Roku is often jokingly described as the user-friendly version of Amazon Firestick. It’s true because there’s a lot more you can do and customize here than with any other media player kit. And that is where an important question arises: how to stay safe and secure with Roku?
The easiest and most effective way is to use a strong and credible VPN. Of course, your safety depends on what exactly you do with the streaming player. Which further highlights the need to choose the best that money can buy.
Here are the best VPNs for Roku according to our research and tests:.
- NordVPN – The ideal VPN for Roku with strong security infrastructure and a wide server network
- PrivateVPN – Affordable provider with VPN router support
- Surfshark – Unlimited bandwidth and very cheap long-term subscription plans
- ExpressVPN – Preinstalled VPN routers, huge server network, and 4k streaming capability
- IPVanish – Economical VPN with user-friendly apps and plans
Why You Need a VPN for Roku
Roku is a digital streaming device that brings all forms of entertainment together. You can watch movies on Netflix, stream songs on Spotify, listen to the radio on Last.fm, and do a lot more – all in a single place: your TV. Think of it like a hardware kit that can convert your stock TV into a smart TV. That way, it competes directly with Firestick and Android TV.
Unfortunately, with streaming, your internet connection limits what you can view. While Roku facilitates convenient streaming, you are still dependent on individual apps for the content. If you are in the United States, you are restricted to the content available in the country due to licensing and distribution limitations. A VPN solves this issue.
A VPN or a virtual private network encrypts and reroutes your traffic through a server to replace your web location. The original US-based internet protocol (IP) location is masked with another location chosen by you. This allows you to temporarily access content libraries of another country.
In other words, a VPN is like a switching machine that changes your IP address between regions. This ability helps you bypass geoblocks and access any content on Roku.
Roku VPN – What All Can It Do?
A Roku-VPN combination can do a lot more for you:
- Anonymize your connection on Roku
- Bypass geoblocks on virtually all streaming apps
- Prevent hacking, phishing, snooping
- Protect your TV from malware and virus
- Access P2P content without revealing your web location
In the US, Roku is typically used as an alternative to cable and smart TV. Even if you consider the cost of a premium VPN, you will end up saving on your entertainment needs. Get a Roku VPN today by exploring the top 5 options below.
Best VPNs for Roku
The trouble with setting up a VPN on Roku is that you can’t do it at the software level. The ideal way is to use a VPN-enabled Wi-Fi router and then connect Roku to that Wi-Fi connection. The same applies to preloaded Roku TVs. The second, less-recommended method is to use a virtual router.
Therefore, router integration, number of countries, and speed are the top three things to consider when buying a VPN for Roku. Other functions and features are all secondary. Free VPNs are out of the question and we don’t recommend them at all.
Here are some industry-leading providers for your Roku VPN needs.
NordVPN has over 5,500 servers in about 60 countries, provides superb server speeds, and has excellent customer care service. If you do get stuck setting it up on your old router, just shoot an email to customer support. A response within 24 hours is almost guaranteed.
But that’s not why it’s at #1 on our list of the top VPNs for Roku. One reason is because it invites third-party auditors to inspect its records and servers to ensure its strict no-logs policy. Not that you should worry because its entire network is made up of RAM-disk servers.
NordVPN beats PrivateVPN, our second choice, also in terms of security. There is a lot that it offers – CyberSec, kill switch, split tunneling – that will come in handy if you plan to use Roku for torrenting. Using it as a virtual router will then satisfy all your needs. While the lack of proper router guides surprises us, NordVPN’s other features make up for it. Try it today!
When you compete with a top-tier VPN like NordVPN, you have to be really good AND have a distinguishing feature. With PrivateVPN, that appears to be its unmatched support for VPN routers. With it, setting up your current router with a VPN for Roku will be just a matter of pressing some buttons. It supports most major router brands such as ASUS, DD-WRT, Linksys, and pfSense.
