If you are using Kodi you should be using a VPN.
However not all VPNs are suitable.
A VPN will keep the sites you visit and the content you stream private from your ISP and from others third parties. A VPN will also allow you to view content that is usually restricted by your location.
We take a look at the best VPNs for Kodi in 2020 that will protect your privacy and security without slowing down speeds and spoiling your streaming experience. This is based on real world testing of dozens of different VPN providers.
We’ll run through which VPNs have apps for which devices so you can be sure to find a good fit for your preferred device. For example not all VPNs have a Firestick app.
The VPNs on this list should help you enjoy Kodi safe in the knowledge your ISP or hackers are not spying on your activity. Importantly, we have excluded VPNs which keep logs of user activity or don’t offer suitable privacy and security protection to stop your real IP address from leaking.
We go into more details on the VPNs that have made this list below, but if you want to skip ahead to the best VPNs for Kodi, here’s a summary of our top picks.
These are the 6 best VPNs for Kodi:
- IPVanish Our top choice VPN for Kodi. Perfect for Kodi users who need a fast and lightweight, remote-control friendly solution. Easiest Kodi set up on this list. Strong security. 7-day money-back guarantee.
- ExpressVPN Fastest VPN for Kodi. Unmatched for unblocking most popular streaming content. Great privacy and security. Extensive support to get Kodi working on all platforms.
- NordVPN Best budget VPN for Kodi. Great value for fast streaming. Private and secure with Kodi.
- Surfshark A security-first VPN that nevertheless unblocks a huge range of geo-restricted content.
- CyberGhost Another good Budget choice for Kodi. Unblocks most popular streaming content. May need manual configuration for some users.
- PrivateVPN Fast, private and secure. A budding provider with a growing list of servers.
- Private Internet Access Solid security and privacy. Android and Linux friendly.
Many VPNs are available, but we’ve narrowed down a list of six we believe to be the best VPNs for Kodi users. We’ll make a note as to what types of devices each VPN is compatible with, including Android and OpenELEC. If you’re not sure which to choose, check out our guide on how to set up a Kodi VPN.
How we select VPNs
There are lots of VPNs available however, there are some which are much more suitable for use with Kodi. We chose the best VPNs for Kodi based on the following criteria:
- Compatibility with a range of Kodi devices
- Speed and reliability
- Security and logging policy
- Ease of setup and use
Best VPNs for Kodi
IPVanish is our top recommendation for Android-based Kodi devices, including the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. For users without access to Google Play, IPVanish allows you to simply download the APK file from its website and install it directly onto your device without the need to go through an app store. IPVanish now lists its app on the Fire TV app store via Amazon and at the time of writing it’s the only one on this list to do so. Linux users, however, will have to manually configure the VPN.
The Fire TV version is optimized to be used with the Fire Stick remote, making it easy to get set up and connected to your server of choice. Over 1,000 servers are available to choose from, with fast and reliable service to the vast majority of locations around the world. You’ll also get solid security thanks to 256-bit encryption and a no-logs policy.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Fire TV.
- Best performer for Android-based Kodi devices in our testing
- Provides APK file for direct installation those without access to Google Play
- Custom Fire TV version app
- 1200+ servers can unblock most popular streaming content
- Speeds are great fro HD streaming on most servers
- Top-notch security and privacy considerations
- Doesn’t offer a cryptocurrency payment method
Best VPN for Kodi XBMC:IPVanish is our #1 choice. Unrivaled for Kodi users including those that use Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Fast, reliable and offers strong privacy and security. Huge range of IPs and servers plus additional protection against DNS leaks. 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full IPVanish review.
ExpressVPN is a great all-around choice for Kodi users, promising fast speeds and reliable service. A Linux version of the app with a command-line interface is available, although we haven’t yet tested this with OpenELEC. A Fire TV-optimized version is available on Amazon’s app store. One downside for users with Android-based Kodi devices is they can’t easily download the APK from the website without first authorizing their account. That means devices that lack Google Play and a traditional web browser will have to sideload the app from a second Android device. ExpressVPN also has a tutorial for getting set up with Nvidia Shield on its website.
