Setting Up DD-WRT
DD-WRT is an open source software that replaces the pre-loaded firmware of your router, offering you a higher level of control and features, even allowing you to turn your router into a WiFi repeater. Setting up a flashed router for VPN use allows you to enjoy secure browsing on multiple devices with only one connection. You can also access media content regardless of any geo-location restrictions.
While changing server locations is easier with a built-in client than with a DD-WRT, you won’t have major issues as you can use both at the same time. There is a process that will allow you to set up your own DD-WRT router for VPN, for which we’ve provided the steps below. However, it is important to bear in mind that you need a certain level of technical skill to make sure that you don’t damage the device and make it unusable.
We advise you to only try the procedure below if you feel that you are capable of configuring the options correctly. Otherwise, you should opt for acquiring a network router device that has been already configured. We have compiled a list of the best routers for DD-WRT and updated pre-configured options available for online purchase, just be warned that they cost a pretty penny.
You may also want to learn about other available firmware options here.
The first thing you need is a router compatible with DD-WRT. Some of the best options include the Asus RT-N16, which offers advanced features, Linksys E1200, which offers a great speed and affordability or a D-Link DIR-632, which has the advantage of being easy to flash. Keep in mind that in order to be able to use OpenVPN, which is regarded as the most secure protocol, you need a router with a minimum of 8Mb of RAM. It’s also important to have the full user manual of the router you are going to flash.
You will also need an Ethernet cable and a subscription to a VPN service. Some providers offer excellent tutorials and customer support to help you with every step of the process. If you’re pressed for time, some good ones are ExpressVPN, ibVPN and IPVanish. Otherwise, check out our fuller list here.
How To Install DD-WRT
The initial part of the set-up process is the most complicated:
- Download the .bin installation file. You will see two files but the one you need is the “factory-to-ddwrt” file.
- Keep the rest button pressed for a total of 90 seconds. First, you will need to hold the button for 30 seconds, then, without letting the button go, unplug the power cable for 30 seconds and plug it back, holding the reset for 30 seconds more.
- Use the Ethernet cable to connect the router to your computer.
- Go to the default router IP from the browser. The IP would appear as 192.168…or a similar pattern. Then you need to go to the “Firmware Upgrade” section that is usually located in “System Tools”.
- Look for the file downloaded from DD-WRT, select Upgrade. Once it reboots itself, you will see a notification stating that your router is not currently protected. In the available wireless connections, you will see DD-WRT as an unprotected connection at first.
- Under the “Wireless” tab. change the basic settings of your DD-WRT wireless router such as name and security.
How to set up VPN
Once your router has been flashed, you can set up a VPN connection using different methods. Check the recommendation of the VPN provider that you have chosen, or you can use the DD-WRT GUI to set up the VPN connection. The advantage of using this the DD-WRT GUI is that it makes it easier to change servers and the process works the same, regardless of the VPN service you are using.
This is what you need to do:
1. After logging into DD-WRT go to Services, then VPN, and enable “Start OpenVPN Client”.
2. Open your chosen .ovpn files in Notepad.
3. In the OpenVPN client you will need to enter some information that we will outline below. It has to be copied from the .ovpn file. These are the texts you will need to copy:
- The text that appears in the line that appears after the pattern: remote location.provider.com xxx.-The web address should be entered into the “Server IP/Name” field and “xxx” goes into the “Port” field below that.
- You also need to copy the text between and tags into the “TLS Auth Key” space.
- Copy the text that appears between and tags into the “CA Cert” field.
- The text that appears between and goes into the field “Public Client Cert”.
- Finally copy the text between the <key> and </key> tag.
Make sure to save your settings and start testing your connection to ensure it is fully encrypted by the VPN tunnel. Check the Status page and OpenVPN first, and you should find a fairly large amount of log notes. You could also test the VPN using some tried methods here.
Restoring Default Software
If, after installing DD-WRT on your router, you want to go back to the in-built software, you can do it with the following steps:
- Download the manufacturer’s software for your router. You should be able to get it from the official website.
- Repeat step 2 of the DD-WRT setting up process: Keep the rest button pressed for a total of 90 seconds. First, you will need to hold the button for 30 seconds, then, without letting the button go, unplug the power cable for 30 seconds and plug it back, holding the reset for 30 seconds more.
- Connect the router to your computer with the Ethernet cable.
- Log into DD-WRT by going to the corresponding IP: 192.168…and type your username and password.
- Go to Administration, then Firmware Upgrade
- Select “Reset to default settings” and with the Choose file button, find the .bin file that you downloaded initially.
- Click Upgrade, wait for a while and you should see a notification confirming that the upgrade has been successful. Bear in mind that this may not work for certain models and you will need to check more details for your respective router.
And that’s it! If you’ve followed all the steps in our guide carefully, you should have yourself a fully functional DD-WRT router. Enjoy!