The Roku Streaming Player lineup includes a variety of video streaming set-top boxes and sticks, made by Roku, Inc. The Roku offers a variety of video and audio streaming options via its huge selection of apps and “channels,” including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and many more.
Unfortunately, the content of some of those apps is blocked due to governmental or geographical licensing restrictions. Consequently, some of the best content may not be available in your area.
By using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can gain access to blocked content, as it assigns a new IP address to your device, allowing it to fool a content provider into believing you are located in a place where the content is available.
A VPN’s useful features don’t stop there. A VPN also protects your internet connection by encasing it inside a tunnel of encryption. This prevents any observers, like your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the government or hackers, from tracking your online travels.
In this article, I review the top 5 VPNs for protecting and enhancing your Roku viewing sessions.
How to Use Your Roku With a VPN
Setting up a VPN with your Roku may seem somewhat daunting at first, but it’s actually reasonably easy to do:
- First, subscribe to a VPN.
- Set up the VPN on a compatible router (or purchase a pre-configured router).
- Select a VPN server located nearest to the streaming content you’d like to access.
- Make sure your Roku is connected to the VPN-protected router.
- Grab the popcorn and start streaming!
Best VPNs for Roku
I’ve put all of my top VPN providers through exhaustive rounds of testing, and the results show that these 5 VPNs are your best choices to use with your Roku device.
Here’s a summary for those of you in a hurry:
- ExpressVPN: This provider delivers optimal connection speeds and top-notch global server coverage, both of which are of the utmost importance when streaming video with your Roku.
- NordVPN: This provider delivers well-encrypted, HD-capable connections. Their security and privacy protections are top-notch. Although their global server coverage could stand a bit of a bump, most users should find it to be sufficient.
- CyberGhost: Caviar connection speeds at a fish-sandwich price. This provider delivers speeds fast enough for 4K content, while leaving enough money in your bank account to buy and rent your favorite films and TV shows.
- IPVanish: This provider delivers top-notch service and adds an extra layer of security for your information with its proprietary server farms.
- Surfshark: This is another provider whose server coverage could be better, but which delivers enough speed and security to more than make up for it. An unlimited simultaneous connections allowance is also a huge plus.
Note: At this point in time, there are no VPN apps available for the Roku platform. That makes router compatibility, and the availability of pre-configured routers, crucial features to look for in any VPN you plan on using with your Roku streaming box.
I evaluated and ranked the top Roku VPNs according to the following criteria:
- Global server coverage
- Connection speeds
- Customer support level
- Privacy and security protections
- Router compatibility (bonus points for pre-configured VPN routers)
Here’s my list of the top 5 VPNs for use with the Roku.
ExpressVPN is the best available VPN to protect your Roku viewing sessions. The provider’s top-notch global server coverage offers content-unblocking power in most any location around the globe.
This provider has some of the best global server coverage in the business. With 3,000+ servers stationed in 94 countries, you won’t run out of content possibilities for a long time. The provider ublocks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and many other services.
Connection speeds from ExpressVPN are some of the best in the industry and provide more than enough horsepower to stream your favorite HD and 4K content. Bingeing won’t cause any problems thanks to the service’s lack of bandwidth limitations and data caps.
Customer support is always available to help through the provider’s 24/7 live chat option, searchable knowledge base, support ticket tracking system and email support option.
Security and privacy are must-haves, and ExpressVPN has you covered with military-grade encryption and kill switch protection on many of their apps. A strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option protect your privacy.
Since there are no VPN apps available for the Roku, router support becomes all-important. Luckily, ExpressVPN offers support with a large number of routers, and also offers pre-configured routers if you’re not into the whole configuration thing.
Apps are available for most popular devices (including the Amazon Fire TV), allowing you to protect your other devices as well.
- Extensive global server coverage
- HD-capable connection speeds
- 24/7 customer support
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Pre-configured routers available
- More expensive than some other providers
BEST VPN FOR ROKU:ExpressVPN is the best choice to enhance and protect your Roku viewing sessions. Top-notch global server coverage, fast connections and excellent router support make protecting your Roku a snap. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN earns the runner-up spot this time around thanks to speedy connections, excellent customer support and top-notch privacy and security.
