How to Set Up and Install a VPN on Your Router (and Why You Might Want to)

Knowing how to set up and install a VPN on your router could help you avoid having to install a VPN on each individual device at home or work.
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Virtual private networks (VPNs) typically offer a way to privately and securely connect a device to the internet. This could be helpful for masking your location or encrypting your online traffic.

But what if you want to connect multiple devices to a VPN? Would you need to separately install VPN software on each device?

In most cases, yes. But not if you connect your devices to a router that has a VPN installed. Read on to learn more about how to set up and install a VPN on your router to help increase security and privacy on all connected devices.

In this article
How to install and set up a VPN on a router
Why install a VPN on a router
VPN protocols
Pros and cons of installing a VPN on a router
FAQs
Bottom line

How to install and set up a VPN on a router

The process for setting up and installing a VPN on a router could vary depending on the VPN service and the type of router. But these steps follow the general process regardless of your router type and VPN.

1. Check router compatibility

Not every router is compatible with VPNs. This could mean a router doesn’t have that functionality or needs its firmware changed. Note that installing alternative firmware on a router could void its warranty.

Consider these options for checking to see if your router is compatible with a VPN:

  • Check your router’s instruction manual.
  • Check your VPN provider’s website.
  • Search online for your router model and VPN compatible.

Google search of a router along with the words "vpn compatible"

If your router isn’t compatible, you would need to buy one that is. This could involve buying a compatible router to configure yourself or buying a preconfigured router.

2. Choose a VPN

Now it’s time to choose a VPN if you haven’t already done so. But what is a VPN and what are some factors to consider when deciding between different options?

You typically want a VPN to help encrypt your online activity and mask the physical locations of your devices. Most VPNs will do this, but here are a few questions to consider when choosing a VPN to install on a router:

  • Is the VPN compatible with routers?
  • Does the VPN service provide clear installation instructions for routers?
  • Can you buy a preconfigured router from the VPN provider?

Popular VPNs such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer guides on how to configure an existing router with their services. They also partner with FlashRouters to provide preconfigured routers for your convenience.

Screenhost of ExpressVPN linking to instructions for various routers

3. Log in to your router

If you’re planning to configure a router yourself, you’ll have to log in to your router. Follow these steps on Microsoft Windows 10:

  1. Type cmd into the Start menu and open the Command Prompt app.

Screenshot of command prompt

  1. Type ipconfig into the Command Prompt window.

Screenshot of typing ipconfig into the command prompt window

  1. Your router’s IP address should be listed next to “Default Gateway”.

Screenshot showing the default gateway

  1. Open a web browser and type your router’s IP address into the URL field.

Screenshot of an ip address being typed into a web browser

  1. If prompted, enter the router username and password to log in.

Screenshot of logging into a router

If you’ve never logged in to your router before, it’s likely that it has default login settings, which you can find online. If those don’t work, consider resetting your router to factory settings. This typically resets the login information for the router back to its default settings.

4. Configure your router

Once you’re logged in to your router, it’s time to configure it for a VPN. The steps for this part of the process depend on your specific router.

It’s typically best to find these steps from your router’s manufacturer, your VPN provider, or another reliable source. Searching online for your router’s name and VPN setup could lead you to the correct steps.

For example, here are the steps for setting up a VPN on an Asus router for use with NordVPN.

5. Test

Once a VPN is set up on your router, it’s time for testing. Before you activate the VPN connection, search what is my IP online to check your IP address. You can use a service such as WhatIsMyIPAddress.com.

Screenshot of What Is My IP Address website

Your IP address is typically a string of numbers that could look something like this:

  • 216.239.32.0
  • 66.249.95.255
  • 72.14.192.0

Once you have your IP address, activate the VPN and check your IP address again. If your IP address is different from what you started with and a different location shows up under your IP information, your VPN is likely working.

Be sure to try this with multiple devices to make sure all your devices are working with your new VPN router setup.

Why install a VPN on a router

One of the primary reasons you might want to install a VPN on a router is to skip the process of having to install a VPN on every device you plan to connect to the internet. This likely wouldn’t be necessary for everyone — especially if you only plan to use a VPN on one or two devices — but it could be helpful for situations where you want secure connections on many devices at the same time.

How many devices would you want to connect to the internet with a VPN?

The average U.S. household has 25 connected devices, according to a survey from Deloitte. Even if you only wanted to use a VPN on a dozen devices, consider how much time it could take to set up a VPN on every phone, tablet, and computer. It’s likely worth putting time into boosting your cybersecurity efforts, but in this case, it might not be necessary.

Opting to install a VPN on your router could help you significantly reduce the time required for this process. You’d be doing one VPN installation rather than potentially a dozen or more. A possible added benefit would be offering VPN protection to smart devices that wouldn’t normally be configurable with VPNs, such as smart fridges and door locks.

If you’re wondering why you might want a VPN in the first place, consider these reasons:

Privacy and security

A VPN typically has two primary purposes:

  1. Encrypt your online traffic.
  2. Mask your true internet protocol (IP) address.

You might want to encrypt your internet activity to stop your internet service provider (ISP) from tracking your movements online. Or you might want to keep your personal information secure while using a public Wi-Fi network.

Masking your true IP address could come in handy in many scenarios, though the end goal is likely to preserve your privacy and anonymity. Considering your IP address could be used to find the general whereabouts of your device’s physical location, it makes sense to use a VPN for hiding your location.

