Setting up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your router is a great way to improve your digital security. Be it your home or office, you can protect an entire network by connecting all of your devices to a VPN at once, including PCs, laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, and even consoles. This way, all devices connected to your Wi-Fi will have encrypted access to the internet and receive the full range of VPN benefits.

And don’t worry about the installation process — it’s easier than it looks.

How to set up a VPN on a router

  1. Open the router configuration panel. Access it by entering your router’s IP (Internet Protocol) address in your browser, just like a URL. If you don’t know your router’s IP address, here’s how you can find it:
    • For Windows 10 users:
      • Open the “Start” menu, type in and select “Command Prompt.
      • A console window will appear; type “ipconfig” in it and press “Enter.” 
      • You should see your router’s IP address on the “Default Gateway” line. 
    • If you’re using macOS:
      • Open “System Preferences” from the Apple menu. 
      • Then, click on “Network.” 
      • Here, select “Wi-Fi” -> “Advanced…” -> “TCP/IP.” 
      • You will find your router’s IP address displayed next to “Router.”
  2. Check for a VPN client tab. Usually found under the advanced settings of your router. Depending on your router’s model and brand, this section may be somewhere else. Click around to locate it.
VPN client vs VPN server

If you didn’t find it, this means your router is not VPN-compatible. But don’t worry – most routers can be made VPN-compatible with certain firmware (we discuss how to make your router VPN client-compatible below).

  1. Follow your VPN client’s guidelines. Here are Surfshark’s instructions for setting up a VPN on:
  2. Make sure your connection is VPN-protected. To do this, you can simply search “what is my IP” in Google and see if it shows a different location than yours. If not, check if you carried out the instructions correctly and/or contact Surfshark customer support. 
  3. Enjoy your VPN router! 

Is your router not VPN-compatible? Here’s how to fix this

Disclaimer: flashing your router incorrectly can damage your router and make it unusable. If you decide to proceed, do it at your own risk.

If your router does not come already VPN client-compatible, you can usually set it up with third party firmware to fix the issue. Here’s how:

  1. Find out your router’s IP address. Or skip to Step 3 if you’ve already done so.
    • For Windows 10 users,
      • Open the “Start” menu and type in “Command Prompt.
      • There, you have to type in “ipconfig” and press “Enter.” 
      • You will see your router’s IP address on the “Default Gateway” line. 
    • If you’re using macOS, 
      • Open “System Preferences” from the Apple menu. 
      • Then, click on “Network.” 
      • Here, select “Wi-Fi” -> “Advanced…” -> “TCP/IP.”
      • You will find your router’s IP address displayed next to “Router.”
  2. Access your router. To access your router, enter the IP from Step 1 in your browser like you would a URL. This should bring up a prompt that asks you for your router’s username and password. If you haven’t changed them, you should find them in the router’s manual (Tip: you can access most routers by typing in “admin” for both username and password).
  3. Get the firmware for your router. Check if your router is supported by going to the DD-WRT website. Use the search box to find the model of your router (you can also try OpenWRT or Tomato if you can’t find your model on DD-WRT).  
  4. Download the bin files from the DD-WRT website for your specific router. This is very important as the process can void your warranty or even make the router no longer work. 
  5. Find the firmware install page. Many router interfaces have it under “Administration.” Click around until you find it. 
  6. Upload the DD-WRT bin file. Again, make sure it’s the right file for your browser, then upload it and wait.
flashing router DD-WRT
  1. Set a username and password. The default DD-WRT IP is 192.168.1.1. Enter that in your browser as a URL, and you’ll be asked to set a new username and password. 
  2. Make sure your router is connected to the internet. 
  3. Prepare for installation. Navigate to the VPN tab under Services and check the “Enable” bubble next to “Start Open VPN Client.”
  4. Now follow the steps above in How to set up a VPN router.

Tips to get the most out of your VPN router 

  1. Connect to the nearest VPN server. If you want speed, connect to a VPN server that is closest to your location.
  2. Don’t double up unnecessarily. Don’t have a VPN running on both your router and your device – your VPN-protected router has got you covered! Doubling up on the VPN will decrease your internet speed. 
  3. Look for the latest encryption standards. Newer encryption standards are faster and more secure. WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN are the best, most secure ones on the market. However, not all routers support them. Make sure your VPN client isn’t going to waste on a VPN router that can’t fully support it. 
  4. Be cautious with free VPNs. Free VPNs may not have the security standards of paid ones. You will often find yourself dealing with slower performance, intrusive ads, and possibly even have your online activity logged and sold to third parties.
  5. Bookmark your router settings. That’s the router’s IP address we talked about before. Have it bookmarked on your browser so you could easily access the VPN router settings whenever you need. 

Setting up a VPN on a router: pros and cons 

There are many good reasons to install a VPN on a router – and a few downsides. Here they are: 

PROS
CONS
Constant VPN protection
A more involved installation
Saves time for VPN installs on each device
Harder to control settings
Secure all home devices
Router-dependant capability
Ensures buffer-free & private streaming
The connection between the device and the router isn’t secured
Protects all guests that come to your home
Also works on devices you can’t install a VPN on

Pat yourself on the back

Setting up a VPN router may seem daunting, but it’s not that difficult when you’re well-informed. The benefits – time saved for VPN installation, numerous devices secured in one go, and so on – speak for themselves. Having read this article, you’re now armed with the knowledge on how to set up your VPN router. 

May we suggest Surfshark? The VPN comes with excellent setup guides for a variety of routers, possesses an optimized server network that offers great speeds, and if anything goes amiss, you’ll be able to rely on the 24/7 support service to help you get back on track. Even better: there’s a variety of pre-flashed routers (that is, with Surfshark already installed) you can choose from. 

 

Surfshark does not encourage using a VPN in ways that would potentially violate Terms of Service of streaming service providers.

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