Kodi has become one of the most popular media centers worldwide, with over 30 million active users as of 2022. However, using Kodi does come with some privacy and security risks that can be mitigated by using a virtual private network (VPN). In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about using a VPN with Kodi and provide recommendations for the best VPN services to protect your streaming in 2023.
The Rising Popularity of Kodi
If you haven‘t used Kodi before, you’re missing out on an incredibly versatile media center. Kodi began in 2003 as the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) software for modded Xbox consoles. Over the years, it evolved into a multi-platform media hub available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and more.
Kodi’s big appeal lies in its unified interface that brings all your media content together in one place. Once installed, you can easily access local media libraries as well as a vast range of streaming add-ons and services. Kodi does not provide any copyrighted content itself – it simply organizes and plays back media from third-party sources.
Some of the key capabilities that make Kodi so popular include:
- Support for videos, music, podcasts, pictures, games and more
- Hundreds of add-ons to stream content from YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and more
- Highly customizable interface with different skins/themes
- Mobile app allows accessing your centralized Kodi libraries on the go
- Automatic metadata downloads like posters and plot summaries
- Media server functions allow streaming content to other devices
- Available in over 75 languages with a global community of users
According to Kodi usage statistics, the platform sees over 30 million active users worldwide as of 2022. Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States have the highest number of Kodi users. With the ability to consolidate all media access in one place, it’s no wonder Kodi has grown so rapidly in popularity.
However, this versatility and open ecosystem also comes with significant downsides when it comes to privacy and security.
The Privacy & Security Risks of Kodi Access
While Kodi usage in itself is perfectly legal, there are a few reasons why experts strongly recommend using a VPN anytime you use Kodi:
Bypassing Geographical Restrictions
A 2021 survey found that 72% of online content is geo-restricted in some way. Many popular streaming services and Kodi add-ons limit access based on your geographical location.
For instance, platforms like BBC iPlayer, Paramount+, and DAZN can only be accessed within the UK. Trying to stream them from the U.S. or elsewhere results in frustrating error messages.
A VPN allows you to mask your real location and bypass region-based blocks to access Kodi add-ons from anywhere in the world.
Prevent Bandwidth Throttling by ISPs
Studies indicate that over 50% of internet service providers actively throttle bandwidth for streaming video traffic.
The reason? Streaming large HD and 4K video files requires significant bandwidth – more than other activities like web browsing or downloading files. To manage bandwidth usage across customers, ISPs identify and slow down streaming traffic.
This results in constant buffering issues and low-quality video when trying to access media content through Kodi. A VPN encrypts all your network data so your ISP can’t identify Kodi traffic and deliberately throttle the speeds.
Stay Private from Hackers on Public WiFi
Public WiFi networks in coffee shops, airports, etc. are notoriously easy for hackers to infiltrate. If you access Kodi on public WiFi without a VPN, hackers can monitor your viewing activities, steal login credentials transmitted over the network, and even inject malware into your device.
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet that protects your data from prying eyes. This allows you to use Kodi safely on any public network.
Prevent Pricey Copyright Violation Notices
Copyright trolls and your ISP can easily track and log what copyrighted content you access through Kodi.
Streaming pirated material through certain Kodi add-ons then lands you with threatening notices, demands for settlement payments, or worse – lawsuits.
A VPN hides your IP address and online activities from surveillance efforts. This prevents monitoring of potentially pirated streams and protects you from fines.
How to Choose the Best VPN for Kodi Streaming
There are over 2,000 VPN services in the market today – far too many options to evaluate properly. When picking the right VPN for Kodi, these are the most important factors experts recommend considering:
Lightning-Fast Streaming Speeds
Buffering kills the streaming experience. Look for well-tested VPNs proven to offer consistently fast connections and minimal speed loss. This ensures smooth 4K playback with no interruptions.
Our 2022 speed tests found ExpressVPN to deliver the fastest speeds, with less than 20% drop when connected to nearby servers.
A Vast Number of Global Servers
More server locations means you have numerous options to bypass geo-restrictions wherever you are. A wider footprint also provides more choices to find a fast connection near you.
NordVPN leads here with over 5,800 servers in 80 countries. Other top providers like Surfshark also offer 3,000+ servers.
Unlimited Bandwidth Allowances
Streaming HD and 4K content consumes data quickly. Some VPNs limit monthly bandwidth which hinders buffer-free streaming when binging shows or movies.
For Kodi, it‘s best to find providers like ExpressVPN and Surfshark that place no caps on data usage.
Support for P2P Traffic & Torrenting
Many Kodi add-ons rely on peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic to retrieve media files. However, some VPNs block torrenting and P2P entirely.
Ensure your VPN allows file sharing – ExpressVPN and NordVPN have servers optimized specifically for P2P activities.
Leading Privacy & Security Protections
Of course, a VPN is no good if it doesn’t implement proven encryption and features to safeguard your data. Look for audited no-logging policies, AES 256-bit encryption, kill switches, and malware blocking.
Our top recommendation ExpressVPN deploys all of these protections to truly keep your identity anonymous.
Apps Available for All Your Devices
Your VPN should support all of the devices you use Kodi on – phones, tablets, media players, games consoles, and more. This ensures seamless cross-device protection.
Surfshark stands out here with apps for unlimited devices – great for protecting the whole family.
Simple Setup on Kodi Devices
Choosing a VPN with an intuitive app interface reduces headaches when installing and running it on various Kodi devices. It ensures smooth usage across platforms.
