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Best VPN for Routers

The Best VPN for Routers in 2024: Protect the Whole House

If you're looking for around-the-clock privacy, this guide to the best VPN for routers will help you pick the perfect virtual private network for the job. Plus, with a VPN on a router, all connected devices are protected with the encrypted connection.

David BorgogniSamuel ChapmanIgor Kurtz

Written by David Borgogni (Writer)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Writer, Editor)

Facts checked by Igor Kurtz (Fact-checking editor)

Last Updated: 2024-03-14T13:11:00+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Key Takeaways: These Are the Best VPNs for Your Router
  1. ExpressVPN — The best all-around router VPN
  2. NordVPN — A fast VPN with effortless router configuration
  3. Surfshark — Unlimited simultaneous connections for home internet security
  4. CyberGhost — Highly affordable plans and a large server network
  5. hide.me VPN — Generous free plan, with some limitations

Facts & Expert Analysis: How Routers Work With VPNs

  • When you install a VPN (virtual private network), it protects the device by rerouting internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel.
  • Adding a VPN directly to a home router that supports VPN pass-through functionality ensures that all devices connected to your network are automatically protected 24/7.
  • Installing a VPN on your router counts only once toward VPN simultaneous connection limits.
The Best VPN for Routers

Installing a VPN on your router comes with many benefits, including ensuring everyone connected to your WiFi router has VPN protection, plus it protects your entire home network while counting only once toward your device limit. However, not every VPN can work on a router — but the best VPN for routers will make it easy with leading router manufacturers like Netgear, Linksys and Asus. 

Luckily, some of the best VPNs on the market are fully compatible with routers. Below, you’ll discover the top five VPN apps for router compatibility, performance and security. If the thought of manually configuring a router VPN seems too complicated, you’ll also learn a much easier alternative.

  • 09/07/2022

    Updated Windscribe pricing: the paid plan increased to $5.75 per month from $4.08.

  • 03/14/2024 Facts checked

    We rewrote this guide, updating the recommended list of VPNs for routers and adding a section on how to install a VPN on your router.

Editor’s Choice: The Best VPN for Routers Is ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN delivers exceptional value for the money thanks to its fast speeds, airtight security and compatibility with the widest range of router models. It’s the best VPN for Asus routers and several other brands.

We put ExpressVPN to the test and found it a breeze to set up. Its smooth streaming capabilities sealed the deal when it came to picking our number-one router VPN. If you’re curious, you can try ExpressVPN with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Editor’s Choice

How to Choose the Best Router VPN

Out of the multitude of VPN services we tested, the five VPN providers featured in this guide scored the highest points in terms of router compatibility, speed, security, ease of setup and features. These key criteria are vital to guaranteeing you’re investing in a router VPN that delivers the best value for your money. 

Router compatibility: You need to be confident that your VPN service will actually work with your router. Double-check for compatibility before making your final decision. Check out our article on the best VPN routers for some models you can trust.

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Setup: Providers that prioritize a user-friendly experience with simple-to-follow setup guides make the usually complicated task of setting up your router/VPN combo much easier. Make sure to check whether you’ll need to update the firmware before installing the VPN — our guide on how to install DD-WRT walks you through that process.

Speed: Using a VPN will affect your network speed to some extent. The trick is to utilize VPN services that have the least possible impact. Choosing one of the fastest VPNs on the market means you can still enjoy maximum privacy without compromising performance. 

Security & Privacy: Using VPN protocols with strong encryption is essential to ensure optimum protection for your private data, while a strict no-logs policy helps you maintain absolute anonymity. 

Capabilities: Consider your priorities and how you plan to use your newly protected VPN router. For example, if you’re planning to access foreign streaming services, then a service renowned for its excellent ability to unblock geo-restrictions is a must. 

Server network: More server options in more locations help you to steer clear of overly busy services and enjoy a fast, smooth VPN connection no matter where you are in the world.

