We understand that the situation surrounding VPN services is a complex one. Aside from a wide range of commercial solutions available, you also have the option to set up your own VPN server at home. As such, this is perhaps the best way to make sure your privacy is intact.
So, how do you set up your own VPN server at home in 2021? What equipment do you need, and what this process entails? Well, we’re about to answer those questions – and more!
Before going deeper, we have a few useful bits of information. First of all, know that setting up your own VN server isn’t the most intuitive process. We recommend it to tech enthusiasts who have some prior knowledge in terms of tinkering with hardware and software.
Also, keep in mind that this isn’t a one-time process, as it requires you to keep your VPN server updated and maintained at all times. There are new vulnerabilities discovered every single day, so both you and your VPN service provider need to implement fresh fixes as soon as possible.
If setting up your own VPN server at home seems like plenty of work, you might be better off using a commercial VPN. For this purpose, we recommend checking our overview of the best VPN services right now.
In case you’re willing to dive deeper, we’ve prepared a handy guide, found below. You’ll get to learn about what creating your VPN server at home involves, what are the benefits of this setup, and what to realistically expect. So, let’s jump right in.
What Do You Need to Create Your VPN Server at Home?
There are three different options for setting up a VPN server on your own. Keep in mind that, regardless of which hardware platform you use, the basic process of setting up the server is broadly the same.
We’ve listed the required steps below, giving you a sense of what to expect. We won’t go into various details right now, but we’ll make sure to provide you with plenty of resources throughout this article. So, here’s what creating your own VPN server entails:
- Download the OpenVPN software and install it on your computer.
- Generate certificates and keys.
- Generate configuration files for the server and clients.
- Start the server itself.
We won’t lay down the detailed instructions for every platform possible since OpenVPN has created great instructional documents along with troubleshooting guides too. The best one to start with for most people is their easy Windows Guide for OpenVPN.
Doing this on Linux is a bit more complicated, and you’re better off Googling for instructions relevant to the specific distro of Linux you have in mind. Ubuntu is the most popular for home users, and you can find the official Ubuntu OpenVPN documents at the preceding link.
How to Set Up Your Own VPN Server at Home in 2021?
At the moment, there are 3 different methods of creating your own VPN server at home in 2021. Here’s more info on these methods:
- Method #1: Using a VPN-Compatible Router
- Method #2: Using a Custom DD-WRT Router
- Method #3: Utilizing an Old Computer
Method #1: Using a VPN-Compatible Router
If you decide to buy a router, make sure that it supports VPN services. More precisely, your chosen router should be able to act as a VPN server – which is a crucial feature in this case.
Perhaps the easiest option to set up a VPN server at your home is by getting a VPN-compatible router. There are many different options out there, and you get to pick from various types of brands.
We recommend checking the best NETGEAR routers, and TP-Link routers. We also offer our overview of the best ASUS routers available now. However, before making your purchase, we also highly recommend you read more about how to choose a VPN router.
What’s important to be said is that VPN routers come with their own Web UI. You log in to your router by inputting the correct IP address in your Internet browser, and this is when you’ll enter a username and password.
Then, a Web UI will open where you can create your VPN server. There’s also an option to use a commercial VPN and supply the corresponding OpenVPN files, which should be uploaded to your router (which is a more streamlined process than doing everything on your own).
Depending on which type of router you buy, you need to do a Google search on how to use it as a VPN server. For example, here’s how to set up ASUS routers to act as VPN servers. Also, here’s how to use NETGEAR routers as VPN servers.
Method #2: Using a Custom DD-WRT Router
The previously mentioned group of VPN routers come with their individual Web UI, powered by their stock firmware. However, there are also third-party firmware versions that you can flash onto your router.
In other words, you replace the stock version with a much more capable, third-party solution. For this purpose, we recommend using DD-WRT firmware.
There are many powerful DD-WRT routers, many of which are priced under $100. You can even find a few picks when it comes to DD-WRT routers under $50. If you are looking for an affordable and cheap one, you must check this guide. All of them can be used as VPN servers since this type of firmware comes with an intuitive and hugely powerful Web UI.
You should also know that DD-WRT gives you complete control over your router, as well as over your Internet connection, as there are numerous parameters that you can adjust. It’s no wonder this is the firmware-of-choice for many tech enthusiasts out there.