ExpressVPN is a reliable unblocker of geo-locked services, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and HBO Go. It boasts best-in-class security standards, 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy among them.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux (command-line), and certain wifi routers. If your Kodi device doesn’t support VPNs at all, ExpressVPN’s pre-flashed wifi routers with the company’s bespoke firmware might be just what you’re looking for.
- A good all-rounder for Kodi users with dedicated apps
- Fantastic speeds for downloading and streaming
- Top-class security and privacy protection features
- Unblocks all major streaming services
- 24-hour live chat support, 7 days a week
- Slightly higher cost than others
FAST AND RELIABLE:ExpressVPN is fast, secure, and able to unblock a huge range of streaming services. Works well with Kodi. Privacy features are hard to beat. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN offers a network of more than 4,500 servers in over 60 countries. Many of those can unblock geo-locked streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Netflix. Android users without Google Play can get the APK file directly from the NordVPN website. NordVPN can be manually configured using a range of different protocols.
The company uses 256-bit encryption and adheres to a strict zero-logs policy. Speeds are decent and connections are reliable. The default map interface might not be suitable for users who operate Kodi with a remote control, but you can switch to view the available servers in list form as well.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Works well with Kodi and can unblock most popular streaming sites
- Great value with good streaming speeds
- Offers secure, encrypted connections at all times
- Strict no-logs policy ideal for privacy-conscious users
- The desktop app is a little cumbersome and takes some getting used to
- Can’t choose individual servers, can only choose their locations
BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN is a good budget all-rounder that works well with Kodi. Strong security features and accommodates up to 6 devices. The app doesn’t allow user choice of server. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark offers access to over 1,700 servers in 60+ countries and is fast enough for lag-free HD live streaming. This is ideal since it also unblocks some of the most stubborn streaming platforms abroad including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. Better still, while many other VPNs allow six connections at most, Surfshark has no problem with you connecting every single device you own simultaneously.
This service uses a list-based country selector, so remote control users shouldn’t have any issues getting connected. It protects your privacy using 256-bit encryption, protection against WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks, and a strict no-logs policy. Additionally, users can pay in Ripple, Ethereum, or Bitcoin for another layer of anonymity. This VPN offers 24/7 live chat just in case you need it.
Surfshark apps are available for MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and Windows. This service can even be manually installed on supported internet routers.
- Unblocks some of the most stubborn streaming platforms abroad
- Strong security and privacy credentials
- No connection limit
- Fairly small network
- Some servers are much slower than others
Read our full review of Surfshark here.
STREAM SAFELY ANYWHERE:Surfshark has above-average unblocking capabilities, as well as a strong security focus, and no connection limit. This lets you use Kodi safely, from anywhere, on any device. Still not enough? There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost categorizes its servers not just by location, but by which video streaming service the user wants to access. This is useful for users who use Kodi to stream from official sources like BBC iPlayer. Unfortunately, there’s no Linux app and the Android version is only available from Google Play. That means devices that run on OpenELEC or a version of Android that doesn’t have Google Play will have to manually configure CyberGhost servers.
On the plus side, CyberGhost has gotten pretty good at unblocking streaming channels as of late, and it’s added a whole slew of servers to its ever-expanding network. Speeds are solid and security is tight.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Works well with Kodi, can select servers based on site you want to unblock
- Great value low-cost provider
- Fast, reliable service
- No issues unblocking most popular streaming sites
- Needs manual configuration for Linux users
- Torrenting and P2P won’t work on all servers
LOW COST:CyberGhost is ideal for those new to VPNs. Comprehensive protection and one-click unblocking enabled by default. Good speeds for a low-cost option. Works well with Kodi but not the best performer with some popular streaming sites. Comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN is a small provider making a big splash thanks to its ability to unblock pretty much everything you can throw at it, including BBC iPlayer and Netflix. A relative newcomer, it doesn’t have a huge amount of servers, but those it does have are spread over a good range of countries and offer blazing fast speeds. Security and logging policies are what you would expect from a much larger provider, so you can rest easy knowing your ISP and hackers won’t be able to snoop on your activity.
