Freedom House awarded India a 2019 Internet Freedom Score of 55/100 (0 = Least Free, 100 = Most Free), marking a decline of internet freedom for the fourth year in a row.
The decline was partially due to an increase in arrests for online activity and continued shutdown of the internet during times of perceived unrest.
Indian federal and state governments enforce internet censorship, using DNS-filtering to block content. 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. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not required by law to inform the public about which websites and services they are blocking.
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.
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.
An Indian version of Netflix is readily available. However, the content on the localized version of the service can vary greatly from other versions of the streaming service in other countries due to the guidelines of India’s Censor Board.
Luckily, there is a way for Indian citizens and visitors to the country to keep their internet freedom and prevent monitoring by the government and their ISP.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can protect your online activities from monitoring and blocking, while also opening up access to online content that might normally be unavailable from inside the country.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the 5 best VPNs for use inside of India. These same VPNs will provide access to Indian content when you’re traveling internationally.
How to Use a VPN From Inside India
Using a VPN inside Indian borders is a no-drama proposition:
- Subscribe to a VPN provider. (ExpressVPN is my #1 choice.)
- Install VPN app(s) on your favorite connected device(s).
- Sign into the VPN service.
- Select a VPN server outside of India to access geo-blocked content located outside of the country, or select a server inside India if you’re simply looking to protect your online activities or if you’re located outside of India and wish to access geo-blocked content from inside of India.
- Enjoy your newfound internet freedom!
Best VPNs for Use in India
The 5 VPN providers below are the best for use from inside the country of India. Pressed for time? Here are the highlights:
- ExpressVPN: This is the #1 best VPN to use for India, whether you are inside or outside of Indian borders. The provider offers optimal security and privacy, delivers excellent download speeds from its comprehensive global server network, and offers optimal multi-platform app support.
- NordVPN: If you’re looking for a low-cost provider that offers excellent protection, this provider deserves a closer look. NordVPN offers top-notch protection, above-average global server coverage, and great app support, all for a low annual fee.
- CyberGhost: Newbie VPN users, or even users new to the world of computers and mobile devices, are strongly recommended to check out CyberGhost. The provider offers easy-to-use apps that offer reliable access to a global server network that includes streaming- and file sharing-optimized servers.
- PrivateVPN: This provider may be a bit lacking in the global server coverage department when compared to other providers on this list, but its fast connections, excellent connection protection, and proprietary “Stealth VPN” option help make up for that.
- Surfshark: This provider has a small but ever-growing global server count. The provider offers swift, well-protected connections, and also offers an unlimited simultaneous connections policy, which is unusual for the industry.
When ranking these providers, the following factors were considered:
- Global server network (must include India-based servers)
- Online security and privacy protections
- Connection speeds
- Multi-platform app support
- Customer support offerings
Note: While this article concentrates on using a VPN from inside of India, it’s also important to know that a VPN can also aid you in accessing Indian content when you’re traveling or living outside of the country. So, only VPNs that have servers based in India have been included on this list.
Here is my list of the 5 best VPNs for use inside of India.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN provider for protecting your Indian online activities and for enhancing your content options from outside of the country.
The provider’s global server network is one of the best around, with over 3,000 servers, based in India and 93 other countries.
No worries on the online protection end of things thanks to the provider’s military-level connection encryption, kill switch protection, and IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. A split-tunneling feature allows you to determine which apps will use the provider’s protected tunnel, and which will use your normal, unprotected ISP connection.
Privacy is also well protected thanks to the provider’s strict no-server-logs-ever rule, as well as its Bitcoin subscription payment option.
No matter which online activities you enjoy, ExpressVPN’s connection speeds can handle them: video streaming, online gaming and more. (It can handle downloading and sharing of large files, but since downloading of certain files is illegal and can result in jail time, I’d advise you to be careful doing that, even when using a VPN.) No data caps of any kind are to be found.
You’ll likely find that your favorite connected device is protected by the provider thanks to app availability for the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, Linux and Windows device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
The provider’s router features can protect all of your connected devices. Up to 5 devices can connect simultaneously using the same account.
