While you can simultaneously use one VPN account on multiple devices, this number varies depending on the service provider. If it’s just the two of you, you should be fine. But if you have a big family, one account may not be enough, and someone will have to go unprotected. That might be enough to get you all into trouble. As most homes have a WiFi router, a good practice is to set up a VPN on a router.
Here are the reasons why you should consider it if not everyone in your house is using a VPN:
- You no longer will need to check for the maximum amount of simultaneous connections. The moment you set up a VPN on a router, it will sufficiently cover all devices used under your roof.
- You’ll be able to use a VPN with devices that natively don’t even support VPN or their apps. Ever got frustrated by setting up a VPN on KODI, or Apple TV? With a VPN on the router, you won’t have to worry about a setup for each device separately. Every device that will connect to your WiFi will instantly be protected.
- You’ll stay protected 24/7. Sometimes one might simply forget to log into a VPN, and that can cost you dearly. A VPN router will always be connected, ensuring 24/7 protection. You will need to connect to it only once, just like you connect to your WiFi if the login credentials have been saved.
- You’ll need to go through the arduous process of setting up a VPN on a router. This is very hardware-dependent and in some cases even impossible to pull off. It might even require flashing device’s firmware that will void your warranty and isn’t an option if you’re using a router from your ISP.
- Once you set it up and want a bypass to connect directly, you might run into additional problems. Some banks might flag you for strange connections coming outside of your native country when you’ll try to connect to your local bank. Some services that were set up to work from your local country might also have hiccups. Some IP Set-Top devices pre-configured to work with your IP might even refuse to work and will need additional tinkering.
How to set up a VPN on a router: Step-by-step guide
1. Choosing a VPN provider
First of all, you’ll have to choose your VPN provider. If you’re planning to set it up on a router, you can ignore info like the maximum number of available connections and focus on support. Some of them have router apps, some of them support many router models and have easy to understand set up guides. Don’t skimp on your provider’s reputation and additional features. You want to make sure that your provider will actually make you safe.
2. Choosing a router
More likely than not, you already have a router. If you feel like making a fresh set up, you can potentially look into upgrades that will make this upgrade easier. In some cases, DD-WRT or Tomato routers should be enough. In other cases, it’s entirely possible to buy pre-configured routers with your VPN providers’ settings. This neglects the art of setting it up but dramatically saves your time.
3. Connecting the VPN router
First of all, you’re going to need to log in to your router. If it was set up by your ISP and you just plugged it in, chances are that it doesn’t even have a password. If it does, it might be written on a sticker on your router.
In most cases, when connected to it, you’ll have to type in 192.168.15.1 in your web browser’s address bar. Keep in mind that your default router IP might be different. You can find it in your router’s manual.
4. Configure your router
This point is very user-dependent, and if you need more detailed instructions, you’ll have to follow guides that specifically address how to set it up on your device. Some routers will have out of the box ready VPN functionality, others might need some workarounds or firmware flashes to bypass these restrictions.
5. Optional: Flashing your VPN router
It might happen that your router doesn’t natively support VPN configurations. This is merely a software limitation that can be resolved by firmware flashing. It will alter your device’s factory settings, so you must know what you’re doing. Once you start the process, there’s no way back, so you have to be extra careful not to damage your router, or it will be bricked.
6. Testing your configuration
Once you’ve completed the VPN set up on your router, you should test it to make sure that it actually works. Connect to your router with a VPN connection and open up this link to check what IP it displays. If you did everything correctly, you should be able to see a different IP with an associated country flag.
How to set up a VPN on a DD-WRT router
The majority of people suggest that installing a DD-WRT router is quite technical and can lead to bricking. This is the reason why a lot of people opt to buy the DD-WRT routers that are already flashed. You can even choose to purchase pre-flashed DD-WRT VPN routers as they come with software that is preloaded. However, DD-WRT VPN setup is not difficult if you have a guide nearby.
Even though it’s possible to set up a PPTP VPN router, it’s now considered obsolete. If you’ll be going the extra mile by setting up a VPN on your router, stick to OpenVPN. Here’s how to do it:
Setting up an OpenVPN router
- If you have a DD-WRT router, you can install the VPN software on it. You should bear in mind that certain VPNs are incompatible with DD-WRT firmware. This means that you’ll want to check the manufacturer to determine whether you can flush the router using the DD-WRT by yourself.
