Roku doesn’t natively support Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat. After the list of top Roku VPNs, read on for how to work around restrictions.
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NordVPN is the ideal Roku partner, offering the perfect balance of price and capabilities. It isn’t my only choice, though.
I spend half my time tinkering on the Bitcatcha network or lounging in the break room watching Netflix. In the name of VPN research, of course. The years have paid off, so you’ll see why each of the VPNs here is an excellent choice.
Price shown is lowest based on plans available from each VPN service provider.
You’ll also discover how SmartDNS isn’t the only way of getting a VPN to work with Roku. From router-based use to screencasting, you can unlock the full potential of this streaming device.
Choosing the best VPN for Roku isn’t as simple as looking for one that supports SmartDNS. VPNs offer much more and to get maximum value, a VPN’s speed, availability and price need to be carefully balanced.
NordVPN is a versatile service with excellent compatibility with many media streaming platforms. That, coupled with superior performance and reasonable pricing, makes it a solid Roku companion. Its robust capabilities also extend usability across the privacy and security spectrum.
Roku compatibility isn’t all that’s available with NordVPN. The service provides access to a large number of servers around the world. Because of this network, you’re able to access local content in many regions.
NordVPN takes privacy seriously, equipping its network with RAM-only servers. Whenever they reboot the server or simply pull the plug, any data there is completely gone forever. It’s the perfect way to ensure your information never gets logged.
Thanks to the introduction of the NordLynx protocol, speeds at NordVPN have gone through the roof. You won’t ever have to worry about choppy video or buffering on Roku or any other streaming service that you might also use.
If you ever have any problems getting NordVPN to work with Roku, contact their customer support team. They provide live chat support with friendly and knowledgeable agents skilled in the use of their service.
Aside from SmartDNS, another boon for media streaming is NordVPN’s server obfuscation capabilities. Most online services aren’t fond of VPN users. Server obfuscation helps mask VPN traffic, so it looks like regular web traffic.
Surfshark came to market in late 2018 and is one of the fastest-growing VPN brands I’ve seen. It offers one of the best value propositions for the quality of what you get, especially if you’re a heavy media streaming user.
Surfshark’s SmartDNS capability is technically all you need to use a Roku device. In addition, it works with other streaming based on the same principle. At the moment, you get access to 3,200-odd servers, but the number has rapidly increased over time.
Instead of a fancy adaptation of WireGuard, Surfshark implements the protocol “as is.” You still get complete access to the extreme speed benefits that WireGuard provides. Those speeds are essential to your media streaming experience.
This brand is another that’s gone the extra mile in user privacy and also offers RAM-only servers. Volatile memory servers are straightforward for Surfshark to wipe completely clean in case of any emergency.
I’ve used Surfshark almost since it launched, and this is one brand that’s never given me problems. The user experience is fantastic, and they keep things as simple as possible. I especially love that since the nature of VPNs can be somewhat complex to navigate.
ExpressVPN is a little different and doesn’t make use of the SmartDNS moniker. Instead, it uses the term “MediaStreamer.” To get Roku rocking here, provide ExpressVPN with your WAN IP address, and they’ll provide you with the corresponding DNS IP addresses to use.
Aside from that basic MediaStreamer feature, ExpressVPN takes things a little further. It supports dynamic DNS services to avoid constantly accessing the dashboard and registering new IP addresses.
Most of us have dynamic IP addresses that change whenever our Internet reconnects. That’s what makes the use of SmartDNS, in general, a little troublesome. With a dynamic DNS provider like DynDNS, you can avoid this hassle.
Aside from that convenience, ExpressVPN is one of the most stable performers I’ve encountered. Almost every server you connect to will give you fast speeds and connections that don’t constantly drop.
The experience is entirely seamless, ensuring that you’ll enjoy that same quality of performance, no matter what device you’re using or to which VPN server you join. It’s pretty much 5-star service all the way – if you’re willing to pay their steeper prices.
CyberGhost helps Roku fans by expediting the SmartDNS process. Sign in to your CyberGhost account on their website, and it automatically detects your IP address. Next, all you have to do is click the “Activate IP address” button, and you get the corresponding DNS pair to use.
