Using a VPN app on your mobile or desktop device is an excellent way to protect you from the perils of online life.
However, setting up a router to connect to your favorite VPN provider can protect all of your connected devices, making full protection much easier.
A VPN-equipped router connects to a VPN server, which encrypts the connection coming into your home or office, meaning every device that connects to the router will automatically have its internet connection protected.
Many VPN providers offer either an app to work on select models of routers or they provide information as to how to set up their VPN service on the router. Perhaps the best routers (and the most popular) are those that run the DD-WRT firmware.
DD-WRT is a free and open source firmware that’s based on the Linux operating system and which is compatible with a large number of makes and models of wireless routers.
The DD-WRT firmware allows a user to configure the router to connect to VPN providers via the OpenVPN connection protocol. Some VPN providers even sell routers that are pre-configured to work with the provider’s VPN service.
Once you have your DD-WRT router set up to work with your VPN of choice, you’ll protect all of your devices via a single login. Even devices that aren’t normally supported by the VPN provider’s native app selection – including your Xbox One, PS4, Apple TV and other game consoles and streaming devices – will have access to VPN protection.
In this article, I’ll share with you the 5 best VPNs to use on DD-WRT routers.
Best VPNs for DD-WRT Routers
I put all of the best VPN providers through extensive testing, and the following 5 VPNs proved to work best with DD-WRT routers. Here’s a summary if you’re short on time:
- ExpressVPN: This provider sits at the top of the list thanks to its optimal support for routers, going as far as to offer its own custom firmware for select routers. The provider’s fast connection speeds and comprehensive global server network add icing to the cake.
- NordVPN: Users will appreciate this provider’s support for Linksys, Netgear or Asus routers with DD-WRT installed. This service is an affordable option for users looking for a reliable VPN to protect their router’s internet traffic.
- CyberGhost: Another great option for users on a budget, CyberGhost offers an excellent tutorial for setting up your DD-WRT router to use their service. The provider’s connection speeds make it a great choice for streaming fans.
- IPVanish: This provider has setup files available for download and provides easy-to-follow instructions for setting things up. The provider’s self-owned and -operated VPN servers cover the globe and provide above-average connection speeds.
- PrivateVPN: Offering super fast connections, this DD-WRT-compatible provider is an excellent option for streamers and file-sharing enthusiasts.
I evaluated and ranked the top DD-WRT router VPNs using the following criteria:
- DD-WRT router compatibility (bonus points for pre-configured routers)
- Reliable connections
- Optimal global server coverage
- Strong privacy and security protections
- Top-notch customer support
Here’s my list of the top 5 VPNs for use with DD-WRT routers.
ExpressVPN delivers the best overall compatibility and protection for users with DD-WRT routers.
The provider offers excellent compatibility with DD-WRT routers from Asus, D-Link, Netduma, Linksys, Netgear, Sabai and TP-Link. ExpressVPN offers custom firmware for many models from these manufacturers, and pre-configured routers are also available. Apps for most popular mobile and desktop device platforms are also available.
ExpressVPN delivers reliable, speedy connections, offering dependable access to geo-restricted content around the globe, while offering optimal protection for your privacy.
Streaming and file-sharing fans will appreciate ExpressVPN’s download speeds, which were the fastest in our latest speed trials. HD and 4K video should begin streaming with little wait and stream with no buffering waits. No data caps or bandwidth restrictions are ever placed on ExpressVPN users’ monthly usage.
3,000+ servers located in 94 countries mean there is little in the way of geo-blocked content that you won’t be able to access.
ExpressVPN’s security and privacy protections are some of the best in the business. The provider’s connections are protected with government-grade encryption.
The company’s servers keep no logs of any kind. (An independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers proved ExpressVPN’s no-logs claim.) Plus, all data on the service’s servers are wiped clean whenever they are rebooted. ExpressVPN also accepts Bitcoin to keep your payment info incognito.
If you’re setting up your router on your own, you’ll be glad to know that customer support is always available thanks to 24/7 live support chat, a searchable support and troubleshooting library, and a trouble ticket system.
- Offers pre-configured DD-WRT routers
- Excellent global server coverage
- Fastest connection speeds in recent tests
- Excellent customer support
- Top-notch security and privacy protection
- More expensive than some other providers
BEST VPN FOR DD-WRT ROUTERS:ExpressVPN is the #1 choice for enhancing and protecting your DD-WRT router. The provider’s custom firmware makes it easy to set up the service on your router. Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is one of two budget-priced VPN providers on this list. The provider delivers optimal online protection for your entire DD-WRT network.
