Since its birth in the 90s, around 90% of Iranians have gained access to computers and the internet. Unfortunately, vast censorship restrictions mean internet users are barred from accessing useful content around the world. As early as 2012, about a third of sites on the internet were not accessible to Iranians, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
Content that is blocked includes health, sports, entertainment and retail shopping websites – in an attempt to control what citizens can do. Reasons for censorship include political concerns, as well as allowing businesses within Iran to profit, rather than having Iranian money flowing to foreignl retail outlets.
VPNs for Iran
Generally, you will need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to unblock not just the above-mentioned websites, but also Netflix, to protect data on your smartphone, and to stop throttling. Throttling is a huge issue in Iran and some other countries. Throttling causes slow speeds when users access specific websites, urging them to use other websites which are sanctioned by the ISP or government deals. A top quality VPN service changes your IP address to a non-Iranian one, ensuring that your activity isn’t artificially slowed.
A VPN allows you to access services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, allowing you to watch movies and TV shows from the U.S., UK, France, Germany and many other countries worldwide. Iran, like many other countries in this region, is less secure than the US or some European countries.
Digital security and navigating censorship problems is something that should be high on your list of priorities. If you’re living in Iran and regularly access online content, you will be aware of the following requirements when it comes to selecting the best VPN:
- Online security is a very real concern.
- It’s critical to protect your online identity.
- Protection from hacker attacks, malware, identity theft and more, is essential.
- A VPN that is high speed is important.
- Well priced and value for money.
- Located outside the 5 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance (surveillance groups of countries which monitor internet access.)
VPNs in Iran need to get around very harsh ISPs where DNS blocks are common but easy to circumnavigate. Deep packet inspection (DPI) was implemented in 2008 so each packet of data is inspected to determine its address and destination. This is a very good tool for blocking requests to blacklisted sites.
VPNs need to be able to penetrate this defence.
Best VPN for Iran Overview
1. CyberGhost ‣
Pricing: starts at $2.50
Features: great security, server list, torrenting and support
CyberGhost features its signature 256 AES encryption plus a zero-logging policy on traffic, time stamps, and IP address, which all provide an additional layer of security. DNS leak protection and kill switch mean your identity cannot be discovered.
Connections are fast around the world thanks to a large network of nodes and 1,200 servers in 60 countries. There are 200 servers in the US alone. The user interface may take some getting used to, but overall it’s an excellent service.
2. VyprVPN ‣
Pricing: starts at $5.00
Features: great security, server list, speeds, and support
VyprVPN owns and operates 700 servers in 70 different countries which means that a third party is never allowed access to your personal data – VyprVPN retains full control of all hardware/software.
This VPN provides 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-logging policy on traffic. Signature “Chameleon technology” cloaks data packets in an extra layer, making sure that metadata stays hidden. In this way deep packet inspections are disabled. VyprVPN can break through censorship walls effortlessly in China, Russia and Iran. Netflix access is excellent however there is often a delay in connecting and disconnecting to servers.
3. PureVPN ‣
Location: Hong Kong
Pricing: starts at $2.95
Features: If you need VPN protection and additional online security features, PureVPN is the ideal solution.
There are no extra downloads or subscription fees required for this extra layer. Virus protection, malware shields, app blocking, and DNS-level filters are bundled into a single subscription.
PureVPN maintains a network of 750 servers in 140 countries all over the world. Security is provided by 256-bit encryption and a zero-logging policy, DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch complete the package.
4. ExpressVPN ‣
Location: British Virgin Islands
Pricing: starts at $8.32
Features: great security, speeds, server list, torrenting and support
ExpressVPN has custom software and apps that are compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. ExpressVPN is available in 94 different countries. Access to Netflix, Bitcoin payments and dodging the Great Firewall of China!
Connections with Express VPN are fast connection no matter where you are or where you need a virtual IP address. A strong 256-bit AES encryption provides privacy. The zero-logging traffic policy on traffic protects DNS requests and IP addresses. DNS leak protection and kill switch and a built-in speed test ensure the fastest speeds. There are no real negatives about this VPN.
5. IPVanish ‣
Pricing: starts at $6.49
Features: good support, speeds, server list, and simultaneous devices allowance
IPVanish finds it a bit tricky to maintain an effective balance between speed and privacy, but a high priority is placed on both guaranteeing a good experience. Its ideal if you use torrent, Kodi and P2P. Netflix can’t be unblocked with IPVanish, however.
6. PrivateVPN ‣
Pricing: starts at $3.82
Features: Maintains fast servers and excellent access to Netflix streams.
Although PrivateVPN lacks some features provided by other VPNs, it still has very strong security measures.
PrivateVPN is excellent for basic, daily activities, worldwide Netflix access, Hulu access and user-friendly features. It offers good speeds but mobile apps are not as exciting as some VPNs and there are a few extra features.
And now for the #1 VPN in Iran…
#1 VPN in Iran: NordVPN
NordVPN is unequalled in its top spot as the best VPN for viewers in Iran.
Pricing: starts at $2.99
Features: great security, speeds, server list, torrenting and support
Currently NordVPN maintains over 3,300 servers in 59 different countries, and this is always expanding allowing users to be able to access a fast connection.
Subscribers can take advantage of special servers for exclusive privacy features like double encryption, onion over VPN routing, and DDoS protection. It may not be ideal if you are a torrent, P2P user so make sure you can get a reliable connection or get a refund.
Read our full NordVPN review
What about free VPNs?
It’s important to note that you generally get what you pay for when opting for a free VPN service. These companies cannot be trusted with your online security and identity.
Since no money is changing hands with this kind of VPN, providers keep their servers online by advertising – this is inserted into your browser and data is collected without your knowledge or consent. Sometimes this data is sold to third parties.
Free VPN providers are simply not advised if you want to maintain your privacy and internet security.
If you’re in Iran, which of these VPNs have you used before? Did we miss any great VPNs for Iran? Let us know in the comments below.