how to setup VPN with Roku

Roku was one of the first streaming media boxes to garner mainstream popularity when it was first launched back in 2012. Roku supports a huge range of apps and channels, but many of those channels are geo-locked, meaning they can only be accessed from specific countries. However, it is possible to bypass these restrictions using a VPN, if you know how to install and use one.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server in a location of your choosing. This assigns you a new IP address that can be used to bypass geographic content restrictions. VPNs also add a layer of privacy to your streaming activity, preventing your ISP and anyone else on your network from snooping on what you watch.

In this article, we’ll talk you through how to set up a VPN with Roku, answer some commonly asked questions, and also list the best VPNs for Roku. We’ll go into detail about the VPNs we recommend below, but if you haven’t got time to read the whole article start here:

Here’s a shortlist of the best VPNs for Roku:

  1. NordVPN: The best VPN for Roku. Built-in smart DNS and strong unblocking ability. Fast with specialty servers and quality 24/7 support. Highly secure with a strict no-logs policy. 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark: Best value VPN for Roku. Router-compatible and works with over 30 Netflix libraries. Servers in 100+ countries and unlimited simultaneous connections.
  3. ExpressVPN: Smart DNS proxy service included. Over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. Fast, reliable connections and secure with high-end encryption.
  4. CyberGhost: More than 9,000 servers available. Fastest speeds tested and has a Smart DNS feature. No-logs VPN that works well with Roku.
  5. IPVanish: Configurable with routers for use with Roku. Unlimited simultaneous connections and high-speed servers. Protects privacy with a no-logs policy.
  6. PrivateVPN: Fast VPN that works with Roku and unblocks many popular streaming services. Easy to use and offers live chat and email support. Accepts payment in Bitcoin.
  7. Private Internet Access: Connect 10 devices at once or an unlimited number via a VPN-compatible router. Good speeds and doesn’t keep identifying logs.

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How to connect Roku to a VPN

The Roku technology is now in its 5th generation and comes in six different flavors, from lightweight budget devices to heavy-duty 4K streamers:

  • Roku Express
  • Streaming Stick
  • Roku Premiere
  • Roku Premiere+
  • Ultra
  • Roku TV

Unfortunately, Roku OS does not support VPNs on any of its devices, past or present. That means Roku owners who want to take advantage of a VPN must set it up on an intermediary device, typically a wifi router. Here we discuss a few different methods of how to do this:

  1. Set up a VPN on your wi-fi router, then connect the VPN to it
  2. Set up a VPN-protected wi-fi hotspot on a laptop, then connect the Roku to it
  3. Connect an Android smartphone or tablet to the VPN, then screencast to the Roku
  4. Purchase an alternative streaming device or VPN-compatible wi-fi router

If you’re not sure which one of these best suits your situation, we made a handy flow chart to help decide:

How to set up VPN with Roku
How to set your VPN up with Roku

We’ll explain all of these solutions in more detail below.

Using Roku with a VPN-enabled wi-fi router

You can set up a VPN on your wifi router and then connect your Roku to that router’s wifi network in order to unblock shows and keep your streaming activity private. You’ve got two main options: a physical router or a virtual router.

How to set up a VPN on a physical wifi router

dd wrt 1
To set up a VPN on a physical wifi router, it will need to have a type of firmware that supports VPN connections. You can usually access your router firmware dashboard by typing “192.168.0.1” or “192.168.1.1” into your web browser’s URL bar while connected to wifi, then enter your login credentials. If you don’t know your login credentials, consult your user manual or Google to find out the defaults (admin is a common username and password).

Note that some routers—Netgear, in particular—support creating a VPN server on the device itself and allowing other devices to connect to the local network through it. That’s not what we want. We need to be able to connect the router to a remote VPN server.

Once logged into the dashboard, look for the option to set up a VPN connection. If it doesn’t exist, you can potentially install new firmware onto the router. This process is known as “flashing” and varies from router to router. If done improperly, you can permanently damage your router, so be cautious. The most popular free and open-source router firmware is Tomato and also DD-WRT. Both have VPN-compatible versions.

With the proper firmware installed, consult your VPN provider’s website or customer service for setup instructions and configuration details about how to connect to their servers.

