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The best VPN for a router in 2024: Protect every device in your home

Navigating the intricate landscape of digital security, this article is a guide for users who are curious about fortifying their online protection through router-integrated Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). 

A VPN router essentially functions like a standard VPN, rerouting your traffic through secure servers, thereby cloaking your online footsteps from potential eavesdroppers. The allure of such a router is its ability to bestow network-wide security. Once the VPN is active on your router, the encrypted connection it offers encompasses every device tethered to it. Whether it’s your smartphone, gaming console, or even that innovative internet-connected coffee machine, every device is sheltered under the VPN’s protective umbrella. This is particularly beneficial for devices that aren’t inherently VPN-friendly.

However, this isn’t a blanket solution for all. Certain VPNs don’t support all routers, requiring users to innovate with solutions, such as converting PCs into wifi hotspots. Moreover, while internet service providers’ (ISPs) intervention is rare, it’s always advisable to be well-versed with their terms regarding VPN usage, especially if you’re leasing the hardware from them.

Not every router is VPN-compliant and the setup can be slightly intricate, sometimes demanding firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato (Linux-based and custom firmware, respectively). Also, while VPNs enhance security, they might influence internet speeds, due to the added encryption route. 

To help you make an informed decision, our experts have analysed a myriad of VPNs and cherry-picked the ones that are router-compatible and shine in terms of security, performance and value. They’ve addressed the setup, benefits and potential drawbacks, ensuring readers have everything they need to choose the right one.

Whether you’re a tech aficionado keen on understanding the nuances or someone merely exploring the best ways to safeguard online activities, this guide promises a robust, well-rounded perspective. 

The best VPNs for a router compared

Sifting through the various options in the landscape of VPN providers can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the intricacies of the technology. This guide will explore some of the industry leaders, focusing on key features such as router compatibility, security, privacy and customer support. Our ultimate goal is to provide you with the insights and information needed to identify the best VPN solution for your router.

To facilitate your decision-making, our researchers have shortlisted the most viable router VPN services: NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and IPVanish. Each stands out, not just for their robust router compatibility, but also for a spectrum of features that align with our benchmarks for the finest VPNs suitable for routers. 

NordVPN Surfshark VPN ExpressVPN CyberGhost IPVanish VPN
Lowest price From £2.49/mo From £1.80/mo From £5.42/mo From £1.92/mo From£2.59/mo
AES-256 encryption Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Protocols IKEv2 IPsec OpenVPN NordLynx OpenVPN IKEv2 WireGuard Lightway IKEv2 L2TP OpenVPN OpenVPN IKEv2 WireGuard OpenVPN WireGuard IKEv2 IPSec
Audited no-log policy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Past security breaches? 2018 No No 2019 No


NordVPN: Best overall VPN for routers

  • Lowest price: £2.49/month
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Six
  • Number of servers: 5,577
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and NordLynx
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Switzerland (2023) and Deloitte (2022)
  • Headquarters: Panama

Pros

Extensive server network Rapid network connection Pre-configured FlashRouters Comprehensive router setup guides Efficient with all key streaming platforms 24/7 customer support

Cons

Lack of in-house dedicated router app Some speed reductions reported in specific regions

NordVPN, a household name in the VPN industry, has made a substantial mark with its unmatched security measures and vast server range. Positioned in Panama, far from international surveillance coalitions, it has exemplified privacy standards with its audited no-log policy and robust encryption.

Cost

NordVPN’s pricing strategy is flexible, catering to varied requirements with its Standard, Plus, and Complete packages. You’ll be able to take advantage of significant savings if you sign up for a longer period of time. For example, NordVPN’s two-year plans lower the asking price to just £2.49 per month. The addition of three extra months for free is a decent added incentive for anyone who needs a VPN in the long-term.

Each subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which could be used as a free trial period to explore if the VPN is right for you.

Subscription period Standard plan Plus plan including NordPass Complete plan including NordPass and NordLocker
Monthly £10.29/mo £10.99/mo £11.99/mo
12 months £3.99/mo (£46.68 upfront) £4.59/mo (£55.08 upfront) £5.59/mo (£67.08 upfront)
24 months plus 3 free months £2.49/mo (£67.23 upfront) £3.19/mo (£86.13 upfront) £4.19/mo (£113.13 upfront)

Security

With NordVPN, the entire data traffic is protected through the use of a virtually uncrackable Advanced Encryption Standard with 256 bits (AES-256). It supports secure VPN protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN and NordLynx, based on WireGuard. 

Additional features, such as Threat Protection, ensure reliable defence against malware. Meshnet facilitates direct device connections, securing file transfers or gaming sessions. 

Moreover, the Onion Over VPN feature provides users access to the Tor network through dedicated servers. This eliminates the need for installing a Tor browser and establishes a secure VPN tunnel, keeping activities hidden from ISPs and any potential third-party observers on the Onion network.

NordVPN’s no-log policy ensures that user data and activity are kept confidential for the whole network of over 5,500 servers across 60 countries. Their practices underwent evaluation by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in January 2023, underlining their dedication to transparency.

Router setup

Setting up NordVPN on a router provides enhanced security for multiple devices at once. While NordVPN doesn’t offer a bespoke application for routers, multiple detailed tutorials are provided for setting up DD-WRT firmware. 

