Do we want to protect our network traffic? Let’s see how to integrate a VPN into the router
Surfing in a safe and secure way has become increasingly difficult: government agencies and the telephone operators themselves can impose filters to monitor each user’s Internet traffic, so as to be able to track the activities carried out on the network (especially in the event of a massive file exchange) . If we want to protect the entire traffic of our network and prevent anyone from knowing exactly what we are downloading or exchanging, we will have to configure a VPN service directly inside the router, so as to be able to create a protected connection upstream and avoid any type of filtering and check on our line.
In this guide, we will show you how to configure VPN on the router, so as to protect our privacy and bypass the geographic filters or IP filters imposed by the providers. The procedure is not very difficult but may require additional hardware (therefore an additional expense in addition to the costs of the VPN).
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When we talk about VPN, in most cases we talk about Web services that allow, through apps or specific network configurations, to create an encrypted and secure tunnel to be used to connect to the Internet and get a new IP, completely different from the real one provided by the Internet operator we use. The best VPN services we can activate can be found in our dedicated guide Best VPN services and programs. We remind you that many services offer a free amount of bandwidth, but in many cases, given the enormous amount of data we can exchange in our network, always pay for a subscription to be able to benefit from the maximum speed and be able to exchange data without time or bandwidth limits (even H24).
For our guide, we will show you how to configure the VPN connection in a router using the ExpressVPN service, currently one of the best in the world for speed and connection capacity.
This type of service is not to be confused with the VPN available as a stand-alone service on many router models: in this case the router offers only the possibility to connect to it remotely, using another computer or a smartphone, and therefore be as always connected to the home network (in this specific case we speak of Extended LAN). To understand the difference, you just need to know that with this service we will create a VPN tunnel from our computer or smartphon wherever we are and we will also be able to see the other computers on the network, as well as being connected as if we were inside the home network (so we will have our home IP even outside the home). For this type of connection, we will create a dedicated guide in the future, given that the topic is long enough to merit a separate article.
Purchase the right router
After seeing the preliminary information, it’s time to move on: in order to configure our local network to always take advantage of the VPN masking service, we will inevitably have to buy a dedicated router, even if we already have a modem or modem/router provided by the operator.
This is necessary because the modem component is not able to correctly route to the VPN server that we intend to configure (it will only connect to the assigned telephone exchange), while connecting a separate router we will be able to realize the “call” that allows creating the VPN tunnel for the entire LAN network.
In this regard, the best routers (without integrated modem) that we can buy to make the VPN connection are the following:
- TP-Link Archer C7 (€ 72)
- Netgear Ac1750 Wifi Router (€ 102)
- TP-Link Archer C9 (€ 111)
The router chosen will be connected to the home modem via an Ethernet cable and thus creating a cascade, as described in detail in the guide on how to connect a new router to the modem without changing the network.
This step is essential to be able to realize the VPN connection and hide the identity of all the devices used at home; if you wish to choose another router, make sure before purchasing that it supports the protocol L2TP.
Configure VPN on a router
In this part of the guide, we will show you the steps to follow in order to configure a VPN service (such as ExpressVPN) inside the router, so as to browse anonymously. After connecting the new router to the modem, we access the control panel of the latter and disable Wi-Fi and all other useless settings (because they are now redundant); to facilitate the configuration, we bring the router’s IP into the modem’s DMZ, so that the firewall and NAT settings of the modem can be easily overcome.
After making this configuration, we access the configuration panel of the new router, activate the advanced settings (for example by clicking on the tab Advanced or selecting this mode in a dedicated drop-down menu) and take us to Internet settings, as shown in the image below.
From this screen, we click on the menu Internet connection type and select L2TP, so as to unlock the parameters needed to configure the VPN connection. Obviously the menus will be different depending on the router chosen, but the steps are practically the same.
Click on the same page IP Dynamic, we modify the Connection mode on Manual and we set MTU on 1460.
Now it’s time to configure the VPN account: we access our email address where the welcome email was sent to the chosen VPN service or we access its website (from another computer or from the smartphone) and retrieve the following information :
- IP Server VPN
This information is available in the section dedicated to the manual configuration of the VPN, also called L2TP-IPSec.
Once this valuable information has been obtained, let’s get back to the router L2TP configuration screen and enter it in the appropriate fields.
After entering the entries, scroll down the screen until you find the button Save, then we press on Connect to start the VPN. If the settings are correct, we will be able to browse on the Internet after a few seconds of waiting, using the VPN server set, using an IP completely different from that of our line (therefore in a completely anonymous way); to check the IP, we advise you to connect directly to the Mio IP site.
To exit the VPN connection, simply return to the screen and click Disconnect to turn off the service and browse normally with your personal IP.
If we look for other ways to hide our identity on the Internet and browse anonymously, we invite you to read our two guides Anonymous browsing on the internet with proxies, VPN and fake IP addresses is Download Tor Browser anonymous, Italian, portable.