The 5 Best Router VPNs Compared

VPN:Lowest PriceRouter AppFlash RouterSetup GuidesSpeedNo-Logs PolicySecurity
$6.66 per month (15-months plan)Very fastAES-256
ChaCha 20
$3.09 per month (two-year plan + three months)Very fastAES-256
ChaCha 20
$2.19 per month (two-year plan + three months)Very fastAES-256
ChaCha 20
$2.19 per month (two-year plan + two months)SlowerAES-256
ChaCha 20
$0 per monthSlower128-AES
256-AES
ChaCha20

1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Routers

router vpn 1 expressvpn home
ExpressVPN’s simple interface makes it a breeze to use.
Download
90 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
7 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:

Pros:

  • Large range of servers
  • Dedicated router apps
  • Great for streaming

Cons:

  • Expensive

ExpressVPN is no-doubt the best VPN for routers. From its better-than-average speeds to its vast array of servers in 105 countries, there’s a lot to like about ExpressVPN. This VPN provides strong security and privacy features, such as an ad-blocker and the ability to restrict adult content, making it a top choice for families.

We’re big fans of its excellent streaming capabilities — in our tests, we easily unblocked major streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Disney+. This allowed us to access otherwise geo-restricted content from other countries, while quick download speeds ensured everything we streamed was void of lags and buffering. 

ExpressVPN Router & Firmware Compatibility

Among ExpressVPN’s many highlights is its comprehensive compatibility with most major router models, even those that can’t typically run VPN software. Along with the company’s own ExpressVPN Aircove VPN router, the app is easy to set up on popular models: 

  • Asus RT-AC56
  • Asus RT-AC68U
  • Asus RT-AC87U
  • Linksys EA6200
  • Linksys WRT1200AC
  • Linksys WRT1900AC(S)
  • Netgear R6300v2
  • Netgear R6400v2
  • Netgear Nighthawk R6700v3
  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000

You can also use ExpressVPN with a router model from brands like D-Link, Netduma, Sabai and Tomato. However, these are generally harder to configure than those on the list above. It’s why ExpressVPN continues to top our list of router VPNs, including the best VPN for Linksys.

ExpressVPN Hands-On Testing

ExpressVPN’s beginner-friendly simplicity really gives it an edge. Configuring a router with a VPN can be tricky, but ExpressVPN’s well-designed dashboard and extensive library of easy-to-follow manual setup guides made the process easy.

router vpn 1 expressvpn locations
Setting your server location is easy with ExpressVPN.
Notes From the Lab: ExpressVPN Speed Test Results

The app’s built-in speed testing provides a detailed speed index. Though it takes a while to complete, it’s very useful for identifying which server locations will give you the best performance. Of course, built-in tools don’t always reveal the full picture. Fortunately, ExpressVPN also yielded good download and upload speeds in our independent testing.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:
Notes From the Lab: ExpressVPN Security Analysis

Along with the industry-standard IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols, ExpressVPN offers its own Lightway VPN protocol, which delivers consistently impressive speeds protected with airtight encryption. 

ProtocolEncryptionDevices
OpenVPN256-AES Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers
LightwayChaCha20 Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers
IKEv2/IPsec256-AES macOS
iOS

We didn’t experience any DNS leak tests when using the VPN. We’re also impressed with ExpressVPN’s independently audited no-logs policy and useful kill switch feature to keep you safe should your VPN connection fail. 

expressvpn leak test
ExpressVPN passed all DNS leaks, never once exposing our real IP. 

ExpressVPN Pricing & Value

As you’ll read in our updated ExpressVPN review, one of the only drawbacks to this otherwise stellar VPN provider is the cost. At $6.66 per month on the annual plan, the software’s cheapest plan is still comparatively higher than that of any other VPN on this list. Luckily, you can try ExpressVPN by using the 30-day money-back guarantee on desktop devices.

