Since the increasing risk of security breaches, most of you have heard about a Virtual Private Network(VPN). AVPN is an effective way of protecting your online data and traffic. However, most VPN users install an app or set up a profile on their smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Although this secures your online traffic, it doesn’t cover other devices such as game consoles, printers, smart TV, or home security cameras. This is why installing a VPN on your router is convenient.
Having a VPN on your routers ensures any device connected to the home network has direct access to the VPN server. You will need a VPN-compatible router and a premium VPN service to install a VPN on your router. If your router doesn’t support VPN software, you must flash it and install firmware with VPN support.
Our article will help you understand how set up a VPN on your home router, it’s benefits and some of our favorite recommendations for VPNs and VPN routers.
Can I install a VPN on any router?
Not all routers can operate VPN software. Your router must have firmware compatible with a VPN. These routers can run VPN client software; therefore, all devices on your home network, such as your Smart TV, game consoles and streaming devices can simultaneously connect to your VPN servers.
For those that don’t support VPN, you must flash them with aftermarket firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato to operate any VPN software.
What is a VPN router?
A VPN router is a regular router that comes pre-installed with a VPN service. It has a firmware that can operate VPN connections, act as a VPN client, and routes all the network’s traffic through this connection.
A VPN router encrypts all internet traffic passing through your Wi-Fi network, thus protecting all your devices at one. It therefore saves you the task of setting up a VPN on all devices using the home wireless router.
VPN routers come in three main types:
- Pre-flashed: These routers come VPN pre-installed and ready to use.
- VPN-enabled: These routers support VPN firmware such as the OpenVPN protocol. You can install any compatible VPN provider.
- Unflashed router: These routers are the most complicated as they require manual flashing of new firmware that supports VPNs such as Tomato or DD-WRT. Configuring your router will also void your warranty.
Flashing means installing new firmware or the router’s operating system, which determines its capabilities and limitations.
Before setting up the VPN on your router, it’s important to confirm that your router is compatible with a VPN service. Your router’s user manual is the easiest way to check for compatibility. If you can’t find the manual, find the information online.
Then, go to your browser and enter the name of your router and “VPN compatibility.” If you have an ISP router or modem, it’s worth noting they do not support VPN connection. But you can connect an ISP modem to a VPN-supported router for the VPN to work.
If you’re buying a new router or the one you have is not VPN-compatible, then you can buy a new VPN router. In addition, some VPN companies (Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN) have co-branded routers that come pre-installed, reducing setup procedures.
If you’re interested in buying a router that supports VPN, here are our favorite recommendations for home and small businesses:
- Asus router AC2900: An excellent mid-range router that doesn’t drop your speed when on VPN. Check the price on Amazon.
- Linksys router WRT3200ACM MU-MIMO: User-friendly. Check the price on Amazon.
- Synology RT2600AC: Offers high speeds and can turn into a NAS by adding a hard drive. Check the price on Amazon.
- GLiNet GL-MT300N-V2 Mini Smart Router: Portable, wireless VPN router. Check the price on Amazon.
Pros and cons of installing a VPN on your router
Although most people know the benefits of a VPN in their streaming gadgets, a smartphone, tablet, or PC, they don’t know the pros and cons of installing it on the router. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of setting up a VPN on your router.
Pros of connecting a VPN to your router
If you are a VPN user, you understand the hassle of connecting to your VPN subscription whenever you want to use the internet. However, with a VPN router, you will always be connected to the VPN server when you connect your device to the router.
Therefore, you will never forget to turn it on and always have full-time privacy and security as long as your router is working. In addition, automatic updates on the connected devices also always are secure.
Protects devices that don’t support VPN
Many devices such as printers connect to Wi-Fi but don’t support VPN services on their own. These devices will benefit from a VPN router. For instance, a VPN on a TP-Link router is excellent for small offices and businesses.
Protects your entire network
Connecting all your devices to your VPN subscription can be time-consuming and inconvenient. However, a VPN router makes that easier as it will act as the VPN client.
In addition, it allows all your devices to have a VPN connection by simply connecting to the home network. Therefore, all devices connected to your network are secure without additional setup.
Works with every platform
VPNs are compatible with most platforms. However, when running on different operating systems, we can’t tell how reliable they are. This issue may limit the number of devices you can use when running the same VPN on different devices.
For instance, the same VPN may work differently on your Smart TV and on your smartphone. However, connecting a VPN to your router will ensure all devices on your network connect to the same VPN server. So you will not have to log in every time you use a different device.
Cons of connecting a VPN to your router
If your original router is not compatible with VPN software, you will have to incur more expenses to get a new VPN router. You can configure your old router to support VPN software, but you will need to hire a professional technician.
Managing your VPN settings is more difficult.
Since your router doesn’t have a user interface other than a few simple buttons, you’ll have to access its setting through another device to adjust them. Switching your VPN tunnel on and off or changing the country will be inconvenient. You can adjust the setting on your router, but it’s not as convenient.
Setting up a VPN on your router varies depending on the router. This makes it a relatively complicated process that will require some technical skills. However, most VPN and VPN router companies provide instruction guides and have 24/7 live chat support to help with installation.
