Best VPN for Linksys Routers: What to Know for a Smooth Install

Protecting your home network is no easy task. Lots of devices depend on Wi-Fi to perform basic functions, yet they’re unable to provide security in the form of encryption or identity protection. You can either unplug all of your devices and live in a disconnected world, or you can look into adding a VPN service directly to your router.

Linksys makes some of the most popular routers in the world. Adding a VPN to your Linksys hardware isn’t as complicated as you might think, either. Our guide below walks you through the entire process, including the best VPNs to choose from, and whether or not router installs are in your best interest.

VPN Software vs Router Installation

VPNs are fantastic multi-purpose digital tools that encrypt and anonymize your internet connection. It’s like creating a private tunnel between your device or router and the world wide web. Instead of sending raw data anyone can see, a VPN makes it unreadable to third parties, hackers, ISPs, and more.

There are multiple ways to access a VPN’s capabilities, including downloading apps to your device and adding the VPN to your router. Below we look at some of the pros and cons of each.

VPN Apps and Software

There are a few different ways you can make use of a good VPN. The most common is to download a custom app for your device (Windows PC, iPhone, Mac, etc.) and running that in the background while you go about your daily internet activities. This method is incredibly user-friendly and can be done in just a few seconds. All it takes is a login name and a mouse, then you’re connected and safe.

The downside to using VPN apps for encryption protection is they’re not 100% secure, mostly due to user error. If you forget to turn on your VPN, you could surf using exposed data without even realizing it. On top of that, the apps can sometimes crash or be completely incompatible with your operating system.

Another issue with VPN apps is they don’t run on every device. If you have a non-standard smart TV, for example, you probably won’t be able to install a VPN directly on it. Lightweight streaming devices like Fire TV can also have a difficult time running VPN software since they aren’t made for heavy computing, just video streaming.

Pros of VPN Apps

  • Can be a little faster than router installs due to increased hardware power.
  • Offers extra features that may not be available on router installs.
  • Easy to switch servers and configure added VPN options.
  • Extremely easy to set up, install, and use on a daily basis.

Cons of VPN Apps

  • Must always be active in the background of every device you want protected.
  • Possible to forget to run the software, exposing your network and identity.
  • Can be difficult to set up on non-standard devices.

VPNs on a Router

Configuring your router to use a VPN connection is a sure-fire way to protect your entire home network without fail. Every device that uses your Wi-Fi will enjoy the encryption and anonymity a VPN provides, including smart appliances and other unusual internet devices. Friends and family temporarily accessing your network will also be protected by a router VPN, as well.

A big upside to installing your VPN on a router is you don’t have to run apps on any of your devices. The router itself encrypts the connection before leaving your home, preventing any unencrypted packets of data from hitting the internet at large. All you have to do is set it up and forget about it.

The downside to VPNs on a router is the setup can be more complex than some users are accustomed to. It isn’t a one-click install, it requires some router configuration editing. In some cases all the DNS details have to be entered manually. You don’t need to be a computer expert to install a VPN on your Linksys router, but a little knowledge would be beneficial.

Pros of Router VPNs:

  • Protects the entire network, including Wi-Fi connections from smart appliances.
  • Allows friends, family, and even children to utilize the protection of a VPN.
  • No need to run apps on any of your home devices.
  • Frees up resources on low-powered devices.

Cons of Router VPNs:

  • Installation can take more time and require more technical knowledge.
  • Low-powered routers often can’t handle the encryption overhead.
  • Not all router models are supported (though Linksys usually is).
  • Some security features may not be available via router install.

Using OpenVPN

The OpenVPN software is a free and open-source app that runs on most modern platforms. It’s designed as a no-frills solution to encrypting your connection. There’s no easy to use GUI, just configuration files and manual settings pages connected directly to your VPN service.

Using OpenVPN is a viable way to keep your data safe, but unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to stick with one of the above methods. Many VPN-router setups utilize OpenVPN in some way, so don’t be surprised if you run across the name while researching router configurations.

Best VPNs for Linksys Routers

Ready to integrate your VPN with a Linksys router? With the guidelines below you can protect your entire home network with very little effort, whether you’re going for native support or the best VPNs to use with a DD-WRT router.

Choosing the Best VPN

Selecting the right VPN takes a bit of research, especially if you plan on using it with a Linksys router. Below are the top criteria you should take into consideration while evaluating different services. We’ve also provided a few recommended VPNs to help you get started.

