How to Setup VPN on Your Router (easy, step-by-step tutorial!)

How to Setup VPN on Your Router (easy, step-by-step tutorial!): Today, we're looking at your internet router. Specifically, I'm going to show you how to install a VPN on your wifi router and use it to connect all the devices on your network. We're going to walk step-by-step through the settings on this router that I just purchased, an Asus RT-AC66U. 

But even if you don't have this exact same router, don't click away, I promise you should still be able to follow along with me. Welcome to All Things Secure. My name is Josh and I personally run a VPN on my routers so that I can connect my Apple TV and every other device in our home without having to install apps or worry about simultaneous connection limits. 

To make this tutorial as helpful as possible for you, we're going to start with what I hope will be the easiest option and then we'll work our way down the various alternatives. Also, before we log into this router here, I'm assuming that you've already set up your own VPN server, or you have a subscription to a commercial VPN service. I'm going to be using ExpressVPN as an example here, although any service that you have subscribed to will work.

If you need to purchase a VPN, you can head to VPNsetupguide.com, which is an affiliate link that will direct you to the ExpressVPN homepage. OK, let me begin by giving you the bad news. If the router you're using is the one that your internet or cable company gave you as part of your internet package, you're probably not going to be able to set up a VPN here. In this case, you'll need to purchase a third party router like those available from Asus, Netgear, or Linksys.

Easy, step-by-step tutorial!

I've included links to a couple of routers that I recommend in the description below, or for those of you who don't want to deal with any of this setup whatsoever, here's an easier option. If you go to Allthingssecured.com/flashrouters, with just a few clicks you can purchase a wifi router that requires no setup and is ready to run on your favorite VPN service out of the box. This is by far the easiest way to use a VPN on a router. 

So if this works for you, just visit the URL and choose which router you want. For the rest of you who already have a router, the first thing you need to do is find the sticker on the router that will tell you exactly how to log in as an administrator. It's usually on the bottom or on the back of the router. And this is what you see on mine. Older routers will give you an admin and password on the stickers, such as what you see here. Don't be surprised if it's a series of numbers, the most common of which is 198.168.1.1. 

In any case, make sure that your computer is connected to this wifi router before we begin so that you can log in. I'm here now on the computer that is connected to my Asus router, both via wifi and an ethernet cable while I'm doing this setup. I've opened up my internet browser, I'm using Firefox. 

You could use Chrome, Edge, Safari, whichever internet browser you want, it's completely up to you, but here in the address bar that's where you're going to be inputting the IP address for the router, which could be 198.168.1.1, which is the most common or the URL address, like what you saw on the back of my Asus router, which is Router.Asus.com. 

And that's going to bring you to the login page for your router, at which point you're going to either has created an account like did here or you'll put in the credentials you found on the back or side of your router. Great, now we're logged into the backend admin panel for your router. This is what the Asus one looks like at this point. It's probably going to look different from yours and that's OK. What you're hoping for is that your router has integrated VPN functionality. 

And what that means is that it is set up to be able to accept VPN configuration. And usually, when that's the case, on this left side here, you're going to find a VPN tab like I have here. Sometimes, it'll be along the top. Sometimes it'll be hidden behind the security tab, but what you're looking for is that VPN functionality. 

And if you don't have that, we're going to cover what you should do next, but let's just pretend for a moment that you do and we're going to look for a VPN client. Now, at this point, you're going to be adding profiles. Those profiles will be different servers that you have access to. And if we are using ExpressVPN like I'm using right now, then when you log in, there's going to be a setup page. Now, this could be for any server or service that you use, whether that's NordVPN, Surfshock, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, any of those, there will be a setup page. 

And as you scroll down, you're looking for manual configuration. I realized that there is a router option here but trust me, what you want to do is you want to look at the manual configuration. And they're going to give you most services. Some don't, but most services will give you both OpenVPN and PPTP connection options. 

