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Best VPNs for OpenWrt in 2022

OpenWrt is a piece of open-source firmware, a Linux operating system that can be embedded on devices such as routers to enhance performance.

If installed on a router, OpenWrt affords you the freedom to ditch the configuration and application selections provided by an original vendor and set it up for your needs, and is one of the firmware applications that support VPN installation. 

What are the Best VPNs for OpenWrt

We list the best VPNs for OpenWRT below. If you need more information about any of these services, check out our detailed summaries further on in this guide.

From $3.99/month

The best VPN for OpenWrt Routers. It's lightning-fast, has great security features and has been audited, and has great apps.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
10 out of 10
Server locations
60
Simultaneous connections
6
Free trial
No

From $6.67/month

An excellent VPN for OpenWrt. It has hardened security and the ability to choose your own endpoint.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.9 out of 10
Simultaneous connections
5
Free trial
No
Server locations
160

From $2.49/month

A great OpenDwrt VPN. Use it on an unlimited number of devices, it keeps zero logs, and it's packed with features.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.8 out of 10
Simultaneous connections
Unlimited
Free trial
Yes
Server locations
108

From $2.19/month

A great VPN for Openwrt. It has proven in court that it doesn't keep logs and it is fully open-source.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.7 out of 10
Server locations
84
Simultaneous connections
10
Free trial
No

From $1.81/month

A solid VPN to use with OpenWrt. Clear set-up instructions and a great track record of unblock geo-restricted content.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.6 out of 10
Simultaneous connections
30
Server locations
70
Free trial
No

The Best VPNs for OpenWrt: a closer look

We take a closer look at the best OpenWrt VPN services below. If you would still like more information, check out our detailed VPN reviews.

NordVPN is the best VPN to use with an OpenWrt router. It's the quickest VPN on this list so your speeds won't be affected, and a host of top-class security features will keep you safe.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months: $3.99/mth
      67% OFF
    • 12 months: $4.99/mth
      59% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.99/mth
  • Pros

    • Expert community support available 24/7
    • Budget-friendly
    • Independently audited for guaranteed security
    • Super-fast servers
    • Offers NordLynx implementation of WireGuard
  • Cons

    • Only 6 simultaneous connections allowed
    • No endpoint diversity - all devices behind the router have to connect to a single location
    • No port-forwarding means torrenters may want to look elsewhere
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

Nord Demo

Nord Demo
Nord Demo


NordVPN is one of the leading VPN providers with a track record for customer service, boasting a 24/7 help desk coverage, email support, and a comprehensive article library. When connecting a router to a NordVPN network, you can rest assured they'll be there to provide support at every step of the way, whether you're a new user or seasoned professional.


Unbeatable support


If you already own a router with OpenWRT firmware, NordVPN offers clear and concise step-by-step support (based on community experience) to connect the two together. Additionally, the advice NordVPN provides also comes with several tips and tricks on implementing your own kill-switch and reconnection programs – assuming you're comfortable working with a command-line interface. If not, you may find yourself a bit lost.


Plenty of features


In addition to the plethora of innate advantages that come from implementing a VPN at the router level, Nord sweetens the deal by allowing you to connect as many devices to a router as it can handle. The NordVPN infrastructure only counts the router as a single slot in your six simultaneous connections limit.



You can be confident that everyone connecting to your router is covered by NordVPN's high-security VPN technology. Nord's team is also busy updating NordLynx, an implementation of WireGuard that includes protocols which mitigate potential security issues in the default implementation of WireGuard.


Watertight security


For the user who is particularly security conscious, Nord also offers additional services, including its firewall CyberSec service (for blocking malicious connections, viruses and ads), and its DoubleVPN service. DoubleVPN guarantees a higher level of security by ensuring that all traffic routed from your VPN is sent via a second VPN server to its final destination – double the encryption means double the protection! Nord also allows for Onion over VPN, giving NordVPN users access to the Tor network. However, these servers aren't always available when they're congested. Users who are at risk of targeted surveillance or who require absolute peace of mind should take advantage of NordVPN's additional privacy features.