Available options are: 

  • Asus
  • DD-WRT
  • DrayTek
  • EdgeRouter
  • GL.iNet
  • MikroTik
  • Netduma
  • Privacy Hero
  • OPNsense
  • OpenWRT
  • Padavan
  • TP-Link
  • pfSense
  • Sabai
  • Tomato
  • Roqos

The manual installation process varies based on the router’s firmware, but the comprehensive guides, containing screenshots and videos, simplify the process. If a user encounters any difficulty, NordVPN’s 24/7 support is also available.

For those uncertain about compatibility, the first step is to consult the router’s manual for OpenVPN client support, an essential requirement for NordVPN configuration. ISP-issued routers typically lack VPN configurations, but pre-configured routers with NordVPN software are available from FlashRouter. The FlashRouter privacy app seamlessly integrates with NordVPN, providing easy access to features like a VPN kill switch and split tunnelling. Changing VPN server locations is also efficient and hassle-free.

How to setup NordVPN router step by step

To walk you through the process of setting up NordVPN on a router, we’ll use Asus. Here are the steps you need to take.

Step 1: Access the control panel

Begin by accessing your Asus router’s control panel. Simply enter 192.168.1.1 into your web browser.

Step 2: Navigate to VPN settings

After logging in, locate and click on the “VPN” option in the left-hand sidebar.

Step 3: Select VPN client 

Tap the “VPN Client” tab located at the top.

Click the “Add profile” button found at the page’s bottom to add a new VPN profile. A new window will appear. Here, select the “OpenVPN” tab and fill out the following details:

  • Description: Enter a unique name for this connection
  • Username: Input your NordVPN service username
  • Password: Provide your NordVPN service password

If you’re not sure about your NordVPN credentials, you can check them in the Nord Account dashboard.

Step 4: Import .ovpn file

First, download the OpenVPN client configuration files from NordVPN.

Access NordVPN’s server utility, choose your desired server and click “Download config” for both OpenVPN UDP (User Datagram Protocol, which is better for speed) and OpenVPN TCP (Transmission Control Protocol, which is considered more reliable) protocols.

Returning to your router’s control panel, click “Choose File” in the setup window. Browse and select the configuration file you’ve just downloaded, then click “Open.”

To finalise, click “Upload”. A “Complete!” message verifies a successful upload. Press “OK,” and your newly created connection is now visible under the “VPN Client” tab.

Step 5: Activate VPN

To connect your router to NordVPN, click “Activate.”

A successful connection displays a blue checkmark in the “Connection Status” column. This means your Asus router is securely connected via VPN.

The NordVPN router setup emerges as notably user-friendly and direct. Its intuitive design ensures that even those new to VPNs can navigate the process with ease.

Performance

Our primary concerns revolved around download speed and latency. Generally, a download speed exceeding 25 Mbps ensures a smooth internet experience, while hardcore gamers might be more inclined to seek speeds around 50 Mbps. Latency, which indicates the time taken in milliseconds for data to reach its destination and return, critically impacts network quality. Ideally, latency below 50ms guarantees optimal performance.

Performance can vary based on multiple factors, but tests have shown that using a UK server could result in speed reduction. However, the NordLynx tunnelling protocol, supported on certain routers, promises outstanding speed.

Our meticulous tests revealed NordVPN’s impact on internet speeds. 

Download speed Mbps Upload speed, Mbps Latency (Ping), ms Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 124.4 96.3 14ms
UK to UK 118.2 92.4 15ms 95% 96%
UK to US 121.9 78.9 94ms 98% 82%
UK to Aus 112 68.4 295ms 90% 71%

Without the VPN, we noted a baseline download speed of 124.4 Mbps and an upload speed of 96.3 Mbps. For UK-based connections, there was only a modest 5 per cent decrease in download speed, with even better results from the UK to the US-located servers. 

However, a connection to Australia saw a dip in upload speed by 29 per cent and a latency spike to 295ms. Overall, while NordVPN offers consistent speeds for close connections, distant connections might experience latency issues, potentially affecting online activities.

Customer service

NordVPN boasts a 4.4 out of five star rating on the Google Play Store, with an easily accessible Help Center in the app. Positive reviews often highlight the intuitive interface, while constructive feedback points towards limited access to geo-blocked content on streaming platforms like Netflix.

Verdict

NordVPN stands out for its robust features and unwavering commitment to security. Although there are some speed-related concerns, its comprehensive suite ensures that users can enjoy secure, private, and unrestricted internet access, making it a prime choice for routers. With plans starting from £2.49/month and the security assurance from a 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN’s offerings are hard to match.

Overall score: ★★★★½

Read our full NordVPN review.

Today’s best NordVPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
NordVPN 1 year £3.59 /Month
£3.59 /Month
NordVPN 1 month £10.39 /Month
£10.39 /Month

Surfshark: Best value for money

  • Lowest price: £1.80/month (for 24-month plan)
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited
  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by Cure53 and Deloitte (2023)
  • Headquarters: Netherlands

Pros

Unlimited simultaneous connections Extremely affordable 24-month plan Large global server presence Multi-hop and split tunnelling tools Quick and responsive live chat support

Cons

App not as intuitive as competitors Some issues with the Windows kill switch Based in the Netherlands, part of Nine Eyes No phone support

Surfshark has emerged as a preferred choice among VPN users owing to its versatile feature set, reliability and affordability. With its offerings tailored to suit individuals, families, and businesses, Surfshark has successfully blended features, security and privacy in an all-rounder package.