  • Router support – Not all VPNs will support router installs by default. Some have crippled access, others full-fledged integration.
  • Logging policy – Some services store detailed records of user activity, much like ISPs. To retain your privacy, always go for a VPN with a strict zero-logging policy.
  • Reputation – The more positive reviews and uplifting testimonies a VPN service has, the safer you’ll be.
  • Security – Strong privacy features like 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch are vital for solid online security.

1 – ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN

ExpressVPN is a fast and secure VPN that comes with all the right features to keep you nice and safe online. The company runs a dedicated network of hundreds of servers across 94 countries around the world, giving you reliable access to fast downloads and international IP addresses with just a few clicks.

ExpressVPN secures all data with 256-bit AES encryption, along with a remarkably thorough zero-logging policy on traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. Custom software for multiple platforms bundles DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch features to keep your identity secure, as well.

Like most VPN services, ExpressVPN supports router installs via DD-WRT, giving it basic Linksys support for many models.

Want to know more about ExpressVPN’s fantastic features? Check out our full ExpressVPN review.

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2 – IPVanish – Stellar Security

IPVanish knows that VPN users need the best mixture of speed and security, without compromise. The company provides lightning fast downloads and streams with a large network of over 950 servers in 60 different countries, complete with tens of thousands of IP addresses to choose from. All of this is available using IPVanish’s easy to use software and router connections, giving you fast access to a safe world wide web.

IPVanish’s VPN apps come with DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. All transmitted data is kept secure with 256-bit AES encryption and a zero-logging policy on traffic, providing complete security every time you log in. You also have complete freedom to download and stream as you see fit thanks to IPVanish’s unlimited bandwidth.

IPVanish offers limited Linksys (DD-WRT) router installation support. You can also buy a pre-installed VPN on a Linksys router.

Curious about IPVanish? Find out more in our complete IPVanish review.

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3 – CyberGhost – Superb Security

CyberGhost is keenly focused on providing two things to all of its VPN users: speed and security. The service starts with a network of 1,200 servers across 60 countries, all of which are extremely fast and lag-free. You’ll never have a difficult time locating just the right IP address location with CyberGhost, even if you need a connection outside of the world’s major cities!

CyberGhost offers solid security with a foundation built upon 256-bit AES encryption and a zero-logging policy on traffic, time stamps, and IP address. Both DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch come standard with the service’s custom software, as well.

CyberGhost doesn’t directly support Linksys routers, though you can use it with any DD-WRT enabled hardware, which includes most Linksys products. This means you might have an extra setup step to complete before using the VPN with your particular router.

Learn more about CyberGhost’s features in our thorough CyberGhost review.

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4 – NordVPN – Strong Protection

NordVPN is a truly impressive VPN. The service offers over 3,300 servers in 59 different countries, one of the largest networks in the industry. It backs this up with a solid reputation and some truly stand-out features, as well, including dedicated P2P connections, double encryption, and onion over VPN routing.

NordVPN provides great security for all of its customers, starting with a thorough zero-logging policy that covers bandwidth, traffic, time stamps, and DNS access. This is in addition to automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection features on its custom software along with 256-bit AES encryption on all data.

NordVPN supports Linksys router usage through the alternative encryption protocols L2TP and PPTP. These are different from the usual OpenVPN protocol and can be slightly less secure overall. Note that you won’t be able to access NordVPN’s unique security features if you use it directly with a router.

Learn more about NordVPN’s pros and cons in our full NordVPN review.

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5 – PureVPN – Privacy and More

PureVPN is a versatile VPN that offers some useful extra features that go beyond the usual VPN offerings. Users gain access to unique security add-ons such as DNS-level website filtering, a feature that prevents phishing and similar scams by blocking suspicious websites before any data reaches your computer. If you use PureVPN through its custom software, you’ll have access to malware shields, app blocking filters, and even an always-on virus scanner, as well!

PureVPN runs a large network of over 750 servers in 140 different countries, including dozens of locations across six continents. Data that passes through this network is secured with 256-bit encryption and a zero-logging policy on traffic. PureVPN also includes DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch in every version of its software.

Using PureVPN with a router is easy. The company supports Linksys and a variety of other manufacturers and provides installation instructions to guide you through the process from beginning to end.

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Router Hardware and Firmware

Linksys makes some of the most popular routers in the world. They’re reliable, affordable, and offer a good balance between customizability and out-of-the-box functionality.

