Chromecast is the Google-made dongle that connects to non-smart TVs to stream content from other devices and apps that support casting. Currently, (Google) Casting is supported by a variety of apps by some of the world’s greatest, including Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.
However, with streaming apps come streaming app restrictions. Geo-blocking ruins the Chromecast experience as reliably as it messes with your hopes of having access to full streaming libraries without living in the US. That’s why you should use Chromecast with a VPN.
Chromecast and VPN
When it comes to streaming and geo-blocking issues, the usual answer is “get a VPN.” However, Chromecast is merely a receiver that accepts signals from apps that support the Google Cast protocol. The dongle itself is dumb as a brick. This means that you can’t install a VPN on Chromecast. What can you do in this case?
Well, you can get smart and install a VPN on your router – or turn your computer into a virtual router. That way, you can have your Chromecast and enjoy a multitude of VPN-related benefits.
Why use Chromecast with a VPN
For starters, you’ll unlock geo-blocked streaming content. As long as you know what country has access to the stuff you want, you can reach it by changing the server on the VPN app.
You will no longer be at the mercy of the Internet Service Providers (ISP), either. They have been known to engage in internet throttling (“traffic shaping,” to use the polite term), slowing down connections when they detect video streaming, online gaming, or torrenting. A VPN masks your activities and thus prevents the ISP from knowing when to throttle your connection. If that’s happening to you, your connection speed might even increase.
You may also find yourself taking the Chromecast dongle to places where the provider blocks your desired streaming service. And that’s where VPNs can help you once again. Due to the encryption used in VPN connections, the local network won’t be able to block your favorite apps, streaming sites or other. So watch whatever you want in the comfort of your dorm room or workplace.
Using Chromecast with a VPN: physical router
For this approach, you’ll need a VPN client-compatible router and a VPN app.
“What’s a VPN client-compatible router?” you ask? Well, it’s a router that is ready for a VPN app to be installed on it. You can check the router’s manual or do a quick Google search to find it out. Once you do, you can follow these straightforward steps.
- Open the router configuration panel. Use this by entering your router’s IP address in your browser, just like a URL. Finding the IP is different for every operating system.
- For Windows 10 users, this means opening the “Start” menu and typing in “Command Prompt” and opening this program. There, you have to type in “ipconfig” and press “Enter.” You should see your router’s IP address on the “Default Gateway” line.
- Mac users should start by going to “System Preferences.” Then you should find and click the “Network” icon, select your network connection (Wi-Fi, wired, whatever), and click the “Advanced” button at the bottom. Then you should go to the “Network” window, select the “TCP/IP” tab and see your router’s IP address listed as “Router.”
- Follow your VPN app’s guidelines. Every VPN app has a different approach when it comes to setting up on different router firmware types. For example, you can take a look at Surfshark’s instructions for setting up a VPN on Asus routers, DD-WRT routers, and Tomato routers. More can be found in the support section.
- Check if you’re connected to the internet. If not, check if you carried out the instructions correctly. If you’re a Surfshark user, contact Surfshark customer support.
Some VPN routers aren’t VPN-compatible. However, with a bit of effort, they can be made to be VPN-compatible. The process is a bit involved – check out our instructions for making a router VPN-ready.
Using Chromecast with a VPN: virtual router
Sometimes, you just don’t have a router handy. Or maybe you’re not feeling like tackling the issue of making your physical router VPN-ready. In this case, you can turn your PC or Mac into a virtual router.
Setting up a virtual router for Windows 10
- Go to Settings, then Network and Internet, then Mobile Hotspot.
- Switch Mobile Hotspot to “On”
- Go to Settings, then Network and Internet, and click “Change adapter options.”
- In the new window, right-click on your VPN app’s connection and choose “Properties.”
- Navigate to the “Sharing Tab,” tick the “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection” box, and choose your newly-created hotspot in the drop-down menu. Click “OK.”
- Your virtual router is good to go!
Setting up a virtual router for older Windows OS
- Press the Windows and S keys at the same time.
- Type in “cmd.”
- Right-click “Command Prompt” and select “Run as Administrator” in the drop-down menu.
- Type in “netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=[NETWORKNAME] key=[PASSWORD]” and do not press “Enter.”
- Replace [NETWORKNAME] the name for your new network
- Replace [PASSWORD] with the password for your new network
- Press “Enter.”
- Press the Windows and R keys at the same time
- Type in “ncpa.cpl” and click “OK.”
- Find the connection that has the name that you chose in Step #5.
- Remember the title (the first line) of this connection.
- Find your VPN connection. In this example, it’s the Surfshark one.
- Right-click on it and select “Properties” in the drop-down menu.
- Go to the “Sharing Tab,” check the “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection” box, and choose the hotspot with the title you noted in Step #11 in the drop-down menu. Click “OK.”
- Your virtual router is ready!
Setting up a virtual router for macOS users
- First off, you need to establish an OpenVPN connection on your Apple computer. Here’s a guide on how to do it for Surfshark users.
- Once that’s done, go to the Systems Preferences menu and click on “Sharing.”
- On the left panel, select “Internet Sharing.”
- For the “Share your connection from:” select the newly-established OpenVPN connection in the drop-down menu.
- For the “To computers using” part, tick the box next to “Wi-Fi.”
- Select “Wi-Fi Options” and fill it out like this:
- Network Name: input the name you want your network to have
- Channel: leave it as it is
- Security: WPA2 Personal
- Password: choose a password
- Verify: re-enter the password
- Click OK.
- In the Sharing menu, tick the “Internet Sharing” box.
- You should see a prompt asking you to turn on internet sharing. Click “Start.”
- A green light will appear next to the “Internet Sharing: On” line.
- Your macOS virtual router is ready!
Setting up Chromecast with a VPN when a router is ready
Once the router is set up, and the internet is working, finish setting VPN for Chromecast by doing this:
- Connect the VPN to a US server. USA servers usually have access to the best content libraries. If you want to see content available in some other country, select that country’s VPN server.
- Connect the device you use to set up and control Chromecast to the Wi-Fi network that’s now VPN-protected. It’s your phone or tablet with Google Home app on it.
- Setup your Chromecast if you haven’t done so. You can follow the official Google guidelines.
- At the “Connect Chromecast to your Wi-Fi” step, select the VPN network.
- If you already have Chromecast setup, connect it to the VPN-protected Wi-Fi network.
- Stream to your heart’s content.
Chromecast and VPN: Other Benefits
Why use a VPN with Chromecast? To unlock streaming libraries from all over the world, of course! But there are reasons besides those:
Overcome censorship: the country you’re in banned your favorite Cast-capable apps? If you have a VPN running, you can easily bypass that.
Stream in privacy: with a VPN on, your ISP can’t record your internet browsing data. So stream whatever you want without leaving a trace!
Avoid internet throttling: when it comes to selectively and purposefully slowing down your internet connection, ISPs consider video streaming among the top targets. Reclaim your internet speed and stream without interruptions with a VPN.
Setting up a VPN to work with Chromecast is well worth the effort. If Chromecast gives you the freedom to turn any TV into a smart TV, then a VPN gifts you with the ability to use your Cast-friendly service to their full potential. Don’t be constrained by geo-blocking – Cast wherever you want to Cast.