Cost

Surfshark’s pricing leans heavily towards incentivising long-term commitments. Those willing to subscribe for two years will find the cost extremely pocket-friendly, even for the Surfshark One bundle that offers one of the best options combining VPN and antivirus

So, with a subscription fee as low as £1.80 per month and two extra free months included, Surfshark strikes outstanding functionalities-to-price balance, offering the best value for money. Moreover, all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, ensuring peace of mind for new users.

Subscription period Standard plan Surfshark One Surfshark One+
Monthly £10.15/mo £14.06/mo £17.98/mo
12 months £3.13/mo (£37.51 upfront) £3.52/mo (£42.21 upfront) £6.50/mo (£77.94 upfront)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.80/mo (£46.82 upfront for 26 months) £2.52/mo (£65.62 upfront) £4.69 (£122.03 upfront)

Security

Surfshark boasts a robust set of security features, including AES-256-bit encryption, an established no-logs policy and a kill switch. Users can also leverage multiple VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard. 

The VPN service has had its server network audited and assessed twice by Cure53, an independent Germany-based cybersecurity expert. The evaluation report verifies the reliability and security of Surfshark’s server infrastructure. 

The company’s recent shift to the Netherlands might raise eyebrows due to the country’s involvement in the Nine Eyes alliance. However, Surfshark’s commitment to privacy is underscored by a 2023 independent audit that validated its no-logs policy.

Router setup

While the app is user-friendly across platforms, those keen on a broader protection net can opt to install Surfshark directly on their routers. This ensures that every connected device benefits from VPN protection without individually configuring each one. 

Surfshark can work with a great variety of routers, including:

  • DD-WRT
  • OpenWRT
  • AsusWRT
  • Tomato
  • pfSense 2.4.4
  • Sabai
  • Synology NAS
  • Linksys
  • Netduma R1
  • QNAP   
  • Mikrotik
  • GL.iNet 3.x firmware
  • GL.iNet 2.x firmware

Given the broad range of routers and the detailed guidelines for installing the VPN on each individual option provided by Surfshark, households and businesses can ensure every device is secured.

How to setup Surfshark router step by step

Again, we will use Asus for this purpose. The steps for setting the Surfshark router are the same as NordVPN.

Step 1: Access the control panel

Enter 192.168.1.1 in your web browser to access the Asus router’s control panel.

Step 2: Navigate to VPN settings

Log in and click “VPN” in the left sidebar. Now, tap the “VPN Client” tab at the top.

Step 3: Setup OpenVPN Profile

Click “Add profile” at the bottom. In the new window, choose the “OpenVPN” tab.

Complete these fields:

  • Description: Choose a name for the connection
  • Username: Your Surfshark service username
  • Password: Your Surfshark service password

You can find the Surfshark credentials by going to the Surfshark manual setup router page and clicking the Credentials tab.

On the same page where Surfshark service credentials are, click on the “Locations” tab to view all Surfshark servers.

Select your desired location and click on “UDP” to download the corresponding OpenVPN configuration file.

Now go back to your router’s control panel. Click “Choose File, ” select the recently downloaded configuration file, then hit “Open.”

Click “Upload,” wait for the “Complete!” confirmation, and press “OK.” Your new connection will now appear in the “VPN Client” tab. You’re now all set to use Surfshark on your Asus router. 

The Surfshark router setup stands out for its simplicity and speed. The process is direct, allowing users to establish a secure connection in no time.

Performance

Performance remains a vital factor for VPN users, and Surfshark’s domestic UK performance holds up well. However, there’s a noticeable drop when connecting to distant servers, with upload speeds especially taking a hit. 

We rigorously assessed how Surfshark impacted internet speeds using the Ookla Speedtest. Here is a closer look at our test results.

Download speed Mbps Upload speed, Mbps Latency (Ping), ms Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 125.7 97.4 13ms
UK to UK 120.2 92.9 15ms 95% 95%
UK to US 115.3 87.7 137ms 91% 90%
UK to Aus 95.8 71.6 298ms 76% 73%

Without a VPN, the baseline speeds were 125.7 Mbps (download) and 97.4 Mbps (upload). For local UK connections, Surfshark only reduced these speeds by 5 per cent, with minimal effect on latency. 

However, as the connection distance increased, such as from the UK to Australia, we noticed a sharper decline to 76 per cent of the base download speed. High latency was especially notable with the UK to Australia connection, reaching 298ms. While Surfshark is commendable for nearby connections, long-distance server usage might see noticeable drops in speed and performance.

Customer service

Customers can expect a robust support ecosystem with Surfshark. The in-app support section is rich with tutorials and troubleshooting guides, but should issues persist, 24/7 live chat and email support ensure users are never left stranded. Trustpilot reviews often highlight the professionalism and efficacy of the support team, cementing Surfshark’s commitment to user satisfaction.

