How to install and set up a VPN on a router

Hello, my name is Nicolas Cuts. I’m an employee of Switcherry VPN. Today’s article is dedicated to various ways to install and set up a VPN on different types of routers.

Modern technologies never stand still. If before only successful commercial companies could afford their own router, now it’s a completely normal gadget available to an enormous number of consumers interested in setting up home Internet access. Even though setting up a router is usually a simple task that doesn’t require any special tech-savviness, configuring it to work through a VPN involves certain nuances and pitfalls, and that’s exactly what we intend to cover in this article.

What’s a VPN and why do I need to set one up on my router?

You probably already know that to this date a VPN is the best way to protect yourself from most of the threats that going online involves. Privacy, anonymity, protection against being tracked – this is far from the full list of advantages VPN technologies provide regular user and corporate players. The regular way to install a VPN involves downloading and launching special software – a VPN client – on each of the user’s devices. This method isn’t always convenient, especially if you own multiple devices and want to protect all of them.

We’ve already told you how to set up a VPN on Android, on Iphone and IPad and how to hide your IP-address with VPN on Mac.

Router owners have an alternative – set up their router to work through a VPN, which will provide protection for all devices that access the Internet through this router. Another important advantage of using a VPN on your router: regardless of how many devices use the router, you technically have only 1 VPN connection, which means you can connect all your mobile devices to a VPN without having to purchase multiple accitional connections. (Most VPN providers let 5-7 devices use a single account simultaneously.)

Still, having a VPN on your router has it drawbacks too:

  • if your router is low-capacity or just outdated, the Internet connection may drop significantly;
  • setting up a VPN on a router can be quite complicated;
  • many routers don’t support VPNs at all;
  • in a VPN app, you can change your geolocation in a couple of clicks, whereas doing the same thing with a router VPN will force you to edit the settings, input new ones.

General information on setting up a VPN on a router

First of all, you need to make sure a VPN can even be installed on your router. To find out, dig up your routers technical manual. If your router is not adapted to working with a VPN, scroll down to our “What do I do if my router doesn’t support VPNs?” section. Next, choose a VPN provider and from them get the data you’ll need to properly configure your device. If we, Switcherry VPN, are your VPN provider, contact our tech support to get the necessary info.

Data required to properly set up a VPN on a router

Your VPN provider must provide you with the IP addresses of their VPN servers and the login/password info so you can pass authorization. You’ll also need a list of supported encryption protocols.

Steps to set up a VPN on a router

To make changes in the settings of any router model, you must go to its control panel. To do this, launch a browser and enter the IP address of your device in the address bar. For most router models, this will look like a set of numbers along the lines of 192.168.X.X (the last two digits depend on the model of the device and the manufacturer), for example, 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1, etc. You may be asked to enter the login and password in order to access the control panel. Just like the IP address, the device’s login and password can be found on the sticker on the bottom of the device. For example, here’s how an Asus RT-N12 sticker looks like (IP Adress – 192.168.1.1, User Name – admin, Password – admin):

Asus router login and password
Asus router login and password

And this is the sticker of a D-Link DIR-300A (IP Adress – 192.168.0.1, Username – admin, Password – admin):

D-Link router login and password
D-Link router login and password

On the control panel, select the encryption protocol and enter the VPN server’s IP address, username and password in the appropriate fields. Now, if the router was preset to work with a VPN, you can go online and check how well your newly-acquired VPN connection works (see below “How to check the performance of your setup”).

Setting up a VPN on popular router models

Next, we’ll cover the subtleties of configuring specific router models of routers.

Setting up a VPN on routers with DD-WRT firmware

DD-WRT firmware is the most widespread and can be installed on almost all routers that support VPNs.

