The internet seems to be inevitably sliding toward a more censored, geo-blocked, and surveilled space. If you’re using a Virtual Private Network or a VPN, you’re already acutely aware of these issues and have taken a step towards reclaiming your internet privacy and security. Great! However, you may be missing out on reaping the biggest boost to your VPN experience: installing it onto your home router.
What is a VPN useful for?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) acts as an encrypted tunnel between your device and the site you want to access. By encrypting your data, you can surf the internet without your Internet service provider (ISP), government, or hackers knowing what you’re doing online.
VPNs are incredibly useful in allowing internet users access to content they would not otherwise be able to. If for instance, you live in a country that blocks Google, Facebook, or Twitter, a VPN would help you access all of those sites because your ISP would not be able to see which site you’re trying to reach.
Whether you’re completely new to VPNs or already use one, here are three more ways a VPN makes surfing the internet a little easier.
1. Bypass geo-blocked content
Many streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer block visitors outside the U.S. and U.K. from accessing their content, even if they have an account. Several YouTube channels also restrict certain regions from watching their content.
With a VPN you can change your location to one that allows you to watch your favorite movies and tv shows. A good VPN will do all that without any significant buffering and give you crystal-clear HD viewing of whatever you feel like watching. You normally do have pay for the better VPNs, and free VPNs may be shadier than they would try and have you believe.
2. Protect your security on public Wi-Fi
When you connect to a public wifi connection, you are always putting your online security at risk, with potential malware, snoops, and hackers all waiting to exploit your internet connection.
Everything from where you are and the websites you visit the people you’re communicating with and your login credentials are up for grabs once you start using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. A VPN encrypts all the data you’re sending through your Wi-Fi connection, so no-one else can see what information you’re sending to the site you’re on.
3. Have throttle-free internet
With the repeal of Net Neutrality regulations this year, you can expect ISPs to take greater advantage of throttling your connections to sites that they don’t want you to access easily. That could mean paying more money to your ISP for ‘fast lanes’ to gain faster access to the website you want.
When you’re connected to a VPN however, the ISP can’t figure out what you’re using the internet for, and therefore won’t be able to throttle your connection. In this case, your internet speed actually becomes faster when you connect to a VPN.
One small problem
As useful as VPN providers are in giving users the ability to browse the internet privately and securely, most VPNs limit how many simultaneous connections you can have.
When you live in a home with many smart devices it can become a huge hassle having to disconnect and reconnect every time you want to use another device. Not to mention all the Internet of Things that come with barely any online security and need constant patching.
Solution: Install a VPN onto your router
To avoid having to connect and disconnect your multiple devices, or squabbling with family and friends over who needs to use the VPN or not, simply install the VPN onto your router at home and every single device connected to your Wi-Fi is protected.
How does a home VPN router give you an advantage?
There are several ways in which a VPN on your router could make your online life a lot more secure much more easily.
1. Get all the benefits of a VPN on all your devices
This one is a no-brainer. Every device you connect to your home router will have their traffic encrypted and masked from view from the prying eyes of anyone tapping in. Once you install a VPN and connect to a location of your choice, every device that’s connected to your router’s Wi-Fi will have its data encrypted. Bonus: your router’s VPN app connection only counts as one simultaneous device, so you can use your remaining connections with your mobile devices for when you’re not at home.
2. Save yourself from buying additional VPN licenses
With a VPN on your router encrypting all your devices, you save money from having to buy more licenses to cover more devices. If you have already invested in a good quality (read: pricey) VPN, then adding your VPN to a router is a great way to save money from additional licenses.
3. Keep your security and privacy all in one place
Having a VPN on your router should give you peace of mind. If you’re having to manually install and configure it, then the mechanics of changing between VPN locations can get a little clunky, not to mention added security concerns of manually updating the app afterward.
Thankfully, there are VPNs like ExpressVPN that have an app specifically for the router, which make it more convenient to change locations and customize which devices you actually want to protect with a VPN.
How do I get a home VPN router?
If you want some extra online security at home adding a VPN to your router is the best way you can make that happen. When you’re looking for a VPN you want to start with a strong foundation first—is the VPN fast, private, and secure?
If it ticks all three boxes you’ll want to then check their options for installing a VPN onto your router. A few of them have apps that you can install easily onto your router, with options to also configure the VPN manually. Make sure to double-check the model of your router; if you don’t have a compatible router for your VPN you may need to configure manually (which is a little less secure) or buy a router that is compatible with the VPN you want to use.