Read on to get further into why you should add VPN to your router, how a VPN router works, and what VPN client routers are the best. Then dive deep into comprehensive setup guides for each router.
8 Reasons Why You Need a VPN for Your Router
Add a VPN to your router and surf safely online.
- VPN firmware loaded onto your router secures every device that can connect to WiFi.
Your router becomes the protective barrier between the network you’re connected to and potential hackers snooping your online activity and personal data.
- You no longer need to install a separate VPN app for every device you use.
A VPN-protected router is your guardian for each device on your network. Those devices only have to be connected to your router. No individual settings are required; everything is compatible.
- VPN lets you bypass geo-restrictions.
Geo-restrictions mean that users are blocked from accessing certain websites. VPNs bypass those blocks by disguising the user’s IP address. A VPN hides your IP address by redirecting your internet connection through a secure remote server. It virtually transfers you to another location. Your internet service provider (ISP) thinks you’re anywhere but your current location.
- VPN gives users access to any Netflix library.
Netflix streaming choices vary from region to region, depending on local licensing. What may be available to Australian viewers may not be for Netflix subscribers in Canada. Surfshark unlocks streaming services provided in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Japan, Italy, Denmark, and India Netflix libraries.
- VPN bypasses usage logs and ISP snooping.
Many providers keep logs on user behavior and sell the data to marketers. Without a VPN, your online activity and data downloads can become the permanent record on sites you visit.
- VPN defeats online censorship.
Some governments block access to political or controversial websites. Geo-blocking can go beyond protecting copyrights and licensing to become censorship. VPN hides user’s locations and bypasses censorship by redirecting the user to a server beyond the control of the government.
- VPN helps you avoid data throttling.
Some ISPs—including Verizon and T-Mobile—are really slow in upgrading their infrastructure to meet today’s needs, thus they choose to limit the speed of connection to some websites (for instance, YouTube) and might ask you to upgrade your plan. This doesn’t seem fair as you’ve already paid for the internet. VPN can easily help you avoid this kind of manipulation.
- VPN offers another layer of user protection.
With VPN services like Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature, your system is protected from:
- phishing attacks;
- annoying ads;
- internet activity trackers.
How a VPN Client Router Works
A VPN router is a regular router that has a VPN client software installed on it. It encrypts every device attached to it—computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.
A consumer-grade network router cannot carry the security load for either an average user or a growing business. With the ever-increasing threats on the dark web, an upgrade to a VPN Gigabit router adds an extra layer of security in the dangerous times.
VPN routers create a hidden tunnel within a public or unprotected network. VPN-configured router changes your IP address, makes it anonymous, and encrypts the information you send and receive over the internet.
In addition to securing every device on the network, a VPN router:
- is compatible with every WiFi-enabled device
- automatically connects to the internet through a VPN without the need for manual connection
- secures non-native devices that do not typically support VPN functionality; e.g., Apple TV, PlayStation 3*
- bypasses geo-restrictions and foils net censorship (see above)
* While most VPNs can’t connect to smart TVs and gaming consoles, Surfshark’s functionality doesn’t end at computers, phones, and tablets. You can protect your Xbox, Playstation, AppleTV, FireTV, and other smart TVs — alongside other devices — and do it all from ONE account.
Ready to Get Started? These Are the Steps:
- Get a router-compatible VPN. Surfshark offers some of the most affordable pricing in the market. Since routers are somewhat pricey, get a VPN that won’t be too hard on your bank account.
- Buy a router. You can either get a router with a VPN client software already installed or go for a regular router and set it up manually with custom firmware.
- Setup a VPN on the router. Different routers require different steps in order to connect to a VPN. I’ve linked to comprehensive instructions under every router below.
There are some uncertainties regarding VPN routers. You may ask, “Do I need a VPN service if I have a VPN router?”. And the answer is YES. These routers have VPN client software installed on them, but they don’t function as VPNs on their own.
The Best VPN Routers in the Business
Installing a VPN-ready router is the quickest way to secure your network. The following are brief descriptions of three industry-grade VPN routers. These are your best choices if you want a top product for 2020.
