The Best VPNs for Routers in 2024

The Best VPNs for Routers in 2024

March 8, 2024 privacy 0

Finding the right VPN for your router can be challenging. There are so many to choose from; they all offer the same features; and they all make the same complicated promises about increased privacy and protection online. 

To save you time, stress, and money, we’ve meticulously tested every router-compatible VPN and identified five that deliver lightning-fast speeds, secure router connections, and easy setup.

Here they are:

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Here’s a quick breakdown of the criteria we used in selecting these VPNs (keep reading for more details):

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Deep dive: The best VPNs for routers in 2024

Now you know the basics, let’s look at the five VPNs that made the cut – and what makes each one stand out. 

If you’re still not convinced, check out our complete VPN reviews for a deeper dive into each one. 

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Methodology: how we tested the best VPNs for routers

For this guide, our team installed the top VPNs on their home routers via specialized apps, manual configuration, and other methods. 

The final list of five router VPNs is a small selection from the overall number of VPNs we evaluated. However, we won’t burden you with a review of every VPN we tested.

Instead, here are the criteria we employed to determine the best VPNs for routers:

For a more detailed breakdown, read our comprehensive testing methodology overview.

How to set up a VPN on your router

Adding a VPN to your router is more technical than most devices, like your phone or laptop. Here’s the general process.

Six steps to set up a VPN on your router:

  1. Confirm if your router supports VPNs and update its firmware if necessary.
  2. Select a VPN with router support and compatible protocols. We recommend ExpressVPN.
  3. Log in to your router’s interface using your web browser and router credentials.
  4. Locate the VPN settings section under “Advanced Settings” or “Security.”
  5. Enter your VPN provider’s credentials, server details, and protocol settings per their instructions.
  6. Save the changes and restart your router if required.

Consider clearing your browser’s cache and cookies as well. This will clear any lingering location and tracking data from websites. 

Can I use a free VPN with my routers?

The short answer is no. 

No trustworthy free VPNs we know of include easy-install router apps. So, you’ll have to configure the software directly on your router. This requires a lot of technical know-how. 

But that’s not the only issue. 

Free VPNs lack the technical capabilities of premium VPNs like ExpressVPN and Surfshark. They’re slow, unreliable, and blocked by most major websites. 

Because they don’t charge a subscription fee, they often resort to questionable practices to make money. This can include:

  1. Bombarding you with ads 
  2. Selling your private data to brokers and other malicious entities
  3. Hosting malware or spyware on their networks to infect your devices. 

Even if you find an honest free VPN like Atlas VPN, you’ll likely face slow connections, data limits, and other restrictions that make using routers challenging. 

Stick to a reliable paid VPN for a safer and smoother experience on your router or any other device.

VPN for routers FAQs

[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Why can’t I add a VPN to my router?” answer=”

Some routers and VPNs are completely incompatible, but the reasons vary. Here’s a quick breakdown:

1. Your router:

  • Compatibility: Not all routers support VPNs, so check your router’s manual or manufacturer’s website.
  • Firmware: Ensure your router’s firmware is up-to-date to support VPN functionality.

2. Your VPN:

  • Router support: Some VPNs offer detailed setup guides for different router models.
  • VPN protocol: Verify which VPN protocols (e.g., OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec) your router supports and select a compatible one.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Do any routers have built-in VPNs?” answer=”

Yes! Many modern routers come with built-in VPN functionality, offering a convenient way to secure your entire network without configuring software on individual devices. Here are some options:

1. Routers with pre-installed VPNs:

  • ExpressVPN Aircove: This router is the first Wi-Fi router with a built-in ExpressVPN subscription, providing easy setup and impressive speed, exclusively with ExpressVPN.
  • Linksys MR8300 Mesh WiFi 6 Router with Linksys Shield: This router includes access to Linksys Shield, supports OpenVPN, and offers built-in VPN protection

2. Routers with Native VPN support:

  • ASUS RT-AX86U: This router allows you to connect to various VPNs by supporting OpenVPN and PPTP client connections.
  • NETGEAR Nighthawk R7800: Supporting OpenVPN and PPTP clients and DD-WRT firmware, this router offers advanced VPN customization.
  • TP-Link Archer GX90: Supporting OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP clients, this router boasts dedicated gaming features.

3. Routers with flashing options:

  • ASUS RT-AC86U: This popular router can be flashed with custom firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato, offering extensive VPN support for various protocols.
  • Netgear R7000: Another popular option for flashing with custom firmware for enhanced VPN functionality.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”What should I do if my router does not support VPNs?” answer=”

If your current router lacks VPN support, there are still several alternatives to enjoy the advantages of VPN protection on your devices:

1. Set up VPN on individual devices: Manually install and configure VPN software on each device, such as computers, phones, and tablets. Most major VPNs offer dedicated apps for various platforms.

2. Upgrade your router: Invest in a new router with built-in VPN functionality to provide comprehensive network protection. Consider pre-configured options for simplicity or routers with built-in VPNs for flexibility with different providers.

3. Use a virtual VPN router: Transform your computer into a virtual router with VPN capabilities using software solutions like ‘pfSense’ or ‘OpenWrt’ with DD-WRT firmware. Note that this option requires technical knowledge and maybe resource-intensive for your computer.

4. Flash third-party firmware: Explore advanced options by replacing your router’s original firmware with custom firmware such as ‘DD-WRT’ or ‘Tomato,’ known for offering VPN support. Be cautious, as this process can void your warranty and demands technical expertise.

5. Use a secondary router: Connect a VPN-compatible router to your existing one, establishing a separate VPN-protected network for specific devices. While this approach can be complex and involves additional hardware costs, it provides an effective solution.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”What’s the perfect VPN for routers?” answer=”

The best seven VPNs for routers we’ve highlighted provide unrestricted access to content and offer robust data protection, effectively averting potential bandwidth throttling enforced by your router. Most significantly, these VPNs introduce a significant layer of privacy and security, elevating your internet experience.

However, if you’re in a hurry, ExpressVPN is a top choice. With a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can explore its features risk-free for a month.

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