VPN on Router vs. Computer? What is Best?

Updated on: 20 February 2019
Updated on:20 February 2019

Virtual Private Networks, also dubbed as VPNs, are becoming more and more necessary in this day and age when technology is at its peak. Cyber-attacks happen every step of the way, and you risk getting scammed without even realizing it.

Take public Wi-Fi networks installed in your run-of-the-mill café. They are the number one targets for hackers and trackers because they basically have no security systems in place.

The need for a solution quickly wormed its way across the internet, and this is how VPNs appeared.

Now, you have two choices when using such clients. You can install and use them on each individual device or you can encrypt your internet router directly with the VPNs encryption protocols to work for all devices.

However, is it really a good idea to do this? We’ll see about that.

Advantages of using a VPN on your router

Firstly, you can connect multiple devices like a PC, a phone, Smart TV, tablets, game consoles or other media device to your VPN service. Most importantly, you do this without individually setting up every device.

We all know how it can be quite a hassle to install the VPN client on each device, configure it, and then you also have to remember to boot up your VPN whenever you use the device.

Well, you can forget about that if you directly encrypt your router with the VPN’s protocols.

Secondly, absolute all the devices that you connect to the router will receive increased security and their internet connection will be encrypted according to the VPN’s protocols. It works with all devices, in other words.

This also includes devices that couldn’t normally allow for VPN connections. Things like a Smart TV, an Xbox One, Android boxes. It’s next to impossible to install VPN clients on them.

All in all, it would appear as though directly encrypting your router through a VPN increases efficiency above all. Moreover, it also accounts for any possible mishaps that might happen with each individual device.

But this is just one side of the coin. Let’s also talk about the downsides.

Disadvantages of using a VPN on your router

To start with, it is definitely costlier to find a good-enough router that will act as a VPN client should you encrypt it using such protocols. Many routers don’t actually have this feature, so you’ll need to acquire a newer one.

And let me tell you, those that are sturdy and complex enough to hold a VPN connection 24/7 tend to be much more expensive than your regular Linksys router.

The processing power you would need to run a VPN connection is not actually that large but only when you refer to computers. Their processors are designed to hold their own with plenty of simultaneous processes.

However, a router is much more simplistic because it only has to maintain one network connection, as well as directing some processing power toward making the necessary adjustments.

The manufacturers would have no reason whatsoever to put more expensive processors in routers if that’s all they do. However, with VPNs coming to the market, the need for better and more versatile routers appeared.

Secondly, you lack flexibility. On a computer, you would have the option to turn the VPN connection off whenever you so desired. However, you can’t do the same with routers.

Once you set it up to be encrypted with security protocols, you can’t undo this process. You can’t effectively turn the VPN off.

Now you might be asking “Why would I even want to do that in the first place? Deliberately making my connection vulnerable seems like a bad idea”.

And you would be right, for the most part. But what if you want to access a service that’s only provided in your home country? You obviously can’t do that while connected to the VPN because your IP will appear to originate from someplace else, the location of the server you’re currently using.

Thirdly, it should be no secret that connecting with multiple devices to the same VPN server will slow down your speed. And let’s not forget that an online security provider will decrease your internet speed by default.

From what I’ve read on Reddit and many other online forums, a VPN router will have an even more drastic decrease in performance. It will reach such a point that even your Android’s 3G connection will appear as lightning fast when compared to it.

Of course, it also depends on the servers as well. You might want to search one that can hold its own with multiple devices working at the same time.

Fourthly, you should also know that not all VPNs will give you this choice, to use their services with a router. Only the premium and most reliable online security providers will have this feature.

What this means is that you might be forced to go out of your means and subscribe to a more expensive VPN in order to use the VPN on router method.

Why the old-school method still reigns supreme

While using a VPN through the router might have its advantages, I would argue that the downsides are overwhelmingly more serious, to such a point that they’ll eliminate the efficiency boost you originally received.

Let’s see why installing a VPN client on your device directly, on a computer, in this case, is still the best way to go:

  • More customizable settings. You can switch between encryption protocols on the fly (PPTP, L2TP). You can also switch between UDP and TCP-type connections
  • The ability to turn it off or on whenever you want to. This gives you the choice to access geo-blocked content that’s only accessible in your country
  • In-built kill-switch that will eliminate any danger of having your IP revealed in the case of a sudden blackout

As for a list of the best VPNs on the market that I recommend, here they are:

  • NordVPN, the military-grade online security provider who comes with top-notch encryption protocols, more than 4500+ servers spread across 60 countries, and a superb DoubleVPN feature
  • IPVanish – just like the name says, it will make your IP address vanish altogether from the public sight. With countless security features at your fingertips, a SmartDNS option, excellent customer support, and killer prices, IPVanish will satisfy all your needs
  • CyberGhost – the Romania-based online security provider that has the highest server speeds on the market. Being based in Romania, it also doesn’t have to retain any logging data, and thus you are guaranteed to remain anonymous all the time. Your privacy will remain untouched at all times.

If I were to give you an advice, that would be to stick with the best the market has to offer. These three I just gave you make for the perfect options.

Written by: Alex Popa

Content writer and technology enthusiast. Alex discovered his love for writing not long ago, one that deepens with each written article. Tech subjects are right up his alley, and as he strives to perfect his craft, even more, his journey through the cyber-world leads to many interesting topics that he approaches with the skill and passion of an avid learner. He’s decided to put his ability to good use and share any digital novelties he comes across.

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