Installing a virtual private network (VPN) on your router is one of the most effective ways to protect all of your devices and data at home. But with so many VPN providers out there, how do you choose the right one for your router?
As an online privacy advocate with over 10 years of experience testing VPNs, I‘ve evaluated the top contenders when it comes to VPN router support. In this guide, I‘ll share my research to help you find the best VPN for your router needs.
Below I‘ve highlighted my top recommendations if you need to get to the nitty gritty. But keep reading for a more in-depth analysis of each VPN‘s pros and cons when installed on a router.
My Overall Top Picks for Router VPNs
|ExpressVPN||Easiest Setup & Usage|
|NordVPN||Extra Security Features|
Now let‘s get into the details on each of these stellar choices for router protection.
ExpressVPN – My Top Pick for Hassle-Free Setup & Usage
Over the years, I‘ve installed my fair share of VPNs on routers. And I can confidently say ExpressVPN offers the smoothest overall experience.
ExpressVPN really holds your hand through the entire setup process. For pretty much any mainstream router brand you can think of, they have a step-by-step guide to walk you through installation.
Many of the guides even include video tutorials in case you‘re more of a visual learner. I‘m talking brands like Asus, Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, and more. They‘ve got you covered.
And ExpressVPN has live 24/7 chat support if any hiccups pop up during the install. I tested this out myself and found the agents friendly and knowledgeable when I posed some tricky router/VPN questions.
Once you have ExpressVPN up and running, it offers a standout feature called Device Groups that makes managing your network simple.
You can categorize connected gadgets into separate groups like "media devices" for your smart TVs or "kids‘ devices" for your children‘s laptops. From there, you can customize ExpressVPN locations, privacy settings, and content filters for each group.
It‘s an awesome way to fine tune your network without having to touch individual devices. Especially helpful for families trying to balance security and parental controls across all their gadgets.
The only downside is ExpressVPN sits at the higher end of the price spectrum, starting at $6.67/month up to $12.95/month.
But in my opinion, you get what you pay for in terms of easier setup and superior device management. If it fits your budget, ExpressVPN is hard to beat for router usage.
- Price – $6.67-$12.95/month
- Router Support – Asus, Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, Xiaomi + more
- Simultaneous Devices – 5
- Servers – 3,000+ worldwide
- Protocols – Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2
- Torrenting – Allowed on all servers
Take advantage of ExpressVPN‘s 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to give it a risk-free test drive.
NordVPN – Best Extra Security Tools
If you‘re looking for a VPN that goes beyond basic protection, NordVPN is a stellar choice.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN provides setup instructions for all popular router models to help get you started. The guides are super detailed with screenshots walking you through each step.
And NordVPN has 24/7 live chat if any router issues pop up during installation. I tested this out and found the support agents friendly and knowledgeable.
Once installed, your network benefits from NordVPN‘s industry-leading security features. This includes:
- Onion Over VPN – Extra encryption by routing traffic through the Onion network.
- Double VPN – Your data passes through two VPN servers for double encryption.
- CyberSec – Automatically blocks dangerous websites and ads with malware or tracking.
- Split Tunneling – Choose which apps use the VPN tunnel while allowing others direct access.
NordVPN also offers premium extras like 1TB encrypted cloud storage and a password manager. This makes it a great total package if you need more than just VPN protection.
The only negative is NordVPN doesn‘t have a device grouping feature for customizing settings across your gadgets like ExpressVPN offers.
But when it comes to security, NordVPN has all the requested features to keep your devices and home network safe. And pricing is competitive starting at just $3.99/month.
- Price – $3.99-$11.95/month
- Router Support – Asus, Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link + more
- Simultaneous Devices – 6
- Servers – 5,500+ worldwide
- Protocols – NordLynx, IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN
- Torrenting – Allowed on specialized servers
Give NordVPN a spin with their 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark – Most Affordable Router VPN
Last up is Surfshark, which offers many of the same great features as the competition at a bargain price point.
Surfshark provides setup tutorials for installing their VPN across popular brands like Asus, Netgear, and Linksys routers.
The guides have step-by-step instructions and screenshots to walk you through the process. And you can get personalized assistance via Surfshark‘s 24/7 live chat support.
Once up and running, Surfshark delivers speedy connections and watertight security powered by WireGuard and AES 256-bit encryption. Leaked NSA documents show this is strong enough to thwart hackers and surveillance.
Surfshark also offers handy features like split tunneling to decide which apps enter the VPN tunnel. And you can whitelist trusted devices to bypass the VPN when desired.
The biggest benefit is Surfshark‘s incredibly affordable pricing. Plans start at just $2.49/month – almost 60% cheaper than competitors.
This makes Surfshark the perfect budget-friendly option if you want to secure your router and all connected devices without breaking the bank.
The only missing aspect is a device grouping feature to customize settings across gadgets. But the price more than makes up for any lacking bells and whistles.
- Price – $2.49-$12.95/month
- Router Support – Asus, Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link
- Simultaneous Devices – Unlimited
- Servers – 3,200+ in 100+ countries
- Protocols – WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN
- Torrenting – Allowed
You can test drive Surfshark risk-free thanks to their 30 day money back guarantee.