  • go to your router’s control panel;
  • find the “Setup” tab and go to the “Basic Setup” section (#1 on the image below);
  • From the “Connection Type” list that drops out (#2), choose a VPN protocol (on the image, PPTP was chosen);
  • in #3, “Gateway (PPTP server)” enter the VPN server’s IP address that you got from your VPN provider, and in #4 and #5 – the username and password respectively;
  • for #6, “Use DHCP”, choose “Yes”, and for “MPPE Encryption” and “Packet Reordering” (#7 and #8) choose “Enable”;
  • in the “Dual-Access mode” and “Receive IPTV” fields (#9 and #10), select “No”;
  • in the additional options for the “MTU” parameter, choose “Manual” for #11 and input the number 1460 in #12, for “STP” (#13), choose “Disable”;
  • specify the local IP address of the router in the corresponding field (#14);
  • for the “DHCP Type” parameter, choose “DHCP Server”, and for “DHCP Server”, select “Enable” (#15 and #16);
  • click “Apply settings” (#17);
Step-by-step configuration of routers with DD-WRT firmware
Step-by-step configuration of routers with DD-WRT firmware
  • if you choose the L2TP protocol, the setup will look a little bit different (see image below);
  • for the “Use DHCP” parameter (#6), choose”Yes”;
  • in the additional settings of the “MTU” parameter, choose “Manual” (#7) and enter the number 1460 for #8, for “STP” (#9), select “Disable”;
  • specify the local IP address of the router in the corresponding field (#10);
  • for the “DHCP Type” parameter, choose “DHCP Server”, and for the “DHCP Server” select “Enable” (#11 and #12);
  • click “Apply settings” (#13);
Setting up with L2TP
Setting up with L2TP
  • now go to the “Security” section and click on the “Firewall” tab. For the “SPI Firewall” parameter, select “Disable” and after that click “Apply settings”;
  • go to the “VPN Passthrough” section. For the “(PPTP) L2TP Passthrough” element, input “Enable” and click “Apply settings”;
  • go to the “Administration” tab and click “Reboot router”.

Setting up a VPN on Linksys routers

  • Go to the control panel of your router like we talked about in the “Steps to set up a VPN on a router VPN” section;
  • click “Connectivity” to go to the corresponding tab (#1 on the image below);
Setting up a Linksys router
Setting up a Linksys router
  • choose the “Internet Settings” tab (#2);
  • click “Edit” next to “Type of Internet Connection setting” (#3);
  • from the “Connection Type” list that pops up, choose “PPTP” or “L2TP” (#4);
  • for the “IP Address” parameter choose “Obtain an IPv4 address automatically (DHCP)” (#5);
  • in the “Server IPv4 Address” field (#6) indicate the VPN server’s IP address, and in the “Username” and “Password” fields (#7) – the username and password you got from your VPN provider;
  • click “Apply” to save the settings;
Setup steps
Setup steps
  • go to the “Local Network” tab (#9);
  • in the “Static DNS 1” and “Static DNS 2” fields (#10) enter Google’s public DNS addresses (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 respectively);
  • click “Apply”;
  • restart your router.
Entering a Google DNS address
Entering a Google DNS address

Setting up a VPN on Tenda routers

  • Go to the control panel and click “Advanced” (#1) to open up advanced settings;
Setting up a Tenda router
Setting up a Tenda router
  • in the “Advanced” section (#2), select “Internet Connection Setup” (#3);
  • from the “Internet Connection type” list that pops up, choose “PPTP” or “L2TP” (#4);
  • enter the VPN server’s IP address, username and password into their respective fields (#5 and #6);
  • in the “Address Mode” list (#7), choose “Dynamic”;
  • click “OK” (#8) to save your settings;
Setup items
Setup items
  • go to the “DNS Settings” tab (#9) by clicking the menu item of the same name;
  • tick the “Enable Manual DNS Assignment” box (#10);
  • enter Google’s public DNS addresses in the “Primary DNS Server” and “Secondary DNS Server” fields (#11) 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 respectively;
  • click “OK” (#12) to save your settings.
Entering DNS addresses and saving settings
Entering DNS addresses and saving settings

Setting up a VPN on D-link routers

  • Go to your router’s control panel;
  • in the “Setup” section (#1), go to the “Internet” tab (#2) and click “Manual Internet Connection Setup” (#3);
Setting up a D-link routers
Setting up a D-link routers
  • from the “My Internet Connection is” list that pops up, choose “PPTP” or “L2TP” (#4);
  • for #5 – “Address Mode”, choose “Dynamic IP”;
  • in #6 – “PPTP (L2TP) Server IP Address”, enter the IP address of your VPN server;
  • enter the username and password in the appropriate fields (#7);
  • enter Google’s public DNS addresses in the “Primary DNS Server” and “Secondary DNS Server” fields (#8) – 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 respectively;
  • click “Save Settings” to save your changes.
Procedure for setting up
Procedure for setting up

Setting up a VPN on Asus routers

  • Go to the router’s web interface
  • in the “Advanced Settings” menu, select “VPN” (#1);
Login to Asus router interface
Login to Asus router interface
  • go to the “VPN Client” tab (#2);
  • click “Add profile” (#3);
Adding a profile
Adding a profile
  • choose a VPN protocol (#4) and fill out the “Description” field (#5) – name it whatever you want, “VPN Server” (#6) – the VPN server’s IP address, “Username” (#7), “Password” (#8). Click “OK” to save your settings;
Choice of VPN protocol
Choice of VPN protocol
  • if you choose OpenVPN, then you will need to request a configuration file from your VPN provider;
  • to enable the VPN connection, click “Activate”.
Activating settings
Activating settings

Setting up a VPN on Netgear routers

Netgear routers lack built-in VPN support. But you can manually change the factory settings for DD-WRT, OpenWrt or Tomato firmware.

