Although internet freedoms were good in Ukraine five or ten years ago, in recent years the internet freedom of average users had declined due to censorship of online platforms by Russia. Now, if you are living in or travelling through Ukraine and you use the internet you’ll notice that popular social media sites like VKontakte may be blocked entirely, and on other social media platforms users are loath to speak out on political issues due to fear of reprisals from the government.
If you want to use the internet freely and safely from the Ukraine, then it’s highly advisable to use a VPN. This will let you access blocked sites and keep you safe from government tracking. In this article we’ll talk more about why to use a VPN then recommend the best VPN for Ukraine.
Access Blocked Websites With A VPN
At times of political unrest, the government of Ukraine has restricted access or outright blocked popular platforms like social media sites in order to stop dissent or unflattering discussions of the government from spreading. If you want to be able to access websites even when they are blocked, then a VPN can help. It works by installing a piece of software onto your device which encrypts all of the data that you send over the internet. This encrypted data is sent to a server located somewhere else in the world where it is decrypted and sent on to its original destination.
This means that when you connect to a VPN, you can still access website, send IMs, or download files as normal. But instead of your data going through a Ukrainian ISP, which has to block sites that the government wants restricted, your data goes through a server in another country instead. For example, you could connect to a server in Germany and you would then be assigned a German IP address. You could then access blocked sites as the sites are available in Germany. You can be sat in the Ukraine and browse the internet as if you were in another country with less serve internet blocking.
More Reasons To Use A VPN
In addition to helping you access blocked websites, a VPN also performs other important functions. It keeps you safe by hiding your real IP address so that your online activities can’t be traced to you personally. This means that there won’t be a clear link between what you post online and your real identity, so you can use the internet without worrying about if what you write or access will be traced to you.
The encryption used also makes it virtually impossible for anyone to spy on your online activities. Normally, everything you do online is visible to your ISP provider, and your ISP can be forced to hand over their records to law enforcement. That means that the police can effectively see everything that you do online. When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted so that no one can see what you do online – not even your ISP or the police.
Finally, a VPN will also protect you from hackers, like when you use a public wifi network at a coffee shop. These networks leave you vulnerable to hacking as users on the same network can access some of your data. With a VPN, the encryption means that no one else can access your data, even on the same network.
How To Choose A VPN Provider
There are many reasons to use a VPN, especially in a country with blocks on certain websites. But when you come to choose a VPN provider, you’ll find that there are hundreds of providers to choose from. How do you select the right VPN for your needs?
When we recommend a VPN provider, we do so based on the following key factors:
- Excellent security. To keep you safe your VPN needs to have high standards of security like the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, meaning that your VPN won’t keep any records of your online activities. This way, even if your VPN provider is subpoenaed they won’t have any data about you to hand over.
- Fast connection speeds. When you use a VPN your internet speeds will inevitably be slowed to some degree, as the data has to pass through an extra step at the server. But a good VPN will be so quick that you barely even notice that it is there.
- A large server network. When you connect to a server in another country, you can browse the internet as if you were in that country. This is a very handy way to get around website blocks and region locks. The more countries that you can connect to servers in, the more flexibility you’ll have with your internet use. It can also be helpful to have servers available within the Ukraine if you just want to protect your privacy, as nearby servers will give you the best speeds.
- Good software. Typically, you use a VPN by installing software from your provider onto your device, so you want software that is easy to use and that has lots of extra functions. It also helps to have software available for lots of different platforms, as when you pay for a subscription to a VPN you can use that service to protect all of your devices, as long as software is available for them.
