Do I Need a VPN For My Raspberry Pi? Everything You Should Know

Slice through your Raspberry Pi while exploring secure VPN options.
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The Raspberry Pi is a device that has full computer functionality at the size of a mere credit card. It has only grown in popularity over the years, with 37.4 million Raspberry Pis being used around the world.[1] Beyond its ever-popular use of building streaming media centers, the Raspberry Pi can also be used to fully replace your desktop PC and create retro gaming machines, among other ideas.

If you want to build a private virtual private network (VPN) server with Raspberry Pi, or if you simply enable VPN encryption to protect your device, you have come to the right place! This article will discuss how to generally use a VPN with Raspberry Pi, VPN recommendations for your device, and more. Keep reading below to learn how to protect the smallest PC in your home.

In this article
How to use a VPN with Raspberry Pi
Reasons to use a VPN with Raspberry Pi
Best VPNs for Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi VPN FAQ
Bottom line

How to use a VPN with Raspberry Pi

You will need to select a VPN service that supports a Linux client program, a program that supports the installation on your Raspberry Pi.

Your VPN Linux client is the software program that will run on your Raspberry Pi and is key for setting up your device with your VPN on your home network. The VPN client will establish a secure tunnel with the VPN server to keep your data encrypted and secure.

The installation of your Raspberry Pi VPN could vary; each VPN provider will differ from one another. Here’s a general step-by-step guide to set up your Raspberry Pi VPN:

  1. Choose your preferred VPN service, get a subscription, and log in to your account.
  2. Locate and download the VPN Linux client from the browser or terminal.
  3. Set up your client by using the terminal and ensure you have the latest version.
  4. Reboot your device.
  5. Login to your VPN program.
  6. Review your VPN provider’s website to see if you need to configure any settings for the Raspberry Pi and enable or disable various required features, such as the DNS provider, UDP protocol, or noting whether your router uses a DHCP reservation.
  7. Follow your VPN’s terminal instructions to connect to your VPN’s server.
  8. Review any additional features and test your connection.

You are now set up and ready to use your Raspberry Pi securely.

Build your own VPN on Raspberry Pi

Whether you choose a commercial VPN service or prefer to build on your own, a secure VPN connection prevents your internet service provider (ISP) from tracking your activity and online websites from tracking your IP address, or your true location. If you are a bit more tech-savvy, you may want to build your own Raspberry Pi VPN server.

Building your own server is an energy-efficient option, especially if you are running a media center or personal computer for a large part of the day. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons of running your own Raspberry Pi VPN server separate from a commercial VPN service.

Pros

  • You can use the Raspbian free operating system in combination with a compatible, low-cost VPN software such as OpenVPN or WireGuard.
  • You may want to track your own internet activity separately from other users also using the provider’s VPN service.
  • Managing your own VPN connection is a great opportunity to learn how VPNs work.

Cons

  • Unlike setting up your VPN locally, a commercial VPN service will give you access to thousands of servers located throughout the world, making it easier for you to discover geo-blocked content on a streaming service like Netflix.
  • Open-source software is a cost-effective option, but it could also be misused by cybercriminals who aim to invade your privacy or by companies that attempt to sell your information to third-party vendors. Check website reviews and whether the open-source software has undergone third-party audits.
  • A paid VPN software program typically comes with phone and web customer support options, so there is less of a burden on you to figure out any connectivity issues.

OpenVPN or WireGuard are popular options for setting up your Raspberry Pi VPN. A helpful website helps you learn how to set up your VPN at home with either software option. We have summarized some helpful information about both OpenVPN and Wireguard for you.

OpenVPN

The OpenVPN configuration is compatible with the Linux operating system, which makes it seamless to use with Raspberry Pi.

This software is most recommended if you have privacy or security concerns. Your information is never logged, according to its no-logging policy. Moreover, OpenVPN uses diskless servers throughout the global 32-server network that do not have the ability to store your information.

For security, the OpenVPN client uses strong AES-256 encryption and a seven-layer security model that addresses physical security, such as routers, and application security, such as browser extensions.

Because OpenVPN accepts cash payments, you can feel confident in remaining a fully anonymous customer. You can also pay for your VPN service with somewhat less anonymous payment methods such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Monero cryptocurrencies.

In 2020, the organization implemented WireGuard support technology into its software protocol, which significantly increased the connection speeds.

WireGuard

WireGuard is a protocol designed primarily for the Linux operating system that uses cryptography to secure your connection to the server. The built-in code aids in cryptokey routing, which uses unique keys to verify its identity. The cryptographic structures make the VPN encryption extra secure when it comes to potential cyberattacks.

Additionally, WireGuard’s speed tested more than 1,000 Mbps, which makes WireGuard VPNs some of the fastest around. And, with most of us using our mobiles, we want a fast and reliable service that can quickly switch from a Wi-Fi connection to just mobile data without losing the connection.