2. NordVPN — Fast Connection Speeds for Routers

router vpn 2 nordvpn
NordVPN isn’t just fast; it offers advanced security features out of the box.
Download
90 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
4 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:

Pros:

  • Fast downloads & uploads
  • Lots of security features
  • Excellent for streaming

Cons:

  • Settings can be complicated

NordVPN is a great VPN for speed, ensuring minimal impact on your internet performance, and the OpenVPN protocol guarantees consistent, reliable performance. That said, there is one key reason why it didn’t rank higher than second: it is a little less easy to use on routers than ExpressVPN.

NordVPN Router & Firmware Compatibility

NordVPN is compatible with most routers that support OpenVPN. This includes models from router manufacturers such as: 

  • Netgear
  • Netduma
  • MikroTik
  • Peplink/Pepwave

Firmware that supports NordVPN includes: 

  • Asuswrt-Merlin
  • DD-WRT
  • DrayTek Vigor
  • OpenWrt
  • OPNsense 19.1
  • Padavan
  • pfSense 2.4.4-2.5
  • Sabai
  • Tomato

Here’s the full list of NordVPN-supported routers and firmware. It’s easy to make Tomato compatible with NordVPN by installing it on any router; you can learn how to install Tomato in our guide.

NordVPN Hands-On Testing

For the most part, we found NordVPN to be relatively intuitive, and we’re big fans of the visual map that lets you zoom in on a location and pick one of the available servers. We also liked the large library of setup guides that outline the router configuration process in clear detail. 

router vpn 2 nordvpn map
NordVPN’s server location map lets you connect to
your ideal location with pinpoint precision. 

On the downside, we found NordVPN’s vast array of settings to be overwhelming. It’s easy to get sucked into spending far too much time configuring the various options, and features like the custom DNS settings come with little explanation, so they’re best left to advanced users.

Notes From the Lab: NordVPN Speed Test Results

We tested the six server locations shown above five days per week over the course of several weeks. Without fail, NordVPN proved it is one of the fastest VPN options, consistently having some of the lowest impact on our regular, unprotected speeds.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:
Notes From the Lab: NordVPN Security Analysis

When you use NordVPN with IKEv2 or OpenVPN, your internet traffic is fully protected using the standard AES-256 encryption, though you can also switch to TCP or UDP on OpenVPN. Meanwhile, NordLynx uses the ChaCha20 protocol, which provides faster encryption and decryption.

ProtocolEncryptionDevices
NordLynxChaCha20 Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers
IKEv2AES-256 Windows
macOS
iOS
Routers
OpenVPNAES-256, TCP, UDP Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers

If that’s not enough to maintain your privacy, you can also take advantage of double VPN encryption, Onion Over VPN and a limited number of P2P servers that work well for torrenting. In our tests, NordVPN did not have DNS leaks, either.

nordvpn ip leak test
We ran DNS leak tests on multiple servers and protocols
and only ever saw the IP for NordVPN’s servers.

NordVPN Pricing & Value

Of the multiple payment options available, NordVPN’s 24-month plans are the most affordable, with the $3.09 per month Standard plan being the cheapest. It includes all the basic VPN services but lacks add-ons like a built-in data breach scanner and advanced file encryption.

You can also try NordVPN for 30 days with a full money-back guarantee. Additionally, check out our complete NordVPN review to help you decide whether this is truly the right software for you. 

3. Surfshark — Best Bargain VPN for Routers

router vpn 3 surfshark
Surfshark’s integrated security toolkit ensures the highest levels of online protection.
Download
92 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
126 ms
Good
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:

Pros:

  • Unlimited device connections
  • Great security add-ons
  • Optimized for streaming

Cons:

  • Router setup guides are difficult to follow
  • Higher latency

OpenVPN, IKEv2 and Wireguard protocols all come standard with Surfshark, delivering a fast connection that rivals both of our top picks. That said, it’s the comprehensive suite of security tools that really stands out. Surfshark One scans IDs and credit cards and monitors the web for them, alerting you if they appear somewhere they shouldn’t. 