Verdict

Surfshark has successfully navigated the competitive VPN landscape by focusing on user-centric features and unbeatable pricing. With its unlimited device support, robust security infrastructure and the backing of positive user reviews, it’s a top recommendation for those in search of reliable VPN solutions. However, as with all services, users should consider the minor hiccups in app intuitiveness and regional performance drops before committing.

Overall score: ★★★★½

Read our full Surfshark VPN review.

Today’s best Surfshark deals
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
Surfshark 12 month £2.29 /Month
£2.29 /Month
Surfshark 1 month £10.29 /Month
£10.29 /Month

ExpressVPN: Best for beginners

  • Lowest price: £5.35/month (12-month plan plus three months free)
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Eight (with six- and 12-month plans), five (with a monthly plan)
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: Lightway, IKEv2, L2TP, and OpenVPN
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by independent security auditors such as Cure53, F-Secure and PwC Switzerland
  • Headquarters: British Virgin Islands

Pros

Robust encryption standards Wide server distribution across 94+ locations Effective customer support with 24/7 live chat User-friendly desktop and mobile apps Compatibility across a range of devices and platforms An in-house dedicated router (Aircove)

Cons

More expensive compared to some other VPNs Limited number of simultaneously connected devices Speed fluctuations depending on server location and time

ExpressVPN has positioned itself as a frontrunner in the VPN market, blending a mixture of security, speed and compatibility. Whether it’s for personal use or business, the service claims to keep users’ online activities private and their data secure. Let’s delve deeper into its offerings.

Cost

ExpressVPN is a high-end service with a pricing structure clearly tailored to offer flexibility to its users. Subscribers can select between monthly and annual payment plans, with the rate adjusted according to the chosen subscription duration. Those who opt for the annual plan benefit from a considerable discount, effectively saving a substantial amount over the course of a year compared to those on the monthly plan.

The company provides a 14-day free trial, allowing potential users to experience the full range of premium features. Furthermore, ExpressVPN backs each of its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee, offering customers a risk-free opportunity to gauge its effectiveness.

Subscription period Monthly price Total price
Monthly £10.53/mo £10.58/mo
6 months £8.12/mo £97.44 upfront for 6 months
12 months £5.42/mo £65.04 upfront for 12 months

Security

ExpressVPN, with its AES-256 encryption, ensures that your online data remains uncompromised. Bolstered by a steadfast no-log policy, users can browse with peace of mind knowing their activities aren’t stored. The no-log policy, security and quality of service have been confirmed through independent audits conducted by renowned agencies. 

Over the past years, ExpressVPN has undergone extensive third-party audits, demonstrating a strong commitment to trust and transparency. They have published 12 independent assessments, more than any other VPN provider. 

The Lightway VPN protocol, a fundamental ExpressVPN technology, passed an external review by Cure53. This audit highlighted Lightway’s robust security, finding only minor issues which were swiftly addressed. Cure53’s conclusion reinforced ExpressVPN’s claims of a secure, transparent and no-log policy.

Router setup

The flexibility of ExpressVPN is evident in its router setup process. For routers that are compatible, users can seamlessly extend VPN protection across all devices in their network. 

You can set up ExpressVPN on these compatible routers:

  • Asus:  RT-AC56(U/R/S), RT-AC68U (up to v3) and RT-AC87U
  • Linksys: EA6200, WRT1200AC, WRT1900ACS, WRT1900ACS V2, WRT1900AC 13J1, WRT1900AC 13J2, WRT3200ACM and WRT32X
  • Netgear: R6300v2, Nighthawk R6400v2, Nighthawk R6700v3, Nighthawk R7000 and Nighthawk R7000P

The following routers can be manually configured to connect to ExpressVPN:

  • Asus (other models)
  • D-Link
  • DD-WRT
  • Netduma
  • Sabai
  • Tomato
  • TP-Link
  • Xiaomi

The setup entails accessing the router page, selecting the router mode and downloading the firmware, pre-configured with all ExpressVPN servers. This ensures a hassle-free browsing experience, as all devices connected to the network automatically benefit from VPN protection.

How to set up ExpressVPN router step by step

Step 1: Download firmware

Head to the ExpressVPN router setup page. Choose your router model from the dropdown and download the ExpressVPN firmware. In our case, it’s Asus.

While waiting, find and copy the activation code on the same page. You will be using it shortly.

Step 2: Install the firmware

In your browser, type in 192.168.1.1 and enter your Asus router’s credentials. Next, navigate to “Administration” and then “Firmware Upgrade” on the sidebar.

Click “Upload” and choose the previously downloaded ExpressVPN .trx firmware file.

Once uploaded, a message stating, “Firmware upgrade is done. Please reboot (your Asus router model) manually” will appear.

Step 3: Complete the ExpressVPN setup on your router

Navigate to expressvpnrouter.com and click “Get Started” Follow the provided instructions and paste the activation code that you had previously copied.

Your Asus router now operates with the ExpressVPN firmware.

Performance

Our testing indicates that ExpressVPN’s influence on connection speed and latency varies based on the server location. While using the service, users can expect a moderate reduction in download speeds. For instance, when connecting from the UK to a local server, there’s a 30 per cent decrease in download speeds but a slighter reduction in upload speeds. 

