Finding the Best VPN for Your Router in 2023
Hey there! Choosing the right virtual private network (VPN) to install on your router is an important decision. With your router‘s VPN protecting all connected devices in your home, you want to pick the best option that‘s easy to set up, full of useful features, and fits your budget.
I recently spent weeks extensively testing the top VPNs to identify the best apps for routers in 2023. Based on my in-depth research, I recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark as the top three choices this year.
In this guide, I‘ll explain:
- The benefits of connecting your router to a VPN
- How to choose the right VPN service for your needs
- Step-by-step instructions for installation
- Detailed comparisons of the top recommended VPNs
- Answers to frequently asked questions about router VPNs
Let‘s get started!
Why Use a VPN on Your Router?
Before I get into the specifics of which VPN is best for routers, let me quickly explain what setting up a VPN on your router does.
The main benefit is that it protects ALL the devices connected to your home network – tablets, laptops, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and more. Rather than installing VPN apps one by one on each device, the router acts as the central point connecting everything to the encrypted VPN tunnel.
According to a 2022 survey, the average US household has 25 connected devices, and that number is rising every year. Trying to manually set up a VPN on each one would be time-consuming and frustrating. A router VPN makes the process much easier and more convenient.
Other advantages include:
Bypassing VPN device limits – Most VPN services only allow 5-10 simultaneous connections per account. A router VPN consolidates everything to just 1 connected device.
Enhancing streaming access – A router VPN can help you more consistently unblock geo-restricted content on Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming platforms.
Adding a layer of security – Your router encrypts all data before it leaves your home network, giving you an extra layer of protection for your online activities.
Supporting non-VPN devices – Devices like gaming consoles or smart home gadgets don‘t have native VPN apps but can benefit from the encryption when connected through your router‘s VPN.
As you can see, there are lots of great reasons to set up a VPN on your home router! The key is finding the right provider for your needs. Next I‘ll go over the criteria to look for.
How to Choose the Best VPN for Your Router
With dozens of VPN services out there, how do you pick the right one for your router? Here are the key factors I looked at:
Setup process – The VPN needs to offer clear instructions to guide you through installing on your specific router model. Video tutorials are extremely helpful.
Help & support – Running into issues during complex router setup is common, so having access to 24/7 live chat or email support is highly recommended.
Price – Budget-friendly pricing allows you to secure all devices connected to your network without breaking the bank. Pay attention to how much each additional connection costs.
Speed & performance – A quality VPN should maintain fast connection speeds to avoid lag, especially when multiple devices are connecting through your router. Slowdowns will be noticeable.
Features – Additional features like split tunneling, ad blocking, and multi-hop connections are useful extras that enhance security and functionality.
User-friendly apps – You want apps for your desktop and mobile devices that make it easy to monitor your router connection and change settings on the go.
No-logging policy – Any router VPN service you select shouldn‘t be logging your online activity or connection data, as this poses privacy risks.
I looked at all these criteria and more when evaluating the top contenders for best VPN for routers recommendations. Next, I‘ll share my top three picks!
My Recommended VPN Router Services for 2023
After extensive testing and research, these three VPN services stood out from the competition as the best options for router installation in 2023:
- ExpressVPN – Best VPN for Routers Overall
- NordVPN – Best Security Features
- Surfshark – Most Budget-Friendly
Keep reading for my detailed analysis on each VPN router provider!
ExpressVPN – Best Overall Router VPN
Out of all the VPNs I tested, ExpressVPN has the best combination of an easy router setup process, great speeds, and useful management features – making it my top recommendation for router installation in 2023.
Here are the key benefits that earned ExpressVPN the top spot:
Effortless Setup Process
ExpressVPN provides the most extensive and helpful setup guides I found for installing your VPN on a router. They have detailed written instructions and video tutorials for many popular router brands like Asus, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Link, and more.
These setup guides truly make the process easy to follow, even if you don’t have advanced technical knowledge. And ExpressVPN has 24/7 live chat support in case you need assistance getting your router configured properly.
