The use of a Virtual Private Network can provide a dramatic increase in online privacy and Internet security. VPNs, which allow a user to connect to a remote server in order to hide their IP address, keep Internet activity both encrypted and anonymous.
An additional benefit of connecting to the Internet through a remote IP address is the ability to bypass regional restrictions of online content. This is great for accessing content that may be blocked in your region – services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer are only accessible from certain geographic regions, or limit their content based on your location. Even if you are currently able to access these services, you may not be able to while traveling to different parts of the world.
While any VPN will allow you to connect from a server outside of your area, not all of them will be able to provide access to every content site. To prevent this type of behavior, content streaming sites will often block users who are connecting from a proxy IP, like a VPN. In this sense, not all VPNs are created equal – some have better technology and a few tricks to help bypass these additional restrictions.
Choosing the Best VPN
Choosing a VPN can be difficult since there are now so many options. The best way to shop is to narrow down what features you simply must have to make the whole thing worth it to you. If being able to stream content from BBC iPlayer – privately, securely, and from around the world – is a priority, then this list will give you several great options to explore.
With the right VPN, you will not only be able to stream BBC’s content privately and securely, but also from anywhere in the world without restriction.
Express VPN is a Virgin Islands-based service that has been operating since 2009. During this time, the company has built a reputation for consistency and a dedication to user privacy. ExpressVPN costs a bit more than other providers, but delivers a secure VPN with good performance, while still being user-friendly.
With servers in over 90 countries, ExpressVPN is one of the best options for optimizing connectivity, regardless of where you are. If you’re trying to view content on BBC iPlayer, this also confers the ability to connect through IP addresses in several different regions, allowing access to a wider variety of content, and a fast connection while globe-trotting.
Although it does not have the depth of features and configurations as some other VPNs, Express is perfect for the user who doesn’t mind paying a little extra for a well-rounded VPN with worldwide access and great usability.
- Well-rounded VPN, above average in performance and privacy
- 30-day money-back guarantee allows full access and is easy to cancel
- Over 1,000 servers worldwide assures reliable connection at all times
- Has been consistently able to access BBC iPlayer since 2009
- One of the most expensive VPNs, even on a yearly plan
- Limited configuration options for the price point
IPVanish is another of the big VPN providers with a history of success. It is similar to Express VPN in that it is a bit more expensive (from $6.50 to $10 per month, depending on plan), but has good performance and hundreds of servers worldwide. IPVanish also has a true no-log policy (many other VPNs keep limited activity logs for up to 30 days).
Where IPVanish differs from ExpressVPN is in its long list of features. It has a lot of special features, like IP address cycling and a Kill Switch, but these come at the expense of a clunky and unattractive user interface. This makes it less friendly for beginners or users who want something simple and effective, but can provide more options and configurations for the truly technical user. It also allows connection from up to 5 devices simultaneously, adding to its appeal as a robust product
- Great reputation, with servers in over 60 countries
- True zero-log policy provides maximum privacy
- Allows connection from 5 devices simultaneously
- Many configurations and customization options
- More expensive than other VPNs
- UI can be difficult to navigate and unintuitive
- Customer service has only so-so reviews
NordVPN is a reputable market leader, with budget-friendly plans and servers in over 60 countries. NordVPN users get access to lots of deeper features, like different encryption protocols, a kill switch, and more. Additionally, the company is based in Panama, which is great for privacy.
NordVPN also has an easy installation and great interface, making it a user-friendly option for someone that just wants to turn on a VPN and start streaming with minimal hassle. That being said, NordVPN’s customer service has received mixed reviews, so users looking to get into more advanced features should be cautious selecting Nord.
With the current available discounts, NordVPN can give you a premier VPN experience for less than $4/month for a 2-year plan. This makes it one of the most affordable options for using BBC iPlayer with maximum protection, and enabling access from almost anywhere on the planet.