- We will remain a bit vague on this, as the setup can vary according to the exact model of the router you have. To get the firmware, you’ll need to update that router. Once you find that it is compatible, you’ll have to find firmware details on precisely what you want to get downloaded.
- Once you set up DD-WRT. Go to http://192.168.1.1 for setting it up. This screen will provide you with a username as well as the password for the router.
- Click on the Control Panel. Go to your web browser and then click on the Settings page of the router. After you have gotten to the control panel of the DD-WRT router, you should click on the Service tab. You can then go ahead and click on the sub-tab of your VPN. You should then enable the option of Start OpenVPN client. This will take you to the OpenVPN configuration panel.
DD-WRT versions with user pass authentication
This is a step that will depend on whether your DD-WRT firmware version comes with user pass authentication. If it does, follow the next steps. If it doesn’t, you can just move to the next section.
If your DD-WRT version doesn’t come with user pass authentication, you should follow the settings below. First, enter the Server IP/Name.
Usually, you get this from the VPN. You’ll need a username that you can get from the VPN. This may differ from your VPN login username. You’ll also need the password from the VPN. This might be different from your usual VPN login password. So, what do you do with DD-WRT versions that do not have user-pass authentication?
DD-WRT versions without user pass authentication
If you have a DD-WRT version that doesn’t require user pass authentication, there are also specific steps that you will need to follow.
First, you’ll want to check for the text box labeled as “Additional Configuration.” You can then go ahead and enter the command pass /tmp/auth.txt. When asked for the Server IP/Name, enter the VPN user’s address you’d like to connect as.
The server IP name can be found on the .ovpn config file that you can get from the VPN. Open .ovpn file using a text editor. You can copy the remote server cluster name that has been listed in Config file before pasting this on the server address or port field in OpenVPN.
How to set up a VPN on a Tomato router
Tomato is a custom firmware for routers that adds OpenVPN support. Here you can check if your router supports this firmware. You should also read a full guide on how to install it on your router. Once you’ve got Tomato installed, you’ll still need to configure a VPN of your choice.
- Connect to your router’s settings page by typing in 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 in your address bar
- Select VPN Tunneling -> OpenVPN Client
- There, select the following options: check Start with WAN box, select TUN under Interface Type, choose either UDP or TCP under Protocol, and add Server Address/Port information from your provider
- Under the Advanced tab select the following options: Poll Interval: 0, redirect Internet traffic: Checked, accept DNS configuration: Strict, encryption cipher: AES-256-CBC, compression: Disabled, TLS Renegotiation Time: -1, connection retry: -1, verify server certificate: Unchecked.
- Depending on your setup you may add a custom configuration but it will heavily depend on your provider.
- In the Keys tab, open a configuration file downloaded from your VPN provider. Then, paste Static key from <tls-auth> to </tls-auth> block. Also, to get Certificate Authority, you’ll need to paste text from <ca> to </ca> block.
- At the bottom of the settings page, click Save. Click Start Now, to establish a connection. Verify on the Status page that everything is working as it should.
You can also add additional configuration for DNS servers to be safe from DNS leaks.
How to set up a VPN on an OpenWRT router
You should start by flashing your router with OpenWRT firmware. Here you’ll be able to find information on how it’s done. When you’re done with that, you still need to configure a VPN on your flashed router. What you should also be aware of is that OpenVPN packages aren’t included by default in the firmware files that you’ve downloaded. You’ll need to modify the image to include OpenVPN configuration.
It’s a highly technical set up which will severely depend on the options suggested by your VPN provider. Your best bet will be to consult their website for guides. This is one of the most technical setups, so you should really know what you’re doing. For example, here’s a guide on how to do it with NordVPN.
How to set up a VPN on an AsusWRT router
This is a pretty straightforward setup. Most Asus routers can be configured with OpenVPN software, and they don’t require flashing. As always, it greatly depends on your model, but the general process should go as follows.
- Under Advanced Settings tab select VPN
- Click OpenVPN clients
- You should download OpenVPN configuration files from your provider, go to Client control -> Import .ovpn file -> Browse, then select the file and upload it. If you can choose, select UDP instead of TCP because it’s slightly faster
- Wait for a page to refresh itself
- After the import, most fields should autocomplete. You’ll still need to enter the credentials that you use to log in to your VPN provider
- You can select your DNS configuration to Strict or Exclusive, depending on if you want to use the configuration on all devices or just some of them. This is especially handy if you need your configuration work with only your Apple TV, Playstation or other devices that natively don’t support VPNs
Dual VPN router setup
Having a dual router setup is beneficial if you want to switch between a VPN and non-VPN connection easily. To achieve this, you’ll need to set up a LAN-to-WAN connection using two routers and an Ethernet cable. Your second router doesn’t have to be as good as the one used for the VPN connection. It will suffice if it supports AC wireless.
