Tag Archives: Routers

Should You Use a VPN with a Router or Your Devices?

Many home routers have VPN features built-in. The question is, should you use them?

In years past, the ability to configure your router to use a VPN was seen as a premium feature. It was found in top-end models and routers for business exclusively. Since VPNs have become so popular for everyday use, it’s now easy to find VPN-ready home routers.

Tech writers often love the idea of using VPNs with routers. After all, why wouldn’t you want to skip installing VPN software on each device? To many, leveraging a VPN at the router level is an exciting option. It’s convenient, and in many ways, it’s easier to manage. However, it isn’t always the best approach.

Ways to Use Your VPN

First, let’s look at the alternatives. There are two primary ways to enable a VPN on your devices:

  1. Install VPN apps on each device and manage them individually
  2. Install a VPN on your router so that every device goes through a VPN

The purpose of this article is to walk you through the pros and cons of these two approaches so you can determine what works best for you.

You may opt to use a VPN extension with your web browser but that won’t be a focus here.

Lastly, have a look at LetMeBy’s top VPN picks if you’re researching the services out there.

Pros and Cons of Using a VPN with Your Router


1. No VPN Software is Required

By using your router to manage your VPN you save yourself time upfront.

Most households have tons of devices: from smart TVs and game consoles, to smartphones. And your router admin panel allows you to manage everything in one place. All devices are protected by the VPN whether that device supports VPN software or not.

2. Better for Parents and Families

If you have teens or elderly family members in the home, it allows you to protect their smartphones or laptops without interfering too much.

Family members may not see the importance of using a VPN, but they won’t protest if their device automatically connects to it.


1. It’s a One Size Fits All Solution

Whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Dropbox, each online service has its own policy about VPNs. Sometimes VPNs are approved of, sometimes they’re tolerated, and sometimes the service won’t function with it enabled.

Thus, enabling a VPN across your entire home network can make managing it with precision challenging. For example, if you want to disable the VPN to use a certain service, you’ll need to disable it across all devices via the router. And if other people in the house are using a device at the same time, they won’t be protected by the VPN.

2. Limited Access to the VPN’s Features

Routers with VPN features allow you to log in and use your VPN and that’s pretty much it.

If you want to change your IP address, switch to a different type of encryption, or see a map with all the available server locations marked on a map, you’ll need to access the VPN’s admin panel online.

3. Best for Tech Savvy Users

The software packaged with many routers such as Asus’ Merlin or DD-WRT makes it fairly painless to disable a VPN. It typically comes down to accessing the advanced settings and clicking a button.

Still, that means each user in your home will need access to the router settings. And you may not want to grant them that. Additionally, not everyone will be comfortable with drilling down into advanced settings. At the end of the day, this approach is best for tech savvy people.

Pros and Cons of Using a VPN App


1. Full Control of VPN on Each Device

There are so many scenarios in which it’s best to install VPN software on each device. Maybe you don’t want or need it on every device. Maybe you use a VPN for work exclusively and only need to install it on your laptop.

Leveraging software allows you to enable or disable the VPN on that device only. For example, if you want to watch Netflix on your home theater PC and need to turn off your VPN to continue, it makes sense to disable it on that one device rather than the entire network.

2. Access to Advanced Features and VPN User Interface

The top VPN services have amazing apps! They take something highly technical and make it look straightforward with a clean user interface.

It’s great to have access to a map that shows you where your VPN’s IP address is located. You can also change the IP, region, or country, easily from the app. None of that is possible when the VPN is configured at the router level, not to mention other advanced features.


1. More Apps and More Management Tasks

Each individual in a household typically has at least a few devices. And for efficiency’s sake, the fewer apps you need to install on them the better.

Installing VPN software is easy enough. And then you upgrade your phone, or have to reinstall your operating system on your PC. The time you spend managing software on several devices is often underestimated.

2. Not Ideal for Managing a Network for the Entire Family

If you handle the IT tasks in your family, you need to be able to manage as much of it as you can from one place.

