Installing a VPN on Your Router – a Simple Guide for DD-WRT

Install a VPN Router DDWRT

Installing a VPN on your router is a great idea if you want to use the internet with freedom, security, and anonymity. To be able to install a VPN on your router you will need DD-WRT. This is alternative firmware (software) that is used to add extra features to your router. One of those features is the ability to install and use a VPN on your router. Read all about this software and follow a simple guide that explains how you should install it. Afterwards, you’ll be ready to start surfing the web freely and anonymously on all your devices.

What is DD-WRT

ddwrt logoDD-WRT is a Linux-based, open-source, firmware for wireless routers of types IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/h/n. It works on either a Broadcom or Atheros chip. DD-WRT offers advanced options that you wouldn’t find on the normal firmware or routers. Some of these extra options are good VPN (especially OpenVPN) support, WDS wireless bridging/repeating protocols, Radius Authentication safe wireless communications, and advanced Quality of Service management to allocate bandwidth. In this article you can read everything about installing a VPN on your router with the help of DD-WRT.

Why Would you Install a VPN on Your Router?

By installing a VPN on your router you protect all connected devices in one go.

VPN shieldA VPN protects all of your internet traffic by routing it through encrypted tunnels. Third parties aren’t able to see anything you do online when you use a VPN.

Moreover, you take on the IP address of your VPN servers, ensuring that your own IP address is hidden to the world. Your IP address allows websites you visit to recognize you and even track you if they wanted to. With a VPN this won’t be possible and you will be completely anonymous.

Finally, a VPN offers great freedom. Because a VPN allows you to connect to servers in many different countries, you can change your virtual location. You can pretend to access the internet from somewhere else. This way, you can bypass any geographical restrictions, whether it are restrictions on your favorite streaming site, or blatant censorship by your government.

Normally, you install a VPN on the device you want to use to access the internet. However, nowadays we use many different devices. To protect all your devices at home or work in one go, you can install the VPN on your router.

Pre-installed VPN Routers

If your wish to use your router as a VPN client, your router has to be set up in a particular way. This way of setting up your router for a VPN is called flashing. Below you will be able to read how you can do this yourself. However, the easiest way is buying a router that is already set up to work with a VPN. We call this pre-flashed routers.

These pre-flashed routers are often set up for a particular VPN provider. Thus, when you buy the router you should also get a subscription with that particular VPN provider.

Most of these pre-flashed routers come from the US. Remember that the adapters might be different in your country. Do not forget to order an adapter that allows you to connect the router to the power gird in your country.

Requirements for a VPN on Your Router

To be able to install a VPN on your router you need the following things:

A router with DD-WRT installed on it (take a look at the supported devices to see if DD-WRT firmware can be installed on your router)

A VPN subscription that offers OpenVPN. OpenVPN is a protocol that not all VPN providers offer, so make sure to check your provider for it. We could recommend NordVPN and Surfshark as solid VPN providers that offer this protocol.

Install DD-WRT on Your Router

RouterThe guide to installing DD-WRT firmware on your router is different for every router. So first:

-Look for your router on the router database of the DD-WRT website and download the file.

-Download the corresponding .bin file.

-Read the hardware specific instructions to see how you can you can flash new firmware on your router.

-there are three ways you can flash new firmware:

  • Web-GUI
  • TFTP
  • command-line

Scroll down to find the corresponding method of flashing for more information.

Flash DD-WRT via Web-GUI

This method is the best choice for, among others, the Linksys routers.

1.Reset your router (with the hard reset button on the back of your router)

2.Log into the management system of your router by going to the IP address of your router (scroll down to see how you can do this)

3.Look through the menu for the place where you can update your router or flash new firmware onto it

4.Flash the new firmware (Important: do not interrupt this process because it could ruin your router irreparably)

5.Reset your router again

Manually Find Your Router IP

Follow these steps to manually find the IP of your router in Windows.

Step 1. Go to “start” and press “Run”

This can be difficult to find in Windows 10 so you can also use the keyboard shortcut by pressing WIN (that button with the window on it) and r at the same time. You will see this window:

Router cmd

Step 2. Type in “cmd” and press OK

router command

Step 3. Type in “ipconfig” and press enter

router IP

The IP address you find after default gateway or standard gateway is the IP address of your router. Now copy this number into the address bar of your web browser to reach your router.

Flash DD-WRT Firmware via TFTP

Most often the GUI flash method is preferred, but in some hardware-specific cases you might choose TFTP. TFTP is seen as a safe method for flashing your router.

TFTP is very simple and only requires two clicks. This method is especially great id the web GUI malfunctions or if the router seems to be unreachable.

Flash DD-WRT Firmware via Command-line

This method is only applicable to routers that already have DD-WRT installed on them and when Telnet/SSH is turned on. This is the only way to upgrade wirelessly because the files are retrieved from the DD-WRT servers and can be checked via a checksum.

1. Telenet or SSH to the DD-WRT router

2.Download the firmware to the router/tmp folder with wget or scp

cd /tmp

3.Compare the checksum to the original

md5sum dd-wrt.v2x_generic.bin

4.Flash the firmware

write dd-wrt.v2x_generic.bin linux


Install a VPN on the DD-WRT

You have now flashed DD-WRT on your router and it will now be able to host a VPN connection. Congrats, the hardest part is done! Now, to install the VPN on the DD-WRT:

1. Login on your router (as you have done before, find the IP address and enter it into the address bar in your browser).

2. Go to “Setup” and then “Basic Setup”.

3. Go to the part that says “Network Address Server Setting” (DHCP) and fill in the DNS server addresses of your VPN provider and save these settings.

4. Turn off IPv6 (The use of IPv6 sometimes shows IP leaks).

5. Go to the section that says “Services” and click on the tab “VPN”. Turn on the OpenVPN client by clicking on enable for the part that says “Start OpenVPN Client”.


6. Now fill in the data of your VPN provider (e.g. NordVPN: Login, password, server address and VPN protocol type).

7. Copy the content of the certificate and the key file in the appropriate box.

8. As soon as you save the data with “Apply Settings” a connection will be made with the VPN server. All internet traffic now travels via the VPN server. To check if everything is done go to the tab “status” and the section “OpenVPN”.

Final Thoughts

Do you want all your devices at home to be protected with a VPN? Then it is a good idea to install the VPN on your router. However, you first need to install DD-WRT on your router and your VPN provider has to offer a OpenVPN protocol for this to work. Hopefully, the guide above has helped you with installing a VPN on your router. Remember you can also buy pre-flashed routers which will save you a lot of trouble.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.