Looking For The Best VPN Service For Streaming? Here Are The VPNs That Are Worth Your Time
It wasn’t that long ago that VPNs were software you’d only find on a work laptop or the PC of a keen torrent user, but today, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are well and truly mainstream. That’s because these apps are a brilliant way to keep all of your data safe when online thanks to the military-grade encryption. That ensures your web browsing habits are kept away from prying eyes, especially on public Wi-Fi networks.
But most importantly, VPNs can bypass regional blocks to access a wealth of TV shows, blockbuster movies, and sports fixtures to stream or download from across the globe. With a dizzying number of servers available, VPN users will be able to watch thousands of episodes not available in their current location.
Sound good? If you’re looking for the best streaming VPN, look no further than ExpressVPN.
This Virtual Private Network has a dedicated team that works tirelessly to ensure its servers can access regional content and streaming services from around the globe. It has also managed to swerve the crackdown from Netflix (something that isn’t true for all VPN services) to unblock all of its shows and movies. Better yet, you sign-up for a longer subscription plan to unlock some great discounts – and using Klarna, you’ll be able to pay in small, manageable instalments. ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in picking one of these lengthier contracts to get the best deal on your new VPN subscription.
We’ve rounded up the best VPNs for streaming in the UK, as well as a number of commonly-asked questions about VPNs, including advanced features like split tunnelling and simultaneous connections from multiple devices. Scroll down for our complete guide on the best streaming VPN UKs, or get the latest ExpressVPN deal here.
What Is A VPN?
In a nutshell, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an application that creates a secure, encrypted tunnel whenever you go online. If you’re connected to a busy public Wi-Fi network, like those found in popular coffee shop chains and airports, the VPN will shield all of your internet traffic – preventing bad actors from intercepting your data. Back at home, it will stop your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from keeping tabs on your online activity, similar to a supercharged version of the Incognito Mode built into Google Chrome.
You might also want to rely on a VPN to keep your internet history from prying eyes of the Government too, with these apps particularly crucial to whistleblowers and sources helping journalists uncover wrongdoing, for example.
In some countries, like Turkey or China, a number of the globe’s biggest internet services have been banned due to tough censorship laws. If you’re visiting and need access to the likes of Twitter or Google to continue working, you’ll need access to a VPN.
But while encryption is an essential aspect of a Virtual Private Network (and the reason that your workplace likely requires you to turn on a VPN before working remotely), it is the ability to manually alter your IP addresses that make these apps infinitely more exciting. And perfect for video streaming.
What Makes VPNs So Good For Video Streaming?
It’s the ability to route your internet traffic through servers around the globe that makes VPNs so brilliant for video streaming. By switching IP addresses to appear as if you’re based in another country, VPN users can unlock streaming services that are unavailable in their current location, as well as different shows and movies on their existing streaming video apps.
That’s because streaming services – like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video – offer a different selection of shows and films in each country they operated within. Aside from booking a dizzying number of flights, a VPN is the only way to access all of this content.
There are other streaming services, like HBO Max and Paramount+, which aren’t available in the UK yet, which a good VPN can unblock. Likewise, when travelling abroad, a VPN can grant you the ability to access streaming services as if you were sitting on the sofa at home. While BBC iPlayer is available to watch on a number of devices in the UK, if you forgot to download offline versions of your favourite show or movie before travelling, you’ll be locked out of the app.
VPNs can be useful to unlock TV shows, films and sports from any country worldwide
How Does A VPN Work?
For those who don’t know, an IP address is assigned to your device whenever you connect to the internet and contains information about your current location. It’s the reason you’re able to see your address on Google Maps or the way that retailers enable features like Find Your Nearest Store on their sites.
What’s the point of changing your current location, you might ask? Well, some of the biggest streaming services place geographic restrictions on their content, usually due to different licensing agreements in each country. For example, while Tina Fey’s seminal sit-com 30 Rock is available to watch in its entirety on Netflix in the United States, the show is only available via Sky Comedy (either via Sky Q, Sky Glass, NOW TV, Virgin Media or BT TV) in the UK due to different agreements between the broadcasters.
Using a VPN to manually tweak your IP address, you can make it appear as if you’re on holiday in the United States for the evening. Just like when you’re visiting on holiday, your existing UK login credentials will work on all of the Netflix apps, but the catalogue of shows, documentaries, and movies will be completely different.