At 62 countries including USA, Russia, Turkey, and Japan, it has decent server coverage that is present across continents. If you want to unblock a streaming site for a particular region, one of its 150 or more servers will come to your rescue. Speed is inarguably better than most providers in the list, even if you connect the VPN router to multiple devices.
A strict no-logs policy, multiple VPN protocols including OpenVPN, and kill switch are other essential features. All in all, for the price (better than NordVPN’s) that you pay, you get a complete protection and unblocking package here.
With a 65-country server network and cheaper plans, Surfshark is a choice between PrivateVPN and NordVPN. It offers unlimited bandwidth on all types of subscription plans, allowing you to stream unlimited content.
High-speed connections further mean that you can stream 4K video across sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Voot, Disney+, and more.
We ranked it at #3 because of a lack of a dedicated router app. Even the website does not go into the detail of setting up a VPN on your router. In its defense, FlashRouters has started supporting Surfshark on its built-in VPN routers. This makes it a tad better than our next two choices, ExpressVPN and IPVanish. If you do plan to buy a router with a preinstalled VPN, Surfshark’s cheaper long-term plans may just be the ideal choice.
It seems like ExpressVPN was made for Roku because of its router integration. It is the only VPN for Roku that supports all integration methods that we have covered below. It offers preinstalled VPN routers and customized firmware upgrades that make setting up easy.
Speeds are top-notch across devices, even if you are a streaming enthusiast who prefers 4K resolution videos. Our tests threw excellent results even when connected to faraway places from our original location. Even if you connect more than a few devices on the same network.
Note how we mention the need for maximum countries with servers as opposed to locations. If you want to access geoblocked content, the number of countries matters more. ExpressVPN has servers in over 94 countries, one of the biggest among top-tier VPNs. Access to Netflix, Hulu, BBC, Prime Video, and hundreds of others will be swift and seamless.
ExpressVPN is a complete package for Roku and will be a great choice.
IPVanish has a user-friendly app interface and allows unlimited connections. This makes it a great candidate for virtual routers. You can simply convert your smartphone or computer as a Wi-Fi hotspot and connect your Roku to it.
With servers spread in about 70 cities around the world, it has a decent capability to unblock major streaming sites. Price is not its sweet spot but it makes up for it through other features such as a no-logs policy and 30-day money-back guarantee.
A Note on Virtual Routers for Roku
We recommend using a VPN router for Roku or setting it up manually for the best experience. However, if you find the instructions complex, you may consider this alternative.
A virtual router works just like a Wi-Fi hotspot created on a VPN-connected device. It is super easy to set up.
After purchasing a VPN subscription, download its client on a desktop computer. Switch on the VPN client after selecting the right regional server (city and country). On Windows 10, you can use the mobile hotspot option under network settings to wirelessly relay your VPN connection. Then go to Roku and connect to this hotspot. Roku’s traffic will now be routed through the VPN server. The process is similar for Android and iOS devices.
A drawback of using virtual routers for Roku is that it may throttle your network speed. This may hamper your Roku streaming regardless of the app being used.
How to Set Up VPN on Roku?
In the above section, we noted the need for a router VPN for Roku. This is because you cannot install a VPN on a Roku device, including its Express 3 model, streaming sticks, and streambars. The VPN tunneling has to come directly from the Wi-Fi router. Setting it up can be a hassle if not for our easy guide.
There are three ways to set up a VPN on Roku:
1. Buy a VPN router (expensive but easiest)
Simply get a router with a built-in VPN from FlashRouters. Set up the router with your home internet and connect your Roku to it. Thankfully, FlashRouters supports all the five VPNs for Roku listed above. To get started, go to the website of your chosen VPN provider and look for a setup guide.
If this sounds expensive (it is), you can consider the second option.
2. Install a VPN on a supported router (less expensive but easier)
Depending upon which VPN provider you choose, you can find a list of supported Wi-Fi routers on its official website. For ExpressVPN, you can check this list of compatible routers by Netgear, Linksys, and Asus. At the time of writing, only ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN allowed this method.