Installing VPN software on each device is great if they’re all yours, but in situations where many devices in the home belong to family members, it’s nice to give them the benefits of a VPN without interfering with how they use their technology.

It’s Best to Use a VPN but It’s Not Always Practical

Most people use online services offered by major corporations every day. Some of our online activity is consequently tracked. It happens when we play online video games, when we check our email, and when we stream movies.

People naturally want as much online privacy as they can get. However, companies need to know certain things about their customers to operate. As a result, using a VPN with some online services isn’t always advisable.

Using a VPN can result in getting a message from an online service that tells you to disable it. Or the VPN can interfere with some of the functionality of apps.

Thus, it’s important that you can quickly and easily enable and disable your VPN.

Here are two examples of scenarios where you would want to turn off your VPN on the fly.

Netflix has cracked down on more than password-sharing. The video streaming services is also aware that people use VPNs to view content intended for countries different than their own. Some VPNs aren’t detected by Netflix. However, you could also get a message like this:

“You seem to be using a VPN or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”

Online games like Fortnite can also detect if you’re using a VPN and could ask you to turn it off to continue. The reason for this is its developer, Epic Games, needs to do everything it can to stop cheating in the game and to keep banned players out. Most people use VPNs to gain better online privacy but some gamers use VPNs to bend the rules.


When you have a router with VPN features it’s tempting to go in that direction. However, just as many people and households are better served by using VPN software instead.

Remind yourself that one approach isn’t better than the other when reviewing the pros and cons. It all comes down to your usage patterns and needs.

Check out LetMeBy’s roundup of the top VPN-ready routers. And if you want better online privacy on the road, see the roundup of the best mobile Wi-Fi routers.

The 5 Best VPN-Ready Travel Routers

Fast and reliable internet is a must for travelers. It’s needed for tasks such as booking hotel rooms, flights, and tours. And it just makes life better when you need directions or restaurant reviews. Plus, most like to stay in contact with loved ones back home.

Wi-Fi hotspots are everywhere today, from hotels to airports to cozy cafes. It’s wonderfully convenient but it also tends to give travelers a false sense of security. Public Wi-Fi can be slow, spotty, and lacking in security.

That’s where portable Wi-Fi hotspots come in. Rather than dealing with Wi-Fi frustrations travelers can now grab the bull by the horns.

A travel router is a compact device that can easily be packed in a suitcase. And depending on its features it solves common Wi-Fi issues people encounter on a trip.

Travel routers have three main uses:

  • Extend the range of an existing Wi-Fi network
  • Create a new Wi-Fi hotspot by connecting to a mobile network
  • Make a gateway for multiple devices to connect to a network when fewer connections are permitted

Extend the Range of an Existing Wi-Fi Network

Distance from a router is one of the most important factors determining the speed and reliability of an internet connection. Thus, when staying at a hotel it’s luck of the draw. You could find yourself very close or very far away from its Wi-Fi hotspot.

Travel routers that are range extenders amplify the signal of the main router. It can buy you a couple of bars of signal strength on all your devices.

Create a New Wi-Fi Hotspot

Not all public hotspots are secure. In fact, if the network connection isn’t encrypted it can expose you to threats such as theft of private data. Although it’s tempting to tap on a social media app and post the photos you just took at the beach it isn’t always worth the risk.

Creating a hotspot with a travel router gives you a secure access point to connect your devices to. It also grants you full control of your own network rather than dealing with the weaknesses of public Wi-Fi.

Make a Gateway for Multiple Devices to Connect to a Network

It’s common for hotels to limit the number of devices that can connect to their Wi-Fi with one access code.

For the gadget-obsessed or people that need to get things done, it’s worth the effort to consolidate all devices into one connection to the network. By connecting devices to a travel router rather than directly, you can essentially use as many devices as you want.

