Virgin Media is a British broadband internet service provider, sporting a rock star image. However, that analogy is anything but positive, as the company’s actions are often surrounded by controversies: the previous acting CEO opposing the idea of net neutrality; monitoring and blocking file sharing activity; and most importantly throttling people’s internet connection. As a matter of fact, this throttling was definitely something that grinded users’ gears, considering they subscribed to the company’s services by falling for Virgin Media’s blatant advertising of “unlimited bandwidth”.
To make matters worse, the company’s latest Super Hub 3 seems to have difficulties connecting to any VPN, which was previously used by many users to counter most of the problems. Luckily, the Internet of All Things always comes up with something to eliminate this problem once and for all.
Throttling and Blocking
The list of grievances committed by Virgin Media mentioned earlier is just the tip of the iceberg; in fact, the company committed some heinous crimes against its own clientele.
For starters, they utilize bandwidth throttling during peak hours, a method the company has perfected to such extent it would be brilliant hadn’t it been used against paying customers. Years ago the company ‘only’ set a threshold limit regarding both upstream and downstream for every customer. Then they removed the downstream throttling for packages above 30MB – an obvious marketing ploy – only to change their policy once again. At the time of writing Virgin Media claims that the maximum amount of throttling is 40%, even though customers experienced bandwidth restrictions above 50%.
The situation is not better when it comes to torrenting: like most ISPs, the company seems to have declared a vendetta against peer-to-peer services and those who use them. In 2008 several customers reported that they had received letters from Virgin Media, threatening them to be disconnected from the service unless sharing of copyrighted files is ceased. In 2012 the company also implemented a web filter that prevents users from accessing Pirate Bay, the world’s number one torrenting website.
Best VPN Services for Virgin Media of 2019
But we’re still not at the bottom of the barrel: in 2008 it was rumored that Virgin Media partnered with a former spyware company for ‘data pimping’. In simpler words, Virgin wanted to get their hands on click-stream data and resell the acquired information to third parties for dubious purposes. After widespread protest, however, Virgin Media decided to drop the idea.
And last but not least we have something that is a downright practice used by totalitarian regimes: censorship and site blocking. The most famous case of that was when the company tried to censor customer access to a certain Wikipedia article because it featured controversial cover art of a rock album.
Using a VPN With Virgin Media
Boosting the protection of your privacy with a VPN seems to be a wise move, especially if you are a Virgin Media client. In fact, a VPN has nothing but advantages: not only such a service could defeat bandwidth throttling by rerouting the data stream through private servers, but it also masks IP addresses, effectively circumventing geo-restrictions and regional censorship.
It also goes without saying that encrypting internet connections prevents companies from gathering personal data about individual browsing sessions. Although this particular ISP denies interest in data pimping, one can be never cautious enough – especially seeing how Virgin tried applying this dubious method back in 2008.
But it seems Virgin Media cannot be fooled so easily: Super Hub 3, the most popular router used by the company, has trouble running a VPN. Several customers reported that Super Hub 3 is unable to connect properly to any VPN service, something the router’s predecessor was capable of without any problems. In fact, the issue seems to be so prevalent that VPN service providers had to jump in and offer temporary solutions. PureVPN, the company we included in the list of recommended VPN providers below, suggests the following: customers should go to the Websafe section in their Virgin Media account and turn off the ‘Virus safe’ option. Additionally, switching to PPTP, L2TP or the IPSec protocols in the router’s control panel and then restarting the device should also do the trick.
Despite these solutions, official forums are chock-full of unsatisfied users seeking remedy to their problems. However, some clients managed to trick the router by disabling the IPv4 firewall protection in the Firewall section or by enabling modem mode.
Recommended VPN Services
Tinkering with your own equipment just to enable VPNs is only half the battle: you should choose a competent service with features that make the dangers and flaws imposed by Virgin Media things of the past.
PureVPN is a provider based in Hong Kong that offers several nifty features for Virgin Media customers. First and foremost, they boast strong device support, which obviously includes routers. One PureVPN account can be used on five devices simultaneously, so other family members may enjoy unlimited bandwidth on their devices as well.
PureVPN’s feature list includes a kill switch, a function that terminates the connection if the VPN stops working for some reason. And with split tunneling it’s you who has the option to decide which data should go through the encryption.
IPVanish is a highly popular VPN service provider with more than 750 servers in 60 countries. They are experts at protecting sensitive data: not only does IPVanish have access to all security protocols currently used, but it also sports a competent browser extension and a kill switch function, not to mention the option to use unlimited amount of devices with a single account.
The service also boasts solid DNS leak protection, plus it even promises a zero log policy, meaning that your online activity remains hidden not just from Virgin Media, but also from IPVanish itself.
ExpressVPN offers an impressive amount of virtual locations: the company has 1,700+ servers in 94 countries, including the UK, where Virgin Media is headquartered. The service has a downloadable client available for all kinds of platform, including routers. To make things even more convenient, ExpressVPN features smart connections and it automatically finds the last server when the device is booted.
ExpressVPN also has a kill switch and it supports all the available protocol types to match any settings on your router. The service not only aims at offering better security and privacy protection; it focuses just as much on unblocking streaming services like Netflix and any other websites you may want access to.