If you choose another VPN, consider the third method that uses OpenVPN or L2TP.
3. Install a VPN on a general router (cheapest and hardest)
Manually installing a VPN on a router that is not supported by the provider can be very tricky. It involves several steps and requires some technical knowledge.
In the case of TP-Link and D-Link, the process primarily uses Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) which does not support encryption. The VPN thus created will only be useful for anonymization and IP address switching. OpenVPN protocol is only supported on Asus and Netduma, among others.
The following steps outline the process to install any VPN on any router i.e., the third method.
Steps to Install Any VPN on Any Router for Roku
For your convenience, we have divided the installation process into three parts. The first one involves setting up a VPN on your router. It is followed by connecting Roku to the router, and then finally creating a Roku account for a country of your choice. This last part is important as Roku has country-level restrictions. More on that later.
How to Manually Install a VPN on Any Router?
Start by purchasing a subscription of your chosen VPN. Test the VPN on your desktop or mobile before following the steps below. Make note of your account credentials (email and password).
- Log into your VPN provider’s official website and access the manual configuration settings
- Choose from the available protocols and look for server addresses and additional credentials
- Access your router’s firmware settings by entering the router’s IP address on a computer browser (e.g.: 192.168.0.1 for TP-Link)
- In settings, under network/internet, set Internet Connection Type as L2TP or OpenVPN
- In the dialog that opens, enter the credentials and a server address from the list found in step 2. This server address should be of the target country for Roku (e.g.: US)
- Set Secondary Connection to Dynamic and Connection Mode to Manually
Check if the addresses mentioned on the top of the page are not 0.0.0.0 to confirm successful installation. All devices that connect to this router will be routed through the VPN tunnel.
Depending upon your router, the steps and terms used above may differ. We recommend checking the router and VPN provider’s websites for specific guides.
Things to Note While Installing Manually
- If you prefer to use OpenVPN protocol, check for a guide by your VPN provider
- Manual installation may not offer all locations otherwise available in a VPN
- Some router models may only support server IP addresses instead of server names
- Backup your original internet and router settings
- To change the VPN location, simply change the server address in step 6 above
Connecting Roku to Your Router
Now that you have manually set up your router with a VPN, it’s time to connect your Roku device to the network. Simply follow the steps below:
- Go to Settings under Roku’s main menu
- Under Network, select Wireless and choose the Wi-Fi connection you just set up
- Enter the password (your Wi-Fi password and not the VPN password) and connect
Your Roku device will be successfully connected to the VPN router.
Accessing Regional Content on Roku
If you are accessing content available in your own country, you can skip this step. This is assuming that you already have a Roku account for your country.
As mentioned earlier, for every regional content library that you try to access, you will need a fresh Roku account. For example, assume you are in the UK but want to stream a movie available in India. You will need to create a Roku India account while connected to an Indian IP address. This will require you to manually change the server address in the first part in this section.
Just make sure that you reset your Roku device completely before logging in with a new account.
VPN for Roku FAQs
Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Roku app and VPN setup.
Do I need a Roku VPN on my router?
Yes. If you wish to connect Roku to a VPN, you will need a router VPN. As of 2020, Roku does not support installing a VPN directly.
How do I trick my Roku location using a VPN?
This is a two-step process. First, change the VPN server to your desired location. Next, reset your Roku device and create a fresh account for that location/country. This is a tedious process as the device will have to be reset every time you want to spoof Roku’s default location.
Can you jailbreak a Roku?
At the time of writing, there is no way to jailbreak a Roku device without damaging its firmware. There may be some guides available on the web but we don’t recommend following them. Please note that hacking your Roku device may cancel its warranty.
Should I use a virtual router for Roku?
If buying or setting up a VPN router is not feasible, you may consider using a virtual router for Roku. Please use our guide above to set it up on your computer or smartphone.