- Stealth VPN browser
- 5 devices can be connected simultaneously
Private Internet Access maintains an impressive 3300 servers in more than 24 countries, along with an even more impressive feature set that includes malware and ad blocking options, OpenVPN, and support for P2P. Customisation options are limited, however, and you don’t have the option of selecting a specific server. You can only select a specific geographical area. Customer support is also a little lacklustre, and no live chat option is available. The user interface is extremely simple to use, but lacks good design sense, at least in my humble opinion.
PIA offers three subscription options, all of which support up to 5 simultaneous connections:
A one month plan costs $6.95
A six-month subscription costs $35.95
An annual subscription is $39.95
There are no free trials available, but they do have a 7-day refund policy. They accept payments by credit card, Paypal, Google Wallet, and Bitcoin.
Private Internet Access’ performance is OK, but nothing to write home about. Latency increases by around 85%, while upload and download speeds drop by anywhere between 15-25%. Not great performance, but still very useable.
PIA records basic details like your email address and payment information, but that’s about it. So, if privacy is the driving motivation behind using a VPN, you’re in luck.
- Huge selection of servers
- Malware and ad blocking options
- Allows P2P
- Supports OpenVPN