how to setup a vpn

Creating Your Own VPN & How To Set Up A VPN

Last updated on June 10, 2021

It hasn’t been a smooth ride on the internet looking back at the last few years. Users have been reading about scandals like the Facebook data breach or the Microsoft webmail breach that allowed hackers to access not only addresses, and subject lines, but also some of the contents of user emails. It is no surprise then, that there has been an increase in the use of VPNs all over the world.

VPNs are excellent tools for keeping users anonymous online as well as allowing you to access geo-blocked content and get around ISP throttling. With so many options out there, many people are wondering how to create a VPN and have their own home VPN server instead of paying for a subscription. Below, you will find everything you need to know about DIY VPNs.

How to Set up a VPN: Three Different Options

#1 How to Set up a VPN on a VPN-Compatible Router

If you want to know how to create a VPN or set up a VPN, the easiest option of the three is to get your hands on a VPN-compatible router. Many routers will have built-in functionality which allows them to act as a VPN server. This does make them a little more pricey than the alternative, but it will save you time when it comes to setting up your own home VPN. When deciding between the routers, it is optimal to purchase one that is compatible with your preferred VPN protocols.

Step by step guide to setting up a pre-configured router:

  1.   Open up your browser of choice.
  2.   Go to the search bar and insert your router’s LAN IP address.
  3.   Enter the username of the router and then the password.
  4.   Head to the Settings menu.
  5.   Choose the VPN Service option (which is sometimes located in the Advanced Settings menu).
  6.   Enable the VPN Service.
  7.   Head to your settings to make sure all clients can use the home network and all internet sites through the VPN connection.
  8.   When you’re happy with the settings, click the ‘Apply’ button in order to save them.
  9.   Go to the control panel of your router and download your VPN client’s configuration files.
  10. Unzip all configuration files then copy them to the client folder on the device you wish to connect to the VPN.
  11. Prior connecting to your home network, run a test to check for any leaks.
  12. Go ahead and connect the VPN to your home network.

#2 How to Use a Router With DD-WRT Support

Here’s another way to set up VPN. If you cannot get your hands on a pre-configured router, you can always mimic one by way of using firmware which supports VPN server creation. Know that there are many options that you can choose from other than DD-WRT including OpenWRT. When setting up this option make sure you follow the instructions properly so as to avoid any errors.

Step by step guide to setting up DD-WRT on your router:

  1. Ensure that your router can support DD-WRT by checking out DD-WRT’s database of routers.
  2. As soon as you’ve established compatibility, download the firmware file onto your device.
  3. Take an ethernet cable and insert one end of it into your computer’s LAN port and the other end into the router’s LAN port. Be sure that your router is plugged into its power source.
  4. Open up your browser of choice.
  5. Go to the search bar and insert your routers LAN IP address.
  6. Enter the username of the router as well as the password.
  7. Go to the control panel of the router and open your Settings menu.
  8. In the Settings menu, find the option of ‘Router Update’ or ‘Router Upgrade’.
  9. Head to the DD-RWT website and find the instructions specifically catered to your router (this is found on the ‘Hardware Specific’ section of the site).
  10. Install the firmware onto your router.
  11. Restart your router and repeat steps 4 through 6.
  12. Go to the control panel.
  13. In the router’s web interface, locate the ‘Wireless’ tab, and click on it.
  14. Find the VPN or VPN Settings menu and enable OpenVPN.
  15. Set the VPN server with its clients. This part is quite complex, and not suitable for amateur users. Head back to the DD-WRT website and locate the step by step instructions.

#3 How to Set up a VPN With Your Computer

If you are unable to get a hold of a compatible router or you just don’t want to use your router in order to create your home VPN, you can also use your computer. While it is an option, we don’t recommend for people to take on this task unless they are advanced users as it can be pretty difficult to carry out.

There are a few disadvantages of this option, one of which is that to access the VPN, you will have to have your computer stay on all of the time. For these instructions, we will be using Windows 10.

Step-by-step guide to setting up your home computer

  1. Open up your Settings menu and go to the VPN section.
  2. Adjust your firewall settings to permit incoming connections and set up port forwarding.
  3. Download and install OpenVPN for Windows. During the installation, when the ‘Choose Components’ box appears, be sure to tick the ‘EasyRSA’ box (a tool allowing you to create certificate authorities as well as request & sign them).
  4. Follow the prompts in order to install the TAP drivers.
  5. Configure EasyRSA.
  6. Generate the certificates for VPN clients as well as configuration files for the VPN server and its clients.
  7. Using the generated configuration files, configure each VPN client.
  8. Connect to the VPN server from the VPN client device.
  9. Run tests to check for any leaks.

Why You Might Want to Set up Your Own VPN

There are a couple of reasons why you might want to set up a VPN server of your own. You should remember, however, that this isn’t the solution for every user, so let’s dive in and find out why you might need this.

Taking full control of your own data

There are many excellent VPNs out there that offer users an easy alternative to setting up a home VPN, and although there are a few true zero-logs VPNs on the market, the truth is all of them will collect some sort of information, including your payment information. A truly anonymous online connection is one that is run through a private VPN server, like the one in your home.

You Wish to Access your Web Connection from Another Location

People who would benefit from a home VPN include those with small businesses as well as people who are constantly traveling. Small business owners can allow employees to access the private VPN network even when outside the office. Those that travel often will afford themselves the ability to access websites and content from their home country otherwise not available in some regions.