That said, our favorite part of the suite is “alternative ID.” As its name implies, this feature allows you to generate an alternate ID with all the details you need to sign up for services on the web, including a name, email address, date of birth and gender.

Surfshark Router & Firmware Compatibility

The majority of OpenVPN-supported routers work well with Surfshark, though the company recommends Netduma R1 as the easiest to configure. Elsewhere, Surfshark recommends combining its VPN service with Asus routers, including the following models: 

  • RT-N56U
  • RT-AC86U
  • DSL-AC51
  • RT-AC51U
  • Rapture GT-AC2900

Other leading manufacturers that support Surfshark include:

  • DD-WRT
  • OpenWrt
  • Asuswrt
  • Tomato
  • Sabai
  • Linksys

Surfshark Hands-On Testing

By the time we finished our testing, we’d developed a love-hate relationship with Surfshark. We couldn’t fault the wealth of available features and found the clean interface and handy explanatory pop-ups tailor-made for beginners. 

router vpn 3 surfshark setup
Surfshark’s beginner-friendly layout is at odds with its difficult-to-follow setup guides.

Unfortunately, though, the catalog of router setup guides was difficult to follow – that’s because there’s no dedicated router app. It took us longer to set up our router with Surfshark than with any other VPN. 

Finding the guides in the first place meant reading through a support article that strongly discouraged us from setting up Surfshark on a router at all. After all, Surfshark is one of the few VPNs that allows unlimited simultaneous connections, but there are other perks to setting up a VPN on a router besides having even more multiple devices protected.

Once we found the instructions for our Asus router, we had to read through them several times to figure out each step. Even then, we had to contact support when our first attempt at a connection failed.

Notes From the Lab: Surfshark Speed Test Results

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Surfshark’s results. On the plus side, upload and download speeds were fast, though the graph above shows that there were inconsistencies when connected to the farthest servers from our physical location. On the downside, the VPN had the worst latency scores of our top five, making it a poor choice for gaming.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:
Notes From the Lab: Surfshark Security Analysis

Surfshark has both AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption, as well as WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 tunneling options.

ProtocolEncryptionDevices
OpenVPNAES-256 Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers
IKEv2AES-256 macOS
iOS
Android
WireGuardChaCha20 Windows
macOS
iOS
Android
Routers

The soft kill switch disables your internet connection if the connection drops, while the strict option disables it whenever you turn the VPN off. Surfshark also passed our DNS leak test.

Surfshark vpn leak test
The built-in leak protection ensured Surfshark
didn’t leak our IP address when tested.

Surfshark Pricing & Value

Surfshark boasts some of the lowest monthly prices on the market; the cheapest option is the 24-month Surfshark Starter plan for $2.19 per month, which is the second-lowest price in this guide. You can also try Surfshark with its 30-day money-back policy. Our Surfshark review can also help you decide whether it’s the right fit.

Surfshark Starter
  • Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices, Secure VPN, Ad blocker, Cookie pop-up blocker. Plans renew: $231.75 for one year, $417.15 for two years
  • Unlimited GB
  • Unlimited
  • Yes
Surfshark One
  • Everything in Starter, plus Antivirus protection, Identity protection, Email Breach and Credit Card Alerts, Online Alias Plans renew: $239.25 for one year, $430.65 for two years.
  • Unlimited GB
  • Unlimited
Surfshark One+
  • Everything in One, plus Data removal Plans renew: $269.25 for one year, $404.65 for two years
  • Unlimited GB
  • Unlimited

4. CyberGhost — Customizable & Affordable Router VPN

router-vpn-4-cyberghost
CyberGhost’s intuitive interface makes it easy to manage your VPN-enabled router.
Download
84 Mbps
Very Fast
Upload
9 Mbps
Very Fast
Latency
26 ms
Very Fast
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:

Pros:

  • Largest selection of servers
  • Streaming & torrenting tools
  • “Smart rules” automation

Cons:

  • Slower-than-average speeds
  • Limited tools on Mac & iOS

Don’t mistake CyberGhost’s low price tag as an indicator of low quality. Though it offers the most affordable plan of our top five, it’s packed with features and gives other VPNs a reasonable run for their money in terms of performance.

