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How to Install and Use NordVPN on a Netgear Wireless Router

Are you looking to protect all of your connected devices via a single point of connection? ​​In this article, I walk you through setting up and using NordVPN on a DD-WRT-enabled Netgear router.

While you may have a VPN app installed on your computers and mobile devices, you’re leaving the rest of your devices unprotected. This includes your IoT devices (like your Ring cams, internet-connected appliances, security cams and more), streaming boxes, game consoles and more.

It also means that you’re not getting all of the enjoyment that you could be getting out of your Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, smart TV or other connected devices.

VPN providers can’t make apps for every connected device you own. This is either because it doesn’t make economic sense or because device makers don’t allow VPN apps on their devices (such as Apple TV and Roku). Also, some cheaper and low-power devices, like security cameras or internet-connected clocks, don’t have the horsepower to run a VPN app.

This is why using a VPN on your home or office WiFi router makes good sense. A VPN-enabled WiFi router automatically protects any device that connects to your network. That means that game consoles, streaming boxes, smart TVs and other devices all benefit from the VPN.

Another benefit of using a VPN-enabled router is that it offers always-on protection, meaning that you don’t have to remember to manually turn on VPN protection on your devices. Plus, most VPNs offer a kill switch that automatically disconnects from the internet if the VPN connection is lost. This prevents your online activities from being inadvertently exposed.

A VPN-enabled router also provides always-available access to geo-blocked content – such as what Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services offer – that might normally be unavailable in your region of the world.

You’ll also find that most VPN providers put a limit on the number of devices that users can simultaneously connect to their servers. When you use a VPN-enabled router, it only shows up as a single device, no matter how many devices are connected to the router. This is especially handy for families and small businesses that might have the need for multiple simultaneous connections.

Does NordVPN Work With Stock Netgear Wireless Routers?

As explained by NordVPN customer support, you cannot use Netgear routers with the service if the router is running the stock firmware it had when it came out of the box.

However, many Netgear routers do offer support for DD-WRT firmware. You can check if your Netgear router supports DD-WRT firmware here. If your router does support DD-WRT, you can flash your router with it. Here are instructions for flashing your Netgear router with the DD-WRT firmware.

Once you’ve flashed your Netgear router with DD-WRT firmware, you can follow the steps in the “How to Set Up NordVPN on Your DD-WRT-Enabled Netgear Router” section to set up the NordVPN service on your router.

If you’d prefer a ready-to-go solution, FlashRouters offers pre-configured routers that are set up for NordVPN (and other providers) and that are ready to go out of the box.

Why NordVPN?

NordVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

If you’re a Netgear router owner in search of comprehensive VPN protection and enhancement, I heartily recommend NordVPN.

NordVPN offers top-notch compatibility with Netgear routers running DD-WRT firmware. The provider offers reliable and comprehensive online security and privacy protections, as well as access to geo-blocked content for all of the devices connected to your router.

NordVPN’s global server network is truly impressive, with 5,300+ servers located in 60 countries around the world. That network provides reliable access to geo-blocked content in most areas of the globe.

The provider uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak prevention to protect your online activities from being observed. The provider offers a new, faster NordLynx connection protocol, which is based on the WireGuard protocol.

As for privacy, the provider follows a strict no-server-logs policy and accepts cryptocurrency to protect your privacy. It also owns and operates its server network (in select locations), keeping outside contractors away from your personal information.

NordVPN provides some of the fastest connection speeds in the VPN industry, meaning that having multiple devices connected to your router won’t slow down your connection to a crawl.

Whether you’re streaming video, gaming, sharing files, or just monitoring your front doorbell camera, you’ll have plenty of bandwidth and need never worry about data caps. (If your ISP places data caps on your monthly usage, you’ll still be subject to those.)

When you’re out and about, your devices are even protected then, thanks to NordVPN’s excellent app support, including options for the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.

I have to say that I’ve used NordVPN quite a bit over the last few years and I have seldom experienced any issues. However, most users will likely have a few questions for their VPN’s customer service folks, even if it’s just a billing question.

Happily, NordVPN’s customer service is available around the clock and includes 24/7 support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system, email support and a searchable support library.