The instructions below are for Windows users.
Alternative: Sabai Routers have a feature called Gateways that eliminates the need for dual router setup.
Set up the primary route
- Connect to the regular router (A) using WiFi.
- Run cmd.exe from the Start menu, type ipconfig, and press Enter.
- The line that says Default gateway is your router’s IP address and its second-to-last digit is the subnet. Write the IP down for future reference.
- Enable VPN passthrough in your router’s control panel. It can be found under NAT or Firewall settings.
Set up the VPN router
- Make sure it’s not connected to the primary router by the Ethernet cable.
- Connect to the VPN router (B) using WiFi or use an Ethernet cable from your computer to Router A.
- Go to Router A’s control panel and find its IP address settings.
- Change the subnet, so that if Router A uses 192.168.1.1, Router B should use 192.168.2.1
- Enable the DHCP server in Router A’s control panel
- Specify DNS servers. You can use those offered by the VPN provider, or public ones, eg. GoogleDNS: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
Connect both routers
- Get the Ethernet cable and stick one end to any LAN port of Router A.
- Stick the other end of the cable to the WAN port of Router B.
- Make sure your Router A WAN port is connected to a modem or other internet access point.
If you did everything correctly, the internet connectivity should be there. If it’s not, you can try disabling the VPN to see if it’s causing the issue. If that proves to be the case, contacting your VPN support would be best. If the VPN has nothing to do with this, try flushing the DNS. If the DNS error persists, try manually entering it in your device’s TCP/IP settings. And if all else fails, reboot your router.
Which VPN is the best for your router
If you invest top dollar in a state-of-the-art router, you should do the same with your VPN. Don’t be surprised that your connection doesn’t live up to your expectations if you’re using a VPN service that has slow servers on the other side of the globe, cannot unblock Netflix, and doesn’t allow torrenting.
Speed and security are the top two criteria to consider when deciding on a VPN for your router. While speed often correlates with the number of servers and locations, it’s also the quality of the infrastructure that makes the difference.
Speaking of security, the country where a VPN resides is essential because some of those are members of the Five, Nine, or Fourteen Eyes Alliance, sharing intelligence data between themselves. Having a clean reputation is also essential – some VPNs have already been caught cooperating with governmental institutions. Others clearly state that they do not offer a no-logs policy and are willing to disclose your personal data to third parties.
The quality of Customer Support shouldn’t be your last consideration, either. We suggest choosing those VPN providers that offer 24/7 live support. There might be times when your connection drops for no apparent reason and works only without a VPN. Submitting a ticket and waiting for the response from another time zone can often mean you’re done for the day while calling a helpline or starting a live chat can solve your issue within minutes.
Below are our recommendations for the best VPN for routers – we urge you to find the right one regardless of the budget.
NordVPN – the best router VPN service
NordVPN will provide you with the best security and stability among VPNs. They have clear setup instructions and can be used in combination with more accessible configurations like AsusWRT and even OpenWRT. You can also use a third-party tool to help you manage its connections. Should you run into any trouble, their customer support will be ready to help you with even the most complicated queries.
With any subscription that you purchase, you’ll get a 30-day money-back guarantee. You should be able to test their configuration options on your router, and if you don’t like something, it will be super easy to refund for a full price. There’s even a possibility to buy a pre-configured VPN router from them. It will save you loads of time.
Private Internet Access – great VPN for a router
For users that don’t need blistering speed and Agent 007-grade security, Private Internet Access VPN might just do the trick for a fraction of their competitors’ prices. $6.95/month is simply unbeatable and one of the main reasons why this provider is so popular across the globe.
But it’s not only about the price. It’s compatible with DD-WRT routers, allows torrenting, unblocks the US Netflix library, and even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you still feel like you’re paying too much. While Private Internet Access doesn’t provide a router app, the hassle of manually configuring it is worth the money you save in the long run.
