Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV users can access dozens of streaming media channels from their devices, including Netflix. But those channels are limited by content licensing agreements that restrict many TV shows and movies to specific countries. The United States, Netflix’s home market, benefits from the largest catalog of content, while other countries are stuck with a narrower selection despite paying the same price.
One way to get around these restrictions is to employ a VPN, or virtual private network. A VPN encrypts the traffic traveling to and from a device, while also routing it through a remote server in a country of the user’s choosing. This can make it appear to Netflix as though a user in Europe, for example, is located in the United States. Netflix has cracked down on most VPNs by blocking them from watching videos. If you VPN has been banned, you will see a Netflix proxy error message when you try to connect. A handful such as ExpressVPN maintain a few servers that bypass Netflix’s firewall. The right VPN can also unblock Hulu and Amazon Prime Video using the same approach.
Streaming media consoles, sticks, and set-top boxes like Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV don’t come with built-in support for VPNs. The VPN must instead be set up on another device in your home. There are two main methods of accomplishing this: setting up a VPN on your wifi router or setting up the VPN on a virtual router installed on a PC or Mac. This tutorial will guide you through the process of both.
ExpressVPN’s router apps
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ExpressVPN sells pre-configured routers, or you can flash the ExpressVPN router app onto an existing compatible wifi router.
The router app is free (not including the VPN subscription) for users of these Linsys router models:
- WRT1900AC 13J1
- WRT1900AC 13J2
This is the easiest solution and comes with a nice interface for switching servers and controlling other settings. If you don’t want to buy a pre-configured router or you don’t already own one of the routers on this list, keep reading.
How to set up a VPN on a PC virtual router
Most PCs that can connect to wifi can also broadcast a wifi signal for other devices to connect to. By setting up virtual router on a PC, you can connect your Chromecast through the VPN without changing your physical wifi router settings. This requires you keep a laptop handy, but it’s easier than configuring a physical router and can be used on an as-needed basis, rather than forcing all the devices in your home onto the VPN.
Windows 10 users can refer to the video below:
If you use an older version of Windows, refer to the text tutorial below. This tutorial assumes you already have a VPN set up on your PC and can connect to it.
First, check to make sure your computer supports virtual routers.
- In the Windows search bar, type “cmd” and right click Command Prompt > Run as Administrator
- In the terminal windows that appears, type
netsh wlan show driversand hit Enter
- Look for the line that says “Hosted network supported”. If it says “Yes” then you are good to go. If not, you’ll have to set up the VPN on the physical router. Instructions on that further down.
- In the terminal window, type
netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=<MY-NETWORK> key=<MY-PASSWORD>, replacing <MY-NETWORK< and <MY-PASSWORD> with the network name and password of your choice, and hit Enter.
- You should see some text indicating you successfully created the virtual router. To turn it on, type
netsh wlan start hostednetworkand hit Enter
- You should get a message that says the hosted network started. If not, you need to update your network adapter drivers and try again.
- Next we need to share the virtual router with other devices. Press Windows Key+R, type “ncpa.cpl” into the Run prompt, and hit Enter
- In the list of connections that appears, look for the one you just created. It will have the network name you input earlier. Remember or jot down the name of this connection.
- On the same list of connections, look for the one that says “TAP-Windows Adapter”. Right click it and select “Properties”
- Click the Sharing tab at the top and check the box to “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.”
- Under “Home network connection”, click the dropdown and select the name of the network you created earlier. Press ‘OK’.
- Open your VPN, select OpenVPN as the protocol in the settings if needed, and connect to a server in the United States. OpenVPN activates the TAP Windows Adapter.
- Your PC is now a VPN-enabled wi-fi router!
Now you just need to connect to the virtual router in the settings of your Chromecast, Roku, or Fire TV. Make sure you connect the VPN to a server that won’t get blocked by Netflix. You may need to contact customer support to ask which ones work. Note that if you turn off your laptop, the virtual router will also be turned off and your streaming device won’t be able to connect to the internet.
How to set up a VPN on a Mac virtual router
1. Click the Apple icon to get a system menu, then select System Preferences.
2. In System Preferences, click the Network icon.
3. In the Network window, click on the plus (+) sign at the bottom of the left panel to add a new service. In the pop-up window, select the following options:
- Interface: VPN
- VPN Type: L2TP over IPSec
- Service Name: [choose a name for your VPN connection]
Then click Create.
4. For these next steps you will need your VPN username, password, and a server address. You will probably also need an IPSec key, depending on your VPN provider’s settings, this can also be referred to as a Shared Key or Shared Secret. You can find these under the Manual Configuration section of the VPN provider’s support website. Most providers will also have a list of servers that you can choose from.