Linksys and DD-WRT

The Linksys router brand generally refers to the line of hardware. The firmware that runs these devices goes by a different name, and it has an interesting history with homebrew coders. In mid-2005 the open-source router firmware DD-WRT was released, itself based on the Linksys WRT54G firmware. DD-WRT brought a number of unique features to Linksys and other router brands, most notably the ability to customize VPN settings without the need for hacking.

DD-WRT can be installed on a wide range of routers. Most Linksys models ship with the company’s own firmware installed, which usually doesn’t support VPN connections. You can add DD-WRT to just about any Linksys router if you need VPN access, which makes it a popular brand for privacy enthusiasts.

Installing DD-WRT on a Linksys Router

Installing custom firmware on a router isn’t a quick or painless process. There are a lot of variables to consider, and a lot of instructions to read. If you can’t purchase a router with DD-WRT pre-installed, your best bet is to check out the official and extremely detailed installation process tutorial. It guides you through everything from beginning to end. Take your time, move slowly, and before you know it you’ll have DD-WRT firmware on your Linksys device.

Buying Linksys Routers with a VPN Pre-Installed

One relatively new movement in the VPN scene is to offer routers that have the company’s software pre-configured and ready to connect. You can purchase these routers at a discount along with some VPN subscriptions, then simply plug it in and set it up with your home devices. The VPN encryption and anonymity protection are made available right away, no additional installation required.

Check with your VPN for these pre-installed router offers before signing up with the service. In many cases you can save a lot of time and money by utilizing this method, and you won’t lose access to future customizations by doing so, either.

Conclusion

Protecting your home network with a router-based VPN connection is a smart and efficient solution to online security. You’ll keep every device in your house secured, including smart appliances, smart TVs, and the devices of family and friends paying you a visit.

Read Best VPN for Linksys Routers: What to Know for a Smooth Install by John Bardinelli on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

ExpressVPN Router Setup: Install ExpressVPN on a Router, Quick and Easy

We often talk about the importance of getting a VPN to keep your devices safe, and to protect your privacy when you go online. Typically, users will install the software from their VPN provider on each of their devices and use that app to control the VPN connection. However, there is another way to connect to a VPN, and that’s by installing VPN software directly onto your router. There are some advantages to this method that we’ll discuss in depth.

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular and trusted VPNs among serious internet users thanks to its fast speeds, high level of security, and software that supports many platforms and is easy to use. In this article we’ll walk you through the steps of ExpressVPN Router Setup so that you can have your VPN software right on your router.

Why Install VPN Software Onto Your Router?

If you’re a regular home user, you might wonder why you would need VPN software on your router. And it’s true that home users can happily install VPN software onto each of their devices in order to keep them safe. In fact, even if you do install VPN software onto your router, it’s still a good idea to install VPN apps onto your phone and tablet too if you’re going to connect those devices to other networks as well as your home network. So why would you want VPN software on your router?

Convenience

With VPN software on your router you only have to change your VPN settings in one place and it will automatically affect all of your devices. So you can set up the VPN on your router to connect to a server in the US, for example, and then every device that connects to your internet will have its traffic routed via the US. This also helps with security, as one area of vulnerability with VPNs is the time in which the software is starting up. If you turn your computer on and it starts downloading data before the VPN software is loaded, then your data could be vulnerable. Having the software on your router protects you from this as every piece of data on the network will be encrypted before it is sent over the internet.

Protect All Your Devices

Another advantage of having VPN software on a router is that every device which connects to your network will be protected. If you give your wifi password to a friend, for example, their device will be protected while they are on your network – and if they do something illegal like using torrents on your network, you are protected from legal issues. Related to this, there are some devices which connect to the internet and which you want to protect with a VPN but which don’t have VPN apps, like games consoles or smart TVs. ExpressVPN has apps for some of these devices but not all of them. So if you want to encrypt the data from these devices then you need to do this through your router instead of on the device itself.

How Do You Put A VPN On Your Router?

You can see from this why people might want to have the VPN installed on the router instead of on individual devices. But how do you actually achieve this? Most people don’t have a lot of experience with working with routers or installing software on them. But fortunately, there are guides to installing ExpressVPN on a whole range of devices.

The simplest way to get ExpressVPN on your router is to buy one of the routers that have a compatible ExpressVPN app. If you select one of these compatible routers, you only need to download the corresponding firmware from ExpressVPN, then flash this firmware onto your device. We’ll give you more details about how to do that below.

The second option, if you already have a router and you don’t want to purchase a compatible router, is to manually configure ExpressVPN in your router’s settings. This method is a bit more tricky and requires some technical knowledge. It also doesn’t work on all routers, so it depends on the features that are available on your particular router. We’ll give you instructions on manually setting up a router to work with ExpressVPN as well.