More devices connected lower the speed.
Although VPN routers support more devices, this could also mean lower connection speed. You will likely experience slower load time and buffering than if each device uses its VPN. This could be aggravating if you’re streaming movies or playing online games. You can avoid this by getting a VPN with high speeds.
What are the best VPNs to install on a router?
So although having a VPN-compatible router is important, the VPN you use will also determine the quality of security and protection you get. You should consider two factors when looking for a VPN provider for your router; speed and accessible online support.
This means you will have to invest in premium VPNs. Here are some of our recommendations.
ExpressVPN is our top recommendation as it has some of the best router compatibility of any VPN. It works on popular VPN routers such as the Cisco router. ExpressVPN has many manual setup guides for common router models such as Asus, Netgear, and Linksys. ExpressVPN also has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re dissatisfied with their services.
It supports a wide variety of routers, including Tomato and DD-WRT, and a variety of configuration options. This includes protocols such as PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN.
ExpressVPN also offers a unique DNS option called MediaStreamer, which can access geo-blocked streaming services without a VPN. The only drawback with EXpressVPN is that it’s high priced, but you get your money’s worth.
- Fast speed
- It’s compatible with most routers
- It has many protocol and setup options for routers
- Offers speed and reliable connections
- It’s pricey
NordVPN is among the leading VPNs in the market as it operates on most platforms, including routers. Although it doesn’t have a dedicated router VPN app, NordVPN has the easiest manual setup process. It also has extensive tutorials that explain how to set up DD-WRT firmware using OpenVPN. Although it doesn’t support many protocol options, it provides instruction for many routers.
NordVPN on a router offers a zero-logs policy, ensuring your full privacy. In addition, it offers easy-to-follow installation guides and a 24/7 support service. It has more than 5000 servers in the world and with the most reliable connection on our list.
- Fast network connection
- A large number of servers
- Easy to install on most routers, such as the Comcast router
- Unblocks all major streaming platforms
- 24.7 customer support
- No free trial
- No router app
- Limited protocol or setup options
You will benefit from Surfshark’s excellent list of tunneling protocols for an affordable price. NordVPN, Surfshark VPN has a collaboration with FlashRouters. FlashRouters have the best routers for VPNs. They are powerful and come with VPN-optimised firmware.
Therefore, you can use the FlashRouter app to adjust your router VPN settings easily. Surfshark also offers detailed tutorials on setting it up on your VPN-compatible router. One of the best things about Surfshark is it doesn’t limit the number of devices, unlike all the other VPNs on the list, giving you value for your money. In addition, it has a no-logs policy, uses AES256 encryption, and you can choose between OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols.
- Relatively cheap
- You can use the FlashRouter app to control settings
- WireGuard protocol is available for routers
- Unlimited number of devices
- Great streaming support
- No free version
- No dedicated Surfershark app
Proton VPN is our suggestion if your want a free VPN for your router. It is highly secure for a free VPN with unlimited data. Although you can’t access exclusive regional Netflix content on the free package, it supports Netflix originals and YouTube. Proton VPN supports many platforms, but there is no P2P or Secure Core protection at peak times.
- Excellent privacy for a free package
- Several server locations
- Unlimited data allowance
- Reduced bandwidth for free plan
- No Secure Core or P2P features
Do I really need a VPN on my home network?
Having a VPN on your home network is highly recommended. Although using public Wi-Fi is where the most risk is, threats are still everywhere. Below are the benefits you gain from installing a VPN on your home network.
- Advertisers, hackers, and governments are always trying to monitor your browsing history. Without a VPN, you could be risking the security of more sensitive and private content such as your bank details. In addition, the US Congress allowed Internet Service Providers to sell data and online activities about their users to anyone interested. Therefore, a premium VPN will efficiently protect all your online traffic and keep you anonymous when streaming.
- It will also make digital sharing more secure. For example, a premium VPN has a P2P file-sharing feature with powerful encryption protocols when sharing files with friends and families.
- A VPN will protect other home devices on the network, such as home security cameras, doorbells, baby monitors, and appliances. These devices are at risk of cybercrime, and expert hackers can access them remotely.
- VPNs are not only for personal protection. A VPN will encrypt your location and allow you to access geo-blocked content from streaming services like Netflix and sporting events, thus expanding your entertainment options.
- A VPN at home can also save you money in the long run. Some businesses, such as hotels and flight companies, track your data and cookies before charging you extra for their services. For instance, a flight company can increase its prices if they detect purchases from luxury retailers. A VPN will hide your information, and you get to enjoy lower prices.
- VPN is a necessity for avid online gamers. Unfortunately, your Internet Service Provider(ISP) can throttle your bandwidth, thus reducing internet speed. But a VPN will hide your activity from your ISP, allowing you to escape the data capping.
Setting up a VPN on your router and forgetting about it is very convenient for most people. You can achieve overall privacy and security on all your home devices. Also, the router you have determines the setup procedure.
However, the best choice for VPN experts and amateurs is to use a VPN-compatible router as they have more processing power to handle stronger encryption than flashed routers. Always consult your instruction manual for a specific guide on installing a VPN on your router.