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How to install a VPN on your Router: The Complete Guide

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How to install a VPN on your router

How to install a VPN on your Router Enhancing your security and privacy can be achieved by installing a VPN app on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Nevertheless, if you desire to safeguard your entire network, including devices that lack VPN functionality, the installation of a VPN on your router is recommended. This article will delve into the advantages and disadvantages of using a VPN router and provide a step-by-step guide on how to set it up in your home.

How to install a VPN on your Router

Installing a VPN on your router is a great way to protect all of the devices in your home or office. By setting up a VPN connection at the router level, you can ensure that all internet traffic is encrypted and secure. To install a VPN on your router, you will first need to choose a compatible VPN provider and purchase a subscription. Once you have your VPN credentials, you can log into your router’s administration panel and navigate to the VPN settings.

From there, you can enter your VPN provider’s server address, username, and password. After saving the settings, your router will establish a secure connection with the VPN server, and all of your devices connected to the router will be protected by the VPN. It’s important to note that not all routers support VPN connections, so be sure to check if your router is compatible before attempting to install a VPN. If your router is not compatible, you may need to consider purchasing a new one or using alternative methods to protect your devices with a VPN.

What is a VPN router?

A VPN router functions in the same way as a regular VPN. It routes your internet traffic through the servers of a VPN, ensuring uninterrupted online browsing. This ensures that all your activities remain hidden from potential eavesdroppers, be it small-time thieves or data-hungry corporations.

The purpose of having a VPN on your router is to provide comprehensive online security for your entire network. By setting up a VPN on your router, all devices connected to it will benefit from VPN protection. This includes devices that may not have the capability to use VPN software effectively, such as various smart home devices. To understand the workings of a router VPN in detail, you can watch this informative video.

How does a VPN router work?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) establishes a secure connection between a device and the internet, shielding your online activities from unauthorized access. By setting up a VPN on your router, you can ensure home network security. Once the router VPN is configured, all devices connected to your router will have their data routed through the encrypted tunnel. This includes your PC, laptop, home entertainment system, and even smart IoT toaster.

VPN on your router: pros and cons

Pros Cons
Protecting your whole network Managing your VPN settings is harder
Securing devices that don’t support VPN Encryption and available protocols depend on your router
Connecting multiple devices Traffic between a device and router is not encrypted

Pros

Always-on security and privacy

By using a router VPN, you will maintain a constant connection to the VPN server. There is no chance of overlooking your security because as long as your router is functioning properly, you will be safeguarded by the VPN. Even when you are asleep, any automatic connections made by your devices, such as updates for a personal finance app, will still be protected.

Comprehensive home security

The VPN server connection is continuously active and will be applicable to all devices that are connected to your home router’s VPN. This means that any new devices you acquire will automatically be covered without the need for additional configuration. Furthermore, even when guests visit and request your Wi-Fi password, they too will be protected by the VPN connection.

Covers devices that don’t support VPNs

Many Wi-Fi-connected devices lack built-in VPN coverage but would greatly benefit from it. It is crucial to prioritize security regardless of the device you are using.

Connect more devices

NordVPN offers the convenience of connecting up to 6 devices, which is ample for the majority of users. However, it’s worth noting that your NordVPN-enabled router only counts as a single device. This means that if you connect your laptop, smartphone, and desktop PC through your VPN-enabled router, it will still be considered as just one device connected. While it’s not advisable to misuse this feature as it may negatively impact your connection speed and stability, it does provide a simple means to extend the coverage of your NordVPN subscription to more devices.

Cons

Managing your VPN settings is harder

Due to the absence of a user interface on your router, apart from a few basic buttons, you will need to use another device to access and modify your VPN settings. To conveniently enable or disable your VPN tunnel or switch to a different country, it is recommended to utilize NordVPN’s application. Although still feasible on your router, it may not be as convenient.

Configuration and encryption power depends on your router

Many routers do not have sufficient power to handle anything beyond the simplest encryption or tunneling protocols. It might be worth considering upgrading to a VPN router that can support more secure protocols, or alternatively, you could conduct research on the capabilities and limitations of your selected VPN protocol in terms of protection.

Blocks some incoming connections

A VPN is specifically designed to prevent unauthorized incoming connections. To bypass this restriction, you can easily establish connections using devices like laptops, computers, or smartphones due to their user interfaces. However, devices that are less accessible, such as routers, will likely not be reachable from outside since they cannot initiate connections. It’s important to note that automated processes on user devices, such as receiving emails and notifications, are not affected by this limitation.