This provider might not have the globe covered like some of its competitors do, but it will likely meet your needs thanks to nearly 5,200 servers located in 61 countries. Streaming services unblocked by the provider include Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer the HD or 4K format for your movie pleasure, NordVPN’s fast connections have you covered. Plus, you never have to worry about your bingeing sessions being interrupted because of hitting a data cap or having your bandwidth limited.
While I’ve not had many issues with NordVPN, stuff happens, so when it does, you’ll be glad to know that the provider offers email support, a searchable knowledge base and 24/7 live support chat.
Your online security and privacy are kept intact when using NordVPN. The provider protects your connections with military-grade encryption and kill switch protection, and it assures your privacy with a strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option.
As with all of the providers on this list, NordVPN does not offer a native Roku app. That’s where the provider’s compatibility with numerous router makes and models comes in. Pre-configured routers are also available.
- 5,200 servers in 61 countries
- HD and 4K-capable connection speeds
- One of the lowest-priced providers available
- Top-notch security and privacy coverage
- Apps could be more user-friendly
BEST FOR BUDGET:NordVPN is the best option for Roku device owners looking to save a buck, but not give up any VPN features. Despite its low price, the provider delivers fast, well-protected connections. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost, though it may be the #3 provider in this ranking, offers the fastest connection speeds on this list. Its excellent security and privacy protections are also a big plus.
With nearly 3,700 servers stationed in 59 countries, CyberGhost’s server network will provide access to most any geo-blocked content. This provides access to content from Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and other services.
CyberGhost delivers the fastest connection speeds in this roundup, which means even 4K HDR content will begin streaming quickly and without buffering issues. The provider imposes no bandwidth limitations or data caps on their users, which is always a plus for streaming.
In the unlikely event that you have an issue with CyberGhost’s service, it’s no biggie. The provider’s customer support is always available via live support chat, a support ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
Your online security is well protected when you’re connected to CyberGhost’s servers thanks to military-grade encryption and kill switch protection.
Your privacy is also assured, as the provider keeps no logs of any type connected to your online antics while connected to their servers. CyberGhost’s Bitcoin subscription payment option allows users to keep their payment information safely private.
Since no VPN apps are available for Roku devices, you’ll need to protect your viewing sessions via your router. Luckily, CyberGhost is compatible with a large number of routers. Pre-configured routers are also available.
- High-level encryption for connection security
- 4K streaming-optimized connections
- Excellent router compatibility
- Top-notch privacy protections
- No kill switch protection for routers
BEST FOR 4K AFICIONADOS:CyberGhost’s fast connections make it the best VPN for users who view a lot of HD and 4K content. The provider’s numerous pre-configured router options will have you up and running in no time. 45-day no-risk money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish offers top-notch security and privacy protections thanks to the fact that it owns and operates all of its servers. Its router support is also excellent.
This provider is the sole VPN service on this list to own and operate their own servers. By doing so, the service removes third-party operators from the equation, increasing security for your data. IPVanish has 1,300+ servers located in 50+ countries.
Unfortunately, IPVanish does not open access to Netflix in other locations, but does allow access to other services, such as BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video and Sling TV.
Although IPVanish’s connections may not quite measure up to the speeds that other providers in this top 5 offer, it still offers plenty of HD-capable power. It also doesn’t impose any data caps or bandwidth limitations.
IPVanish’s customer support is second to none, as it offers 24/7 support chat, email support and a searchable support library.
The privacy protections that IPVanish offers could be better. Although the provider follows a strict no-logs policy, it doesn’t offer a Bitcoin payment option, which means your payment anonymity could be at risk.
Military-grade encryption and kill switch protection keeps you safe while you’re connected to this provider’s self-owned servers.