All of this is available at a quite reasonable rate when you opt for an extended subscription option, meaning NordVPN offers an excellent return on investment. The provider offers a no-risk, 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordPass Premium password manager and NordLocker Premium cloud storage service are available from the provider for added fees.

Read my full NordVPN review.

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How to Set Up NordVPN on Your DD-WRT-Enabled Netgear Router

At first glance, the step-by-step instructions below may look complicated. However, if you closely follow each step, you’ll have your DD-WRT router set up to use NordVPN in no time.

Note: Any options not mentioned in this guide should be left with default values. (We’re setting up the router to connect using the OpenVPN protocol.)

1. Log in to your DD-WRT router’s Administrative Interface in your browser.

2. Navigate to Setup -> Basic Setup.

3. Under Network Address Server Settings (DHCP), enter this information:
Static DNS 1: 103.86.96.100
Static DNS 2: 103.86.99.100
Static DNS 3: 0.0.0.0 (default)
Use DNSMasq for DHCP: Checked
Use DNSMasq for DNS: Checked
DHCP-Authoritative: Checked

Network address server settings

4. Save and Apply settings.

5. Navigate to Setup -> IPV6. Set IPv6 to Disable. This is a recommended step to make sure your IP address doesn’t leak.

control panel

6. Click Save, and then Apply Settings.

7. Navigate to Services -> VPN.

8. Under OpenVPN Client, set Start OpenVPN Client to Enable in order to see the options necessary for this configuration.

9. Set the following:

Server IP/Name: For this tutorial, I’m using: “us8221.nordvpn.com”, but you should connect to a server suggested to you here. You can find the server hostname right under the server title.

10. Click the “Show available protocols” link you’ll find on the page I linked to in step 9 and download the OpenVPN UDP or TCP configuration file, which will be needed later. (UDP is faster, as it doesn’t do error checking. TCP is a bit slower, but checks for errors in packets. Most users will find that UDP works just fine. But if you run into reliability issues using UDP, switch to TCP.)

server recommended

11. Enter the following in the DD-WRT dashboard:
Port: 1194 (or 443 for the TCP protocol)
Tunnel Device: TUN
Tunnel Protocol: UDP (or TCP)
Encryption Cipher: AES-256-CBC
Hash Algorithm: SHA-512
User Pass Authentication: Enable
Username, Password: Your NordVPN user credentials
First Data Cipher: Not set
Second Data Cipher: Not set
Third Data Cipher: Not set

OpenVPN Client

12. To get your NordVPN service credentials, visit the NordVPN website, log in, and on the Nord Account dashboard, copy the credentials by clicking the Copy buttons to the right of the Service credentials.

Advanced configuration

13. Advanced Options: Enable (this will enable the additional options in the next step).

14. TLS Cipher: None
LZO Compression: Disable
NAT: Enable

Advanced options

15. If the Username and Password fields are missing, go to Administration -> Commands and enter this code:

echo “YOURUSERNAME
YOURPASSWORD” > /tmp/openvpncl/user.conf
/usr/bin/killall openvpn
/usr/sbin/openvpn –config /tmp/openvpncl/openvpn.conf –route-up /tmp/openvpncl/route-up.sh –down-pre /tmp/openvpncl/route-down.sh –daemon

(Replace YOURUSERNAME and YOURPASSWORD with the respective NordVPN service credentials. Click “Save Startup” and return to the previous VPN tab.)

16. In the Additional Config box, either enter or copy/paste these commands:
remote-cert-tls server
Remote-random
Nobind
tun-mtu 1500
tun-mtu-extra 32
mssfix 1450
Persist-key
Persist-tun
Ping-timer-rem
reneg-sec 0
#log /tmp/vpn.log
(#Delete “#” in the line below if your router does not have credentials fields)
#auth-user-pass /tmp/openvpncl/user.conf

17. Open the OpenVPN UDP or TCP configuration file you downloaded in step 10 in any text editor.

18. When you open the .ovpn file of the server you chose (in this case, “us8221.nordvpn.com.udp.ovpn”) in a text editor, you should see the <ca> part of the file. Do NOT copy the <ca> and </ca> tags.

19. Copy its contents into the CA Cert Make sure the entire text gets pasted, including the: —–BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– and —–END CERTIFICATE—– lines.

