The tech industry in India is growing, but so are the risks that users face online. This makes using one of the best VPN services a necessity, whether you're based in or simply travelling to the country.
There were over 86 million data breaches in 2021, making India the third most affected nation worldwide. If that wasn't already enough, big tech firms are required to give up users' data upon request under the new Information Technology Act. Using a VPN in India has then become crucial for protecting your privacy as the software encrypts all the data leaving your device.
Privacy isn't the only benefit, though. The government is also infamous for restricting the use of certain websites, especially major social media platforms. As an India VPN can hide your real IP address location, it's a handy tool for accessing censored sites or bypassing geo-restrictions that streaming platforms like Netflix apply to their content.
It is worth noting that, following India’s new data law, many providers shut their physical servers within the country to protect users' data. However, you can still pick a service with Indian virtual servers to locally browse safely or stream the cricket coverage when you're away from home. Below are the top five India VPNs right now.
How to choose the best India VPN?
We have already established the two primary concerns in this matter - privacy and security. This means that you should look out for strong security features together with a strict no-logs privacy.
Whether you’re a local, expat or a visitor, you’ll want as many server locations in and around India as possible for fast and reliable connections. As we mentioned before, many providers recently went virtual to protect their users' privacy. However, they promise that performances won't be affected.
Ideally, a good VPN provider should offer quality customer support round-the-clock to address any issues swiftly and accordingly. Everything else is a bonus, although it’s always good to have straightforward and user-friendly native clients (and preferably strong mobile app support).
But then there's more to consider, depending on your use case. Looking for a surefire streaming VPN? Then you're going to want a service that has a reputation for unlocking Netflix, Hotstar, iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video or your chosen streaming service of choice. And it should have fast connection speeds, too.
Today's top 3 best India VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN - the #1 best India VPN (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN is the greatest VPN out there - and it's no different if you live in or are visiting India. It has fast connections, servers in 90+ countries and is brilliant at unblocking geo-restricted streaming content - try it now for 30 days free or sign up for a year and get 3 months extra free.
2. Surfshark - the best priced India VPN (opens in new tab)
We should say first of all that Surfshark is an excellent, friendly-to-use VPN in its own right. But probably its biggest draw is the fantastic pricing on offer. Sign up for an annual plan, and you'll be spending less than $2.50 USD per month - none of the other main players can match that.
3. NordVPN - big name VPN with an eye on anonymity (opens in new tab)
NordVPN is certainly strong for streaming and anybody trying to get round apps that have been blocked because of where you are in the world, but it really stands out for its added security features. If keeping your online activity private is your main concern, NordVPN is a great choice.
The five best India VPN for 2023(opens in new tab)
Best India VPN 2023 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN is one of those providers pulling the plug to its Indian servers amid new logging requirements. It set up two secure virtual locations, though, passing via Singapore and the UK. It also has a huge physical network around India (Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are all covered). Plus, its obfuscated servers should make your traffic undetectable even under the strictest restrictions.
Security-wise, ExpressVPN offers both its very own Lightway or OpenVPN protocols, claims no logging of network traffic (a claim audited and verified independently), and 24/7 customer support is available via email or live chat. Basically, it's a ridiculously well kitted out VPN. It also offers an impressive variety of easy-to-use applications for all major platforms, all well-designed with an array of useful options.
Unlocking streaming services is all in a day's work for ExpressVPN. In our tests, it got us access to multiple foreign Netflix catalogs, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and more from abroad without difficulty. And it's tried and tested for watching sport and cricket from other countries, too — it easily got us access to Hotstar content in our office away from India.
In terms of performance, its top speeds were not the best last time we checked - dropping from 630 to 560Mbps with Lightway. However, our cybersecurity expert Mike Williams assures that these results should be enough for most users. Anyway, you can always try it out yourself with its 30-day money-back guarantee. There's even a special offer open to TechRadar readers only...
Get the best India VPN 2023 with 3 months FREE (opens in new tab)
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we use in the office! And the good news is that you can get a little perk, too. ExpressVPN has agreed to give readers three months extra free when you sign up and a year of secure cloud backup from Backblaze - fantastic value for an ace India VPN.
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Surfshark is undoubtedly the rising (Hot)star of the VPN world. It's probably fair to say that its clean and friendly interface and branding are a tad less intimidating than some of the competition. And the pricing certainly is - earning it the top spot on our cheap VPN countdown. You can even use it on as many devices as you can handle in your household on the same, low-priced account.
Unless you're an advanced user who wants all the features going, you won't feel short-changed by Surfshark. AES-256 encryption, several protocols to choose from, DNS protection, split tunneling and even an extra protection layer with a Double VPN hop: these are some of the perks you will get. It is worth noting that we experienced some kill switch issues, but only on Windows and in extreme situations.
Like Express, Surfshark went virtual to protect users' privacy, meaning you can still securely browse locally. Or, opt for one of its 3,200+ international servers. It even offers some anti-censorship dedicated features such as its obfuscation technology - here called Camouflage mode - and No Borders option that connects you to the servers performing the best under network restrictions by default.
From Netflix and Hulu to iPlayer and Disney+, Surfshark will allow you to access your favorite content at great speeds. And despite its peaks being below average when connected to OpenVPN, it was actually the fastest VPN when used with WireGuard this time around.