How I Evaluated the Best VPNs for Routers
Choosing a VPN for your router isn‘t quite as simple as picking one for your laptop. You need to take some additional factors into account during the evaluation process.
Here were my most important criteria when researching the top router VPN options:
🔹 Router compatibility – The VPN needs to support common router brands like Asus, Netgear, Linksys, etc. And they should provide detailed setup instructions.
🔹 Helpful support – Installing a VPN on a router has some technical hurdles, so access to customer support is crucial. I looked for 24/7 live chat and how-to guides.
🔹 Performance & security – Of course the VPN still needs to deliver reliable speeds and privacy protection once installed. This includes standard features like AES 256-bit encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch.
🔹 Usability – Managing network settings through a router interface isn‘t always user-friendly. So I evaluated management apps and other ways to control the VPN.
🔹 Value – Securing every device in your home adds up, so affordable pricing is important. But I also factored in the quality of features.
Using these criteria, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark rose to the top of my recommendations.
But depending on your needs, there are a few other VPNs that may also fit the bill for your router. Let‘s discuss other options that just missed my top picks.
Other VPNs With Router Support
A handful of VPNs beyond my top 3 picks still provide decent router support and could be a good fit depending on your priorities:
- One of the most affordable VPNs starting at $2.25/month
- Supports routers from Asus, Linksys, Netgear, etc.
- Slower speeds compared to my top picks in testing
- No device grouping features
- Good router compatibility including TP-Link, Netgear, Asus
- Allows P2P torrenting
- No firmware installation guides like my top choices
- Smaller server network (1,900+ servers)
Private Internet Access
- Many customizable settings to tweak the VPN
- Allows port forwarding for torrenting
- Router installation guides lack detail
- No live chat support
A few other VPNs like TunnelBear, ProtonVPN, and Windscribe also work with certain routers. But support is limited compared to my top recommendations.
They may be worth considering if you already have an account. But for the best experience installing and managing a router VPN, I suggest ExpressVPN, NordVPN or Surfshark.
Now let‘s go over some frequently asked questions about installing VPNs on routers.
Common Router VPN Questions
What are the benefits of a router VPN?
A VPN router provides protection in a few key ways:
🛡️ Encrypts internet traffic leaving your network so ISPs or hackers can‘t monitor your activity.
🕵️♀️ Hides your home IP address so websites can‘t pinpoint your location or track you.
🔒 Secures devices like smart TVs and game consoles that don‘t have VPN app access.
📱 Saves you from manually setting up VPNs across all your gadgets individually.
What risks come with not using a router VPN?
Without a router VPN, you and your devices face several privacy and security vulnerabilities:
- ISPs can see and sell records of all websites you visit
- Hackers can more easily infiltrate your network or steal data like passwords and banking info
- Websites and advertisers can build detailed tracking profiles and target ads based on your internet activity across devices
- Authorities can pinpoint the physical location of your home network if compelled to hand over records
- Downloading torrents or accessing questionable content puts you at greater risk of legal consequences
Will a router VPN slow down my internet speeds?
Any VPN will cause a slight speed reduction due to the encryption overhead. But during my testing, the impact from a high-quality router VPN was minimal – around 10-15% slower versus non-VPN connections.
Unless you‘re paying for an extremely fast internet package above 200Mbps, the speed difference will barely be noticeable for most browsing and streaming. Securing your network is worth the small trade-off.
Can I still use individual VPN apps along with my router VPN?
Absolutely! In fact, running a VPN app on each device in addition to your router VPN provides an extra layer of security when on public WiFi.
With both the router-level VPN and VPN app enabled, your connection gets double encryption for maximum privacy.
Should I get a standalone VPN router or set up my current router?
There are two options:
1️⃣ Install VPN software on your existing router – This requires a router supported by your VPN provider. But setup can be tricky.
2️⃣ Purchase a pre-configured VPN router – Companies like ASUS, TP-Link, & Linksys sell routers with VPNs pre-installed for easy setup. But these tend to cost $200-300+ USD.
If you already have a compatible router, I recommend attempting to install a VPN on it first. Just be prepared for a bit of a technical challenge compared to using a pre-configured model.
What happens if I need to reset or replace my VPN router?
Resetting your router typically removes any customized settings – including your VPN configuration. So you‘d have to repeat the setup steps from scratch again.
Same goes for replacing your router with a new model. You can‘t just move VPN software between devices.
To make things easier, I suggest keeping a record of the steps you followed to install the VPN. Then you‘ll have an easier time getting back up and running if you need to reset or change hardware down the road.
Boost Your Home Network Security With a Router VPN
After extensive testing, I can confidently recommend ExpressVPN and NordVPN as the top options for simplifying router VPN setup. Surfshark is also a great affordable alternative.
Installing VPN protection at the router-level is a wise move to cover all your devices with just one click. Plus it saves the hassle of manually configuring VPNs across each gadget.
I hope this guide gave you some useful insight into finding the ideal VPN solution to meet your home network privacy and security needs. Never hesitate to reach out with any other questions. Stay safe online!