Read a more extensive VPN router review post here.
The information below is from PC Magazine wireless router reviews:
Linksys WRT 3200 ACM router
Priced at around $250, this is the latest addition to the Linksys inventory of WRT routers. You can substitute the router’s firmware with the open-source VPN code and customized settings.
- This WPA2 encrypted device brings ultra-fast WiFi to users.
- It is equipped with a unique open-source WiFi Tri-Stream 160 and premium MU-Mimo technology.
- It’s a high-speed wireless device.
- It comes with a one-year limited warranty.
- Only middle-of-the-road 2.4GHz throughput test scores.
- No 160MHz clients are available.
Setting up a Linksys router: See the Surfshark Linksys router tutorial.
Asus RT-AC86U router
With a price of around $200, this powerful router is designed for online gaming, 4K video streaming, and network safety. However, it fits any non-gamer who just wants a powerful and reliable VPN router. This product also provides parental controls in a user-friendly management console.
- It’s a dual-band gigabit wireless router that PC Magazine rates as reliable.
- It has built-in network protection and excellent prioritization controls.
- This router has robust features and management settings.
- Rated as just “middling” in its file-transfer speeds.
- The unit only mounts vertically.
Setting up the AsusWRT router: See Surfshark’s image-rich AsusWRT router tutorial.
D-link DIR-885L/R router
D-Link Ultra WiFi routers have a reputation for speed and unique design. At around $279.99, this bright-red angular dual-band router has a user-friendly management interface with I/O ports and open-source firmware.
- This good-looking router has fast throughput performance and is a top choice for mid-range routers.
- With an MSRP of about $280, this unit is pricier than most.
- It only offers middling file-transfer speeds.
Setting up a D-Link DIR-885L/R router: D-Link has published a comprehensive user’s manual with detailed instructions for setup.
BONUS: Customized Surfshark FlashRouter
You can always avoid the hassle of installing everything yourself. Get a wireless FlashRouter with pre-installed Surfshark. See a wide range of options HERE.
Setting up VPN on a Non-VPN-Ready Router
If you have a VPN client router, setup is typically easy. If not, you need to install custom firmware such as:
DD-WRT is a Linux-based firmware for wireless routers and access points. Initially designed for the Linksys WRT54G series, it now runs on a wide variety of models.
DD–WRT is an open-source router firmware. It was originally designed to run only on the Linksys WRT54G series, but as of now, it supports a wide array of routers.
Switching between DD-WRT and Tomato DD-WRT is a relatively simple process. See this web article on myopenroute.com for a step-by-step walkthrough.
Three Final Tips
- When logging into a VPN service, connecting to the nearest server will ensure the best speed.
Even when you’re trying to avoid geo-restrictions, choose servers that are the nearest to your location, e.g., the neighboring country. This choice alone will significantly improve your internet speed. The VPN server requires the user to tunnel the connection to the server and back. Accordingly, there will always be a reduction in internet speed.
- When selecting a VPN service, choose the latest and fastest encryption standard.
vpnMentor rates Surfshark as one of the top 3 VPNs in the list of the Top 10 Best VPNs in the USA. Reviewers noted that Surfshark provides the following:
- Easy access to US Netflix.
- User-friendly apps on all major platforms.
- Unlimited device connections.
- Free VPN services are not your best bet.
While there are several free VPN services that provide necessary VPN encryption, that sort of product can come with a cost in:
- slower performance;
- intrusive ads;
- activity logging and selling your data to third parties.
Not to mention that free VPN services don’t even have router compatibility features.
Understandably, users don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on just anything; thus, I suggest Surfshark. Its monthly cost is lower than one cup of coffee. And the pricing is even lower if you get a 2-year plan.
However, if you must go with a free VPN service, insist on one that presumably is log-free.
Once you’re ready to add a VPN on your router, keep this in mind:
- VPN provides the perfect security pairing to your network router.
- When upgrading, look for VPN-ready routers for the most effortless VPN firmware activation.
- Consider the benefits in speed by logging onto a server in your geo-location or the one closest to it.
- Finally, remember that free VPN services don’t offer the best options in speed and security.
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