The provider delivers compatibility with DD-WRT-compatible routers from a range of manufacturers, including Asus, Linksys and Netgear. The provider makes downloads and setup instructions available for do-it-yourselfers, or you can take advantage of the availability of pre-configured routers.
Apps for other popular mobile and desktop devices are also available.
NordVPN is actually the slowest provider on this list, but please don’t think of their download speeds as slow. The provider’s reliable connections are more than up to downloading files, viewing HD video streams and gaming online. No data caps or bandwidth restrictions to be found here.
With 5,240+ servers stationed in 60 countries around the world, NordVPN offers reliable access to geo-controlled content in most areas of the globe.
NordVPN provides optimal online security and privacy protections. Military-level encryption protects your online activities, and a strict no-logs policy means there are no records of your travels while connected to NordVPN’s servers. Plus, a Bitcoin payment option is available for users who would like to keep their payment info incognito.
24/7 support chat, email support and a searchable support library are all available to assist you in your time of need.
- Above-average global server coverage
- HD-capable connection speeds
- Moderately priced
- Comprehensive privacy and security protection
- Setup and operation of VPN app could be more user-friendly
BEST FOR USERS ON A BUDGET:NordVPN is the best option for DD-WRT router owners on a budget who would rather spend their hard-earned money on a reliable router than expensive VPN coverage. Excellent customer support adds to the value. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost is the optimal solution for beginning users who are looking for easy-to-use VPN protection for their DD-WRT router and other devices.
CyberGhost is compatible with numerous DD-WRT router makes and models. The company also makes available pre-configured routers from Asus, Linksys and Netgear. Apps for most desktop and mobile devices are also available.
CyberGhost is an optimal choice for users looking for a reasonably-priced provider that offers connection speeds fast enough for 4K streaming. No bandwidth limitations or monthly data caps restrict your online fun.
Accessing content around the world is a breeze, as the provider has over 3,900 servers stationed in 61 countries around the globe.
Government-grade encryption protects your online connections, while a strict no-logs policy ensures there are never any records of your online travels. Combine a disposable email address with the provider’s Bitcoin payment option to keep your subscription absolutely private.
Around-the-clock support is available via 24/7 live support chat, an easy-to-use support ticket system and a searchable support library.
- Above-average global server coverage
- Plenty of speed for smooth 4K streaming
- Pre-configured routers
- Easy-to-use apps
- No kill switch protection for routers
BEST FOR BEGINNERS:CyberGhost is the best choice for new VPN users who are looking for reliable, yet easy-to-use VPN protection for their DD-WRT router. The provider offers a variety of pre-configured routers that allow a quick out-of-the-box to online experience. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish provides impressive support for a large variety of DD-WRT routers, including many that other providers don’t support.
The provider offers downloadable files and extensive documentation as to how to use their service with a large number of routers, including Asus, Belkin, Buffalo, Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, TP-Link and numerous others. Pre-configured routers are also available, and the company offers apps for most popular desktop and mobile device platforms.
This provider’s download speeds fall into the mid-range of its competitors, but provides enough download speed for streaming 4K content, downloading large files and performing any other online activity you’re into.
IPVanish offers an additional layer of privacy protection by owning and operating its entire global server network, which consists of 1,300+ servers in over 50 countries around the globe. By owning and operating its servers, IPVanish keeps third-party contractors away from their customers’ data.
Banking-grade encryption protects your connections from prying eyes, while a strict no-logs policy means no one can ever access records of your online activities while connected to IPVanish servers. The provider does not accept Bitcoin as payment.
No worries if you require help getting or staying connected, as the provider offers around-the-clock live support chat, a searchable support knowledge base and responsive email support.
- Pre-configured routers are available
- Owns and operates its VPN server network
- Top-notch security and customer support
- Money-back guarantee limited to 7 days
- No cryptocurrency payment option available
SUPER SECURE:IPVanish keeps your data safe from third parties by owning and operating its global VPN server network. The provider’s download speeds are easily up to whatever you can throw at it. A 7-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of IPVanish.
PrivateVPN lacks the global server count of its competitors. However, its fast download speeds help make up for that shortcoming.
PrivateVPN offers scripts and instructions for setup on DD-WRT routers, and it even supports some of the older versions of the DD-WRT firmware.
Although PrivateVPN doesn’t appear to have an official relationship with Flashrouters.com, the VPN router firm does offer pre-configured routers for use with the provider. Apps are available for the big 4 device platforms.
The service delivers plenty of speed, with download numbers that will keep you happy while viewing 4K video, sharing files or playing your favorite online games.
The PrivateVPN server network is stretched a bit thin, with just a little over 150 servers located in 60 countries. However, the company does a good job of locating their resources around the globe.
