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Using a virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to hide your online activity from hackers and onlookers attempting to view your communications.

Although you can install and use a VPN on your desktop and mobile devices easily, installing it directly on your router takes your online security to the next level. However, it can be a little tricky as it involves interacting with multiple platforms that aren’t always as intuitive as we’d like them to be.

So, if you’re looking to better your network defenses and you’re willing to get your hands dirty, or if you’ve been putting it off because you weren’t sure where to start, this article will outline exactly what you need to do to establish a secure and private VPN connection across your entire network.

We’ll cover:

  • Why do you need a VPN
  • Why you should set up your VPN on a router
  • Which routers work best with VPNs
  • How to install a VPN on your router

Why Do You Need a VPN?

Why Do You Need a VPN?
Source: Istockphoto.com

The main goal of a VPN is to conceal your internet protocol (IP) address, a unique identifier that’s determined by the internet network your device is connected to. The VPN routes all of your online activity through secure, encrypted tunnels that keep your IP address hidden and your identity anonymized.

Every internet-connected device has its own IP address, used to identify and communicate with other devices, much like your name or Social Security number.

Your IP address stores a lot of information about you, but also about other devices on your network. It reveals information about your broadband speed, the number of data packets being sent or received, and other bits of data that may seem meaningless to a layperson but can be exploited to discover more about you and potentially target you for a malicious attack.

The IP protocol has some major vulnerabilities that can result in identity theft, ransomware, IP spoofing, routing attacks, source address spoofing, and authentication attacks. The majority of these attacks are performed by bots. They first look for the easy way in and, if they succeed, they proceed through your system until they reach your crown jewels. In this regard, a VPN is like a personal driver that takes you into the building the back way, undetected.

Note that if your business assets have been specifically targeted by hackers, or if your device or network is already infected with malware, chances are that switching to a VPN at this point isn’t going to be enough, and you’ll need to have other cybersecurity solutions in place as well.

Why Should You Set Up a VPN on Your Router Instead of Your Laptop or Mobile Device?

If you’re running a business, whether at home or in an office, you probably have multiple devices running on the same wireless network. You may also have visitors using your network or possibly your kids. Any of those devices could potentially expose your network to vulnerabilities if they don’t have a VPN turned on.

Contrarily, when you install a VPN client on your router, you don’t have to worry about who has VPN and who doesn’t. Any activity on the network will be routed through encrypted channels automatically and keep devices anonymized.

The only real downside of using a VPN on your router is that it doesn’t offer as much flexibility as when installed on individual devices. Changing locations or switching the VPN off is only possible when done through the router and not individually.

However, that kind of flexibility is hardly ever needed in a business environment and is more suited for home use where you might want to watch TV or play games that are only available in specific geographies.

Which Routers Are Best for a VPN?

Which Routers Are Best for a VPN?
Source: Top10vpn.com

Before you choose a VPN provider, you need to make sure it’s compatible with the router model you have. Surprisingly, many routers don’t actually support VPN, and the ones that do are often significantly more expensive than the ones you get from your internet service provider (ISP).

It should be noted that not all VPNs support router installations either, so be sure to tick that box in your checklist before you subscribe with a particular provider. Some notable options include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, and Surfshark.

Some VPN providers have attempted to solve this gap by offering preconfigured routers to their customers, such as NordVPN’s FlashRouter series. Others keep a list of compatible routers that you can use VPN with. Some notable options are:

  • Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200
  • Linksys WRT3200ACM

If you can’t find your router on the VPN’s list of compatible routers, check other VPN options or try adding a piece of firmware like Tomato or DD-WRT.

Choose Tomato if you want to set up OpenVPN on your existing router quickly and easily, or set up DD-WRT if you want to have complete control over the full features of your router. The second option is only recommended if you know your way around network management.

How To Install a VPN on Your Router

How To Install a VPN on Your Router
Source: Vpnoverview.com

Before setting up a VPN connection on your router, make sure you have all the required credentials and information. You certainly don’t want to get stuck halfway through the process, as that could result in losing your internet access. Some essentials you’ll need include:

  1. Your router’s IP address: This isn’t the same IP address you find on Google when searching “what’s my IP,” but a permanent one which you can find by typing “ipconfig” in your command prompt on Windows.
  2. Username and password for your router: Some ISPs have these imprinted on top of their physical routers or in the user manual. In other cases, you may need to contact whoever sold you your router to find out its login credentials.
  3. Username and password for your VPN account: Of course, to get these you’ll need to sign up with a VPN provider that supports router installations.

To log in to your router, follow these steps:

  1. Copy your router’s IP address and paste it into your web browser.
  2. Log into the router with your username and password.
  3. Have a look through the settings menu and find the VPN configuration page. If you can’t find any VPN options on your router control panel, consider upgrading your firmware.
  4. Log in to your VPN provider’s account. Look for a downloadable VPN configuration file and download it to your device.
  5. Upload the file onto your router control panel.
  6. Turn VPN on in your router control panel and test it on one of your devices to make sure it’s working.


Connecting a VPN to a router is slightly more challenging than one might expect. The variety of service providers involved in this process inevitably results in going back and forth between different platforms in the hope that all parts would magically sync together. But if you stick to the process and follow the steps carefully, you can significantly improve your network security, and that’s totally worth the effort.