Traffic between devices and the router is not secured

Since encryption takes place on the router, the traffic exchanged between the device and the router will not be encrypted at this stage. However, if you have a securely configured home WiFi network and your mobile devices are not set to automatically connect to other networks, this should not pose a major problem. The security concern arises only if unknown individuals are able to connect to your network.

Different types of VPN routers

  • Routers that support a VPN client.
  • Routers that need upgrading their firmware in order to install a VPN client.
  • Routers that already come with a certain VPN service pre-installed.
  • VPN router boxes designed to connect to your router.

In this illustration, it is evident that there is a variety of VPN routers available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The simplest way to protect your network is by using a VPN service that comes pre-installed, eliminating the need for any additional configuration. However, if you wish to utilize a VPN and your router requires a firmware upgrade, this process will take longer and necessitate some technical expertise. On the other hand, if your router has VPN client support, setting up a VPN can be accomplished in just a few minutes.

How do I know if my router is VPN compatible?

Before proceeding, it is crucial to ensure that you have a router that is supported and compatible with a VPN. It should be noted that not all routers meet these requirements. To determine the compatibility of your router, refer to the manual that was possibly included with your purchase. In the event that you did not receive a manual or misplaced it, you can easily find the necessary information online. Simply search for the name of your router along with “VPN compatibility”.

It is important to mention that the majority of ISP routers and modems do not have the capability to support a VPN connection. Nevertheless, you can use an ISP modem in conjunction with a router that does support VPN to enable a VPN connection. If you are in need of a router that supports VPN, here are some recommendations that will be advantageous for both home users and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):

  • Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
  • Asus RT-AC86U
  • Teltonika RUTX11
  • Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200

How to set up a VPN on your router

To begin, you must choose a VPN that is compatible with router connections. If you are looking for the Best VPN available, NordVPN is a reliable option. Afterwards, you will need to determine if your router has VPN functionality. To check if your router can support NordVPN, refer to our tutorial page and locate the brand and model of your router.

Additionally, some routers listed on the page may also include instructions for setting up NordVPN on a router. With enough effort, it is possible to find a pre-configured VPN router. The specific installation process for NordVPN on a router may differ depending on the brand and model. However, the general steps will remain as follows:

VPNs we recommend for routers

When it comes to using a VPN on your router, it’s not just about randomly choosing one. While the features of the application may not be the most important factor in this case, certain VPNs will simplify your setup process. Many top-tier VPNs offer comprehensive tutorials on this topic. And if you encounter any issues, customer support agents are ready to assist you. Below are a few of the top VPN options for home routers.

Best VPNs to Install on Your Router in 2023

NordVPN

Based in: Panama
Simultaneous connections: 6
Servers/countries: 5,900 servers in 60 countries
Unblocks Netflix: Yes

NordVPN is the top-ranked provider of VPN services. It is compatible with a wide range of platforms, including routers. You have the option to manually install NordVPN on your router. If you own an Asus, Synology, or QNAP model, you are unlikely to encounter any difficulties as comprehensive tutorials are available for setting them up.

Even if you have a different model, there are step-by-step instructions on how to update its firmware. This will enable you to add VPN configurations even if they are not supported by default. Undoubtedly, NordVPN is one of the finest choices for VPNs on routers. To discover additional features provided by NordVPN, please refer to our comprehensive NordVPN review.

Surfshark

Based in: The Netherlands
Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
Servers/countries: 3,200 servers in 100 countries
Unblocks Netflix: Yes

Surfshark is a VPN service provider that offers excellent value for money and delivers high-performance results. Its impressive speed makes it an ideal choice for those looking to set up a VPN on their home router. If you own an Asus, DD-WRT, or Tomato router, Surfshark provides easy-to-follow instructions for installation. By using Surfshark on your home network, you can ensure the protection of all connected devices. Additionally, it enables you to bypass geo-restrictions on device types that were previously unable to do so. Overall, Surfshark is the perfect VPN solution for your home router. To obtain further details, please refer to our review of Surfshark VPN.

ExpressVPN

Based in: British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections: 8
Servers/countries: 3,000 servers in 105 countries
Unblocks Netflix: Yes

ExpressVPN is currently one of the top router VPN options available in the market. It stands out for its proprietary router app, which sets it apart from other services that rely on third-party router firmware. Installing this app provides a user experience that closely resembles their desktop apps rather than requiring manual router configuration. With ExpressVPN’s router app, users have the ability to customize protocol settings and switch locations. Additionally, all other standard router functionalities are available, allowing users to adjust their router and connection settings as desired. For additional information, make sure to refer to our comprehensive guide on the top VPNs for routers.

