Best VPN for Your Netgear Router in 2021

Setting up a VPN on your router is a great way to easily ensure that all of your devices are protected while you’re using the internet at home. However, not all VPNs support all models of routers or have the same features, so today we’re looking at the best VPNs for Netgear routers.

Brian Murray
By Brian Murray (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-05-07T22:42:55+00:00

We’ve looked at the benefits of using a VPN on a router before. Only having to set up the VPN a single time on your home network makes protecting all of your devices a breeze. However, many VPN providers don’t support all models of routers. So today we’re out to find the best VPN for Netgear routers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Unfortunately, Netgear routers do not work with most VPNs out of the box, so you will likely need to flash a third-party firmware onto your router. 
  • Despite the lack of native support, firmware like Tomato and DD-WRT do a great job of improving the performance of any supported router and are what most VPNs recommend for Netgear routers.
  • ExpressVPN is the only VPN provider that currently offers its own custom firmware for Netgear routers, putting it well ahead of the competition and making it an easy choice for the best VPN for Netgear routers.

While each of the options we chose for this list specializes in one area or another, all of them are solid all-around options that will offer security and privacy on any Netgear router.

  • Unfortunately, despite being such a popular brand of router, Netgear routers do not support most VPN protocols out of the box. For this reason, most VPN providers urge Netgear users to upgrade their firmware to DD-WRT, which works with a very wide variety of VPN providers.

  • While NordVPN will work with Netgear routers, as it says on the NordVPN website, Netgear routers “cannot perform as OpenVPN clients.” For this reason, NordVPN, and other VPNs, will require you to flash an aftermarket firmware onto your router before it is ready for VPN use.

  • To use OpenVPN on a Netgear router, you’ll need to flash an aftermarket firmware onto it. The most common options are Tomato and DD-WRT, which both work on a wide variety of Netgear models, including the commonly used Nighthawk R7000.

  1. 1
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
    • : 5
  2. 2
    • : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
    • : 6
  3. 3
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
    • : Unlimited
  4. 4
    • : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
    • : 7
  5. 5
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin
    • : 6

What Makes the Best VPN for Netgear Routers?

For this roundup, we’ve chosen five VPN services that fit the bill, and each stands out for at least one specific reason. We’ve tried to cover our bases and provide at least one good option for any use case you might be looking for, including streaming, torrenting or just saving some money.

  1. ExpressVPN — Blazing fast and best overall
  2. NordVPN — Excellent for torrenting 
  3. Surfshark — Affordable VPN for streaming
  4. CyberGhost — Added router configuration features
  5. PrivateVPN — Competitive monthly pricing

A variety of factors play into whether or not a certain VPN made it onto our list. Naturally, we expect the same things here that we want to see out of any VPN service: solid and reliable speeds, fair pricing, good security and a reasonable privacy policy.

In addition to those basic things, though, we need to see that each VPN can be set up on Netgear routers. However, this has an asterisk next to it, as most models of Netgear routers do not support OpenVPN out of the box.

If you look at our VPN protocol breakdown article, you can learn more about OpenVPN but, in short, it is currently widely considered to be the most secure and reliable protocol option that also provides decent speeds.

Meaning, except for ExpressVPN, you’ll need to install either DD-WRT or Tomato firmware and use the VPN’s guide for that to set up your Netgear router.

The 5 Best VPNs for Netgear Routers

Now that we know the criteria we’re looking for, it’s time to look at our list for the top five best VPNs for Netgear routers. After examining each of the options we’ve selected, we’ll also take a brief look toward the end of this article at how you can set up your Netgear router for a VPN, so you can get an idea of what’s involved in the process.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Firmware
ExpressVPN offers custom firmware for a number of Netgear routers.

More details about ExpressVPN:

Pros:

  • Consistently very fast
  • Works well with Netflix
  • Custom firmware for Netgear routers

Cons:

  • A bit pricey 

ExpressVPN is a well-rounded VPN that covers all the areas we like to see and then some. Not only is it blazing fast, highly secure and easy to use, but it’s also feature-rich. It offers a large server network with 160 locations to connect to in 94 countries.

These factors combined explain why ExpressVPN ranks at the top of many of our best VPN lists. In addition to its excellent speeds and the array of features that the desktop client offers, such as split tunneling, ExpressVPN also provides its own custom firmware for a number of Netgear routers, including the Nighthawk R7000 and R6700. This makes it easy to set up the VPN on any Netgear router.