If your router isn’t compatible with DD-WRT or Tomato, or you just don’t feel confident enough to change it, you can opt for a pre-configured router. Our top recommendation is Nord VPN, which comes with the option of bespoke pre-configured routers pre-loaded with all the setup and configuration done for you. It’s far easier to set up and use than open-source alternatives.

Read more: Best VPNs for DD-WRT routers in 2017

How to set up a VPN on a virtual wifi router/hotspot

Setting up a VPN-enabled virtual router is much easier and less risky than doing so on a physical router, but you’ll need a laptop to use as a wifi hotspot. Many people don’t realize that their laptops can not only connect to a wifi network but broadcast their own.

You can do this on almost any Windows PC or Macbook made in the last few years.

Here’s how to set up a VPN for Roku on a virtual wifi Router:

  1. Choose an appropriate VPN provider from this list, we particularly recommend NordVPN.
  2. Set up a VPN connection and click connect.
  3. Broadcast a wifi hotspot to nearby devices
  4. Connect your Roku to the wifi hotspot
  5. All traffic from the Roku is routed through the VPN

Check out the following tutorials to get started:

How to set up a Roku DNS proxy

dd wrt 4 dns
Not only does Roku not support VPN software, but it also doesn’t allow users to change the default DNS addresses. Again, this will have to be done on your router.

A DNS proxy does not offer the full encryption or geo-spoofing capabilities of a VPN, but it is much easier to set up and won’t slow down your connection. For Roku, you’ll have to go into your router dashboard and find the DNS settings. You’ll typically need to input two DNS server addresses, a primary and a secondary. Make sure you use DNS servers located in the country where you want to unblock content. You may also want to hardcode your IPv6 addresses, but for streaming purposes, this isn’t really necessary and, in some cases, should be disabled entirely.

DNS, or domain name system, is used by a device connected to the internet to resolve a URL, such as comparitech.com, into an IP address made up of numbers and decimals. Think of it like a phone book that matches telephone numbers with names.

By changing the server where DNS requests are sent, it’s possible to unblock content on sites that use DNS to locate users. This is called a DNS proxy. Good VPNs will automatically override your DNS settings and use their own private DNS servers. Far fewer, however, will let you use their DNS servers without the VPN.

Best VPNs for Roku – at a glance

We’ve compared the most important features for the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for Roku.

No valueNordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPNCyberGhostIPVanishPrivateVPN
WebsiteNordVPN.comSurfshark.comExpressVPN.comCyberghost.comIPVanish.comPrivateVPN.com
Ranking for Roku123456
Devices SupportedWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, RoutersWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, MacOS, Linux (command line), iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android
Avg Speed (Mbps)100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps71 Mbps
Popular Sites Unblocked95%88%86%85%70%85%
Simultaneous Connections6Unlimited57Unlimited10
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
$2.30
Get 2 Months FREE with a 2-year plan
$6.67
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
$2.11
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 3 months FREE
$2.49
SAVE 77% on the 2 year plan
$2.00
SAVE 85% on the three year plan

Best VPNs for Roku

We curated our list of the best VPNs for Roku based on the following criteria:

  • Global network of servers that unblock a wide range of streaming channels like Hulu, HBO Now, and BBC iPlayer
  • Fast, reliable, and unlimited connections that allow for HD streaming
  • Private DNS servers and DNS leak protection that ensure your location is fully masked
  • Customer support that can assist with setup
  • Apps for Windows, macOS, and Android (for Kodi screencasting)

You can read more on our methodology and how we test VPNs further below. but for now, let’s take a closer look at the VPNs that made our list.

Here’s our list of the best VPNs for Roku:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Mar 2023

Apps Available:

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

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our top recommended VPN for Roku. It is an adept unblocker of streaming content and pretty much everything else you can throw at it. over 5,400 servers in 60+ countries are available to choose from, and all servers are protected with top-notch encryption. You can use up to six simultaneous devices on a single account, making it a great value for families or housemates.

All NordVPN accounts have access to SmartPlay, an encrypted DNS proxy service that allows you to bypass geographic licensing restrictions on streaming content.

NordVPN also sells pre-flashed DD-WRT routers for those who don’t want the hassle of configuring the VPN connections themselves. There are also detailed tutorials in the NordVPN knowledge base if you want to have a go yourself.

