This article will show you how to use a VPN to access Hotstar – India’s most popular streaming service. We’ll also do an overview of top VPNs for Hotstar, show you how to solve the most common problems, and answer all popular questions.
Hotstar is the biggest and most popular streaming service in India. Aside from featuring Bollywood movies and shows, it has content from Hulu, HBO Max, ESPN+, and Disney+. On it, you can watch shows like Aashiquana, as well as live sports and breaking news. Best of all, it is much more affordable than other similar platforms.
But, there are some problems you’ll have to solve. First, Hotstar is only fully available to Indian residents. While you can find it in Canada, parts of Asia, and the UK, the content is limited due to copyright and licensing issues. If you try to access it from anywhere else, the site won’t fully load. You can bypass this by getting a VPN app, but this leads us to the second problem.
In mid-2022, India passed a data retention law that requires every VPN service to collect and store user data for at least five years. This was seen as a major breach of privacy, which is why many popular VPNs are shutting down their servers in India. While it became much harder to find a reliable premium VPN app, they are still around, and this Hotstar VPN guide will show you what to do.
Three reliable Hotstar VPNs
The only challenge now lies in figuring out which VPNs are worth your time, and that is why we are here to help. We tested the top services to find the best VPNs for Hotstar that consistently work. These are the best options on the market:
- Surfshark – A Budget VPN for Hotstar that provides fast speeds, high-end security, huge server network, and unlimited simultaneous connections (Get it for 80% off here).
- ExpressVPN – A consistent and user-friendly Hotstar VPN.
- NordVPN – Fast, secure, and reliable VPN app with servers around India for streaming Hotstar.
We’ll do an overview of each service so that you can decide which one you wish to subscribe to. But first, let’s cover all the steps you need to take to set up your VPN.
How to stream Hotstar from anywhere [quick guide]
VPNs give you privacy by encrypting your internet traffic and hiding your true IP address. By routing your traffic through a specific VPN server, you will be able to appear to be in that server’s location and unblock websites and online content.
In our case, this will fool Hotstar into thinking that you are accessing it from India or another nearby region. This may seem complicated, but you only need to follow these five steps:
- Get a VPN subscription
Surfshark is the best option (subscribe for 80% off), but NordVPN and ExpressVPN will also work.
- Download and open your VPN
- Connect to a server in India
Make sure that your browser cookies and cache are cleared.
- Go to Hotstar
Hotstar has many free shows and movies, and you don’t even have to register to access them. However, there is also a premium option that will cost you $19/year.
- Stream Indian shows and movies
How we ranked top Hotstar VPNs
You can find hundreds of VPN apps on the market, so it can be challenging to determine which ones are worth your time. These are the criteria we have used to decide if we are looking at the best Hotstar VPN.
- Extremely Fast – Since we will be connected to an Indian server, we were looking for apps that use advanced VPN protocols that provide top speeds. Lightway, WireGuard, and NordLynx fall into this category.
- Unlimited Bandwidth – Many VPNs put a monthly data limit or throttle your download speed once you pass a certain threshold. None of the services on this list will do this.
- Bypass geo-restrictions – Each app is able to pass advanced geo-blocking algorithms and unblock content on every popular streaming site.
- Airtight Privacy and Security – We only looked for no-logs VPNs, as they have servers that run in RAM mode that don’t store user data. They also offer advanced AES encryption, DNS Leak Protection, and Kill Switch, which will protect you from identity theft.
- Available servers – NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN all have real or virtual servers that allow you to connect from India.
- Professional customer support is available 24/7 through live chat for each service.
Surfshark – Best VPN overall for Hotstar
Surfshark should be your go-to option if you are looking for a high-quality, but also low-cost VPN. The service has more than 3,200 high-speed servers in 100 countries. Surfshark offers virtual Indian servers that are located London, the Netherlands, and Singapore as entry points. This means that connecting to these virtual Indian servers will make you appear to be in India, thereby giving you access to Hotstar. All Surfshark servers support advanced protocols like IKEv2 and WireGuard.
WireGuard performs similarly to NordLynx, with speeds going up to 750+ Mbps, as you can see in the NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison. But, keep in mind this may vary depending on the quality of your internet connection. In general, you can expect a 20 to 30% speed reduction. However, if your ISP is actively limiting your speed, you may notice an actual improvement. We describe this in our guide on VPNs for Verizon.
