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Why you should set up a VPN on your router

Posted on February 27th, 2020 by in How-to.

An illustration of a WiFi router running ProtonVPN.

 

A VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online data and prevent your Internet service provider from spying on your browsing history. However, a VPN only protects your Internet connection on the device it’s installed on — unless you set up the VPN on your router.

By running your VPN not on your smartphone or laptop but your router, you are shifting the VPN’s security coverage from a device to your entire network. All the devices connected to your WiFi network will have their traffic encrypted in the VPN tunnel.

If you’re a ProtonVPN user, you can set up ProtonVPN on your home local network. In this guide, we’ll explain some of the reasons you might consider setting up ProtonVPN on your router. When you’re ready to get started, check out the bottom of this article for instructions. We’ve included links to our Knowledge Base articles, which explain how to set up a VPN on your router yourself, as well as a couple of simpler alternatives.

4 reasons to set up a VPN on your router

1. No need to set up a VPN on each device

Once you set up a VPN on your router, you don’t need to bother installing a VPN app on your other devices. This saves you from having to download a different VPN app for each device.

2. Protect devices that don’t support VPNs

More and more devices, like smart speakers and smart TVs, are connecting to the Internet. Many of these smart devices do not support a VPN app. How would you even install a VPN on your smart microwave in the first place? This means that your Internet service provider can monitor all the activity of the smart devices in your home — unless you set up a VPN on your router.

If you have a VPN on your router, any device that is connected to it will have its traffic encrypted, including smart devices. This adds a much-needed layer of security to your smart devices. A VPN on your router could also help access blocked content if, for instance, your smart TV comes equipped with a YouTube app. By setting your location to another country, you could access shows and movies that would otherwise be geo-blocked in your location. 

3. Securing your data is even easier

While signing into a VPN app is not difficult, the security of your password is undermined if you share it with others. Also, if you want to protect your children, grandparents, or guests’ online data, asking them to use a VPN might be a bit much, depending on their level of tech-savviness.

By running a VPN on your router, using VPN protection is as easy as connecting to WiFi. 

4. A router protects your entire household with one device

A router counts as a single device when you are looking at how many consecutive connections you can have to the VPN at once. And, as previously mentioned, your router then provides a VPN-protected connection to your entire household, no matter how many devices you connect to it. Even if your whole family is browsing the Internet on their smartphones at the same time, if they are all connected to your VPN-equipped router, then it is the only device that counts towards your connection limit.

Some drawbacks to consider

Before you decide to set up a VPN on your router, there are some downsides you should consider. These include:

  • Depending on which country the VPN server you connect to is in, you could lose access to local services or services that block VPNs.
  • The encryption can slow down your bandwidth and browsing speed.
  • Not all routers support VPNs.
  • Your router will not protect all your local network connections, like Bluetooth.
  • Placing a VPN on your router will not protect your network if one of the devices connected to it is compromised.
  • You lose some flexibility since changing VPN servers can be quite tricky when you are connected via your router. (Although this is not necessarily always the case — more on this below.)
  • Most importantly, if you decide to buy a new router to handle your VPN connection, it is impossible to verify that that router does not have a back door. This is true of any hardware. Only purchase hardware from vendors or brands you trust.

How to install ProtonVPN on your router

If you’re looking at buying a new router, you can set up a ProtonVPN connection on a router yourself if it supports the OpenVPN protocol. (Generally, that means the router will say it comes with a “VPN client” package.) If you already have a router, you could try to “flash” it, or install DD-WRT onto it. D

D-WRT is a third-party firmware that upgrades the security and utility of standard D-Link or Netgear router firmware.

However, both of these come with their drawbacks: installing a VPN manually on a router can be complex and time-consuming, and when you flash a router, there’s a small chance you will “brick” it, or render it inoperable. 

For tech-savvy users, here are our guides on setting up a ProtonVPN connection on routers yourself:

Pre-flashed routers

If you find these reasons persuasive but fear trying to set up a VPN yourself, buying a pre-flashed router from FlashRouters is an option. (If you purchase a router using this link, ProtonVPN may receive a commission, which we would use to develop and expand our service.)

