How to Set Up a VPN on Your Router

Is it easy setting up a VPN on a router? It'll take 30 minutes of your time

Setting up a router with a VPN is easy. You only need to sign up for a VPN service, check your modem for compatibility, and then configure your router. From then on, all traffic will be routed through your provider’s servers, anonymizing your traffic.

Table of Contents

Requirements

  • A DD-WRT or Tomato-compatible router
  • A router-compatible VPN like Windscribe or CactusVPN

Recommended VPNs: Windscribe or CactusVPN

Windscribe has one of the easiest to configure clients for Asus routers, or routers flashed with DD-WRT or Tomato. CactusVPN offers a wider range of compatible routers along with detailed setup instructions. The best privacy-focused VPN, however, is Mullvad.

Set Up Router VPN

Step One: Can Your Router Can Be Modified?

Not all routers (or router-modem combo devices) can be set up with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). However, many manufacturers sell VPN-compatible routers. When configured properly, a VPN router sends all home traffic through a VPN, which allows for VPN-protection on all your devices. For most people, that means streaming sticks, like the Amazon Fire Stick (which can access only a few VPNs).

The most compatible routers are from Asus. However, any router that supports the installation of DD-WRT or Tomato (custom firmware) can run a router-VPN.

If your router does support a VPN (and chances are it does not), you can enable it by opening an internet browser (we recommend using Firefox) and navigating to your manufacturer’s router settings.

Step Two: Enter Into Your Router’s Settings

Router manufacturers use different local IP addresses to configure their devices. On top of that, there may be a login and password required. Some common manufacturers include Netgear, D-Link, Asus, and Linksys.

Note: Most manufacturers use “admin” (all lower case) as the default login. Sometimes there’s an administrator password printed on the side of the router.

Netgear Router Logins, Passwords, and Local IP Addresses
Web Interface Local IP Address: routerlogin.net or 192.168.1.1
User Name: admin
Password: Netgear’s passwords vary by model. You can find a full list of Netgear default web interface passwords on their support website.

D-Link Router Logins, Passwords, and Local IP Addresses
Web Interface Local IP Address: 192.168.0.1 or dlinkrouter.local
User Name: admin
Password: D-Link passwords are left blank by default. Just pressing Enter will log you in.

Asus Router Logins, Passwords, and Local IP Addresses
Web Interface Local IP Address: 192.168.1.1
User Name: admin
Password: admin

On a few models, Asus does not use a standard password or login. Please see Asus’s Default Password IP List for more information.

Linksys Router Logins, Passwords, and Local IP Addresses
Web Interface Local IP Address:
User Name: Linksys user names are left blank by default.
Password: admin

If you’ve forgotten a manually-set password and login for your device, a factory reset of your router is required. Most routers have a push button that allows users to reset their device to factory specifications.

Step Three: Modify Settings

Routers with VPN support have a special settings menu that allows for the installation of a VPN’s configuration file. Windscribe, for example, provides instructions on how to install a VPN on Asus, DD-WRT, and Tomato routers. CactusVPN, on the other hand, includes support for a much wider range of devices. For more details on performance and security, please see our CactusVPN review or our Windscribe review.

A general outline of the installation process is as follows:

  1. Download the appropriate configuration file (most should prefer the OpenVPN configuration file, which has .OVPN appended to it).
  2. Navigate to your router’s Advanced Configuration menu.
  3. Choose VPN from the submenu.
  4. Choose your VPN connection protocol which is oftentimes either PPTP, L2TP, or OpenVPN. Most of you should pick OpenVPN over PP2P and L2TP/IPSec.
  5. Upload the .OVPN file.
  6. Input your login and password.
  7. Save, wait until the changes are finalized, then restart your router by power cycling it (shut off the power for 20 seconds).

Step Four: Test Your Router

After your router reboots, you can check your IP address by navigating to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com and comparing the reported address to your actual address. If they match, your VPN has not been properly configured.

This image shows WhatIsMyIPAddress's website showing an IP address
WhatIsMyIPAddress can find your public IP address.

A Router VPN Isn’t Good Enough

But even if your router is correctly configured, VPNs are prone to crashing, which exposes your identity to third parties. While a VPN kill switch helps, we officially recommend using a combination of privacy features and not relying on the VPN by itself.

Additional measures include hardening a Firefox installation, using a VPN client on top of directing internet traffic through your router’s VPN installation, using proxy search engines, and private search engines.

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