What Is The Best VPN for
Iran in 2018?
NordVPN is the best VPN available to keep Iranian citizens’ and visitors’ web travels flying under the radar. This service provides fast and kill switch-protected encrypted connections, top-shelf privacy protections and excellent customer support.
NordVPN will aid you in your quest to unblock content, as well as make sure your personal and business information is well-protected from black hat hackers, the Iranian government and any other nosy parties that might be curious about your activities while connected to an open Wi-Fi hotspot.
Internet Freedom in Iran
Internet access in Iran is improving all of the time, but currently, only around 44% of the Iranian population have access to the internet.
Investment in the country’s network has significantly improved speeds, access and bandwidth. However, it costs a user almost double to access foreign websites and services as it does for those based domestically.
In recent years, the following developments took place:
Freedom House gives Iran an aggregate 2017 Internet Freedom Score of 85/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free). This ranks Iran as 62nd among the 65 countries ranked for internet freedom.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in Iran
Why Do You Need a VPN in Iran?
Internet censorship in Iran is among the most sophisticated and restrictive in the world. During 2012, Iran’s government was blocking an average of 27% of internet sites at any given time.
Over 69% of Iranian internet users between the ages of 15-29 said they used software to get around the blocks the Iranian government puts up.
In this section, I’ll discuss the roadblocks Iranian users have to deal with in their quest for internet freedom.
Internet censorship in Iran is on the rise. Iranian authorities block access to tens of thousands of websites.
Blocked sites include international news sites, as well as those of human rights groups, ethnic and religious minorities, and more.
As of 2013, Iran was blocking almost 50% of the top 500 websites in the world, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many more.
The government blocks apps and websites if they include links to websites of foreign governments, especially if those countries are the United States or Israel. They even block domestic sites if they include criticism of the Iranian government.
The Iranian government also uses speed throttling as a tool to frustrate users by limiting their communications.
Voice Over IP
Voice over IP (VoIP) service is legal in Iran.
However, keep in mind that the service is vulnerable to security concerns, as many restrictive countries monitor VoIP activity to and from their country.
Iran blocks most social networks, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube. They also block many major blog-hosting platforms, including Blogger, Blogspot and WordPress.
Iranian copyright laws are designed to protect all copyrighted works of Iranian citizens - but not those from other countries.
This means that torrenting is legal in Iran, and you can share movies, music, applications and other copyrighted materials there - as long as the copyright holder isn’t an Iranian.
Heck, in 2010, TorrentFreak reported that a publicly accessible FTP server, which belonged to Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), hosted a wide range of pirated materials, including software from Microsoft and Adobe.
That’s a good indication that the government doesn’t care too much about your torrenting habits.
Iran monitors the online activities of political dissidents by using a “monitoring center” that Nokia Networks set up. The monitoring center archives the information and hands it over to Iranian law enforcement.
Iran also requires Internet Service Providers to keep logs for up to 3 months after the expiration of each customer’s contract, which include all of the data their customers sent and received.
The Netflix streaming service is available in Iran.
However, it’s a localized version, with significantly restricted content due to governmental and religious restrictions. The Iranian version of Netflix offers a mere 129 TV shows and 653 films. (For comparison’s sake, the U.S. Netflix content library offers 1,326 shows and 4,339 movies.)
Hulu is only available in the U.S. and Japan. BBC iPlayer viewers will also face roadblocks if they attempt to view BBC content from inside Iranian borders.
Legality of VPNs
In recent years, Iran has cracked down on VPNs as part of a continuing move to restrict internet freedom in the country. It’s one of 10 countries around the world that restrict VPN use.
The Iranian government must approve any VPN before their citizens can use it. And you can be sure that if a VPN is government-approved, you can expect that they’re keeping you under surveillance and eyeballing your private data on a regular basis.
If you’re caught using a VPN that the government hasn’t approved, you could be sentenced to 91 days to 1 year in prison.
However, reports indicate that arrests happen on a rare basis, and the purpose of them is to prosecute users who oppose the government, not people looking to stay in touch with their friends on Facebook.
All forms of gambling are illegal in Iran, likely because it’s an Islamic country, and many of their laws are based on the Koran, which states that Muslims must not engage in any form of gambling.
The government also frowns upon online wagering, and it doesn’t allow companies to offer gambling on websites hosted inside Iranian borders.
Casino websites outside of the country’s borders happily accept Iranian wagers, and as far as I can tell, no mass blocking of gambling sites is taking place.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in Iran
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encases your internet connection in a coating of encryption, which hides your internet activities from prying eyes - like those of the Iranian government.
