There’s no end of VPN solutions on t’interweb. Likewise, if you have a look on iTunes or Google Play there’s a big list of VPN apps for you. However, with the increasing popularity of Kodi TV boxes and the streams and programmes they deliver, it’s worth getting protected.
A lot of the techies out there will know what a VPN is, but for the rest it’s basically a way to add security and privacy to your internet. You might have other reasons for wanting a VPN..
- To some extent it’ll hide you when you’re streaming movies and TV via a Kodi box.
- With a lot of VPN providers you can choose the endpoint to circumvent geo-restrictions.
- You may be able to avoid traffic shaping implemented by your ISP.
Basically, when you buy an internet connection at home, you’re going to have a router. That router will dish out IP addresses to each internet-connected thing in your house. An IP address is basically a stack of numbers so that your thing can be identified. Your phone will have one, your tablet will have one, your Chromecast, your Nest thermostat and so on.
Here’s my EE Brightbox router. It’s a standard FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) router which pumps out WiFi and connects up to a few of my internal bits via ethernet. There’s nothing special about it and I’m not going to meddle with it at all in this example.
When all of your gadgets need to get out to the internet, they’ll hit that router (above) that your ISP usually gives you for free. This router has an external IP address, and that means that all of your traffic can be seen and tracked.
With a VPN connection this external IP address is replaced with one from the VPN provider. That external IP could be anywhere – in America, in Germany or wherever else in the world the VPN provider has an endpoint. You can configure all this later.
So, in my setup I have a standard FTTC (fibre) connection. It’s connected to the internet and pumps out a WiFi connection. All my devices connect to it, but I wanted another WiFi connection which was connected over VPN.
Many years ago, when we moved into our house, I decided to stick the main router in the garage. This is because the main BT socket (above) is in the hall and the garage is behind. Back in 1975, when our house was built, many people had the main BT box in the hall because that’s where a corded phone sat – usually on a little phone table. Now, in 2017, I really don’t want a table or a load of kit balanced on it, so a cable goes through a hole in the wall and into the garage. From the router I have one ethernet connection running along the outside of the house and into the hole in the lounge where the TV cables from the satellite dish go. This originally was for our non-WiFi Sky box to talk to the outside world.
It all ends up around the back of our TV. In all honesty it’s a bit of a disaster back there. Cables everywhere, but I want to put a WiFi router in here which connects via VPN.
Before I go on, here is a video overview showing you the setup..
VPN Router Choice
I’m not a fan on spending unnecessary amounts of money, so I went onto eBay and looked around for a router with the DD-WRT custom firmware on. This firmware is a Linux based alternative and it can be installed on all of these routers. It’s really easy to use and supported by a lot of VPN providers too, which is a bonus.
My main FTTC router isn’t on that list. It won’t do VPN at the moment and I didn’t really want to mess around with the config on that, so I bought a Netgear WNR834b V2 to act as the VPN router. Here it is below…
You can have a search of eBay and find something similar. It was a bit scratched but only cost £18. That’ll do me. It’s only going to sit under my TV so it doesn’t have to look pretty.
VPN Provider Choice
There’s always deals available. I chose PureVPN because it was cheap and I knew it that they had a great support section for DD-WRT routers. I pay $2.45 per month, but as I type you can get two years for the price of one – that’s $29.40 for a year (or two if you get this deal).
I’ve not been disappointed with the speed and it’s a simple setup.
You can also try providers like NordVPN, who also have an offer on…
As a rule of thumb, try and get a provider with some good support pages. One that has endpoints in different countries and has a good infrastructure so that you don’t have any buffering or anything like that.
On my cheap eBay Netgear router, I set the WAN connection type. Where you’d normally see an Fibre connection, or an ADSL connection or whatever – here instead you connect via PPTP or (should you wish) L2TP. The “WAN” part is actually my main LAN. Confusing I know, but I don’t want everything in my house VPN’d, just some devices. So this router has an internal IP range (which is 192.168.1.XX incidentally) and my “normal” network has a 10.60.3.XX range. To the VPN router, the 10.60.3.XX range is the “WAN”, it’s how it’ll connect to the world.
The blue cable plugged into the “Internet” port on my Netgear VPN router goes to my normal EE router, and the blue cable (I should’ve chosen different colours!) goes to the Android TV box which I want connected over VPN.
Below you can see part of my PureVPN details – I’ve told it here to connect to the fastest US endpoint. You can have it connect to a European endpoint, a UK one or whatever. Switch it around by changing this part. If, for example, you don’t live in the UK but want to watch UK TV and get sites as if you were in the UK, you’d perhaps put the UK endpoint here.
Last of all, I’ve set a WiFi AP (Access Point) and given it a name to highlight the fact that it’s my VPN connection..
So now, when I’m at home in the UK, I just connect to my normal WiFi access point from my EE router. If I want it to look like I’m in the USA, I connect to the internetz-vpn access point.
As an example, in the UK on my normal WiFi connection, if I try to go to cnn.com, I get the International site…
I’m also unable to watch the live CNN stream, and instead get fed some short video clips to choose from..
However, on the VPN I get the full US editon of the website..
I also get that “Live TV” button and I can watch the US TV feed..
That is about it. I know there’s lots of alternatives and yes, I know that you can setup a VPN on your phone or download an app to do it, but I like to setup once and then ignore it so I can just use and re-use later.