How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (2024)

In this guide

  • Why should you set up a VPN on a smart TV?
  • Step-by-step guide to installing and setting up a VPN on a smart TV
  • How to choose the best VPN for a smart TV
  • How to use a VPN with a smart TV
  • Method 1: Install the VPN on a compatible router
  • Method 2: Set up a virtual router and install your VPN
  • Method 3: Use a smart DNS service
  • Method 4: Install a VPN directly on a smart TV
  • Test the VPN connection
  • Final takeaways
  • FAQs

The dawn of smart TVs has transformed our living rooms into global entertainment hubs, going far beyond simply delivering local and national content. However, while smart TVs stream a world of live shows, sports, films and series into our homes, they come with a few plot twists, such as geo-restrictions, bandwidth usage and privacy vulnerabilities. Using a virtual private network (VPN) for a smart TV can help you benefit from the advanced functionalities while eliminating the potential drawbacks.

However, selecting a VPN and setting it up on a smart TV can be challenging due to its potentially limited access to app stores. Also, with the great variety of reliable VPN services available, identifying the best option can be daunting. Users need to consider their specific priorities, such as speed, global access or cost-effectiveness, and look for a solution offering relevant features.

Our experts have singled out the best VPNs for smart TVs and compared them based on relevant criteria. Each provider offers unique benefits and aims to enhance your streaming freedom and safety.

FeaturesNordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPNIPVanishProton VPN
Starting priceFrom £2.49/moFrom £1.81/moFrom £5.45/moFrom £2.59/moFrom €4.99 (£4.27)/mo
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days30 days30 days30 days
Number of servers5,800+3,200+3,000+2,200+2,700+
Number of countries60100+947567
No-log policyYesYesYesYesYes
Supported protocolsIKEv2 IPsec OpenVPN NordLynxOpenVPN IKEv2 WireGuardLightway IKEv2 L2TP OpenVPNOpenVPN WireGuard IKEv2 IPSecIKEv2OpenVPNWireGuard
CompatibilityAmazon Fire StickAndroid TVGoogle TVRokuAmazon Fire TV and Fire StickRokuAndroid TVGoogle TVAmazon Fire TV and Fire StickAndroid TVRokuAmazon Fire StickAndroid TVKodiAmazon Fire StickAndroid TV
Streaming servicesNetflixHuluAmazon Prime VideoDisney PlusBBC iPlayerDAZNNetflixAmazon Prime VideoDisney PlusHuluSkyHBO MaxDisney PlusNetflixHuluBBC iPlayerHBO MaxShowtimeAmazon Prime VideoNetflix Disney PlusESPN+HuluAmazon Prime VideoBBC iPlayerNetflix Amazon Prime VideoHBO MaxDisney PlusPeaco*ck TV
DataUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited

Why should you set up a VPN on a smart TV?

Smart TVs have become portals to extensive on-demand streaming services. While this leap in connectivity has expanded our viewing choices, it has also surfaced two critical considerations – content availability and data security. Below are the key reasons to set up a VPN on your smart TV.

Unlock a universe of content

Streaming services often have regional content libraries, restricting what you can watch based on your location. A VPN bypasses these limitations by masking your Internet Protocol (IP) address, making it appear as if you’re streaming from a different country. Want to catch up on your favourite UK shows while you’re on holiday in Spain? A VPN makes it possible.

Safeguard your streaming activities

  • Privacy shield: Your smart TV is just as susceptible to data monitoring as any internet-connected device. By encrypting your internet connection, a VPN prevents your internet service provider (ISP) and potential hackers from seeing your viewing habits
  • Data encryption: Once your smart TV is connected to a VPN, all data transmitted and received is encrypted. This makes it challenging for anyone to intercept or decipher your online activities, providing an added layer of security

Keep your connection unthrottled

Some ISPs may throttle your bandwidth based on heavy usage or the activities you’re involved in, such as high-definition streaming. A VPN cloaks your online behaviour, making it difficult for ISPs to enforce restrictions on your smart TV.