20. Return to the configuration file and scroll down to the <tls-auth> part. Copy the contents of the TLS Key.

21. Paste the contents into the TLS Auth Key Make sure the entire text gets pasted in, including the —–BEGIN OpenVPN Static key V1—– and —–END OpenVPN Static key V1—– lines.

22. After entering the data, click Save and then Apply Settings.

23. To verify that the VPN is working, navigate to Status > Under “State,” you should see the message “Client: CONNECTED SUCCESS”.

Client connected success

Optional kill switch setup (for advanced users):
To create a kill switch, go to Administration > Commands and enter this script:
WAN_IF=`nvram get wan_iface`
iptables -I FORWARD -i br0 -o $WAN_IF -j REJECT –reject-with icmp-host-prohibited

iptables -I FORWARD -i br0 -p tcp -o $WAN_IF -j REJECT –reject-with tcp-reset

iptables -I FORWARD -i br0 -p udp -o $WAN_IF -j REJECT –reject-with udp-reset

24. Select Save Firewall, then go to Administration -> Management -> Reboot router.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a VPN With Your Netgear Router

Advantages

Constant Protection

Installing and using a VPN on your Netgear router provides always-on connection security and privacy for your online activities.

That always-on VPN protection removes the issue of having to enable your VPN protection on any device that you’re using. If you fail to turn on VPN protection, everything you do online is left open to being monitored.

Having a VPN running full-time on your DD-WRT router protects all of your connected devices from having their internet connection monitored.

Protection for All of Your Connected Devices

Running a VPN on your router means that any device connected to the router is automatically using a protected connection to the internet. This includes any device that is on the network, including game consoles, streaming devices and even your internet-connected toaster.

Some routers will allow administrators to control which devices use the protected VPN tunnel. (Keep in mind, though, that the administrator may not always be available to flip the switch on a particular device’s connection.)

Disadvantages

Possibly: Additional Upfront Expense

If your current router isn’t compatible with DD-WRT, or if it is supplied by your Internet Service Provider and they bar you from flashing the router, you’ll have to purchase a DD-WRT-compatible router from Netgear. Some models can be priced a bit expensively.

However, while some VPN services will charge you an extra fee when you want to use their services with a router, NordVPN does not charge any extra fees.

Your Connection Speeds Will Slow Down

You may have noticed that when you’re running a VPN on your computer, mobile device or other connected devices, your protected connection speeds are a bit slower than your unprotected connections.

This is due to your connection being routed through a VPN server in a different location, as well as the overhead involved in encrypting your connection.

You’ll experience a similar slowdown when using a VPN on your router. This is magnified due to the low-powered processors used in most routers.

Plus, you’ll have multiple devices connected to the router, all sharing the protected connection. Since these devices share the connection bandwidth, the more devices that you have connected, the slower your connection speeds will be.

Can I Use a Free VPN With My Netgear Router?

I will offer a resounding “NO!” as my reply to that question. You should never use a “free” VPN with your Netgear router or any of your other devices, as far as that goes.

Most free VPNs offer limited device compatibility, limiting their support to the big 4 device platforms (Android, iOS, Mac and Windows). No free VPN that I’ve encountered offers router features.

That said, let’s go ahead and quickly cover the other reasons that a “free” VPN will cost you more than you think.

Free VPNs heavily throttle their users’ connection speeds and also inflict daily or monthly data caps on their usage. This means your online experience will suffer, and you’ll also find that it doesn’t take long to use up your data allowance.

Your privacy also suffers when using a free VPN. This is because even a free VPN provider has to keep the lights on, and many do so by monitoring their users’ online activities, then selling that valuable information to the highest bidder.

Some “free” VPNs have been caught injecting unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their users’ browser sessions. Guess what? Those cookies keep right on tracking you, even when you’re no longer connected to the service.

In Closing

When you install a VPN on your DD-WRT-enabled Netgear router, you’re gaining always-on VPN protection for all of your connected devices.

Router-based VPN protection provides full-time comprehensive VPN protection and enhancement for all of your connected devices’ online activities, all via a single access point. Any device that connects to your wireless network is instantly protected by your VPN provider’s services.

NordVPN is an excellent option for use with your Netgear router. The provider offers top-notch online security and privacy, fast connections, an impressive global server network that offers reliable access to geo-blocked content, and top-notch app and customer support.

Visit the NordVPN website.

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