How to Use a VPN with Chromecast [January 2021]

When it comes to staying secure online, nothing does a better job than a VPN. Though they aren’t flawless, VPNs help you stay protected by routing your traffic anonymously through servers around the world, in order to make your footprints disappear. Whether you’re just trying to avoid being tracked by advertisers, or you want to change your location in order to stream out-of-region Netflix movies, using a VPN when browsing online is a no-brainer.

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Of course, a VPN doesn’t do you any good if you’re leaving behind breadcrumbs that lead right to your door. That’s exactly what could happen if you use a Chromecast without proper VPN coverage. You might have your VPN running on your mobile device, but the minute you cast over to your television for movie night, you’re risking being tracked again. Is there a way to use your VPN with Chromecast, or are you doomed to be caught no matter what?

Using a VPN with Standard Chromecasts

Obviously, your Chromecast requires an internet connection to work properly, running right over your home network to allow for casting movies, shows, and music from your phone. Unlike devices like Amazon’s Fire Stick or Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast doesn’t run dedicated apps (or at least, it didn’t use to—more on that at the end of this article), so there’s no way to install a VPN app on your device.

Likewise, there’s no way to dive into the settings of your Chromecast to change its network settings as if it were a smartphone, which means you might be out of luck.

Or at least, you would be, if VPNs weren’t flexible. While you can’t install a VPN directly on your device, you can setup your VPN to work natively with your router, moving all traffic on your home network through your VPN. This isn’t quite as simple as installing a VPN on your computer or smartphone, but if you have the time, it can really be worth securing your entire network.

VPN routers

You can configure a virtual router on a Windows or Mac computer but if you have a VPN-enabled router, it is safer and easier to use that. Routing all of your internet traffic through the router by default means no configuration on any computers, phones or IoT devices in your home. You don’t need to install VPN software and you don’t need to remember to turn it on.

If you don’t have a VPN-enabled router (and you likely do, since setting up a VPN is mostly software-based), you can potentially upgrade the firmware to DD-WRT or Tomato. Either of these work with a range of router makes and models. If you have a compatible router, you could upgrade your firmware to one of these and turn your $100 router into something that would normally cost closer to $1000.

The downside of VPNs is that all of your traffic will route through the VPN, unless you disable the VPN at the router level. For the most part, this shouldn’t cause any issues, but if you select a VPN endpoint in a different country or somewhere not close to you, any location-aware website will get confused and require manual intervention. Again, this may not be an issue for you, but it’s worth being aware of the consequences. For example, if you shop online, you may receive different listings and pricing than you would in your home country. It’s a small issue—and if you set your VPN to route in your home country, one that won’t matter to you at all—but something to bear in mind depending on how you use the internet.

The other main downside of VPNs comes from your endpoint locations. VPN endpoints are where your secure tunnel ends and reverts back to a standard internet connection. Most VPN providers spread hundreds of endpoints across the country, but it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re on a stable connection. Look for a VPN provider that has endpoints in your city or region, in addition to other states and countries. That way, you get maximum spread and can choose your locations depending on your needs.

Speed used to be an issue with VPN thanks to its traffic overhead. This is the extra data generated by the security of a VPN and the fact traffic has to travel further. This is less of an issue now, especially if you use a good quality VPN provider. TechJunkie has a bunch of articles on choosing a VPN provider to help with that.

Setting up a VPN on your router

Setting up a VPN on your router will require you to know the VPN settings from your provider. You will need the URL or IP address of the VPN server, your username and password and any security settings the provider uses. This will all usually be in the account section of the provider’s website.

Most good providers will offer guides and walkthroughs to set up their services on your router. It makes sense to follow them if they have them. Some router providers provide their own firmware you can install on your router but I would suggest using configuration instead as it retains control over what your router does.

Typical router configuration should go something like this:

  1. Add the DNS and DHCP settings as provided by your VPN provider to the router.
  2. Disable IPv6 if required.
  3. Select a VPN server address from those available from your provider.
  4. Select TCP or UDP as a tunnel protocol.
  5. Select an encryption method (AES).
  6. Add your VPN username and password.

You’ll want to look at your VPN of choice to see specific instructions for setting up your router. Our top pick for VPNs, ExpressVPN, has their instructions right here.

Block Google DNS

Next you need to block Google DNS in order for the Chromecast to work properly over a VPN. This is more router configuration but is very straightforward. You essentially create a static route that bypasses Google DNS. This won’t work if you already use Google DNS on your router. If you want to use a Chromecast over VPN, you will have to change your DNS first.

Again, it is difficult to be specific as router configuration differs between manufacturers, but on my Linksys router I had to do this:

  1. Log into the router and select Connectivity and then Advanced Routing.
  2. Select Add Static Route and give it a name.
  3. Add Destination IP as (Google DNS address).
  4. Add the subnet mask as
  5. Add the gateway address as your router’s IP address.
  6. Select Save.
  7. Repeat for Google’s other DNS address

After you save this configuration, you should be able to stream using your Chromecast without a problem. You will also benefit from enhanced security with all your internet traffic. Your ISP, government and anyone else who is interested in what you do online will no longer be able to see what you’re doing and you have taken a huge stride in improving your online privacy.

Chromecast with Google TV

It’s been a while since we got a new Chromecast, but we finally saw the launch of Google’s new streaming stick last fall. Although it’s still called a Chromecast and retains the classic puck shape we’ve come to know and love, this is a new device through and through. In fact, it’s the biggest change to the Chromecast we’ve seen yet, combining the utility of Google Cast with a remote and a brand-new interface called “Google TV,” based off of Android TV.

If you’re unfamiliar with Android TV, that’s okay—here’s what matters to you. Owners of this new Chromecast (which runs $49 and supports 4K and HDR out of the box, marking a price drop from the older Chromecast Ultra) can gain access to the Play Store, which makes it possible to download a number of VPNs for Google TV, including but not limited to:

  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • Surfshark
  • CyberGhost
  • IPVanish

This means that, instead of being forced to set up your VPN through external means, you can rely on basic apps through Android as you would on most other smart devices. It’s a notable addition, and makes upgrading to Google’s new Chromecast a much more tempting proposition.

2 thoughts on “How to Use a VPN with Chromecast [January 2021]”

Avatar Chad says:
I haven’t had much success bypassing Netflix geo restrictions using the Surfshark app on Chromecast with Google TV. I’ve got Google’s DNS servers blocked and after I uninstall and reinstall the Netflix app it may load up one geo restricted video while I’m on a different country’s server, but eventually (and quickly) Netflix catches on and I get the error stating I’m behind an unblocker or proxy.
Avatar JL says:
I’m on the same boat, it’ll load Canadian content (I’m in US) but won’t play any of it. On my aunt’s Android TV (Android 9) Surfshark works flawlessly.
Avatar Mauritz says:
Except that your vpn provider can now see everything you do, and are shurely much more shady than your ISP. VPN does not make browsing saver, if done wrong can even make it less save. Best people start understanding the truth of vpn and what its true intentention was: to expand ones private network using the www.
Avatar Baratz says:
You are an idiot. You don’t cite one instance to support your claim, despite ISPs routinely engaging in shady practices, such as Charter-Spectrum’s settlement for throttled internet and false advertising, or Comcast’s antitrust lawsuit. Motherboard even proved that telecoms (ISPs in their own right) that promised to not sell date gleefully sold data to a bounty hunter they hired to find their own phone.

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