When we looked at each of these factors, these were our top choices for a VPN for Ukraine:
ExpressVPN is a favourite VPN provider among both security experts and regular users thanks to its combination of a high level of security and easy to use software that lets you connect to super fast connections. The security features include the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy so you can be sure that your data isn’t being recorded anywhere. The number of severs that are available to users is huge, with more than 1500 servers in 145 locations in 94 different countries. This includes several servers in Ukraine if you need them. For a full list of servers on the ExpressVPN network, see https://www.expressvpn.com/vpn-server
Part of the reason that this service is so popular is that the software is very user friendly. Even if you’ve never used a VPN before, you’ll have no problem operating the software to connect to the server you need, thanks to the clear and simple layout. There are extra features in the software like an optional kill switch which can cut off your connection when the VPN goes down to stop you from accidentally sending data over an unsecured connection, and DNS leak protection to make sure that no one can track you through your DNS activity. There’s also an IP address checker so you can check whether your VPN is connected and protecting you. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, plus some games consoles and smart TVs, and there are browser extensions for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers.
Read our full ExpressVPN review here.
IPVanish is the top choice is you want a super fast VPN that won’t slow you down at all. The connections are lightning fast which is ideal for someone who often downloads large files or performs other bandwidth-heavy tasks likes streaming high definition video. The security is excellent too, with the use of 256-bit encryption to stop anyone from hacking your data and a no logging policy to preserve your privacy. The large server network covers more than 1000 servers available in 60 different countries, including 3 servers in Ukraine. For a full list of IPVanish servers, see https://www.ipvanish.com/servers/
The software is a bit more technical than the ExpressVPN software to use, but it has a lot of options that advanced users will appreciate. These include more security options like a kill switch, DNS leak protection, periodic IP address change which will rotate your IP address regularly for the best security, and DNS configuration to let you use your own DNS settings. The software is available for devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android.
Read our full IPVanish review here.
NordVPN is the perfect provider for users who want a wide range of features and access to specialist servers. Their regular VPN servers have the high level of security that we want, with 256-bit encrypting and a no logging policy, but there are even more secure servers if you need them. These include double VPN, in which your data is encrypted twice over, anti DDoS to protect you from DDoS attacks, and onion over VPN which uses the TOR technology to hide your identity. The server network is really massive, with over 3500 servers in more than 60 countries, including 6 servers in Ukraine. This means that you can connect to a server nearby for best speeds or one elsewhere in the world for free access to the internet. For a full list of regular and specialist servers, see https://nordvpn.com/servers/
The software has a map interface that makes it easy to connect to the server that you want, and has more options like ad blocking, a kill switch, DNS settings, and obfuscated servers which hides the fact that you are using a VPN. It can be installed on devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, or Windows Phone.
Read our full NordVPN review here.
CyberGhost is the VPN we recommend for users who don’t have a whole lot of technical knowledge and want software which will take care of the set up and VPN options for them. Although the interface is simple, the security is still good, with the essential features of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. The network of servers covers over 1300 severs in 59 countries, including 28 servers in Ukraine. You can see all of the servers at https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_GB/vpn-server
When you go to use the CyberGhost software you’ll see that there are options like surf anonymously, unblock streaming, protect network, torrent anonymously, and unblock basic websites. You simply have to select the option that you need and the VPN will be automatically configured and connected for you. If you’d rather tweak your own settings, you can use the choose my server option to make your own selection. The software is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS.
Read our full CyberGhost review here.
PureVPN is more than just a VPN – it includes a whole lot of other security software as well as the VPN to keep your internet use private. The VPN has solid security, with the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no content logging policy, and you’ll get access to a reasonably sized network of 750 servers in 140 different countries. This includes 2 servers in the Ukraine which you can connect to for the best speeds. Take a look at the full list of PureVPN servers at https://www.purevpn.com/server_location.php
The extra security features make this VPN a package deal, like the anti virus and anti malware protection, the anti spam filter for your email inbox, app filtering, DDoS protection, a kill switch, dedicated IP, and a NAT firewall. This means that you can improve your all-around digital security as well as getting access to a VPN. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Android TV devices, plus browser extensions for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Some websites are blocked in Ukraine, particularly social media sites which can be blocked by order of the government. If you want to get around these blocks and access the sites that you want – and if you want to keep yourself safe and private when you are online – then we highly recommend that you use a VPN. We’ve recommended some of our top VPNs to use in Ukraine for both security and privacy.
Have you used the internet in Ukraine? Did you come across blocked sites, or did you use a VPN like one of the ones that we recommended? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.