How to Use a VPN with a Travel Router

There are two big players in travel routers: GL.iNet and TP-Link. Both are easy to use with a VPN. You’ll want to make sure your travel router and VPN service both support the same VPN protocols.

To get the details on VPN services, see LetMeBy’s guide to the top 3 VPNs here.

GL.iNet Routers

GL.iNet’s product line supports VPN services that are compatible with OpenVPN and Wireguard out of the box. OpenVPN and Wireguard are VPN protocols used by VPN service providers. The admin panel included with GL.iNet routers allows you to connect to a VPN efficiently.

TP-Link Routers

Although TP-Link doesn’t emphasize it on its product pages there are robust VPN configuration options under the hood of its routers. TP-Link travel routers support OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec protocols. TP-Link doesn’t require that you download VPN software as you can enter the login details provided by your VPN service provider directly in the router admin panel.

The Best Travel Routers

Most travel routers are super compact, inexpensive, and offer a lot of features to boot. All the routers listed below allow you to either create a new access point or extend the range of an existing Wi-Fi network.

If you want the fastest speeds available, that’s when the prices move up. High-end offerings from GL.iNet such as the GL-MT3000 feature both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi connectivity.

TP-Link AC750 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router (TL-WR902AC) [Amazon]

If you want the best value this is the one. And it’s probably the top pick for most people. The TP-Link AC750 is significantly faster than many entry-level models out there yet only a bit higher in price.

It has a data transfer rate of 750 Mb per second as its name implies. That might not be quite as fast as you’re used to at home or at the office but for such a small router it’s well above average.

GL.iNet GL-MT3000 (Beryl AX) Pocket-Sized Wi-Fi 6 Wireless Travel Gigabit Router [Amazon]

If you want the fastest connection possible, you’ll want to look at this model from GL.iNet first. It’s the only travel router in this roundup that uses the 802.11ax standard. By connecting to its 5GHz band it can reach speeds of a theoretical maximum of 2402 Mb per second.

The only downside is it’s a good bump up in price from your typical travel router.

GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 (Mango) Portable Mini Travel Wireless Pocket VPN Router [Amazon]

Those who love tropical locations may want to order the mango. All jokes aside this model from GL.iNet has antennas inside the unit rather than outside. That can be an advantage because that’s two fewer things to break or get detached and lost. Thus, this is sort of the sport edition of GL.iNet’s travel router lineup.

Its data transfer speed is 300 Mbps (2.4 GHz) which is standard for its price point.

TP-Link N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router (TL-WR802N) [Amazon]

This option won’t wow you in terms of speed or features. Its modest price and the fact it’s made by a reputable company are two of its biggest draws.

TP-Link isn’t just a big name in travel routers. It’s a big name in routers period. It shows when it comes to their software which is clean and easy to set up. The N300 uses advanced encryption so it provides an inexpensive way to create a secure network.

GL.iNet GL-AR300M16-Ext Portable Mini Travel Wireless Pocket Router [Amazon]

Want an extremely compact unit with antennas? This puppy has detachable antennas which makes it easy to pack yet effective at transmitting Wi-Fi signals.

Its CPU runs at 650 MHz which is a touch faster than the comparable GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 (Mango). Also, it has EAP support while other models in this range don’t. EAP is an authentication framework, and it’s a nice security feature to have. Its data transfer speed is 300 Mbps (2.4 GHz) as you’d expect for such a small, lightweight unit.


Travel routers have become a must for digital nomads, business people, and filmmakers, just to name a few.

The last thing you want when you need to get things done is a spotty Wi-Fi connection. You may not always need it but packing a travel router gives you insurance so that you can find solutions to internet issues as they arise.

Top VPN-Ready Routers for Your Home Network

Once the domain of networking specialists in a business setting, routers with VPN capabilities built-in are now accessible to everyone.

There are other options for enabling a VPN at the router level. However none are as elegant for the average home user or small business.

You can buy a router from FlashRouters with business-class DD-WRT firmware installed for you or install it yourself. However going this direction isn’t recommended unless you are comfortable with the added complexity it will add to running a home network.