Therefore, a VPN is your smart TV’s passport to global content and a security barrier against data intrusion. Whether you aim to explore international shows or simply want to browse with peace of mind, a VPN is an indispensable tool for a smarter, safer entertainment experience.

Step-by-step guide to installing and setting up a VPN on a smart TV

Here’s a quick overview of the steps required to install a VPN on a smart TV.

Choose your VPN

Opt for a VPN that promises fast speeds, a wide range of server locations, compatibility with your smart TV, robust security features and dependable customer support.

Set up the VPN

The implementation of a VPN can be done in four different ways:

  • Installing the VPN on your home router and connecting your smart TV
  • Setting up a virtual router on your computer, installing the VPN on it and connecting your smart TV
  • Using a smart Domain Name System (DNS)
  • Installing the VPN directly on your smart TV, which is possible for devices offering full access to app stores

In each case, you can successfully equip your smart TV for secure browsing and content accessibility.

Connect and test

Once you select and install your VPN, connect your smart TV to the preferred VPN server and test your connection.

Let’s discuss each step individually.

How to choose the best VPN for a smart TV

Selecting the ideal VPN for your smart TV can be an important decision that impacts your streaming quality, data security and overall user experience. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Factors to consider when selecting a VPN for your smart TV

  • Server number and locations: The ability to bypass geo-restrictions depends on server locations. The more countries a VPN covers, the more content you can unblock
  • Speed: Optimal streaming requires high-speed internet. Make sure your chosen VPN doesn’t significantly slow down your internet connection
  • Security: Look for strong encryption methods, secure VPN protocols and a no-log policy to keep your data and online activities secure
  • Device compatibility: Your VPN should be compatible with your smart TV’s operating system (OS). Some VPNs can also be set up at the router level, protecting all connected devices
  • Customer support: Ensure the VPN provider offers prompt and helpful customer support, especially if you’re new to using VPNs

Recommended VPN providers

Our researchers have shortlisted the most viable VPN options for smart TVs.

NordVPN

NordVPN works seamlessly with many streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Disney Plus. The provider has established an extensive server network with more than 5,500 servers in 60 countries.

NordVPN is well regarded for high-speed connections and robust security features such as split tunnelling and Double VPN. In addition, it offers excellent 24/7 live chat and comprehensive guides and instructions online.

ProsFast speedsUnlocks all popular streaming servicesAdvanced security features

ConsPotentially costly renewal

Read our full NordVPN review.

Surfshark

Surfshark offers extensive device support and has more than 3,200 servers across 95 countries, allowing users to connect to the desired server location. It works seamlessly with the FlashRouters preconfigured DD-WRT routers, or you can set it up manually on your home router.

Also, Surfshark is one of the most budget-friendly options that excels in unblocking major streaming platforms such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Netflix. Surfshark offers 24/7 live chat and user-friendly web guides.

ProsAcceptable overall speeds256-bit encryptionBudget friendly

ConsDecreased speed with some servers

Read our full Surfshark review.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers strong performance, with more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. It has versatile compatibility options for various smart TV models and consistently unblocks streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer.

Users can opt for the proprietary Aircove router with built-in VPN protection or install the ExpressVPN firmware on any VPN-compatible router. The provider offers 24/7 live chat.

ProsFast speeds256-bit encryptionWorks with most popular streaming platforms

ConsMore expensive than most VPN services

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

IPVanish

Known for its robust security features, IPVanish offers more than 1,900 servers in 60-plus countries. It’s a popular choice among Kodi VPN users and those who frequently torrent.

Although IPVanish may occasionally struggle with larger streaming services, it works well for platforms such as Hulu and ITVX. IPVanish prioritises customer satisfaction and provides social media, live chat, email and phone support.

ProsUnlimited simultaneous device connections256-bit encryptionOffers excellent multi-channel customer support

ConsSlow internet speeds

Read our full IPVanish review.

Proton VPN

With more than 1,700 servers in 64 countries, Proton VPN is praised for its streaming and performance capabilities. It unblocks multiple streaming libraries, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. There is a free plan available, but this does not support streaming despite coming with unlimited data.