For one low price, you get access to more than 11,500 servers in 100 countries — a wider selection than any other provider — as well as effective unblocking of geo-restricted content and a host of customizable options.

CyberGhost Router & Firmware Compatibility

CyberGhost is compatible with DD-WRT routers that boast a minimum of 16 MB of flash memory. Popular supported models include: 

  • Asus RT-AC56U
  • Asus RT-AC87U
  • Asus RT-AC3100
  • Linksys WRT1200AC
  • Linksys WRT1900ACv1
  • Linksys WRT32X
  • Netgear R6300v2
  • Netgear R6400v2
  • Netgear R7000

Here’s the full list of routers that CyberGhost VPN officially supports

CyberGhost Hands-On Testing

We love that CyberGhost has a dedicated router VPN app to quickly set up a connection. This helped us avoid the need to dive into the large library of setup guides, though we were certainly glad to have them available. 

router vpn 4 cyberghost setup
Cyberghost’s useful app lets you configure your router with the click of a button.

Beyond that, we were impressed with the way CyberGhost organizes its server options according to different uses. You can use these categories to find the best server for gaming, torrenting or media streaming. NoSpy servers and a dedicated IP are also available, giving you greater freedom to switch to the optimum server for any purpose.

Notes From the Lab: CyberGhost Speed Test Results

We can’t imagine many people choosing CyberGhost exclusively for its speed. Cloudwards’ VPN testing results indicate that CyberGhost regularly delivers the slowest speeds and most inconsistencies compared to the other six VPNs we monitor.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 04/28/24 to 05/26/24
Data for region:

Fortunately, it proves more consistent in terms of upload speeds, though being consistently slower than average is hardly a good thing. We also found that CyberGhost had the second-highest latency score, with only Surfshark producing higher numbers. 

Notes From the Lab: CyberGhost Security Analysis

With 256-AES and ChaCha20 encryption plus OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard tunneling protocols, CyberGhost’s 100% pass rate in our DNS leak tests is a testament to its top-notch security. 

ProtocolEncryptionDevices
IKEv2AES-256 Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers
OpenVPNAES-256 Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers
WireGuardChaCha20 Windows
macOS
Linux
iOS
Android
Routers

So too are the included kill switch, built-in malware detector and handy ad blocker. The ad blocker in particular (called “content blocker”) blocks domains used for ads, malware and tracking. 

In our tests, we found it effective at blocking both search engine ads and the majority of ads on publisher sites. It only failed on YouTube, where ads were still displayed. However, this is most likely a result of YouTube’s continued anti-ad blocker efforts.

Cyberghost vpn leak test
CyberGhost’s internal leak protection feature worked well,
keeping our real IP hidden over multiple tests.

CyberGhost Pricing & Value

CyberGhost’s $2.19 per month two-year plan serves as one of the most affordable ways to secure your router with a VPN connection. You can try CyberGhost’s six-month plan — both plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee (the monthly plan has a 14-day refund period). Be sure to read our recent CyberGhost review to see how it stacks up to higher-priced VPNs.

CyberGhost Plans
  • *The $56.94 price under the 2-year plan is billed yearly after the first two years.
  • Unlimited GB
  • 7
  • Yes

5. hide.me — Best Free VPN for Routers

router vpn 5 hideme
hide.me’s free plan and simple interface make
it a good starting point for beginners.
$2.69 / month
(save 72%) (All Plans)

Pros:

  • Wide selection of protocols
  • Unlimited data on free plan
  • Beginner-friendly controls

Cons:

  • Limit of 8 free servers
  • Unsuitable for streaming

With its limited server options in just seven countries and slow speeds, the free version of hide.me is far from the most remarkable VPN app you’re likely to find. Still, it’s one of the only free options to offer unlimited data and comes with a very easy-to-use app.

