You and I know that internet security is of paramount importance to businesses and individuals alike.
In a world where data is a commodity, how can you protect yours?
Virtual private networks are one of the ways to help you stay safer. Using a VPN-enabled or supporting router can help you protect your devices at home or at work seamlessly.
Therefore, it’s perfectly logical to ask if all routers can support VPNs.
As someone who reviews lots of VPNs and VPN-compatible devices, I can help you answer this question.
So, do all routers support VPN?
Let’s find out!
Can all routers support VPN?
No, not all routers support VPNs.
For better context, all routers can be used together with a VPN. However, not all of them have out-of-the-box VPN support.
For example, you can’t install a VPN on Cox routers but you can get them to work with one if you enable Bridge Mode.
The latter is a simple setting that shuts down a router’s WiFi broadcast so that it can be used as a bridge between another router and the internet.
With that, you can use VPN on your non-compatible router by simply connecting it to a secondary router that supports it.
On the contrary, you can easily install VPN apps on TP-Link routers, Orbi Mesh routers, and many Huawei router models.
So, while you can install VPN on any router in one way or another, having a router that supports VPNs natively makes the installation 100 times easier.
That said, always check the router’s specs before you purchase.
Additionally, before choosing a router, check its memory capacity and processor speed.
For your VPN to work properly, the latter should be over 1.4 GHz. The standard processor speeds found on most routers include 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
The former is suitable for long-range network strength and normal internet activities while the latter is useful for speed-intensive activities like gaming, streaming, and huge file downloads.
Also, for some routers to allow VPN installations, you will need to tweak or update the device’s firmware.
For this step, ensure you check with the manufacturer for manual configuration and VPN compatibility.
Since router specs can get confusing, I broke down how you can easily check if a router supports VPN or not.
How do I know if my router supports VPN?
First off, you must know in which of the 3 main categories router falls into.
- ISP-provided routers as the name implies are owned and managed by your ISP. They have restrictions and usually don’t allow the use of VPNs.
- Off-the-shelf (OTS) routers are easier to work with as they have no ISP-enabled restrictions but not all of these support VPN. Check for OpenVPN Client compatibility.
- Custom firmware routers – usually come with tons of features that allow for modifications and customization based on user preference. They are mostly for tech-savvy people as it’s usually not an easy task setting up a VPN on this type of router. The majority of ZTE and Netgear routers are good examples.
Now, to find out if your router supports the use of a VPN, you need to do a few things.
- Check the manufacturer’s website or the configuration interface to be sure that the router supports acting as a VPN client.
- Ensure that both your router and VPN provider support the same protocols. Most routers work with OpenVPN.
If you’ve done both checks and you find that your router doesn’t support a VPN natively you’ve got one last option – to install third-party firmware.
OpenWrt, DD-WRT, and Tomato are examples of third-party firmware you can install on your router.
Changing your firmware (also known as flashing your router) is a bit complicated because you essentially have to switch to a different operating system.
Good news is, most third-party firmware options offer dedicated guides for it. And once you install it you can easily setup VPN on your router.
Use these links to check the lists of supported devices for OpenWrt, DD-WRT, and Tomato respectively. The good news is they are free.
However, they too have their pros and cons.
- OpenWrt supports lots of devices and has a good update system but it has a complicated setup process.
- DD-WRT is user-friendly and has a strong firewall. However, it doesn’t support lots of devices and has limited advanced features.
- Tomato doesn’t work on all routers and devices but it has the most user-friendly interface.
Using a VPN is essential for protecting your online identity, and accessing geo-blocked content amongst other benefits.
Having a VPN-supporting router is a great way to ensure maximum protection for all your devices. However, not all models support VPNs natively.
If your router doesn’t support virtual private network apps out-of-the-box, you might need to install third-party firmware.
With a simple firmware installation, you can use a VPN on your existing router. Or you can always get a new one with native support.