Best VPN routers

In the era of smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT), we’re witnessing an unprecedented rise in the number of devices connected to the Internet. Everything from TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming devices to alarm systems and doorbells are transmitting vast amounts of data over the web. With such an enormous data exchange comes significant privacy and security concerns. In our judgment, this is where a VPN for routers proves to be a powerful shield, capable of protecting every device at home.

Although many view VPNs as software for desktop computers and mobile devices, numerous VPNs can be deftly configured to a home router, ensuring security for all devices in the household. A VPN connection encrypts all traffic to and from every internet-connected device, channeling it through an intermediary server located in a region of your choice. Besides, as we’ve discovered through our in-depth analysis, VPNs are also excellent for unblocking geo-restricted content, which can be a bonus if you wish to use it with your smart TV.

We delve into the intricacies of each VPN further in this guide, but if you’re short on time, here’s a sneak peek of the best VPNs for routers:

  1. ExpressVPN Our top choice VPN for routers. ExpressVPN provides one of the most straightforward VPN router setups on our list. With servers in 94+ countries, you can expect fast and reliable connection speeds that make activities like streaming a breeze. TIP In our testing we found that all ExpressVPN plans work perfectly for Routers.
  2. NordVPN: NordVPN provides an inexpensive solution to configure a VPN on a router with 24/7 customer support available every step of the way. It has over 5,000 servers across the globe, many of which are optimized for streaming.
  3. IPVanish: Fast and secure obfuscated servers are ideal for many online activities. Its remote control feature is also useful for easy navigation using a mouse and keyboard on router installs. 
  4. CyberGhost: Stream US Netflix from any device via your router and enjoy uninterrupted VPN protection with 8000 servers in over 90 countries. 
  5. PrivateVPN: Lightning-fast speeds are ideal for game consoles to share your VPN connection via a router. Works with a selection of apps such as Twitch, Discord, and Netflix with zero interruptions.
  6. Private Internet Access: PIA includes a SOCKS5 proxy and many helpful customization options for advanced users. WireGuard ensures a fast and reliable connection, ideal for streaming content using a router as a single connection point.

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The best VPNs for routers

In this post, we reveal the best VPNs for routers and explain more about why you’d want to use one and how to get started. For our list of the best VPNs for routers, we base our decision on the following criteria:

  • Offers relatively straightforward setup with home routers, including setup guides
  • Provides fast connections with minimum downtime
  • Uses strong encryption along with a range of security features
  • Operates a large network of servers with plenty of location options
  • Includes prompt and knowledgeable customer support

Here our list of the best VPNs for home routers:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Jul 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is hands-down the best VPN for routers. It has plenty of options to suit every level of tech-savvy. Pre-configured routers are available through FlashRouter, but ExpressVPN makes its own custom firmware that is simple and intuitive and can be installed on compatible routers. Already have a VPN-enabled router? Not a problem, as ExpressVPN is compatible with other firmwares, including Tomato, OpenWrt, and DD-WRT. If you have any trouble, 24/7 live chat customer support is on hand to help.

ExpressVPN is known for its unblocking capabilities and can get you access to a range of popular streaming services. It doesn’t log your information and uses “military-grade” encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch to keep your traffic secure. Aside from working with routers, ExpressVPN has apps for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV.

Pros:

  • Has lots of setup options for routers
  • Apps for plenty of other devices
  • Offers fast speeds and reliable connections
  • Provides server options in 94 countries
  • Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and others
  • Has 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • Costs slightly more than some rivals

Our score:

4 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR ROUTERS:ExpressVPN is an excellent all-rounder and makes router setup simple for every competency and budget. It’s fast, reliable, secure, and great for streaming.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN.

2. NordVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is another great choice for routers. It operates a massive network of more than 5,000 servers, with many optimized for various tasks, including streaming, double VPN, and anti-DDoS. Pre-configured routers are available or you can set up the VPN yourself using a guide from NordVPN’s extensive library. There’s even a tutorial for setup with the newer but increasingly popular OpenWrt firmware, a rarity among providers. A live chat support team is available around the clock.

If you’re looking to stream, NordVPN is a great choice and can help you securely access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more. Apps are available for all major operating systems, including Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV. Six devices can be connected simultaneously under one plan, with a router counting as just one. Security is top-notch with strong encryption, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and automatic wifi protection.