Content streaming

You don’t need a VPN to watch content from Netflix or other streaming services. But you might need a VPN if you want to access content libraries from other regions of the world.

For example, Netflix in the U.S. has certain shows and movies available to users located in this region. But Netflix in the U.K., Mexico, or South Korea could offer different content compared to other regions. This is likely due to the fact that Netflix has licensing agreements that dictate which content they’re allowed to offer in different countries.

You typically wouldn’t be able to access content from another region unless you’re physically located in that region. But many VPNs offer services to bypass these streaming geo-restrictions even if your physical location hasn’t changed.

Travel

Apart from providing increased privacy and security while you’re away from home, using a VPN could provide specific benefits for certain travelers.

You might use a VPN while traveling if you want to:

  • Access a school, work, or home network.
  • Unblock certain websites.

Your office or school might have a private network set up for cybersecurity reasons. You might have something similar at your home. A VPN could help you access these networks from just about anywhere.

You also might run into issues with accessing certain websites while traveling. Using a VPN could help you unblock restricted content.

Keep in mind that laws vary from country to country, though VPN use is largely acceptable worldwide. But just in case, read up on any applicable laws and regulations before using a VPN in another country.

Check out our page about whether VPNs are legal for more details.

VPN protocols

Many VPN services have default or automatic settings for protocols. But depending on how you set up your VPN, you might need to select a protocol.

A VPN protocol is basically a set of rules that dictates how traffic is sent through a VPN. Different protocols have different security levels, though the average user likely wouldn’t have to dig into more advanced options.

If you imagine that a VPN is sending your online traffic through a secure tunnel, a VPN protocol decides how traffic is being sent through that tunnel and what kind of encrypted tunnel is being used.

Here are the general security levels for common types of VPN protocols:

VPN protocol Security
OpenVPN Excellent
WireGuard Excellent
IPSec/IKEv2 Good
SSTP Good
L2TP/IPSec OK
PPTP Poor

Many popular VPN services use multiple secure protocols with good or excellent security levels. This includes Private Internet Access, CyberGhost, and Surfshark.

Pros and cons of installing a VPN on a router

Pros
  • Save time connecting multiple devices to a VPN
  • No need to repeatedly connect to a VPN since it’s always on
  • Able to use a VPN with devices that might not typically be configurable for VPN use
  • Could be compatible across all platforms, including iOS (iPhone), MacOS, and Android operating systems
Cons
  • Not always simple to set up
  • Your existing router might not be compatible, and it could be costly to get a new router
  • Might have less flexible settings
  • Doesn’t help if you need a VPN in other locations
  • Could reduce internet connection speeds

Pros

The primary reason for many people to install a VPN on a router is likely to save time. If you can set up a VPN once for all your devices, it likely doesn’t make sense to take the time to set up a VPN on each of your devices individually.

But you have a few other potential advantages as well. This includes not having to boot up your VPN software every time you want to establish a secure connection. If a VPN is already set up on your router, you shouldn’t have to do more than connect a device to your router once and be good to go.

This VPN benefit could also extend to devices that might not typically have VPN support such as a smart thermostat or speaker. If you want increased online privacy and security for all of your internet-connected devices, having a VPN on your router could be the way to go.

Cons

In theory, setting up and installing a VPN on a router sounds like an excellent idea. But in practice, it might sound less appealing.

In many cases, it might not be as simple as you’d imagine to complete the process of configuring a router to work with a VPN. It could require a bit of technical know-how, which might not be everyone’s strong suit. It’s possible, however, to buy routers that come preconfigured to work with a VPN.

But were you planning to buy a new router? If you want to use a VPN on a router, you might have to. Some routers have no compatibility with VPNs or only work with certain VPN providers, which means your existing router might not work. And getting a preconfigured router could cost over $100.

Additionally, using a VPN on a router might not be as user-friendly as using a VPN app or other type of VPN software. Your router’s VPN might also be useless if you’re ever in a location other than where the router is located. If you want to connect one of your mobile devices to a VPN while traveling, you would still need another solution.

FAQs


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How easy is it to set up a VPN?

It’s typically fairly easy to set up a VPN. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Choose a VPN service that offers your desired features.
  2. Install the VPN software on your computer, phone, or other device.
  3. Launch the software.
  4. Select a VPN server and connect to it.

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How do I get a VPN for free?

To get a VPN for free, search for free VPN clients. Keep in mind that free VPNs don’t typically offer the same support and reliability as paid options. Here are some of the best free VPN services:


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How do I set up a VPN on my computer?

Follow these steps to learn how to set up a VPN on your Windows computer:

  1. Find and open the Settings option.
  2. Select “Network & Internet.”
  3. Click on “Add a VPN connection.”
  4. Enter the required information, including your VPN provider.
  5. Press “Save.”

This will create a VPN profile on your Windows computer that you can select when you want to connect to a VPN. Keep in mind that the process might be different on a Mac.

Bottom line

Knowing how to install and set up a VPN on a router could be beneficial at home or the office. Since you typically have to install a VPN on every device where you want to use one, using this strategy could quickly offer VPN access to all your devices — without having to separately configure each one.

But do you need a VPN at home? You might, especially if you’re worried about your ISP tracking your online activity.

Learn more about why you might need a VPN in a home environment.

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Author Details
Ben Walker is a writer at All About Cookies with a passion for all things internet and technology, whether it's using VPNs while away from home or organizing his life with password managers.