Ultimately, NordVPN's commitment to security, its no-logging stance (backed for the second year in a row by an audit from PricewaterhouseCoopers), and their flexible device plan should reassure any user interested in connecting via OpenWRT, as well as a 24/7 support team who are standing by ready to assist you in your install process. You can even test the service for yourself, without risking your cash, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Tested by Sam Dawson

Tested by Sam Dawson

ExpressVPN is a reliable, fast, and trusted all-rounder, and more than capable of providing protection to your whole network via an OpenWrt router.

  • Pricing

    • 12 months + 3 months FREE + Backblaze backup: $6.67/mth
      49% OFF
    • 6 months: $9.99/mth
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros

    • Allows connections over OpenVPN and OpenWrt
    • Device group splitting lets you access different servers on each device
    • Over 94 countries to choose from
  • Cons

    • No explicit OpenWrt support
    • No dedicated IPs available
    • Most features are locked behind the app
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

ExpressVPN Demo

ExpressVPN Demo
ExpressVPN Demo


ExpressVPN is a consistently quality VPN provider that combines a high-speed service with wide network coverage. With servers in over 94 countries, ExpressVPN is well positioned to deliver content to you from whichever service you please at speeds that most other VPN services simply cannot compete with.


OpenWRT connectivity


ExpressVPN doesn't offer explicit support on connecting to its services through an OpenWRT router. There are no ExpressVPN pages that describe what the typical installation process might look like on an OpenWRT router. Although nowhere near as clearly signposted as our other VPN vendors, ExpressVPN does allow connections through OpenVPN over OpenWRT. As ExpressVPN does offer .ovpn files, a user could simply follow another vendor's guide on setting up a new VPN and replace the vendor's .ovpn with ExpressVPN's own. This does complicate the installation process slightly and it doesn't seem that their helpdesk offers support for connections made on routers running OpenWRT.


Customized protocols


ExpressVPN seems keen to onboard users with their custom router firmware wherever possible. Although there are guides to connecting through DD-WRT and Tomato routers, ExpressVPN warns its users that connecting through anything other than their own app degrades the security and privacy that ExpressVPN can provide, so users in countries with especially repressive governments may want to default to the ExpressVPN app. Once you consider how much ExpressVPN values an integrated approach, the reason for their semi-walled garden may become clear.



In addition to offering OpenVPN, IKEv2, ExpressVPN also offers their own custom VPN protocol, Lightway. The Lightway protocol is based on WireGuard but makes key improvements in areas where WireGuard falls short in delivering security to the user, such as disguising VPN traffic and randomly assigned IP addresses. The protocol source code is available to browse on GitHub and the code has been audited by cybersecurity firm Cure53. It remains to be seen if other providers will adopt Lightway in the future.


Endless choice


ExpressVPN also offers Device Groups, a service allowing users to let separate devices sitting behind a single ExpressVPN router to choose up to five different servers at any given time to use as endpoints. Combined with ExpressVPN's extremely wide choice of geo-located servers, Device Groups is an excellent way to access content from around the world. This means that while your TV is set up to tune into an American server to stream US Netflix, your phone could be sat behind a VPN in the UK to view local news, even if both devices are connected to the same router. However, it is unlikely that this service will ever be offered outside of ExpressVPN's own router firmware.


ExpressVPN might not be your first choice for a VPN provider if you're looking to use an OpenWRT router, but their unparalleled connection speeds and server distribution may factor more heavily into your decision-making. Even if you choose not to take advantage of the features built into ExpressVPN's custom app, their premium service is not one to overlook and you can check this out for yourself with their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Tested by Andreas Theodorou

Tested by Andreas Theodorou

Surfshark is a budget-friendly VPN with all the features of a service that costs twice as much. The list of privacy tools is impressive, as are the speeds.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 2 months FREE + Surfshark Antivirus: $2.49/mth
      81% OFF
    • 24 months + 2 months FREE: $2.49/mth
      81% OFF
    • 12 months: $3.99/mth
      70% OFF
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros

    • Unlimited simultaneous connections
    • OpenWrt guide written by community members
    • Excellent value-for-money
  • Cons

    • No dedicated IPs available
    • Not as fast as Nord or Express
    • Single-month cost is quite high
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

Surfshark Demo

Surfshark Demo
Surfshark Demo


Surfshark is a relative newcomer to the VPN scene but promises big, offering an unlimited device policy at a very competitive pricing (especially compared to others on our list). In fact, Surfshark has several attractive features that will help you get the most from your OpenWRT router.


