Hotstar is one of the best Indian streaming platforms, period. With great coverage during the Premier League season and exclusive deals with HBO, Hotstar truly has a banquet to offer its huge audience. That is, unless you’re in a region where the platform isn’t available.
Hotstar is now available in India, the US, the UK, and Canada. For people outside those regions, the best option is to use a virtual private network (VPN) which allows you to bypass geo-restrictions. All the best providers cost money, but if you’re set on using a free one, you’ve come to the right list.
Read more: How to watch Hotstar ouside India
How we picked the best free VPN for Hotstar
- VPN security: is it safe to use?
- Performance: does it provide speedy connections or limit your bandwidth?
- Entertainment: how well does it bypass geo-restrictions?
- Reliability against firewalls and censorship: does it work in regions where internet freedom is relatively limited?
- Ease of use and customer support: do you need a working knowledge of VPN software before use?
- Pros: great security features; decent speeds; kill switch; barely any logs
- Cons: 2GB monthly bandwidth limit; only 5 servers in free version
- VPNpro rating: 7.0
Hide.me is not a free VPN app in itself, but it offers a “freemium” package that works like a condensed version of the full package. Services such as these tend to be restrictive in terms of what they allow you to do.
Surprisingly, though, Hide.me actually offers quite a range of options to its free subscribers. The only notable limitations include its server access (you can only use 5 of the full 160) and the bandwidth cap (2GB per month).
The bandwidth cap especially may be a turn-off to some users. Depending on your usage habits, though, that may be more than enough for you to keep up on your favorite TV shows on Hotstar while abroad.
The only other issue we’d like to mention is that Hide.me is registered in Malaysia. While this is not a 14 Eyes country, it’s still somewhat shady in terms of its internet surveillance techniques, and so it may cause alarm bells to sound for the most paranoid users.
Aside from that, though, the free version of Hide.me is genuinely impressive. For one thing, it uses AES-256-bit encryption, which is the gold standard for VPN providers in this day and age.
The provider also supports a number of strong VPN protocols including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and SoftEther. These each help to ensure your connection remains secure and stable while you’re connected through the Hide.me app.
Of particular interest here is SoftEther, which obfuscates your VPN connection (disguises it as regular HTTPS traffic) and allows it to bypass the Great Firewall of China. That it can do this means it’s likely able to bypass powerful content filters in other such countries like Iran, Turkey, and Turkmenistan where VPN usage is illegal.
So, Hide.me is not the best free VPN for Hotstar overall, but it’s certainly worth giving it a go if you can’t get to grips with the others.
Read our full Hide.me VPN review
- Pros: excellent security; great speeds; kill switch; lots of servers
- Cons: 5GB monthly bandwidth limit; registered in US
- VPNpro rating: 7.0
As with Hide.me, Speedify is nominally a paid VPN service, but one that offers an impressive freemium package. What’s notable about this is that the free version has barely any restrictions, with the exception of a 5GB monthly bandwidth cap.
While it may limit your data transfers, though, the free version of Speedify does not limit your connection speeds. This is great news, as any speed limits would be such a waste given that this is one of the fastest VPN providers of any kind currently available today.
Nor does it limit your server connectivity as is the case with other freemium VPN packages. Speedify has over 200 servers in over 50 locations, including all the territories where Hotstar is available.
Better yet, it absolutely delivers in terms of security. One feature that allows Speedify to provide such excellent connection speeds is its encryption cipher: AES-256-GCM, which layers encryption much faster than the more commonly used -CBC cipher.
It also goes above and beyond in other ways. Speedify features a kill switch, which protects your personal information in the event of any server loss. This is impressive because not many premium-only VPN providers offer it, let alone free ones!
Now, unfortunately, for the not-so-great news. Speedify is registered in Philadelphia, PA, which places it under the jurisdiction of the 5 Eyes alliance (which is part of the larger 14 Eyes network). Every member state within this alliance has the ability to spy on its citizens and trade information across internal jurisdictions.
There is one exception, however, and that exception is that Speedify logs your approximate location when you’re using their services. Some more privacy-conscious users may find this extremely disquieting.
Nevertheless, Speedify is great if you’re looking for a free VPN provider with which to stream Hotstar in the best quality possible.
Read our full Speedify VPN review
- Pros: good security; great for streaming; no logs; great for bypassing firewalls
- Cons: 512KB/s speed limit; only for advanced users
- VPNpro rating: 7.0
Homebrew is one of the most unusual VPN providers on this list or any. Easily the most striking thing about it is that it is not actually an app; rather, the user must manually establish the server connection.
There are instructions on how to do this on the Homebrew VPN blog, but still, the lack of a proper GUI or custom app means this is not for anyone new to VPN technology.