When looking for routers compatible with DD-WRT, we highly recommend checking this router database. This is where you can check the list of supported routers, so you can avoid making the mistake of buying an unsupported one.
Once you’re ready to create a VPN server on your own, you’ll find an incredibly detailed guide on DD-WRT’s website (make sure to use the provided link).
Option #3: Utilizing an Old Computer
Finally, we’ve come to the most affordable method of creating a private VPN server. In case you have an old computer somewhere collecting dust, why not turn it into a VPN server?
Yes, that’s right – you can use your old computer to process your VPN traffic by essentially turning it into a dedicated server. However, as you can imagine, this doesn’t come without its downsides as well.
You can turn your computer into a server by using OpenVPN, but note that the server (the computer you’re using) will need to be powered on all the time. This is done by using OpenVPN to configure it to act as a server on your computer.
Then, you need to install OpenVPN on other devices since you’ll need to log in each time you want to access your VPN network. With that said, we have to warn you that turning your computer into a VPN server isn’t the easiest process out there. You don’t have to be an IT expert – but be prepared for a lengthy process with plenty of research.
Finally, to get more information about this method, we recommend you read OpenVPN’s helpful tutorials on how to do this on Windows PCs.
When to Set up a Home VPN Server?
There are numerous good reasons why setting up a VPN server is an excellent idea. However, you should know that this solution won’t meet the needs of every possible type of user. So, let’s see why and when setting up a home VPN server is a good idea.
- You want to take full control over your data: There are many reliable VPN services out there. However, even though some of those are ‘no-logs’ VPN services, all of them must collect at least some data, including your payment information. The only way to truly be anonymous online and to make sure that no one sees your online whereabouts is by running a private VPN server.
- You want to access your Web connection from elsewhere: Two types of users could greatly benefit from private VPN servers, and those are small business owners and frequent travelers. You can allow your employees to log in to your private VPN network when outside the office. Travelers can log in to their private VPNs to continue using websites that might not be accessible everywhere.
- You’re curious about how VPNs work: There are different ways to set up a VPN server at your home. You can use a capable router, your computer, or even a Raspberry Pi device. And there are also numerous cloud hosting providers, allowing you to fine-tune your user experience and your expenses.
When NOT to Set up a Home VPN Server?
As noted earlier, private VPN servers are not useful in every possible case. Some types of users could benefit more from getting a commercial VPN subscription instead. So, let’s check out some of the limitations of running a private VPN server.
- You won’t get to unblock websites available elsewhere: As explained earlier, travelers can use private VPN servers to unblock websites available in their home country. However, you won’t be able to unblock websites available elsewhere. For example, to unblock services such as BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, or NOW TV, you need to connect to a server in the UK. Commercial VPN services offer servers spread across the entire world, which is one of their most important benefits.
- You’ll be facing various technical roadblocks: Commercial VPNs come with polished applications for multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android (among others). If you decide to set up a VPN server at your home, you’ll need to configure each device manually. This takes plenty of time, and it’s not the most elegant solution.
- You won’t get the benefits of shared IP addresses: One of the benefits of using commercial VPNs is that they offer shared IP addresses. In other words, each VPN comes with a sizeable pool of IPs that get rotated from time to time. Even though you can change the IP address of your VPN server, this can be a tedious process in the long-run.
Feeling Overwhelmed? Then, It’s Time to Consider a Commerical VPN Instead!
As explained above, setting up your VPN server at home comes with numerous benefits. However, this process is often laborious and can be frustrating at times. Still, this doesn’t mean you should completely give up on the idea of using a VPN. And as you can imagine, there’s a reason why you’ll find hundreds of commercial VPNs out there.
Our team here at TechNadu has tested dozens of VPNs so far, and we can help you find those that are user- and privacy-friendly. First, we recommend checking our VPN buyer’s guide so that you can set your priorities and expectations. And then, make sure to explore the best VPN services available in 2021.
In case you’d like to keep your expenses as low as possible, here’s our article on the best VPN deals right now as well. And lastly, keep in mind that there are some pretty capable and cheap VPN services as well.
Commercial VPNs come with apps for just about any platform or device. With that said, you’ll want to check the following VPN installation guides:
So, that would be all there’s to know about creating your VPN server at home. We hope that we’ve managed to answer your most burning questions. If that’s not the case, don’t hesitate to post a comment below, and we’ll do our best to respond as soon as possible.