Pros:

  • Vast server network, capable of unblocking most geo-restricted content
  • Servers are optimized for HD streaming
  • Top-tier encryption standards with DNS leak protection
  • Easy-to-use apps for most platforms
  • Preconfigured routers available
  • 24/7 live chat support available

Cons:

  • Desktop app could do with updating

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR ROKU:NordVPN is our number 1 choice. An excellent option that works well with Roku. Preconfigured routers available. Connect up to 6 devices simultaneously. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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2. Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark works with over 30 Netflix libraries and is also compatible with the likes of Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. With more than 3,000 servers in 100+ countries, it has one of the most widespread server networks around. As such, it’s well-placed to unblock a wide range of content. It’s also worth noting that Surfshark is one of the fastest VPNs around and doesn’t throttle your bandwidth.

With a single Surfshark account, you can secure as many devices as you like simultaneously. There’s further good news in that Surfshark is router-compatible, making it easier to get set up on Roku. Indeed, it provides specific setup instructions to help. This is a highly secure service with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, and even MultiHop servers. It also operates a no-logs policy.

Not only can Surfshark be manually configured to work with home routers, it also has apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. You can also find browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Pros:

  • Works with over 30 Netflix libraries (and other streaming services)
  • No limit to the number of devices you can connect at once
  • Very fast server speeds for non-stop streaming
  • Compatible with a wide range of devices, routers included
  • Plenty of security features such as MultiHop servers

Cons:

  • Customer support could be refined

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VALUE VPN:Surfshark has a generous server network and has strong unblocking ability. It’s also fast and allows unlimited simultaneous connections. Router-compatible and highly secure. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full Surfshark review.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is a reliable choice for Roku users. It works with Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+. In addition, you can securely access US Netflix. Just contact the 24/7 live chat support to ask which servers are currently set up for your favorite streaming channel. More than 3,000 servers are scattered around 94 countries, each optimized for maximum speed and reliability. That’s combined with the best security standards in the business, including 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy.

Every ExpressVPN subscription comes with a smart DNS proxy service called MediaStreamer. For wifi routers that don’t support VPNs, you can change the default DNS addresses to MediaStreamer’s in a few easy steps. This won’t provide the full encryption of a VPN, but you can at least use it to unblock geo-locked content.

If you want to use your Roku with a full-featured VPN but don’t feel confident (or patient) enough to configure a router, ExpressVPN has you covered there as well. The company sells pre-flashed routers with custom firmware that will let you easily route specific devices, such as a Roku, through any VPN server on its network.

Pros:

  • A vast, superfast network of over 3,000 servers dotted around the globe
  • No limits on data and bandwidth use, great for HD streaming
  • DNS leak protection shared IP addresses and keeps no traffic logs
  • 24hr chat support staff
  • Apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux

Cons:

  • Only 5 connections permitted at once
  • More expensive than others on this list

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SECURE AND RELIABLE:ExpressVPN is a solid choice for a Roku VPN. With a vast server network that is optimized for high-speed connections, it works great with Roku. User-friendly apps for all operating systems. Hard to beat on privacy and security. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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4. CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost stands out for its vast server network, which now totals over 9,000 servers across 90+ countries. Thanks to this, you’ll have no trouble accessing a wide range of geo-blocked websites and services, including streaming services such as Netflix US. CyberGhost is the fastest VPN we’ve tested, averaging 548 Mbps in our latest tests. This is obviously ideal for streaming content on Roku.

This is a no-logs service with security, including 256-bit AES encryption, protection from DNS leaks, and a kill switch. CyberGhost lets you connect your Roku to a VPN server via its Smart DNS feature. It’s also compatible with various wifi routers. Should you need any help getting set up, know that this VPN offers 24-hour live chat and email support. You can also use CyberGhost on up to seven devices simultaneously.

CyberGhost has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. It supports select routers, although manual setup is required. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.

