If you’ve ever asked the question ‘how do I install a VPN on my TalkTalk router’ then you know there’s not a clear guide to do it online.
This is here to change that.
If, like me, you regretted choosing TalkTalk but are stuck with the contract for a while or are one of the lucky ones and have a great service then this guide is for you.
This also works for Virgin Media, Sky, or whichever other UK provider you have and want to set up a VPN on your router. If you ever do decide to change network or move house then you can still use this information if you set up your router in the future.
Let’s dive in.
Before we take a look at what options are available its worth going over what the benefits are when you set up a VPN on your router and also what the drawbacks are.
With the router set up with your VPN of choice you will have comprehensive security and peace of mind because all of your devices, be it your laptop, PC or smartphone will be covered by the VPN.
Perfect for the forgetful
With your VPN running on your router, you don’t need to configure your VPN for each device, each time you want to use it or turn it off. As long as your router is up and functional, you’ll be protected.
VPNs like NordVPN ensure that it’s not only your smartphone that benefits from the security features and actually covers everything that is connected to your router. Be it your smart TV, gaming device, or even, if you’re lucky enough, your smart fridge. As long as the router is on and functional then you’ll be protected.
Encryption depends on your router
Routers aren’t designed with VPN access in mind and therefore most routers lack the features to run anything more than the most basic tunneling protocols or encryption. One option is to upgrade to a VPN-specific router (which we’ll come to shortly) that will run more secure protocols.
Hands on management
If you’ve ever used a VPN via an app on your smartphone or laptop, you know that it’s usually very easy to switch to another server or country because they’re designed to be simple and user-friendly.
With a router is much harder to configure any settings because of the lack of a user interface. Your computer will still receive emails and notifications and if you don’t plan on making many changes this might not be a big issue.
If you do decide to set up your router with VPN then you’ll experience around a 5-10% drop in overall speeds before the VPN takes place because of bandwidth overheads. With super-fast broadband options currently available this shouldn’t be too much of an issue but if your speeds aren’t great to start with then it’s definitely something to consider.
Now we’ve got that out of the way and you’ve decided you still want to go ahead and install a VPN on your router it’s time to get into the details.
How to set up a VPN on your router
There are essentially 2 ways you can do it.
You can either buy a router that can be configured or configure your existing router with a VPN. Or you can buy a dedicated VPN router.
It takes a little bit of setting up but I’d recommend buying a compatible router or configuring your existing router for two reasons.
- You may not need to fork out hard-earned money for a VPN-specific router if you’re already with a VPN provider that you use and trust.
- Dedicated VPN routers are often unreliable and their customer services teams are notoriously difficult to contact if anything goes wrong.
With that out of the way let’s dive into the details.
Check to see if your router is VPN compatible
- Firstly, you’ll want to check the user manual of your existing router and look for instructions relating to either Open VPN or L2TP. If you’ve thrown your manual away or it’s hidden in the loft, you can usually always find a copy online.
- Type in the model number on Google to find out any more information, chances are someone with the same model number has already checked if it’s compatible.
- Log in to your router. Usually, this is done by entering the IP address of your router in the URL bar of your browser. If you’re still unsure how to find this then here’s a great guide.
As a side note, if you’ve never logged in to your router before, now would be a great time to change the password to something more complex than the standard pre-set one.
- From there, it’s a case of referring to your user manual which should detail the steps you need to take to configure a VPN.
Bear in mind that the CPU power of the router matters if you’re using it for multiple devices as the router is doing all of the encrypting/decrypting that the devices would normally be doing.
We tested a high-end consumer router from about six years ago and it simply can’t keep up with the speeds. If you’re only using it for a handful of devices then you’ll likely be fine. If your router is compatible, try it first and if the speeds are good then you won’t have to fork out for a brand new one.
If you’re still stuck then many VPNs like NordVPN or Surfshark have their own tutorials or help pages that you can refer to as well as 24/7 customer support that will help you with anything this guide doesn’t cover or relating to your specific router.
Now it may be that your router is incompatible with VPN so you’ll have to buy one that is and repeat the process.
If that is the case then there are a few great options to choose from but I’d recommend any of the below options:
A great option for a two-person household.
If you have a child who likes to game or a partner that works from home while you Skype then this will likely be more suitable.
Perfect for a large household with lots of gamers, streamers and working from home parents.
For a household with multiple gamers, members of your house who like watching geo-blocked content and you want a really strong connection then this will be the one for you.
Whichever one you choose will depend on the size of your household. Basic rule of thumb is the more people in your house the more connections you want.
Tips for using your VPN router
- When you have everything up and running, be mindful that it will be on until you turn it off or change the settings. It can be easy to forget if it’s just running in the background so try and avoid any double coverage where possible.
- After you’ve logged in to your router, it might be a good idea to bookmark it for future use to make changing anything just that little bit quicker.
- Bear in mind that the CPU power of the router matters. If you’re using it for multiple devices as the router is doing all of the encrypting/decrypting that the devices would normally be doing.
- For example I have a fairly high-end consumer router from about six years ago and it can’t keep up. Internet speed is dramatically reduced while VPN is enabled, if I’m using that router.