Android users can get the APK file directly from PrivateVPN’s website. There’s no app for Linux yet, but manual configuration is an option.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- No issues getting it working with Kodi devices
- Strong security features and solid privacy protections
- Unblocks Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer
- Keeps no logs whatsoever
- Doesn’t have 24/7 live chat
- Fewer servers to choose from than other providers higher on this list
- Needs manual tweaking to work in China
Great Speeds:PrivateVPN is a good family choice. Works well with Kodi. Supports up to 6 devices on the same account. Achieves fast connections. Could do with a bigger choice of servers. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Private Internet Access is a solid option for both Android and Linux-based Kodi devices. The Linux version is tested and proven to work on OpenELEC, a popular Linux distro for low-power Kodi devices like Raspberry Pi. The apps are lightweight and the price is cheap, so this is a good overall choice for Kodi users on a budget. The APK file is available for direct download from the PIA website if your Android device doesn’t have Google Play.
Despite its small footprint, PIA doesn’t compromise on security or performance. Speeds are decent and you get a decent range of server locations. Encryption standards are adjustable with 256-bit and 128-bit encryption available; the latter might be preferable lower-end Kodi devices. PIA sticks to a strict no-logs policy.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- Favored by Kodi users with Linux for dedicated app and support
- A budget provider that can unblock a good range of streaming content
- Streaming speeds can be inconsistent
- Be prepared for troubleshooting in community forums
- Other providers in this list are more capable of unblocking more major streaming sites
LOW PRICE:Private Internet Access has top security and privacy. Generally works well with Kodi and is able to unblock a good range of streaming content. A large user community offers plenty of support. Streaming speeds can be inconsistent.
Read our full Private Internet Access review.
How to choose the best VPN for Kodi
Kodi users should consider a number of factors when choosing a VPN. They include:
- Device compatibility. Make sure the VPN you choose supports whatever device you have installed Kodi on. If your device is Android-based, such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick, for example, then you’ll have plenty of choices. OpenELEC, users on the other hand, have far fewer options.
- Speed: Fast connections to VPN servers make for smooth, uninterrupted streaming. A slow VPN will cause frequent buffering and long load times. Higher speeds allow better quality video to be streamed.
- Privacy: Strong encryption and a no-logs policy prevent your ISP, government agencies, and hackers from snooping on your connection. A VPN prevents anyone from seeing what and where you’re watching.
- Ability to unblock region-locked video: Many official video sources are region-locked so that only users from certain countries can watch them. A VPN routes your internet connection through another location, thereby bypassing these restrictions. Some streaming providers have caught onto this tactic and have measures in place to prevent VPN users from watching, but the best VPNs can unblock them, anyway.
- Customer support: 24/7 live chat support is ideal but not offered by all providers. This can be really useful for setup and troubleshooting.
- Ease of use: There’s no point in buying a VPN subscription if you can’t figure out how to use it. All of the VPNs we recommend offer money-back guarantees so you can test them out before making a commitment.
Do I need a VPN for Kodi?
Kodi, the multi-platform home theater software formerly called XBMC, can be customized with a range of content repositories, tools, and programs for a tailored entertainment experience. It overlays any computer, Android device, and even Raspberry Pis with an easy-to-use interface compatible with remote controls and gamepads.
The real allure of Kodi lies in addons that extend Kodi’s capabilities. Namely, video addons allow Kodi users to stream video from a wide range of sources. These include popular streaming services like BBC iPlayer and third-party addons that primarily offer pirated content. Many Kodi users employ a VPN to hide their activity from their ISP when viewing unofficial streams; however, there are many legitimate reasons everyone should use one.
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all of your Kodi device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of your choosing. This allows you to unblock geographically restricted content, such as BBC iPlayer from outside the UK. It also protects users from certain types of attacks and vulnerabilities common in third-party addons while keeping your activity private.