Maximize Your Connection Speeds With ExpressVPN 

Out of all the VPNs we’ve tested, ExpressVPN consistently comes out on top when it comes to speed. It sits at the top of our fastest VPN list not only for the impressive peak speeds it’s able to achieve, but also the fact that it can reach these speeds consistently in almost any location in the world, which is where most “fast” VPNs falter. Providing one or two fast servers is not enough to compete with ExpressVPN’s dominant global speeds.

expressVPN signup without discount
While ExpressVPN isn’t the most affordable option out there, you can easily try it out with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Despite being strong in practically every other regard, pricing is arguably ExpressVPN’s weakest area. While not outrageously priced, it does come in at the high end of what is reasonable and lacks any kind of free trial, although it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN knows it’s at the top and is charging a fitting price for it.

ExpressVPN currently sets the standard for overall excellence, providing reliably high speeds and secure connections with VPN servers in nearly 100 countries. While it might not be the cheapest VPN, it’s well worth the cost of what it has to offer. If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to check out our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN P2P config
NordVPN has dedicated P2P servers that you can set up on your router. 

More details about NordVPN:

Pros:

  • Best torrenting performance with P2P servers
  • Affordable long-term pricing
  • Huge server network

Cons:

  • Inconsistent speeds at times

NordVPN shares many of the same strengths as ExpressVPN, with solid speeds and proven security. Where NordVPN falls short of matching ExpressVPN’s success is its inconsistency when it comes to speed. Sometimes, NordVPN will fall well short of reaching the same speeds as ExpressVPN can, while other times it will match its pace.

NordVPN also lacks split tunneling on its desktop client. However, NordVPN does make itself stand out in a few ways. It offers an ad- and malware-blocker that it calls “cybersec” and even more importantly, NordVPN offers a number of specialized server options, including a multihop VPN option and dedicated peer-to-peer servers.

Peer-to-Peer Servers for Fast Torrenting

One of NordVPN’s biggest draws is its massive server network, which is even larger than ExpressVPN’s. Many of NordVPN’s servers are set up for specific tasks, such as dedicated IPs or multihop VPNs, but the most interesting of these dedicated servers are the P2P servers.

These peer-to-peer servers allow for safe and fast torrenting and downloads, earning NordVPN the top spot on our best VPNs for torrenting list. 

NordVPN-Slider5
NordVPN offers competitive, long-term pricing for what it does.

NordVPN also beats out ExpressVPN when it comes to pricing. While the monthly price is only better by a narrow margin, the yearly and two-year plans are much cheaper than ExpressVPN’s longest option. 

Much like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is a solid all-rounder with decent speeds, a more reasonable price than ExpressVPN and a highly secure network. Where it excels is torrenting and its specialty servers dedicated to P2P traffic. Be sure to check out our NordVPN review for all the details. 

3. Surfshark

Surfshark firmwares
Like all the VPNs on this list, except for ExpressVPN, Surfshark will need your Netgear router to run either DD-WRT or Tomato firmware.

More details about Surfshark:

  • Pricing: Seven-day free trial, $2.49 a month for two years
  • Provider website: www.surfshark.com

Pros:

  • Works on every major streaming service
  • Very cheap long-term pricing
  • Free trial

Cons:

  • Mediocre speeds
  • Free trial does not work on routers

Surfshark just might be the best bang for your buck when it comes to a VPN for streaming. In our testing, Surfshark got us access to every major streaming service, including Netflix and Hulu. It even made it onto our list of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.

While Surfshark might not offer the same level of speed as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, it still manages to provide an impressive number of servers around the world, as well as split tunneling, making it an impressively feature-rich option for the price.

Highly Affordable and Great for Streaming 

Despite not being as fast as some of the competition, where Surfshark really manages to impress is its pricing. While the monthly pricing is nothing special, the six-month plan brings this down considerably. Plus, the two-year option makes this one of the most affordable VPNs available, coming in at less than $3 a month.

surfshark pricing
Although you can’t use the free trial on your router, you can still try Surfshark on mobile free for seven days to see if the service might be right for you.

For what it offers, it’s very hard to beat the value that Surfshark provides: split tunneling, solid streaming performance and an unlimited number of connected devices for only a few dollars a month. In addition, a seven-day free trial on mobile devices puts Surfshark well ahead of the competition when it comes to affordability.

Surfshark managed to secure itself a surprisingly high spot on this list thanks to its compatibility with both DD-WRT and Tomato firmware running on Netgear routers, but more importantly, its amazing value and streaming performance. Read our Surfshark review for more details on what we did and didn’t like about the service.

4. CyberGhost

cyberghost features
CyberGhost also offers a handful of additional features for you to choose from when setting up your router.

