How to Set up a VPN for Smart TV - Installing a VPN for Smart TV Streaming

It is not always possible to install VPN software directly onto a Smart TV. However, if your Smart TV can access the Google Play Store (Android Smart TVs can) you can install the VPN app (for your provider) directly onto your smart TV. This is the best way to connect your smart TV, so use this method if you can. Please remember that not every Smart TV can do this, so you will need to check with your manufacturer.

If your SmartTV is an Android TV, you will be able to follow these simple steps:

  1. purchase a VPN subscription, we recommend the 5 best VPNs for Smart TV's at the bottom of this article.
  2. Download the software and install the Android client (.APK file) onto your Android smart TV.
  3. Log in using your credentials from when you subscribed.
  4. Run the app on your Smart TV and connect to a server.

That is it: you are now pretending to be in a different country and can access content from that region! Your privacy is also protected on your Android TV thanks to the VPN's encryption.

Connecting Via a PC or Laptop

Most Smart TV owners choose to connect their TV to their computer via an ethernet cable. This allows them to share their PC's internet connection (more on this later). This is an effective way of using a VPN to unblock restricted content on a Smart TV. Any Smart TV that does not allow Apps to be installed directly will need to use this method (or a VPN router).

Sharing a VPN Connection in Windows

  1.  Make sure your computer is connected to your VPN service. If you haven't subscribed to a VPN yet, - check out our 5 best VPNs for Smart TV article. We recommend NordVPN because it has everything you need to stream more content in HD on a smart TV.
  2. Connect your SmartTV to the PC using an Ethernet cable.
  3. Open the Network and Sharing Centre on the PC (Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center) and click ‘Change adapter settings.'
  4. Find your VPN connection. OpenVPN connections usually aren’t clearly labeled, so look for one with the description ‘TAP-Win32 Adaptor V9′ (or similar). Right-click on it and select ‘Properties’ from the drop-down.
  5. Select the ‘Sharing’ tab and check the ‘Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection’ box. Then, from the drop-down menu choose ’Local Area Connection’ (if you have multiple Ethernet ports on your computer, then make sure you select the one you have connected your SmartTV to), then click ‘OK'.
  6. Restart your SmartTV and computer and it should be working correctly.

Sharing a VPN Connection in OSX (PPTP or L2TP)

Sharing your connection on OSX is a bit more complicated if you wish to set up OpenVPN, but, this TunnelBlick tutorial will show you how. We will show you how to set it up using PPTP or L2TP and the built-in VPN client.

  1.  Sign up for a VPN service and set it up according to the provider’s instructions. We recommend NordVPN because it has everything you need to stream more content in HD on a smart TV.
  2. With the SmartTV switched off, connect it to a USB port on your Mac using the Ethernet cable and adapter.
  3. In OSX open System Preferences (Apple icon at the top right of the screen -> System Preferences) and click on ‘Sharing’.
  4.  a) Pull down the ‘Sharing your connection from’ menu and select your VPN connection. b) In the ‘To computers using’ box, check ‘USB Ethernet’. c) Check ‘Internet Sharing’, and a pop-up box will appear. Click ‘Start,’ and (d) ‘Internet Sharing: On’ will show green to let you know that everything is working ok.
  5. Reboot your SmartTV.

VPN Router Method

Some people prefer to use a VPN that is installed on a flashed router. This means that all the devices in their home - including their Smart TV - are assisted by the VPN connection. This is an extremely easy method of connecting a Smart TV to a VPN service (and all the other devices in your home).

While it is true that you can flash a router yourself (if it is compatible), this is usually only undertaken by people who are pretty techy. This is because flashing a router with DD-WRT firmware (or any other third party router firmware) can "brick" the device (lock it up making it unusable).

If you have a low level of technical know-how flashing your router probably isn’t for you. Luckily there are companies out there that offer prepaid and pre-flashed routers, which allow a simple plug-and-play setup – Flashrouters is a great example.

Some VPN services (NordVPN , for example, sell pre-flashed routers themselves).

Pre-flashed routers

One significant advantage of using a flashed router is that all your internet-connected devices (including games consoles, mobile phones, and of course, your SmartTV) will benefit from being connected to VPN when they connect through the router.

Most VPNs can be purchased pre-flashed onto a router at the third-party vendor Flashrouters . There are two main types of flashed routers: DD-WRT and Tomato. DD-WRT is the most popular option because it is the most customizable type of flashed router. Please click on the links to get more detailed information on these types of routers.

The advantage of using a flashed router is that it automatically uses the VPN service no matter what device you connect to your WiFi network. It can also help with reducing the number of network cables you use and make it so that you don’t have to play around with your computer network settings. It also doesn’t matter if your computer isn’t close to your SmartTV.

DD-WRT router

You can find a full list of compatible routers can be found on the DD-WRT website, where you can also find information about installing and configuring DD-WRT. And click these links for guides about setting up PPTP and OpenVPN.

Tomato router

A full list of compatible routers can be found on the tomato router website, they also have information on installing and configuring Tomato, and a guide to setting up OpenVPN.

5 Best VPNs for Smart TV users

1. NordVPN

One of the best things about NordVPN is that it has detailed user guides for customers wanting to know how to setup a VPN on a router. The NordVPN software is available for almost all devices, including; Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices, Blackberry, Raspberry PI, Chromium OS, and Linux systems. It can also easily be configured to a VPN router.

This VPN has fantastic speeds, which is a must for streaming and it will unblock all major streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime and iPlayer. And, NordVPN is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market!  You can try NordVPN risk free, with its 30-day money back guarantee.

2. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is able to unblock all major streaming services alround the world (including Netflix, iPlayer and Amazon Prime). This VPN is fast, cheap and incredibly easy to use which makes it great for anyone new to VPNs. PrivateVPN offers 60 server locations, all of which have fast connection speeds. 

PrivateVPN is also great for the security concious as it keeps zero logs. Try it now and get a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN users can access all streaming services worldwide (including Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, HBO) with ease. This VPN offers it's customers amazing speeds. ExpressVPN make their own custom router firmware which is compatiable on almost all routers, including; Linksys, Asus, D-Link, Netduma, Sabai, and TP-LINK routers. ExpressVPN also sell their own WiFi routers that have its software pre-installed on them. 

ExpressVPN also offer their customers fantastic customer support, so if you have any issues setting up ExpressVPN with your smart TV you can get the help you need with 24/7 live chat.  This service features a 30-day money back guarantee so you can try it out risk free. 

4. IPVanish

IPVanish is one of the fastest VPNs on the market. Based in the US, this VPN has a network of tier-1 servers perfect for streaming in HD. One downside to this service is that it is able to gain access to foreign Netflix or hulu. Because of the high speeds offered by IPVanish, this VPN is very popular amongst kodi and torrent users.

The VPN software is easy to use and they offer their own routers with the VPN pre-loaded onto it. IPVanish provides a 7-day money back guarantee for you to try it.

5. PureVPN

PureVPN has a large number of server locations and servers. Their customers have access to over 2000 servers in over 140 countries which is incredible.

This VPN is fantastic for streaming, due to the high speeds connectios speeds. Additionally, this VPN is extremely cheap. PureVPN offer a money-back guarantee, however, be aware that people do sometimes have problemswith this, so be sure to read the stipulations carefully.

Title image credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 4+ years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, Barrons, the Scottish Herald, ThreatPost, CNET & many more. Ray is currently rated number 1 VPN authority by Agilience.com.

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