If you’ve just upgraded your router to a modern TP-Link router you’re probably going to be enjoying increased internet speeds and a more reliable WiFi connection. However, before you start streaming and downloading media throughout your home, you should learn how to safeguard your internet browsing habits by installing a VPN on TP-Link routers.

What are VPNs and Why are They Useful?

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are software solutions that help you remain anonymous when browsing the internet, streaming content through Plex and Kodi, and downloading media. By encrypting your web traffic and obfuscating your IP address, VPNs like IPVanish help you keep your activity private from those who would throttle your Netflix streams, monitor your torrenting activity, or try to hack you over public WiFi.

Installing a VPN directly onto router is one of the best ways to secure your connection. Doing so allows you to encrypt all web traffic that’s sent through your router. This means that regardless of the device you’re using (phone, computer, set-top box, etc), all the traffic you pass through your WiFi hotspot will be encrypted.

Our guide will walk you through the installation process of adding a VPN to your TP-Link router. 

How to Setup a VPN on TP-Link Routers

When it comes to choosing a VPN to install on TP-Link routers, you have a lot of options. There are hundreds of VPN companies out there. However, not all VPNs may offer the features you need.

Some VPNs have slow connections and bandwidth caps, and yet others may log your traffic.

At AddonHQ, IPVanish is our VPN of choice. With apps available for Windows, PC, and mobile devices, IPVanish is flexible and powerful and offers advanced customization options that make it a fantastic choice for VPN power-users.

Of course, IPVanish isn’t the only VPN that can be set up on TP-Link routers. Other solid choices would include services like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, PrivateInternetAccess.

However, we’ll be performing this walkthrough using IPVanish – and since IPVanish offers a 7-day money back guarantee, you can try it out for free, and follow the installation instructions in this guide. If you don’t like it, you can always cancel your subscription.

Method 1: Configuring IPVanish for OpenVPN on a DD-WRT v3 TP-Link Router

OpenVPN is the most widely used VPN protocol, so it will be our preferred method for setting up DD-WRT v3 routers to use IPVanish. However, you can also use PPTP VPN routing. We’ll discuss that method in a later section of this guide.

Step 1: Getting Started, Logging In, and First Steps

This walkthrough will take you through the installation process for installing IPVanish on a TP-Link router running DD-WRT v3. DD-WRT v3 is a third-party router software that provides advanced configuration tools and is required to use IPVanish on your TP-Link router.

If you have installed DD-WRT on your router in the past, but aren’t sure what version you’re using, you’ll need to update your installation. You can find your router on the router database at DD-WRT, and update it accordingly accordingly. For installation instructions, you can consult the DD-WRT wiki, where you’ll find step-by-step installation instructions for most compatible TP-Link routers.

NOTE: The installation of third-party router software such as DD-WRT v3 is inherently dangerous. Incorrect installation can result in “bricking” of your router. Install third-party software at your own risk.

You will need the following 3 things to continue:

  • An IPVanish account
  • An internet connection
  • A DD-WRT compatible router running v3.

Ready? Let’s get started!

  1. Begin by navigating to the DD-WRT Administration Page. This is usually located at the IP address http://192.168.1.1.
  2. Click the services tab from the navigation area. Enter your username and password.
  3. Ensure that the NTP client is enabled, and has been set to the correct time zone, as seen in the below screenshot – this helps eliminate compatibility issues.
  4. From this screen, you can also add static DNS addresses. You’ll want to add the following 2 static DNS addresses: 198.18.0.1 and 8.8.8.8. See the screenshot below for an example of how this should look.

    ipvanish dd-wrt settings
    Source: IPVanish. Initial configuration settings.
  5. Next, we’ll want to enable system logging. This will help you catch errors during setup, and allow you to get support from IPVanish in case you can’t set up your VPN. Go to the services tab and click the enable system logging button, as seen in the screenshot below.
Source: IPVanish. The location of the system log button in the configuration settings.7

6. Click save to save the changes that you’ve made to these configuration files.

Step 2: Configuring Your VPN

Now that we’ve enabled logs and ensured that you have the correct static DNS addresses, it’s time to begin VPN setup.

NOTE: It’s important to follow these instructions very carefully. Missing any step of the process will result in a failure to establish a VPN tunnel.

  1. Navigate to Services, and click the VPN tab. Within this menu, select Start OpenVPN Client > Enable. You should see a large menu of configuration options below. Carefully follow the following directions.
  2. Under Server/IP Name, you’ll want to enter the IPVanish host you’re connecting to – for example, if you want to connect to VPN server in Chicago, you’d enter chi-a23.ipvanish.com
  3. Under Port, enter 443
  4. Under Tunnel Protocol, select the drop-down menu, and select TCP
  5. Under Tunnel Device, click the drop-down menu. Select TUN
  6. Select Encryption Cypher, and choose AES-256-CBC.
  7. Click Hash Algorithm. Select the drop-down menu, and choose SHA256
  8. Under User Pass Authentication, select Enable
  9. Enter your IPVanish credentials in the boxes labeled Username and Password
  10. Advanced Options – Tick the button labeled Enable
  11. Under the TLS Cipher menu, select None
  12. Under the LZO Compression menu, choose adaptive
  13. Under NAT, select Enable
  14. nsCertType Verification – No action required

Next, you’ll need to copy the following settings:

persist-key

persist-tun

persist-remote-ip

keysize 256

remote-cert-tls server

And paste them into the field marked Additional Config. After that, you’ll need to copy the contents of this IPVanish Certificate into the box labeled CA CERT. Here’s a screenshot of what your final setup screen should look like.

ipvanish dd-wrt configuration
Source: IPVanish. Final configuration options for the IPVanish VPN.