Among our list of best VPN for Roku, CyberGhost offers the most extensive spread of VPN servers. I dare say it operates on of the largest server farms, doubling or even tripling the local access options you will find on most competitors.
The brand offers a very user-centric experience with little technical jargon and lots of casual language. It’s an extremely friendly brand that gives you a happy “friends and family” feeling for everything from usage to marketing emails.
While CyberGhost isn’t the fastest brand around, speeds are highly viable thanks to WireGuard. It’s undoubtedly more than fast enough to cope with media streaming even if you do so in 4K with a Roku Ultra.
If you prefer a little more certainty in your connection, CyberGhost also offers dedicated IP addresses at extra cost each month. It isn’t necessary for streaming, of course, but it does lower the risk of having VPN addresses blocked by some service providers.
IPVanish doesn’t support SmartDNS, but that’s just a minor irritation. Instead, you can slap it directly onto your router, and it’ll work for all devices connected to your local network. This more plebian way of doing things does offer the benefit of better security, though.
IPVanish may not be my prime choice, but it’s a good alternative for those who dislike hopping on board with the most popular brands. It sits in a unique space, being established in the market yet not precisely in a dominant position.
Don’t get me wrong, IPVanish isn’t a bad choice. I just find that it’s been very average in most areas, yet surprisingly works across the board most of the time. Still, speeds here are more than fast enough to handle media streaming.
The IPVanish network isn’t overly extensive but offers decent enough variety to be considered good service. It does, however, provide availability in 75 locations which make up for their smaller server count.
You also don’t have to sign on for excessive subscription plans each time. No five-year or even three-year plans are available here. It simply renews each year, making it a wallet-friendly choice. Well, at least for the first year.
Regardless of the VPN brand you pick, speed is always essential. More so if you’re planning on using it with a Roku device or for other streaming services. I ensured that the VPNs listed here could sustain speeds of at least 20 Mbs. That’s the bare minimum speed required to support 4k media.
Most VPNs won’t directly state that they support Roku devices because technically, Roku won’t allow the installation of their apps. Because of this, I tested each VPN with either SmartDNS or as an OpenVPN implementation on my router.
Both methods worked well with all the choices listed. IPVanish was a slight exception since it omitted support for SmartDNS.
While most VPNs will claim to support streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu, the streaming quality can vary. The brands on this best VPN for Roku list have been extensively tested with many streaming services and offer a superior streaming experience.
I’m a Netflix junkie, so I spent many enjoyable hours watching the latest flicks in the name of research.
Choosing a VPN for Roku goes beyond the listed monthly price. Other pricing factors included are the length of subscription needed to obtain that price. I also factored in the overall features provided by the VPN service.
While security isn’t a vital factor in choosing the best VPN for Roku, it does serve as an indicator. In general, I’ve noted that reputable VPN brands with excellent security are far less likely to get blocked by streaming platforms.
The problem with customer support for a Roku VPN is complex due to its indirect application. However, customer support for the brands here all proved, at the minimum, competent in response. In some cases, you’ll need to ask the right questions to get better assistance.
I recommend that if asking them about Roku doesn’t yield results, you instead ask if they can help guide you on a router installation for the service. Alternatively, my general guide below might be of assistance.
Roku devices are a bit complex to assess as far as usage with VPN services is concerned. Part of the appeal that has led to their high popularity is the relative platform independence. You’ll find almost every streaming service available.
This accessibility contrasts with some platforms, which might exclude specific services due to ownership, branding, or simply no reason. For example, some TVs may exclude Hulu, Big 10, or other networks. Availability is a hit or miss in most cases.
Roku blows all of that out the window. It doesn’t care about anything else except you, the customer. Buy one, plug it into a device, and it’ll open a new world in media streaming services. That’s where we come to the real problem with Roku.
Roku devices don’t allow you to change DNS settings, which means a little finesse is required to get them to work with VPNs. It’s possible but not exactly user-friendly. Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered for that as well.
There are several ways you can use Roku with a VPN. One is by using a SmartDNS service, which is much easier. The other is by implementing network-wide VPN coverage directly on your router.
To demonstrate how this works, I’ll be using NordVPN and an Asus router as an example. While the exact process might differ slightly depending on your service provider and router, the idea will remain the same.
