What is a VPN, how do they work and are they legal?

“WHAT is a VPN?” and ‘Are VPNs legal in the UK?’ are common questions for those who are new to the software.

They add extra security and privacy to PCs and smartphones, but what are they? We tell you everything you need to know.

VPNs can give you extra security online


VPNs can give you extra security onlinePhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”. It is software that, when activated, changes the “address” of a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

Software that uses VPN technology adds an extra layer of security to any computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

VPNs make it significantly more difficult for snoopers to monitor your online activities, helping to protect personal data and information.

And with increasing concerns about privacy—and keeping online activities safe from prying eyes—VPNs are more common than ever.

They can help secure your browsing on public WiFi (in coffee shops, malls, or public transport) and abroad — although they’re banned in some countries.

But there is some confusion as to whether VPNs are legal in the UK.

And there’s also some debate about what the best VPN service providers are.

Who Are the Best UK VPN Providers?

With so many VPN providers available, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you.

Our tech experts have tried and tested some of these, which you can find in our selection best VPN services.

Some offer better services for desktop computers, others offer mobile apps and features may differ.

Here is a short list of some VPNs that we have tested and can recommend:

There are many VPN providers to choose from


There are many VPN providers to choose fromPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

Is Using a VPN Legal in the UK?

Using a VPN service is not illegal in the UK if used within the legal guidelines.

You can have a VPN subscription and use it to add extra security to your own browsing at home or on the go.

However, VPNs can be used to bypass “geo-restrictions” that prevent viewing video content outside of certain countries – e.g. B. Watching Netflix content that is not available in your own region.

Although such activities are frowned upon by streaming platforms, it is not an illegal practice. Read our selection of the The Best VPNs for Netflix if that interests you.

Around the world, VPN services are completely banned in some countries – including North Korea and Iraq.

Meanwhile, only government-approved services are allowed in countries like Russia, China, and Turkey.

How do I set up a VPN?

Most VPN programs have a very large and useful on/off button that you can click to instantly enable default protection.

In this case, you don’t need to worry about any particular option. The program connects to the best available server and your connection will be secure automatically. child’s play, right?

However, if you have specific location and/or service requirements, you should specify certain options in the settings.

As daunting as that may sound, the truth is that VPN providers have come a long way from being tools for techies, and most of them now have preset profiles specifically aimed at filling a specific need.

Need to look like you’re connecting from another country? Just access the server list and select one located in the country you are interested in.

Will a VPN Make Me Completely Anonymous?

We live in a highly connected world and being completely anonymous online is a difficult task.

A VPN is a good step toward online anonymity, but it’s not enough on its own.

This is because, for example, a lot of information about you is shared with third parties via your browser.

Choosing a secure browser is then one of the most important steps you can take to avoid fingerprints.

Targeted advertising is closely related to this. Apps and websites collect many options about your personal taste through ads to improve their suggestions.

You can solve this problem by installing an ad-blocker browser extension.

Therefore, using a VPN on top of these other tools will help you achieve more anonymity online.

How to choose a good VPN

Three wooden cubes with the inscription VPN with the computer keyboard close-up


Three wooden cubes with the inscription VPN with the computer keyboard close-upCredit: GETTY

Besides price, there are several factors to consider when looking for a VPN.

First of all, most VPN services have limitations on the maximum number of simultaneous connections. If you rely on a VPN for all your devices, make sure you choose a service with multiple connections.

Second, you should check which countries the servers your VPN uses are located in. Having multiple servers in an area can help spread the load, but doesn’t necessarily mean faster performance as more people may be using the service, making it slower.

Another, more technical factor concerns the connection protocols of the VPN. Ideally, a good VPN should use either OpenVPN or IKeV2 protocols, but PPTP, L2TP, AND SSTP are all valid options.

Finally privacy. VPN services are generally used to maintain user anonymity and privacy, but the truth is that not all VPN providers delete all user data after ending a session. Be sure to read the company’s policies before starting your first VPN browsing session.

Considering switching broadband providers? We’ve rounded up the top options here.

If you’re looking for a new phone to take snaps with, we’ve rounded up the best camera phones.

For recommended technical products and summaries go to Sun Selects Tech.

If you click a link in the article and buy a product, we earn revenue. What is a VPN, how do they work and are they legal?

Fry Electronics Team

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