And it’s not just for Netflix either. VPNs can be used to unlock a bevy of shows and films across a wide range of streaming services, unlock sporting events that aren’t broadcast in your current location, and subscribe to new services that haven’t yet launched where you’re based. Likewise, if you’re away on holiday and some of the online services that you subscribe to aren’t yet available in the country you’re staying in – a VPN can help.
For example, following the UK’s departure from the European Union, Sky Go no longer works for UK subscribers on the continent. If you’re abroad for a few weeks, you won’t be able to watch live broadcasts from terrestrial channels in the UK or download on-demand boxsets ready for the journey back home.
There’s also a slew of streaming services, like Paramount+ and HBO Max, that aren’t currently available in the UK. A number of sports fixtures, including Premier League matches, aren’t available to watch online – no matter how much you’re willing to pay. As such, the only option to access this content is to appear as if you’re outside of the UK with a VPN.
How Do You Use A VPN To Stream?
There’s no difference between using a VPN to stream and anything else you might do online. First up, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve downloaded the correct app from your Virtual Private Network onto the device you’re planning to use. This could include desktop software, or an add-on for your web browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox. If there isn’t a dedicated app for the device you’re planning to use (some streaming dongles, like Chromecast with Google TV and Roku, don’t offer the ability to install a VPN onto the device itself), then you might need to download and install software from your VPN onto your Wi-Fi router, so that every device connected to your Wi-Fi network is automatically covered by the VPN.
If that sounds a little too technical, it might be worth switching to another device. Once you’ve got the application up and running, you’ll want to enable the VPN (if it’s not enabled by default each time that your device connects to the internet) and then navigate to the streaming service you’d like to watch. If you’re looking to unblock content from a specific country (or use a streaming service only available in select countries worldwide), you’ll need to handpick a server from the list of available options from your VPN. You might need to refresh the streaming service – closing the app on your iPhone or Android, for example – so that it acknowledges that it has, erm, travelled abroad.
What Is The Best VPN For Streaming Services?
Looking for the best VPN for streaming? Look no further than ExpressVPN.
This critically-acclaimed provider ranked highly in our list of best VPNs and best VPNs for Fire TV Stick, but when it comes to streaming, it manages to edge out the competition. That’s because ExpressVPN has a dedicated team that ensures its servers across the globe work seamlessly with Netflix, even as the US streaming service has ramped-up efforts to block people abroad tapping into the vast library of shows and movies available to Netflix subscribers in the United States.
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ExpressVPN – The Ultimate VPN For Streaming Video
With its focus on streaming, ExpressVPN’s servers are the best for video streaming with a VPN
If you’re hoping to unlock new boxsets, sports and movies with your new VPN, look no further than ExpressVPN. This blockbuster VPN service only has a minimum impact on download speeds, so you shouldn’t have to suffer through endless loading times before getting stuck into a new binge-able series from Netflix US, for example. After all, if you’re using a server that’s halfway around the globe, it will take longer for your data to be beamed across the planet. That’s something that ExpressVPN minimises as much as possible, something you won’t find with some more affordable rivals.
What We Love
Always Adding New Unblocked Servers For Netflix
Really Fast Connections – Perfect For Streaming
Apps For All Of The Devices You Could Ever Want To Stream With
Never Keeps Data On Its Customers
What We Don’t Love
Can Be Pricey Compared To The Competition
5 Device Limit Might Be Too Restrictive For Some
But what really pushes this provider above its rivals is the fact that ExpressVPN works incredibly hard to ensure that it has a steady stream of new servers coming online to escape Netflix’s recent crackdown on VPNs. While some providers struggle to unlock the full catalogue available in the United States, ExpressVPN never runs into an issue.
It also cuts out the hassle that you might have with some VPN providers that don’t specifically go out of their way to bring online new servers that work with Netflix – switching between a number of locations within the country to find one that works. ExpressVPN makes it an impossibly simple tap-and-go. If you’re only planning to use your VPN to boost your streaming habits at home, this is why you need ExpressVPN in your arsenal.
If you’ve got a truckload of gadgets, the 5 device limit might put you off ExpressVPN. However, the company does offer dedicated apps to install on your router – encrypting every device that you own each time they connect to your home Wi-Fi network.
