We may earn a commission when you make a purchase via links on this site.

The 10 Best VPN for the UK (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Your online browsing habits are being tracked as we speak. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can restore your anonymity and help you browse the internet securely.

  • Protect yourself against hackers. Without a VPN, hackers can intercept your data on public Wi-Fi networks. This can lead to identity theft. 
  • Block your data from advertisers. Without a VPN, your internet service provider (ISP) and advertisers can track anything you do online.
  • Stream shows without borders. Without a VPN, streaming services can block movies in your country.

Investing in the best VPN for the UK will make you secure and anonymous online.

CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN

CyberGhost VPN

Limited Time: Save 83% 🔥

  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

CyberGhost is the best affordable VPN of 2023. It’s ultra-fast, private, and secure. And it temporarily offers deep discounts.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 45-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 91 countries
✓ Protect: 7 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN - The most advanced VPN

NordVPN

Exclusive: Save 68% 🔥

  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN of 2023. It has the best privacy technology (RAM-Servers and Double VPN) and a beautiful design.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 59 countries
✓ Protect: 6 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Ranking of the best VPN services of 2023

We have tested cybersecurity software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 4 from 30 paid and free VPN services (Virtual Private Networks).

Click the links or scroll down for more.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN Review

Ranked #1 out of 30 VPNs

CyberGhost VPN Review

CyberGhost: Temporarily save up to 83%  🔥

CyberGhost VPN Review

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test. It also has the lowest price and the biggest server network. It's one of the best VPN services you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix US, Disney, Amazon, HBO Max, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on P2P servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 9,000 Servers in 91 countries
  • Connections: 7
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.64
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 45 days

Streaming

CyberGhost has dedicated streaming servers for Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and more.

Torrenting

CyberGhost has optimized P2P servers. It is an excellent VPN for torrenting, thanks to its kill switch, IP- and DNS-leak protection, and no logs policy.

Privacy

CyberGhost has a strict no-logs policy: It does not monitor or record what you do online, and it does not store your IP address. Therefore, you are completely anonymous when using CyberGhost.

Ownership

CyberGhost is owned and operated by CyberGhost S.A. from Romania. Its parent company is Kape Technologies from the UK, which also owns ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN services:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

CyberGhost applies the most important security and privacy features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling (on Windows and Android)
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP

But it lacks RAM-only servers and Double VPN, which NordVPN does offer.

Censorship

CyberGhost does not use obfuscation technology, which hides your VPN usage. Therefore, it is not the right VPN for high-censorship countries like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, or the UAE.

Servers

CyberGhost has a huge number of servers: 9,000 in 91 countries.

60 Countries have physical servers within their borders, while the other 31 are virtual servers. Although virtual servers are not located within the indicated country, they will give you a local IP address from that country.

It also offers specialized servers:

  • Servers optimized for P2P
  • Servers optimized for streaming
  • Servers with static IP addresses
  • Servers with dedicated IP addresses
  • Fully owned NoSpy servers

Devices

You can install CyberGhost on 7 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and a range of routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Prices

CyberGhost has the lowest 1-year price in the industry.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is CyberGhost VPN the best VPN software of 2023?

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test and has the most affordable 1-year contract. On top of that, it is secure, private, and has one of the largest server networks. It's excellent.

You can try CyberGhost risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN

NordVPN Review

Ranked #2 out of 30 VPNs

NordVPN Review

NordVPN Review

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service you can buy. It uses the latest privacy technology, like RAM servers and double VPN, and works in China. It's one of the best VPN providers you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on 80% of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 5,600 Servers in 59 countries
  • Connections: 6
  • 1-Year Price: € 52.68
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

NordVPN unblocks Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Torrenting

NordVPN allows torrenting on most of its servers. On top of that, it has optimized P2P servers for extra high download speeds.

Thanks to its no-logs policy, kill switch, DNS- and IP-leak blocking, it is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

NordVPN has a strict no-log policy. So it does not record your IP address or online activities. It was the first VPN company to subject its privacy policy to an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ownership

NordVPN is owned and operated by NordVPN S.A. from Panama. Its parent company, Nord Security, merged with the parent company of SurfShark to form Cyberspace BV in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN providers:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It includes both the mainstream security features and the highly advanced ones:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Meshnet (on Windows and Linux)

NordVPN is also available in a bundle, including NordLocker (encrypted cloud storage) and NordPass (password manager and data breach scanner).