Transatlantic connections to US servers maintain a commendable 73.6 per cent of the base download speed. However, connecting to more distant locations, such as Australia, leads to more pronounced latency increases and speed drops, with only 22.9 per cent of the base download speed retained. 

Download speed Mbps Upload speed, Mbps Latency (Ping), ms Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 137.2 128.5 11ms
UK to UK 96.01 98.5 15ms 70% 76.60%
UK to US 100.7 76.1 136ms 73.60% 59.20%
UK to Aus 31.4 53.1 498ms 22.90% 41.30%

ExpressVPN maintains acceptable speeds across various server locations, making it a viable option for users seeking quick downloads or streaming. However, it’s essential to note that connections to distant geographical locations inherently come with reduced speeds compared to closer servers.

Customer service

Stellar customer support differentiates great companies from good ones. ExpressVPN excels here with its 24/7 live chat, offering almost instant support. Additionally, their email support system provides a more traditional yet effective method of communication. Their proactive involvement on review platforms like Trustpilot further accentuates their commitment to user satisfaction.

Verdict

ExpressVPN stands as an elite choice in the VPN market. While the price might be slightly on the higher side, its array of features, security protocols, and compatibility make it worth the investment. With a clear dedication to privacy and a user-first approach, ExpressVPN is highly recommended for both novices and tech-savvy individuals prioritising ease of use and online security and privacy.

Overall score: ★★★★½

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Today’s best ExpressVPN deals
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
ExpressVPN 6 month £8.12 /Month
£8.12 /Month
ExpressVPN 1 month £10.53 /Month
£10.53 /Month

CyberGhost: Best for security features

  • Lowest price: £1.92 ($2.37) per month 
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Seven
  • Number of servers: 9,000+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, no-log policy verified by Deloitte (2022)
  • Headquarters: Bucharest, Romania

Pros

Competitive pricing for long-term subscriptions Extensive server count and global coverage Offers advanced security features like automatic wifi protection and ID Guard Extended 45-day money-back guarantee Static IP option available Compatible with many routers and offers pre-installed routers

Cons

Doesn’t offer a one-year subscription option History of the parent company raises privacy concerns Speed degradation observed in certain long-distance connections Limited to seven devices simultaneously

CyberGhost, headquartered in Romania, stands out with its vast server fleet and its economical two-year subscription. The VPN is integrated with state-of-the-art encryption standards, making it a solid choice for those prioritising online privacy. However, the journey of its parent company casts a shadow over its luminous offerings.

Cost

CyberGhost VPN offers a range of subscription options to cater to the varying needs of users, whether they’re looking for a short-term solution or a longer commitment.

For tentative users, the monthly subscription with a 14-day money-back guarantee might seem appealing. As the subscription period increases, the cost per month decreases considerably. For instance, CyberGhost’s 24-month subscription option stands out as the most cost-effective choice. 

Subscription period Monthly price Total price
Monthly £10.89/mo ($12.99/mo) £10.89/mo ($12.99/mo)
6 months £6.19/mo ($6.99/mo) £37.14/$41.94 upfront for 6 months
24 months (+2 months free) £1.92/mo ($2.19/mo) £49.92/$56.97 upfront for 26 months

When you break down the cost on a month-by-month basis, this long-term commitment offers significant savings over the shorter subscription periods. Furthermore, CyberGhost offers a unique 45-day money-back guarantee for 12- and 24-month plans, surpassing the standard 30-day offer from many competitors.

Security

At its core, CyberGhost employs military-grade AES-256 encryption. As for VPN protocols, users can choose from OpenVPN, IKEv2, and the rapidly emerging WireGuard. A seal of trust is evident in their no-log policy, independently audited by Deloitte. 

Reportedly, concerns arise from its association with UK-based Crossrider, renamed Kape Technologies after the switch to VPN and cybersecurity. The parent company had a reputation for manipulating traffic and controversial operations in the past. However, CyberGhost has improved its privacy and security, adding competitive features, such as an extensive number of servers and a full privacy suite, to its offerings.

Router setup

For users seeking continuous protection on all devices, CyberGhost can be set up on compatible VPN routers. Several routers come with CyberGhost pre-installed, enhancing user convenience. These routers facilitate unlimited device connections, bypassing the VPN’s seven-device constraint.

CyberGhost VPN can be installed on the following routers: 

  • Netgear models — R6400v2, R6300v2, R7000, R7800, R7000P, R8000, R9000, RT-AC56U, RT-AC5300, RT-AC66U, RT-AC87U, RT-AC68U, RT-AC3100
  • Asus models — RT-AC56U, RT-AC5300, RT-AC66U, RT-AC87U, RT-AC68U, RT-AC3100
  • Linksys models — WRT1200AC, WRT1900ACv2, WRT1900ACv1, WRT3200ACM, WRT1900ACS

How to setup CyberGhost router step by step

Step 1: Access your CyberGhost account 

Log into your CyberGhost VPN online account. From the left menu, select “VPN,” click “Configure Device,” and set up your server configuration.

Step 2: Configure preferences

Start by selecting “OpenVPN” as your protocol of choice. It’s essential to know that native protocol connections are tethered to a single server. Hence, you need to decide on the country you’d like to simulate your online presence.