Pros:

  • More than 9,000 servers in 90+ countries
  • Fastest speeds of any VPN tested (ideal for streaming on Roku)
  • Allows up to seven simultaneous connections
  • Smart DNS feature for quick and easy use with Roku
  • Live chat and email support 24/7 should you need help

Cons:

  • Unable to bypass VPN restrictions in China
  • More suited to beginners than power users

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SMART DNS FEATURE:CyberGhost works well with Roku via its Smart DNS feature. This router-compatible VPN has more than 9,000 servers and posted the fastest speeds in our tests. No-logs service. 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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5. IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish gives its customers access to a range of over 2,000 servers in more than 60 countries. The company owns its own server network, ensuring high speeds and reliable service. It’s not as adept at unblocking some streaming services from abroad, but it can bypass geographic restrictions on Hulu and Sling TV.

IPVanish defaults to the WireGuard protocol and uses military-grade encryption to keep your streaming activity private. This provider operates its own DNS servers and includes DNS leak protection. There is no connection limit so you can protect all your devices with one account.

IPVanish doesn’t make custom firmware, but users can buy pre-configured routers from Flashrouters if they don’t want to go through the trouble of setting one up themselves.

Pros:

  • With over 2,000 servers, it can access most popular streaming content
  • Speeds are great for HD streaming on most servers
  • DNS leak protection and IPv6 leak protection built-in
  • Preferred by Kodi and Firestick TV for its remote-friendly apps

Cons:

  • Look elsewhere if you need to use apps in China
  • Based in the US, a 5 Eyes member

Our score:

4 out of 5

UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS:IPVanish offers strong privacy and security. Uncongested network achieves good speeds. Strong security and privacy features. Could do with having live customer support. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full IPVanish review.

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6. PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is a relative newcomer, but that hasn’t stopped it from offering a service that allows you to securely access US Netflix and other streaming channels. It scored very high in our speed tests and is backed by live chat support. A single account lets subscribers connect up to 10 devices at the same time. PrivateVPN does not store any logs whatsoever.

The website includes instructions on how to set up PrivateVPN on your Tomato or DD-WRT router. The company recently switched over to using its own private DNS servers instead of public ones, although these cannot be used separately from the VPN service.

Pros:

  • Gaining a solid reputation for their growing list of sites it works with
  • Speeds are good enough for high-quality streaming
  • Privacy and security are top-notch

Cons:

  • Support staff only operate during European business hours
  • Has fewer servers to choose from

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GREAT SPEEDS:PrivateVPN is a good family choice. Works with Roku and allows up to 10 devices on the same account. Small network of servers but fast connections. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

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7. Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

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

Website:  www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access servers cover 84 countries, including the US, for accessing some of the most popular streaming services on Roku. Indeed, it worked well with Netflix US and Amazon Prime Video. With an average speed of 94 Mbps in testing, PIA has proven itself more than fast enough for your streaming needs. It offers unlimited bandwidth and even lets you connect up to 10 devices at the same time.

You can use PIA with a VPN-compatible router which means it works with Roku devices as a result. Whether you secure your entire network with the help of a router or individual devices such as a laptop or phone, internet traffic is 256-bit AES encrypted. PIA provides plenty of other security features, too, such as DNS leak protection and a kill switch. Just as important, its no-logs policy has been independently audited by Deloitte.

PIA is router-compatible and also offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Amazon Fire TV, while browser extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox.

Pros:

  • Use it on 10 devices at once
  • Works with a variety of routers
  • Independently audited no-logs policy

Cons:

  • Struggles to unblock some major streaming services
  • One of many VPNs that doesn’t work in China

Our score:

4 out of 5

ROUTER-FRIENDLY:Private Internet Access works with Roku thanks to its router compatibility. Servers in 84 countries and good, unthrottled speeds. Use it on up to 10 devices simultaneously. Strict no-logs policy included. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

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Roku VPN testing methodology

Comparitech aims to publish the most accurate and useful VPN reviews and recommendations on the web. To do that, we evaluate each VPN based on real-world experience, a battery of tests, and expert analysis. When it comes to Roku VPNs, we specifically look at:

  • Router support: Because Roku doesn’t support VPN apps, the VPN will instead have to be set up on a wi-fi router. Most of the VPNs we recommend can be manually configured on a variety of router firmware.
  • Streaming: We use real-world tests to find out which VPNs can unblock which region-locked streaming services from abroad, including BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney+, among others.
  • Speed: We measure and record connection speeds to VPN servers around the world to recommend the fastest VPNs.
  • Security: Each VPN must meet a minimum set of encryption standards. We further test each VPN for a variety of data leaks.
  • Privacy: We recommend VPNs that operate no logging policies and sift through each VPN’s terms of service and privacy policy for any language or lack thereof that could indicate the collection of personally identifiable info or activity while using the VPN.
  • Customer support: Our reviewers contact each VPN’s customer support department as secret shoppers to assess the quality and speed of responses.
  • Server network: More server locations mean more options for streaming and unblocking. We favor VPNs with global networks of servers.