More information about Wireguard’s open-source software can be found in its whitepaper.

Reasons to use a VPN with Raspberry Pi

Virtual private networks encrypt your internet traffic and provide a secure internet connection that will protect your privacy. Cybercriminals can exploit an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. They could possibly redirect your internet traffic to a malicious server aimed at collecting your data or installing malware on your devices. Without using a dependable VPN, you could be exposing data such as your passwords or browser history to individuals on the same network.

Another reason you may want to set up a Raspberry Pi VPN is to bypass internet censorship, primarily when it comes to watching content that may be restricted by your physical location. You may have built your home media center to stream your favorite content, and a VPN can unlock that content by changing your device’s location online.

Finally, you might want to consider using a VPN to improve your overall internet speeds. Many internet service providers are allowed to enact ISP throttling on your internet service to regulate the flow of internet traffic. Using a VPN can bypass ISP throttling efforts and provide a secure gateway along with the ideal speed for your connection.

Best VPNs for Raspberry Pi

We’ve already examined a few of the most common VPNs to use when building your own Raspberry Pi VPN network.

Regardless of how you set up your Raspberry Pi, there are a few other VPN services we recommend. The following All About Cookies selections have a built-in WireGuard feature, which allows these VPNs to enable high speeds. Read more about our selections below.

NordVPN

Learn More
On NordVPN's website

  • Loads of servers for more connection options
  • Works with popular streaming services, including Netflix
  • Too many confusing plans

NordVPN is a popular VPN service that modified WireGuard’s software to create NordLynx, a protocol offering you high connection speeds on the Linux operating system. The VPN application offers strong encryption, audit verification of its no-logging policy, a kill switch, and 5,000 worldwide locations for its servers.

Additionally, NordVPN has apps for multiple other types of devices. This includes a Linux app as well as Android, iOS, and Smart TV apps.

Surfshark

Learn More
On Surfshark's website

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Works with Netflix and other streaming services
  • Headquarters in Nine Eyes Alliance

Surfshark

’s VPN protocol also offers strong standard encryption, a verified no-logging policy, and servers implemented with ram-only technology. The application also comes with a few unique benefits to you, such as split tunneling and camouflage mode.

Split tunneling is called “Bypasser'' on the Surfshark app, and this feature allows you to exclude domains and apps from VPN traffic as you see fit. The Camouflage mode is another added benefit that lets you hide the fact that you are even using a VPN. This mode adds an extra layer of security by hiding your traffic from those who may want to monitor your online activity. 

Mullvad

Learn More
On Mullvad's website

  • Anonymity features, such as cash payments and no email required
  • Never-changing price of about $5 per month
  • Struggles with non-Netflix streaming platforms

Mullvad is a unique service that offers file configuration support for both OpenVPN and WireGuard technology. The encryption is rooted in either standard AES-256 or ChaCha20 encryption, based on the protocol you select, respectively. Our All About Cookies in-depth review shows that Mullvad VPN further blocks ads and malware, has a no-logs policy, and offers more than 800 servers throughout 39 countries.

Raspberry Pi VPN FAQ


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What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card that can be used in a variety of ways. It runs on the Raspberry Pi OS instead of your usual operating systems like Windows or macOS. Tasks from basic web browsing to running a media center or running a web server can be completed with the Raspberry Pi.


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Is Raspberry Pi secure?

No matter what electronic device you use, hackers are looking for a way into your internet connection. You can secure your device and network by using a Linux-compatible VPN to encrypt your internet traffic. You can also secure your device by choosing a strong password for both your Raspberry Pi and your VPN.


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Can I use a free VPN with Raspberry Pi?

You can use a free VPN with Raspberry Pi, but exercise caution. You’re running a few potential risks with a free VPN service, including your data being sold to third-party advertisers and unreliability. Both issues could cause your data to be compromised. Moreover, free VPN services may have slower connection speeds.

Bottom line

Whether you decide to build your own Raspberry Pi VPN or use a commercial VPN service, you are taking the right steps in getting protection with your VPN. Because the device is small, you can conveniently use your Raspberry Pi anywhere in the world to connect to the internet. With questionable and unreliable Wi-Fi services, you don’t want to fall prey to hackers trying to gain internet access through your unsecured Wi-Fi network.

Choosing and installing the right VPN service can provide peace of mind, no matter where you are.

Author Details
Robin Moore is a freelance writer and editor specializing in blockchain technology, including wallet security and data privacy. She is the current Managing Editor for Watcher.Guru, a startup blockchain and finance news publication with 1.7 million followers on Twitter. Robin has also been the lead content editor with Genfinity.IO, another startup blockchain research publication. Before entering the Web3 space, she was a business analyst within the oil and gas industry. When she is not offering advice on the best ways to protect data privacy, she is hiking, doing yoga, or networking with her Web3 family on crypto-Twitter.

Citations
[1] Raspberry Pi Annual Review 2020