VPN use has exploded in recent years and Scotland is no exception.
In this article, I'm taking a look at some of the leading solutions to unblock content and keep you secure online.
Finding a reliable VPN provider for Scotland can be a difficult job, especially with so much choice.
Even a quick search of Google will offer thousands of options which can be confusing, time consuming and ultimately, you may just give up.
Most suitable providers for Scotland won't actually provide Scottish based servers so the best option is to find a service that offers reliable United Kingdom servers.
It's beneficial if they're in the north of England because there is less distance, however, generally much of the UK is connected via London so almost all servers will be suitable for Scottish use.
That said, there are a handful of providers that also offer servers in Scotland, so I've been taking a look at some of these and others that are suitable for use in Scotland too.
Keep scrolling to discover which the best are.
Top 5 VPNs for Scotland
IPVanish is definitely the Best VPN for Scotland and for various reasons.
One of the main positives for Scottish users or those who want to access Scottish services is that IPVanish is one of few providers who offer dedicated VPN servers in Scotland.
Glasgow has fourteen servers available to connect to, which is good news if a local server is a requirement.
The Scottish based servers work with all the Scottish streaming services such as STV Player and BBC Scotland so you'll still be able to watch these while protecting your privacy, or if you're abroad you'll be able to stream them while you're away too.
If you're looking for other nearby servers, then IPVanish has servers in London, Manchester and Birmingham which will also offer good speeds from Scotland. Very few providers offer servers outside London, so it's a massive plus of the IPVanish service.
Servers aside they have one of the fastest networks and although they don't have quite as many overall servers as the competition we found them to be reliable.
Software is available for Windows PC and Mac as well as apps for both Android and iOS and with ten concurrent connections allowed from the one service you can protect a range of devices across your entire household and when mobile.
At only $10 a month or $6.49 (approx £5.11) a month when taking an annual package and a 30-day money back guarantee, you can't go wrong here.
Our #1 Recommendation for Scotland
30-day money back guarantee
Unlike IPVanish, ExpressVPN like most VPN services don't offer a specific server in Scotland itself, but they do provide a good range of different UK locations that make them suitable for use within Scotland.
Most of the servers from ExpressVPN are located across the south coast of England including London but with major internet links to London across the UK it's often the case that data gets bounced here first regardless of your location so the speeds achievable for much of mainland Scotland will still be ideal.
ExpressVPN works with services such as BBC Scotland via iPlayer and STV Player so you will be able to continue to watch these while travelling or if you just want to protect your privacy permanently.
My favourite feature of the ExpressVPN service is they offer a huge 30-day money back guarantee.
This allows you to test the service for a whole month and if you're not happy with how it performs, there is no risk as you can get your money back. Most providers don't offer such a long guarantee so it's a big bonus.
One thing that does let the service down is they're a little expensive compared to the likes of IPVanish. A month service will cost you $11.32 although this can be made a little cheaper at $6.67 (approx £5.25) but it's still a little expensive, although they do offer some enhanced features.
Apps for mobiles and tablets and software for desktop and laptops is available so your full range of devices are covered.
VyprVPN is another top VPN provider and although they don't specifically have a server in Scotland like IPVanish does, they have multiple servers located in London.
While this won't be suitable for users looking for a dedicated Scottish server, it will still give fast speeds because the majority of the UK is connected via London anyway and will offer the best browsing experience while protecting your privacy.
In recent years VyprVPN has made great efforts to ensure BBC iPlayer and BBC Scotland work, as does STV and services like Sky Go, Netflix and Disney+.
The service allows you to connect up to five devices at once and while the monthly package is costly their 1 and 2-year packages are much more affordable.
They now also offer a 30-day money back guarantee and getting rid of their three day trial. We really like VyprVPN for the reliability of their connections and consistent speeds across their entire network.
Next, we have CyberGhost.
This is a Romanian VPN which is known for quite a few things, including excellent speeds, as well as its ability to unblock services in the UK.
As such, it makes a great choice for a VPN in Scotland, allowing you to access local and overseas content while remaining private.
CyberGhost has a massive server network that spans throughout 90+ countries, with over 6,500 servers in total.
It has around 528 servers on the territory of the UK alone, which means that you will definitely be able to find servers that work and are not overcrowded. However, like most providers it doesn't offer specific Scotland locations.
One last thing to note is that CyberGhost also has a 45-day money-back guarantee, so you have about a month and a half to test it and get your money back if you change your mind about using it.
Lastly, there is Surfshark – a VPN service from the British Virgin Islands, which is an excellent choice for anyone seeking privacy. The service uses the strongest security features available, including OpenVPN protocol and 256-bit AES encryption.
It also has a rather large server network that covers 63 countries, with a total of 1700 servers. One of the covered countries is, of course, the UK, with servers in three different locations, including London and Manchester.
They're also one of few services along with IPVanish that offer servers in Glasgow.
Surfshark also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, a strict no-logs policy, and professional customer support available 24/7.
How we selected services for Scotland
When selecting services for Scotland, we considered many aspects but the following four were some of our top considerations:
1. Speed tests
Speed is of great importance for VPN users.