Pros:

  • Offers pre-configured routers and router setup guides
  • Provides a huge server selection
  • Works with  Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu
  • Allows you to connect six devices at a time
  • Has 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • Connection to servers can sometimes be slow

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

RELIABLE VPN:NordVPN is secure, fast, reliable, and easily unblocks popular streaming platforms. Some servers are even optimized specifically for streaming.

Check out our in-depth review of NordVPN.

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3. IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish is another one of FlashRouter’s featured VPN providers (along with ExpressVPN and NordVPN). Aside from pre-configured routers being available, the VPN can be configured manually with compatible routers. IPVanish recently introduced 24/7 live chat to its list of perks, so there’ll always be help at hand should you need it.

This provider is a popular option for users of Android devices that lack a keyboard and mouse as its interface is remote control-friendly. It has apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV. Connect unlimited devices at a time under one plan. IPVanish will never log any personally identifiable information and keeps internet traffic secure with military-grade encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch.

Pros:

  • Has the option of a pre-configured router
  • Advanced security features
  • Provides 24/7 live chat support
  • Allows 10 simultaneous connections

Cons:

  • Lacks some advanced features available elsewhere (multi-hop, Tor over VPN)
  • Doesn’t offer browser extensions or a Linux app

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

REMOTE-CONTROL FRIENDLY:IPVanish is ideal for use with devices that lack a keyboard and mouse, and offers a fast, secure connection.

Delve into our in-depth review of IPVanish.

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4. CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is becoming a popular option for routers due to its impressive speed, strong security measures, and ability to access blocked content. Additionally, CyberGhost offers pre-configured routers and supports setup with various firmware, such as Tomato and DD-WRT. And, if necessary, live chat support is available to assist you at any time.

CyberGhost provides top-notch security features, including 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, and automatic wifi protection for known networks. Their apps are easily accessible for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, and manual configuration is also available for Linux. Our team favors its ability to connect up to seven devices simultaneously, covering up to six devices in addition to the router.

Pros:

  • Easy to configure with routers
  • Provides a fast, reliable connection
  • Comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Allows up to seven concurrent connections

Cons:

  • Has trouble unblocking some streaming services

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

FAST SPEEDS:CyberGhost’s fast speeds make it a great choice for browsing, streaming, torrenting, and pretty much anything else you want to do online.

Read our full review of CyberGhost.

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5. PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is a small provider in terms of server network size, but it still has plenty to offer. Pre-configured routers are available, but there are lots of setup guides should you wish to configure your router manually. There’s no live chat available but email queries are responded to promptly. This service is great for streaming, with blazing fast speeds and the ability to securely access a ton of services, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

Private VPN apps are available for MacOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV, with six connections allowed at a time. This provider keeps your information secure and private with a no-logs policy and a suite of security features.

Pros:

  • Keeps your information secure and private
  • Has very fast speeds
  • Works with Netflix, Hulu, and more

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer 24/7 live chat
  • Has a small choice of servers

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GREAT FOR STREAMING:PrivateVPN works with a range of streaming sites and has excellent speeds.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

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6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access provides lots of support to help you get up and running with its VPN on a router. Once it’s configured, users can take advantage of the FlashRouter Privacy app on a smartphone to control your privacy and enjoy online freedom.

Apart from the simplicity of its VPN router setup, PIA has a lot going for it. Split tunneling lets you control which activities are sent via a secure VPN tunnel while the rest of your traffic is sent normally. PIA’s use of the WireGuard protocol combined with over 5,000 servers in 80+ countries provides a smooth and reliable experience while watching content on streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu.

While PIA doesn’t work on as many platforms as some of the other VPNs on our list, it has proven consistent in accessing Netflix in six different regions, including the US.

Private Internet Access includes a 30-day money-back guarantee which is great for those who want to try it before buying. If you don’t like the features or change your mind, you can get a full refund in the first month.

Pros:

  • Budget provider that can unblock a good range of streaming content
  • Operates over 3,200 servers
  • Strong encryption for secure and private connections

Cons:

  • Unable to unblock some popular streaming sites
  • Doesn’t work reliably in China

Our score:

4 out of 5

ROBUST PRIVACY: for advanced users, and router options are easily configurable using the FlashRouter Privacy app. 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, and DNS leak protection is included. PIA includes a 30-day money-back guarantee with all plans.