How to use a VPN with Kodi
On smartphones and PCs, the easiest way to use a VPN with Kodi is to install the VPN provider’s app. To do so, you will need to minimize Kodi and install it on the underlying operating system.
Here’s how to set up a VPN for Kodi:
- Download and install the VPN app from your provider’s website or an official app store (Apple or Google Play)
- Open the app and log in with your account credentials
- Select a location and hit the Connect button.
- Once the connection is established, open Kodi back up and use it as you normally would. All your device traffic will be tunneled through the VPN.
Read more: Setting up a proxy for Kodi
Don’t use APK files from third parties
If your Kodi device runs on Android but doesn’t have Google Play, getting the VPN app you want onto it can be a challenge. The next best option is often downloading the APK file and allowing your device to install apps from unknown sources. However, we caution against downloading APK files from anyone other than the VPN provider itself.
A bit of Googling will no doubt turn up several third party APK hosting websites. These are best avoided. Those APKs were not put there by the people who made them, so there’s a substantial risk that the app could have been modified to contain malware. Even if it’s safe, these APKs are often out of date, which means they could be missing key features or contain unpatched security vulnerabilities.
Whenever possible, download APKs directly from the VPN provider’s website. Another option is to “sideload” the app from a second Android device that does have Google Play.
VPN router setup for Kodi on Roku, Chromecast, FireTV, etc
If you’re using Kodi XBMC on a device that doesn’t support VPNs, you can still take advantage of a VPN subscription by setting it up manually on your wifi router. This process differs based on the particular router’s firmware, so we recommend you Google a setup tutorial to learn how. Once set up, all the internet traffic coming and going from the router will travel through the VPN server.
You may need to replace the router’s firmware if the stock version does not support VPN connections. This process is called “flashing”, and it should be done with great care. If you do not flash the new firmware properly or flash the incorrect firmware version for your router model, it can permanently damage, or “brick”, the router. Some of the most popular router firmware that supports VPNs include:
If you have a PC or Mac laptop available, a safer and easier solution is to install the VPN on that and create a wifi hotspot. This is called a virtual router, and most modern laptops are capable of creating one. By connecting to the VPN on your laptop and broadcasting a wifi network from it, you can connect your Kodi device so that all streams go through the VPN. You can find PC instructions on how to create a VPN-enabled virtual router, and Mac instructions here. We’ve also got our Fire TV Stick VPN setup instructions for 2nd generation Amazon Fire TV Sticks and later.
See also: Best VPNs for Fire Stick
Can I use a free VPN with Kodi?
Free VPNs are common but are generally not suitable for Kodi. Assuming you’re using Kodi to stream video, free VPNs don’t offer the necessary bandwidth or data to reliably stream video. You’ll likely get low image quality and a lot of buffering. Free VPNs often cap the amount of data you can use or throttle bandwidth.
Most free VPNs don’t make apps for Amazon Fire TV or other Kodi devices. Their customer support is practically nonexistent, so don’t expect any help in finding a workaround.
Privacy is also a concern with free VPNs. They have to make money somehow, and many resort to collecting personal data, injecting ads into websites on your browser, and other shifty tactics. A few have even been caught distributing malware to users.
Security can also be lackluster. Many VPNs use obsolete encryption or even no encryption at all. They can leak data outside of the VPN tunnel, exposing your activity to third parties.
In short, stick to a paid VPN provider to get the performance, security, and support needed for Kodi.
Is Kodi legal?
Kodi is a perfectly legal open-source software created by a nonprofit organization. You are fully within your rights to download and install Kodi from the official website and use any of the officially sanctioned add-ons.
It is not illegal to buy or sell devices with Kodi pre-installed, so long as they do not contain third-party add-ons that stream from illegal sources. We recommend the boxes sold by WeTek, which come with a clean install of Kodi without any third-party add-ons and run on the OpenELEC Linux distro.
