Most routers that you can find currently in stores are designed to be easy to use, so you will not need to have advanced technical knowledge to acquire one. Unfortunately, the fact that these routers are simple also means that you cannot expect many features from them. The good news is that there is a way to expand your options and that is using DD-WRT in your router. DD-WRT is a firmware that works with Linux and that can bypass router’s restrictive default settings.
- The possibility of connecting smartphones, tablets, game consoles and other devices through a VPN service and they do not even need to include a VPN client.
- Improved connection speed thanks to DNS caching.
- Ability to plug external hard disks and USB flash drives that can be used as network drives to increase your network capacity.
- You can plug printers to a USB port and access them from any network
- Upgraded Quality of Service controls that allows you to change bandwidth settings for a wide selection of networks
Enhancing the features of a router with DD-WTR is called flashing and it consists in modifying the factory settings of a device. It should be noted that not all routers can be flashed. Some of the brands of routers that do allow this option are Belkin, Buffalo technology and Linksys, which even has some routers that have DD-WTR already included.
There are many options for those who you want to get a router that has undergone the flashing process or that has DD-WRT included by default. Some companies produce routers that come with this firmware installed already but you also have the option of acquiring a flashed router (a regular router in which DD-WRT has been installed) or you can get a router that allows modification and do it yourself.
Steps to set up a VPN in a DD-WRT router
Keep in mind that even though PPTP is the protocol that is usually supported for a DD-WRT router, it is not the most secure. Even though not all routers are compatible with OpenVPN, this is the best option in terms of safety. Before buying a router, check if it supports OpenVPN to ensure the security of your connection.
The DD-WRT website also offers general instructions to configure OpenVPN and you can find instructions to set up a VPN service in DD-WRT routers with PPTP in the provider’s website. Some VPN providers sell flashed routers that have DD-WRT already installed and configured with their VPN client and some router brands have items that are configured by default to work with an specific VPN service.
Tomato is also a Linux based firmware that is very similar to DD-WRT because you can flash a router and set up a VPN service if the device allows this process. The main difference between Tomato and DD-WRT is that the latter is easier to use, which makes it the favourite option for newbies. However, Tomato stands out for its interface and convenient real-time monitoring functions.
Best DD-WRT routers to configure with a VPN
D-Link DIR-632 is an 8-port Wireless-N router that can be flashed easily. It is an option worth considering specially since it is a high capacity device that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It usually retails at $40 USD or less.
Linksys E1200 is considered as one of the top devices to use with DD-WRT. It is simple to use and in spite of being a singled band router, it provides great speed, a consistently good performance. You can get it for $45 USD or less.
Asus RT-N16 offers advanced features and it enables the installation of DD-WRT. This single band Wireless-N gaming router is one of the best routers you can get and its price is around $85.
Last but not least, the award winning Linksys E4200 is a fast and versatile dual band router that offers wider Wi-Fi coverage and a USB port to connect network drivers and printers.
The advantage of a router with DD-WRT installed is that is an affordable option that allows you to connect to your VPN provider with all the devices you use, meaning that your connection to internet will always be secure and that you will be able to access all the websites and applications that are available online.