How and Why to Set Up a VPN on a Router

How and why to set up a VPN on a router

As you are undoubtedly aware, your router is your connection to the internet. It’s also something that you can relatively easily use to increase your online privacy and security. How?

By installing the software needed to connect to your Virtual Private Network of choice on it.

This may seem like something of a major undertaking but, as this article aims to demonstrate, it doesn’t need to be.

You might also be wondering why you’d want to set up a VPN on your router rather than just connecting to one when you go online. After all, wouldn’t that also protect your identity and location and ensure the data you’re transferring is properly encrypted.

These are all true but there are also three distinct reasons why a VPN router could be an even better good choice.

1. It protects all devices connected to the network

Usually, individual devices each need to be set up with a VPN or run through a proxy server, and most providers also have a limit to the number that can be connected at the same time. But with a VPN router all devices connected to it are protected and the number is unlimited.

2. It saves time

As soon as a device is connected to the internet via a VPN router it is also protected. The alternative is to have to set up a VPN connection each time that you go online. This also means that users will never need to remember to connect to a VPN as it will be done automatically.

3. It can offer split tunnelling

Many VPN routers can be set to split which websites are accessed via the VPN and others that are not. Given that using a VPN can sometimes lead to slower connection speeds, this can be very useful when it comes to connecting to sites that need faster speeds.

Of course, there is another alternative altogether to ensuring online security and anonymity and that is to choose a cloud VPN alternative for business which has its own distinct set of advantages and features. But, assuming you want to use a VPN router instead, here’s what you need to know. Types of VPN router

When you’ve decided that you want to start using a VPN router you have a number of options of available to you. Depending on your budget, and your level of IT expertise, this may well dictate your choice.

It can offer split tunnelling

It may well be that your current router can be converted to connect directly and permanently to a VPN server. The router handbook or a Google search will generally reveal this fairly quickly. If it can’t, you may want to look at alternative solutions which include these options.

Pre-Flashed VPN routers

This is probably the easiest option as it spares you the need to flash new firmware onto your existing router. It will be one of the more expensive options, but if your IT budget runs to it then it’s well worth considering as you will simply be able to plug it in and get connected to your VPN of choice.

Out-of-the-Box VPN-compatible Routers

These are routers that come pre-installed with firmware that can connect to a range of VPN servers. They also generally support the OpenVPM protocol which lets you use virtually any VPN that you want.

The third option, and probably the cheapest, is to get a compatible router and flash it yourself with the right operating system to allow VPN connection.

The two most popular operating systems to use are DD-WRT and Tomato. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. For example, DD-WRT is compatible with a far wider range of different routers while Tomato has a much more user-friendly interface.

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume that you’re planning to go with DD-WRT and before doing anything, it’s vital that you check your router is compatible. There is a simple search tool online that will let you do this. Once you’ve confirmed that your router is on the list it’s time to follow these steps.

Choose your VPN

First, select which VPN you are planning to use. You’ll find no end of different reviews online so just pick the one that most closely meets your particular criteria. Reviews should also mention how easy the installation is for a particular VPN which is something else to consider.

Download your router firmware

The DD-WRT website will not only tell you whether your router can be flashed, it is also where you’ll find the relevant download. So simply install it on your PC and you’ll be ready to start.

Connect your router

Connect your router

While it varies for different router models, the usual recommendation is to use two routers and a connection to the internet. Set up the first router to allow VPN pass-through.

Then connect an ethernet cable into the LAN port on the primary router and plug it into the WAN or internet port on the secondary router.

Use a second ethernet cable to connect the primary router to the LAN port on your PC and then it’s time to flash your router. Because each one has its own method you’ll need to find the instructions online if they aren’t in the user manual.

Once the router is running with DD-WRT it’s time to connect with your chosen VPN. Then it’s just a question of fine-tuning how you use your VPN. You can also check on the DD-WRT status tab that everything is working fine.

Then you’re away and ready to go for super safe, anonymous, encrypted working.

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