That makes it a good choice for those who don’t make heavy use of their internet connection (streaming is certainly out of the question) but still want to maintain their privacy. Alternatively, if you like everything about hide.me apart from its sluggish performance, the premium version gives you access to a “bolt” feature on Windows devices that has a positive impact on speed.

hide.me Router & Firmware Compatibility

hide.me is compatible with a range of WRT-supported routers, including: 

  • Asus RT-ACRH13
  • TP-Link AC1300
  • Netgear AC 1750
  • Linksys WRT54GL

The company also notes that its VPN software is “very likely” to work with most routers that support any of the following protocols: 

  • SSTP
  • OpenVPN
  • IKEv2
  • SoftEther
  • WireGuard

However, it is not compatible with enterprise-grade routers that utilize a network-to-network or gateway-to-gateway solution to act as a VPN server. These types of routers are typically the preferred option for businesses. Therefore, while hide.me works well for a home VPN, you’re better off using one of our recommended best VPNs for business to protect your company.

hide.me Hands-On Testing

Though configuring hide.me VPN on desktop and mobile devices doesn’t require you to log in, you will need to create an account to manually set up your router. Here’s where the problem begins. The setup guides themselves are helpful, but we found the library incomplete, with tutorials missing for models hide.me claims to support. 

router vpn 5 hideme protocols
hide.me offers more VPN protocols than any other provider,
all of which are easy to choose from. 

On the plus side, we love how easy it is to select different protocols. It’s also a breeze to fine-tune advanced settings such as fallback configurations and custom parts thanks to a beginner-friendly combination of toggles and drop-down menus. 

Notes From the Lab: hide.me Speed Test Results

Upload speeds are definitely an issue with hide.me. We tested the VPN using multiple protocols over a period of several days and unfortunately found a large disparity between its fastest upload speed and our unprotected connection. 

hideme speed test
Our upload speeds took the biggest hit with
hide.me than with any other VPN.

Downloads fared a little better, especially when connected to servers closest to our physical location, though there was still a significant-enough drop to make this the slowest of our top five.

Notes From the Lab: hide.me Security Analysis

As with all our top picks, hide.me offers AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption. However, hide.me’s VPN protocol options triumph in quantity, not quality. Along with the usual OpenVPN, WireGuard and IKEv2 options, you can also choose from SoftEther VPN and Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP).

ProtocolEncryptionDevices
OpenVPNAES 256-bit Windows
Android
Mac
iOS
Linux
WireGuardChaCha20 Windows
Android
Mac
iOS
Linux
IKEv2AES 256-bit Windows
Android
Mac
iOS
Linux
SoftEther VPNAES 256-bit Windows
Mac
Linux
SSTPAES 256-bit Windows
Android
Mac
Linux

However, SoftEther isn’t accessible via Android or iOS devices, and SSTP isn’t compatible with iOS. Elsewhere, we were happy to find a kill switch and a useful “fallback” option, which switches you to a new protocol should the one you’re using fail. 

hideme leak test
As with our other top router VPNs, hide.me didn’t
leak our IP address in any of our tests.

hide.me Pricing & Value

If hide.me’s generous free plan doesn’t meet your security needs, you can upgrade to the affordable two-year Premium plan, which costs $2.69 per month. You can also try the hide.me Premium plan with its 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’d prefer to learn more before you hand over your credit card, check out our in-depth hide.me review.

How to Install a VPN on Your Router

There are scores of possible router and VPN combinations out there, each with its own configuration files and user interfaces to deal with. As such, the process of setting up a VPN on a router can be different from one router model to the next.