ExpressVPN pledges to never collect identifying information about its customers, including IP address, online activity, traffic destination, or even the length of each session. For those who want a VPN for privacy benefits, this is immensely reassuring. ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws. So the company isn’t legally obliged to keep tabs on the browsing habits of its customers.
ExpressVPN accepts a number of payment methods, including Mastercard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Paypal and Bitcoin are also options to subscribe to the VPN. Unfortunately, unlike NordVPN, there’s no support for Google Pay or Apple Pay for a one-tap checkout on your smartphone or tablet.
However, if you don’t want to pay for a longer membership (you can unlock bigger discounts when you sign-up for a one-year membership, for example) upfront, ExpressVPN has added support for Klarna – so you can break up the payment into smaller instalments.
NordVPN – Brilliant VPN Service For Streaming With A Lower Price
NordVPN has a beautiful app that’s the perfect entry point for those new to streaming with a VPN
If you’re not too confident about using a VPN, NordVPN is a great entry point. The company has one of the most beautifully and intuitively designed apps on the market. Available on both iOS and Android – as well as a host of other devices, including Amazon’s popular Fire TV Stick range, Wi-Fi routers, Chromebooks, and tablets, to name just a few – the app makes it ludicrously easy for newcomers to get connected. That, coupled with its cheaper monthly cost than ExpressVPN, is the reason that we named NordVPN as the best VPN provider money can buy right now.
What We Love
Fast Connections – Perfect For Streaming Video
Beautifully Designed Apps That Make It Easy For VPN Novices
Can Automatically Monitor Dark Web For Your Leaked Passwords
Can Connect Up To 6 Devices To The Same Account
What We Don’t Love
Not As Many Locations For Your IP Address As Some VPN Services
However, ExpressVPN’s laser-guided focus on ensuring that all of its servers are compatible with Netflix streaming does give it a slight edge when it comes to a VPN dedicated to streaming. NordVPN is still great when it comes to switching to locations around the globe.
Loading up the app, your frequently-used countries will be listed at the top – making it easy to jump back into your favourite series on US Netflix, for example.
NordVPN doesn’t offer connections in quite as many countries worldwide as ExpressVPN (60 versus 94), so those who want to appear in more exotic locations might want to look elsewhere. It also means you’re not going to be able to watch content from as many countries as ExpressVPN, which is a bit of a shame.
With a choice of more than 5,000 servers available globally, even if you stumble across a server that has been blocked in Netflix’s ongoing crackdown on VPNs, you should easily be able to find a replacement with a quick tap or two. It also means you should be able to find a solid connection to a server that isn’t too congested – even at peak times.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN had minimal impact on our download speeds during our testing, making it a great option for those looking to leverage their VPN to stream, rather than buying primarily to encrypt their data online. NordVPN offers some incredible deals, especially if you sign up to its one-year or two-year plans – with prices plummeting as low as £2.59 a month.
NordVPN accepts all major credit card providers, including Mastercard, VISA, AMEX, and Discovery. It also lets you pay with PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay. These options should let you breeze through the checkout process. You can also pay for NordVPN with the most popular cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN – A Reasonably Priced VPN With Great Streaming Features
Private Internet Access has a number of features that are great for streamers
Private Internet Access (PIA) makes some bold claims about its streaming capabilities. It never places any limits on the amount of bandwidth available to its 15 million subscribers, so you shouldn’t see any slowdown when watching boxsets, sports or movies – even at peak time. PIA has apps available for a wide range of devices, including Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, games consoles, iOS and Android.
What We Love
- Dedicated IP Address Feature Saves You From Endless CAPTCHAs
- One Subscription Can Be Used On 10 Different Devices
- Apps For All Major Platforms
What We Don’t Love
- Based In A Country (USA) That’s Signed Up To Surveillance Scheme ‘Fourteen Eyes’
There’s also software to install on your Wi-Fi router, which ensures that every device connected to your home Wi-Fi network will be protected by end-to-end encryption. If you’ve manually changed your IP address to another nation, all of your gadgets will appear abroad too. That’s handy if you’re planning to stream with a device that doesn’t have a dedicated app from Private Internet Access.
If you’re planning to use a Virtual Private Network each time you stream video online, PIA has an incredibly useful feature that’ll save you a headache. The ability to set a dedicated IP address means you’ll still be able to enjoy the benefits of a VPN – accessing boxsets from overseas, streaming services unavailable in your country – but won’t be confronted with CAPTCHAs and other security checks as your favourite sites think you’re logging in from a variety of locations around the globe (a possible sign of fraud). To avoid this, a dedicated IP address resolves this in the same way as logging in without a VPN prevents these headaches.
When it comes to payment, there are a truckload of options available. Like most of the providers in this list, PIA accepts all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard and AMEX. Paypal and Amazon Pay are also available, which should make the checkout process frictionless if you already have an account with these providers. Anonymous payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies are also accepted.
PIA accepts a wider variety of cryptocurrencies than some of the other suppliers in this list, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitpay, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. Uniquely, PIA accepts third-party gift cards from Starbucks, Walmart, Best Buy, and more as payment too.
ProtonVPN – A Great Free VPN Service For Streaming
ProtonVPN has a free subscription tier, as well as paid options that unlock faster streaming speeds
ProtonVPN offers a free subscription tier to its service, which makes it a great option for anyone who wants to dip their toe in the water. Better yet, the VPN doesn’t impose any limits on the amount of data that you can use when connected …this is a pretty common ploy used by many free VPN providers to push you onto one of their paid plans after a short trial period.
What We Love
It Won’t Cost You A Penny!
Unlike Most Free VPNs In The UK, There Are No Limits On Data
Never Keeps Data On Its Customers
What We Don’t Love
Data From Paid Customers Is Prioritised, So Your Streaming Speeds Will Be Slower Than Others On This List
Only 3 Possible Locations Around The World For Those On The Free Subscription Tier
No 24/7 Chat Support Like Other VPN Services On This List
But that’s not the case with ProtonVPN Free, which makes it a great option when streaming video online, which uses a lot more data than reading text, or even searching for images. Aside from online gaming and video calls, streaming high-resolution video is one of data-hungry activities you can do online.
As you’d expect from a free VPN service, there are some limits imposed on the service. First off, there are only three locations around the world available: the United States, Japan and Netherlands. So, if you’re abroad and want to spoof your location back in the UK to access services not available outside of the country, you’re out of luck with ProtonVPN Free.
There are apps on both iOS and Android, Windows and Mac, which is nice. But the biggest drawback with opting for ProtonVPN Free is that your online traffic is de-prioritised compared to the provider’s paying customers. So, at peak times, you can expect to see your download speeds dwindle as ProtonVPN ensures its paying customers enjoy a buffer-free experience. That’s understandable, after all, this won’t be costing you anything, but if you’re specifically looking to install a VPN to enable streaming from around the world… it’s not ideal.
Like the two providers above, ProtonVPN has strict data protection policies and won’t log any information about your online activity or visits. Nice!
ProtonVPN offers a number of payment options, including all major credit cards and Bitcoin. There’s also support for PayPal, which should make the checkout process faster and painless for those who already have an account with a credit card saved in their wallet. Unlike any of its competitors on this list, ProtonVPN also supports cash payments.
Unfortunately, there isn’t too much information about how this works. The Virtual Private Networks says subscribers will already need an account, then email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange payment for your subscription plan with cash. Quite how that works isn’t clarified in the company’s FAQ, and it’s not something we’ve yet attempted. However, if you’re desperate to pay with notes for your VPN, then ProtonVPN should be your first port of call.
Is It Legal To Use A VPN?
That depends where you live. In most countries around the world, using a Virtual Private Network is completely fine. In fact, most companies actively encourage employees to use a VPN to ensure that sensitive internal data is shielded from outside eyes, or to access internal software or systems. It’s likely the reason you’ve been provided with a work laptop when working at home, or the IT department has warned you against signing-up to a Wi-Fi network in the nearest Starbucks or airport lounge without switching on the company VPN first!
But there are some countries where VPNs are outright illegal. China, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the UAE all heavily restrict the use of VPNs. China is known for its tough restrictions on the internet in its country – banning the likes of Google and WhatsApp from operating within its borders. Since VPNs would allow citizens to access these services on their home Wi-Fi networks, it makes sense that China isn’t too happy about this software becoming widely-used.
Some nations, including Belarus, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, and Turkmenistan, have passed specific laws that ban the use of VPNs entirely. So, if you live in any of the countries listed above, you might want to avoid signing-up for one of these services.