Save and Apply these settings. Return to the main Administration tab, and locate Reboot, which is at the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Checking Your VPN Connection

After you’ve successfully rebooted your router, you should be connected to IPVanish. You can verify this by navigating back to your DD-WRT administration panel, logging in, and navigating to the Status/OpenVPN tab. Check the State status – if it says CONNECTED SUCCESS, then you’ve successfully connected to IPVanish, as seen below.

VPN connection status dd-wrt
Source: IPVanish. An example of a successful VPN connection.

Alternatively, you can use the IPVanish check IP page. If you set up your VPN successfully, your location should be in whichever city you selected when choosing a VPN server during initial configuration.

That’s it! If you’ve followed these instructions, you’re ready to browse the internet safely on all of your devices! From smartphones to computers, home theater systems, and more, all of your web traffic will be encrypted by IPVanish, and you’ll less vulnerable both to government snooping, and ISPs who may monitor your web traffic.

Method 2: Configuring IPVanish for PPTP on a DD-WRT v3 TP-Link Router

While PPTP is generally slower and less secure than OpenVPN, it’s certainly usable if you don’t want to bother with the more complex process of using OpenVPN on your DD-WRT TP-Link router. Here’s how to install IPVanish on TP-Link routers using PPTP.

Step 1: Initial Setup

The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that no other VPN settings are enabled on your router.

If you have previously used another VPN service that employs startup scripts, you may want to reset your router to factory settings, otherwise, you may have trouble setting up IPVanish. To do so, you can usually hold the “reset” button on the router for 30 seconds, until the lights on the router flash on and off. This will clear all of your router settings, restoring it to factory defaults.

  1. Navigate to your DD-WRT Administration page with your web browser of choice. The default address is http://192.168.1.1. Enter this into your web browser as seen in the below screenshot.
DD-WRT PPTP Login
Source: IPVanish. The login page for DD-WRT.
  1. Next, navigate to the Setup tab from the navigation area. You’ll be asked for your login credentials, so enter your username and password to continue.
  2. Navigate to Basic Setup, located directly underneath the Setup tab in your DD-WRT settings.

Step 2: VPN Configuration

  1. In the main WAN Setup field, change the connection type to PPTP using the drop-down menu, as shown in the below screenshot.
PPTP VPN setup login admin
Source: IPVanish. The administrator login screen for DD-WRT settings.
  • Next, select Yes for the Use DHCP option.
  • Fill in your desired server in the Gateway (PPTP Server) field. You can find a list of IPVanish servers here. If we use the same server we did in our OpenVPN guide, we would enter chi-a23.ipvanish.com to connect to the Chicago IPVanish server.
  • Enter your valid IPVanish credentials in the User Name and Password field.
  • Set Connection Strategy to Keep Alive. Your Redial Period should be set to 20 Sec.
  • Packet Reordering should be disabled by default, but if it isn’t, Disable it.
  • Save your settings. Below is an example of how they should look.
PPTP IPVanish VPN settings
Source: IPVanish. An example of proper PPTP configuration.

Step 3: Reboot Router, Confirm Connection

Next, you’ll be rebooting your router to confirm your changes, and ensure that you’ve correctly connected to IPVanish using the PPTP protocol.

  1. Navigate back to the Administration tab of your DD-WRT control panel. Select Management from the top tabs. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and select Reboot Router to reboot your DD-WRT router remotely. Alternatively, you can simply disconnect it from its power source, but this can cause some configuration issues, so we recommend this method.
  2. Wait for your router to reboot. This can take several minutes.
  3. Once your router has rebooted, log back into your DD-WRT control panel using http://192.168.1.1, or whatever static IP you have set. Log in using your administrative credentials.
  4. View the status of your connection by navigating to the Status tab on the far-right of your administration panel. Select the WAN tab below.
  5. Check the Gateway that you’re connected to. If you have established a secure connection, this should be the IP address of your selected IPVanish server. Your Login status should also read Connected. Below is an example screenshot.

    VPN connection status IPVanish DD-WRT
    Source: IPVanish. A successful VPN connection using PPTP.
  6. Alternatively, you can use a service like IPLocation to check the geographical location of your IP address. If your IP address shows up correctly – as Chicago IP address when using the Chicago IPVanish server, for example – you have successfully set up your PPTP VPN.

That’s it! If you followed these instructions, you should be logged in and ready to browse the internet safely on your TP-Link router, using PPTP VPN tunneling!

Why Should I Set Up a VPN on my TP-Link Router?

If you’ve read through these guides, you’ll see that configuring your router to use PPTP or OpenVPN tunneling is a technically-intensive process. So what are the benefits of using a VPN directly from your router? There are two primary benefits.

First, a router-based VPN provides automatic encryption for all of your devices. Whether you’re using a Smart TV, a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other device, it’s automatically encrypted by your VPN.

By removing the requirement to use software applications to encrypt your web traffic, a router-based VPN can secure every device in your home automatically. This can allow you to do things like circumvent internet throttling, and stay safe while torrenting.

Second, when you install a VPN on your router, you won’t have to worry about turning it on and off. You’ll always be connected to a VPN server – no more worrying about turning on your VPN every time you start using your computer or your mobile device.

So while setting up a VPN on your TP-Link router is certainly an involved process, many VPN users find it to be worth it.

Follow This Guide on How to Install a VPN on TP-Link Routers, and Enhance Your Internet Security.

With this simple, step-by-step guide, you should be able to install IPVanish on any TP-Link router that’s running DD-WRT v3 – whether you prefer the speed and robust encryption of OpenVPN protocol, or the easier to set up PPTP tunneling protocol. So follow these instructions, get set up with IPVanish on your TP-Link router, and browse the web safely and securely! 

Eric Liston is a freelance writer and tech enthusiast based in Ohio, specializing in internet security, cord-cutting, and more.