Surfshark uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is the current gold standard in terms of safety. All Surfshark servers operate exclusively in RAM mode, meaning that your data isn’t stored at any point. Additionally, Surfshark has passed numerous third-party security and privacy audits.
Surfshark premium features
- Kill Switch
- Split Tunneling
- Smart DNS
- Dynamic Multi-Hop – An improved variation of double VPN servers that offers complete customizability. Surfshark currently has about 100 multi-hop servers.
- Camouflage Mode (Obfuscated Servers)
- Trust DNS – Surfshark’s lightweight browser extension. Cure53 did a full pen test on them, which was completed with excellent results.
- Clean Web – Stops malware attacks, and blocks ads and trackers.
Surfshark is very intuitive, so you shouldn’t have any problems navigating it. The app can be installed on nearly every device that supports VPNs. Aside from Hotstar, you will be able to unlock Peacock TV, HBO Max, Hulu, and other services.
Considering the price, Surfshark has the best deal out of any VPN we have tried. Starting from $2.30/month, you will be able to connect every device in your household simultaneously, with no limits. This feature is usually reserved for much pricier VPNs.
Professional customer support is just a click away, and you can access it 24/7 via live chat. Finally, Surfshark has a 30-day money-back policy, so you don’t have any reason not to try it.
- Unlimited connections
- User-friendly apps for all devices and operating systems
- CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, and malware
- Works great with Netflix and many other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Strong encryption and security features (audited)
- Limited support for VPN routers
- Above average monthly prices
For more details, read this Surfshark VPN review.
ExpressVPN – A classic Hotstar VPN
Since 2009, ExpressVPN has managed to create a network of 3,000+ servers in 105 countries. This also includes virtual Indian servers in the UK and Singapore, from which you will be able to easily access Hotstar. All servers are backed by TrustedServer technology, which means that they work exclusively in RAM mode.
ExpressVPN uses the Lightway protocol, which has its disadvantages. It is slower in comparison to NordLynx and WireGuard, as can be seen in this ExpressVPN vs Surfshark article. However, it still manages to outperform OpenVPN, so you shouldn’t have any problems with using it as a Hotstar VPN.
When it comes to security, ExpressVPN is one of the safest VPN services around. It successfully passed 11 independent audits, including an extensive pentest by Cure53. The reason lies, in part, in advanced 256-bit AES encryption.
ExpressVPN’s Advanced Tools
- Threat Manager – Offers reliable protection against malware, trackers, intrusive ads, and phishing attacks.
- Device Groups – Configure ExpressVPN so that every device connects to a different server at the same time.
- Browser extension – Run a lightweight version of ExpressVPN from Edge, Firefox, and Chrome.
- Smart DNS – Unlocks Hotstar and similar streaming sites on platforms that don’t have VPN support, like gaming consoles.
- Network Lock (VPN Kill Switch)
- Split Tunneling
ExpressVPN app is available on all platforms that support VPNs, so you can stream Hotstar from every device. It is powerful enough to unlock all popular streaming sites, from HBO Max to Netflix. There’s also exclusive firmware that you can install directly on your router to instantly create a VPN network. With one subscription, you can easily pair up to eight devices at once. All of this will cost you quite a bit at $6.67/month. This is more expensive than NordVPN and CyberGhost.
ExpressVPN also has responsive customer service and a ton of useful guides if you want to get your hands dirty. You can test it without risk, as you can get a full refund in the first month. This essentially makes it a free trial VPN.
- User-friendly and secure apps
- Split tunneling feature (for macOS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and most streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Passed independent third-party audits for security and no-logs
- Very large server network
- Above average prices
- Fewer features than other leading VPNs
This ExpressVPN overview is even more comprehensive.
NordVPN – A popular Hotstar alternative
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs in the world. It has 5,800+ servers in 60 countries worldwide, but this doesn’t include India, because of its strict regulations. However, you can connect to servers in Malaysia or Thailand and easily stream Hotstar from there, just keep in mind that the content may be a bit limited.
NordVPN uses NordLynx, which may be the most advanced VPN protocol on the market. We’ve extensively tested it in our NordVPN vs ExpressVPN overview and found it is really fast. During our top speed test, we’ve managed to hit 750+Mbps. This is more than enough to stream Hotstar’s movies and shows in the highest possible quality.