Is It Legal To Use A VPN To Stream Video?
Using a VPN to alter your IP address to unlock different content from around the world can be incredibly tempting.. but is it legal? The good news is – yes. There’s nothing illegal about manually tweaking your IP address to appear in a different location on the planet and using the web as if you were really there. However, it’s worth noting that while it isn’t against the law, it might contravene individual streaming services’ terms and conditions.
Netflix has cracked down on servers that enable users to connect to the US catalogue of shows and movies, for example. However, it has seemingly never targeted individuals.
In its terms of service for iPlayer, BBC states that “accessing content from outside the UK that you aren’t allowed to, or helping others do the same” is against its rules. If you break this rule (or any of the others listed on its help pages) the Beeb “can suspend or terminate your use of services and your account”.
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What Is The Best VPN For Netflix?
If you’re looking to stream content from Netflix using a VPN, look no further than ExpressVPN. This critically-acclaimed Virtual Private Network employs a team to constantly refresh its available servers to ensure that none are blocked from streaming on Netflix. In recent months, the hugely-popular streaming service has started to block some VPN servers from accessing its content. As such, some VPNs struggle to work with Netflix – with users forced to constantly refresh their connection, manually trawl through a list of servers, and more. That’s a big headache when you want to binge your favourite boxset after a long day at work.
That’s where ExpressVPN truly excels. It might not be the cheapest VPN on the market, but for those who want fast streaming speeds, a flawless connection to Netflix every time, and apps for every device (iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows, Fire TV Stick) in their home …ExpressVPN is a brilliant choice. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out the streaming service safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to get a refund if anything goes awry. Of course, it’s worth checking the terms of service of any subscription service that you want to use with a VPN, including Netflix.
Which VPN Is Best For Live Streaming?
The qualities that make a particular Virtual Private Network good for live streaming are no different to watching series or films on-demand. You’ll need a service that doesn’t negatively impact your download speeds too much – freeing up plenty of bandwidth, so you don’t need to worry about buffering before you start watching. And you’ll need a VPN with servers in a comprehensive list of countries, so that you can position your IP address as close as possible to the action. All of this points to ExpressVPN. This supplier is known for its speedy connections, a dedicated team that works to ensure its servers are never blocked by streaming services looking to stamp out VPNs, and long list of possible servers.
Is It Worth Getting A VPN For Streaming?
VPNs can unlock a wealth of content from across the globe. Just like when you travel abroad, your existing login for Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ will work as expected …but you’ll be greeted with a brand-new catalogue of boxsets and films. For the same monthly fee, you can watch more shows and movies than if you stick in the same location. And if you want to access streaming services that would otherwise be unavailable to you, then this is only possible with a relocation to another country or a VPN subscription. Of course, you’ll need to check the small-print in the terms and conditions of the streaming service you’re thinking of using with your VPN to check whether it’s all above board. But if you’re struggling to find new shows and films to watch on the catalogues available to you with your current subscriptions, a VPN could be a great way to bring new choices without paying a penny more.
Will A VPN Help With Streaming?
Well, that depends. If you’re looking to stream boxsets, blockbusters and sports fixtures that aren’t available to watch in your country …then a Virtual Private Network is your only shot. However, if you’re looking to watch something on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, ITV Hub, or BritBox that’s freely available in your current location, you won’t need a VPN installed. In fact, redirecting your web traffic via the encrypted tunnel provided by a VPN does have an impact on your download speeds. The best providers recommended in this article will all have a minimal impact, but if you have sluggish download speeds on your home Wi-Fi network or 4G / 5G mobile network …it might be better to avoid a VPN altogether.
Of course, that will mean that your data is unprotected. If you don’t want your broadband supplier to know exactly how you’re spending your time, what you’re watching, and more, then it might be worth waiting a few seconds more for your next episode to buffer in exchange for the privacy afforded by a Virtual Private Network, VPN.
What Is The Best VPN in 2022?
It can be tough to find the Best VPN on the market, so we’ve done the hard graft for you. We’ve tested some of the biggest VPN services on the planet right now to come up with a definitive list of the Best VPN around today. You can read our Best VPN Guide to find which provider best suits your needs if you’re looking to do a little more than stream video.
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