Setting Up a VPN on Apple TV

Last edited: June 12, 2020
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Setting Up a VPN on Apple TV: A Quick Summary

Want to set up a VPN on your Apple TV quickly and easily? We recommend setting up a virtual hotspot on your laptop or PC. You can read more about this in our article about setting up a VPN on a virtual router for Windows.

You can also install the VPN directly on your router. For Apple TV, we recommend using ExpressVPN:

To learn more about using a VPN with Apple TV, read our full article below.

Many people use an Apple TV (ATV) to watch movies, series, and TV. With Apple TV, you can stream online content directly on your big TV screen. Despite the nice features of the ATV, this device has some safety risks. An ATV usually uses an unsafe internet connection. However, it’s possible to secure your ATV by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

An additional advantage of a VPN is that it allows you to unlock a wider range of films and series. With a VPN (or by adjusting your DNS settings), you can ‘virtually’ change the location of your Apple TV so you can also watch movies and series from other countries.

How Do You Set Up a VPN on Apple TV?

Unfortunately, there are no VPN applications for Apple TV. In order for your Apple TV to use a VPN connection, you need to take a small detour. We’ll show you how to do this step by step. There are three ways to use a VPN on your Apple TV:

  • By installing a VPN on your router
  • By installing a VPN on a virtual router
  • By adjusting your DNS settings with a VPN on your Apple TV. This won’t grant you with any VPN protection, but it will enable you to avoid geo-blocks.

Setting Up VPN on a Router For Apple TV

The first way to use a VPN on your Apple TV is by installing it on your router. This will direct all internet traffic from your Apple TV through this router. The advantage of this is that not only your Apple TV will be provided with VPN security, but all other devices connected to this router as well.

Apple TV VPN router internet connection

To install a VPN on your router, the router should be compatible. A compatible router has DD-WRT firmware. Firmware is your router’s operating system, which determines whether you’ll be able to set up a VPN on it. You can easily download this firmware yourself and install it on your router.

Incidentally, this isn’t always necessary, because nowadays quite a few routers have firmware that supports a VPN setup. Furthermore, there are plenty of VPN providers that sell routers with DD-WRT firmware. Be sure to check your VPN provider’s website to see whether they sell these routers, or check out our article listing the best VPN routers.

Once you have a suitable router, you can start setting up your VPN. To do this, go to your router’s administrator page. You can access this page by entering your router’s IP address in the search bar of your browser. Then, log in with the corresponding login details for your router.

When you’re logged in, you can set up your VPN. Please refer to our extensive article on setting up a VPN on your router to learn how to do this step-by-step. Once this is done, all you have to do is connect your Apple TV to the router, and it’ll be protected.

Setting Up VPN on a Virtual Router For Apple TV

The second way to use a VPN on your Apple TV is by installing it on a virtual router. This can be done on both Windows and MacOS. A virtual router is a WiFi hotspot you can set up on your computer. This way, your computer functions as a router and sends on its own internet connection.

If you set up this virtual router in combination with a VPN, you get a secure internet connection for all devices connected to this virtual router. This allows you to connect your Apple TV to the virtual router, so all your internet traffic on this device is protected.

Apple TV VPN virtual router connection

To set up a VPN connection on a virtual router (or WiFi hotspot), follow these steps:

  1. Get a VPN subscription from a good VPN provider and create an account. We recommend ExpressVPN for Apple TV.
  2. Set up the VPN connection on the computer you want to use as a virtual router.
  3. Set up a WiFi hotspot on your computer.
  4. Connect your Apple TV to this WiFi hotspot.

Once your Apple TV is connected to the hotspot, you can safely stream videos. Enjoy!

Unblocking Geo-blocked Content Using DNS and a VPN

Another way to unblock geo restrictions on your Apple TV is by changing you DNS settings while using a VPN. However, do keep in mind that this solution won’t give you the usual protection of a VPN. Instead, it’ll only allow you to change the virtual location of your Apple TV.