NordVPN was subjected to a series of external audits. For example, one by PwC showed that NordVPN is strictly implementing its privacy policies. Most importantly, VerSprite did a pen test that challenged their security, which NordVPN easily passed.
This came as no surprise since it uses advanced AES 256-bit encryption. Also, this is a no-logs VPN and all of its servers work in RAM mode, which guarantees that they won’t store any user data.
NordVPN premium features
- Double VPN – Adds another layer of encryption by routing your traffic through two VPN servers.
- Obfuscation – Camouflage your VPN traffic into HTTPS, hiding the fact that you’re using NordVPN from your ISP. This provides you anonymity, which is important if VPNs are censored and you need a VPN for China or VPN for UAE.
- Split Tunneling – This allows you to choose which apps can bypass NordVPN.
- P2P servers – These servers are optimized for torrenting with very fast speeds, making NordVPN one of the best choices if you need a VPN for torrenting.
- Threat Protection – Scans your device for trackers, prevents malware infestation, and puts a stop to phishing attacks. It will also check any files you download.
- Kill Switch – Kill switch serves to protect your identity if your connection is compromised. Depending on how it’s set up, it will either turn off your Wi-Fi or exit NordVPN.
- Onion over VPN – For more security, combine the advantages of Tor network with NordVPN. These servers are slower (due to the Tor network), so you wouldn’t use them for streaming Hotstar shows.
NordVPN is affordable, and one subscription will let you connect six devices simultaneously. It is available on most modern devices, and can easily unblock all known streaming sites, toping the list as the best VPN for Netflix and also the best VPN for Hulu.
If you encounter any problems, rest assured that technical support is available via live chat 24/7. If you find that NordVPN isn’t for you, you can easily refund it within the first 30 days.
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Double-VPN and Tor-over-VPN servers
- Passed numerous 3rd-party audits
- Strong encryption standards with full support for WireGuard
- Works with Netflix and many streaming sites
- Threat Protection feature to block ads, trackers, and malware
- Professional 24/7 live chat support
- Consistently fast speeds
- Dedicated RAM-servers with 10 Gbps bandwidth channels
- Big discounts only available with 2-year plans
To learn even more, take a look at our full NordVPN review.
Troubleshooting your Hotstar VPN
If you find yourself unable to connect to Hotstar, there are plenty of things you can try.
1. Check if your IP address is leaking
You can quickly check this by doing a speed test since it will also show where you’re connecting from. If this is the case, you want to turn on the leak protection feature, which, if available, is in the VPN settings.
2. Have you synced your GPS and new IP?
!Note: This step will only be relevant if you want to stream Hotstar from your mobile device.
While NordVPN and ExpressVPN do this instantly, Surfshark requires that you visit Advanced Settings > Override GPS location. If you decide to use another VPN service, you may need to do some manual tweaking.
- Visit the Google Play Store
- Tap your profile icon and go to Settings > General > Account and Device Preferences > Country and Profiles.
Now, you should have the option to switch to the Indian App Store. Before exiting, you will also need to input an Indian address and phone number, which you can get from this generator.
- Visit Settings > Profile > Media and Purchases > View Account
You will need administrator privileges, so put in your password or use Touch ID.
- Visit Country/Region > Change Country or Region…
… and select India from the drop-down menu. Go through the terms and conditions, and input the address and telephone number that you can obtain from this generator. Hit Done to save your changes.
3. Clear cache and tracking cookies
4. What to do if my device doesn’t have VPN support?
You will need to create a VPN network to which your platform can connect. You can do this by installing VPN firmware directly on your router or purchasing a VPN router. The first method is complicated and can actually damage your device if not done properly, which is why we recommend just buying a new one.
Luckily, they are pretty cheap, and our VPN router guide will give you recommendations and show you how to set them up.
If you are still experiencing technical difficulties, it is time to thoroughly test your VPN. You should also write to your VPN customer service, as they may already be experienced with your situation. If none of this helps, you should subscribe to a different VPN.