Now, the difference here is OpenVPN is going to be slightly more secure whereas PPTP is going to be faster. So if you're going to be doing downloading if you're going to be streaming content, gaming, anything like that, you probably going to want to do a PPTP connection here and that's what we're going to start showing you. So if I click on this PPTP, and let's say, I want to create a New York connection, I'm going to copy the address to that and I'm going to go ahead and in the description, I'm going to say that this is the ExpressVPN New York, and then I'm going to paste that server address. 

And then I'm going to go in and copy and paste my username and my password. Perfect, we'll keep this on auto and click OK. So now I've set up that profile for the New York server using PPTP and if I wanted to, I'll just click activate. And it'll take a few seconds, but you'll see this checkmark on the left that will indicate that I am now connected through my router to the VPN, and any device that connects to that router will also be routed through that VPN server using that same encryption. 

VPN on Your Router

So that's the obvious advantage of using a VPN on your router. Perfect, now we're connected. Let's go ahead and deactivate this connection and set up an OpenVPN because it is slightly different to add an OpenVPN connection. So going back into ExpressVPN, clicking on the OpenVPN, and let's do Chicago. So I'm going to do a Chicago file, and what's going to happen with most services is they will give you a file that you will download, It's a .ovpn file. So you download that file. And then again, we're going to need to keep in copy and paste the username. So I'm going to use and say that this is ExpressVPN Chicago. 

The VPN server, oh sorry, going to OpenVPN. ExpressVPN Chicago. Paste that username, paste the past code. And then I will need to go in and browse to find that file that I downloaded and then upload that file. And this is going to import all of the OpenVPN settings that it needs to have so that you don't need to worry about manually configuring all of that. 

Once that upload is complete, you click OK. And now we have our OpenVPN server set up and again, click activate, wait for about a minute. And once you see that checkmark that says it's connected, you're good to go. Perfect, we're connected. 

Now at this point, using something like Asus or a number of other router backend dashboards, you can easily just set up a number of different servers in different countries, and whenever you're ready to change your server you're going to go in and just deactivate from one and activate to another. So it's not quite as simple as using a VPN app where you can switch servers very quickly, very easily, you're going to have to log in to the router backend. And if you don't deactivate, that router will maintain a connection to the VPN at all times, which maybe that's something you want, but if it's not, then you will have to log in to deactivate that VPN setting. 

Now let's talk about what happens if you log into the backend of your router and find out that it doesn't have VPN functionality. You've been looking for this VPN tab or any place to add a profile with VPN configurations and it's just not there. This is quite common with a lot of older routers and if that's the case, there are still some things you can do, namely, flash your router. Flashing a router is changing the operating system from what came out of the box to something like Tomato or DDW-RT, which is what I'm going to show you right now. If you go to their website and click on downloads, you can go in and search for your specific router to see if they support that router. And you'll see that my router is in fact supported. 

So you'll click on that and download the file that is associated with that particular router. Once I have that folder or that file in my downloads folder, I'll go back into my router. You're looking for what will probably be known as administration, firmware upgrade, and then you want to upload that file that you just downloaded from DDW-RT or Tomato or whatever. 

Now I want to give a quick warning, I'm not going to do it right now because I personally like my Asus backend and it does have VPN functionality, so there's no reason for me to change the operating system. This could be something that hurts your router. It could mess things up. So unless you know what you're doing or you're confident about what you're doing, or you don't care about accidentally messing up your router, I would be very careful about going this route and flashing your router. 

Conclusion

Like I said before, one of the other options you can do is you can buy a pre-flashed router by going to Allthingssecured.com/flashrouters. And you'll be directed to a website that will give you a lot of different options for routers, not only different brands as you see here, but also different VPN providers. So you can shop the different types of the router that you want with the different budgets available and then it will be delivered directly to your house already flashed and already set up with your VPN provider. 

So this is another option that you can choose from if your router doesn't have VPN functionality and you're not quite sure, or you're not ready or you're not able to flash that particular router. OK, now that your wifi router is activated, any device that connects through this router will be run through the VPN server. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. And if this tutorial was useful, I would appreciate you clicking that like button and subscribing to All Things Secured. Stay safe.