  • go to this website http://openvpn.net/index.php/download/community-downloads.html, download and install OpenVPN on your computer;
  • go to the router’s control panel;
  • go to the “ADVANCED” tab;
  • in the “Advanced Setup” menu, choose “VPN Service” (see image);
  • tick the box next to “Enable VPN Service”;
  • for the “Clients will use this VPN connection to access” option, select “All sites on the Internet & Home Network”;
  • click “Apply” to save your settings;
  • upload the configuration file by clicking “For Windows” (or any other similar button if you’re installing a VPN on another OS or device type);
Setting up a Netgear routers
Setting up a Netgear routers
  • unzip the archive you download C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config (or any other appropriate location, if you installed OpenVPN in another directory);
Unzipping downloaded files
Unzipping downloaded files

Windows users must change the name of the VPN interface name to NETGEAR-VPN (otherwise, the connection won’t work). To do this, go to Start –> Settings > Network & Internet –> Ethernet (in Windows 10) or Start > Control Panel > View network status and tasks in Windows 7. Choose “Change adapter settings”. Find the connection called TAP-Windows Adapter and rename it to NETGEAR-VPN.

How to set up a VPN on Windows 10, read the article.

What do I do if my router doesn’t support VPN

In this case, you might need to reflash your router, that is, update its OS. Go to the official website of your router’s manufacturer and check whether there’s a firmware upgrade that supports VPN available. If there is, download it, delete the old firmware, install the new one by closely following the manufacturer’s instructions. If there is no such VPN-supporting firmware, you can try to install one made by another manufacturer. The most popular are DD-WRT, OpenWrt and Tomato. But even these universal firmwares aren’t compatible with all routers. Here you can find out whether your router supports DD-WRT firmware, here – OpenWrt, and here – Tomato.

If your device is not on these lists, then unfortunately, the only open option for you is to buy a new router.

Upgrading your router’s firmware – step by step guide

  1. Find and download a firmware file suitable for your device;
  2. Reset the router’s settings. To do this, find the Reset button on your device and press and hold it for at least 15 seconds. If the LED lights start flashing and turning off, that means you’ve successfully reset the settings;
  3. Go to the router’s control panel, to do that, type in the device’s IP address in a browser’s search bar (see the “Steps to set up a VPN on a router” section above);
  4. Find the “Upgrade/Upload Firmware” button or section on the administration panel and click it;
  5. You’ll be offered to choose and install a new firmware file. Choose the one you’ve just downloaded;
  6. Wait for the upgrade to be done. Until then, don’t do anything to the router or computer!;
  7. Wait another 5-10 minutes after the new firmware has been installed;
  8. Reset the router’s settings again.

How to check whether the settings work

The easiest way to do that is to go to any online IP checking service, for example, the one on our company’s website: https://switcherry-vpn.com/location-and-ip. If your “visible” IP address matches the VPN server’s IP address that you indicated in the settings, then the VPN connection on your router is perfectly functional.

Setting up a VPN connection between routers

You can also install a secure VPN connection between two routers. This way, you can, for example, connect two offices of your company or connect your home network with your office one. One of the routers (the home one) will act as a VPN server, the other – the VPN client. Overall, setting up a VPN connection between two routers is pretty simple and depends on the router models and the firmware type.

FAQ

1.What router model should I use for VPN-related purposes?

1.What router model should I use for VPN-related purposes?

Best not to nickel-and-dime and get yourself a modern router with a multi-core processor with a clock frequency of at least 1.4 GHz and a large memory – 512 MB and up. Traditionally, Asus routers are considered the best.

2.Which VPN connection is faster, through a router or an app?

2.Which VPN connection is faster, through a router or an app?

It depends on how powerful the router is. Modern powerful routers with multi-core processors allow you to receive / transmit data at top speeds that this connection type can handle. Weak outdated routers configured to work with a VPN considerably slow down the connection speed, which means that in this case it’s better to use a VPN app rather than rewire your router.

3.What router is the easiest to set up a VPN on?

3.What router is the easiest to set up a VPN on?

One that has a VPN supporting firmware with a convenient graphic user interface pre-installed on it, for example, DD-WRT.

Author: Nicolas Cuts

Product Managers at SwitcherryVPN. Have 5 years background in management and marketing. I never stop learning!

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