FlashRouters handles the firmware modifications necessary to run a VPN on a router, and its Privacy App allows you to manage the VPN settings on your router via a simple graphic user interface. It lets you switch which VPN server you are connected to with a single click. If you get a router from FlashRouters, it will also support VPN Kill Switch and Auto-Connect features.

Follow these steps on how to set up ProtonVPN on your router with the FlashRouters Privacy App.

You can contact the FlashRouters team support if you have any questions or issues at https://www.flashrouters.com/contacts.

Another option you can use is InvizBox. They also sell pre-flashed routers that are all set for VPN connections. They use ad-blocking technology to help you protect your browsing, and all of their code is open source.

Its InvizBox 2 supports a VPN Kill Switch and even lets you set up a Tor hotspot, letting you route your connections over the Tor network. You can also easily switch which VPN server you are connected to and to set up multiple custom profiles using InvizBox’s browser-based router Settings page.

ProtonVPN is dedicated to defending everyone’s right to online privacy. By running a VPN on your router, you are bringing ProtonVPN protection to your entire home with a single device.

Best Regards,
The ProtonVPN Team

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Post Comment

37 comments

  1. Andreas

    do you have any plans to offer wireguard protocol as well in future ? are there any plans yet ?

    regards

    Andreas

  2. Richie Koch

    Hello Andreas,
    This is a pretty popular question, for good reason. WireGuard is a promising new VPN protocol. However, at the moment, WireGuard is fairly easy to block. All a network administrator has to do is block the UDP transport protocol and WireGuard is stopped. (You can learn more about transport protocols here: https://protonvpn.com/support/udp-tcp/) We are currently focusing on implementing better TCP protocols because they are more resistant against censorship. However, WireGuard is in our future plans. We will implement it. We just do not yet have a date.

  3. Shantanoo Chaudhary

    Hey Ben! Thanks for the detailed explanation.
    1. I understand only the ‘surfing’ on Tor will be secure without a VPN. My question was whether ‘surfing’ on Tor using a VPN is still tangibly safer than surfing on any other browser. Will it be much much slower?

    2. I’ve signed up for the Plus Trial and every time I checked my IP address on the IP address website from devices connected through the VPN hotspot I see my local ISP showing up on the IP address. When I check my IP address on those sites using my phone which runs ProtonVPN (Plus Trial) it shows the ProtonVPN IP address of a different country. Do you think I’m doing something wrong or is there a bug in the Android app? Do let me know what you think. This problem exists on all phones, tables and Windows laptops connected to my Android phone’s hotspot that’s running ProtonVPN Plus Trial version. Thanks.

  4. Ben Wolford

    Hi Shantanoo, sorry for the delay getting back to you. To answer your first question, there’s really no security or privacy benefit to connect to Tor using a VPN. We offer this feature as a convenience only. But yes, browsing the web via the Tor browser is considered quite secure. It will be slower, but if you’re loading simple pages you probably won’t notice. Regarding your second question, it seems like there’s some variable affecting the IP information being displayed. I suggest reaching out to our support team and describing your situation. https://protonvpn.com/support-form

  5. Brian Donnahoo

    Do you have VPN for the NetGear Nighthawk cable modem router

  6. Ben Wolford

    Hey Brian! For questions about specific router models, please get in touch with our support team: https://protonvpn.com/support-form. Thanks!

  7. Azhar Ahmad

    Hi, I’m trying to setup VPN on my router. I’m using TP-Link Archer VR2800. It supports OpenVPN, PPTP VPN and IPsec VPN. Can you help me out please? Ultimately I want to connect ProtonVPN app on my iphone to my home VPN router to access my lighting control devices. Can it be done? Thanks
    Regards,
    Azhar

  8. Ben Wolford

    Hey Azhar, thanks for getting in touch. Could you please contact our support team? https://protonvpn.com/support-form They should be able to help you better.

  9. Michel

    Please post a guide on how to set up ProtonVPN on OpenWRT routers. Thank you!

  10. Ben Wolford

    Hi Michel, for questions about specific router models, please get in touch with our support team: https://protonvpn.com/support-form Thanks!