Censorship

NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that work in highly censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. This is thanks to its obfuscation technology that hides your VPN traffic.

Servers

NordVPN has an extensive VPN server network, with 5,600 servers in 59 countries. They are all physical servers, meaning every server is located within the country's borders.

It also offers specialty servers:

  • P2P servers
  • Streaming servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers
  • Onion over VPN servers
  • Obfuscated servers

Devices

You can install NordVPN on 6 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Considering that NordVPN is the most advanced VPN, it is a bargain.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is NordVPN the best VPN service of 2023?

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN software you can buy, thanks to its RAM servers, double VPN, Onion over VPN, and obfuscated servers.

You can try NordVPN risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

SurfShark VPN

Surfshark VPN Review

Ranked #3 out of 30 VPNs

SurfShark VPN Review

Surfshark VPN Review

Surfshark offers the best value for money. It is fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. It's one of the best VPN programs you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 3,200 Servers in 95 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.88
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

Surfshark can stream Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

Torrenting

Surfshark allows P2P file-sharing on all of its servers and offers optimized P2P servers for higher download speeds. Due to its kill-switch, no-logs policy, and leak-blocking, Surfshark is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

Surfshark has a clear no-logs policy. It does not track what you do online and does not store your IP address. In 2021, Surfshark underwent an independent server audit by Cure53, a German cybersecurity firm.

Ownership

Surfshark BV from the Netherlands owns Surfshark. In 2022, its parent company merged with Nord Security, creating the holding company Cyberspace BV, also located in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN programs:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

After NordVPN, Surfshark is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It covers all mainstream and advanced features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Rotating IP
  • Override GPS Location on Android

Next to its VPN service, Surfshark also offers antivirus software, personal data breach alert, and a private search engine. These features are sold separately or together with the VPN in SurfShark One.

Censorship

Thanks to its Camouflage and NoBorders Mode, Surfshark works well in censored countries like Russia, the UAE, Turkey, and Iran. However, it does not consistently work in China.

Servers

Surfshark has an extensive network, with 3,200 servers in 95 countries. However, some of these servers are virtual. That means that although you get a local IP address from the country of your choice, the physical server is located in a different country.

Surfshark also offers specialized servers, including:

  • P2P servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers (Multihop servers)

Devices

Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Surfshark's price is excellent. Especially considering that you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is Surfshark the best VPN service of 2023?

Surfshark offers the best value for money in the VPN industry. It is advanced, affordable, and allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices. It is one of the best VPN deals out there.

You can try Surfshark risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

IPVanish VPN

IPVanish Review

Ranked #4 out of 30 VPNs

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish: Temporarily get 61% OFF  🔥

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish is an excellent VPN. It's fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. However, it's not as advanced as the others in this list and has a smaller server network.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 2,000 Servers in 50 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: $ 47.89
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

IPVanish is not the best VPN service for streaming. Although it works with Netflix in the United States, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, it has problems with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.

Torrenting

IPVanish allows torrenting on all its servers. And thanks to its no-log policy, kill switch, and no DNS leaks, it is a safe option to do so. The kill switch is necessary because it will block the internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.

Privacy

IPVanish has a clear no-logs policy. However, in 2018, it handed user data to the US government. Data it wasn't supposed to have, according to its log policy. Since then, it has changed owners twice, but the reputation remains.

Speed

We test every VPN service on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN connection set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the fastest VPN connections:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

IPVanish is the only VPN in our comparison that owns all of its servers and doesn't rely on third-party server parks, which is excellent. That said, it is not the most advanced VPN in our test.

It includes the following mainstream features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling

But it misses many of the advanced features:

  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers

Censorship

IPVanish does not work in censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Turkey, or Russia.

Servers

IPVanish has 2,000 VPN servers in 50 countries. All servers are physically located within the country and entirely owned by IPVanish. Because it doesn't rely on third-party server providers, it has complete control over the hardware and software, which theoretically should increase its security.