To set up a DNS on your Apple TV you need at least a fourth generation Apple TV or higher (released in or after 2015). Then you need to take a number of steps. We will elaborate on each step later.

  1. Create a DDNS hostname.
  2. Register this DDNS hostname with your VPN provider.
  3. Set up the DNS configuration on your Apple TV.

To keep it as simple and concrete as possible, we’ll show how to set up a DNS using ExpressVPN. This way, we can take you through the DNS setup step-by-step.

1. Create a DDNS hostname

The creation of a DDNS hostname is done through a DDNS service provider. This is a service that allows you to easily link IP addresses to a domain name. There are several free DDNS providers, for example Dynu.

To create a DDNS, you first need to create a free account with such a service. In Dynu’s case, you can do so by heading to this page and filling in your details. Then you need to confirm your account by email. For us, this email ended up in the spam folder, so make sure to check that if the message doesn’t show up in your inbox.

Once you have an account with a DDNS provider, you can log in and create a hostname. With Dynu, this goes as follows:

  1. Log in to Dynu’s website.
  2. Click on “DDNS Services“.
  3. Click on “+ Add“.
  4. Fill in a hostname on the left side of “Option 1” (e.g. “petersappletv”) and choose a random “Top Level” from the list. In this case, we chose “ddnsfree.com”. Your hostname will be a combination of these two parts, so for us it’s “petersapplet.ddnsfree.com”.
  5. Click on the green “+ Add” button at the bottom of the page.
  6. You’ll be sent to a page where you can edit some of the options. Turn off “Wildcard IPv4 Alias” and “Wildcard IPv6 Alias” and switch “Enable IPv6 Address” on. Then click on “Save“.

The above explanation works for Dynu, but may not work for other DDNS providers. Whichever provider you use, make sure you choose the right settings.

2. Register the hostname with your VPN provider

After creating a hostname with a DDNS provider, you need to register this DDNS with your VPN provider. In the case of ExpressVPN, this goes as follows:

  1. Go to the ExpressVPN website and log into your account by clicking on “My Account”.
  2. In the sidebar on the left, click “DNS settings“.
  3. Scroll down to the section called “Dynamic DNS Registration“.
  4. Enter your hostname under “Dynamic DNS Hostname” and click “Save Hostname“. In our case, this meant entering “petersapplet.ddnsfree.com” as the hostname.

3. Set up the DNS on your Apple TV

After registering your hostname with ExpressVPN, you’ll need to enter the IP address of the DNS server on your Apple TV. This IP address can be found on your VPN provider’s website. Follow these steps (again, we will use ExpressVPN as an example):

  1. Go to “My subscriptions” on your ExpressVPN account page.
  2. Under “Set up your devices“, click “More“.
  3. Click on “Apple TV“.
  4. You’ll see a DNS IP address on the right side of the screen. Write this down.
  5. Start up your Apple TV and go to “Settings“.
  6. Go to “Network” and click on “WiFi” or “ethernet“, depending on your connection. If your Apple TV is connected via WiFi, you’ll see “WiFi”. If your Apple TV is connected via an internet cable, it’ll be “Ethernet”.
  7. Go to “Configure DNS” and select “Manual“.
  8. You’ll see your current DNS address. Important: note this down in case you no longer want to use the DNS of the VPN at a later point.
  9. Enter the DNS IP address you obtained from the ExpressVPN website and save it.
  10. Restart your Apple TV. You can do this by going to “System” under settings and restarting the Apple TV from there.

You have now set up your Apple TV via DNS.

The Best VPN For Apple TV

If you’re still looking for a good VPN service for your Apple TV, we recommend ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN is the best VPN of this moment. It’s fast, has lots of servers, and is easy to use. The latter makes ExpressVPN accessible to people who don’t have a lot of VPN experience. It works perfectly for anonymous surfing, downloading and streaming (including Netflix) on your Apple TV. What’s more, ExpressVPN’s security is rock-solid. You can try this premium VPN provider for a month, as they offer a 30-day refund on all their subscriptions.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
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  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
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Would you rather use a different VPN? Check out our list of the best VPNs for Apple TV.