  11. Shantanoo Chaudhary

    Dear ProtonVPN: I finally graduated college and my parents insist that I practice online hygiene by using e VPN on my Android phone at all times. They’ve been long time users of your product and I’ll most likely want to sign up with you guys too because I hear good things about you plus I can find in-house tech support if I have a problem. (Like, literally in-house. Get it?)

    I do have a few questions though, would appreciate some inputs from you.

    1. I’m making it a habit to use Tor Browser for my surfing needs. Will that be redundant if I’m using your service? Or will that be an overhead in terms of speed? Or will that somehow improve my security? I might sign up for Core so please do account for that too in your inputs. Thanks.

    2. I use my Android phone as a hotspot for my older iPhone, iPad and Windows laptop once or maybe twice a month. Will that traffic also get routed through the VPN automatically? Should I get additional accounts for those devices or would the one account on my Android phone be legally acceptable?

    I want to thank you in advance for your help. And for the wonderful work you’re doing. Plus, all the reviews on the Internet claim you’re providing all security related services essential to a secure VPN absolutely free without any ads and without any data limits. I think it’s a noble gesture from your end and really chimes with your mission statement. Please tell the entire team how much that is valued by regular people like me. Thanks.

  12. Ben Wolford

    Hi Shantanoo! Thanks for the great questions, and welcome to the Proton community! To answer your questions:

    1. Tor browser is great, but it will only protect your activity within the browser. Any connections outside the browser (e.g. desktop apps) will still be visible to your ISP.

    2. If you connect to ProtonVPN on your Android, your entire connection will be encrypted between your Android and our servers. So this is a great solution. And it also means you would not need additional accounts/connection allowance for your other devices because they are protected via your Android.

    I hope that’s helpful! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have other questions. And send our regards to your parents!

  13. Smoufo

    Hello,
    It would be really great if you could provide a small how-to guide on how to configure an IPSec connection to Protonvpn from the main Draytek Vigor router (e.g. Vigor 2860, 2960)!
    Best,

  14. Ben Wolford

    Hi! For questions about specific models, please reach out to our support team for assistance: https://protonvpn.com/support-form

  15. Sean Yip

    Any detailed guide for TP-link router? Thanks

  16. Ben Wolford

    Hi Sean! Please contact our support team for assistance on specific router models: https://protonvpn.com/support-form

  17. Alexander

    @Alejandro : regarding your Draytek question the following.

    With my Draytek 2925AC i’ve been able to configure ProtonVPN with IKEv2 / IPsec EAP. It’s running four stable connections with ProtonVPN in failover now. I had to find the advanced settings myself and can tell you it works great with IKE phase 1 : AES256_SHA256_G14 – IKE phase 2 : AES256_SHA256. According to me you could give it a try with the free version and decide later to upgrade as i did (Plus).

  18. Peter

    Looking at the Invizbox it appears to come as bundle of the device plus monthly fee for VPN. Are there any plans for cooperation with ProtonVPN so that I wouldn’t have to pay additional unused VPN service?

  19. Alejandro

    Hello, interested in using ProtonVPN against my Draytek 2920 SOHO router. Is it possible?. Thanks

  20. Roxana Zega

    Hi Alejandro,

    Currently, we do not have a dedicated guide for this router model since it has not officially been tested yet.

    We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

  21. Jeff Mysliwiec

    I am so grateful for your attempts to keep privacy and security for the internet users. I have been having difficulty getting my VPN Plus to work and all attempts to get assistance don’t reach you.

  22. CW

    Which set of instructions would be the most helpful for setting up on a T-Mobile LTE gateway?

  23. Rox

    Hi there. =)
    I bought a huwei ws5200 specifically becourse the box said it has VPN passthrough.
    But now i think it’s PPTP / L2TP is only for connecting to a company vpn.
    Is far as I can se, you dont support PPTP / L2TP.
    Is there anyway to use my existing router for protonvpn?? Or should i buy a new one?
    Thank you very very much.

  24. STAFFAN BLOMBERG

    Hi!
    Have new LINKSYS WRT 32000ACM. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH LINKSYS DASHBOARD ”LINKSYS SMARTWIFI DASHBOARD? WILL YR DASHBOARD COMEBACK ON TOP OF LINKSYS’???? MAYBE A CUSTOMER!!