No matter when you need customer support, it’s always available, thanks to 24/7 live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
- Fast download speeds – no data caps
- Excellent access to content around the world
- Total privacy and online security protection
- Servers in India and 93 other countries
- Excellent multi-platform support
- More expensive than other VPN services
BEST VPN FOR INDIA:ExpressVPN is the best option for Indian users looking for reliable online anonymity and protection, as well as access to geo-blocked content around the globe. A 30-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
NordVPN is a budget-priced VPN provider that makes an excellent option for users who need to save a few bucks on VPN service, but still want to receive all-around VPN protection.
The provider’s global server coverage includes over 5,500 servers, settled in among 58 countries, including India.
Security is a strong point when you opt for NordVPN, as the company uses government-grade encryption, offers a kill switch option, and provides IPv6 and DNS leak protection. Ad and malware blocking are also available.
A strict no-server-logs policy and a cryptocurrency payment option do an excellent job of protecting your privacy.
NordVPN’s connections are the slowest in this gang of 5, but they still provide more than enough oomph for your favorite online activities. There are no data caps to ruin a good time.
The provider delivers app support for most popular device platforms, including the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available, as is support for various makes and models of routers. Up to 6 devices can connect at once on the same login.
Around-the-clock live support chat, email support and a searchable knowledge base add up to always-available customer support.
- Servers in 59 countries, India included
- Budget-priced annual subscription
- Excellent app support
- Privacy and security protections are A-1
- Slowest connections in this lineup
BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN is the best option for users who want to save money on VPN service but not sacrifice any protections or other advantages. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Users that have little-to-no experience in using VPN services should take a closer look at CyberGhost. The provider offers apps that are easy to use, yet powerful.
CyberGhost has built a global server network that includes 5,800 servers, stationed in 89 countries. (Yep, India too.) The provider offers streaming- and downloading-optimized servers scattered around the globe.
Hidden behind the provider’s easy-to-use service is top-notch online protection. The provider’s server/apps combination provides banking-level encryption, a kill switch, and DNS and IPv6 leak prevention. Plus, the provider can block both ads and trackers, and it can also force web servers to serve up secure versions of their pages, if they’re available.
Privacy is also just as well protected thanks to a strict no-logs policy and its acceptance of Bitcoin for its considerable services.
CyberGhost does little to slow your internet connection. Depending on your normal speeds, you’ll have plenty of speed for gaming, HD video, and any other online antics you might get up to.
I mentioned easy-to-use apps, and they’re available for the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, Linux and Windows device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
The service is compatible with numerous brands of routers. Up to 7 devices can connect simultaneously on the same set of login credentials.
Always-available customer support includes around-the-clock live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket system and a searchable knowledge base.
- Optimized global server options
- Fast connections
- Easy-to-use apps
- Top-notch security and privacy
- No advanced options that experienced users prefer
BEST BEGINNER VPN:If you can barely spell VPN, you’ll want to take a closer look at CyberGhost’s easy-to-use services – no prior experience required. Streamers and file sharers will appreciate the provider’s optimized servers. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
PrivateVPN is a bit underwhelming in some VPN categories, but makes up for it in so many others.
In the lacking column is the provider’s server count of just a little over 150 servers. However, the provider makes good use of those servers, spreading them out efficiently, if a little thinly, among 60 countries.
However, there is nothing lacking in the security and privacy departments. The provider protects its users’ connections with military-grade encryption, as well as IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. A proprietary “Stealth VPN” option disguises your VPN activity as normal browsing traffic.
Privacy protections from the provider include a total no-server-logs policy and a Bitcoin subscription payment option.
Download speeds are a highlight of PrivateVPN’s services and are easily up to supporting streaming, gaming, and any other online activity you might enjoy. The provider never limits the fun by applying data caps.
App support is also a bit lacking, but the provider does offer support for the top 4 most popular device platforms – Android, iOS, macOS and Windows. The provider’s router features keep all of your other devices covered. Up to 6 devices can connect to the service simultaneously.
