how to setup VPN with Roku

When Roku first launched in 2012 it quickly became one of the most popular streaming media boxes. This was largely due to the huge range of apps and channels that are supported. But, not all channels are available worldwide – some are region-locked.

Some users choose to use a VPN on Roku to expand the selection of channels that they have access to. However, because Roku does not natively support VPNs, it can be tricky to get one set up. This is where we can help. With our step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to get a VPN on Roku and also the best VPNs to use.

Let’s get started with a summary of the best VPNs to use with Roku.

The best VPNs for Roku shortlist

  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.
    TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for Roku.
  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: A fast and feature-packed Roku VPN. Smart DNS proxy service included. Over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. Fast, reliable connections and secure with high-end encryption.
  4. CyberGhost: A Roku VPN with an expansive server network. 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

Due to the fact that the Roku OS doesn’t support VPNs means that an intermediary device is required. The easiest way to set up a VPN on Roku is with a wi-fi router – we discuss this method and some alternatives below.

  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.

How to use Roku with a VPN-enabled wi-fi router

Using a VPN-enabled wi-fi router means all of your internet traffic will pass through your VPN, including Roku. This can be done with either a physical router or a virtual one. And, once set up, your VPN router will allow you to unblock any Roky channel.

How to set up a VPN on a physical wi-fi router

First, you will need to check that your router has the correct type of firmware to support a VPN by following the steps below:

  1. Access your router’s dashboard. This can normally be found by typing “192.168.0.1” or “192.168.1.1” into your web browser’s URL bar when connected to your network.
  2. Enter your router 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).
  3. Look for the “set up a VPN connection” option. It will be named slightly differently depending on the model of your router. Please note: 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 not done properly, you can permanently damage your router, so be cautious. The most popular free and open-source router firmware is Tomato and DD-WRT. Both have VPN-compatible versions, to find out more check out our ultimate guide to VPN routers.
  4. Set up your VPN in your router dashboard. Consult your VPN provider’s website or customer service for setup instructions and configuration details about how to connect to their servers.

dd wrt 1
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 Roku VPN on a virtual wi-fi router/hotspot

Setting up a VPN-enabled virtual router is both easier and less risky than a physical router. For this method, all you need is a relatively modern Windows or Mac laptop. Many people don’t realize that their laptops can not only connect to a wi-fi network but broadcast their own.

Here’s how to set up a VPN for Roku on a virtual wi-fi 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 wi-fi hotspot to nearby devices
  4. Connect your Roku to the wi-fi hotspot
  5. All traffic from the Roku is routed through the VPN

This is just a high-level run-through, but check out the following tutorials for more detailed steps:

How to set up a Roku DNS proxy

In addition to VPNs, Roku OS also doesn’t support users changing their DNS address. This needs to be done via your router.

To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Access your router’s dashboard. This can normally be found by typing “192.168.0.1” or “192.168.1.1” into your web browser’s URL bar when connected to your network.
  2. Enter your router 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).
  3. Look for the “DNS Settings” option. It will be named slightly differently depending on the model of your router.
  4. Enter DNS server addresses. These should be in a country you want to connect to and you will need to enter two – a primary and secondary.

dd wrt 4 dns
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 Comparison

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, LinuxWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TVWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, RoutersWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV
Avg Speed (Mbps)100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps39 Mbps
Popular Sites Unblocked95%88%86%85%85%85%
Simultaneous Connections10Unlimited87Unlimited10
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 74% off + 3 months FREE
$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 2 months free!
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months
$2.00
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free

How we picked the best VPNs to use on 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.

Best VPNs for Roku: In-depth analysis

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

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Jun 2024

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 wi-fi 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 wi-fi 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?

The short answer is no, free VPNs aren’t well suited for Roku. Most free VPNs lack the necessary router functionality to be used with Roku. In addition, free VPN servers are rarely fast or reliable enough to support a data-intensive task like streaming HD video.

Performance aside, many free VPNs are littered with security vulnerabilities and operate questionable data use policies. These practices often involve profiteering off user data by selling it to third-party advertisers as a revenue stream. Some even inject tracking cookies and display ads into your browser, while others are loaded with malware.

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 haven’t bought a Roku device yet and are looking for alternatives, we can recommend an Amazon Fire TV Stick, specifically the 2nd generation or later. A Fire TV Stick can offer the same functionality as Roku, but with more flexibility to weak settings, and configurations and it supports the installation of more third-party apps. Furthermore, unblocking geo-locked content is more straightforward on a Fire TV Stick.

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.

Is it illegal to use a VPN with Roku?

VPNs are used by millions of people every day, and in most countries, they’re completely legal. Roku’s terms of service do forbid you from trying to access content from other regions, but you should be perfectly fine if you’re just trying to stream your favorite shows securely. Besides, if you stick with a reputable provider, it’s unlikely Roku will even realize you’re connected. Assuming that happens, you’ll usually just be asked to turn off the VPN before you can watch anything. 

Disclaimer: Although we’ve spent hours researching this topic, we are not legal experts. As such, nothing we’ve said above should be taken as legal advice. We encourage you to consult local laws or perhaps even seek a professional’s opinion if you’re not 100 percent certain that VPNs are legal where you are. 

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.