You Want to Know More About How VPNs Work

Users have the ability to set up a VPN in their home through a number of channels that are listed above. This process lets you fine-tune your VPN experience as well as save on costs.

Why it Might not be Worthwhile to Create a DIY Home VPN

You Won’t Be Able to Access All Content

Earlier we mentioned that travelers will be able to access content that is available in their country. This means that you will not be able to unblock websites and platforms that are available elsewhere. If you are from the United States, you will not be able to login to things like BBC iPlayer or Sky Go as you need to connect to a UK server. Commercial VPNs are great as they offer the flexibility of connecting to servers all over the globe, which is one of their biggest selling points.

Warning: Technical Roadblocks Ahead

Paid VPNs have custom apps designed for various platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux just to name a few. When setting up a home VPN, you will have to configure each of your devices manually. This not only takes time but advanced technical knowledge.

There are No Shared IP Addresses

Another highlight of using a commercial VPN is that they often come with shared IP addresses. This allows multiple users to connect to the same VPN server essentially using the same IP address as you. This confuses any third parties which might be attempting to monitor your internet data patterns.

When you set up your home VPN, you will most likely be the only one using that IP address. Should anyone get their hands on your VPN IP address, you would no longer enjoy the benefits of internet anonymity. You can get around this by changing up your IP address regularly, but that is a process that takes quite a bit of work and technical knowhow.

The Best VPNs you can Buy

#1 ExpressVPN

When finding an alternative to a home VPN, we cannot go past ExpressVPN. Offering more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations around the world, you will be able to connect to virtually any location and access content from around the globe.

This VPN is compatible with various platforms including Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Apple TV or Fire TV Stick, and your router. ExpressVPN has jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands which allows the company to only collect minimal data from you.

You can connect as many as five devices simultaneously as well as rely on round the clock customer service. Military-grade encryption accompanied with OpenVPN, DNS leak blocking, five-party DNS, IPV6 leak blocking, webRTC leak blocking, as well as a Network Lock in terms of security.

Installing ExpressVPN takes just minutes and you can pay for your subscription with cryptocurrencies bringing your anonymity up a notch.

ExpressVPN also offers a special deal, get 3 months free and 49% savings with their annual subscription plan!

Want to know more about ExpressVPN? Find out everything you need to know in our detailed review.

#2 CyberGhost

This is another excellent choice if you don’t fancy yourself a technical genius in order to create a home VPN. Compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, as well as your router, CyberGhost is great as it allows you to piggyback your connection from other devices that are also running the CyberGhost app like your laptop or your smartphone.

CyberGhost is based in Romania, which is a country that has rendered its laws unconstitutional meaning it doesn’t have to comply with GDPR laws within Europe. It is big on privacy, providing users with a transparency report found on the CyberGhost website.

Want to find out more? Check out the full review here.

#3 Surfshark

Surfshark has been growing its servers in just over a year, going from 100 servers to more than 1,000 servers worldwide. It has jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands and ensures users that it will never “ collect IP addresses, browsing history, session information, used bandwidth, connection time stamps, network traffic, and other similar data.”

Security protocols are excellent with Surfshark, offering IKEv2, OpenVPN and military-grade encryption as well as MultiHop, an extra feature that allows users to connect to more than one server simultaneously. Other features include CleanWeb, which acts as a free ad-blocker and also protects you from malware and phishing attacks.

Surfshark is a winner in our books as it allows users unlimited simultaneous connections so you can protect all of your devices at once.

Want to find out more? Check out the full review here.

#4 ZenMate

According to ZenMate, there are more than 43 million people around the world that rely on its VPN services. ZenMate has hundreds of servers in 35 countries and is compatible with all major platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.

There are robust security protocols for all desktop clients which includes military-grade encryption as well as DNS leak protection and a kill switch, but mobile users have 128-bit encryption technology, which is slightly less effective.

While ZenMate is a solid choice of VPN, it doesn’t come with round the clock online chat assistance, but if you need help, you should get a reply to your query within a few hours.

#5 ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is a great VPN provider for those who like extra security. It comes from the people that created the largest encrypted emailing service ProtonMail, so when it comes to security, they know their stuff. Their protocols include AES-256, highly secure IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN and none of the ProtonVPN servers use the less secure PPTP or IPSec. On top of that, ProtonVPN manages and owns all of its servers which allows it to connect to the internet by using its own network.

This Swiss provider offers a true zero-logs privacy policy and also offers a freemium service that has been voted as one of the best free VPN plans available. You can secure one device with server locations found in the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan. The best part about the free plan is that it has no bandwidth restrictions and all you need to get started is an active email address.

Want to find out more? Check out the full review here.

Conclusion To How To Create A VPN

There are some advantages when it comes to using a home VPN including accessing websites that are available in your home country, securing the online activity of your small business, and learning more about how a VPN functions, but it does come with its own restrictions.

The real truth is, you need to have a lot of tech experience to install one of these VPNs and a lot of the time, the negatives outweigh the positives. Users will only be able to access content that is available in their region and cannot jump from one server location to another at free will as you would with a commercial VPN. You also will not reap the rewards of a shared IP address, allowing you to become vulnerable online.

All in all, it’s a tricky process that might not provide you with the answers you are looking for. This is why we prefer the ease of subscribing to a reliable VPN service. One such example is ExpressVPN, which takes just minutes to get going, is perfect for beginners and advanced users.

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