Installing a VPN on your router is a fantastic way to increase your home security and ensure that all data leaving your home Wi-Fi network is safely encrypted and hidden from prying eyes.
A VPN installed on a single device will encrypt the data moving to and from it from the wider internet, having a VPN service on your router means that all traffic that moves through your router will be encrypted. Any device that uses the Wi-Fi provided by this router will have its information encrypted and hidden by the VPN.
The process to install a VPN on your router is not quite as simple as we’d like it to be but a lot of the complication is dependent on which model of router you have. We’ll take you through each step so you know exactly what you have to do.
How to install a VPN on a router
While it is possible to purchase a router that comes with a VPN option, it is also possible to configure your current router to work with a VPN.
The routers that will be the most viable for a VPN option are those that support DD-WRT, which is Linux based open source firmware. There are some router manufacturers that support VPN settings within the standard firmware, Asus routers are a good example of this.
DD-WRT is powerful firmware that opens up many more options for your router, expanding its capabilities. One of these capabilities is allowing VPN functionality to the router. DD-WRT was designed as a replacement for the standard firmware that comes with your router as stock.
If you don’t have DD-WRT installed, you’ll need to do it manually yourself. This process is known as ‘flashing’ and is not a walk in the park. This process might invalidate your routers warranty, and if done incorrectly could leave your router inoperable.
While it’s not easy, it’s not rocket science either, so if you’re comfortable routing around in some software then read on and we’ll show you how to install it.
How to install DD-WRT on your router
First, you’ll have to check that your router can support DD-WRT. You can do this by heading on over to the DD-WRT website and taking a look at their supported router database.
If you’re sure your router is supported then you can start the installation by preparing your router.
Don’t try and complete this process over wireless network, make sure that whatever terminal you’re using is wired into your router via an Ethernet cable.
‘Hard reset’ your router by following the 30/30/30 technique; hold down the power button for 30 seconds on your router. While still holding it down, unplug the router from it’s power source for another 30 seconds. Finally, with the button still held down, turn the power back on and hold for another 30 seconds.
Make sure you use Internet Explorer to access the router’s administration page, too.
Once you’ve done this head back over to DD-WRT’s router database and type in the model number of your router again. You’ll have a few different download options to choose from based on which router you have, make sure you select the latest most stable build.
Not all routers are the same, and some may require a little more effort than others so make sure you read your router’s page carefully to make sure you don’t do miss any crucial steps.
Once you have the correct software downloaded and ready to install, you’ll need to set it up on your router.
This process is going to vary slightly depending on your specific router but it will be a variation of the following steps.
Find your way to your router’s admin page. Depending on which router you have, this will be a variation of 192.168.x.x or 10.0.x.x. Take a look at your router’s manual if you’re not sure.
Move into the Admin section and find ‘Upgrade Firmware’ or something similar.
Choose the “Select File” option and find the DD-WRT installation files that you downloaded from the website for your specific router.
Upload it to your router and let it do its thing. Make sure you don’t unplug it or do anything else until it’s ready.
Again, the process for each router will vary slightly so make sure you ready the installation instructions carefully each time.
Once the process has finished, reconnect to your router and head back to your Admin page. The new firmware you’ve just installed might require a username and password, which will be Root/Admin as standard (do make sure to change this to something personal.
After you’ve logged in you should now be looking at the DD-WRT interface.
Configure and connect your router’s VPN
Now you’ve installed DD-WRT you’ll have to configure your VPN of choice to run on your router.
Setting up a VPN on your router is a fairly involved process and you’ll want to look at a specific guide for the particulars as this will vary from provider to provider.
NordVPN has a tutorials section on its website, and guides for how to set up a VPN on various routers. There are several other excellent VPN providers that have these resources too, such as ExpressVPN's help centre, the PureVPN support hub and the IPVanish database.
Once you’ve found a guide on the VPN’s website and followed the steps, your VPN will be set up and working. All traffic that moves through your router will now be encrypted and anonymous, protecting yourself and your household against anyone attempting to watch your movements online.