For most people it makes more sense to choose a hardware solution with simple, intuitive firmware that is VPN-ready out of the box.

VPN-Friendly Brands

Many of the top router brands are lagging behind by failing to add VPN features to their products aimed at consumers. Asus and Synology are the exception. Both are consistently releasing feature-rich routers that allow you to easily connect to a VPN service.

This guide focuses on the brands that offer VPN features across their product line. This empowers you to choose a specific router based on your needs. And to make things easier a “top pick” was chosen from both Asus and Synology camps.

Router You Need vs. One You Want

Accessing the Internet through a VPN uses up more of the router’s resources than a regular connection. Consequently, pay special attention to the CPU specs. A dual core processor running at 800 MHz or greater is recommended. This is to ensure the router CPU doesn’t bottleneck the performance of web-browsing, torrents, and downloads.

You need a capable router if you plan to use a VPN, but if taken too far you’ll overpay for a router with horsepower you’ll never tap into. If you live in a very large house, have a big family and/or ISP offering a bleeding-edge connection speed, going high-end may be worth it. However, you don’t need one of the beefiest models just to connect to a VPN.

Asus Wi-Fi Routers

With competitive prices, a wide selection of routers, and deep VPN capabilities across the board, Asus is a good place to start your search.

AsusWRT is the stock firmware preinstalled on Asus routers. It supports OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP encryption protocols.

Although not as cutting-edge on the software side as Synology, Asus knows hardware. They’ve been a major player in computer hardware since 1989.

Asus RT-AC68U (AC1900) (800 MHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Asus RT-AC3200 (1.0 GHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Asus RT-AC3100 (1.4 GHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Asus RT-AC5300 (1.4 GHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Asus RT-AC86U (AC2900) (1.8 GHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Asus GT-AC5300 (1.8 GHz – quad core with AES-NI) [Amazon]

Top Pick: Asus RT-AC86U

Despite its playful exterior meant to appeal to gamers, this is a serious router. It’s powerful enough to cover very large homes and brings cutting-edge tech to the masses.

Asus boasts blistering data transfer speeds up to 2900 Mbps. The Wi-Fi signal is transmitted dual-band (2.4 + 5 GHz) via the latest 802.11ac MU-MIMO technology. That’s an impressive feat considering the reasonable price point.

Inside there’s a 1.8 GHz dual core processor, 512 MB of RAM, plus 256 MB of flash storage.

Synology Wi-Fi Routers

Synology is primarily known for their excellent NAS solutions. Nevertheless the company managed to impress tech enthusiasts with their first router, the RT1900AC, and they’ve built upon that foundation by adding the powerhouse RT2600AC and then mesh-friendly MR2200AC.

The easy-to-navigate Synology Control Panel allows you to painlessly setup and connect to a VPN service. There is comprehensive protocol support, which includes OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec.

This interface is like a sleek mini-OS dedicated to your router. And it’s a fresh yet familiar approach.

Synology RT1900AC (1.0 GHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Synology MR2200AC (717 MHz – quad core) [Amazon]

Synology RT2600AC (1.7 GHz – dual core) [Amazon]

Top Pick: Synology RT2600AC

The RT2600AC is Synology’s flagship. It improves on their first router the RT1900AC in every way. A formidable unit and with four antennas, the gargantuan appearance is matched by good performance.

MU-MIMO and the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 standard is supported, giving the router a top speed of 800Mbps and 1733Mbps on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios respectively.

It’s powered by a dual core 1.7 GHz CPU and has 512 MB of DDR3 memory.

Wrapping It Up

Home users are ready for routers with VPN features, but open-source firmware solutions like DD-WRT may not be ready for them. That’s because technical know-how is still needed to gain the rich feature set.

Asus and Synology have managed to balance ease-of-use with advanced features. So while many are focused on router hardware specs, the importance of superior firmware can’t be ignored.