When we talk about “jailbreaking” in tech terms, we’re not talking about breaking hardened criminals out of a high-security prison. In the tech world, jailbreaking is much less sinister. In fact, many people see it as a moral duty to learn how to break open the restrictions built into devices like cellphones or streaming boxes.
Amazon’s Firestick is a prime candidate for jailbreaking, but why is this? In this blog, we’re going to explain in detail what jailbreaking is, and how to do it. If you own a Firestick and want to enjoy everything it can do, read on. There’s no need to accept Amazon’s default setup. We can do better than that.
Why would you want to jailbreak Firestick devices?
As you’re probably aware, the Firestick is a streaming device which hooks up to standard Smart TVs. It plugs into the HDMI port, allowing TV owners to connect with streaming services like Netflix, HBO and, of course, Amazon’s own TV and movie archive.
Amazon wants users to consume legitimate content, preferably linked to their revenue streams. To achieve this, the company installs software on their Firestick peripherals which limit the freedom of users. So, if you want to use services like Kodi, you’ll be out of luck.
Or will you? Actually, you can easily get around Amazon’s security blocks, which is where jailbreaking comes in.
When you jailbreak a device, you simply remove the blocks enforced by the manufacturer, enabling the installation of whatever alternative software you desire. This means that you can add a vast array of torrent-based movie libraries, live sports feeds, and international TV channels that wouldn’t normally be available.
How do you get jailbroken Firestick devices?
At the moment, you might be asking yourself whether you have the tech skills to jailbreak Firestick devices. And it’s true that you don’t have to do-it-yourself when it comes to jailbreaking.
Liberated Firesticks can be purchased online from sites like eBay, or specialist Kodi merchants like KodiUltra.
However, these devices cost money, and the actual process of jailbreaking Firesticks isn’t overly complex. Anyone with basic computer literacy should be able to handle the steps involved.
So don’t worry. If you follow our step by step guide, you can avoid the need to shell out for a pre-broken Firestick. And you can customize your device to ensure that it reflects your personal streaming tastes.
Moreover, as we’ll see in a second when you go it alone, you can add essential security tools like Virtual Private Networks. That way, if you want to use streaming archives, you can do so without worrying too much about copyright infringement.
Jailbreaking an Amazon Firestick: a step by step guide
For this guide, we’ll assume that you want to add Kodi to your Firestick. Kodi isn’t the only option out there, but it’s the most popular streaming platform. And it’s also ideally suited to Amazon’s Android-based streaming stick, so it makes sense to focus on how to install it.
1. Install ES Explorer on your Firestick
Before you can install Kodi, you’ll need a way to download it, and ES (or EStrongs) Explorer is probably the best option available. ES Explorer is free to download, and it allows you to manage files on almost any Android device – including Firesticks.
- To start the download, fire up your Firestick. Now head to Settings, followed by Device, then choose Developer Options.
On this screen, choose the option to Allow apps from unknown sources. This will enable us to install ES Explorer.
- Go back to the Amazon Firestick front page and choose the Search option.
Enter the search term “ES Explorer” and then click on the ES Explorer icon when it appears. This will start the download.
- When the download is done, load up ES Explorer. Now we’re ready to move onto phase 2 of the jailbreaking process.
2. Installing Kodi
Now that ES Explorer is safely installed on your device, we can move onto adding Kodi as well. This is a little more complicated than ES Explorer, so follow each step closely.
Firstly, we need to actually download and install Kodi properly. Here’s how to do so:
- Load up ES Explorer and choose the Tools option, followed by Download Manager.
- Now, look at the bottom menu. There should be a little “+” icon with the word “New”. Press that button.
- You’ll now be asked to choose a path for the download. There are plenty of places around the web to pick up the Kodi APK, and they change all the time, with new releases coming online. For now, type “http://mirrors.kodi.tv/releases/android/arm/kodi-18.0-Leia-armeabi-v7a.apk”. That should download the latest version of Kodi.
- When asked for a name, simply type “Kodi”, then press Download Now.
- The download will take a few minutes. When it’s done, follow the installation prompts, and the platform will be added to your Firestick.
- When you head back to your Firestick front page, if everything has gone well, you should see Kodi as a menu option. Just fire up the app and start exploring.
3. Making Kodi more accessible for everyday use
However, you don’t want Kodi to be tucked away in a corner of your Firestick menu. Instead, it’s much better to pin the Kodi app to your front page, so that’s the easiest icon to access.
Doing so is very simple:
- Go to the Firestick home page, then choose Your Apps and Games.
- Choose the See All option to open up the full range of apps.
- After a little scrolling, you should come to the Kodi icon. Now, click the horizontal lines button on your remote.
- When prompted, choose the Move to front option. Now, whenever you use your Firestick home page, Kodi will take center stage – a much more efficient setup.
How to take the risk out of jailbreaking a Firestick
Now that your Amazon Firestick has been liberated from jail, it’s time to start thinking about security. If you’re going to be diving into Kodi’s selection of add-ons, protecting your streaming habits from external observers could come in handy.
The number one security tip for people who jailbreak Firestick devices is to lock down your usage with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
VPNs do two important things. Firstly, they encrypt the data you send. Secondly, they route your traffic through servers around the world, and an assign you an anonymous IP address in the process.
When combined, these two features make it very, very hard for anyone to tell what you are watching, or who you are. So you can have a high degree of confidence that copyright holders or law enforcement agencies will pass you by.
Choose a reliable VPN to shield your Firestick
However, don’t just choose the first VPN you find. If you want to genuinely protect your streaming, you’ll need 256-bit AES encryption, watertight IP leak protection, a Kill Switch to handle any outages and ultra-quick servers. Good VPNs strike a balance between speed and security, and relatively few manage it.
NordVPN is one provider that does better than the rest. It’s fast, secure, has helpful support, and offers an Android client that can easily be installed onto Firestick devices. But it’s not alone. ExpressVPN, PIA, or Cyberghost are all excellent providers.
Stay clear of free VPNs from Android repositories. These providers rarely offer solid security. Trust us, it’s worth spending a few pennies to guarantee protection.
Check out our full list of Best VPNs for Amazon Fire Stick
How do you install a VPN on Firesticks?
Before we finish, it probably helps to quickly run through how to install apps like NordVPN.
- On Firestick, go to Settings then Device, then Developer Options. Then choose ADB debugging and turn on Apps from unknown sources.
- On the Firestick front page, choose the search icon, find the Downloader app, and choose Get.
- Run Downloader. Now enter “https://nordvpn.com/download/android/” into the URL box.
- Click the link to download NordVPN. Now press Install, followed by Open.
- Head to Settings->Applications->Manage Installed Applications and run NordVPN.
That’s the basic process. And it’s similar for all of the best VPNs. If you intend to jailbreak your Firestick, it’s worth taking the time to install one of them. That way, you can stream whatever you desire, without worrying about any security issues.