Option #1 – Setting Up An ExpressVPN Compatible Router

You can easily install the ExpressVPN app for routers on the following models of router:

  • Asus RT-AC56(U/R/S)
  • Asus RT-AC68U
  • Asus RT-AC87U
  • Linksys EA6200
  • Linksys WRT1200AC
  • Linksys WRT1900AC(S)
  • Linksys WRT3200ACM
  • Netgear R6300
  • Netgear R7000
  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000

Instructions For Setting Up An ExpressVPN Compatible Router

If you have any of these router models, then there is a ready-made firmware for you that you can download from the ExpressVPN website. Here’s how to do that:

  1. First, open your web browser and navigate to https://www.expressvpn.com/users/sign_in
  2. Sign in with the username and password you used when you signed up for ExpressVPN
  3. On the My Account page, look on the Dashboard tab. If you’re on Windows, you’ll see a button saying Download for Windows. But that’s not what we need, so next to that look for a button that says Set Up on More Devices

  4. This will open a tab to the downloads page at https://www.expressvpn.com/setup
  5. On this page you’ll see your Activation Code in the blue box (it’s blanked out in our image for security reasons, but your code should be right there). Take a note of the code as you’ll need it later
  6. Scroll down the page until you find the Router option in the left hand menu. Click on this
  7. Now you’ll see an ExpressVPN for Routers header. Under the Setup subheader you’ll see a drop down menu with options to select your router. Use this menu to choose your router
  8. For example, we’ll choose the Linksys EA6200 router. Now you’ll see a red box that says Download Firmware. Click on this button and the download will begin

Now that you have the software that you need, you can install it onto your router. The exact details of how to do this will vary by the specific router, as each router company has its own software and user interface. However, we will walk you through the basic steps, and if you need more specific guidance then you can look on the ExpressVPN website here.

  1. First you should navigate to your router admin panel. In the case of a Linksys EA6200, that panel should be located at http://www.linksyssmartwifi.com/
  2. Log in to your router with your username and password if required
  3. Find the Connectivity menu on the left side of the Linksys panel
  4. There should be a Router Firmware Update subheading, with a Manual option
  5. Click on Manual and you’ll be prompted to select a file. Find the firmware file that you downloaded earlier and click Start to begin the firmware update
  6. The router will restart while it updates. Once it is complete, use wifi or LAN to connect to the router, then visit http://www.expressvpnrouter.com/
  7. Sign in using the code that is printed on the bottom of the router
  8. Find the activation code that you saved earlier and paste this into the ExpressVPN router website
  9. Now you’ll be able to use this web interface to control the VPN on your router

A note: if you are setting up your router without current internet access then you will need to connect your computer to the router via cable or wifi, then set up your options such as passwords using the router admin panel before you can flash the firmware.

In other models of router, the firmware update option will be in another location in the router admin panel. Try looking for Firmware Update options under Administration or other similar headings.

Managing A VPN On Your Router

Now that your router has the ExpressVPN firmware installed, you can start using it to protect all of your devices:

  1. Connect your device to the router via either cable or wifi. The wifi username and password should be written on the back or on the bottom of your router
  2. Go to http://www.expressvpnrouter.com/ in your web browser
  3. You’ll see your current status: it should say that ExpressVPN is connected and say which server you are connected to
  4. To connect to a new server, first click Disconnect to disconnect from the old server
  5. Click on Select another location and choose the location you want from the drop down menu. This connects your VPN to the new location
  6. You can also manage devices on your network by going to the VPN tab, then to the VPN Options item. Here you’ll see a list of devices that have recently connected to your network, and you can toggle VPN protection on or off for each device

Option #2 – Setting Up A Router Manually

The other option, if your router does not have a specific app available for it, is to change your settings to use ExpressVPN. This is indicated by ExpressVPN to be less secure that using a custom router firmware, however, so if you want a very high standard of security then you should purchase one of the compatible routers. If you just want to be able to have basic VPN functions on your router, however, that is possible too.