Dedicated support


Surfshark offers a similar level of support as NordVPN, giving the user a step-by-step guide on how to configure a OpenWRT router to connect to Surfshark's servers, courtesy of their user, ulmwind. Surfshark, like NordVPN, hosts their own DNS, which places your trust squarely on Surfshark's servers and minimizes the possibility of third parties being able to discern your IP. This is ideal you've already got an OpenWRT router prepared and aren't afraid of doing some setup on it.


Up-to-date features



Surfshark doesn't compromise on their quality of service in the pursuit of offering you a more affordable VPN. A no-logging policy and RAM-only servers mean your connection information is never permanently stored anywhere, it is deleted as soon as the server is turned off. Split-tunneling gives you exact control over which software is covered by your VPN and an in-app kill-switches ensures that if your connection to the VPN goes down, no traffic will be sent until your secure connection is re-established – great for browsing safely on the go! Surfshark also supports a range of trusted VPN protocols such as WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN, and even Shadowsocks, which helps disguise your VPN traffic from nosey network admins and repressive regimes alike.


Unlimited devices


What really distinguishes Surfshark from the rest is their offer of unlimited devices tied to one account. Surfshark is one of the few VPN operators in our top five that explicitly allows unlimited connections, and while we've not tested the limits of its fair use policy to see how many devices you can truly cover under one account, we can assume that most (if not all) users will be more than covered by Surfshark's promise. If you're having second thoughts about setting up an OpenWRT router on another VPN provider just to add more devices, Surfshark may be the right choice for you.


Readers shouldn't be fooled into thinking Surfshark is a no-frills service merely because of the low price. Surfshark offers exceptional quality without breaking the bank, given the plethora of features Surfshark offers in addition to a fantastic unlimited devices offer. Surfshark even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can compare it to the likes of Express and Nord, without losing a penny.

Tested by Shaun Dewhirst

Tested by Shaun Dewhirst

Private Internet Access have had their no-logs claim proven in court, making them a service you can trust, whether that's on a single device or on a router with OpenWrt.

  • Pricing

    • 26 months + 2 months FREE: $2.19/mth
      82% OFF
    • 12 months: $3.33/mth
      72% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.95/mth
  • Pros

    • Thousands of servers to choose from
    • DNS ad-blocking
    • Low-cost, but high-impact
  • Cons

    • PIA recommends agains using a router tunnel
    • Little help is given in setting up an OpenWrt router
    • Not as fast as some of the other providers listed
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

PIA Demo

PIA Demo
PIA Demo


Private Internet Access (PIA) is a provider that takes privacy seriously. Despite being based in the US, PIA can confidently claim a no-logs VPN service that won't leak your data, even if served a warrant or subpoenaed by the courts. In fact, this claim has been tested several times in court already, and each time PIA has been found to be a robust defender of personal privacy.


In-house support


PIA offers some external links on how to install OpenWRT on your router, but makes it clear this is entirely your responsibility: a bricked router is not PIA's responsibility, and they will not offer support if you accidentally destroy your router while flashing it with new firmware. That said, PIA offers a setup guide for connecting to their servers via OpenWRT, although this is somewhat confusingly marked "LEDE" in reference to the short-lived project split of several OpenWRT developers into "LEDE". PIA gives support for connecting via OpenWRT by directing you through several GUI tools, which may be easier for a less technical user.


Steadfast firewalls


PIA also make explicit which DNS services you can access over OpenVPN, including a vanilla service which provides purely DNS, a DNS with transparent forwarding for some streaming services that tend not to play nice with VPN connections, and PIA's own MACE DNS solution for blocking malicious content before it ever gets to the computer. By filtering ad and malware connections at the DNS level, resources are freed up at the computer level, as there' is less need to filter out bad connections to the firewall, or by an ad-blocker extension, leading to overall faster performance. Plus, if you're implementing MACE at the router level, you get peace of mind knowing that every device behind it benefits from its ad-blocking protection.