Why Is a VPN Useful For Your Apple TV?

There are several advantages to installing a VPN on Apple TV. The three biggest benefits are improved online privacy, security, and freedom.

More privacy

If you use a VPN, you’re safeguarding your anonymity on the internet. This works as follows: each device, including your Apple TV, has a unique IP address. This is like a zip code, but for your internet connection. It allows third parties to track who you are and what you’ve watched on your Apple TV. If you don’t want this, you can use a VPN. A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts all of your internet traffic.

Please note that this increased level of privacy doesn’t apply when you’re using the DNS method. This doesn’t necessarily give you more security and privacy on your Apple TV. It just provides you with more freedom to watch a wider range of movies and shows. For better online security and privacy, you should install the VPN on your (virtual) router.

More security for Apple TV

Laptop With LockIn addition to extra privacy, a VPN on your Apple TV also enhances online security. Your online data is much more secure when you use a VPN. As described above, a VPN encrypts your internet traffic. When others intercept your internet traffic, they’ll only see a jumble of random numbers and letters. They won’t be able to cause much harm with that.

The advantage of a VPN is that websites, hackers, governments, and copyright watchdogs can’t see what you’re doing on the internet. So, you can use your Apple TV securely with a VPN.

More freedom for Apple TV

Finally, a VPN allows you to unblock content on your Apple TV. With a VPN, you can redirect your internet traffic through a different country. All you have to do is connect to a VPN server abroad. This means your online data will be sent out wearing the IP address of the VPN server, which makes it look like you’re in that server’s country. This can be useful if you want to view online content or websites that aren’t usually available in your country. For example, you can use a VPN to view the foreign versions of Netflix.

In short, by using a VPN on your Apple TV you increase your online freedom, safety and anonymity. Based on all these advantages, we strongly recommend using your Apple TV in combination with a VPN. The best way to do this is to install this VPN on your router.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, a VPN comes with several benefits when used in conjunction with Apple TV. The easiest way to install a VPN on your Apple TV is through a virtual router on your Windows or Mac(OS) computer. We would recommend using ExpressVPN for Apple TV. Simply follow the instructions in this article to set up a VPN on your Apple TV and enjoy all the extra features.

VPN Setup on Apple TV: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about setting up a VPN on Apple TV? Click on a frequently asked question below to see the answer. Is your question not listed here, and is your answer not in the article? Leave your question in the comments.

There are three ways to set up a VPN on Apple TV:

  • Set up your VPN on your router and connect your Apple TV to this router.
  • Install a VPN on your Windows or Mac computer, set up a Wi-Fi hotspot, and connect your Apple TV to this “virtual router”.
  • Adjust the DNS settings on your Apple TV (least secure option).

For more information, read our step-by-step manual right here.

A VPN secures your Apple TV’s internet connection. In addition, using a VPN improves online privacy. A VPN can also be used to bypass geographical blocks. For example, you can view content that you would normally only be able to see abroad, such as foreign  Netflix catalogs.

The best VPN for Apple TV at the moment is ExpressVPN. This VPN is incredibly fast, so you can watch your favorite shows and movies without delays or lag. What’s more, ExpressVPN security is top of the line.

A virtual router is a device that transmits a WiFi signal without being an actual router. An example is your laptop or smartphone: you can set up a WiFi hotspot on these devices, so other devices can access the internet. The devices that are used as hotspots are sometimes referred to as virtual routers.

Tech journalist
Erik was educated in the humanities, after which he started to investigate technological and online culture. Specifically, he is interested in privacy and net neutrality. Erik has worked as an editor, copywriter and translator for several platforms, with technology as a recurring theme.

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