Raspberry Pi has had a huge impact on the amount of people wanting to learn how to code and be creative with computers. After all, it’s low (roughly $35) price point means that the hobby developer and developer-curious communities can risk to be more creative, as the potential damage wouldn’t cost that much.
That’s why it isn’t hard to imagine why so many people are eager to test out a variety of things on their Pis, including building their very own VPNs. After all, with a homemade VPN, users can control every aspect of their online privacy and security.
But there’s one problem: VPNs are by themselves a bit technical. When you mix that with a Raspberry Pi, which will require more technical knowledge, that’s when you can get very confused, very easily.
And that’s where we come in today: we’re going to show you 5 of the best YouTube tutorials that teach you how to build your very own VPN on a Raspberry Pi. We’ve run through all of these tutorials and each have passed our requirements.
We want to make sure that each tutorial:
- is easy enough for a beginner
- results in a working VPN on a Raspberry Pi
- keeps the technical jargon to a minimum
- has the fewest amount of steps necessary
Before we check which YouTube tutorials are the best for teaching you how to build your own Raspberry Pi VPN, let’s quickly go over the advantages of building your own VPN.
Benefits of building your own, homemade VPN
There are quite a few advantages to owning your own homemade VPN. This includes:
- not having to pay for VPN services (although they’re not really expensive)
- it’s private, and yours, so only you (and others you give access to) can use it
- you can access your home computer and other resources on your network
- protect yourself when you’re on public (and unsecured) wifi
- if you’re in the US, you can still access US Netflix, Hulu, etc. In other countries, you can access your home content from wherever you are
This list is by no means exhaustive, but the benefits greatly outweigh the 30 minutes or so it will take you to set everything up.
So let’s dive into the tutorials that can help get you there.
DemmSec: “Easily make a VPN with a Raspberry Pi”
- Runtime: 14:15
- Views: 57K
- Date created: July 2017
- User feedback: 98% likes
This is one of the easiest-to-follow YouTube tutorials on how to set up your VPN server on a Raspberry Pi. The host, DemmSec, moves along at a good pace – not too fast for beginners, and not too slow for users already familiar with Raspberry Pi. He does skip a few of the very basic things from time to time, such as mentioning what programs to use to SSH into your Raspberry Pi, but that’s something that you can easily understand.
This video, like most of the others ones below, uses the incredibly easy PiVPN setup, which requires just one line, a few questions, and you’ll have the basics of a VPN set up. The end result is a working VPN that you can use from any device with OpenVPN support.
Lon.TV: “PiVPN : How to Run a VPN Server on a $35 Raspberry Pi!”
- Runtime: 35:05
- Views: 134K
- Date created: March 2019
- User feedback: 99% likes
We really enjoy this video because it’s actually a bit easier than the previous video. The host explains things very clearly and cleanly, meaning absolute beginners can be sure of success. Of course, that means that it’s also longer in order to accommodate the extra explanations. That’s why it’s more than twice as long as DemmSec’s tutorial.
It also happens to be the newest video, having being created just a month ago. That’ helps bring some peace of mind for viewers, since you’re pretty sure that it’s up to date and you won’t run into any fatal problems because the video is simply too old. The video also helpfully walks us through setting up the public DNS name, among other useful tips.
upgrdman: “Make a VPN Server with a Raspberry Pi, OpenVPN and Stunnel”
- Runtime: 1:19:16
- Views: 97K
- Date created: May 2018
- User feedback: 98% likes
This video is a bit lower in the quality production sense, but higher in the “real world” sense, seeing as there are very few edits here. That probably explains why it’s 80 minutes long. Not only does upgrdman show you in detail how to set up OpenVPN on your Raspberry Pi, but he also teaches you how to set up Stunnel on both PC and Android.
For those who don’t know, Stunnel adds an additional SSL layer to the encryption you’re already using with OpenVPN, and it’s one way for VPNs to get around certain firewalls – such as the Great Firewall of China.
The one issue – or fact – is that this isn’t done using PiVPN, so it will require extra command lines. A lot of extra command lines. In fact, he’s kind enough to have included a link to the command lines so that you can follow along with both the video and the text as you set up the VPN on your Raspberry Pi.
He also runs into a few snags, which is good since it will help you overcome common issues you may have.
Beau Knows Tech… Stuff: “Raspberry Pi Zero VPN Server Tutorial”
- Runtime: 11:20
- Views: 96K
- Date created: September 2016
- User feedback: 97% likes
Almost all of these videos use a Raspberry Pi 3 to get everything set up. For this project, Beau Knows Tech… Stuff uses a Raspberry Pi Zero. While there isn’t a huge difference in the steps needed to set up your own Raspberry Pi VPN, it would still be easier for users to follow along if they also have a Pi Zero. This also includes the fact that, because the Zero is smaller than the full version of the Pi, Zero users will need additional components, such as the mini/micro adapters.
The host, Beau, also is very particular and organized in the video, helping guide users with good, useful illustrations and animations. The chapters are also organized well and the steps are annotated:
At just over 11 minutes long, it’s the shortest video in our tutorials list. So, if you’re pretty confident about your coding or Raspberry Pi skills, you can just go ahead and check out this video. Even better, because the sections are well-organized, you can skip ahead if you’re familiar with any particular part.
Manthan: “Setting up Raspberry Pi as an OpenVPN Server (Step by Step Tutorial)”
- Runtime: 16:33
- Views: 131K
- Date created: October 2013
- User feedback: 96% likes
Last on the list, is the rather old tutorial. This has good parts and bad parts. The bad part is that it will require you to perform a few more steps in order to get the final result. However, the good thing is that it will give you an alternative to use PiVPN – if, for some reason, you don’t want to go that route.
Of course that also means that you’re going to have to add more lines of commands than with PiVPN, which is just a single line. If you are eager to learn more about coding and Raspberry Pis, then this could be a good exercise for you to understand deeper aspects – by doing more manual work, you learn more.
The good thing, as with all these videos, is that it’s very noob friendly, so you’ll be able to follow along easily.
Other ways to set up a VPN on a Raspberry Pi
Setting up your own VPN on a Raspberry Pi is of course beneficial in the ways we listed above. However, if you want to be able to just use a VPN (not necessarily your own) on Raspberry Pi (for example, if you already have a paid VPN subscription), then that will actually make your life easier.
Most major VPN providers have simple steps to help you set up their VPN service on your Raspberry Pi. Here are some of the best ones we’ve found:
- NordVPN: How to configure a Raspberry Pi?
- ExpressVPN: How to set up and use the ExpressVPN app for Raspberry Pi
- PIA: Raspberry Pi VPN Router w/ PIA (YouTube)
- Ivacy: How to Setup VPN on Raspberry Pi
- Windscribe: How to install & use WINDSCRIBE VPN Client on a Raspberry Pi (YouTube)
There are probably loads more tutorials (and hopefully video tutorials) to help guide you through setting up a paid VPN service on Raspberry Pi.
So, how do you use your VPN on Raspberry Pi? Let us know in the comments below!
Jan is the captain at the helm of VPNpro. He ensures that every crew member is practicing perfect digital hygiene and spreading only accurate pro tips about technology. Besides that, he is a frequent contributor on many renowned publications, such as Forbes, ComputerWeekly, PC Mag, TechRadar, and ZDNet.