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There are many reasons why we rate NordVPN so highly. It's a dream for streamers, is a doddle to use, includes a suite of clients and apps for pretty much every platform, and a network of over 5,600 servers. It recently terminated its operations in India as well, but, contrary to its competitors, Nord is confident to be able to meet its customers' needs without using fake locations for now.
Perhaps the biggest feather in NordVPN's cap is its extra, unique security features. As well as all the usual protocols and standard 256-bit AES encryption, it also throws in Double VPN (so that your traffic goes through its encrypted servers not once but twice) and Onion Over VPN (sending all your data through the super secure Onion network as well) options.
On top of all that, NordVPN now calls in PricewaterhouseCoopers every year to carry out a full independent audit on its no-logging policy. This makes Nord one of the most secure VPN services around. So by all measures, your data should be in excellent hands.
Outside of security, this provider can supply dedicated IP addresses that should again help defeat any potential slow down, and its Quick Connect tool helps you get started on the most optimal server for you. Plus, its impressive unlocking power confirmed the provider once again as one of the best streaming VPN services on the market.
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The Swiss-based ProtonVPN comes with plenty of nifty features, a sleek interface, and impeccable performance overall. It's available with an unlimited-bandwidth free VPN, which - while stripped back in terms of the provider's full package - is great for those new to the VPN world. Its free coverage has even recently gone up from only 29 to over 100 servers.
Also Proton shut off its physical servers in India. However, you can still get an Indian IP, picking one of its Smart Routing servers located in Singapore. And, if you upgrade to its Plus plan, you can even connect through one of its Secure Core servers for an extra layer of security. By doing so, your traffic will be routed through multiple ultra-secure servers based in Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden.
The Plus plan is advantageous to put to work Proton's streaming unblocking prowess, with the ability to access the likes of foreign Netflix libraries, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus as well as many Indian platforms like Hotstar, JioTV, Hooq, Voot, and SonyLIV when overseas. Plus users can also take advantage of an extra layer of protection with its Tor over VPN option.
When it comes to speed, we have experienced some slower speeds this time around, with its WireGuard peaks dropping from 670 to 510Mpbs. However, this is unlikely to be a problem for most users. The only real downside here is that, even if Proton has now added a live chat support, this is not 24/7 yet. This might be a problem for some Indian-based users.
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Among its impressive range of international servers - more than 9,200 at the time of writing - CyberGhost is now offering virtual locations for people in India who want to browse locally without renouncing their privacy. For an extra level of security, you can also opt for one of its Romanian-based NoSpy servers. Unfortunately, you will have to pay a small additional charge for using those, though.
With security and functionality at heart, CyberGhost also comes with easy-to-use apps and useful features. Its Smart Rules panel, for example, allows users to automatically connect to their preferred server every time they launch its apps.
During our latest testing, CyberGhost's peak speeds went down a little. However, an impressive 730Mbps with the WireGuard protocol still beats the likes of ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN. Its unblocking power wasn't its best either, as it failed to unlock UK Netflix and Disney Plus this time. It still manages to bypass restrictions and grant access to the US catalog of Netflix at ease.
However, CyberGhost's security and apps haven't been audited yet - at the time of writing, only a no-logging audit has been released. This is becoming a bigger issue as more and more providers back up the trustworthiness of their data protection policies by having their services regularly checked.
Best India VPN: FAQ
Can I legally use a VPN in India?
Considering the Indian government does regularly issue bans and restrictions on certain websites and services online, it is a fair question to ask whether the use of a VPN in India is legal. However, unlike other countries where the use of VPN products has been banned - including China, Iraq, and North Korea - VPNs are not illegal in India.
That being said, it has been reported in the past that the police have harassed those using a VPN. Under the Information Technology Act, the government has the right to block websites and specific content, giving the police the power to enter property and search the premise where it is suspected these laws are being violated. It is a good idea, therefore, to avoid using a VPN to access websites blocked by the government.
While specific websites may be banned by law, then, the use of a VPN is not. Though, using one does not automatically mean you're safe from the repercussions of using these restricted websites and services, nor does it exempt you from any other illegal activity you might carry out while connected to one.
What is India's new data retention law?
On April 28, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) announced that - among other directives, like the obligation to report a cyberattack within six hours - virtual private network (VPN) providers will soon be required to retain users' logs for at least five years. Companies will also be forced to hand over this data to authorities upon request.
These include users’ real names, IP addresses assigned to them, usage patterns and other identifying data like the purpose of using such software.
What's more, it's not just VPNs that are the subject of the new data retention law. Virtual private servers (VPS), cloud service providers, data centers and crypto exchanges all have to follow the new directive.
Initially planned to come into force on June 28, the new legislation is about to be enforced on September 25.
Which VPN offers India-based servers?
Many VPN services have taken a stand against India's new data law - expected to come into force on September 25 and now formally withdrawn - that required providers to store sensitive users' data for up to five years. Amid the decision to scrap the new legislation, we can expect new VPN providers to resume their Indian servers.
Below, the status of India-based servers at the time of writing.
ExpressVPN, Surfshark, Proton VPN and CyberGhost all decided to shut down their servers in the country and are now offering secure virtual locations. This means that people can still locally browse safely with a secure Indian IP. Also, NordVPN removed its Indian servers to protect its customers' privacy, but it doesn't have any intentions to set up fake locations just yet.