A VPN router is the best way to protect multiple devices on your home network. With a router-level VPN, you can protect every device on your network without the need to install the VPN on each individual machine.
The best VPN Router in 2019: Summary
Below you will find our recommended VPN routers. For in-depth information on any of the models, keep scrolling.
- Linksys WRT3200ACM - This is considered the best overall VPN router.
- Asus RT-AC5300 - This is an extremely powerful router best suited to people with large homes or a large amount of devices.
- Netgear R6400 - A solid router perfect for people that desire exceptional value for money.
- Linksys WRT1900ACS - Another great choice for people on more of a budget.
- Netgear R7800 X4S - Perfect for medium homes, but a little pricey compared to the asking price on Amazon (non flashed).
What is a VPN router?
A VPN router is a router with a VPN installed directly onto it. All connections to VPN servers are managed in the router when you have a router VPN.
A VPN client is usually installed on individual devices such as smartphones and desktop PCs. This software connects each individual device directly to the VPN in order to protect it. A VPN router, on the other hand, protects all the devices on the network; without the need to install the software on each one.
VPNs can only be installed on specific routers with firmware capable of handling VPN connections. Thus not every router can be a VPN router.
The best VPN routers
Our in-depth list of recommended VPN routers will help you can pick one that suits you:
How to install a VPN on a router
Installing a VPN on a router differs depending on the model However a basic outline is as follows:
- Gain access to the router’s control panel using the manufacturer's instructions.
- Access the router’s VPN client and add your provider’s server details and other necessary connection details. There will be guides for this on your VPN’s website.
- Initiate the VPN connection to your desired VPN server
- Now that the router is connected to the VPN server, all the devices in your home appear to be in that location. In addition, they are all being protected with encryption, to give you digital privacy.
Configuring a VPN Router
Nearly all builds of DD-WRT support VPN using the PPTP protocol. However, this is not very secure, and it is generally better to use OpenVPN. The basic framework for DD-WRT supports OpenVPN, but, not all routers support builds that do. Thus, it is always best to check before buying if this is important to you.
Many VPN providers supply setup guides for routers although some only provide support for PPTP.
Tip: the easiest way to get a VPN router is to buy one pre-flashed!
Different Types of VPN Router
DD-WRT is an open source project aimed at developing a Linux-based firmware solution that removes the restrictions placed on routers by their default programming.
Installing DD-WRT on your router gives it the full functionality of a business grade router, but without the cost. A full list of all the many advantages would be too long for this article, for more information see our DD-WRT router page.
Tomato is an alternative Linux-based firmware package for routers, most notably the Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS, Buffalo WHR-G54S/WHR-HP-G54, and other Broadcom-based routers. Like DD-WRT, it can be used to flash a compatible router. This allows it to be used as a VPN gateway, as well as providing a similar functionality to a DD-WRT flashed router.
DD-WRT is compatible with more routers and is generally reckoned more newbie-friendly, but many people prefer Tomato’s interface and excellent real-time network monitoring capabilities.
Why get a VPN router?
Whether you need a VPN for a mobile device, a laptop, or a desktop PN; a VPN router can help.
VPN routers are set up to connect to a VPN service. These routers can be set up to connect to most VPN services, which means you can still subscribe to your preferred service.
It is also possible to flash routers with third party firmware such as DD-WRT and Tomato. Some providers even offer pre-flashed routers that have been pre-configured for their service. These can be purchased either directly from the VPN or via an online store such as FlashRouters.com
VPN routers - Advantages
- Every device that connects to the router is protected by the VPN.
- This includes devices that cannot run VPN software themselves, such as smart TVs, games consoles, and Roku boxes.
- The router counts as just one VPN connection, as far as your provider is concerned. This means you can connect an unlimited number of devices to the VPN at once via the router.
VPN routers - Disadvantages
- The main drawback is that encrypting and decrypting VPN data is extremely processor-intensive (especially when using OpenVPN). Most routers struggle, which can result in poor internet connection speeds.
- For this reason, it is important to opt for a router that is truly powerful enough to cope. In general, this means you are going to need to invest a reasonable amount of money to get what you need.
VPN routers for small businesses
If you are looking for a VPN router for a small business, to protect all your employees at once with digital privacy; we recommend that you opt for the VPN that is in second place. The Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT is for “power users”. It has everything you need to run ten or more devices securely to a VPN without suffering from sluggish connectivity.
For more information, see our VPNs for small businesses page.
We have tried to cover every important point in this article. However, if something about VPN routers is still confusing you, perhaps this Frequently Asked question section can help!