Chromecast is one of the most popular digital media devices for streaming video and other media from a wide range of online channels to your TV. Unfortunately, many of those channels are geo-locked, meaning you can only access them from a specific country. Some live streams may also be subject to blackout restrictions that block users from watching sports and other events if they live within a certain region.
A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, can bypass many of these geographic restrictions and allow you to watch your favorite streaming channels from anywhere in the world. A VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a remote location of your choosing, thereby disguising your real location from the streaming service.
When it comes to Chromecast, however, there are a couple limitations to be aware of. First and foremost: Chromecast devices don’t support VPNs. Even if you managed to root the device, setting this up would be difficult. Smart DNS proxies, which often substitute for VPNs, aren’t supported, either. For this reason, we recommend setting up your VPN on a wifi router, then connecting your Chromecast to that router. This will route all of the internet traffic from the Chromecast through the VPN server, allowing you to unblock geo-locked streams. Later in this article, we’ll show you a couple options for setting this up.
Furthermore, not all VPNs are good at unblocking streaming sites, which brings us to the next limitation. Many streaming services block connections from known VPN servers, so you need a VPN that can outsmart those firewalls.
With all that in mind, we’ve curated our list of the best VPNs for Chromecast based on the following criteria:
- Can be configured on a router
- Unblocks streaming channels like Netflix
- Fast, reliable connections for high quality, uninterrupted streaming
- Quick and competent customer support
ExpressVPN unblocks Netflix US, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, SlingTV, and BBC iPlayer, among others. The website has tutorials specifically for setting up a VPN with Chromecast, and 24/7 live chat support is at your disposal. Shoot a quick message to the support team to ask which servers to use for a particular streaming service, as not all of them will work.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of configuring a router, ExpressVPN has you covered: the company makes the hands-down best pre-configured, VPN-enabled routers in the game. It makes its own router firmware which you can either download and install on your own router (if compatible) for free, or you can purchase a pre-configured router that’s already set up for you.
The router firmware allows you to select which devices connected to get tunneled through the VPN and which ones use a normal internet connection. Managing devices and tweaking settings is intuitive and easy thanks to a well-designed dashboard.
ExpressVPN operates over 1,500 servers in 94 countries. The company keeps no logs of your IP address or traffic contents, and all connections are protected with 256-bit encryption and perfect forward secrecy. You may connect up to three devices at a time, and a router only counts as one device. Apps are also available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Linux.
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Read our full ExpressVPN review.
NordVPN lists Netflix US, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and BBC iPlayer among the many channels it can unblock. NordVPN’s online knowledge base includes a huge selection of tutorials for setting up your VPN on almost every type of compatible router. You can also purchase pre-flashed routers that are already configured with NordVPN’s servers through FlashRouters, a NordVPN affiliate. Those typically use either Tomato or DD-WRT firmware, which is fine but isn’t quite as quick and easy as ExpressVPN’s custom firmware.
NordVPN allows an industry-best six simultaneous connections. Combined with a low price, that makes it one of the best deals available especially if you share your account with family or flatmates. All your data is protected with military-grade encryption, and NordVPN keeps no logs whatsoever on its users. Some servers are specialized for additional security, stability, and fast downloads. With some 3,500 servers in over 60 countries, finding a speedy connection should be no problem. The app will even tell you how far away a server is and each server’s current capacity.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
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Read our full NordVPN review.
CyberGhost unblocks Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and BBC iPlayer among many other streaming channels. Setup tutorials are available on the website for DD-WRT and Tomato wifi routers. Pre-configured DD-WRT routers are available through FlashRouters.
Customers can connect up to five devices at a time on a standard plan. 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy keep your data inside the VPN tunnel. The Romania-based company keeps no logs of users’ activity or IP address. CyberGhost operates nearly 1,300 servers in 60 countries as of time of writing.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
PrivateVPN is a relative newcomer and thus has a smaller network of servers than others on this list, but it keeps pace with the big players when it comes to speed, privacy, and unblocking capabilities. You’ll get access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and more—the service has unblocked everything we’ve thrown at it thus far. No pre-configured routers are available, but PrivateVPN has several tutorials for setting up OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec connections for the most popular router firmware.
If you’re struggling to set it up, PrivateVPN offers remote help via TeamViewer, in which a support representative can remotely control your computer. You may connect up to six devices at one time. Encryption standards are strong and the company adheres to a strict no-logs policy.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
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Read our full PrivateVPN review.
