Why Should You Create a VPN Server at Home?

There are many reasons to consider making a VPN server at your own home. 

  • You’ll have complete control over your data and don’t need to rely on anyone else to keep it safe & secure. 
  • You’re also free from the monthly fees paid to VPN service providers, which is an attractive selling point for many budget-conscious consumers.
  • If you travel abroad frequently and want to access your home’s internet, you can do so easily with a home VPN server. Not only is this great for remotely accessing essential files on a secure local network, but it also means that you can access content that is not available in the country you’re visiting. 
  • Your web traffic is protected when you’re making use of public WiFi hotspots. 

Bonus reason: What tech-nerd worth their salt can resist a challenge? Setting up a VPN server at home can be pretty complicated and makes for an excellent skills test.  

Three Options for a DIY VPN 

Pre-configured Router 

Many routers have built-in functionality that allows them to act as a VPN server. Bear in mind that pre-configured routers are typically pricey, but they cost less in terms of the time it’ll take you to set up. 

If you can get your hands on a pre-configured router, you can look forward to a straightforward process. A vital factor to consider before purchasing a pre-configured router is its compatibility with your preferred VPN protocols

Step by step guide to setting up a pre-configured router 

  1. Open your browser of choice
  2. Head to the search bar and enter your router’s LAN IP address 
  3. Enter the username of the router followed by its password
  4. Go to the Settings menu
  5. Select the VPN Service option (sometimes found in the Advanced Settings menu) 
  6. Enable the VPN Service
  7. Go to your settings to ensure all clients (an umbrella term for the end device, user or software that will be using the VPN) can access the home network and all internet sites through the VPN connection 
  8. Once you’re happy with the settings, click the ‘Apply’ button to save them
  9. Head to the control panel of the router and download your VPN client’s configuration files 
  10. Unzip all configuration files and copy them to the client folder on the device you want to connect to the VPN 
  11. Before connecting to your home network, run a test to check for any leaks 
  12. Once you’re satisfied with the test results, go ahead and connect the VPN to your home network. 

Router with DD-WRT Support 

Not everyone has the means to get a pre-configured router, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt your router to mimic one by using firmware that supports VPN server creation. We’ll be using DD-WRT firmware as our example. 

While DD-WRT is massively popular, there are many others you can choose from, including OpenWRT. This DIY setup has plenty of room for error, so make sure to follow the instructions properly and conduct plenty of research before attempting this one. 

Step by step guide to setting up DD-WRT on your router 

  1. Confirm that your router can support DD-WRT by paying a visit to DD-WRT’s database of routers.
  2. Once you’ve confirmed compatibility, download the firmware file onto your computer. 
  3. Grab an ethernet cable and insert one end of it into your computer’s LAN port & the other end into the router’s LAN port. Make sure your router is plugged into its power source.
  4. Open your browser of choice.
  5. Head to the search bar and enter your routers LAN IP address. 
  6. Enter the username of the router, followed by its password.
  7. Head to the control panel of the router and open your Settings menu.
  8. In the Settings menu search for an option of ‘Router Update’ or ‘Router Upgrade’. 
  9. Go to the DD-RWT website and find the instructions specifically related to your router (located on the ‘Hardware Specific’ section of the site). 
  10. Install the firmware onto your router (known as flashing). 
  11. Restart your router and repeat steps 4 through 6.
  12. Head to the control panel. 
  13. In the router’s web interface, locate the ‘Wireless’ tab, and click on it. 
  14. Locate the VPN or VPN Settings menu and enable OpenVPN. 
  15. Set the VPN server with its clients. This part of the process is complicated, complex, and not suitable for newbies. Head back to the DD-WRT website and locate the step by step instructions.  

Home Computer 

If your router isn’t compatible with the necessary firmware or you simply don’t want to use your router as your home VPN, you can always use your home computer. We don’t recommend this option for people who don’t have technical skills as it can be an incredibly difficult task. 

There are a few drawbacks of setting your home computer up as a VPN server, the most notable of which is that to access the VPN, the computer must be switched on at all times. We’ll be using a Windows 10 computer as our example.  

Step by step guide to setting up your home computer 

  1. Open your Settings menu and head to the VPN section. 
  2. Alter your firewall settings to allow for inbound connections and set up port forwarding.
  3. Download and install OpenVPN for Windows. During installation, when the ‘Choose Components’ box pops up, be sure to tick the ‘EasyRSA’ box (a tool to create certificate authorities as well as request & sign them).
  4. Follow the prompts to install the TAP drivers.   
  5. Configure EasyRSA and generate the VP server certificate & certificate authority.
  6. Create the certificates for VPN clients as well as configuration files for the VPN server and its clients. 
  7. Using the generated configuration files, configure each VPN client. 
  8. Connect to the VPN server from the VPN client device. 
  9. Run tests to check for any leaks.    

Alternatives to Setting Up a VPN Network at Home from Scratch 

If, after reading our step by step guides, you’ve decided that a DIY VPN server is not the option for you, fret not. There are alternative options available that might tailor to your needs without you even knowing.

Hosting your VPN Server Elsewhere  

If you’re looking for a middle ground between signing up with a VPN provider and self-hosting a VPN server of your own, you should consider hosting your VPN server with a web host provider. This is a popular option because, even though you’ll still be paying monthly fees, paying for server hosting is cheaper than paying for a VPN service through a dedicated provider.      

Setting up an Existent VPN on a Router 

Another, much easier, option is to opt for a trusted VPN service and set it up on your router. Certain VPN services have garnered fantastic reputations and are considered well worth the money you spend in terms of safety, security & reliability. 

We’ll be using Surfshark as our example when discussing the benefits of opting to set up an existent VPN on your router:

  • Unlike traditional VPNs that only protect the device it’s installed on, when installed on a router this VPN service can protect unlimited devices on the home network simultaneously  
  • You’re kept safe online utilizing two security protocols (OpenVPN and IKEv2) 
  • Your data is kept secure by AES 256-bit encryption techniques
  • A dedicated kill switch in the event of shoddy internet connections or client crashes
  • All VPN servers feature their own private DNS
  • Use the MultiHop feature to route traffic through multiple servers to ensure an extra level of location protection 
  • Unrestricted access to blocked sites with its Camouflage Mode and NoBorders Mode
  • CleanWeb technology blocks ads, stops malware attacks and phishing  
  • Only collects three data types: your email address for account administration and management, billing info and diagnostics (for crash reports) 

Don’t have an account yet?

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Choose the Home VPN Server Setup That Suits Your Needs 

So now that you know exactly how to make a VPN server at home, will you? Or have you decided it sounds like a little too much effort, and you’ll instead be opting for one of the alternatives we mentioned?

Either way, the options are laid out neatly for you to take your pick. Only you can decide which route is the best one to choose.

If this is too big of a challenge for you, you can get Surfshark, and surf the internet hassle-free! 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on home VPN servers, so please feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.