SmartDNS is a method that some VPN providers use to support media streaming on non-mainstream devices like the Roku. It helps overcome geo-restrictions, allowing you to access content that’s typically unavailable.
There are pros and cons to using SmartDNS. The most obvious advantages are that it is simple to implement, and speeds are faster than traditional VPN use. The increased speed is excellent for streaming but comes at the cost of encryption, lowering security.
Step 1. Get your local WAN IP address
The WAN IP is the address assigned when your router connects to the Internet. To get this information, log on to your router administration screen, and at the summy screen, you should see the current IP allocated. Make a note of this IP address.
Step 2. Register your IP on the NordVPN website
Browse to the NordVPN website and log into your account. On the left navigation bar, click on “NordVPN,” and you’ll see a box titled “Smart DNS” in the main display area.
Once NordVPN verifies this, it will provide you with a primary and secondary DNS address. Enter these in your router settings, and you’ll be able to access US streaming content on Roku from any location.
Click the kebab menu (the three dots) and then select “Change SmartDNS IP.” Provide NordVPN with your IP address you noted down from step 1, then click “Save.” When it’s ready, you’ll get an email with the DNS entries to use. Again, note these IP addresses down.
Step 3. Change your router settings
Heading back to your router interface, find the WAN option tab and click on it. You’ll see a field where you can change your WAN DNS settings. Ignore any dropdown icons (those are for pre-set DNS providers) and simply enter the SmartDNS IP address, one per field.
Save your changes, and your Roku device connected to the Network will automatically make US-region content available.
If you prefer to get all the security and privacy benefits of a VPN instead of just Roku access, you’ll need to completely implement the VPN on your router.
There are two caveats to this. The first is that not all routers support VPNs. The second is that routers don’t support the WireGuard protocol yet, so expect your Internet speeds to slow significantly. The mileage you get will depend on how robust a process it fields.
I managed to get around 150 Mbps using an Asus AX86U. Still, that speed will more than support 4k streaming on your Roku.
Step 1. Get your router credentials from the VPN service
Head to the NordVPN website and log in with your email and password. On the left navigation menu, click on “NordVPN” and scroll down to the “Advanced Configuration” section in the main display areas. Note down the username and password provided.
Step 2. Getting the configuration file
For manual configuration on routers, you need a specific file for each server location. You can get these files from your VPN service provider. NordVPN helps by providing a server recommendation tool. For Roku, make sure you download a configuration file for a US-based server.
Step 3. Configure your router
On your router administration area, click on the VPN option. On the main display area, select the “VPN Client” tab and add a new profile. Enter the credentials you noted in step 1, upload the file from step 2, and hit the “OK” button.
Next, click the “Activate” button, and your connection will route to the VPN server. With this, the VPN service will cover every device on your network – including your Roku.
As a recap, here’s our top 3 VPN for Roku in 2021:
NordVPN is easily the best pick for getting better content on your Roku device. It’s a trusted brand that offers many features and remains extremely progressive in cybersecurity development. At the same time, NordVPN maintains very reasonable prices.
If you prefer an alternative brand, there are other great choices on this list. Surfshark, for example, is also fast and great for media streaming.
Yes, but it isn’t generally advisable. Free VPNs are notorious for being blocked on streaming services. They often field few servers and fail to get blocked IP addresses removed, resulting in horribly inconsistent performance.
Yes, you definitely can. With the right VPN, your Roku will enable you to access the entire US-region content library no matter where in the world you might be. Configuring your network takes a little effort, but availability is undoubtedly not an issue with the right VPN service.
No. Roku devices don’t allow users to install VPNs directly on the device. To use a VPN with your Roku, you’ll need to implement SmartDNS or apply VPNs settings directly on your router. These methods will also increase the overall security of all devices on your network.
At the moment, there are no known methods to jailbreak a Roku to load non-native apps. Since there are much safer methods to use a VPN with your Roku, attempting to jailbreak your device is highly inadvisable as you may render it unusable.
No, Roku TV also uses RokuOS, which prevents the sideload of VPN applications. To get a VPN working on your Roku TV requires either SmartDNS or a router implementation of the VPN service.