Once you make a choice, CyberGhost automatically assigns the optimal server from that region. Lastly, fine-tune your settings by choosing a specific server group and determining the communication method for OpenVPN— UDP or TCP. 

After selecting the desired parameters, click “Save Configuration.” 

Step 3: Download configuration file

In the “Preview routers or other devices” section, you will have to set up your connection.

  • Server group: Refers to the server address of your chosen country. Remember, the address will vary based on the country you’ve selected, and CyberGhost will pick the exact server for you
  • Username: A unique username crafted specifically for this connection. Remember, it’s different from your CyberGhost main account details
  • Password: A separate password for this particular setup
  • Pre-shared key: Vital for enhancing security

With these details in mind, make sure to download your configuration file. These specific credentials will be essential as you finalise the VPN connection on your device.

The saved configuration is in a ZIP format, containing the following files:

  • ca.crt: Certification authority certificate
  • client.crt: User certification file
  • client.key: Your distinctive private key
  • openvpn.ovpn: The OpenVPN configuration guide

Step 4: Access control panel

Enter 192.168.1.1 in your browser to access your router’s control panel. In our case, it’s Asus. Once logged in, click “VPN” on the left sidebar.

Step 5: Set up VPN client

Tap the “VPN Client” tab at the top and click “Add profile” at the bottom.

In the new window, choose “OpenVPN” tab and input:

  • Description: A unique name for the connection
  • Username: Your CyberGhost username
  • Password: Your CyberGhost password

Step 6: Import Certificate Authority (CA)

Select “Import the CA file or edit the .ovpn file manually” and click “Choose File.” Pick the ca.crt file from your VPN downloads and hit “Upload.” 

Next, click “Edit” next to Manual Setting, open the client.crt with a text editor, copy its contents, and paste it into the “Client Certificate” section.

Similarly, open the client.key file, copy, and then paste its content into the “Client Key” section. Click “Save.”

Step 7: Activate VPN connection

Confirm the settings in the OpenVPN prompt by clicking “OK.” You’ll see your VPN service listed, and to connect your network to the VPN, click “Activate.”

Looking at the steps above, it’s evident that the CyberGhost router setup is slightly more intricate compared to other VPN services. While it demands a touch more patience and precision, the end result is a robust and secure connection tailored to your needs. 

Performance

To gauge the real-world performance of CyberGhost VPN, our team meticulously conducted a series of speed tests. Utilising Ookla Speedtest, the baseline speeds were first established without VPN activation. Subsequently, different connections – both domestic (UK to UK) and international (UK to other continents) – were examined.

Download speed Mbps Upload speed, Mbps Latency (Ping), ms Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 134.7 125.8
UK to UK 128.07 108.49 17ms 95% 86%
UK to US 117.09 95.61 79ms 87% 76%
UK to Aus 90.35 74.22 298ms 67% 59%

On the domestic front, CyberGhost showcased satisfactory speed and latency levels. The mere 5 per cent drop in download speed compared to the baseline was impressive, and the 17ms latency meant a disruption-free online experience. However, while the UK-to-US connection was still reasonably efficient, the UK-to-Australia connection was less than stellar, lagging behind some competitors. 

Overall, while short-distance connections display minimal speed degradation, long-distance connections, especially to Australia, showed notable speed reductions.

Customer service

Though specific ratings or direct quotes from Trustpilot are unavailable in the given data, CyberGhost’s generous 45-day refund policy reflects confidence in its service and a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Verdict

CyberGhost offers compelling value, especially for long-term users. Its broad server base and integrated features underscore its commitment to user privacy. Nevertheless, the user should weigh these advantages against the historical concerns of its parent company. For comprehensive online protection coupled with a cost-effective plan, CyberGhost remains a strong contender in the VPN landscape.

Overall score: ★★★★

Read our full CyberGhost review.

Today’s best CyberGhost deals
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
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CyberGhost 1 year £6.19 /Month
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CyberGhost 1 month £10.89 /Month
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IPVanish: Best for detailed set-up guides and support

  • Lowest price: £2.59/month 
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited
  • Number of servers: 2,200+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, IPSec
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by Leviathan Security Group
  • Headquarters: United States

Pros

Verified no-logs policy Easy installation via FlashRouters Employs top-tier AES-256 encryption Detailed setup guides for various routers A pre-configured router option available

Cons

Internet speeds tend to diminish on some server connections Doesn’t work with some of the popular streaming platforms

IPVanish extends its services to over 75 countries with an impressive fleet of over 2,200 servers. What stands out among its best offerings is its capacity for unlimited simultaneous device connections. The service ensures advanced privacy and security by strictly following a no-logs policy and featuring a kill switch, split tunnelling and over 40,000 IP addresses.

Cost

IPVanish provides multiple pricing tiers for its customers, starting from £2.32/month for the most extended, two-year subscription duration, which brings the most significant savings of £184 total compared to the monthly option.

Subscription period Monthly price Total price
Monthly £9.99/mo ($11.99/mo) £9.99/mo ($11.99/mo)
12 months £2.92/mo ($3.33/mo) £34.99/$39.99 upfront for the first year
24 months £2.32/mo ($2.99/mo) £55.76/$71.69 upfront for the first two years

For those on the fence, IPVanish offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with its 12- and 24-month subscription options.

