How to Install a VPN on a Router

How to Install a VPN on a Router

Getting a VPN service is already a step in the right direction in securing your privacy and anonymity and unlocking the internet. But setting it up on your router adds another layer of security to every device that accesses your router.

The router oversees the entire network so having a VPN installed in the router means that all data is encrypted as it leaves the Local Area Network (LAN). The question for most people, however, is how do you install a VPN on a router?

First of all, find a VPN provider. After this, download router firmware using either DD-WRT or Tomato. You then connect your router and flash it. Next, connect your VPN and then test whether the connection is working.

In this article, we will discuss how a VPN works on a router and give you a step by step guide on how to install a VPN on a router. So read on to find out more. This will certainly be an enlightening read for you.

How VPN Works on a Router

A VPN usually creates an encrypted tunnel between the device it’s installed in and the VPN server. It collects all of that device’s internet queries and transports them through the encrypted tunnel therefore making it impossible for anyone to intercept this traffic.

This is quite easy to understand considering most devices have a user interface. But what happens on a device such as a router which has no interface? How does a VPN work?

You first of all have to install Wi-Fi on your router. Once this is done correctly, any device that is connected to the router will have access to a secure connection. All the internet traffic from these devices will pass through an encrypted tunnel created by the VPN.

With a VPN directly installed on your router, you won’t have to individually install the VPN across all your devices. All your connected devices can simultaneously receive secure internet access.

How to Install a VPN on a Router

More often than not, finding a router that is VPN compatible is usually a headache for most people. Some people are often willing to pay the price for the convenience of getting a VPN router.

Such a router comes with a built-in VPN.  This is hardly necessary since some standard routers can easily be configured to work with a VPN.

So how do you install a VPN on a router?

First things first, you’ll have to find a VPN provider. If you are already paying for a premium VPN service, then well and good. If not, it’s time to do some research and decide on the best VPN for your purposes. Most VPNs such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN can be installed on DD-WRT or Tomato routers. Some other VPNs may not work so easily.

The aspects to look for in a VPN provider are speed, privacy policy, and security protocols. It’s important to pick a VPN that is powerful enough to do all the heavy lifting since you’ll have multiple devices running on the router.

While there are quite a lot of VPN service providers to choose from, we are going to use NordVPN in this article. The good thing about NordVPN is that it streamlines the installation process. They have a Flashrouters app that easily plugs into any DD-WRT router and does the work of installing the VPN for you.

So now that you have found a VPN service provider, it’s time to install your VPN on your router, follow these steps:

  • Download router firmware

You will have to decide whether to use DD-WRT or Tomato to download your router firmware. You’ll have to download it first because your router won’t work after you flash it and before you’ve installed the new firmware.

We recommend using DD-WRT because Tomato forks make installation a little bit harder. You can click here to see whether your router is compatible with DD-WRT. The same link will provide you with a download for your router model.

  • Connect your router

Next, you need to assemble your router. The set up may vary depending on your router model. However, the recommended apparatus for most models is 2 routers and an internet connection.

To correctly set up both routers, you, first of all, have to configure your primary router to enable VPN pass-through. Activating this feature will allow any device that is connected to your primary router to run VPN software. Once activated, connect your primary and secondary routers.

The basic set up is:

  • Plug an Ethernet cable into the LAN port on your primary router. Connect it to the WAN port on your secondary VPN router.
  • Connect your primary router to your computer. Use another Ethernet cable and connect the LAN port of your router to the computer’s LAN port.

If you are using a wireless connection, ensure the primary router is connected to the internet.

Both of these configurations make it possible for your VPN router to piggyback on your primary router’s internet connection.

You should note that though the use of two routers is recommended, not all routers require it. Some routers can and should be set up as sole primary routers.

  • Flash your router

Now that your router is connected and your firmware is downloaded, it’s time to flash your router. All routers work differently and will be flashed differently. You can find the flashing instructions on your user manual or online.

  • Connect your VPN

Once your router is running with DD-WRT, you can connect it to your VPN service provider. The instructions for this will depend on your VPN provider. NordVPN for example has a Flashrouter app which makes this step easy.

So check out the instructions for this from your VPN provider. With that, you should be connected.

  • Test it

Once your router VPN is configured, test it to see if the connection works.

All in all, installing a VPN on your router may seem like a big leap especially if you use free VPNs. If you are serious about your privacy and security, however, then the extra cost of installing a VPN on your router will be worth it.


Mark Lewis

Security nerd with a Data Privacy First mindset!

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