Each brand of router is different, and there are differences between each model too. We’ll give you general instructions on setting up ExpressVPN manually on a router, but you should bear in mind that your experience will be different depending on the specific router that you use. There are guides on the ExpressVPN website for manually configuring routers from the following manufacturers:

If you know what particular protocol your router uses (for example, L2TP or OpenVPN) then there are also specific guides on the ExpressVPN website for the following VPN technologies:

Let’s assume that we have an Asus router with OpenVPN, that is not one of the Asus routers with a compatible app available. In this case we’ll perform the setup using the stock Asus firmware. Here’s how to do that:

Instructions For Setting Up A Router Manually

  1. First, open your web browser and navigate to https://www.expressvpn.com/users/sign_in
  2. Sign in with the username and password you used when you signed up for ExpressVPN
  3. On the My Account page, look on the Dashboard tab. If you’re on Windows, you’ll see a button saying Download for Windows. But that’s not what we need, so next to that look for a button that says Set Up on More Devices

  4. This will open a tab to the downloads page at https://www.expressvpn.com/setup
  5. On this page you’ll see your Activation Code in the blue box (it’s blanked out in our image for security reasons, but your code should be right there). Take a note of the code as you’ll need it later
  6. Scroll down the page until you find the Manual Config option in the left hand menu. Click on this
  7. Click on OpenVPN in the main section
  8. You’ll see a username and password (obscured here for security purposes). Take a note of this information
  9. Below that you’ll see options for configuration files organised by region. Select the server that you want your router to connect to. For example, we want to connect to the server in London, so we click on Europe then on UK – London
  10. This will start a download of a .ovpn file. Save this file somewhere convenient, like your desktop
  11. Now we’ll configure your router to work with the .ovpn file
  12. Do this by opening your web browser and going to your router control panel. Typically, this will have an address like 192.168.1.1
  13. Log in with your router username and password
  14. Find your OpenVPN settings. In Asus routers, you go to the VPN section in the left hand menu
  15. Find the VPN Client section. There should be an Add profile button there. This allows you to use the .ovpn file to configure your router
  16. Now you’ll need to enter the details of the profile. You need to give the profile a name, and a username and password if you want. Then you can upload the .ovpn file that we got from the ExpressVPN site earlier
  17. Click OK to save these settings, then you should see your new profile in your settings. Click Activate to start the VPN
  18. Now check your IP address, and you should see that you are connected to the London UK server

The downside of this method is that you can only connect to one server using it – the server that you chose in step 9. If you want to have the option to switch to another server, such as one in the US, then you should go back to the ExpressVPN site and download more .ovpn files. You can add a number of these files to your router as profiles, then you can switch between them using your router control panel when you want to use another one.

Special Deal On ExpressVPN

If this guide has inspired you to try out a VPN on your router, but you haven’t chosen a VPN provider yet, then we have a special deal available on ExpressVPN that you won’t want to miss out on.

ExpressVPN is one of the best names in the game for VPN providers. They offer everything that a VPN user could want: top notch security, super fast connections, and software that can be installed on a range of devices including the routers that we described above. The security features include the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a strict no logging policy, so you can be sure that no records of your internet use will be kept and your anonymity will be protected. In addition, in the software you’ll find more security features like a kill switch option to cut off your internet connection if the VPN goes down so that you don’t accidentally send data over an unencrypted connection, plus DNS leak protection to ensure your ISP can’t spy on your browsing activities, and an IP address checker so you can see for yourself that your VPN is connected and working.

This security won’t slow you down, though. The connections available from ExpressVPN are super fast so they’re perfect for downloading large files or streaming high definition videos. The network of servers that is open for users to connect to is very large, with more than 1000 servers available in 145 locations in 94 different countries, so you can get around and region locks and browse the internet freely. Finally, you can protect all of your devices as the software can be installed Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, plus some smart TVs and games consoles, and there are browser extensions for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers.

Read our full ExpressVPN review here.

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Conclusion

If you want to protect every device that connects to your network, even your games console or smart TV and your friends’ devices too, then you should consider installing a VPN directly onto your router. This setup takes a bit of time, but once you’ve done it then you can know that every single device you add to your network in the future will be protect with no extra effort on your part. Encrypting every single piece of data from your network before it goes to the internet will help improve your security by ensuing that your devices don’t accidentally send data over an unsecure connection before your VPN software has loaded.

ExpressVPN has support for a massive range of devices, and it offers custom firmware for compatible routers than makes managing your VPN dead easy. If you have a compatible router, you can follow the instructions in Option 1 of this article to setup the router to run ExpressVPN. If you don’t have a compatible router, you can still usually make this work, as long as the router supports OpenVPN or similar. To do this, follow the instructions in Option 2.

Have you tried installing ExpressVPN or another VPN onto your router? Did you find it gave you better security than installing VPN software onto each of your devices individually? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

Read ExpressVPN Router Setup: Install ExpressVPN on a Router, Quick and Easy by Georgina Jones on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter