How To Set Up Your Own Home VPN Server
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more…
Virtual Private Networks are very useful, whether youre traveling the world;or just using public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop in your hometown. But you dont necessarily have to pay for a VPN serviceyou could host your own VPN server at home.
Your home Internet connections upload speed will really matter here. If you dont have much upload bandwidth, you may just; want to use a paid VPN service. Internet service providers usually offer much less upload bandwidth than they do download bandwidth. Still, if you do have the bandwidth, setting up a VPN server at home might be just the right thing for you.
Three Ways To Setup A VPN Server Of Your Own
There are three ways to setup your own VPN Server. The way you go will depend on what you plan to do with the VPN and what hardware you will be using. You can set up the VPN Server:
- On your router If you are using a router with built-in VPN capabilities, or your router supports custom firmware like DD-WRT or OpenWrt, you can set up the VPN Server on your router.
- On your own computer If installing the VPN Server on your router isnt an option, you can set up a VPN Server on a spare computer, even something tiny and low-powered like a Raspberry Pi. This is relatively easy to do, particularly if you use a computer running Microsoft Windows, which has built-in VPN capabilities. Of course, if you go this route, you will need to keep the computer that hosts your VPN Server running whenever you want to use the VPN.
- On a cloud service This approach doesnt require you to have any additional hardware. However, if you host your VPN Server on a cloud service, you need to keep in mind that the cloud service will be able to see whatever you do with the VPN.
Lets look at each of these options in more detail.
How To Make Your Own VPN Server 4 In
Before setting up your VPN server, check if your IP is static or dynamic . If its dynamic, youll have to set up a DDNS , which is a service that maps domain names to dynamic IP addresses. This way, you wont have to re-configure your VPN server every time your IP address changes. You can find instructions for setting up DDNS on your router providers website.
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Option Three: Make Your Own Dedicated VPN Server
You could also just use VPN server software on one of your own computers. Youll want to use a computer or device thats on all the time, thoughnot a desktop PC you turn off when you leave home.
Windows offers;a built-in way to host VPNs, and Apples Server app also allows you to set up a VPN server. These arent the most powerful options around, though, and they can be a bit finicky to set up and get working right.
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You can also install a third-party VPN serverlike OpenVPN. VPN servers are available for every operating system, from Windows;to Mac to Linux. Youll just need to forward the appropriate ports from your router to the computer running the server software.
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Theres also the option;of rolling your own dedicated VPN device. You could take a Raspberry Pi and install OpenVPN server software, turning it into a lightweight, low-power VPN server. You could even install other server software on it and use it as a multi-purpose server.
Get Someone Else To Host Your VPN For You
Here is a meet in the middle solution: you can have a web hosting provider host a VPN server for you. This can wind up a cheaper option than paying for a full-blown VPN service. Simply pay the web hosting company for server hosting and then set up your VPN server on the server they provide.
It does depend on the web hosting company as to whether or not this is an easy or a complicated process. Some offer point and click interfaces, while others require you to work with a command prompt.
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Are Diy VPNs Really A Good Idea
I thought building my own VPN server would be complicated and expensive. The reality was very different. An up-front $5 got me a working server for a month, and Amnezia handled the server setup process entirely automatically. The entire experience was barely more complicated than creating an account and buying something at a web store.
I expected app issues, and Amnezia’s lack of mobile support is a definite problem But the desktop app wasn’t bad at all. Sure, it doesn’t have glossy graphics or interactive maps, but it’s easy to use and more tweakable than some commercial VPN apps.
International speeds were disappointing, but local performance was decent, and the ability to use it as a bonafide VPN for BBC iPlayer was a welcome surprise.
Using your own VPN has plenty of issues, as we discussed earlier. You must trust Amnezia to set up the server properly, for instance, and there’s no support if anything goes wrong.
If you like the flexibility or want to have more control of your VPN, though, setting up your own server is cheap and so easy that just about anyone can be up and running in minutes. Well worth a try.
Your Ip Is Yours Alone
With a VPN service, your IP address is shared by many other users, which makes it very hard to identify which of those users is responsible for which action associated with an IP address on the internet.;
With a private VPN server, on the other hand, you have a static IP address that absolutely belongs to you and you only. This means there is no ambiguity about who did something on the internet using that IP address, which can be easily traced back directly to you.
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Connect To Your Vps Using Openvpn Connect
We now need to set up OpenVPN at your end. OpenVPN Connect is a VPN client that creates a simple OpenVPN connection between your PC and the VPS server, without the need for certificate authentication.
Paste the Client UI address into your web browser , ensure Connect is selected in the drop-down menu, and enter your Username: openvpn and password.
You will be prompted to download OpenVPN Connect client.
Install and run OpenVPN Connect as normal, then click the OpenVPN connect icon in the notification bar and select ‘Connect to .
Enter username and password.
You are now connected to you your VPS via OpenVPN.
The OpenVPN connect icon turns green so you can see whether you are connected at a glance.
Check out our IP leak test to make sure that everything was working properly, and our IP appears to be that of our VPS.
Build Your Own Dedicated VPN Server
Another option is to simply install the VPN server software on your own computer. To do this, you will need to ensure that the device in question is always running. You cant just set up a VPN on your daily laptop or desktop computer that you shut down every night! You can also use a Raspberry Pi to build a low-power VPN server.
Both Windows and Apple operating systems have built-in software that can be used to set up VPNs. It should be noted, however, that these options are not as powerful or as secure as other VPN software that is available.
There is also third-party VPN server software like OpenVPN that can work on a range of operating systems, including Linux.
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Flash Your Current Router
Firmware like DD-WRT replaces the OS on your routers non-volatile storage a process called flashing. The firmwares listed above support the creation of VPN servers on the router.
Be aware that this method of fixing a home VPN server is riskier because it has more excellent room for error and security flaws compared to purchasing a router with built-in VPN server support.
To create a VPN in this manner, you want first to flash your current router to figure with third-party firmware.
After that, youve got to input a series of commands on the flashed router to make a VPN server, then configure the device you would like to use because of the VPN client.
Theres tons of room for error, which could ultimately compromise your online security and privacy.
Its essential to research before you flash your router because doing so on a tool that doesnt support the firmware could break your router.
You can check if your current router supports DD-WRT firmware on the DD-WRT-supported routers database.
Heres how to flash your router:
You Can Build A Better Business Network
Many big companies hire specialized programmers to create their own VPN networks. Why? As above, it is so they can control their data themselves. With a dedicated VPN, a business can be sure that only authorized employees or customers access their network. Many small business owners actually run their own VPN networks from their private homes. This way they can be sure of their privacy and security and save some bucks.
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Recommended External VPN Hosts
Before we dive into the details of creating your own VPN, its well worth a mention that there are a number of truly excellent services already out there. Unless you are a power user with very specific requirements, youll find that the following VPN services will more than meet your needs with minimal hassle. No need to go through lengthy installation processes or edit pages of configuration files; simply sign up, install, and youre good to go!
NordVPN has set the gold standard for VPN industry expectations, and thats not just because its one of the most venerable, trusted names around. They continually refine and expand their offer, to the point where their massive worldwide network spans over 5,500 servers in 59 different countries.
With 256-bit encryption and modern tunneling protocols like OpenVPN as the backbone of your privacy suite, you can stealth your way past website blocks and dodge ad tracking and government snooping all with one click. You dont even have to sacrifice on performance, eitherNordVPNs speeds are great for streaming and gaming without lag or stutter.
Finally, NordVPN has a zero-logs guarantee you can trust. Panamanian jurisdiction excludes them from subjection to 5, 9, and 14 Eyes international surveillance and data retention agreements.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Use Other Devices As VPN Servers
If you dont have an OpenVPN-compatible router and you dont want to buy one, you can host a VPN server on another device such as your Windows computer or MacOS device but, like flashing a router, its a complex process.
Bear in mind that the device used as the VPN server needs to be switched on at all times.
If the device is turned off , you wont be able to connect through the VPN, which is a big problem if youre far away from home and unable to switch it back on.
Before making the VPN server you will need to set up port forwarding on your router so that the server will be accessible from the internet.
Well teach you how to set up a Windows device, as well as MacOS and Raspberry Pi.
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Setting Up Your Devices
Youre almost there! In this step well create files that tell the server how to interact with clients. Weve already made the base certificates in previous steps, now all we need to do is create configs by moving things into a new directory. Use the following commands to do that:
$ cd ~/client-configs$ ./make_config.sh client1
Now well transfer these configuration files to our devices. Youll need to download an FPT client thats capable of SFTP connections to do this. Filezilla is a free and open source program that works on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. Install the software and connect to your server through SFTP using your credentials above. Then navigate to the following directory on your server:
Now youll need to install OpenVPN on your computer, smartphone, tablet, and any other device you plan on using with your VPN.
- and install it to your computer.
- Copy the client1.ovpn file to OpenVPNs installation directory and put it in the config directory.
- Right click on the OpenVPN desktop shortcut and go to Properties
- In the next window, check Run this program as administrator
- Launch OpenVPN as an administrator. If it pops up warning messages, accept them.
- Enjoy surfing the web using your very own virtual private network!
Commercial Or Personal VPN Is It Better To Create Your Own VPN
Commercial VPN services have had years to perfect their services, maximizing the benefits for the individual user and delivering what most people want in a single package. VPN services have become synonymous with protecting privacy, accessing blocked content, and securing internet traffic. If thats what you desire then the simplest method is to pay for a trusted VPN service.
But if DIY is your thing, even if youre not that tech savvy, you can very easily set up your own VPN server to gain most of the benefits without any of the cost. Here are some of the key benefits:
The master of your data The purpose of a VPN is to reroute your traffic in order to make the path untraceable to you, essentially protecting your privacy while securing your data. Still, some people dont like that idea that the VPN provider is the one providing privacy and security since thats still a 3rd party with access to all of your activity, data, and online behaviors.
In the same vein of thought, by using a VPN youre limiting the amount of information being stored by your ISP and therefore accessible to others
If that sounds like you then you could benefit from setting up your own VPN to regain control of your data.
Keeping data private You cant control whether or not a VPN provider shares your information with other companies When you have your own VPN server you know theres no cooperation with other entities because youre the one operating the VPN server.
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Dynamic Domain Name Server
There are three main ways to set up your own VPN server at home but, before you choose the right one for you, you should check if your home network is assigned a static or dynamic public IP address by your ISP.
Static IPs stay the same, while dynamic IPs change from time to time.
If you have a dynamic IP address, its a good idea to set up DDNS . DDNS is a service that maps internet domain names to IP addresses.
Simply put, it gives your ever-changing IP address a fixed and memorable domain name.
DDNS is helpful when you set up your own VPN server at home because it will save you from having to re-configure the VPN each time your public IP address changes.
To find out how to set up DDNS on your router, look for instructions on your router providers website.
Now lets look at the four ways you can set up your own VPN server at home:
Why You Might Want To Do This
A home VPN gives;you an encrypted tunnel to use when on public Wi-Fi, and can even allow you to access country-specific services from outside the countryeven from an Android, iOS device, or a Chromebook. The VPN would provide secure access to your home network from anywhere. You could even allow access to other people,;making it easy to give them access to servers youre hosting on your home network. This would allow you to play PC games designed for a LAN over the Internet, tooalthough there are easier ways to set up a temporary network for PC gaming.
VPNs are also useful for connecting to services when traveling. For example, you could use the US version of Netflix or other streaming sites when traveling outside the US.
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How To Easily Create Your Own VPN Server
Derek Cromwell a recent Pew Research poll
Virtual private networks continue to grow in popularity and its no surprise given the rising concerns about privacy breaches and data used in business.
But its not just about maintaining privacy.
According to Global Web Index, theres a number of reasons for the rapid growth in VPN use. Motivations may differ from one region to another, but this list shows some of the most common reasons for adopting a VPN:
As you can see, privacy is a major motivator but its not the #1 driver. For many people, they want access to better entertainment content not immediately available in their region or on the network, theyre forced to use.
Free and commercial VPN services have made it easier than ever to access the web via VPN. While there are a lot of benefits to using a trusted paid VPN service, there are other options.
In this article well look at how to create a VPN server of your own, how to setup a VPN server, understanding VPN access and the benefits of a home VPN server, as well as the downside if you create your own VPN.
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