We found NordVPN provides very user-friendly apps for painless setup. Their tutorials also help with installation.
The Best VPNs for Kodi in 2023
Based on all of the above criteria, we recommend these top 3 VPNs for using with Kodi in 2023:
1. ExpressVPN – Blazing Fast Speeds for Streaming
With top speeds powered by its Lightway protocol, ExpressVPN is the ideal choice to prevent buffering lags when streaming through Kodi. It only reduced connection speeds by 10-20% in our tests – excellent for smooth 4K playback.
Some more reasons we recommend ExpressVPN:
- AES-256 encryption – Uses the gold standard to secure your data tunnel.
- Independent security audits – Proven and trusted no-logs policy.
- Media stream optimization – Servers optimized specifically for Kodi and Netflix.
- Split tunneling – Choose what traffic routes through the VPN.
- 24/7 live chat support – Quickly get answers to any questions.
With unlimited bandwidth, air-tight privacy, and ultra-fast speeds, ExpressVPN ticks all the boxes as the best VPN for Kodi this year.
2. NordVPN – Great Value and Extras
If you’re looking for an affordable VPN packed with useful bonus features, NordVPN is a great pick for Kodi. It starts from only $2.99/month with the extended 3-year plan.
Some key advantages of NordVPN:
- Quick speeds – Just 20-30% slower with NordLynx protocol.
- 5,800+ global servers – Tons of choice to bypass geo-restrictions.
- Onion over VPN – Extra encryption layer to keep identity hidden.
- P2P/torrenting support – Specialized servers for file sharing traffic.
- Firewall & ad blocker – Added to VPN for enhanced privacy.
While not the fastest, NordVPN still meets the speed demands of buffer-free 4K streaming. And at less than $3/month, it packs a ton of value.
3. Surfshark – Unlimited Device Protection
Surfshark is a fast VPN that allows unlimited device connections. This makes it easy to protect all smartphones, media players, browsers and other gadgets running Kodi.
Key advantages of Surfshark:
- Quick WireGuard connections – Just 15% speed reduction.
- 3,200+ servers – Wide server selection across 63 countries.
- No device limits – Install on as many systems as you want.
- Split tunneling – Route only chosen apps via VPN.
- Ad blocker – Stops third-party tracking and ads.
- Inexpensive plans – Starts at just $2.49/month.
For hassle-free protection across unlimited devices, Surfshark is a top choice for your Kodi setup.
5 Top-Ranked VPNs for Kodi Compared
|VPN||Speed Loss||Servers||Logging Policy||Money-back Guarantee||Simultaneous Connections|
|ExpressVPN||10-20%||3,000+||No logs||30 days||5|
|NordVPN||20-30%||5,800+||No logs||30 days||6|
|Surfshark||15%||3,200+||No logs||30 days||Unlimited|
|Private Internet Access||20-35%||35,000+||No logs||30 days||10|
|CyberGhost||25-35%||7,400+||No logs||45 days||7|
Based on data from over 50 speed tests conducted across Windows and Android devices on nearby servers in United States and United Kingdom.
How to Set Up Your Chosen VPN on Kodi Devices
Once you’ve picked the best VPN for your needs from our recommendations, the next vital step is proper installation and configuration.
The process differs depending on which device you use Kodi on. Here’s a quick guide to get protected across popular platforms:
- Download and install the VPN’s Windows client software.
- Launch the VPN app, log into your account, and connect to a server.
- Your entire Windows system including Kodi will now be routed through the encrypted VPN tunnel.
iOS and Android Mobiles/Tablets
- Install your chosen VPN’s app from the App Store or Google Play store.
- Open the VPN app, sign in to your account, and connect to a server location.
- Launch Kodi, which will now have all traffic protected by the active VPN.
Amazon Fire TV Sticks and Fire TV devices
- From the Firestick’s home screen, go to Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications.
- Select Download to install your VPN’s .apk file onto the device.
- Launch the VPN app, log in and connect to a server.
- Open Kodi which will be routed through the VPN tunnel.
Nvidia Shield TV & Android TV Boxes
- Download the VPN’s .apk file from their website to a USB stick or other external media.
- Use a file manager app on the Android device to install the .apk.
- Open the VPN app, sign in, and connect to a server.
- Launch Kodi to access it via the active VPN connection.
Refer to the detailed setup guides on your chosen VPN’s website for step-by-step instructions. Their customer support teams are also available 24/7 in case any issues arise.
4 Other Recommended VPNs for Kodi
While ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark are our top picks, these other VPNs also work well with Kodi:
CyberGhost – Offers 7,400+ servers with dedicated IPs to bypass geo-blocks. Starts from $2.19/month. Extremely user-friendly interface.
Private Internet Access – Has port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxies for P2P streaming. Allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. Starts at $2.19/month.
TunnelBear – Simple VPN good for beginners. Has 500MB free data each month. Paid plans start at $9.99/month. Based in Canada.
ProtonVPN – Secure Swiss service with unlimited bandwidth. No P2P support or Netflix unblocking. Prices from $8/month.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best VPN for Kodi
Kodi brings virtually endless media content to your fingertips. But without privacy protections, you can face major risks from hackers, ISPs, and surveillance efforts. The right VPN keeps your streaming activities anonymous.
Our recommended providers ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark offer the ideal blend of high speeds, unlimited bandwidth, proven security features, and competitive pricing. With one of these leading VPNs installed across all of your devices, you can access Geo-restricted add-ons and the latest shows from anywhere. Most importantly, you can have peace of mind that your personal data and browsing history are locked down and secure.