Security

IPVanish assures users of its commitment with an audited no-logs policy, ensuring your online activities remain just yours. A controversy might have clouded its privacy policy in the past, but their transparency today is laudable.

Employing AES-256 encryption – the gold standard in encryption protocols – IPVanish ensures robust data protection. On the VPN protocols front, users can select from the likes of WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and IPSec, tailoring their experience to specific device compatibilities and personal preferences.

The fact that the headquarters of IPVanish are located in the United States, part of the Five Eyes alliance, may raise a red flag about entrusting the provider with user personal and browsing data. However, its audited no-logs policy fortifies the assurance that there is minimal data to surrender, even if compelled by law.

Router setup

Diverse device support is vital. Beyond standard devices, IPVanish allows users to configure their VPN directly onto compatible routers. This ensures blanket coverage for all devices connected to the network, from mobile phones to gaming consoles.

While the prospect is enticing, the actual setup can be intricate. Not all routers are VPN-friendly, and typically, default routers from ISPs might not be. IPVanish offers compatibility with routers from Asus, Tomato, and DD-WRT, complemented by comprehensive setup guides on their website. The FlashRouters Privacy App, which streamlines IPVanish router setup, is supported on the following routers:

  • Linksys: WRT1200AC, WRT1900ACv1, WRT1900ACv2, WRT3200ACM and WRT32X
  • Asus: RT-AC56U, RT-AC66U, RT-AC68U B1, RT-AC87U, RT-AC3100, RT-AC5300 and RT-N16
  • Netgear: R6300v2, R6400v2, R7000, R7000P, R7800, R8000 and R9000

How to setup IPVanish router step by step

To walk you through the process of setting up IPVanish on a router, we’ll use Asus. Here are the steps you need to take.

Step 1: Access the Asus control panel

Navigate to 192.168.1.1 in your browser. Once logged in, click on “VPN” in the left sidebar.

Step 2: Set up the VPN Client

Click on the “VPN Client” tab at the top. Hit “Add profile” at the bottom, triggering a new window.

Choose the “OpenVPN” tab and complete the required fields:

  • Description: Name your connection uniquely.
  • Username: Enter your IPVanish username.
  • Password: Insert your IPVanish password.

Step 3: Obtain configuration files

To complete the setup, upload a configuration file specifying the OpenVPN connection settings. Sign in to your IPVanish account, navigate to the VPN section and select “All OS OpenVPN.”

Locate, download the configs.zip file and unzip it. The unpacked contents will have server configurations, identifiable by city names, and a CA file named “ca.ipvanish.com”.

Step 4: Upload files

Return to the Asus interface and use the “Upload” button to add the desired server’s OpenVPN config file.

Manually open the CA file section and select the CA file from your local directory. Confirm with “OK.”

Step 5: Initiate Connection

Click “Activate” to finalise and start your IPVanish VPN connection.

To sum up, provided you follow the guidelines, setting up IPVanish on a router is a fast and straightforward process for both tech enthusiasts and inexperienced users.

Performance

To evaluate the efficiency of IPVanish, we conducted speed tests via Ookla Speedtest, revealing the impact of the VPN on upload and download traffic.

Download speed Mbps Upload speed, Mbps Latency (Ping), ms Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 152.8 139.6 11ms
UK to UK 145.47 131.8 19ms 95.20% 94.40%
UK to US 119.36 81.37 92ms 78.10% 58.30%
UK to Aus 124.83 129 285ms 81.70% 92.40%

When connected to a UK server from the UK, we observed that the performance was remarkably consistent. Therefore, while using IPVanish for local connections, you can expect seamless video and audio streaming, with quality and responsiveness remaining largely intact.

However, transatlantic connections to the US were less impressive, with the download and upload speeds seeing significant drops. This level of speed reduction could make certain tasks, like loading a browser or using heavy online applications, noticeably slower.

Interestingly, the performance metrics exhibited an unusual pattern when connecting to an Australian server. Here, the download speed experienced a decline of less than 20 per cent compared to the baseline, whereas the upload speed remained nearly consistent. These results are particularly intriguing, given the geographical distance, and are a testament to IPVanish’s solid infrastructure in the Oceania region.

Comparing IPVanish to other VPN services, while the UK-to-UK connection maintains good speed levels, the UK-to-US connection suffers noticeable degradation. However, the UK-to-Australia link somewhat redeems it, showcasing a surprisingly adept performance, especially in upload speeds.

Customer service

Amidst the complexities of VPNs, effective customer support can make a world of difference. IPVanish shines in this department. Users can seek assistance via 24/7 live chat, bypassing chatbots and directly connecting with the expert team. For more detailed issues, email support is available. The website is replete with setup guides catering to various devices, further facilitating user experience.

Verdict

IPVanish offers a balanced blend of security, privacy and affordability. While performance can be a mixed bag, its security protocols and customer support are noteworthy. Easily installed on various routers, IPVanish is a great and cost-effective option for users who want to avoid investing in a pre-flashed router.

Overall score: ★★★½

Read our full IPVanish review.