Which router is the best for VPN setup
First and foremost, a router has to support OpenVPN or have an operating system that supports OpenVPN, such as DD-WRT or Tomato. Most often, a router comes with the original firmware and has to be flashed to open-source DD-WRT or Tomato first before starting a VPN setup. While you should always check if the specific model you have or are planning to buy supports OpenVPN, choosing Asus, Synology, or Buffalo routers is a safe bet. Be aware that routers from your internet service provider that also incorporate a modem most often will not be suitable for this task, meaning you’ll need to purchase a VPN-compatible router.
Then your VPN router has to be fast. It will be handling the traffic of multiple users and encrypting, so naturally, there’s a speed drop-off. To minimize it, make sure your router’s CPU clock is 800 MHz or more, and the AES-NI feature is available for speeding the encryption process up.
Your VPN router has to be decently-priced based on your needs:
- Gaming VPN router – top speed, low latency. You will need a high-end VPN router, so be ready to pay $300+.
- Torrenting and streaming VPN router – top speed, latency, not an issue. You will need an excellent VPN router, which can be found in the range of $200-$300.
- Browsing VPN router – good speed, latency, not an issue. A good VPN router should suffice, and you can really get one for less than $200.
Below are the most common types of routers that you can select based on your needs and your level of techiness.
Does my router support a VPN?
The easiest way to check whether your router supports VPN is to consult the router’s manual. If it supports it out of the box, you’ll immediately notice a section dedicated to the VPN set up.
Even if the router’s manual is silent, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. Most likely, you can get VPN configurations up and running with custom firmware.
If you’re renting a router from your ISP, more likely than not, you will not be able to use it as a VPN client as they run various backdoors so that their customer service could troubleshoot your Internet problems via long distance.
Pre-flashed routers are the best option for beginners who want the router working as soon as possible. You will pay extra for not needing to install DD-WRT or Tomato on your VPN router manually, but it’s worth it.
You can buy a pre-flashed router from a third-party like Flashrouters or directly from your VPN provider, provided they sell them. Here are the top VPN services that sell pre-flashed routers.
ExpressVPN recommends Linksys pre-flashed routers
Linksys WRT3200ACM is their recommended option for $220 + $79 for getting it pre-flashed. There’s also a cheaper option – Linksys WRT1900ACS. Still, you’ll be saving $50 at the cost of lower speed and limiting the simultaneous connections to seven.
Astrill offers TP-Link pre-flashed router
At the moment, you can get a pre-flashed TP-Link TL-WR703N for $39 from Astrill. Because Astrill VPN is one of the fastest services and doesn’t come cheap, we suggest finding a more powerful router as it will allow you to maximize the potential of this VPN. If you’re into a more budget version, better check Private Internet Access.
TorGuard invites you to the Paradise of pre-flashed routers
When it comes to giving you the freedom to choose, nothing beats TorGuard. Not only can you select from six VPN router brands, but often you can also choose between DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato. Just have in mind that not all prices are that great. For example, Linksys WRT1900ACS price is $219 when ExpressVPN offers it for $170 only.
Nevertheless, having in mind that TorGuard is also one of the best overall VPNs with a price of $4.17/month, it’s sure worth giving it a try if neither ExpressVPN nor Astrill VPN suit you.
Out-of-the-box VPN-compatible routers
This is the best option for those who want to save a bit on the price that pre-flashed router vendors ask. The difference is that while VPN-compatible routers support OpenVPN, they use stock firmware, not DD-WRT or Tomato. In most cases, it shouldn’t be a problem to configure such a router to make your chosen VPN work. Just make sure your router is supported by talking to the customer support of your VPN beforehand.
Flash router with the new firmware
This basically means installing a new operating system (OS) on your router that supports either DD-WRT or Tomato. There are more OSes to choose from, but these are the most popular ones for flashing VPN routers. Flashing a router with new firmware is recommended only for advanced users. We’re not saying it’s impossible to do just by following the steps of a tutorial. Still, you might need to do some extra troubleshooting or get help from VPN or router support.
Choosing between DD-WRT and Tomato
Both OSes have become an industry standard and come with their pros and cons. Still, you should be happy with either option if appropriately configured. They extend the range of your wireless signal, help regulate the bandwidth, enhance security, and allow multiple VPN protocols.
The main difference is that DD-WRT is more popular and supports more router models. Installing it should allow you to control WiFi signal strength, prioritize traffic, and let you access your network remotely, among other things. Tomato is more user-friendly and works better with different VPN providers, but supports fewer router models.
Just have in mind that not every router can be flashed with DD-WRT or Tomato. Make sure it supports one or both of them beforehand to avoid problems which will probably not be covered by warranty.