Many people have opted for the Amazon Fire TV stick because it is a simple solution that offers good value for money. With the Amazon Fire TV stick, you can transform your TV into an internet-enabled connected streaming device that gives you access to a great selection of content including movies and TV shows. However, a lot of that content is subject to geographical restrictions, which means that it is only possible to access it from certain countries. This is why it is handy to have a VPN service that allows you to encrypt your internet traffic and route through a server that is located in a country where the content you want to watch is available.
When you connect to a server in another country, your IP address is changed and you can appear as if you were connecting from that location. Since the content provider will think that you are actually in that country, it will grant you access to its service. Thanks to this technology, you will be able to unblock geo-restricted content from popular streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Primer Video, HBO and BBC iPlayer. In addition,if you use Kodi on your Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick, you will be able to keep the content that you access private. Your ISP and other parties won’t be able to monitor your online activities.
Although Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick rely on a fork of the Android platform and most VPN providers offer dedicated Android apps, the first generation of Fire TV Stick doesn’t support VPN apps. Here you will find some options that will allow you to run a VPN on your Fire TV so that you can unblock content subject to geo-restrictions and protect your online activities from eavesdroppers.
If the VPN of your choice has an app specially designed for Amazon Fire TV, you can simply download it and install it on your device. If that is not the case, the first thing that you will need to do is to allow the Fire TV to install apps from unknown sources. Here is how:
- Boot up your Fire TV and go to Settings, then to System
- Scroll down to Developer Options
- Toggle on Apps from unknown sources
- Go back to the System menu and then go to About
- Select Network
Make sure that you take note of the IP address of your Fire TV as you will need it for the second method we will mention.
Method 1 – Install the VPN app APK on the Fire TV stick using direct download
This is the easiest solution if your VPN provider makes the Android APK file available via direct download instead of an app store such as Google Play. APK or Android application package installs the file format used by Android devices. The best option is to only download APKs directly from the VPN’s provider’s website. There is a risk that APK files from third parties are infected with adware or malware. You need to have a download URL for the APK file for this option to work and your Fire TV Stick has to be 2nd-gen or more recent.
- Boot your Fire TV and enter “Downloader” into the search bar, then install the Downloader App.
- Open Downloader and type in the direct download URL for the VPN app’s APK file
- If the VPN is not installed automatically, open your downloads in the Downloader app and click the APK file. Now the app should be installed and ready.
If you are unable to find the direct APK file on the VPN provider’s website, you can reach out to their customer service. They may be able to send you a link or the APK file via email. It is possible to upload the file to cloud storage like Dropbox and download the file using Downloader. Alternatively, you can plug the Fire TV into your computer via USB port and drop the APK file into a location that you can access, in order to sideload the APK to your device.
Method 2 – Sideload VPN app on 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick and above using another Android device
For this method, you need a second generation Fire TV Stick or a more recent version and you will also require a second Android device (tablet or Smartphone) that can access Google Play. First you need to download the app to the second device, then you can transfer it to the Fire TV with the help of Apps2Fire.
- Download and install Apps2Fire from Google Play to your second Android device. Then download and install the VPN app to the same Android device.
- Open the app and tap the menu icon (three dots) in the top right corner. Then tap Setup.
- Under IP address of your Fire TV, enter the IP address of your Fire TV device. Then tap Save.
- Tap the menu icon (thee dots) once more and choose “Upload Apps”.
- Tap the VPN app you are going to use on your Fire TV to upload it to your Fire TV. The app will be automatically installed on your Fire TV.
How to find the VPN app and connect when you use methods 1 and 2
Once the VPN app has been installed on your Fire TV, all you have to do is to log in and connect. The steps needed vary from one VPN provider to another, although the process is basically the same. However, you won’t see the top-level Apps menu. Here is what you need to do.
- Go back to the starting menu on the Fire TV
- Go to Settings, then Applications.
- Select Manage installed applications.
- Find and select the VPN app you installed into the Fire TV.
- You will see a sub menu. You can select Launch application. Enter your provider’s login credentials. You may need a keyboard or controller.
- Select a location and click on the connect button. When the connection is established, you are ready to go. The VPN has to remain connected until the device turns off or until you manually disconnect it. If you have the option, it is possible to configure the app so that it automatically reconnects if the connections drops at some stage.
How to update the VPN app in a Fire TV
The issue when you use sideloaded Google Play apps and direct download APKs is that they are not updated automatically. Although this won’t be a big deal as long as you have a working stable version that is secure. Still, from time to time, you may have to update the app. It is possible to compare versions between the about or information page in the installed app versus the version number listed on Google Play. The process is similar to what you did for methods 1 and 2, but before you start, you need to force stop the existing VPN app.
- From the Fire TV home screen, go to Settings, then Application and then to Manage installed applications.
- Find your VPN app, then click and select Force stop.
Using method 1 or method 2, push the app onto your Fire TV and install it.
You will see a page that asks you if you wish to install an update to the existing application, as well as any new permissions. Here you need to select Yes. Once the update is completed, you will need to log back into the app using the steps in the previous section.
In case, there is no Google Play app or APK file available, you can connect Fire TV to a VPN enabled- virtual WiFi router. The majority of new laptops are capable of creating their own WiFi hotspots that support other devices. Once the laptop is connected to a VPN, all the internet traffic of the devices that are connected to that hotspot will also be routed through the VPN server. You can also opt for connecting to a VPN-enabled physical router. It is possible to run a VPN on a WiFi router that has been flashed with firmware such as Tomato and DD-WRT. Some VPN providers even sell routers that have been previously configured with their service. Once you connect your devices to the router, they will all benefit from the security that a VPN offers and you will be able to bypass restrictions.