    RGDS, STAFFAN

  25. theironcurtains

    Are you guys working on a partnership with Invizbox?

  26. frdonn

    Good post and usefull! However, it is not applicable for those main use cases :
    1) Gaming : If there are PC/console for gaming, VPN add latency that definitly decrease user experience.
    2) Stream : router setup only one VPN server, so if you use devices (tablette, AppleTV, Chromecast, smartphone) to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime video, Disney plus… when the IP of VPN is blacklisted by the SVOD provider you have to re configure the router in order to change to another Plus server.
    Maybe you have solution for that ?

  27. Erick

    Hi I’m planning to start my VPN account and also upgrade my router in the country I’m I have the access to the following routers below the models the VPN characteristics.
    TP-LINK Archer C60 ( I checked the user guide and it has a section regarding OpenVPN configuration)
    VPN Pass-Through PPTP
    And the
    TP-LINK TL-WR841HP
    VPN Pass-Through PPTP, L2TP, IPSec (ESP Head)
    Could you help me wich one can be configured with ProtonVPN

    Regards

  28. gigi

    seems to me that in switzerland any internet provider (swisscom, upc, etc) does only work with its customised router/box that does everything (internet, tv, phone).
    so you do not have anymore the freedom of buying/choosing your own router.
    am I right?

  29. Milkman

    You can just use BraxRouter from Rob Braxman Tech (watch on youtube) plus a Raspberry Pi and you got yourself a cheap VPN router to half the prize.

  30. Guilherme

    Olá, tenho um router DIR-879. Antes de contratar o serviço ProtonVPN, gostaria de saber qual o procedimento passo a passo para instalar a VPN neste modelo de roteador.
    Obrigado

  31. Roxana Zega

    Olá Guilherme,

    Infelizmente, este router não é compatível e não é possível criar uma ligação ProtonVPN com ele.

    Obrigada

  32. Hizo

    OpenWRT + ProtonVPN = Love! 🙂

  33. Luc Gravelle

    Hello, I’m interested In running a VPN on my router. I’m a basic monthly paid version user of NVPN. Please, tell me how should I proceed and is it include whit my subscriptions?

  34. Roxana Zega

    Hi Luc,

    We’re very happy to hear you’re interested in ProtonVPN. You can check all our plans here: https://protonvpn.com/pricing

    Thank you!

  35. Claude

    By the way, another practice everybody should have in mind for not ruining their privacy keeping efforts is not mixing “anonymous” traffic, if such a thing is possible, with autenticated traffic. TOR instructions advice not to use the same connection for private browsing and “logged in” browsing; this is, not doing normal “anonymous” browsing and then go using our mail client or webmail, social networks, chat applications, system updates, etc, because Google Analitics, Facebook and so many other “spies” will know that our Facebook account where we have our name, photo, familiars, friends, coworkers, etc, etc, etc, was visited by the same IP that visited some political debate forum; or Google will know that our Youtube account is used by the same person that visitied a lot of sites related to car selling, whatever, put the example that you prefer.

    So, since Protonmail already knows my real IP, and lets not tallk about Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, etc, that even know my phone number, where I live how I look like, etc, etc, etc, using the VPN for those apps and services would be “whistle blowing” ourselves; would be like saying: «Eh, that guy who was disguised and nobody could recognize him, that guy was me». So, we should let those apps and services that already know us, to keep knowing that we use them, but not letting them know anything else, and this would involve not using out real IP for anything else. But how can one exclude the traffic of individual applications of being redirected to ProtonVPN, tell that my email client or my chat app won’t use the VPN but the normal connection?
    I haven’t been able to find info about this, I know one can block IPs, but have no idea of what IPs uses Snapchat or Gmail’s app, and I guess they probably change them from time to time. So, how can one tunnel applications and not just IPs? Im using ProtonVPN with the Linux command line app (AFAIK there isnt any other for this OS so far).

    Thank you.

  36. Jacek

    there’s an issue with your DNS servers, putting only “10.8.8.1” makes me offline, what do you think about clooudflare 1.1.1.1 ?

  37. Artem

    Please take care of Ubiquiti device users. I’d like to conveniently and quickly configure VPN!

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