List of devices that support Hotstar
- PC & Mac (OS 10.2 and up)
- iPhones (iOS 10.0)
- Android phones (4.4+)
- Android TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV (4th Gen and up)
- Samsung Smart TVs (from 2018 onward)
- LG Smart TVs (with Web OS 4 and up)
Linux and gaming consoles are still not supported.
Can I use a free VPN for Hotstar?
There are hundreds of free VPN apps that promise security and anonymity. This can be tempting, at least on the first appearance. However, there are a lot of problems with using them, which is why we wouldn’t recommend them as a viable solution. Let’s go through all of our reasons.
1. Underdeveloped server networks
Top services such as NordVPN and Surfshark put a lot of money into maintaining and growing their server network. Free VPNs don’t have such luxury, so they have fewer locations, while user demand is high. This can lead to traffic congestion, which would wreak havoc on your speed. It is also possible that your free VPN app doesn’t have any servers in India, which would make it useless for Hotstar.
2. Disappointing download speed
Free VPNs operate on the old OpenVPN protocol which simply can’t compete with WireGuard or NordLynx. You may experience that Hotstar is opening unusually slow and that videos are constantly buffering, which can easily ruin your streaming experience.
3. Data limits
The vast majority of free VPNs impose a monthly data limit, which is usually anywhere between 2 to 10 GB. Streaming uses a lot of bandwidth, so you will likely spend this amount way before the month ends. Once you do, you will be cut off from the service for the remainder of the 30-day period. This can happen even if you are mid-episode which is particularly annoying.
4. Weak capabilities
Although it is perfectly legal, streaming services are not fond of people using VPNs to access their content. This is why they’ve created algorithms that track and block suspicious traffic. While services like NordVPN can bypass them without any problems, free VPN servers frequently get flagged. Since their amount is already limited, you may quickly find that you can’t access Hotstar anymore. In that case, you want to look for a different VPN service.
5. Questionable security
It shouldn’t come as a shock that these services have lower safety standards. What may surprise you, however, is the number of glaring problems they contain. For example, we can take this 2021 study of free mobile VPNs. By looking at 270+ apps, it found these unnerving patterns.
- ¾ of mobile VPNs come with trackers that monitor your activities.
- More than ⅓ of apps contained malware.
- 85% of mobile VPNs didn’t have encryption, or it was very weak.
These statistics are grim, and it is best to assume that the situation is similar on other platforms. Unfortunately, it turns out that most free VPNs completely sacrifice user safety and privacy to generate profits by selling your valuable info to ad agencies.
But, not everything is as hopeless as it may seem. After a long search, we have identified reliable free VPNs that will keep you safe on the web. They are not ideal for streaming shows on Hotstar, but they are the best you can get.
Parting Words on unblocking Hotstar with a VPN
Hotstar is fully available only in India, so you’ll need to use a VPN if you wish to access it. However, this can be challenging, as many VPNs are shutting down servers in India due to its strict data retention laws. We’ve decided to do the work and found the outliers – three top Hotstar VPNs.
When the dust settled, Surfshark came out as a clear winner. This is the best VPN for Hotstar due to its impressive speeds, cross-platform compatibility, and healthy server network that lets you connect to India. With it, you can start streaming popular Indian shows today.
Why do shows on Hotstar constantly buffer?
The first thing you want to check is your own connection. You can quickly do this by running a speed test online. If your speed is above 25 Mbps, you should be able to stream 4K without any problem.
However, many users have reported that Hotstar is buffering slowly, even though they have a solid internet connection. This would indicate a problem on their end, as their servers might be overwhelmed by user demand. Luckily, Hotstar’s server network is only getting stronger, as it was acquired by Disney.
How do I change my country code in Hotstar?
Changing your country code is necessary if you want to watch Hotstar on your mobile app. Here’s how to do it.
1. Open Hotstar and tap on the menu icon in the top left corner.
2. Visit Settings and find Your Account.
3. Go to Country Code and select that you want to stream Hotstar from India.
Can Hotstar ban me for using a VPN app?
While this is possible, it is highly unlikely since millions of people use VPNs in everyday life.
How does Hotstar know if I am using VPN?
Hotstar uses advanced algorithms that detect unusual traffic, which can pinpoint users that use subpar VPNs. It also uses Maxmind and similar databases that store suspicious IP addresses.
The article on the best VPNs for Hotstar was last updated on January 22, 2024.