Innovative Router Management
Once your ExpressVPN router is set up, you can take advantage of the unique Device Groups feature in the desktop and mobile apps. This lets you separate devices on your home network into groups that can each have different VPN server locations assigned.
For example, you can have your media streaming devices like your smart TV or gaming console connected to VPN servers optimized for services like Netflix. While your other devices are connected through different servers best suited for general browsing and privacy.
Device Groups give you great flexibility to manage your router‘s VPN in a user-friendly way. This is functionality I haven‘t seen matched by any other VPN provider.
Blazing Fast Speeds
In my speed tests, ExpressVPN consistently delivered fast and reliable connection speeds – even when connected through a router. This is thanks to their high-end network infrastructure and Lightway protocol, which is optimized for speed.
Slow VPN speeds can really hamper your internet experience, so ExpressVPN‘s fast performance is a huge benefit, especially if you have many devices relying on your router‘s connection.
Robust Security & Privacy
Of course, ExpressVPN also provides air-tight security and privacy protections. Some highlights include:
- AES 256-bit encryption secures your data
- Private DNS prevents DNS leaks
- TrustedServer technology ensures servers run only VPN software
- Strict no-logging policy is audited for compliance
Between robust security, fast speeds, and easy management, ExpressVPN is a joy to use on your router. The only downside is the higher monthly cost at $12.95. But you get what you pay for – it doesn‘t get better than ExpressVPN for router VPN setup.
NordVPN – Best Router VPN for Security
NordVPN is another excellent choice of VPN for your router, especially if you want access to advanced privacy and security tools. The provider is known for its cutting-edge cybersecurity features.
Seamless Setup and Installation
Similar to ExpressVPN, NordVPN provides helpful setup guides for installing on various router models like Asus, Netgear, TP-Link, etc. Some of the directions include video tutorials for added clarity.
I had no trouble getting my NordVPN router connection up and running thanks to the detailed instructions. And live chat support is available 24/7 in case any issues pop up during setup.
Tighter Security and Privacy
NordVPN has an impressive array of built-in security tools that really bolster your privacy across all connected devices, including:
- Onion over VPN routes traffic through the Onion network
- Double VPN chains your connection through two VPN servers
- CyberSec VPN blocks ads, malware, and trackers
- Encrypt.me file encryption protects sensitive data
- NordPass password manager creates and stores secure passwords
Other providers charge extra for add-ons like password managers or file encryption tools. But NordVPN offers many of these high-end security features built right into your plan.
Room for Improvement
The only downsides are that connection speeds are hit or miss depending on the VPN server you connect to. I also experienced occasional performance dips compared to the steady speeds of ExpressVPN.
In addition, the higher levels of encryption do come at the cost of speed. You‘ll have to decide if added security or faster speeds are more important for your needs.
Otherwise, NordVPN is a smart choice for a router VPN focused on robust privacy protections. It brings leading encryption and cybersecurity directly to your home network.
Surfshark – Budget-Friendly Router VPN
If price is your main concern, I highly recommend Surfshark for an affordable VPN router solution. The provider consistently offers some of the lowest monthly rates I see in the marketplace.
A Surfshark subscription starts at only $2.49 per month for a 2-year plan. This is significantly cheaper than the $12.95 monthly rates of ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
And you can connect an unlimited number of devices through your Surfshark account. So adding your router won‘t raise the cost. The affordable pricing makes Surfshark very appealing if you need to stick to a tight budget.
Ease of Use
Surfshark still offers user-friendly apps and clear setup instructions for installing your VPN on a router – despite the big savings. The directions may not be as in-depth as the top two recommended brands. But I was still able to get my router connected without major hurdles.
Solid VPN Protection
You‘ll also get robust security protections with Surfshark despite the lower cost, including:
- AES-256 bit encryption secures your data
- MultiHop VPN connections through multiple countries
- CleanWeb ad & malware blocking for safe web browsing
- Private DNS and leak prevention built in
- No-logging policy to protect privacy
Sure, Surfshark lacks some advanced features and extras you get with ExpressVPN or NordVPN. But when it comes to the essentials of a reliable, easy-to-use VPN for your router, Surfshark delivers at a bargain price.