That same encryption also provides protection when you’re using the open Wi-Fi hotspot at your favorite Iranian internet cafe.
A VPN can also change your IP address.
In March 2018, BleepingComputer reported that iOS device users in Iran could not access the App Store.
When users attempted to access the App Store, they received the message that “The App Store is unavailable in the country or region you’re in.” The ban appears to be IP-based, as VPN users reported still being able to access the store.
A VPN’s location-“spoofing” capabilities allow users to appear to be connecting from another location by changing their IP address, making them the perfect solution for Iranian users looking to access websites and other services that the government or content owners (such as the Apple App Store) may typically block.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in Iran
When investigating as to which VPN is the best one to use while residing in or visiting Iran, you’ll need to keep a few important features in mind when weighing your provider options.
When considering a VPN for use from inside Iran, top-notch privacy protections are definitely the top requirement, while connection speeds are also important. (Internet speeds in Iran are already slow enough; you don’t want them to be any slower than is absolutely necessary.)
In this section of the article, I’ll go over the important categories to keep in mind before laying your credit card or Bitcoin down to complete your VPN subscription purchase. At the end of each section, I’ll list my top 10 VPN providers, ranked in order of how well they perform in that particular category.
Privacy is always important, no matter what the reason you’re buying a VPN, but when you’re considering a VPN for use in the restrictive country of Iran, it becomes of utmost importance.
“Privacy,” in this context, refers to how well a provider protects any information related to your online activities, as well as your subscription payment information.
When researching a provider’s privacy protections, be sure to find out which country the provider is based in and what that country’s data retention laws are. Research whether or not a provider saves user logs and whether or not the provider accepts privacy-friendly payment methods, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards.
The list below is sorted in order of best privacy protections to worst.
Connection speed is also another VPN feature which, while always an important factor to consider, takes on more importance in countries like Iran, where connection speeds are already excruciatingly slow.
Connection speed controls how quickly your online activities can be accomplished. Streaming video and audio, loading websites and using online apps all perform better with a fast connection. The VPN you select for use in Iran shouldn’t slow down the already-slow connection any more than it has to.
I calculated the figures in the table below by first visiting the Speedtest website to measure my unprotected connection speeds. I connected to each VPN and visited the Speedtest website again to measure my speeds. I then calculated the speed percentage numbers by comparing the two speeds.
This list includes my top 10 favorite VPN providers, ranked fastest to slowest.
“Kill switch” protection is an important feature when considering a VPN for use in Iran. A kill switch automatically disconnects you from the internet in the event that you lose connection to your VPN provider. This prevents anyone from detecting your real IP address and also prevents them from monitoring your online activities.
“Kill switch” is a binary, “yes/no” feature. Because of that, the providers below are listed alphabetically, and it is noted whether or not they offer a kill switch.
Other Factors to Consider
Let’s hope that none of us have issues with our VPN provider, be it connection issues or simply a billing question. However, there is a good chance that you’ll have a question or two you’ll need to contact your provider’s customer service department to solve at some time during your subscription period.
All-around customer support should include a trouble ticket submission system, live support text chat and a self-service support library.
The table seen below lists my top 10 VPN providers in order of best support to worst. Support was ranked according to what types of support the provider offers, as well as how quickly and accurately the support agents responded to inquiries.
If you’re reading this article while your Tesla drives you to your private airfield for your flight to Bali, you can probably skip this section. But for the 99% of us who are on a budget, or at least appreciate a bargain, pay close attention.
There’s no reason to pay more for a VPN service that you have to. However, you also need to be careful not to select a provider strictly on price alone. The lowest price isn’t necessarily the best deal, just as the most expensive VPN doesn’t always offer the best service.
You’ll find that most VPN providers offer special deals on a regular basis. While these deals can greatly reduce your outlay for a VPN subscription, you’ll usually have to sign up for a longer subscription period. Visit a provider’s website for their current deals.
If you’re finding your cash flow is particularly tight, you can opt for a month-to-month subscription, but that will likely cost you more money in the long run.
*The prices in the table reflect the monthly cost when paying for an annual subscription. (Annual Subscription Price / 12 Months.)
Global Server Coverage
When considering a VPN provider, be sure to take a look at how well they cover the globe with their server farms. Comprehensive global server coverage allows you to unblock content that might not normally be available from where you are.
While unblocking ability is always important, it is of added value when you consider how countries like Iran block websites and other content that they find to be unsuitable for their citizens to view.
The screenshot below is a good example of optimal global server coverage.