While the provider claims 24/7 support chat availability, in my experience the feature comes and goes. (If the chat balloon is green, someone is there.) However, an FAQ library and email support are always there.
- Fast, reliable connections
- Stealth VPN looks like normal browser activity
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Server numbers need a bump
- App support also needs a bump
EXTRA VPN PROTECTION:PrivateVPN offers reliable access to the outside world, even if it’s stretched a bit thin. Users who are concerned that their VPN usage might be detected are advised to consider this provider’s “Stealth VPN” feature. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Surfshark delivers excellent protection and allows an unlimited number of devices to connect to the service on a single set of login credentials.
Although the provider’s global server count is below most of the other VPNs on this list, it is quickly growing, its numbers doubling over the last year. Currently, the provider has over 1,000 servers stationed in 61+ countries, India included.
Connection protection from the provider includes bank-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and DNS leak prevention. It also offers ad and tracking cookie blocking. The provider’s “Multi-Hop” connection option routes your connection through two VPN servers to provide additional anonymity.
No server logs and a Bitcoin subscription payment option have the privacy end of things covered.
Surfshark’s download speeds are above average and can provide enough bandwidth for fast downloads, online gaming and streaming HD video.
The provider’s app support is better than some, not as good as others. Apps are available for the Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows and Amazon Fire device platforms. Chrome and Firefox extensions are available to protect your web browsing. Router options are available.
If you’re the head of a small company or a large family, you’ll appreciate the provider’s somewhat unusual unlimited simultaneous connections policy.
Always-available customer support includes 24/7 support chat, a contact form and a support knowledge base.
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- “Multi-Hop” double VPN protection
- Speedy connections
- Global server coverage a bit thin (but improving)
- Monthly subscriptions are expensive
PROTECTION FOR LARGE GROUPS:Surfshark offers top-notch online protection and doesn’t care how many devices you connect to the service at once. Plus, a “Multi-Hop” server option doubles your VPN protection. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Won’t a Free VPN Work in India?
I would agree that you might find a free VPN that will work from inside of India. However, I think that you’ll agree that you likely won’t be satisfied with the provider’s service or protection.
When you attempt to connect to a VPN service, you may find that you’re forced to sit in a queue until you’re allowed to connect.
Once you’re given the go-ahead to connect, you’ll either find you have a limited server selection to select from or that you’re automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choice. Either way, you may not get access to the country you want.
Once you do connect, you may find that your connection is severely slowed, and you may have to deal with a daily or monthly data cap.
Your privacy is also at risk when you use a free VPN. Even “free” VPNs are for-profit enterprises, meaning they need to make money some way. Some freebie VPN providers will track your online activities, selling that information to advertisers and other interested folks with money.
Plus, other free VPN services have been found to inject unwanted advertisements and tracking cookies into their users’ browsing sessions. And those tracking cookies hang around to track you, even after you’ve disconnected from the VPN’s servers.
Doesn’t it sound like a better idea to spend a few bucks each month for quality VPN service? It sure does to me.
What Can I Do With A VPN?
A VPN is an excellent tool for enhancing and protecting all of your online activities.
A VPN encases your internet connection in a tunnel of encryption, preventing any nosy third parties (such as your ISP, the government or bad guys) from monitoring your online activities.
That same encryption that prevents your ISP from monitoring your online activities also prevents it from throttling or blocking your connection simply because you are engaging in file sharing (again, be careful if you’re sharing files in India) or because you are streaming video from “unapproved” sources.
Encryption also protects you when you’re using an unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot, such as is found in hotels, coffee shops and other public locations. Users of unprotected hotspots are an attractive target for the bad guys, who would love to be able to monitor your online shopping, banking and bill-paying.
A VPN can also temporarily assign your device a new IP address, located in another region of the world, thereby opening access to geo-blocked content that might normally be unavailable to you.
Indian citizens and visitors to India are strongly urged to subscribe to and use a Virtual Private Network, like ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN excels in every VPN service category. The provider supplies well-encrypted connections, excellent download speeds, a comprehensive global server network, top-notch app support and 24/7 customer support.