How to Set Up VPN on Your Router – Part 1
It’s fairly simple to set up VPN on a computer by downloading and installing a VPN client, but with some extra effort, there are significant advantages to setting up VPN on your router instead.
- You can access iPlayer and other services directly from your smart TV or media centre, the same as if you were physically located in the UK.
- You don’t need to power on your computer or connect it to your TV.
- You don’t need to start a VPN client and connect to a server every time you want to watch TV.
- You can use VPN from multiple TVs and computers without installing separate software on each one.
- It’s always connected and it just works.
The easiest way to get router based VPN working is to use a router which already has a VPN client available as part of the firmware that came with it. Unfortunately, if you are using a router which was included with your broadband service, it’s unlikely to have a VPN client installed but you should still check. Just login to your router’s web interface and see if you can find any reference to VPN in the main menu or in advanced WAN setup options.
Here we are using the Asus RT-N16 router which has a VPN client available in the pre-installed Asus firmware. If you find you need to get a new router to get VPN working, this is a solid choice. If you find another router you prefer, it’s worth checking if it has support for custom router firmware, such as Tomato, in case you want to implement a more advanced setup.
There are two setup options explained in this two part post, a basic one below and a more advanced one covered in part 2. The basic setup involves inserting the credentials from your VPN provider into the VPN configuration form in the Asus web interface. This is relatively easy to get working and should be accessible to most people. The advanced setup involves installing custom Tomato firmware on your router. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, you risk breaking the router, so it should only be attempted if you are familiar with advanced network configuration. There are two main advantages to the advanced setup.
- It allows you to specify your TV as the only device that is routed through the VPN connection, since you might not want to use VPN for regular internet browsing or downloading on your computer. Once set up, you can easily add more detailed rules, where you can specify multiple devices that use VPN or multiple destination IP addresses that are routed through VPN from any of your devices.
- It allows you to use OpenVPN instead of PPTP which provides a more robust VPN connection. OpenVPN and PPTP are different VPN protocols.
Router Setup (Basic Version)
These instructions assume you are using the Asus RT-N16 router and the Hide My Ass (HMA) VPN provider. If you are using a different router or VPN provider, your setup will be different although the basic idea will be the same.
Login to your router’s web interface from your browser. The default router IP address is 192.168.1.1 and the default username/password is admin/admin (although be sure to change this default password if you haven’t already done so).
Once logged in, go to WAN and set the WAN Connection Type to PPTP (remember PPTP is a VPN protocol). The remaining settings should be set as follows.
Enable WAN: Yes
Enable NAT: Yes
Enable UPnP: Yes
Get WAN IP automatically: Yes
Connect to DNS Server automatically: No
DNS Server 1: 22.214.171.124
DNS Server 2: 126.96.36.199
These are freely accessible DNS servers from OpenDNS. If you’re unfamiliar with DNS, this is how your router or computer converts a domain name (e.g. google.com) into an IP address (e.g. 234.567.89.12) or vice versa.
Further down on the same form, enter your VPN account settings and the IP address of the VPN server you are connecting to. To get this information for Hide My Ass (HMA), login to the control panel at https://vpn.hidemyass.com/vpncontrol/signin.
Go to Download and setup, scroll down to PPTP & L2TP (these are two different VPN protocols) and click on the link for instructions.
This will bring you to the PPTP setup page with your personalised login details. Note that your password for PPTP is different from your normal login password for added security.
There will be a lot of servers to choose from. Scroll down to the UK servers and select whichever one you prefer. You will probably want to choose the server with the fastest speeds as seen from your location. If you haven’t already done this, run a speed test in the HMA Pro VPN desktop application. If you don’t already have the HMA desktop application installed on your computer, you should have received instructions on how to download and install it when you signed up for the VPN service, so check that email for details.
Open the HMA desktop application and go to Speed Guide, then select all the UK servers (by ticking their check boxes) and click on Full Test to run a complete test.
Once the test is complete, it will assign a score from best to worst performance.
Next go back to the router WAN configuration form and enter the HMA PPTP username and password as shown below.
You must also set PPTP options to MPPE 128, which determines the encryption protocol used.
Finally, enter the IP address of the VPN server, using the fastest server as determined by the speed test above. Click Apply to apply all these changes.
Now all the traffic on your home internet connection should be going through the VPN server you specified above. You can check that it’s working by going to whatismyipaddress.com and confirm that you appear to be in the UK rather than your actual location.
If you have a smart TV, you will need to install the iPlayer app in order to use iPlayer. Unfortunately you can’t do this if your TV is set to a location other than the UK. To remedy this, you will need to reset your TV location to the UK. The steps to do this will be different for every type of TV but as an example, we will show what you need to do for the Samsung F Series of smart TVs. Note that existing apps will be removed from your smart TV when you do this. For other models of TV, try doing a google search which includes your TV model number and the phrase “change country” or something similar.
In TV mode (Source->TV), press Menu and scroll down to System to access the system settings.
Then select Setup to rerun the initial TV setup process.
The TV setup is a multi stage process. Go through the first several steps as normal. Eventually you will reach the Smart Hub Terms and Conditions page.
At this point you must enter a special sequence on your TV’s remote control to manually change the country location for internet services.
On your remote control press ..
MUTE .. RETURN .. Volume Up (+) .. Channel Up (^) .. MUTE
If you enter this sequence correctly, the Internet Service Location Setup form should appear, as below. Scroll down to United Kingdom and select.
Then continue the rest of the setup procedure as normal, or we found it even works if you cancel the rest of the setup after setting the internet service to the UK, but you might not want to go through the whole process again if it doesn’t work.
Now go to the Apps window and you should see the apps being updated to delete the existing apps and repopulate with UK specific apps.
When it’s finished, you should see something like below, which lists ITV Player, BBC iPlayer and 4 on Demand in the list of installed apps.