IPVanish protects your Roku device via its extensive router compatibility. Pre-configured routers are available if you’re not comfortable setting things up on your own.
- Owns and operates its VPN server farms
- Pre-configured routers available
- Well-protected connections
- 7-day money-back guarantee period is rather short
- No Bitcoin payment option
HIGH SECURITY:IPVanish provides an extra layer of privacy and security with its self-owned and -operated server farms. They provide fast, well-protected connections. Their 7-day money-back guarantee is a bit short for my taste.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Surfshark is included on this list due to its around-the-clock customer support, well-protected connections and wide-ranging router support.
The provider boasts over 500 servers, located in 50+ countries around the world.
While that lags a bit behind others on this list, Surfshark has done an admirable job of selecting their locations, meaning they offer above-average content-unblocking power, opening access to including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others.
Depending on your usual connection speeds, Surfshark should have no problem supplying HD and 4K-capable connection speeds.
Customer support is always there for you thanks to the provider’s 24/7 live support chat, searchable FAQ library and support contact form.
Online security and privacy protection are the least of your worries thanks to the service’s highly-encrypted connections, strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option.
While no native Roku app option is available (as is common among VPN providers), Surfshark offers excellent compatibility with numerous routers, and ready-to-go routers are available.
For other devices, users can take advantage of the provider’s excellent multi-platform support and super-generous unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
- Good content-unblocking power
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Great router compatibility
- Global server coverage could be better
- Lacks Roku smart DNS option, which is available for other devices
UNLIMITED PROTECTION:Surfshark not only provides top-notch router support to protect your Roku device, an unlimited simultaneous connections allowance helps you protect all of your other devices. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option For Use With a Roku?
I would never recommend a free VPN for any use, but gratis VPN providers are a particularly bad choice for use with your Roku.
First, while it’s true that there’s no Roku app support available from any VPN, free VPNs don’t offer much router compatibility. They almost always require you to use their apps to enable their “protection,” leaving you no way to protect your Roku device.
A “free” VPN provider will also cost you, in terms of both your privacy and your time and convenience.
First off, many freebie VPN providers make money (and companies have to make money to stay in business) by tracking their users’ online travels and selling the information to advertisers and other third parties. Plus, some even inject unwanted ads and tracking cookies into a user’s browsing sessions.
Now for the “your time and convenience” portion of the hidden-cost equation: When connecting to a free provider’s servers, you may be forced to wait in a queue before connecting.
Then, once you’re allowed to connect, you’ll have a limited number of servers to select from – if you have any choice of servers at all.
Once you’re connected, you may find that your connection speeds are throttled and that your data usage is restricted by a monthly data cap. Neither of those restrictions are exactly conducive to the viewing of streaming video.
While using a free VPN is certainly your decision, I’d advise giving up a single cup of your favorite caramel, low-foam, skim milk, one-teaspoon-of-sugar latte per month. That’s all it costs for excellent VPN protection.
Alternatives to Using a Router With Your Roku
If you’re not up to flashing your router with new firmware to use a VPN, and you simply don’t wish to spend money on a pre-configured router, there’s another option available.
Set Up a VPN-Protected Wi-Fi Hotspot
If you’re a macOS or Windows user, you can set your computer up as a VPN-protected Wi-Fi hotspot.
If your Windows or macOS machine has both an Ethernet port and a Wi-Fi connection, you can easily share your computer’s VPN connection. You simply need to run your VPN app of choice and then share your computer’s Wi-Fi connection as a hotspot.
This allows you to share your encrypted internet connection with your Roku (or any other wireless device).
Roku users have an excellent pool of content available to them, which can be greatly increased by using a VPN with their little streaming stick or box.
In addition to opening up a world of content, a VPN also prevents any party from monitoring or throttling your internet connection.
ExpressVPN delivers the best way to protect your Roku streaming box – and other connected devices – from the perils of the internet thanks to its top-notch privacy and security-related protections.
The provider’s excellent global server coverage will aid viewers in screening their favorite shows and movies, no matter where they’re located.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.