Devices

IPVanish allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. But it has no browser extensions.

Prices

IPVanish has a very attractive price, especially as you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is IPVanish the best VPN provider of 2023?

IPVanish is fast, secure, and affordable. It owns its entire server network and allows you to install the software on unlimited devices. But it's not the most advanced VPN in our test and not the best option for streaming.

You can try IPVanish risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Comparison table of the best VPN services 

CyberGhost
NordVPN
Surfshark
IPVanish
Icon
CyberGhost VPN Icon
NordVPN Icon
Surfshark VPN Icon
IPVanish VPN Icon
Ranking
#1 / 30
#2 / 30
#3 / 30
#4 / 30
Logging Policy
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
Operating Company
CyberGhost S.A. (Romania)
NordVPN S.A. (Panama)
Surfshark BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
Holding Company
Kape Technologies PLC (UK)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
VPN Protocols
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, NordLynx (WireGuard)
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
US Netflix




Torrenting




VPN Kill Switch




Split Tunneling




Ad & Tracker Blocker



No
Smart DNS



No
First-Party DNS


No

Dedicated IP


No
No
Double VPN
No


No
RAM Servers
No


No
Works in China
No


No
Countries
91
59
95
50
Servers
9,000+
5,600+
3,200+
2,000+
Speed on WireGuard or proprietary protocol
825-850 Mbps
725-800 Mbps
700-800 Mbps
700-725 Mbps
Comptatible Devices
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Number of Connections
7
6
Unlimited
Unlimited
1-Month Price
€ 12.65
€ 10.49
€ 12.95
$ 10.99
1-Year Price
€ 47.64
€ 52.68
€ 47.88
$ 47.89
2-Year Price
€ 74.88
€ 69.36
€ 59.76
-
3-Year Price
€ 82.29
-
-
-
Customer Support
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
Free Trial
1 Day
7 Days
7 Days
No
Money Back Guarantee
45 Days
30 Days
30 Days
30 Days

How we test the best VPN for the UK

We analyzed and rated 30 free VPN services eligible across multiple operating systems, including Windows 10 and 11, iOS, macOS, and Android. We present to you the tests we conducted on every single one.

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

Every VPN must have a logging policy. This documentation tells you whether, or how exactly, the VPN provider keeps track of your data while surfing. It shouldn’t be an issue as VPN is a service that provides internet privacy. However, the VPN provider is like your regular internet service provider (ISP), meaning everything you do online is routed through the VPN server. Further, this lets a VPN provider see all you’re engaging with online.

When a VPN provider misuses your private data is where you must pull the brake. This problem is, unfortunately, the case with many free VPN providers, such as Hola VPN. Their services are free – since they earn money by selling your data to advertisers and data brokers. “If the product is free, you are the product,” and in the case of VPNs that are free of charge, this couldn’t be closer to the truth.

The sad result of our research shows that around 30% of VPN providers keep your local IP address, and 5% track your browsing behavior. It is why it’s essential to dive deeply into the VPN server’s logging policy.

What do we test for?

We extensively analyze a VPN provider’s logging policy to ensure they only track non-personal data. The provider isn’t eligible to acquire your IP address or any mean of your web surfing habits.

We then dive into the policy to see if this data is valuable to them. For instance, types of information such as aggregated bandwidth usage and server load data help the provider improve their service. Those pieces of information are not attached to your online identity and are not a threat to your privacy.

A correct VPN logging policy should not:

  • Keep track of your browsing habits. If the logging policy vaguely implies that they monitor and collect data on your online activity, it’s a red flag. This behavior is unacceptable even when the server deletes the data at the end of your VPN session.
  • Access your local IP address. A VPN provider should not track your originating IP address. Your IP can imply where you live and what ISP you use, which is private information.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

An ordinary VPN provider belongs to a corporate holding structure. Your VPS service is a company that belongs to another company, meaning they both have insight into your digital data. The parent companies of the VPS providers are most often residents of states with differing data retention laws, such as the U.S. or the Netherlands.

Knowing about which data retention laws apply to your VPN provider can give you an insight into how they work. So, it’s essential to check the parent company it belongs to and where it’s registered.