The 24/7 live chat support option is available with the paid plans. Users can also find self-service materials such as guides and online forms on the Proton VPN website.

ProsUnblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime VideoGreat performance256-bit encryption

ConsSlow customer support email responseComparatively high pricing

Read our full Proton VPN review.

By examining the most reliable VPN options and the fundamental considerations above, you can make an informed decision and choose the VPN that best meets your smart TV needs.

How to use a VPN with a smart TV

Method 1: Install the VPN on a compatible router

Installing a VPN on your router requires a router that’s up to the task.

  1. Ensure your router supports VPN installations. Not all routers have this capability, so confirming beforehand is essential
  2. Change your router’s firmware. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid bricking your router
  3. Once you’ve updated the firmware on your router, install your preferred VPN software. Follow the VPN’s specific guidelines for router installations
  4. Go to your smart TV’s wifi settings menu
  5. Select your newly updated router from the list of available networks and connect as you normally would
  6. Your smart TV is now operating under the protective umbrella of your VPN-enabled router

For more detailed instructions and explanations, read our comprehensive guide on the best VPN for a router.

Method 2: Set up a virtual router and install your VPN

Windows allows you to create a virtual router with ease. Here’s how you can set up a virtual router on Windows 10 and then connect your smart TV to it.

How to set up a VPN on a Samsung Smart TV using a virtual router

This method entails setting up a VPN on your PC and extending that connection to your smart TV. Note that the procedure can be applied on other non-Android options, such as Samsung TVs operating on Orsay OS or Tizen OS, Apple TVs operating on tvOS and LG TVs running on WebOS.

To illustrate the process, our experts chose a Samsung Smart TV. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Open your VPN app – in our case, NordVPN – and select a server
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (1)
  2. Locate the network icon on your taskbar in the bottom-right corner of your screen
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (2)
  3. Right-click the icon and select “Open Network & Internet settings”
  4. On the left-hand menu, click “Mobile hotspot”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (3)
  5. Toggle the “Mobile hotspot” button on
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (4)
  6. In the “Share my Internet connection over” option, select “Wi-Fi”
  7. If you wish to change your network’s name or password, click “Edit” and enter your desired details
  8. Go to the “Status” section in the left-hand menu and click “Change adapter options”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (5)
  9. Right-click on the adapter that mentions both your VPN and the word “TAP” (e.g. “NordVPN TAP adapter”)
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (6)
  10. Click “Properties,” then go to the “Sharing” tab
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (7)
  11. Check the box “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (8)
  12. In the dropdown menu, choose the network you created and click “OK”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (9)
  13. On your Samsung Smart TV, open the wifi settings menu
  14. Select the network you’ve just created via your computer and connect

Your smart TV is now connected to your VPN-enabled virtual router.

Method 3: Use a smart DNS service

Smart DNS is a technology designed to unblock geo-restricted content by changing your DNS settings. Unlike a VPN, smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your internet traffic, focusing on content accessibility.

However, it’s important to note that this feature doesn’t offer the same level of security as a VPN, so adjusting your VPN’s custom DNS settings can be a great way to have the best of both worlds.

In this section, we’ll discuss how to set up smart DNS on your smart TV using NordVPN and Apple TV as an example.

How to set up a VPN on Apple TV

Expanding your Apple TV’s content library with NordVPN’s smart DNS feature is a breeze. The first thing to do is allowlist your original IP address, which is crucial for smart DNS to function effectively. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make sure your VPN is disconnected. We’re focusing on your original, unmasked Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) address here
  2. Open your browser and navigate to your Nord Account dashboard. From there, click the “Services” tab and select NordVPN
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (10)
  3. Locate the SmartDNS tab and click “Enable.” This activation may take up to 10 minutes, during which the status will indicate “Pending”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (11)
  4. Ensure the device you use to manage the Nord Account is connected to the same network as your Apple TV
  5. On your Apple TV, head over to “General,” then select “Network”
  6. Choose “Wi-Fi” at the top, then select the network you’ve just allowlisted.
  7. Opt for “Configure DNS” and then select “Manual”
  8. You’ll need to input the DNS server addresses at this stage.
    Primary DNS: 103.86.99.103 (The primary DNS address provided by NordVPN)
    Secondary DNS: 103.86.96.103 (The secondary DNS address provided by NordVPN, if available)

And there you have it. You’ve successfully set up smart DNS on your Apple TV with NordVPN.