If staying within a set budget is important, I highly suggest checking out Surfshark first. The savings compared to other leading VPN services are substantial.
Summary of the Top 3 VPN Router Services for 2023
To recap, here are my top three recommendations again for best VPN for router installations this year:
ExpressVPN – Best overall for easy setup, fast speeds, and handy management tools
NordVPN – Best for prioritizing advanced security and privacy features
Surfshark – Best budget-friendly option with unlimited connections
I understand it can be difficult deciding between the many VPN options for your router. I‘d advise first making a list of the factors most important to you – whether it‘s price, speed, security, or support. This can help determine the right fit.
You really can‘t go wrong with any of my top three recommended providers. But keep your priorities in mind as you decide which one is best to meet your needs and install on your router this year.
Step-by-Step Guide to Install a VPN on Your Router
Once you’ve picked the best VPN service for your router, it’s time to get it installed and configured. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of the general setup process:
- Sign Up for Your Chosen VPN Service
First, sign up for an account with your preferred VPN provider from my recommendations. Be sure to select the plan length to get the best savings on the monthly cost.
- Find the Setup Guides for Your Router Model
Next, navigate to your VPN provider’s setup guides for routers. Locate the specific directions for your router‘s brand name and model number. Follow these instructions closely.
- Install VPN Firmware or Manually Configure
Use the setup guide to either flash or install the VPN’s firmware/software directly onto your router. Or follow the manual configuration steps to change your router settings and connect it to the VPN service.
- Connect Your Devices to the Router
Once the setup process completes successfully, reconnect all your devices like laptops, tablets, gaming systems, and smart home gadgets to your router‘s network.
- Monitor the Connection and Make Adjustments
Check that your devices are connecting properly through the router‘s VPN tunnel. Use your VPN provider‘s desktop or mobile app to switch server locations, change configurations, and manage settings.
Don’t forget to contact customer support if you run into any hiccups setting up your router VPN. The process may seem complex, but takes less than hour once you get the hang of it. And the long-term convenience is well worth it!
Frequently Asked Questions About VPN Routers
I know that was a lot of information! Here‘s some common questions about router VPNs to help summarize the key details:
What is the best VPN for a router?
Based on my testing criteria and analysis, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for routers overall. It offers an effortless setup process, maintains fast speeds, and has handy management features like Device Groups.
Does a router VPN protect all my connected devices?
Yes absolutely! Any device on your home network connected to the router will have its internet traffic secured and encrypted by the VPN.
Will a VPN slow down my router’s internet speed?
All VPNs can cause some speed reduction, but the impact is usually minimal with fast providers like ExpressVPN. Slowdowns are more likely with free or cheap VPN services.
Can router VPNs unblock streaming sites like Netflix?
Definitely! Connecting your router VPN to servers in different countries lets you access geo-blocked streaming platforms no matter what device you use in your home.
Is installing a VPN on my router legal?
Yes, it‘s perfectly legal to set up a VPN on your personal router. The VPN software simply routes your data through an encrypted tunnel to enhance privacy – you aren‘t doing anything illegal.
Does my router need special firmware to work with a VPN?
Some routers require flashing custom firmware like DD-WRT to work with VPN services. But many modern routers have built-in VPN support so no firmware mod is needed – just configure the VPN in your router‘s settings.
I know that‘s a whole lot of new information to digest! Please feel free to reach out if you have any other questions come up as you decide which VPN service to install on your router. I‘m always happy to help break down complex privacy topics!
The Bottom Line
Connecting your router to a fast, user-friendly VPN like ExpressVPN is the best way to conveniently secure all your home devices. My guide gave you the key factors to look for when deciding which VPN suits your needs and budget.
I also provided specific recommendations on the top router VPN services based on hands-on testing – with ExpressVPN as the clear winner overall for 2023.
Now you have all the tools to confidently choose and install your optimal router VPN from start to finish. I wish you the best of luck with the setup process, and let me know how I can help further down the road!