VyprVPN unblocks Netflix US but may struggle with other streaming channels that block VPN connections. The company makes its own router app, but it only works if your router already has Tomato MIPS/ARM firmware. The router includes obfuscation (Chameleon), private DNS (VyprDNS), and allows you to set VPN preferences for each connected device, including your Chromecast. It’s much easier to set up and use than standard Tomato or DD-WRT firmware. If you don’t have a Tomato router, you can buy your own or purchase a pre-configured VyprVPN router from FlashRouters.
A basic subscription allows three simultaneous connections, and the premium tier nets you five. VyprVPN uses best-in-class encryption and keeps no logs of user activity, but it does log your real IP address for 30 days. The company owns and operates its own network of servers, which count over 700 in some 60 countries.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and certain Tomato routers.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
Can I use a free VPN with Chromecast?
Using a free VPN with your Chromecast is generally a bad idea. Free VPNs often use shifty tactics to make money, such as harvesting your traffic data for personal details, injecting tracking cookies into web browsers, and inserting ads onto web pages. If you install a free VPN on your router to use with Chromecast, it could put all the devices connected to that router at risk.
In any case, most free VPNs require you use their apps and not configure connections manually, so in most cases, router setup is not even an option. There won’t be any support to help you get set up. Free VPNs also implement data caps and bandwidth restrictions that can interrupt whatever you’re doing online.
It’s worth it to pay a few dollars a month to get the performance and support you need to use VPN with Chromecast.
How to set up a Chromecast VPN on a router
Once signed up for a VPN, you have a couple options to connect your Chromecast to it: a virtual router or a physical router.
How to connect Chromecast to a VPN-enabled virtual router
This first option is easier and more accessible to most people: a virtual router. This will create a wifi hotspot that broadcasts from a laptop. Any device you connect to the wifi hotspot will have its internet traffic routed through the VPN server.
The main downside to this method is that you have to keep a laptop nearby and running whenever you want to use your Chromecast with the VPN. On the plus side, it’s free and fairly easy to set up. All you need is a laptop with the ability to create a hotspot, or virtual router, which most laptop models do have these days.
If you’re a PC user, check out our tutorial on how to set up a VPN-enabled virtual router on Windows. And if you have a Mac, see our guide on how to set up a VPN-enabled wifi hotspot on macOS.
Once you’ve configured the virtual router, go into your Chromecast wifi settings to connect to the new network.
How to set up a Chromecast VPN on a wifi router
The second option requires a bit more tech savvy and a compatible router, but doesn’t require you to keep a spare laptop around. By configuring a VPN connection on your home wifi router, any devices that connect to it can be tunneled through the VPN, including your Chromecast.
To do this, you’ll need a router with firmware that supports VPN connections. Cheap routers probably won’t cut it—even if they have VPN support, the resources necessary to encrypt and decrypt all of the traffic can seriously impact performance.
If your router firmware doesn’t support VPNs but you think it’s powerful enough to handle the job, run a search for the make and model to see if it’s compatible with a free and open-source firmware, like DD-WRT or Tomato. You can replace your router’s stock firmware with one of these, but bear in mind that the process of doing so, called “flashing”, can permanently damage your router if not done properly.
If that sounds too intimidating, consider purchasing a pre-flashed router that comes already configured with all of your VPN provider’s servers. This is a more expensive route, but it will save you a lot of time and hassle. ExpressVPN is known for making the best VPN-focused router firmware in the business. The company’s pre-flashed routers cost a pretty penny but are easy to use and work great. You can even get the firmware for free to use on your existing router if it’s compatible, but you’ll need an ExpressVPN subscription.
FlashRouters is a third-party affiliate to many of the VPNs we recommended above. They sell DD-WRT and Tomato routers pre-configured for the VPN provider of your choice. These aren’t as nice as ExpressVPN’s firmware, but they certainly get the job done.
Once you have a VPN subscription and compatible router in hand, check your VPN provider’s website for instructions on how to get set up. Because router firmware varies so much, there’s no one broad set of instructions for all of them, but your VPN provider should be able to help in the way of a knowledge base or customer support.
Now that you’ve configured the router, go into your Chromecast wifi settings to connect to the new network.