There are many VPN providers in the world, which would presume a healthy amount of competition. However, it turns out that only several of them own the majority of the top VPN services.

  • Kape Technologies comes from the United Kingdom, and clusters ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate under its wing.
  • Ziff Davis resides in the United States. They own IPVanish, Buffered VPN, StrongVPN, SaferVPN, Encrypt.me, Perimeter 81, and more.
  • Aura (or Pango), registered in the United States. It’s the parent company of Hotspot Shield, JustVPN, and TouchVPN, among others. It also supplies the VPN technology for many other top-notch VPN services like Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Panda, and more.
  • CyberSpace comes from the Netherlands. It owns NordVPN, Surfshark, and Atlas VPN.
  • Gaditek is a known Pakistani company that covers PureVPN, Ivacy VPN, and Unblock VPN.

What do we test for?

We check the “family tree” of the VPN provider. We analyze the owner of the service, where it’s registered, and the Data Retention Policies it conducts. Another important thing we check when investigating the parent company’s history is whether it had any scandals.

Testing this instance in our past endeavors, we found some interesting information. For example, we discovered that Kape Technologies’ name used to be Crossrider until 2018’s ad injection and malware scandal. Before the name change, Crossrider created a platform for browser extension development, which was misused and led to a hurt reputation.

Another example is IPvanish’s Homeland Security scandal. In 2016, IPVanish handed over data they shouldn’t have had to the authorities and breached their supposed privacy policy.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

Marketing is integral for VPN providers. However, many of their bold claims out to be empty promises. VPN marketers often use hype words such as “Zero-log policy” and “Military Grade Encryption” to attract users.

VPN companies often hire an independent auditor to back those claims. The auditor will investigate a specific element of the VPN company’s infrastructure, particularly the privacy policy.

Some of the well-known audits of VPN companies include:

  • PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) conducted an audit on ExpressVPN in 2019. They inspected whether ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology deleted all server data on every reboot.
  • NordVPN’s audit, supervised by PwC in 2020, checked server infrastructure issues, configuration, and technical logs. The audit also interviewed NordVPN’s employees on these topics.
  • Cure53 administered an audit of Surfshark in 2021, where they examined Surfshark’s server infrastructure for flaws.
  • Deloitte audited Private Internet Access (PIA) in 2022, where they scanned their server environment regarding PIA’s privacy policy.

What do we test for?           

We investigate if the VPN provider was subject to an independent audit. Our testing covers what the audit examined and if it dug out any flaws in the company infrastructure.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

A VPN protocol is an algorithm that determines how the VPN server and the app exchange data. It directs communication, how the two recognize each other, the encryption and decryption process, and more. It affects the time required to connect to the server, the download speed, and security settings.

Some of the most used VPN protocols include:

  • OpenVPN: One of the most common open-source VPN protocols, used by almost every top-tier VPN provider. VPN services love it since it’s fast, provides good overall security, and allows excellent customizability.
  • WireGuard belongs to the next generation of open-source VPN protocols. It enhances OpenVPN and IPsec and serves as a more progressive alternative. Its main benefit is that it has fewer code lines, making it easier to implement and correct, and provides better download speeds.
  • IKEv2 is Cisco and Microsoft’s VPN protocol. Initially, it was supposed to be faster than OpenVPN. However, our tests show it’s a slower, but very secure solution.
  • L2TP/IPSec: A simple, old-school VPN protocol, also noticeably slower than the latter.
  • PPTP is one of the oldest VPN protocols. It has considerable vulnerabilities.

The most common choice of VPN provider is OpenVPN. However, many offer WireGuard or IKEv2 as an alternative. Some VPN providers have designed their original VPN protocols, including:

  • ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol: The only one with an open-source code. It allows others to inspect and edit it.
  • Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra: Created from scratch.
  • NordVPN’s NordLynx: Based on WireGuard.

What do we test for?

We inspect the protocol offered by different VPN providers. We check if those protocols have restricted their use to specific operating systems or if they can work on all devices.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

An encryption standard is a paradigm of how the server encrypts and decrypts digital data. The same algorithm key is used to decipher the local and the server communication.