Enter the following details:
- Configuration: Default
- Server Address: [server address of your choice]
- Account Name: [username]
- Encryption: Automatic (128 bit or 40 bit)
5. Check the box next to “Show VPN status in menu bar” to see your VPN connection status in the menu bar.
6. Click on Authentication Settings…. On the User Authentication screen, enter your password in it’s box and the IPSec key in the Shared Secret box under Machine Authentication, then click OK.
7. Next, click on Advanced…. Check the box for “Send all traffic over VPN connection”, then click OK.
8. Click Apply to save all of your settings and then connect to your VPN with the Connect button. You are now connected to a VPN server. Now you just need to set up your VPN for sharing. Return to the System Preferences menu, then click on Sharing.
9. In the Sharing menu, select Internet Sharing from the left panel. The Internet Sharing options will appear on the right side of the screen. Set the following settings:
10. Share your connection from: [the VPN PPTP connection you just created] To computers using: check the box for “Wi-Fi”
11. Select Wi-Fi Options…, and enter the following details:
- Network Name: [choose a network name also known as an SSID]
- Channel: [leave as default]
- Security: WPA2 Personal
- Password: [choose a password]
- Verify: [re-enter your password]
Then click OK.
12. On the Sharing menu, check the box next to Internet Sharing. You will see a prompt asking you to turn on Internet sharing. Click Start. When Internet Sharing has been activated, a green light will appear next to the text: “Internet Sharing: On”.
13. In your menu bar, you will now see two new icons. The first icon shows your VPN connection status. The other new icon shows your Internet Sharing status.
VPN secured router: up and running
If you select the wifi icon by clicking on it, you will see that it is no longer searching for available wifi signals. Instead it tells you that wifi internet sharing is on, the name of the wifi signal that the Mac is broadcasting, in this example “Virtual VPN Router” is our SSID and the wifi channel that the signal is utilizing.
And finally we have a couple devices connected to our “Virtual VPN Router” over wifi, an Android phone and an iPhone. You connect your devices to this wifi router the same way as you would to any other wifi, using the SSID and password that you put into the wifi settings screen above.
How to set up a VPN on a router
The process for setting up a VPN on a physical wifi router varies depending on the router’s firmware. Many routers come with custom firmware and might not support a VPN, but you can flash them with free, open-source firmware. The two most popular open-source firmwares are DD-WRT and Tomato, so we’ll cover those here. The exact configuration varies quite a bit between different VPN providers. Even though we’ll give you a basic tutorial here, you will most likely need to contact customer support to walk you through it.
- The first thing you’ll need is the VPN configuration files. You can usually download these from a VPN provider’s website. They contain a “.opvn” file extension. You will need a config file for each server/location you want to connect to. Download the files onto your computer and open it in a plain text editor like Notepad.
- Next you’ll need to connect to your router through either wifi or LAN. Type your wifi router’s local IP address in your web browser’s URL bar. This is usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. If neither of those work, search for it in the user manual or manufacturer website.
- Log in to your router. Often the username and password are never changed from the default credentials they come with. If you don’t have a username and password on any of the paperwork given to you by your ISP, try the following:
- Type “admin” for both the username and password
- Leave the username blank and type “admin” for the password.
- Type “admin” for the username and “password” for the password
- Leave both fields blank
- Look up your router model on RouterPasswords.com
How to set up a VPN on a DD-WRT router
- Find your router model on this list and flash DD-WRT onto it using the associated install guide.
- Once you’re in the DD-WRT dashboard, go to Services > VPN and enable the OpenVPN client
- Under OpenVPN Client, you can enter the configuration details from your VPN provider and/or the VPN config files.
- The keys and certs are usually included at the bottom of the configuration files. Copy and paste them into the respective fields.
- Apply settings to start the connection to the VPN. To make sure it’s working, click Status > OpenVPN. You should see “Client: CONNECTED SUCCESS” as well as the log of your connection.
- Your VPN provider might also recommend you change the static DNS settings of your router. Go to Setup > Basic Setup > Network Address Server Settings (DHCP) and configure as necessary.
- Once connected, just use your device as you normally would and watch Netflix!
How to set up a VPN on a Tomato router
- Make sure your router model is compatible with Tomato firmware using this list or a Google search.
- Install Tomato following the instructions provided here.
- On the Tomato administrative dashboard, go to VPN Tunneling > Client
- Select Client 1 and Basic
- Here you can configure the VPN according to the specifications of your VPN provider and/or OpenVPN config file.
- You will also need your provider’s specification to modify settings under the Advanced tab.
- Click the Keys tab. You can find the keys in your OpenVPN config file. Copy and paste them into their respective fields.
- Once the VPN has been configured, go to VPN Tunneling > Client > Status and click Start Now
- Once connected, just use your device as you normally would and watch Netflix!