Method 4: Install a VPN directly on a smart TV

In this case, you just have to download the native VPN app for Android from Google Play.

How to set up a VPN on an Android smart TV

The process is straightforward, and in just a few minutes, you’ll be all set for a secure streaming experience. Here’s how:

  1. Turn on your Android smart TV and go to the home screen
  2. Locate the App Store icon and open it
  3. Go to the search bar
  4. Type in the VPN service and hit “Enter”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (12)
  5. Click on the VPN icon from the search results
  6. Press the “Install” button to download the app onto your Android smart TV
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (13)
  7. Once installation is complete, navigate to your home screen and open the VPN app
  8. In the VPN app, find the list of available servers
  9. Choose a server based on your needs. If you’re looking to bypass geographical restrictions, select a server in the desired country
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (14)
  10. Once you’ve selected your server, hit the “Connect” button
  11. A “Connection Request” dialogue box will appear. Confirm the connection by selecting “OK”
    How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (15)

NordVPN now protects your Android smart TV. You’re ready to stream content securely and without any geographical limitations.

Test the VPN connection

Testing your connection is vital in confirming your network’s security and access capabilities. Follow these simple steps to put your smart TV’s VPN connection to the test.

Check for IP address changes

  1. Note your smart TV’s IP address before you enable the VPN. This can usually be found in “Settings” under the “Network” or “About” sections
  2. Activate the VPN
  3. Navigate to where you initially found your IP address and refresh the information. If the VPN is active, the IP address should be different

Test for geo-restricted content

  1. Pick a streaming service that offers content unavailable in your location
  2. Try playing geo-restricted content. If it starts streaming without issues, your VPN is working perfectly

Check for DNS leaks

  1. Use your smart TV’s web browser to visit a DNS leak test website
  2. Follow the site’s instructions to check for DNS leaks. No leaks mean your VPN setup is solid

Final takeaways

When selecting a VPN for your smart TV, it’s important to consider that smart TVs have increasingly become a medium for streaming global content, opening up avenues for bringing entertainment right into your living room. However, this global access often includes geographical restrictions, making a VPN essential for a seamless viewing experience.

We’ve highlighted the primary factors to look at. Speed is a crucial consideration, as streaming services require stable, high-speed internet connections. Diverse server locations are vital for accessing geo-restricted content, so choose a VPN with diverse server locations.

Compatibility with your smart TV or router is critical for a hassle-free setup. Security features, including robust encryption and a no-log policy, ensure online privacy. Reliable customer support can assist with troubleshooting and configuration.

Frequently asked questions about installing a VPN on a smart TV

Round up of today's best VPN deals

NordVPN 2 year £2.79 /Month

£2.79 /Month

Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month

£1.79 /Month

ExpressVPN 12 month £6.79 /Month

£6.79 /Month

CyberGhost 2 year £1.92 /Month

£1.92 /Month

Proton 2 year £4.25 /Month

£4.25 /Month

PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month

£1.57 /Month

Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month

£1.34 /Month

PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month

£1.99 /Month

Windscribe 12 month £4.55 /Month

£4.55 /Month

IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month

£3.58 /Month

Mariana Krasteva

Contributor

Mariana is an experienced technology writer specialising in web and internet technology. She writes about cyber security, including VPN; web development; and software engineering. She has been writing since 2006 and held a position of English lecturer at Technical University of Varna in Bulgaria until 2022, working in a variety of educational fields.

For the Independent Advisor, Mariana writes about the usefulness of VPNs and how people can protect themselves and their data online.

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How to install a VPN on a smart TV | The Independent (2024)

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