The first encryption standard, the Data Encryption Standard (DES), was released in 1977 as the first symmetric key algorithm. That meant the encryption goes both ways with the same key. Later, in 2002, the United States released the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), based on the Rijndael block cipher. AES uses a block size of 128 bits, with a key size varying from 128 and 192 to 256 bits.

The most modern VPN protocols are based on AES-128 or 256 in the GCM or CBC version. The GCM version is usually a favorite due to being faster than CBC. This is so because the GCM key can be written in parallel, which considerably enhances its throughput. Additionally, you can encrypt each block for itself, making it more secure.

What do we test for?

We inspect which encryption standard the VPN provider uses as default. We also check which alternatives the service offers instead of the default one. If the core encryption standard is AES-128, we check if it’s the GCM version. Instead, we ensure that the alternative is set as AES-256.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

Every VPN provider must include these security features by default:

  • AES: The most common encryption standard, providing the best security for a VPN. It uses modern computing technology and brute force methods to make the server virtually unhackable.
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard: Both are top-notch open-source VPN protocols. While OpenVPN is the first-rate standard, WireGuard is the next-generation challenger for the title.
  • Split tunneling: This is a feature of VPN servers to let some programs bypass the VPN tunnel and connect to the web without interference.
  • Kill switch: If the encrypted VPN tunnel fails, this feature will automatically block the internet connection.

What do we test for?

We check if the VPN provider offers all the previously mentioned features and if they function correctly, as claimed. Examining this is particularly important regarding the kill switch and split tunneling feature.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

A VPN provider may or may not offer these features. However, they can significantly enhance your security and privacy while surfing the web.

  • Ad trackers and malware blockers: Add-ons or full-on features that protect your device by blocking ads, tracking cookies, and malicious URLs. They provide more security and keep you safe from phishing attacks and malware.
  • A dedicated IP address: A VPN feature that generates an original IP to access limited-access servers. This IP fixes your location, which can aid you in avoiding blacklists, captchas, and online banking issues caused by changing an IP address often.
  • Double VPN: This lets you route your web traffic via two VPN servers instead of one. Also called VPN server chaining, this feature benefits you by doubling the encryption, giving you additional IP security, and achieving total privacy.
  • Obfuscated servers help you cover the fact you are using a VPN. They alter your data, and this can be helpful in VPN-censored countries such as China or UAE.
  • Override GPS Location: This feature is also known as GPS spoofing. It helps you alter your GPS location to the location of your provided VPN server. With this feature, apps with tracking habits, such as Google Maps or Facebook, can be stopped from knowing where you are.
  • RAM-only servers: These are specialized servers that store data on the server’s RAM. They don’t use classic hard drives and wipe all data automatically every time the server resets. It adds to security, as no data will be available on the server if it’s confiscated.

What do we test for?

We check if your chosen VPN provider includes these features and if they’re fully functional.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

Every digital device has two IP addresses: public and private. Whenever your device communicates over a public internet network, it uses the public IP. Instead, if devices exchange data over the same network, a private IP is used. Your IP is assigned to you by your ISP, and all your devices are set locally to share the same public IP. Usually, it’s an IPv4 address, but lately, IPv6 addresses have started replacing them.

The public IP is much like your online ID and points to your approximate location.

Encrypting your connection and altering your public IP with a VPN-generated one can cover your online behavior. It will benefit you in multiple ways, some of them being:

  • Hiding your surfing habits from your ISP tracking them, although they know you are using a VPN.
  • Websites and apps you use will only see the VPN-generated IP address. Hiding your IP helps you cover your identity.

However, IP leaks can occur if the VPN provider lets your private IP slip and be visible instead of the VPN server’s IP.

What do we test for?

We run an IP address checkup on a VPN service to determine which IP address it shows to the public. If the server shows our private IP instead of the server’s, there’s an IP leak.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

A Domain Name System (DNS) is a feature that translates human-friendly written URLs into websites’ IP addresses. We can look at DNS as the internet’s phonebook and the DNS servers as their phone operator. For example, if you type SoftwareLab.org into the browser, the DNS will translate it to 165.227.148.211, after which the browser will take you to our website.