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

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Benefits of using a VPN router

Setting up a VPN router doesn’t have to be a difficult process and it can offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Protecting devices that there are no native VPN apps for: While most providers offer apps that cover computers, smartphones, and tablets, this still leaves other internet-connected devices unprotected. Using a VPN router, every IoT device in your home is protected, including your smart TV, streaming device, game console, alarm system, and anything else you may have hooked up to the internet.
  • Protecting multiple devices at once: When you sign up for a VPN package, you usually have a limited number of simultaneous connections allowed under one plan. Protecting your home router only counts as one connection, so you still have the others to spare to cover the devices you and your family take out of your home, such as laptops and smartphones.
  • Doubling up on protection: If you want to be extra cautious and use two VPNs at the same time, you can configure one at the device level and another at the router level. If one fails, you have a backup.
  • Accessing geo-restricted content: Aside from securing all the traffic flowing to and from each device, a VPN enables you to spoof your location. This means you can unblock streaming services, gaming sites, gambling services, sports networks, and other content that may be restricted based on geolocation.

Getting started with a VPN router

We’ve compiled an extensive guide to VPN routers, but here we’ll run through your basic setup options:

1. Purchase a pre-configured router

FlashRouter offers lots of routers pre-configured to your chosen VPN provider’s servers. This is the simplest option, but it’s the most expensive and will mean purchasing a new router even if you have one already.

2. Use a VPN-enabled router

If your router is already flashed with appropriate firmware (that supports OpenVPN), you can follow your chosen VPN provider’s guide to configuring the VPN to the router. This should be fairly straightforward and can still be an option for the non-tech-savvy.

3. Flash a router with new firmware

If your router doesn’t already have firmware that supports OpenVPN, you can choose to flash it yourself with new firmware, such as DD-WRT, Tomato, or OpenWrt, all of which are free and open source. Remember that flashing a router is not the simplest of tasks, and if carried out incorrectly, it could render your router useless.

When deciding which route to go, some things to consider are complexity, cost, flexibility, and features.

Can I use a free VPN with my home router?

While many seemingly attractive options for free VPNs are available, they’re a poor choice for almost every use case. For routers in particular, you’d be hard pushed to find one that is configurable with a router and has the required level of support to back you up. Even if it’s doable, you may go to all that trouble only to find you have a slow, intermittent connection that isn’t good for much at all.

Free VPN services have a large number of users and few servers, resulting in poor connections and even queues to connect to a server. What’s more, while you’re connected, many free VPN providers will serve up annoying ads or insert tracking cookies to collect your data for sale to third parties.

Aside from offering a poor user experience and lack of privacy, free VPNs often lack on the security front. In a study of VPN apps, many were found to carry malware, most leaked information, and some didn’t encrypt internet traffic. Going with a paid provider is simpler, offers a lot more security, and only costs a few dollars per month.

Image credit: Pete Linforth licensed under CC0

Router VPN FAQs

What can I do if my VPN doesn't support routers?

If your VPN doesn’t offer router support, the alternative is to turn your PC or laptop into a wifi hotspot. In doing so, any device that connects to the internet through your computer will benefit from the protection of a VPN.

Will I get into trouble by my ISP for installing a router VPN?

Most ISPs won’t care if you install a VPN on your router, but there may be a clause in their terms and conditions with an exception. Many ISPs technically lease their network equipment to customers, so you never actually own the hardware. This could also contribute to how an ISP may handle VPNs installed on routers.

What is a VPN router?

A VPN router is a type of router that comes with a VPN client already installed on it. Essentially, this means that any device that connects to this router will have its internet traffic encrypted and routed through a VPN server, which offers additional security and privacy measures.

What are the limitations of VPN routers?

Although VPN routers offer a layer of protection for all your devices, they have a few drawbacks. One issue is that configuring them can be more challenging than installing VPNs on individual devices. Moreover, certain routers may not be compatible with VPN installations, and others could potentially reduce your internet speed due to the encryption involved.

Is VPN on the router faster?

Using VPNs on routers may not always result in faster internet speeds. VPNs tend to slow down internet speeds due to the encryption process and the need for data to take an additional route via a VPN server. Nevertheless, a good quality VPN can help to minimize this effect.

How do I know if a router has VPN?

To verify whether your router has a VPN, access its settings through a web interface or app. Look for a VPN section within the settings. If your router doesn’t have native VPN support, you can potentially install new firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato to enable this feature.