Kodi users run into legal issues when they extend Kodi’s range of streaming sources using unsanctioned, third-party add-ons, or when they buy “Kodi boxes” from third party retailers that come with these add-ons pre-installed. These sources can include pirated IPTV streams, torrents, and websites hosting content without the copyright owner’s permission.
It might not be completely clear to users which add-ons stream from legal sources and which don’t. This is especially true for pre-configured Kodi boxes. In one case, a UK man was fined £250,000 for selling Kodi devices loaded with several add-ons that streamed content from illegal sources, despite his claim that the boxes were “100 percent legal.”
So how do you stay on the right side of the law?
First off, know that the XBMC Foundation, which created and maintains the Kodi software, is not involved in any way with the sale of Kodi boxes. In fact, Team Kodi has said the boxes commonly sold on eBay and by Youtubers, which come loaded with third-party add-ons, are “killing Kodi”. But because Kodi is open source, XBMC cannot control who installs it on what.
We discourage purchasing any device with Kodi and third-party add-ons pre-installed. Not only could doing so get you in trouble for copyright infringement, but it could also infect your device with malware installed on the system before purchase. If you bought an Amazon Fire Stick or other devices with a “fully loaded” Kodi installation, we recommend a clean wipe of the entire system and starting from scratch.
Secondly, the legality of streaming from third-party sources varies by country. Some might be legal but require you watch from a specific country or region. Others might exist in a legal grey area. For these reasons, we always recommend checking your local laws and regulations and using a VPN to hide your activity from your ISP and other entities.
Read more: How safe is Kodi?
Choosing a Kodi box
While you can install and run Kodi on a desktop operating system like Windows or MacOS, most Kodi users prefer to use a separate device to use as a home media center. These are often referred to as Kodi “boxes”, and they come in two main flavors: Android and Linux.
Most of the VPNs listed here make Android apps with downloadable APK files that you can install directly onto your device without the need for Google Play. While not all versions of Android are the same, most should run these VPN apps just fine.
Popular Android-based Kodi boxes include:
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- Nvidia Shield
- Gem Box
- Razer Forge TV
- Matricom G-Box
Many Linux distributions can run Kodi, but the most popular for small, low-powered devices like these is OpenELEC. OpenELEC is a Linux distro tailor-made for Kodi boxes. Some VPNs make Linux apps that might run on OpenELEC, but a more universal option is to configure the VPN manually. OpenELEC Kodi users can even connect to a VPN from within a Kodi add-on like VPN Manager for OpenVPN or OpenVPN for Kodi. Ask your VPN provider for the necessary configuration files to get up and running.
Popular devices that run Kodi with OpenELEC include:
- Wetek Play, Play 2, and Core
- Raspberry Pi 3
There are many more but beware of devices that are sold with non-stock editions of Kodi. Many vendors will sell pre-configured “piracy boxes” with special builds that come with tons of add-ons already installed. This is especially prevalent among third-party vendors selling Amazon Fire TV sticks with Kodi. While these can seem like a good deal at first because they don’t require you to install Kodi on your own, they often come with malware, botnets, and other nasty stuff that risks your security and internet bandwidth.
If a device doesn’t come with the stock version of Kodi, just install it yourself. You can find a tutorial on how to install Kodi on Fire TV here, and how to install a VPN on Fire TV here. These instructions should work similarly for other Android-based devices as well.
Comparitech does not condone or encourage any violation of copyright restrictions, including illegal streaming through Kodi. Kodi can be used for many excellent, legal online streaming purposes. Please consider the law, victims, and risks of piracy before downloading or streaming copyrighted material without permission.
- 1 How we select VPNs
- 2 Best VPNs for Kodi
- 3 1. IPVanish
- 4 2. ExpressVPN
- 5 3. NordVPN
- 6 4. Surfshark
- 7 5. CyberGhost
- 8 6. PrivateVPN
- 9 7. Private Internet Access
- 10 How to choose the best VPN for Kodi
- 11 Do I need a VPN for Kodi?
- 12 How to use a VPN with Kodi
- 13 Can I use a free VPN with Kodi?
- 14 Is Kodi legal?
- 15 Choosing a Kodi box