Today’s best IPVanish deals
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
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IPVanish 12 month £3.58 /Month
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IPVanish 1 month £10.49 /Month
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How to use a VPN on a router

When it comes to enhancing your router with VPN capabilities, the approach you take can influence the ease of setup and overall user experience. These are the three prevalent methods for integrating a VPN into your router:

Embark on a manual VPN installation

For tech-savvy or adventurous users, manually integrating VPN software into a router provides a hands-on approach. However, it’s imperative to follow guidelines meticulously, as missteps can be lengthy to rectify and might even jeopardise your router’s functionality.

Opt for a pre-configured router

If you’re looking to bypass the setup process entirely, purchasing a pre-flashed router might be the answer. These devices come with VPN software already in place, courtesy of specialised third-party providers. While undoubtedly convenient, it’s worth noting that these routers can sometimes come with a heftier price tag.

Utilise a router application

For those seeking simplicity, this is the go-to option. Many top-tier VPN providers offer dedicated apps tailored for routers. By installing such an app, you empower your router with VPN functionality, streamlining the process without the need for intricate manual configurations.

A step-by-step VPN for router setup guide

Setting up a VPN on your router can seem daunting, but with a systematic approach, you can enhance the security of every device connected to your network. Here’s a concise guide to walk you through it:

  1. Select a suitable VPN: Begin by choosing a VPN that supports router configurations. Renowned options like NordVPN are often recommended for their reliability and extensive support materials.
  2. Verify router compatibility: Ensure your router is VPN-compatible. Many VPN providers, including NordVPN, have dedicated pages listing supported router models. If you’re keen on a hassle-free setup, consider purchasing a pre-flashed router with VPN software pre-installed.
  3. Access router settings: Access your router’s interface by entering its IP address into a web browser. If it’s your first time, consider updating the default password to enhance security.
  4. Configure the VPN: The exact steps vary based on the router’s firmware. For routers with integrated VPN functionality:
    • Connect to your network and start a browser
    • Enter the router’s credentials to log in
    • Navigate to the advanced settings and locate the VPN section to enable it. The precise path might differ slightly based on the model.
      For routers without native VPN support, you may need to adjust the settings to route traffic through a VPN server. Refer to specific guides provided by your VPN provider or router manufacturer for detailed instructions.
  5. Test the VPN connection: After configuration, it’s vital to verify if the VPN connection is active and stable. Always test before relying on it for critical tasks

Using a VPN at the router level offers the same benefits as individual device VPN apps, such as geo-spoofing and encryption. Moreover, it ensures all devices on your network are protected, bypasses device connection limits, and can even allow for advanced setups like Double VPN connections.

Should I put a VPN on my router?

A router enhanced with VPN capabilities offers consistent security and geo-spoofing benefits. Just like a conventional VPN application for desktop or mobile, it can mask your location, encrypt your data and connect you to a secluded VPN server, ensuring your digital footsteps remain concealed.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision:

Benefits of setting up a VPN on your router

  • Continuous coverage: Installing a VPN on your router ensures that every device connecting to the internet through it benefits from consistent encryption. You won’t have to remember to activate your VPN every time – once it’s on, you’re continuously protected.
  • Universal device protection: Many devices, like game consoles, smart TVs and certain Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets, don’t natively support VPN installations. Having the VPN at the router level ensures these devices get the same protection without requiring individual setups.
  • Efficient connection utilisation: VPN services often limit the number of simultaneous connections. By setting up the VPN on your router, all your connected devices effectively count as a single connection, circumventing such limits and potentially saving you costs on additional VPN packages.
  • Enhanced privacy and access: A VPN router can help you access geo-blocked content by masking your real location. Whether it’s streaming services, sports broadcasts, or other restricted content, a VPN router can be your passport to the world’s digital offerings.
  • Layered security: For users looking for additional peace of mind, it’s possible to run a VPN on both the device and the router. This dual-layer of encryption can act as a failsafe should one level encounter issues.

Potential drawbacks of setting up a VPN on your router

  • Speed considerations: VPN encryption can sometimes slow down your internet connection, and this can be particularly noticeable on some routers, especially if they’re older or less powerful.
  • Compatibility concerns: Not all routers play well with VPNs. Some may lack the necessary firmware, while others might not support your preferred VPN protocol, necessitating manual configurations that could be daunting for less tech-savvy users.
  • Potentially complex setup: While some might enjoy the challenge, manually configuring a VPN on a router can be more intricate than setting it up on a personal device. It can involve delving deep into router settings and, occasionally, troubleshooting network conflicts.
  • Network-wide restrictions: A router VPN applies to every device on the network. While this usually is a benefit, it could be a drawback if you need to access local resources or services that are inhibited by the VPN.

In conclusion, while the idea of a router-based VPN offers numerous benefits, particularly for households with a myriad of internet-connected gadgets, it could offer a few challenges. To make the most out of installing a VPN on your router, consider your technical comfort level, your needs, and the specific devices you use.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

Mariana is an experienced technology writer specialising in web and internet technology. She writes about cyber security, including VPN; web development; and software engineering. She has been writing since 2006 and held a position of English lecturer at Technical University of Varna in Bulgaria until 2022, working in a variety of educational fields.

For the Independent Advisor, Mariana writes about the usefulness of VPNs and how people can protect themselves and their data online.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.