What is a VPN?
VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network. It refers to a technology in networking that permits a user to create a secure connection (a private network) across another network. The network over which a VPN is created may be public (the Internet) or private (owned by a specific service provider with limited access). Generally, a VPN, inclusive of the best VPN routers, is set up to add security and enhance privacy.
Best VPN Router Complete Guide
Cisco RV320 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router 4-Port Switch Dual USB ports 10 SSL
|Dual Gigabit Ethernet Ports||$$$$||9.7|
TP-LINK TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router, 1 Gigabit WAN port + 4 Gigabit LAN ports, Supports IPsec, PPTP, L2TP VPN Tunnels
|1 Gigabit WAN port and 4 Gigabit LAN ports||$$||9.5|
ASUS RT-N66W Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router
|4 Gigabit LAN + Wi-Fi||$$$||9.5|
TP-LINK TL-WR842ND N300 Multi-function Wireless Router, 2.4GHz, 802.11n/g/b, 1 USB port, 2 detachable antennas, VPN, 4 SSIDs
|4 LAN + Wi-Fi||$||9.2|
Linksys WRT54GL Wi-Fi Wireless-G Broadband Router
|4 LAN + Wi-Fi||$||9.1|
Why You Need a VPN Supported Router
While explaining what a VPN is, we mentioned the general purpose of using a VPN. Nonetheless, there are important specific reasons why you would need a VPN, and by extension the best VPN router in 2015. In this section, we will discuss four of the most important reasons.
A Secure Bridge
Accessing a remote network through the Internet often brings up security issues. A way to do this securely is to connect to the remote network using a VPN. This use is often employed by companies to ensure that security is not undermined when employees access applications, files, printers, and other resources on the office network. That notwithstanding, individuals may also setup up a VPN to access your secure home network safely from wherever there is an Internet connection.
Securing A Multiple Network Setup
When multiple networks are stringed together in a setup, VPNs are particularly useful to ensure connections between networks within the setup are secure. These multi-network setups are integral parts of the network infrastructure of many businesses. Therefore, these businesses, of varied sizes, rely on VPNs for secure sharing of server and other networked resources. The VPNs thus serve a vital function for sharing amongst offices, stores, or similar stations elsewhere in the globe. On a personal level, an individual could set up multiple home networks or other networks. A VPN may then be used to connect the networks in this personal setup.
Privacy concerns are legitimate in today’s vastly connected ecosystem of devices. An encrypted VPN is therefore an essential cloak to use while on a public or untrusted network (like a Wi-Fi hotspot found in a coffee shop, hotel, or airport. This practice is simple and equally smart for security reasons. The effectiveness of the VPN in this instance is that it encrypts your Internet traffic, and makes it extremely difficult for others to snoop on your browsing activity , especially via Wi-Fi, to capture sensitive information (like your passwords, financial information, or key personal information).
A geoblock, derived from the term geoblocking, refers to a restriction placed on accessing a website(s) based on the region from whence the connection originates. Because IP addresses are tagged to specific locations, these blocks rely on the IP address of a connection to effect the restrictions placed. It is therefore possible to bypass a geoblock by connecting to a VPN and then through the VPN to a geoblocked website.
Political dissidents and journalists often avail of this use of VPN to bypass state-sponsored censorship. Nevertheless, any individual can use the VPN for a similar purpose, say to watch the BBC iPlayer if you are outside the UK. To do this, you will have to connect to a UK VPN through which you would access the BBC iPlayer, as the VPN will mask your Internet traffic to show as though you were accessing the service from within the UK.
VPNs make use of either of a number of networking protocols. For purpose of clarity, there are four popular protocols, which should be sufficient for your VPN needs. Let’s evaluate these four most popular VPN protocols, also used in the best VPN routers, emphasizing their individual strengths and weaknesses.
|PPTP—Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol||L2TP—Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol and IPsec—Internet Protocol Security||SSL—Secure Sockets Layer||OpenVPN|
|Pros||- Widespread support on most computer OSes (Windows, Mac) as well as popular mobile OSes||- More secure than PPTP||- More reliable than PPTP, L2TP, or IPsec||- Often free to use
|- Widely supported by several operating systems||- Easier to use than PPTP, L2TP, or IPsec||- Very secure|
|- Does not suffer from connection issue|
|Cons||- Least secure VPN protocol||- Setup is more complicated than PPTP||- Requires the use of a dedicated VPN client, because most OSes (Windows, Mac, and mobile OSes) do not natively support the protocol
|- Same connection issues experienced with the use of PPTP are likely to occur with either protocol|
SSL—Secure Sockets Layer
VPN systems using this protocol possess the same level of security as the log-in pages of banking website and other sensitive domains. Most SSL VPNs are referred, informally, as “clientless VPNs.” This is because a dedicated VPN client is not required to connect to the VPN system. Therefore, you would connect to the VPN through a web browser, in the same way that you would connect to a website.
The OpenVPN protocol is an open-source VPN protocol. This VPN protocol is based on SSL code, which confers on it high-end security.
The SSL and the OpenVPN protocols are recommended for use over other VPN protocols. It is worthwhile to note that while the devices in the next section may have support for these widely used VPN protocols, they may favor the use of proprietary VPN technology. This distinction will be emphasized where necessary.
VPN solutions are often not Swiss knives, in that some solutions may be considered wasteful for certain applications while not being effective for others. In this section, in a tabular form, we delineate VPN solutions, and the applications for which they are most effective.
|Simple remote access to one computer||In-built VPN software in an OS|
|Secure Internet traffic and bypass geoblocked (regionally restricted) sites||Third-party hosted VPN provider subscription|
|Establish secure connection between multiple computers through a VPN||Standalone VPN server software|
|Reliable and robust arrangement for a multi-device or multi-network VPN setup with support for site-to-site connections||Dedicated VPN router|
Best VPN Router Reviews
1. Cisco RV320 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router Review
VPN Protocol Support
The Cisco RV320 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router provides support to the three most popular VPN protocols: PPTP, IPsec, and SSL.
The RV320 also provides support for the creation and use of multiple tunnels concurrently on the different VPN protocols supported. In the table below, the number of tunnels per VPN protocol is illustrated.
|VPN Protocol||Number of Tunnels|
|IPsec Site-to-Site||50 (cumulative)
|IPsec Client-to-Site||50 (cumulative)|
|IPsec Easy VPN||30|
VPN Protocol Configuration and Authentication Protocol Support
Configuring a tunnel using any of the protocols was straightforward. Using the IPsec as a reference, because of its reputation for having complicated configuration, I recorded quick configuration that was devoid of hiccups. The device supports most typical Phase 1 and Phase 2 IPsec options, and sports all IPsec configuration options on a single page. This helps to keep track of selected options.
The RV320 supports an impressive list of authentication protocols including:
- 128/192/256 AES encryption
It was possible for me to run concurrently an IPsec Site-to-Site tunnel with a Cisco ISA550W and Zyxel Zywall 100, while running an IPsec Client-to-Site tunnel to a PC using the Shrew Soft IPsec client. This was possible using the 256-bit AES encryption and SHA-1 authentication protocols.
The in-built Cisco VPN client exclusively establishes IPsec Easy VPN tunnels. Establishing an Easy VPN tunnel on the RV320 was not difficult by following the instructions in the RV320 manual, on a Windows 7 64-bit PC.
Configuring the RV320 to use SSL VPN was not complicated either. The steps followed were:
- Click a “enable SSL VPN” checkbox in the firewall menu
- Add a mobile username and password in the user management menu
- Enable the SSL mobile user group
From then on, configuring a client for SSL VPNs was even easier.
Computer Operating System Support
The Cisco RV320 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router product package includes a utilities disk from which the Cisco VPN client for Easy VPN configuration can be installed on a computer with a supported operating system. Operating systems supported by version 184.108.40.206 of the Cisco VPN client, according to the RV320 manual include:
- Windows XP (32-bit)
- Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
- *Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5
* OSes supported by older versions of the Cisco VPN client.
SSL VPN tunnel was established successfully on a Windows 7 32-bit PC. Same attempt was unsuccessful on the following operating systems:
- Windows 7 64-bit
- Windows 8.1 64-bit
- Mac OS 10.6.8
The error messages shown for each unsuccessful attempt were related to the virtual passage driver.
Manufacturer’s rating of the RV320 pegged its IPsec throughout for UDP traffic at 100 Mbps. The throughout may be substantially higher or lower depending on the VPN protocol, authentication protocol, and connectivity protocol (UDP, TCP, ICMP, or DNS) used. The RV320 displayed reliable performance when tested with TCP traffic, the connectivity protocol of choice for common network applications like email clients and web browsers.
Salient Selling Points
- Support for popular VPN protocols
- Multiple-tunnel support
- Supports popular authentication protocols
- Supports popular computer OSes
The TP-Link TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router is a versatile router that enables the use of LAN and WAN ports to ensure high speed wired connections. Its versatility is also stretched with the device being developed for high performance, top-security VPN capabilities, and support for several VPN protocols. Therefore, employees are able to gain remote connectivity to a central office with a surety that all connections initiated and received are comprehensively secured by leading security standards and protocols.
This multi-functional router manufactured by industry giant TP-Link also offer an all-encompassing suite of security strategies as proactive measures set up to stymie the most common form of attacks. These strategies include Denial of Service Defense, SPI Firewall, and IP MAC Binging. For the widespread functionality and reliable VPN solutions, the TP-Link TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router is extremely cost-effective.
Top-grade lightning protection is built into the TL-R600VPN to guard against electrical surges that could damage the internals of the router. The mechanics operates by directing the buildup (surge) to the earth. The effectiveness of the lightning protection on the TL-R600VPN caps out at 4KV, which is impressive. The connections are well grounded which is a definite plus. The lightning protection is often neglected in discussions, but makes for a necessary addition to the feature set of the TP-Link TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router to protect your pricey investment.
Included in the TP-Link TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router complete package are:
- TL-R600VPN VPN Router
- RJ-45 Ethernet cable
- Resource CD
- Installation guide
- Power cord
Interestingly, this router receives extended expert support from industry bigwig TP-Link’s customer service and tech support teams every hour of the day, on all days of the week, all year round (24/7/365). Of particular interest is the exciting five-year warranty baked in to prove claims of top-notch durability of the TP-Link TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router.
Salient Selling Points
- Multi-purpose router
- Premium security strategies against most common security challenges
- Excellent warranty and support
The ASUS RT-N66W Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit VPN Router appeals to users across the board, from new owners to techies with an unending list of ‘wanted features.’ Impressively, the Aus RT-N66W is able to strike the balance by being easy to use and operate alluring to the new users’ segment, while offering a host of features like failover mode and load balance that satisfies the more spec-minded techie segment.
In light of this achievement, the ASUS RT-N66W Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit VPN Router has amassed over 90 recommendations and awards internationally, while it bagged the prestigious CES 2011 Innovation award. Core reasons that necessitated the router’s recommendations and awards include sustainable delivery of optimized signals in all directions, widespread coverage, and increased data throughput.
Going into more detail, the RT-N66W sports 4 LAN ports and 2 USB ports for increased connectivity. Increased user-control is possible on this device with an easy setup and installation process baked in, customized access, and an ability to monitor the strength of the router’s signal. The ASUS RT-N66W boasts of Wi-Fi speed increases that are up to 50%, with extended support for heavy bandwidth activities like online gaming in a multi-player setting or engaging in 3D HD video streaming.
The devices emphasis on ease of use is commendable and exemplary. Users are able to get connectivity from the router on PCs, tablets, smartphones as well as e-readers. And that is just scratching the surface. Essential controls like data monitoring and parental settings needn’t be mired in some hidden section of a router’s management platform. ASUS believes so and thanks to innovative and cutting-edge interface tools, the aforementioned user controls and more are possible without much ado.
The dual WAN capability in the ASUS RT-N66W permits a user to use two ISPs/connections on a single router. Furthermore, USB quick scanning is a feature that ensures that the driver health is safeguarded in addition to the data integrity. The trailblazing failover mode and load balance are built into the RT-N66W to provide stability and redundancy for Internet connectivity at any location within a space or home that is uninterrupted.
Salient Selling Points
- Widespread connectivity
- Easy setup
- Fully featured management suite
- Award-winning router
With support for up to 5 VPN tunnel configurations, the TP-Link TL-WR842ND N300 is a quality router with top-notch performance. It has extended functionality of being a media server that permits sharing of photos, music, and videos with device on an established network.
The router is equipped with an IP Quality of Service (QoS) feature found only in premium routers. This feature ensures that there is optimal bandwidth usage by connected devices by controlling congestion and eliminating degradation of network performance. The router is equipped with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), which provides a convenient and more secure blanket over existing connections.
Setup is possible using an Easy Setup Assistant, which is included in a resource CD that accompanies the router. Finally, unlike many manufacturers, TP-Link offers a two-year warranty with each purchase of the TL-WR842ND N300 Multi-Function Wireless VPN Router.
Salient Selling Points
- Boasts of multiple functionality
- Embedded media server
- IP Quality of Service (QoS) function
- Quicker and more secure security setup