Dedicated privacy



Not all PIA features are available from an OpenWRT router, however. While PIA's combination of port-forwarding services and dedicated IPs may seem enticing to a user who wishes to handle their whole VPN infrastructure from OpenVPN, it seems that only users of PIA's dedicated app will have access to a dedicated IP. Although this is a blow to OpenWRT users, the security-conscious should take note that PIA have a strong reasoning for this: their method of tying to dedicated IPs to redeemable tokens instead of binding the feature to a user's payment details allows PIA to truly say "we don't know" when asked who is connecting through any given dedicated IP. Additionally, PIA offers comprehensive split-tunneling features on their app, further encouraging use of the app.


PIA cannot come recommended highly enough for their commitment to user privacy. This comes in addition to everything else you would expect from a high quality VPN, from thousands of dedicated servers and great speeds to dedicated support both in technology and service. If you would like to try out Private Internet Access, their 30-day money-back guarantee gives you the chance to work out whether the service is for you in your own time.

Tested by River Hart

Tested by River Hart

VyprVPN is a sold choice to use with OpenWrt, particularly if you're looking for a VPN with extensive network control – VyprVPN owns and manages its entire network.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 12 months FREE: $1.81/mth
      86% OFF
    • 12 months + 6 months FREE: $2.5/mth
      80% OFF
    • 1 month + 1 month FREE: $6.47/mth
      50% OFF
  • Pros

    • Audited by Leviathan Security Group
    • Custom anti-monitoring protocols
    • Business VPN packages
  • Cons

    • Doesn't accept crypto payments (yet)
    • DNS doesn't accept OpenVPN
    • Some of the support on the website may be outdated
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

VYPR Demo

VYPR Demo
VYPR Demo


Founded in response to accusations of US domestic spying, VyprVPN pathed the way for high-trust VPN providers. Not only was it the first notable no-logs VPN network to be audited by a third party, but it continues to push the boundaries of VPN security to this day. Vypr remains one of the top picks for security-minded users and should definitely be considered if you're looking to use a router with OpenWRT.


24/7 support


VyperVPN has some advice hosted on their support board describing how to connect to their servers via OpenWRT. This help requires the user to have some knowledge of using a command-line interface to navigate through OpenWRT. VyprVPN's advice comes with no warranty or fitness for purpose, and indeed their setup advice has not been updated in over two years.


However, Vypr claims 24/7 support staff will be happy to help with any further inquiries into setup. Unfortunately, VyprVPN doesn't offer their DNS through OpenVPN, instead encouraging users to onboard their dedicated app in order to take advantage of some of VyprVPN's unique features.


Security first


VyprVPN offers WireGuard, IPSec, and OpenVPN as standard protocols. VyprVPN also offers Chameleon, a custom VPN protocol engineered to avoid Deep Packet Inspection. In practice, when traffic is encrypted over another protocol, such as OpenVPN, it's possible for an unfriendly entity (such as a government run ISP in a repressive regime) to observe that encrypted traffic is being sent and simply drop the connection completely.



Chameleon is a solution built off of OpenVPN that disguises the telltale marks of VPN traffic, allowing users to connect to VPNs even under the harshest of internet censorship. VyprVPN also guarantees a no-logs service which has been independently audited for full user assurance in their stance.


Uncensored streaming


VyprVPN is not only a provider that focuses on security, but also allows for P2P connections for torrenting and can access a variety of streaming services. With a completely uncapped usage policy, thirty simultaneous connections, a wealth of server locations to choose from, and typically fast servers, VyprVPN comfortably handles the media demands of most domestic users. VyprVPN's outstanding security policy also has your back if you're less into catching up with last night's Netflix and more into streaming foreign news channels in an oppressive regime.


VyprVPN combines ease of use with high-powered security to create a VPN package that won't disappoint. Whatever your use case is, you can trust VyprVPN to provide the cloaking you need to operate in secrecy – and with reassurance. You can take advantage of Vypr's 30-day money-back guarantee to give the service a test ride and see how it compares to the other providers on the list.

Tested by Danka Delić

Tested by Danka Delić

The advantages of using an OpenWrt VPN

As you're probably already aware, VPNs can be installed on individual devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. However, they can also be installed on routers. Advantages of doing so include:

What to look for in a VPN for OpenWrt

There are some factors that you should prioritize when deciding which VPN is best for your OpenWrt router. To be a true contender, a VPN must have:

A note on trial periods...