How does a VPN work on your router?

Today, all home wireless routers on the market incorporate a number of features that were previously available as individual products.

  • A wireless access point, or AP, creates a Wi-Fi network from an Ethernet network.
  • The router forwards Internet Protocol (IP) packets to the correct destinations.
  • Firewall software prevents unauthorized incoming connections from reaching internal devices.
  • Router/modem combos from Internet service providers include a cable modem as well, which communicates over TV cables using a protocol called DOCSIS.
  • The configuration interface or control panel, usually web-based, lets you change settings for all the other components.

How to check if your VPN is working on your router

To ensure that your traffic is indeed being routed through your VPN and not directly to the internet, you can perform any of the following tests:

  • Search Google for “what’s my IP” and verify that the output shown is not your home IP address.
  • Change your VPN location and check to see that region-blocked streaming content is now available.
  • Run the traceroute command You can view the “hops” your connections make before reaching their destination by using your computer. This will help you identify the intermediaries that exist between you and your destination, including your VPN.

Best VPN routers for homes

Instead of buying routers with built-in VPN functionality, it might be more advantageous to opt for ones that have excellent support for third-party firmware. Although setting up this firmware may require some technical knowledge, it allows you to have full control over the functionality of your router. By using a third-party firmware option, you can enjoy numerous benefits.

  • Your router will get a huge set of features that the manufacturer wouldn’t normally include.
  • You can install additional functionality through packages.
  • You’ll be able to update your router, fixing security issues, long after the manufacturer stops supporting it.
  • If you’re unwilling to do the flashing process yourself, there is even a cottage industry around providing pre-flashed routers.

Serious Wireless Power: Linksys WRT3200ACM

This high-speed router comes with assured compatibility for OpenWrt and DD-WRT. It offers excellent wireless performance and functionality that will last for a long time. Nevertheless, the cost might be a bit too expensive for some households to afford.

Maximum Ease of Setup: FlashRouters Netgear R6700

This model, unlike its predecessor available on Amazon, is sourced from FlashRouters, a company that specializes in purchasing existing routers and performing the potentially complicated and time-consuming flashing process on your behalf. As a result, you can enjoy a router with all the desired features without having to invest any of your time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I install a VPN on my router?

Installing a VPN on your router has its pros and cons. On one hand, it enhances your privacy by directing all of your network’s traffic through the VPN, making it impossible for your ISP to monitor your activities. On the other hand, this approach may make it more challenging to make minor adjustments.

Are there routers with built-in VPNs?

Indeed, in the past few years, router manufacturers have begun incorporating additional advanced features for power users, such as pre-installed VPN clients. However, it is important to exercise caution when selecting a router as some may provide VPN server capabilities but lack the ability to function as clients.

Do all routers support VPNs?

No, there are routers that come with built-in support for VPNs, and there are also routers that can work with third-party firmwares to use VPNs. However, it’s important to note that not all routers have the capability to use VPNs. To find out if your router supports VPNs, you can visit the manufacturer’s website or do a quick search on Google for “vpn”.

Is it easy to set up a VPN on your router?

The ease of using a VPN on your router depends on the type of router you have. If your router is equipped with built-in VPN client support, configuring it will be as simple as adjusting any other setting. However, if your router does not have this feature, you may need to install third-party firmware to enable it. The installation process can be more complicated depending on the specific model of your router.

How can I check if my VPN is working on my router?

There are 3 ways you can check whether your VPN is working on your router:

  • Launch your VPN and connect to a server in a different country than the one you’re in. Go to Google.com and type in the search bar, “what is my IP”. If the IP address is different from your actual IP address, your VPN is working on the router
  • Try to access a geoblocked streaming service and see if you can bypass it, if not, your VPN might not be working.
  • Use the traceroute command in the command prompt to check the number of hops. This allows you to see the number of intermediaries in the way, including your VPN.

Bottom line

If you are already utilizing a VPN, then you are aware of its usefulness. It serves the purpose of protecting your privacy, bypassing ISP restrictions, and allowing access to region-blocked content. While it is advantageous to use a VPN on your computer or phone, you can extend these benefits to other devices by configuring it on your router instead. This way, your entire network will enjoy the advantages. Certain routers come with built-in support for VPN networking, although most routers require special firmware to be installed. It may be more beneficial for you to invest in a dedicated router that is specifically designed for this firmware.

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