However, even though your setup may be unique, the basic steps remain the same. We created a guide on how to set up a VPN on a router that takes you through the process. If you don’t have time to read that right now, here are the three basic steps in a nutshell:

  1. Download and Install Your VPN

    After signing up with your preferred VPN provider, log in to your account and access the “downloads” page. From there, download the software version designed for the operating system you’re using and install it on your device.

    routervpn install 1 download
  2. Access Your Router

    If you don’t have a dedicated router app to configure the settings, you can typically access your settings by entering your IP address into your browser.

    You can find your IP address by opening the command prompt, typing in “ipconfig” and pressing “enter.” If you’re using a wireless-connected device like we are here, you’ll find your IP address listed as the “default gateway.”

    routervpn install 2 ipaddress
  3. Set up a VPN Connection on Your Router

    Finally, access your router’s settings and follow your VPN provider’s instructions to configure it.

    routervpn install 3 networksettings

How to Install ExpressVPN on a Router

Explaining how to set up every VPN on a router is beyond the scope of this article, but this detailed step-by-step guide using ExpressVPN on our Asus router is a great example. Remember, the precise steps you take will vary depending on the router and VPN you’re using, but the following steps should give you a clearer idea of the process.

  1. Find and Copy Your Activation Code

    Head to the ExpressVPN website, log in to your VPN account and scroll down to “set up your devices.” Tap the “more” option and copy your activation code; you’ll need it later.

    router vpn expresset 1 activationcode
  2. Download the Router Firmware

    Next, select “router.” On the next screen, scroll down to “firmware download” and find your router in the dropdown menu. If you can’t find it, it means that ExpressVPN doesn’t support that version.

    router vpn expresset 2 firmware
  3. Log in to Your Router

    First, make sure your router is connected to the internet. Then, head to your router admin panel and log in. Grab your PIN or WPA-PSK key and save it, as you’ll need to enter it in the next step.

    router vpn expresset 3 router login
  4. Install the Firmware

    From there, head to “administrator,” then “firmware upgrade” and install the firmware software you just downloaded. Finally, connect the device you’re using to your router via WiFi or a LAN cable. Once connected, the ExpressVPN setup screen should appear. If it doesn’t, navigate to expressvpnrouter.com and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.

    router vpn expresset 5 firmwareupgrade

Router VPN vs VPN Router: Which One Is Better?

If the steps outlined above still make setting up a router VPN seem too complicated, there is an easier alternative: buying a dedicated VPN router. VPN routers like ExpressVPN Aircove come with VPN functionality already built in, so all you have to do is plug it in and enjoy secure, anonymous browsing right out of the box. 

Though this is definitely easier than setting up a VPN on an existing router, the downside is that ready-made VPN routers typically cost more than the price of a standard router and separate VPN subscription.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best VPN for routers was no easy task. Some outperformed the rest in our speed tests, others excelled in beginner-friendly usability and still others were great choices for budget-conscious users. 

Ultimately, we think ExpressVPN deserves the top spot of our best VPN for routers list because it offers the best all-around combination of high speed, stringent security measures, ample server choice and user-friendly setup with dedicated app support for many routers. 

If you decide to go with a different router VPN, we’d love to hear from you. Is your preferred VPN provider missing from our best VPN for routers list? Did you opt for a pre-configured VPN router instead of a manual configuration? How does your experience with our top five picks differ from ours? Let us know in the comments below, and of course, thanks for reading!

FAQ: VPNs for Routers

  • Installing a VPN on your router allows you to protect all devices connected to a network, even while using a VPN that typically limits the number of devices you can connect. It stays connected around the clock, ensuring maximum protection for your network.

  • Yes. As long as your preferred VPN is compatible with your router, you can install it yourself. Though this is more complicated than buying a pre-set VPN router, it’s also less expensive.

  • No. Routers supplied by internet service providers (ISPs) are generally not compatible with VPNs. What’s more, not all routers that support VPN capabilities are compatible with every VPN provider. Be sure to confirm compatibility with your router before you buy a VPN subscription.

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