 

Trial periods that give you the opportunity to ensure you're happy with a product are great, and it's wonderful that so many VPN companies afford customers this liberty. You can definitely still take advantage of these offers when looking for a VPN for a router, but just remember – setting up a VPN on a router takes a lot longer than on a singular device, so firming up your decision before purchase will also have its merits! 

How to install a VPN on an OpenWrt router

Installing a VPN on your OpenWrt router is a tricky process. Be aware that the steps below are a general rundown and that most reputable VPN providers will have provider-specific instructions on their pages and/or customer support for this process. 

  1. Make sure your router either comes or is flashed with OpenWrt firmware.
  2. Choose a VPN provider from the list above and download the software.
  3. Install OpenVPN and change the route password to enable it.
  4. Download your VPN's client configuration files for OpenVPN.
  5. Change the file extension to 'conf.' from 'ovpn.'
  6. Add a forwarding rule (LAN to VPN) and create a firewall area. 
  7. Use your chosen provider's instructions to configure the DNS server

How to 'flash' your router with OpenWrt

If you're reading this article, it's likely you already have an OpenWrt router set up and are to download a VPN for it. But OpenWrt may be useful if you don't yet have a router with it set up. Aside from being able to support VPN software, advantages include:

If you already have a router, you can install OpenWrt firmware by 'flashing' it, which essentially means reconfiguring your router by ditching the old firmware and replacing it with something else – in this case, OpenWrt. This is quite a technical process – OpenWrt is a lot more tricky to install than other VPN-supporting firmware like DD-WRT and Tomato

Flashing your router with OpenWrt is device-specific and methods therefore vary. Luckily, OpenWrt provides general instructions for the four main methods you can use to flash your router with OpenWrt, as well as installation instructions for over 1,500 different device models

Before you flash your router...

 

If you go through this process incorrectly, you can end up 'bricking' your router – causing irreversible damage and making it no more useful than, you guessed it... a brick. This means it's really important that you get a firm handle on exactly what you're doing before you start. If you've already bricked your router trying to install OpenWrt, de-bricking instructions can be found on their support page

Do free VPNs work with OpenWrt? 

For any paid product or service, a free alternative is always tempting – especially when marketed by experts. This has never been more true than in the VPN market, which is saturated with providers offering free services. 

Although there are some reliable free VPNs out there, using one in tandem with OpenWrt is not something we would advise. Due to the fact they aren't raking in monthly subscription fees, free VPNs just won't be able to provide the same level of customer support as their paid-for counterparts. 

ProPrivacy has reviewed hundreds of VPN services in the last few years, and it's an unfortunate fact that selling data to third parties, working with law enforcement authorities, and not providing protection against ads and malware are all frequent practice amongst free VPNs, but not paid services. Considering that there are plenty of cheap VPN services, like SurfShark, it's just not worth the risk. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now know that transforming your OpenWrt router into an ultra-secure middleman between you and the internet is possible with a VPN. If you're still umming and ahhing over exactly which one to download, here's a reminder of our top picks: 

From $3.99/month

The best VPN for OpenWrt Routers. It's lightning-fast, has great security features and has been audited, and has great apps.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
10 out of 10
Server locations
60
Simultaneous connections
6
Free trial
No

From $6.67/month

An excellent VPN for OpenWrt. It has hardened security and the ability to choose your own endpoint.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.9 out of 10
Simultaneous connections
5
Free trial
No
Server locations
160

From $2.49/month

A great OpenDwrt VPN. Use it on an unlimited number of devices, it keeps zero logs, and it's packed with features.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.8 out of 10
Simultaneous connections
Unlimited
Free trial
Yes
Server locations
108

From $2.19/month

A great VPN for Openwrt. It has proven in court that it doesn't keep logs and it is fully open-source.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.7 out of 10
Server locations
84
Simultaneous connections
10
Free trial
No

From $1.81/month

A solid VPN to use with OpenWrt. Clear set-up instructions and a great track record of unblock geo-restricted content.

ProPrivacy TrustScore:
9.6 out of 10
Simultaneous connections
30
Server locations
70
Free trial
No

Written by: Aaron Drapkin

After graduating with a philosophy degree from the University of Bristol in 2018, Aaron became a researcher at news digest magazine The Week following a year as editor of satirical website The Whip. Freelancing alongside these roles, his work has appeared in publications such as Vice, Metro, Tablet and New Internationalist, as well as The Week's online edition.

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