Military-ready encryption protects your connection from prying eyes, while an absolute no-logs policy ensures no one can view a record of your online antics. A Bitcoin subscription payment option helps keep things on the down-low.
While live support chat is available, it’s not an around-the-clock feature, as there have been plenty of times I’ve visited the PrivateVPN website and found the feature to be unavailable. A “Contact Us” form and a non-searchable FAQ section rounds out the support features.
- 4K stream-capable
- Plenty of info about setting up on DD-WRT routers
- Offers access to multiple U.S. streaming providers
- Server coverage is thin
- Live chat not always available
BEST FOR SPEED:PrivateVPN is a great option for users who appreciate fast download speeds, can closely follow directions, and don’t need much handholding to get things set up. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
How to Use a VPN With Your DD-WRT Router
Enhancing and protecting online activities for all of your connected devices via a VPN may seem somewhat complicated at first blush, but it basically consists of a few simple steps:
- Subscribe to a VPN. (To be filed under “DUH!”)
- Set up the VPN on a compatible router (or purchase a pre-configured router). Instructions will vary according to provider.
- Select a VPN server.
- Connect your devices to the VPN-protected router.
- Enjoy your newly-enhanced and protected access to the internet.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option For Use With a DD-WRT Router?
Most free VPN providers aren’t going to offer router compatibility, instead requiring you to install their proprietary software on each device you wish to protect.
Besides, even if a freebie provider would work with your DD-WRT router, I can think of multiple reasons you shouldn’t use a free VPN.
First, many “free” VPN providers throttle their users’ connections and place a daily or monthly data cap on their usage.
If you’re using a router to connect to your VPN provider, that means all of the connected devices in your home or office will be using the VPN connection. That could bring your connection to a crawl, and you’ll be pushing up against that data cap in no time at all.
Many “free” VPN services have been found to be logging their users’ online activities and selling the information to interested third parties, like advertisers and anyone else with the money to spend. Plus, they have also been known to insert unwanted ads and tracking cookies into users’ browsing sessions.
A month of quality VPN protection generally costs less than your favorite drink at your neighborhood coffee hangout. Don’t take any chances with a free VPN.
How Can I Tell If DD-WRT Will Work With My Router?
Not all routers offer DD-WRT support. You can find a list of officially-supported routers on the DD-WRT website.
I strongly suggest that if you need to purchase a DD-WRT-compatible router that you don’t try to save a few bucks by going for the cheapest alternative or an older-model router. Older or cheaper routers may have lesser amounts of RAM, or have a slower onboard processor, resulting in less-than-acceptable performance.
Make sure the router has at least 8 MB of flash memory. Lesser amounts of memory may require you to use a “lite” version of the DD-WRT firmware, which will not offer as many features as the full-blown version of DD-WRT.
Also, check around the web and see what other users’ experiences have been with the various models of DD-WRT routers. Some brands and models will perform better than others, so be sure the router you opt for can handle the workload.
Remember, the internet traffic for every connected device in your home or office will be traveling through your VPN-enabled router. Make sure it doesn’t become a bottleneck.
Before flashing your router with the DD-WRT firmware, double-check that you have the proper and most recent version of the firmware. If you attempt to flash your router with the wrong firmware you could “brick” it, leaving it as a useless hunk of expensive electronics. Also, read the flashing instructions until you fully understand them.
Is There a Downside to Using a VPN on My Router?
While the benefits of using a VPN with your DD-WRT router certainly outweigh the drawbacks, it would be less than honorable for me to close this article without making you aware of the few shortcomings.
First, be aware that all of your connected devices will be accessing the internet through a single VPN tunnel, which, depending on the provider and the server, as well as the performance of the router, could cause congestion, slowing the internet connection for all users.
Second, if your VPN provider is having issues with the server you’re connected to, you could find that you’re unable to stay connected to the internet, requiring you to turn off the VPN connection or reconnect.
While you might know how to do this, what happens when you’re not at home and no one else knows what to do? Make your 9-year-old offspring your co-administrator – they’ll know what to do.
If you did go cheap on the router hardware, you may find a loss in connection performance. A VPN requires encrypting and decrypting of data on the fly, and both processes can consume a large amount of resources. Low-end routers may not be able to keep up with the demand, slowing everything down.
Users who are looking to provide a protected internet connection to all of their connected devices are strongly advised to take advantage of the features a VPN offers with a DD-WRT router.
A VPN will protect and enhance the internet connection for all of your connected devices by encrypting your information and opening up access to content you might not normally have access to.
ExpressVPN is the best available option for enhancing and protecting the online connections of all of your devices via the single access point that is your DD-WRT router. The provider offers excellent router compatibility, fast connection speeds, comprehensive global server coverage and top-notch customer support.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.