Can you add a VPN to your router?

install vpn on router

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question; you can on some, not on all, and it’s not guaranteed to work when you do, but on many, it works just fine.

So, can you put a VPN on your router? Well, it’s a hard ‘maybe’.

There are alternatives available that will achieve the same result; they’re probably a little simpler, but also more costly. You can buy a VPN router from a variety of outlets or direct from your VPN service provider. Alternatively, you could buy a pre-flashed router with VPN compatible firmware pre-installed. There are choices if you want the extra protection installing a VPN on your router provides.

Why isn’t it easier to install VPN on a router?

When WiFi routers first became popular, many supported VPN; it was a more typical method of providing a single network between remote locations—ideal for keeping business branches connected. But, apart from within business-oriented models, the feature slowly disappeared, with inter-office connections being carried out over cloud services instead.

The standard firmware on many modern routers doesn’t generally include the feature, so if you’re serious about applying a VPN to your router, you’ll have to buy one designed for the task or change the firmware.

So, for all those asking, ‘Can you setup a VPN on your router?’ Well, it isn’t quite as easy as you’d like it to be.

How do you install a VPN on a router?

There are several stages and elements to consider. 

  1. You need VPN supported firmware.
  2. Your firmware must support the correct protocol for your VPN service.
  3. You will also need the VPN profile and a range of settings to install your VPN service.

If your router supports VPN using the manufacture firmware, then you can skip straight to applying your VPN profile to the correct tab of its configuration pages. Otherwise, you’re going to have to replace your router’s firmware with one that does.

VPN firmware

The most popular option is DD-WRT, which supports the most popular VPN protocols, including OpenVPN; we’ll talk about VPN protocols a little later on.

If you’re buying a VPN router, it’s good to know which of the protocols its firmware supports. Ideally, it should support at least the most popular options: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN.

The three main firmware options are DD-WRT, Tomato, and OpenWRT. Each provides features that aren’t typically available on standard low-cost routers and will allow you to run a VPN service, of the correct protocol, through its connection.

Accessing your router configuration page

The first thing you need to locate is your router IP. 

Using Windows, you’ll need to use the Command Prompt, type in ipconfig and hit enter. Your router’s IP is listed as the Default Gateway.

On a Mac, head to your System Preferences, select Network > Wi-Fi > Advanced > TCP/IP and you’ll find the Router IP there.

Paste your router IP into a web browser, and you’ll see a login for your router’s administration console. You should have those details with the original packaging/instructions. If they’re long gone, you might be able to get them from your manufacturer’s website, or at least find a way to reset your model to the factory settings and carry out the procedure from there.

Upgrading the firmware

Once you’re in, you should be able to find an option to upgrade your firmware. If not, then you’re adventure is over.

If it’s there, then you’ll need your new firmware bin file—a specific file for your router model, downloaded from the firmware website.

Upload the file, and hopefully, using the correct IP to access your new firmware, you’ll have a fully functioning new system with which to install your VPN.

VPN protocols

There are quite a few different VPN protocols, so we’re going to talk about the most popular options at the moment. Making sure your router software supports the correct protocol—the one your VPN service operates on—is another quandary DIY installations face.

OpenVPN

The most secure connection, operating with 256-bit encryption, without sacrificing performance over speed.

PPTP

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol – A 128-bit key VPN protocol from Microsoft with lower-level encryption than OpenVPN or L2TP. PPTP is generally easier to set up and a little faster than other options.

L2TP

Layer Two Tunneling Protocol – More secure than PPTP, it uses 256-bit keys for higher-level encryption. However, running two layers of encryption makes it less efficient and a little bit slower.

Typical setup for VPN on a router

With your firmware catered for, configuring each VPN service (as you can have a selection to switch between if you choose) will require information about your service.

For OpenVPN VPNs:

  • Description – so you can recognize which service each install is easily
  • Username – provided by your VPN service
  • Password – provided by your VPN service
  • You will need to upload your OVPN file, provided by your VPN server

For PPTP VPNs

  • Description – to identify the service
  • The VPN server URL – provided by your VPN service
  • Username – provided by your VPN service
  • Password – provided by your VPN service
  • The correct PPTP option – depending on your VPN service encryption type

For L2TP VPNs

  • Description – to identify the service
  • Username – provided by your VPN service
  • Password – provided by your VPN service
  • The VPN server IP – provided by your VPN service
  • You may need a dynamic or static secondary IP choice, or a tunnel password, depending on your router. For any settings you’re not sure of, they should be available from your VPN service provider.

How does StreamLocator work with your router?

If you’re looking for a VPN service to provide security and protection for all your devices and data at home or in the office, then you’re going to need a VPN compatible router. That, or a big chunk of patience and a lot of technical know-how to convert your existing model.

However, if you’re looking for a VPN router solely to access geo-blocked TV streams, then you probably don’t need to go to all that trouble.

StreamLocator’s smart hub is designed purely for that job.

What’s better, there’s no switching on and off when you don’t need it, or digging around in hard-to-access settings to change locations. Once it’s plugged in and activated, it takes care of everything you need without you even knowing it’s doing it.

Can I install VPN on my router? Well, do you really need to? You could save yourself a lot of time and effort if all you need is a StreamLocator smart hub.

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