Your ISP operates DNS servers, which, by default, gives them insight into your browsing habits. It’s natural since all your internet traffic routes through the DNS servers. This system is the sole reason VPN providers have their original DNS servers.

DNS leaks occur when your VPN provider lets your queries go through the ISP’s DNS servers. Surfing the web through a VPN should route your online activity through the VPN’s DNS server. These problems may arise if you use a VPN provider that doesn’t have its original DNS server. Alternatively, you may have made a mistake while configuring your VPN settings.

What do we test for?

We examine the VPN’s DNS system and check if they own their original server. If it turns out they don’t, you are at risk of a DNS leak.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is a feature of contemporary web browsers to engage in real-time with websites. For example, Google Chrome and Firefox have this option. They can create momentary communication channels to live stream video and audio feeds.

This exchange naturally requires an exchange of data from both sides. The process includes making your public and local IP address accessible. However, there isn’t a simple way to prevent this. Blocking WebRTC’s requests in your browser is possible, but there isn’t a shortcut, as that is its integral functionality.

Using the best VPN service is a way to fix this issue by switching your local IP address to the VPN-provided one. It will allow authorized WebRTC connections to continue while keeping your IP private.

What do we test for?

We check the WebRTC for leaks by running a WebRTC lookup while on a VPN server. If our private IP is visible, there is a WebRTC leak.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

In short, OpenVPN is the best-known open-source VPN protocol. It’s famous for being one of the most secure VPN protocols. It provides fast and reliable connection speeds on most top operating systems. Being open-source, it allows inspecting and editing its code, allowing consistent improvements since its introduction in 2001.

OpenVPN has two editions:

  • OpenVPN UDP (User Datagram Protocol): Since it provides the best download speed, it is usually the default option of most VPNs.
  • OpenVPN TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): reduces download speed in favor of gaining greater control over data transmission.

OpenVPN is the gold standard. However, since the WireGuard VPN protocol came to the VPN scene, some stated they prefer the latter for higher download speeds. Nevertheless, most top-notch VPN providers still opt for OpenVPN due to its safety and familiarity.

What do we test for?

We test each top VPN provider for download speed and set the Windows to OpenVPN protocol. We push the VPN to the maximum by selecting the download speed to 1Gbps (1,000 Mbps) to get the best results.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is the next-generation open-source VPN protocol. A plain and lean concurrent of OpenVPN and IPsec provides considerably better download speeds. It’s also easier to manipulate, as it only has 4,000 lines of code, compared to almost 500,000 lines the latter two contain. These features make WireGuard easier to debug and audit.

WireGuard currently runs on all major operating systems, although it was initially designed for the Linux kernel. Some of those include Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. We tested a wide array of VPN providers and concluded that WireGuard provides approximately 60% faster data transmission than OpenVPN.

What do we test for?

We check the most superior VPN services for speed while setting the Windows system to the WireGuard protocol. By using our 1Gbps (1,000Mps) connection, we can see how much the VPN service throttles the speed.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

When you connect to a VPN, you’re often using an IP provided by a device located within a country you’re trying to access. The device then routes the traffic, making you appear as if you’re from that country. However, this device might actually be a virtual machine that uses additional software to mask itself as a physical server.

VPN providers often use this practice with servers in specific countries that do not have local server parks. For example, if you want to access a server in Andorra, the physical device is likely in Spain or France since that’s where a bulk of Andorra’s internet infrastructure lies.

Even the most prominent VPN providers don’t have unlimited potential to spread their server infrastructure. More often, about 60 servers around the world are physical, and the rest are provided through virtualization.

What do we test for?

We examine the number of VPN services a VPN offers and where they’re based. Additionally, we investigate if those servers are physical or virtual and on how precisely can you declare your virtual location.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Many streaming services, such as Netflix, restrict access to specific shows and movies location-wise. Those services recognize your local IP address and lock the content, making it unavailable in your country. For example, Netflix will allow some shows to be played in the United States but not anywhere over the state’s borders.

