What Is The Best VPN For India In 2018?
NordVPN is the best VPN available for keeping your India-originating web adventures from being monitored. This provider’s fast, kill switch-protected connections, strong privacy protections and tiptop customer support make it an excellent VPN option to use while in India.
NordVPN offers a top-notch way to protect your personal and business information by keeping it safe from the eyes of hackers, the Indian government and Indian Internet Service Providers. The provider’s Double VPN-protected connections keep all of your activities undercover.
Internet Freedom in India
As of July 2016, over 374 million people (29.5% of the country’s total population) in India are internet users.
In recent years, the following internet-freedom-related happenings took place:
Freedom House has awarded India an internet freedom status of “Partly Free.” The organization has given the country an overall Internet Freedom Score of 41/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free), giving the country a 28th-place ranking amongst 65 other countries around the globe.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in India
Why Do You Need a VPN in India?
While internet freedom in India remains stable, users there still face a few hurdles when attempting to access certain types of content and services. In this section, I’ll explain those barriers.
Indian federal and state governments enforce internet censorship, using DNS-filtering to block content. The government also makes use of user education to influence users’ online habits. Content creators can obtain court orders to remove or block copyrighted content.
Indian courts can order content blocks without first obtaining approval from higher authorities. ISPs are not required by law to inform the public about which websites and services they are blocking.
Voice Over IP
While it is legal to use Voice over IP (VoIP) in India, it is illegal to operate VoIP gateways inside Indian borders.
This means that Indian users cannot use VoIP to call a landline within the country, and calls are limited to either PC-to-PC, or PC or mobile device to landline numbers outside of India.
Government telecom regulations prohibit placing voice calls from regular phone networks (PSTN) to VoIP networks on the internet (and vice-versa). The regulations are part of a move to protect the investments of Indian telecom providers in such services.
In addition, the government’s Central Monitoring System allows them to intercept any online activities directly, including VoIP calls.
While the major social media sites are usually available in India, April 2017 saw Indian officials order ISPs in the Kashmir valley to block 22 social media sites for a month. Sites blocked included Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.
India has been known to block adult, file sharing and image hosting sites.
In addition, the country has set up blocking pages for torrent sites, warning India-based torrenters that they can face legal punishment for downloading copyrighted content, ranging from a large fine to up to 3 years in prison.
Since the Mumbai bombings of 2008, Indian authorities have stepped up internet surveillance. The Indian government’s Central Monitoring System allows them to intercept any online activities directly.
Measures to remove certain types of content from the web, particularly content that may incite violence, are increasingly common in the country.
Users can face prosecution for online postings, and website hosting firms are required by law to hand over user information about accused users to the authorities. Not only can bloggers and moderators can face libel suits from parties they write about, authorities can also criminally prosecute them for content posted on their websites.
An Indian version of Netflix is readily available in the country.
However, the content on the localized version of the service can vary greatly from other versions of the streaming service due to the guidelines of India’s Censor Board.
In addition, the size of the Indian Netflix content library pales in comparison to the size of its American counterpart - 201 television shows and 554 films in India, as opposed to 1,326 shows and 4,339 movies in the U.S.
Legality of VPNs
The use of a Virtual Private Network in India is legal.
While wagering on sporting events, such as cricket and horse racing, is popular in the region, gambling in India is prohibited in most forms.
Not surprisingly, India’s Public Gaming Act of 1867 contains no references to online gambling. However, the Indian government has used modern-day interpretations of the act to justify blocking access to foreign gambling sites.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in India
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is perhaps the best way available today to keep your online activities protected while visiting or living in India.
The Indian government can block websites on moral and religious grounds. Indian ISPs block various types of websites, including those containing politically-sensitive material or unlicensed content.
A VPN allows users to access websites and services that might normally be blocked to users inside India.
A VPN’s encryption keeps your internet connection safe from the government, your ISP and hackers, all of which would simply love to get a look at your online activities.
Also, a VPN makes it possible for you to appear to be connecting from another location - even from another country. This makes it possible to access websites, streaming content and other services that might be blocked by the Indian government or by the owner of the content.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in India
When exploring VPN services to keep your India-based online activities undercover, you’ll want to consider a good number of features while you’re mulling over your decision.
Privacy is of utmost importance when considering a VPN for use in India, as the government there will attempt to view logs related to your internet travels. A special mode to hide your VPN activity from monitoring parties can also come in handy, as you can be prosecuted for some online activities in the country.
As I mentioned earlier, the average internet speed in the country isn’t exactly blazingly fast, so you’ll also want to make sure the VPNs you consider don’t slow down your connection speeds any more than is necessary.
In each section below, I will be sharing information about each feature that should be considered before opting for a particular VPN service. At the end of each section, I’ll list the 10 VPN providers that I’ve reviewed elsewhere on my website, ranked according to their performance in each category.
Special Mode to Hide VPN Usage
A few of the VPN providers I’ll be telling you about offer a special mode intended to help keep your VPN usage from being detected. This is a great advantage in a country like India, where internet restrictions continue to grow.
“Special mode” is a simple “Yes” or “No” feature. So, the providers in the list below are sorted alphabetically, with a check mark or an "X" to indicate that a mode to hide VPN usage is available from the company.
Privacy protection is important to users who will be originating from India. Privacy protection, in this case, is related to how well a VPN provider protects information related to your online activities and payment information.
Always do your due diligence to determine the country a provider is based in, what that country’s data retention laws are, what information, if any, about your online activities that a provider saves, and whether or not the provider accepts privacy-enhancing payment methods, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards.
The list below is sorted in order of the privacy protections offered by a VPN provider, best protections to worst.
While the protected connection speeds provided by a VPN service is always an important consideration, the overall slow connection speeds in a country like India make it an even more important category to closely consider.
Connection speed directly affects the overall enjoyment of any online activity (except bill-paying - nothing can make that more enjoyable). Therefore you want to find a VPN service that doesn’t slow down your online speeds any more than is necessary.
When I calculated the speed seen in the list below, I first measured my normal, unprotected internet connection speeds provided by my ISP. I then loaded each VPN provider’s app and once again tested the connection speeds. The speed percentage was calculated by comparing the two speed results. I used the Speedtest website to perform the tests.
The VPN providers listed below are ranked fastest to slowest.
Never use a VPN provider that doesn’t provide a “kill switch” option in their app. A kill switch will automatically disconnect your device from the internet if the connection to the VPN’s server fails. This prevents your online activities from being laid open to observers if your VPN fails.
“Kill switch” is another “yes/no” feature. So, I’ve listed the providers below in alphabetical order, along with a “Y” or “N” indicator as to whether the provider offers kill switch protection.
Other Factors to Consider
In a perfect world, nothing would ever go wrong, your VPN connection would work perfectly, and your monthly billing for the service would always go smoothly. Do any of you live there? Yeah, me neither.
Since you’ll likely need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support department for one reason or another, you’ll want to feel secure that you’ll receive a prompt and well-informed reply to your inquiry.
Ideally, you’ll want a VPN service that offers live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library/knowledge base.
The providers in the table below are ranked according to what types of support each one offers, as well as the promptness and accuracy of the answers they provided. The list is ranked in order of best support to worst.