- Very affordable, especially with a longer commitment
- Servers in over 60 countries
- Great reputation for privacy – no user logs and no local government regulations get in the way
- Up to six simultaneous connections
- While consistent, overall speed is slow
- Customer support is mediocre
Buffered is a more recent addition to today’s VPN lineup, and its strengths play well to the BBC iPlayer user. On top of their secure and high-speed network, they already have servers in almost 40 countries, support 5 simultaneous devices, and have a responsive customer service system.
Additionally, users get access to custom clients for different operating systems and great configuration guides for mobile. This can allow streaming from varied devices, including SmartTVs – a great boon for the BBC iPlayer user. This positions Buffered as more of a niche product for customers who want to get a lot of mileage out of deeper VPN features, but would like to do so with the aid of tutorial videos and documentation
- Total package of speed and OpenVPN security
- Compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Linux – plus smart TVs and mobile
- Although customer service is not live chat, still very responsive and helpful
- One of the most expensive VPNs
- Minimal logs are kept (login times and connection durations)
VPNArea is known for its multi-platform integration, allowing users to access Netflix from different devices. It also has an easy and appealing UI, and very responsive customer support.
While not the fastest VPN, BBC iPlayer users will find performance to be more than adequate for streaming. Additionally, VPNArea has all of the best security features and total privacy with a no-log system. The company is headquartered in Bulgaria, which adds an extra layer of comfort due to the country’s privacy-friendly legal system.
VPNArea has servers in over 60 countries, and a 7-day free trial to help you get a feel for it. Overall, it is a user-friendly service with great privacy controls. While not as feature-laden as some of the more expensive services, it is great for the casual VPN user.
- Live customer support and ticket system available 24/7
- Support across multiple devices and easy mobile set-up
- Top tier privacy and security
- Middle of the road speed
- Performance and connectivity can vary based on region (the 7-day free trial may help you decide)
- Less configuration options than the bigger VPNs
HideMyAss is a great VPN for users that are mostly concerned with a great interface, responsive customer support, and ease-of-use. Additionally, HideMyAss has servers in 190 countries, making it one of the best for accessing content from different regions and while on the road. If you are mostly concerned with accessibility, and less so with in-depth features and configuration, this might be the VPN for you.
What HideMyAss users will miss out on includes speciality servers, connectivity for more than 2 devices, the ability to change VPN protocols, and ad blocking. If you know that you won’t be needing those features, then HideMyAss provides good performance with all of the standard security features, and one of the most user-friendly packages on the market.
HideMyAss comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, and their great website and customer support makes it easy to cancel. This one is definitely worth checking out and seeing how BBC iPlayer runs for you.
- Performs well on speed tests
- Servers in 190 countries
- Great user experience and customer support
- Very few configuration options or special features
- Connectivity logs can be kept for a month, or longer
- Expensive, considering how few features it has – $6.66 to $11.95/month based on plan
TunnelBear is a smaller VPN provider that promises a great balance of security, usability, and price. They also have a free version with limited monthly data that can be a great way to get your toes wet with VPNs and see if this is the right product for you. TunnelBear is also a no-log service, which will put to rest almost all privacy concerns while online. Along with top of the line security, TunnelBear gives as much anonymity as VPNs are currently capable of providing.
The downside of TunnelBear, as with many newer and smaller companies, is a more limited selection of servers. Currently, there are only server locations in 20 countries. While this adequately covers most of North America, Europe, and Asia, users who live in or heavily travel to places in Africa and the Middle East may want to look to a different provider. For content streaming, also note that you will not be able to access content that is restricted to only these areas.
TunnelBear is still adding new features, allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, and has a great ad-blocker plug in and mobile app. For the right user, who plans on sticking around the supported region, TunnelBear is an exciting new VPN.
- Great interface and many user-friendly features
- Affordable plans around $5/month
- Limited server locations, and many regions are left out
- Performance is inconsistent – too few servers can limit bandwidth and speed