You can hack around these limitations using a VPN service, which will cover your IP address or replace it with a local one. For instance, a US-based VPN server will give you a local IP, allowing you to access otherwise restricted shows. However, Netflix will know about your use of a VPN server and will still block you from accessing the shows. This resulted in VPN and streaming companies trying to one up each other with more complex solutions.

What do we test for?

We check if the VPN provider can unblock restrictions on popular streaming services, such as the following:

  • Netflix
  • Disney Plus
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO
  • Hulu
  • BBC iPlayer (US version)

In the case of Netflix, we check if the VPN server is compatible with other countries such as Australia, the UK, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and Germany.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is based on peer-to-peer sharing, meaning users exchange files through torrenting clients. Torrents do not require a centralized server or a service, as users provide torrent files to download anything from each other. Torrent clients such as μTorrent or BitTorrent are favored clients, and some, like Popcorn Time, even allow streaming media.

Sharing files via torrenting is not illegal by default. However, it does become so when the torrent contains copyrighted content. This issue is especially problematic regarding recent releases of movies and video games, and the demand is high. More often than not, torrenting can be regarded as piracy.

What do we test for?

We inspect if the VPN service allows P2P downloading via torrent networks on some or all servers.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

Checking the VPN server’s monthly price ensures you have made the best bang for your buck. Usually, the most cost-effective solution is subscribing long-term, as the price-per-month falls for longer contracts.

The one-month subscription is the most expensive. However, the best money-smart investment you can make is subscribing to a one-year contract. This price includes a yearly check and a price-per-device.

Most VPN services have similar charging policies, excluding ExpressVPN, which is considered overly priced. Some VPN services that make an excellent payoff are Surfshark and IPvanish since they allow you to install the app on multiple devices and use it simultaneously. Hence, the price-per-device, in this case, is very small.

What do we test for?

We will calculate and compare the aspects of VPN services’ pricing policies. We will check the ratio between the price of a one-year contract and the price per device by dividing the contract cost by the latter.

 

What VPNs for the UK have we tested?

We have tested 30 paid and free VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Proton VPN is the best free VPN service. But if you have the money, we recommend getting a paid VPN service.

In the best case, the free version allows you to protect only one device and doesn’t offer you unlimited bandwidth / unlimited data. And in the worst case, the free VPN providers show you ads or secretly sell your browsing history to advertisers and your internet service provider.

And should you be strapped for cash, don’t opt for an expensive VPN like ExpressVPN. Instead, get a cheap VPN, like Surfshark, that allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices and share the cost with a friend.

  • Astrill VPN
  • Atlas VPN
  • Avast SecureLine VPN
  • Betternet VPN
  • Bitdefender VPN
  • CactusVPN
  • CyberGhost VPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • HideME VPN
  • HMA VPN (HideMyAss VPN)
  • Hola VPN
  • Hotspot Shield VPN
  • IPVanish VPN
  • Ivacy VPN
  • IVPN
  • Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN
  • Mozilla VPN
  • MullVad VPN
  • NordVPN
  • Norton Secure VPN
  • Private Internet Access VPN
  • PrivateVPN
  • Proton VPN
  • PureVPN
  • StrongVPN
  • Surfshark VPN
  • Tunnelbear VPN
  • VyprVPN
  • Windscribe VPN

The best are: CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

Frequently asked questions

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your online privacy. It creates an encrypted VPN tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This tunnel hides your IP address, restores your anonymity online and makes you safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

Why do you need a VPN?

You need a VPN to restore your online privacy and security. Without a VPN, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and advertisers can track everything you read, watch and download online. On top of that, if you don’t use a VPN, hackers will be able to steal your data on public Wi-Fi networks, which can lead to identity theft.

How does a VPN work?

A VPN creates an encrypted connection, called a VPN tunnel, between your devices and a VPN server. This hides your IP address and what you do online. As a result, your ISP won’t be able to see what websites you visit, and advertisers won’t be able to know what your IP address is.

What is the best VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the best VPN services of 2022. NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service. CyberGhost has the highest download speeds and the lowest one-year price. And Surfshark allows you to install the software on unlimited devices.

What is the fastest VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the fastest VPN services of 2022. Although CyberGhost is slightly faster than the other two, the difference is not noticeable for most users.

About the author

Tibor Moes

Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]