More details about CyberGhost:

Pros:

  • Extra features like ad & tracker blockers in router configs
  • Very cheap long-term pricing
  • 45-day money-back guarantee 

Cons:

  • Does not work well on most streaming services

With similar long-term pricing and a huge list of features built into the VPN client, it might come as a surprise to some that CyberGhost has fallen behind Surfshark in this roundup. However, in our recent CyberGhost review, we found that it fell well short of the streaming performance we’ve seen from it in the past, putting it far behind other providers.

Despite performing very well in our streaming tests in the past and having dedicated servers for most streaming platforms, we found that CyberGhost simply didn’t work consistently this time around on almost any of the streaming sites we tested.

Added Features for Router Configurations

Despite struggling with streaming in our recent testing, CyberGhost still managed to do well in every other category. Additionally, CyberGhost offers a set of optional features that can be added to the configuration file for your router to protect all of the devices on your home network. These include the options to protect against malicious websites, block ads automatically, redirect to HTTPS and block online tracking.

Cyberghost pricing
Despite not having a free trial, CyberGhost still makes it easy to try the service out thanks to a 45-day money-back guarantee.

CyberGhost’s pricing hits many of the same strong and weak points as Surfshark. It does not offer compelling monthly pricing, but the more long-term plans are very affordable at just a few dollars a month. While CyberGhost also does not provide any kind of free trial, it does have a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, so you can still get your money-back if the service isn’t right for you.

Although CyberGhost has faltered recently with its streaming performance, it’s still a solid VPN provider overall and has secured itself a spot on this list — albeit lower than it would have been a year or so ago. 

5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN setup
PrivateVPN has a very streamlined setup process compared to many of the other options on this list.

More details about PrivateVPN:

Pros:

  • Solid monthly pricing
  • Access to most streaming sites
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • Lackluster speeds

While several of the options we’ve looked at so far have had pretty eye-catching, long-term pricing, they’ve all failed to offer convincing pricing for those looking for a month-to-month VPN. So we’ve rounded out our list with PrivateVPN.

Not only does PrivateVPN offer the best monthly pricing on our list, but it can access many streaming sites, including Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. PrivateVPN also sticks to tried-and-true security protocols, making it a reliably safe option.

Easy to Set Up 

While its setup guide isn’t the most fully fleshed out, it does seem like PrivateVPN has done all it can to streamline the setup process for those already somewhat familiar with how to set things up on a router. Unlike some of the providers we’ve looked at, PrivateVPN provides a CA certificate as a ZIP file rather than a chunk of text to copy and paste.

privatevpn pricing
PrivateVPN’s seven-day free trial is a great way to test the service out for a week and see if it suits your needs.

As we mentioned, PrivateVPN’s main reason for making it onto this list is its monthly pricing, which comes in well below any of the other providers on this list. In addition to the convincing monthly pricing, PrivateVPN also offers a seven-day free trial on top of a 30-day money-back guarantee.

In our full PrivateVPN review, we described it as a decidedly middle-of-the-pack option in almost every way, which is why it landed itself dead last in this roundup. However, its pricing and easy-to-use router setup nonetheless earn it a spot on this list. In addition, its middling performance ultimately still translates to decent speeds and solid streaming performance that will satisfy most users.

How Do I Enable the VPN Feature on My Netgear Router?

Despite being one of the most popular manufacturers of routers, Netgear routers do not typically work with OpenVPN or other VPN protocols out of the box. For this reason, you’ll need to flash an aftermarket firmware onto your router. We already have a guide available for how to install DD-WRT, which is the firmware that most of the VPNs on this list suggest for Netgear routers.

Alternatively, you can use Tomato, which is not as widely used on this list but presents its own benefits that you can learn more about in our Tomato vs DD-WRT article. The one exception to this is ExpressVPN, which provides its own custom firmware for use with Netgear routers and partly earned it the top spot on this list.

While ExpressVPN’s custom firmware makes it slightly easier to get your Netgear router working as a VPN hub, it’s still not too difficult of a process. It might take around half an hour to flash the new firmware onto your router and get your VPN provider’s configuration file set up.

There’s also the option to buy a router from a company like FlashRouters that preloads aftermarket VPN firmware onto popular routers — such as the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 and R6400 — for you.

Final Thoughts

Due to Netgear’s lack of out-of-the-box support for VPNs, it can be hard to find a provider compatible with these widely popular routers. However, ExpressVPN offers custom firmware for the equipment, and many other VPN services give users a guide on how to set up a Netgear router with third-party firmware to get the hardware up to speed and VPN ready.

Every VPN on this list is good enough overall to service most people’s needs, but each one made it on this list for a specific reason. Whether you want to access streaming services from all of your devices, the best speeds possible or just to save a buck, there should be an ideal option for you on this list. 

Have you used any of these services before? Are there any you think we missed out on, or that should have made it as honorable mentions? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading.