If you’re a streaming buff like us, you know Roku makes life easier by letting you access all the best services from one device. If you want the most content, though, you’ll need to route your Roku through a VPN. A good VPN lets you access content that streaming services hide behind geo-restrictions and other sorts of blocks.
Which VPNs do this best, though? Which ones unblock Netflix, Hulu, ESPN-plus, Paramount, HBO Max, and Prime Video? To get the answer, you’d have to test all VPNs out on all of these services. Or, you could just keep reading, because we share it all right here.
With NordVPN, we got all the security features and extras we wanted for a price we could afford. In fact, NordVPN offered tools we just didn’t find with other VPNs, like split tunneling, multihop, and dynamic IP addresses. Yet, NordVPN’s price compares favorably with any other company on the market.
If you’re a Roku user, you’re probably always on the lookout for more streaming content. You’ve got a Netflix subscription, a Hulu subscription, and a Disney-plus subscription. You’ve also installed apps from free services like PlutoTV, Tubi, and IMDb TV. Did you know, though, that you can get even more content from lots of these services if you use a VPN like NordVPN? It turns out, companies like Netflix offer different content in different countries, but you have to prove you’re actually in that country to access that content. NordVPN lets you mask your own IP address with one from the U.K., or Canada, or anywhere else you want to stream content, so that it appears like you’re in that location. And, it works well with all the big services, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney-plus, and Prime Video.
FYI: Many streaming services offer different content in different geographical regions. Some VPNs allow you to access this additional content through IP addresses associated with those regions.
Split Tunneling Available
One of our favorite NordVPN features is split tunneling. With split tunneling we can log on to the regular internet at the same time we’re logged on to the VPN. This is perfect for when we’re at the corner cafe doing a little work. We can use the VPN to handle all our work files, so we can be sure no one can intercept them. We can also use the cafe’s Wi-Fi to sign on to Spotify and listen to music. It’s the best of both worlds.
Low Prices for Long-Term Plans
For all you get, NordVPN subscriptions are highly affordable. A single month of the service costs $11.95. That’s more than a dollar less than NordVPN competitors like CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield charge. You can get an even better deal on NordVPN, though, if you’re willing to sign up for a long-term contract. A one-year plan costs $4.99 per month, and a two-year plan costs just $3.99 per month.
Based in the British Virgin Islands
Despite its name, the British Virgin Islands isn’t actually part of the U.K. itself. That means it’s not subject to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes surveillance. In fact, the islands maintain strict laws designed to protect personal privacy and prevent any government – even the islands themselves – from intruding on that privacy. In short, Surfshark users never have to worry about the U.K., the U.S., or anyone else showing up with a subpoena demanding to see customer records. We like having that extra layer of security.
One of the most important tools in Surfshark’s arsenal is the OpenVPN protocol. Basically, protocols tell the VPN how and when to deploy its various encryption methods. There are a number of different protocols out there. In fact, NordVPN offers a choice of several. The one we trust the most by far, though, is the OpenVPN protocol.
The OpenVPN protocol is open-source, and has been around for over 20 years. That means every web designer out there has had 20 years to pick it apart and find any flaws. By this point, every weakness has been addressed and every hole patched. As long as Surfshark offers OpenVPN, we know we can surf safely and anonymously.
Surfshark is among the few VPNs out there that uses a technology known as multihop, or double VPN. Multihop means that our connection is routed to at least two different servers. We hop from one to the next. Each hop takes us through a separate encrypted tunnel. Multihop, then, makes it virtually impossible for anyone to follow us to our destination and see what we’re up to.
The thing we like about ExpressVPN is that the company always seems willing to go the extra mile to make sure we have a great online experience. IP addresses are both shared and dynamic, for instance, providing us twice the security. The company doesn’t just have a strict logging policy; it invites auditors regularly to verify that policy. It doesn’t just provide access to lots of servers; it puts those servers in countries all over the world so we’re never far from a fast connection. While it’s true that ExpressVPN costs a bit more than some other VPNs on this list, we don’t mind paying a little extra for a company that sweats the details so we don’t have to.
Dynamic-Shared IP Addresses
ExpressVPN’s IP addresses aren’t just dynamic, and they aren’t just shared. ExpressVPN has found a way to provide both layers of protection. Shared addresses make it impossible for anyone watching to know which particular user on the address is accessing which particular website. Meanwhile, dynamic addresses change regularly, so that no one can follow you from site to site. Put these two security measures together, and you can be absolutely certain your data and identity are protected.
Strict Logging Policy
2,000 Servers in 160 Locations
The more servers a VPN maintains and the more global locations it puts their servers, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to find one nearby no matter where you happen to be. The closer you are to a server, the faster your connection. With 2,000 servers in 160 locations, you can be certain your ExpressVPN online experience will always be speedy and hassle-free.
Ivacy is known for its affordability. Subscriptions start at just $1.19 a month. Yet, for that Ivacy price you still get top-notch security and lots of great extras. For instance, Ivacy offers torrenting features like servers specially configured for P2P file sharing. In addition, Ivacy features dedicated IP addresses at no extra cost.
Lots of Affordable Subscription Options
Most VPNs offer one, two or possibly three subscription plans. Ivacy offers four, and all four of them are affordable. We went with the single-month subscription, which, at $9.95 is some three dollars cheaper than many of Ivacy’s competitors. We could have purchased a one-year subscription, though, for $3.99 a month. A two-year plan is $59.99, and Ivacy throws in three free months. That works out to just $2.49 a month.
Finally, if you don’t mind locking into a long-term subscription, the company has a five-year plan that costs just $1.19 a month. We loved having that many choices, and we loved even more how much Ivacy rewards customer loyalty.
Can’t find what you’re looking for through Roku? You might try torrenting. We never recommend doing anything illegal, like downloading copyrighted material. However, we’ve found lots of hard-to-find films and TV series through torrenting. You’ll want to use a VPN like Ivacy, though. Not only does Ivacy conceal your IP address and encrypt your data, but it offers fast download speeds and servers that have been optimized for P2P.
Dedicated IP Addresses
Ivacy specializes in dedicated IP addresses. In fact, the company only offers dedicated addresses. The advantage of a dedicated address is that it is always the same every time you sign on to the VPN. Lots of secure sites get suspicious of IP addresses that change. With a dedicated address, though, you never have to worry about getting blocked or having to re-verify your identity over and over. Plus, because Ivacy only offers dedicated addresses, you don’t have to pay extra to get one.
IPVanish is a workhorse among VPNs. It isn’t big on frills, but with a kill switch and AES-256 encryption, it’s absolutely secure. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs out there, whether you’re using Windows or Mac devices. And, while it doesn’t have a lot of extras, it does a great job of accessing all the great streaming services offered through Roku.
As the saying goes, you can’t get something for nothing. You should never log on to public Wi-Fi without a VPN, but there is a price to pay for using a VPN. That price is speed. All VPNs slow your devices down to some extent. That doesn’t mean you should ditch your VPN. The answer is to look for VPNs like IPVanish that slow your devices down as little as possible. The average latency increase among VPNs is 32 percent. IPVanish’s latency increase on our Windows device was less than half of that, just 14 percent. Our Mac results were even more impressive. Latency increased just six percent.
Tip: There are three different speeds that matter to a VPN: download speeds, upload speeds, and latency speeds.
Every IPVanish subscription comes with a kill switch. This handy feature shuts down all your apps and sites the moment you lose your VPN connection. The thing is, a VPN protects you when you’re online, hiding all your activities from anyone who might be looking. Without a kill switch, though, all those activities will be on full display if you should lose your connection. That’s why kill switches are so important: You don’t want to get caught with your pants down.
IPVanish uses AES-256 to encrypt all customer data. You can’t get much safer than AES-256. In fact, according to IBM, it would take the fastest computer on Earth a “billion billion” years to execute a successful brute force attack on AES-256.1 What’s more, AES-256 is the encryption method used by the U.S. military and spy services. That’s a pretty good recommendation.
It takes a lot of work to put a list like this one together. You see only the finished product. To decide which five VPNs belong on this list, though, we had to test dozens of different VPNs and compile information about their security, speed, available features, customer service, and price. We had to weigh every factor carefully and make tough decisions about who offers the best product. Bottom line: When we say these are the top five VPNs for Roku, we mean it.
Best for Roku
Of course, what mattered most for us in compiling this list was finding VPNs that work well with Roku in particular. Roku is focused on providing access to streaming services, so one of our first concerns was making sure that all the VPNs on this list could get around geo-restrictions to give you the most content possible. We checked speeds as well, so we knew whether or not these VPNs could provide fast, uninterrupted signals with no lags. Finally, we looked for bonus features like split tunneling and kill switches, extras that could be especially useful when you’re using Roku.
As we point out in our guide to VPNs, no VPN is worth subscribing to if it doesn’t provide peerless security, even if it gives you access to all the streaming content on the planet. A VPN’s first job is to keep you safe. That’s why we do a thorough check of all aspects of a VPN’s security before we give it our seal of approval.
Encryption: VPN security depends a great deal on the kind of encryption the company uses. We like to see AES-256 encryption.
Protocols: Protocols are the instructions a VPN uses that tell it how to employ its various levels of encryption. Since OpenVPN is the most reliable, we like to know if a company at least offers it as an option. However, other protocols, including WireGuard and Lightway are both gaining in popularity and credibility, and we give bonus points to companies that offer them as an alternative.
Multihop: Multihop is a newer technology some VPNs are now offering. Basically, instead of routing your internet connection through one encrypted tunnel, VPNs with multihop route it through two or more encrypted tunnels. Every time you hop, you make it harder for hackers to follow you.
Kill switch: A kill switch is another handy piece of technology many VPNs now offer. It shuts down all your browsing activity anytime you lose your VPN connection. That way you never have to worry about leaking any data.
Location: It matters where your VPN is based. Companies based in Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes countries must turn over customer data if a government agency subpoenas it. This means: A headquarter in a non-member country, then, equals greater security.
It’s a fact of life: running a VPN will slow down your device. It’s a small price to pay for security, if the lag is within reason. You don’t want to wind up buffering in the middle of “Inventing Anna.” To make sure that doesn’t happen, we tested every VPN rigorously, looking at upload, download, and latency speeds.
First, we recorded how fast a device worked without a VPN running. Then we installed the VPN and recorded the speed again. The difference in these two numbers is the percentage of how much speed was lost with the VPN. We repeated this process for Windows and Mac devices, and then used the percentages to give us an idea of how different VPNs compared to one another.
Once we knew a VPN had great security and solid speeds, we looked at what kind of features it offered. Often, those can make the difference between a spot at number one and a spot somewhere lower down on the list.
Streaming capabilities: The main reason to use a VPN is to ensure your security when you’re online. Access to more entertainment, though, has to be a close second. We prefer VPNs that can help us get around geo-restrictions and other content blocks so we can watch hidden content only available in certain countries.
Torrenting options: The fact of the matter is, not all the best content is available through a streaming service. Sometimes we can only track down a classic album or an old movie through torrenting. So, we like it when a VPN makes torrenting easy, with servers dedicated to P2P and easy-to-use buttons that connect us directly to sites like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay.
Split tunneling: For those of you still new to VPNs, here’s a hot tip: Split tunneling can save you valuable bandwidth and money. In simplest terms, split tunneling lets you connect to the plain old internet at the same time you’re connected to your VPN server. You can run any sensitive activities through the VPN, and do everything else via whatever public Wi-Fi happens to be available. You’ll figure out pretty quickly that your speeds will improve all the way around.
Servers and server locations: Another factor in determining speed is how near or far you are away from the server you’re connecting with. Closer servers equal faster speeds. Generally speaking, then, we look for companies that maintain lots of servers in lots of different places so wherever we happen to be, we always know we can access a local connection.
OK, so customer service isn’t the first thing we look at when we’re checking out a new VPN. That doesn’t minimize its significance. When you’re dealing with technology, you never know when you might need help. If a company is impossible to contact or staffs its help desk with surly, bitter folks who are more trouble than they’re worth to talk to, that company won’t be getting high marks from us.
Finally, we’re always interested in what a VPN costs. Pricing might seem like a pretty straightforward standard of comparison. After all, it’s easy to just organize companies based on what they charge for a single-month subscription.
Subscription prices, though, aren’t the end of the story. In fact, we’re actually more interested in value than price. We’re willing to pay a little more for a VPN, for instance, if it offers multihop and lets us access all our favorite streaming services through Roku.
In addition, you should know that most companies offer lower prices for long-term commitments. That means we can’t just compare single-month subscriptions. We also have to compare VPNs in terms of the discount deals they offer.
If you want to make the most of your Roku, you need a VPN that will let you access streaming content from all the best services, like Netflix, Hulu, Disney-plus, and HBO Max. It helps if that VPN has other great features like split tunneling and torrenting capabilities. Most importantly, it must keep you safe and secure.
Of course, there are tons of VPNs out there. If you’re looking for one that ticks all these boxes, though, you’ll most likely find it somewhere on this page.
We’ve tried to provide you with everything we know about the best VPNs for Roku, but we know we’re bound to have missed something. So, we’ve taken the time to answer just a few more of your questions below.
No, you cannot put a VPN on Roku. Roku doesn’t allow you to install a VPN natively. However, there are workarounds that will allow you to use a VPN in conjunction with Roku. The most common of these is to install a VPN on your Wi-Fi router. This will ensure that all your internet traffic, including your Roku content, will funnel through the VPN.
NordVPN works best on Roku. NordVPN is among the most secure VPNs on the market. It offers great bonus features like split tunneling, a kill switch, multihop technology, and torrenting options. Most importantly, it unblocks all the best streaming services, letting you access the maximum amount of content through your Roku. Other great VPNs for Roku include Surfshark, ExpressVPN, Ivacy, and IPVanish.
NordVPN is better than Surfshark. Both companies offer great products that utilize all the best security features like the OpenVPN protocol, AES-256 encryption, and multihop. Both let you access streaming services on Roku. Both offer additional extras like torrenting and split tunneling. However, NordVPN just edges Surfshark out, with a lower month-to-month price and available dedicated IP addresses.