This is a condensed version of our methodology. Find more info about how we test VPNs.

Can I use a free VPN for Roku?

There’s no shortage of supposedly “free” VPNs out there, but not many of them are helpful for a Roku. Most free VPNs only run on their own apps, which means they can’t be configured on a wifi router, which is necessary for Roku. You could search for free VPN servers, but these are rarely fast or reliable enough to support streaming video.

At any rate, free VPNs rarely protect your privacy and can even create security vulnerabilities. In order to sustain themselves and profit off of users, they often record users’ browsing data and sell it to third-party advertisers. Some even inject tracking cookies and display ads into your browser, while others are loaded with malware.

The handful of reputable free VPN services all have strict limits on bandwidth or data transfers, meaning you’ll spend a lot of buffering or get cut off in the middle of a stream.

In short, we recommend avoiding free VPNs and opting for a reputable paid VPN instead.

VPNs to avoid with Roku

VPN Book

VPN Book provides configuration files for free OpenVPN servers. But it’s not clear who is behind the company and what their policies are. Hacking collective Anonymous accused the site of being a honeypot for law enforcement. Due to both privacy and performance concerns, we recommend avoiding VPN Book.

Hola

Hola calls itself a VPN, but it uses a peer-to-peer structure instead of centralized servers. This has major privacy implications and can’t be set up on a router or Roku, at any rate. The company once turned all of the devices connected on its network into a giant botnet and used it to carry out distributed denial-of-service attacks on websites. So unless you want strangers using up your bandwidth and are okay with your Roku being hijacked, stay away from Hola.

Kodi on Roku

Roku doesn’t support Kodi, the free and open-source home theater software that’s used to stream content from a huge range of both official and unofficial sources. If you have a spare Android device that supports casting lying around, you can use screen mirroring or casting to set up Kodi on a Roku. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works.

Recommended Roku alternative: Amazon Fire TV Stick

If you’re not dead set on purchasing a Roku, we recommend the Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to those who can get it in their country. Specifically, the 2nd generation or later Fire Stick.

Fire TV offers much of the same functionality and channels as Roku OS, but it’s much more flexible when it comes to tweaking configurations, installing third-party apps, and unblocking geo-locked content. You can do all of the following:

That means you don’t need to rely on other devices like wireless routers to get set up with a VPN or a spare Android device to cast Kodi. It’s all possible right in Fire TV, and we’ve got the tutorials to show you how.

Roku VPN Setup FAQs

Can I set up a Roku on a WiFi hotspot?

Yes, you can set up a Roku on a wi-fi hotspot broadcast from a phone, laptop, or router. It will work the same as connecting to any other wi-fi network.

You can use a VPN with your Roku by setting up the VPN on the device that’s broadcasting the hotspot. Here’s how to do it on Windows.

How can I share my Mac VPN connection with a Roku device?

Yes, you can share your Macbook’s internet and VPN connection with your Roku by setting up a virtual router. You can set up a VPN-protected virtual router on a Mac in just a few minutes.

Why is Roku blocked in some places?

Roku determines your location in a couple of different ways. The first is your IP address, a unique set of numbers and decimals assigned to each internet-connected device. IP addresses are associated with approximate locations and can thus be used to geographically restrict certain apps or content. You can change your IP address, and therefore your perceived location, with a VPN.

Roku also takes into account where you purchased the device and what country you created your account in. These factors might determine which apps are available. The Crave TV app might not be available outside Canada, for example, or you might be stuck with a specific country’s version of Prime Video for which you don’t have an account. Changing this info would require making a new account and possibly purchasing a new Roku.