While we’re on the topic of “slightly disappointing factors,” it’s also worth mentioning that the freemium version of Homebrew limits your connection speed to 512KB/s. This is just good enough to be able to stream video content from Hotstar in 480p.
So long as you’re not an HD-addict, though, you may well be satisfied with this. Indeed, it’s a small price to pay for paying nothing at all, especially considering that Homebrew VPN does not log your usage data, let alone sell it on to third-party companies.
Now for the good news. Homebrew VPN supports some great protocols for solid encryption, including OpenVPN and SSTP. This makes it harder for Hotstar to notice you’re using a VPN and blocking it; of course, Homebrew was designed to bypass Netflix geo-restrictions, so anything else is a sinch.
Its support of SSTP is particularly good news due to its ability to bypass firewalls in repressive countries such as China and elsewhere, meaning that no amount of content filters can prevent you from watching Hotstar.
If you’re fairly tech-savvy and you’re not precious about having the best streaming quality in the world, you may find a lot to love in Homebrew VPN, especially if you’re trying to save battery power while traveling.
- Pros: unlimited speed and bandwidth; great encryption; decent speeds
- Cons: only 3 servers available in free version
- VPNpro rating: 8.0
ProtonVPN was developed by the scientists behind ProtonMail, the end-to-end encrypted freeware email client that has been drawing privacy-conscious users away from Gmail ever since its launch.
Their aim for ProtonVPN was similar: provide the world with a freely available VPN app that works on the level of many premium clients. In many cases, they succeeded; but let’s look at the drawbacks first.
As with so many good free VPN providers, ProtonVPN is nominally a premium VPN provider that simply has a good freemium package. This freemium package only allows access to 3 of Proton’s 380+ servers; these are based in the US, the Netherlands, and Japan.
Those are choice locations – arguably the best in their given continents – but when it comes to Hotstar, all you need to know is that it will work on the US server.
Either way, this is a bit of a shame for European and Asian viewers, for whom the lack of a UK or Indian server will mean they won’t get the best connection since the US is so far away (especially from Asia). This is not to mention African and South American users, who are underrepresented entirely.
The other issue this raises regards the connection speeds offered by ProtonVPN, which were never outstanding, to begin with. On the other hand, ProtonVPN will never limit your actual connection speeds, and better yet it will never limit your bandwidth either.
In terms of security, ProtonVPN uses the best there is to offer, including an AES-256-bit encryption cipher, OpenVPN for desktop, and IKEv2 for mobile.
With support for most major desktop and mobile operating systems, ProtonVPN will allow you to view Hotstar whether you’re in the house or on the move. It also uses a kill switch, which safeguards you against connection losses – a common vulnerability when connecting to public wifi.
All in all, you can certainly trust ProtonVPN; of all the free VPN services available today, the money behind it is perhaps the most legitimate of all, which is effectively an assurance that they will never sell off your data to third-party companies.
Read our full ProtonVPN review
- Cons: 10GB bandwidth allowance; average speeds
- VPNpro rating: 8.4
As with the other VPN providers here, Windscribe is a premium VPN with a freemium package. We mentioned a few times that freemium services usually mean a company isn’t selling off your data, but with Windscribe, there are a few factors worth taking into consideration.
Unlike the Swiss-based ProtonVPN which lies outside the jurisdiction of the nefarious 14 Eyes alliance, Windscribe is a Canadian VPN and thus right at the center of this group of surveillance states. Legally, the company is obliged to turn over any data the authorities ask it to.
This is where Windscribe really shines, though. According to its warrant canary, Windscribe has faced hundreds of thousands of data requests and has complied with exactly none of them due to “lack of relevant data.”
Many VPN providers declare an infallible no-logs policy, but it’s incredibly reassuring to see Windscribe having proved its infallibility so many times. If you’re privacy conscious, then, your choice of the best free VPN for Hotstar may well be Windscribe.
Other factors, however, are also less than desirable. For instance, you only get a 10GB bandwidth allowance with Windscribe, which could be annoying for Hotstar addicts who love a good binge-watching session.
As well as this, Windscribe does not offer the best speeds. If you’re not close to one of its 13 servers, then, you may find yourself out of luck.
But Windscribe is also a very secure piece of software and supports a massive range of security features. It does not have OpenVPN, but it does use IKEv2 with a range of low-latency pairings (such as UDP) and channel obfuscation tools (StealthVPN) that will ensure your information is never leaked, ever.
Overall, Windscribe is the best VPN provider on this list. But if you’re looking for the best free VPN for Hotstar, then it depends what you’re specifically after. Windscribe does impress in certain areas such as privacy and security, but when it comes to speeds and bandwidth limitations, you could definitely do a lot better for your Hotstar streaming needs.
Read our full Windscribe VPN review