Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How to set up a VPN on a router: Internet without restrictions

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The Internet, filled with the spirit of freedom, is becoming more and more controlled – providers block everything at their discretion, search engines monitor your every move, and attackers are not asleep. Not surprisingly, many are thinking about how to get around the restrictions by returning to the days of the “free Internet”. And a VPN is one of those ways.

What is a VPN and why is it needed
VPN (Virtual Private Network, virtual private network) is a technology that allows you to organize a local network on top of another network (most often the Internet). To clarify, let’s take an example. Let’s say you’re an active duty soldier and you want to write a letter to a girl. You are not going to give away any secrets, but you will certainly be unpleasant that your correspondence will be read by military censors. Therefore, you go to ensign Semyonov and agree with him that he will send your letters from the city mailbox. Semyonov also suggests that the girl write answers to the address of his city apartment, and he will carry these letters to you. Thus, the ensign organized a virtual private mail on top of regular mail.

VPN services do the same thing, replacing your IP address with the address of their server, often located in another country. The traffic between you and the VPN server is encrypted, so no one, not even your ISP, can tell which sites you went to and what you did there. The disadvantage of this scheme is that free VPN services are not very fast, and the level of confidentiality they provide is often questionable. And reliable and high-speed VPN services require, albeit a small, but regular payment – an average of $ 2-5 per month. Well, after all, Ensign Semyonov is unlikely to wear other people’s letters “for thanks.”

Why connect a router to a VPN
Connecting a computer to a VPN is easy. You don’t need to figure out “how everything works”, just download a special utility from the website of the VPN service provider, run it, enter the login/password received during registration, and that’s it. But at the same time, “free Internet” will be only on this computer. All other devices – even if connected to the same router – will still be “under the hood”. You can, of course, install the same utility on all other computers, and on smartphones – similar mobile applications (which can also be downloaded from the website of the service provider). But this is too troublesome, it is much more convenient to connect the router itself via VPN . Admittedly, this is where you need to figure it out a bit.

Firstly, not every router, in principle, can work as a VPN client. If you are unable to set up a connection, then it is quite possible that the firmware of your router simply does not allow you to connect to the VPN server over the regular Internet. In this case, you can use alternative firmware for DD-wrt or Tomato routers , but this will require certain knowledge and skills.

Secondly, many VPN-capable routers offer a small selection of protocols for connection (OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, etc.), and sometimes there is no choice at all and there is only one protocol available. If you are connecting to a specific VPN server, make sure it has at least one protocol in common with your router.

How to connect router to VPN
Log in to the router’s web interface as described in the user manual (usually located at 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1). If there is a “VPN client” section in the menu, you should use it – your router is prepared to work with VPN, and no problems are expected.

If there is no such partition, try creating a new WAN connection. To do this, find the menu item “WAN” or “Internet”. Sometimes this item is located in the root menu, sometimes – in the sections “Connections”, “Network” or “Settings”. On the page that opens, create a new connection and select the required protocol.

If there is more than one choice (both the VPN server and the router have several protocols in common), then keep in mind that OpenVPN is considered more secure, but it is quite heavy on the router’s processor and may slow down the connection.

When choosing PPTP and L2TP, you will need to enter the data received from the VPN service during registration: server address, password and login. Sometimes you also need to enter the IP addresses of the DNS servers. You should also set to receive an IP address from the server (Dynamic IP).

Look on the website of the VPN service for a description of the settings of routers – even if your model is not there, see what parameters you need to enter.

When choosing OpenVPN, you may need to download a configuration file with an .ovpn extension – it contains server-specific settings. This file can also be downloaded from the VPN service website.

Save the settings and wait for the connection to the WAN (you may need to reboot the router). If the connection does not occur, try disabling IPv6 in the router settings, find the VPN Passthrough option and make sure it is enabled, or disable NAT for clients.

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