As you may know, any VPN can slow down your internet speed when used, due to the fact that it has to encrypt your data before sending it forward. This is why you need the fastest VPN you can get in order to reduce the delay as much as possible.
It's no good having strong encryption or robust privacy features if it's too slow to make use of.
Without a fast VPN, you can still browse the web without feeling the delay.
However, the delay will be quite noticeable if you were to try streaming videos, where you would encounter constant buffering.
We took all the most popular VPN services, whittled them down to the ones suitable for Scotland and then tested their speeds. You can see a range of our speed tests in our provider reviews such as IPVanish, ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.
The UK is one of the founding members of the 5-Eyes alliance, a surveillance alliance that has grown and expanded to a separate entity known as 14-eyes.
Basically, this means that any VPN that cannot guarantee that it will not keep user logs could potentially leak your data to the government.
This is a fair possibility if the VPN is located in the jurisdiction of any of the member countries, including the UK.
As a result, we sought out VPNs located in foreign, privacy-friendly jurisdictions, and opted to only use those for protection. Such services cannot be ordered to surrender or start recording user data, and so they are safe to be used.
We also scoured their privacy policies to ensure they don't retain logs of your activity and looked for recent incidents that could prove their claims to be untrue.
3. Protect against UK legislation
The UK is well-known for its surveillance. While it's not quite as bad as the likes of China, it's not far off.
This doesn't only include cameras on every street corner, but also UK legislation allows the country's authorities to log user history, retain data, analyse it, and use it in any way they want.
Not so worrying if you're visiting Youtube, but if you're researching sexual health or have a specific interest, the names of websites you visit could be embarrassing.
Obviously, this is not a good thing for users, who need a good, competent VPN to protect them from having their data recorded.
With that in mind, we only chose VPNs with strong privacy and security features, no leaks, and plenty of additional features.
4. Reliability and longevity
Lastly, we wanted to recommend dependable, well-established providers who have been around for a long time, and who have developed a solid reputation.
This necessity comes from the fact that VPNs have grown very popular over the last several years. As soon as this happened, countless new providers emerged.
You might think this to be a good thing, but another fact is that this is rarely the case.
Plenty of these VPNs barely deserve to be called VPNs, and they are not very reliable.
Since reliability is one of our essential necessities, we chose those services that are confirmed to be trustworthy and competent.
All of our top four providers have been around since the infancy of the VPN industry with only Surfshark a newcomer chosen because they've done everything right from the get-go and we suspect they were started by those with prior knowledge of the industry.
How to choose a VPN for Scotland
Now, when it comes to choosing services specifically for Scotland, that is up to you to decide.
However, not just any VPN will do, as mentioned. Here are the criteria you should consider.
- Nearby server locations
- Dedicated apps for your devices
- Unlocks streaming services
- Money back policy.
Below we discuss these in detail.
1. Servers nearby
The proximity of a server can have a significant impact on your internet speed when using a VPN.
On top of that, you need a service with servers in the UK, so that you could use a VPN and access local content.
If you were to connect to a server in Spain, you would be safe enough, but you would also suffer a speed impact, and you wouldn't be able to access BBC Scotland and similar geo-restricted services.
Of course, most VPNs do not have servers in Scotland, specifically, but as long as the server is in the UK, your speeds will be fine. If you really do need a Scottish based VPN server, then both IPVanish and Surfshark provide servers in Glasgow.
2. Apps for all devices
Another thing to look into is which devices you can use a VPN on.
Most good VPNs offer dedicated apps for all the popular devices and systems, such as computers (Windows, Mac, Linux), smartphones and tablets (Android, iOS), Smart TVs (Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV), and even gaming consoles (Xbox, PlayStation).
If a VPN also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, that means that you can use it on almost any device that can run these browsers.
Some lesser services don't have dedicated apps which mean you would need to set them up manually. These days unless you really want to, that's more effort than you need.
3. Works with streaming services
Of course, if you wish to stream anything via your VPN, it needs to be able to unblock streaming services.
If you wish to watch content on BBC iPlayer safely, you need your VPN to be able to unblock the UK's own streaming services, regardless of the fact that you might be in the UK.
The same goes for any overseas service.
The trouble is that such services often block VPNs, and only a handful of them works these days, including the ones mentioned above.
This is great if you travel abroad and want to watch any free-to-air content from Scotland or any of your subscription services while abroad.
4. Money-back guarantee
Lastly, you should consider a VPN that offers an extended money-back guarantee.
Most VPNs offer 30-day long guarantees, which gives you a month to try out the service. This is really handy if you later discover that the VPN doesn't fulfil your needs.
You can simply request your money back and then try another service.
However, make sure that the VPN's terms of service do not include special conditions, and that they would return your money whenever you ask.
Finding a provider that offers a dedicated server in Scotland is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Luckily IPVanish is one of very few providers who do offer a dedicated Scottish server and as well as their quality service, speeds and price it makes them our number one choice.
Not having a specific Scottish VPN server for most people won't be detrimental to speeds or the privacy a VPN can introduce as any based within the UK including as far away as London won't add enough lag to be noticeable.
So if you're after a VPN for use in Scotland or while you're travelling then IPVanish is our recommendation.
They've got a massive 30-day money back guarantee so you can get a refund and try some of the others if you don't agree with our assessment.