Thanks to the flexibility of Fire OS and the ability to install outside applications on the device, your Fire Stick isn’t just limited t0 playing content from typical services like Netflix and Hulu. In fact, what makes the Fire Stick such an obvious choice for streaming media is its ability to play content from both free and paid services around the world. If you’re looking to delve into the world of Fire Stick freedom, TechJunkie is the perfect place to do it—and in this guide, we’re going to look at the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to streaming pirated content online. Follow along as we dive into VPNs, privacy, and how to protect yourself online.
What is a VPN?
Let’s open this conversation by starting at the beginning: just what is a VPN, and why do I need one on my Fire Stick? Well, a VPN happens to be one of the best ways to protect your online life and your privacy. A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, allows your computer, smartphone, or any other web-connected device to link to another server through a private tunnel secured on both ends of the connection.
When your VPN is active, instead of using the standard route between your PC or smartphone to access an article, video, or anything else online, the VPN uses the private tunnel to reach its destination. That tunnel is only decrypted at the starting and ending points of the destination, a function known as end-to-end encryption, so your PC and the web page know you’re there, but your ISP can’t view the content you’re seeing beyond a generic “data” level. In short, with the help of a VPN, your ISP can’t see any of your activity—and therefore, also can’t sell your data to advertisers.
Now, it should go without saying that this data isn’t completely anonymous. Depending on the VPN you choose, you may still be tracked by the VPN itself, which can complicate matters when attempting to browse anonymously. This is why it’s important to choose a great VPN service—you don’t want to just hide your internet traffic from ISPs and advertisers. You also want to ensure your VPN is safe and secure when browsing. Choosing a VPN can be difficult, especially with all the choices available online today, so you’ll need to check out our full list of recommendations here. Alternately, you can also stay tuned in this guide when we give a few recommendations for using specifically with your Fire Stick.
Why Do I Need a VPN?
If you’re just streaming basic content on your Fire Stick—think Amazon Prime Video or Hulu—you probably don’t. Though having a VPN on is very rarely the wrong choice, the privacy it adds to your device isn’t needed to enjoy your favorite services regularly. And although we also say that the less information you give internet service providers and online companies, the better, the truth is that a VPN won’t be right for everyone.
However, if you’ve found your way to this page, it’s probably because you’re using your Fire Stick for something that isn’t a standard application available through the Amazon Appstore. Be it basic piracy apps like Showbox or Terrarium TV, or more complicated applications like Kodi, which allow you to fully load your Fire Stick with a new interface, along with thousands of applications and add-ons to completely change how you watch movies forever. These systems are easy to setup and use, but there’s a big reason why people turn away from them: they aren’t entirely legal. While thousands of users get away with consuming pirated content on the internet every day, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone gets away with piracy. If you’re caught by your ISP, you can land yourself in some hot water, including losing access to your internet or even facing major fines from groups like the MPAA.
So, if you’re looking to consume pirated content on your Fire Stick, the best way to go about keeping yourself safe from getting caught is to use a VPN. Most popular VPNs weren’t necessarily designed with piracy in mind, but they do support keeping your internet use secret so that you can catch up on the latest hit series online without having to pay for cable or subscribe to yet another streaming service.
What VPN Should I Use?
Good news! As mentioned above, we have a whole article filled with in-depth analysis of some of the best VPNs on the market today, and it’s worth checking out our suggestions here. That said, we do have a few of our favorites specifically for use with the Fire Stick. Here’s a quick summary of what you should look to use on the Fire Stick!
- ExpressVPN: One of our all-time favorites, ExpressVPN is a great all around option for anyone looking for a simple VPN that isn’t too difficult to use, while still keeping their data secure. The app is packed with features and security options that help to keep your information safe while browsing on the web, and most connections are established to your VPN servers within a few moments. ExpressVPN might not reinvent the wheel, but they have enough interest ideas here to make sure you’re satisfied with your VPN usage.
- Private Internet Access (PIA): If you’re looking for the cheapest way to dive into the world of protected internet devices, you’ve found it in PIA. Prices start at $6.95 per month, a reasonable if not remarkable price all things considered. And while a six month plan is also available, it’s the yearlong subscription you’ll want to look into. Unlike other VPNs that can reach up to $100 per year for privacy features, Private Internet Access charges just $39.95 for a full year’s subscription. It’s the cheapest product on our list, and while it may not include any flashy features or groundbreaking options, paying just $40 per year for VPN support is a no-brainer.
- IPVanish: IPVanish is a high-tier VPN available today, and one of its marquee features is its server count. With over 40,000 servers available today, it’s one of the largest VPN networks running today, which can help you increase both your speed and your privacy. It’s also rather expensive; a single month of the service costs a flat $10, and auto-renews on a monthly basis, costing users a full $120 per year. As usual, prepaying is the best option here, as it lowers your cost to around $80 annually.
This is by no means a full list of options available for use on your Fire Stick, but with choices for the best all-around, best budget, and best premium VPN service, you’re bound to find something that fits what you’re trying to do online. And remember, these VPNs support multiple connections, which means in addition to your Fire Stick, you can also protect your computer, tablet, or smartphone with the same plan.
What About Free VPNs?
We know this answer is going to bum some people out, but generally speaking, you should not use free VPNs to protect your identity online. Though free VPNs, like Hola for example, promise to protect your data online, VPNs cost money to uphold and to run on a daily basis, and unfortunately, if you aren’t paying for the product, there’s a good chance you are the product. As many Hola users found out in 2015, many free VPNs are actively using your bandwidth for immoral or illicit acts like botnet attacks, or straight-up reselling your data to those same advertisers you’re trying to avoid, without the basic level of protection your ISP grants you.
Yes, it’s a dangerous world out there for users looking for a free VPN to use without risking their data, though options like TunnelBear do provide a freemium experience, where you’re granted a small amount of free VPN data per month. If won’t keep you protected long enough to stream unlimited movies and television shows to your Fire Stick, but if you want to test out using a VPN, TunnelBear (along with other options like Private Tunnel VPN) are trusted services that are fairly easy to use.
Installing Your VPN on Your Fire Stick
Here’s the good news: in most cases, it’s really easy to get a VPN up and running on your Fire Stick device. Unlike Google’s Chromecast, which requires setting up your VPN using your router in order to protect your streaming content, the Fire Stick allows for easily accessible VPNs to run in the background of your device, and for most major VPN companies, you can actually grab their supported application right from the Amazon Appstore. There’s no settings menu to dive into, or difficult options to click from when setting up the VPN to use in the background of your device. Once your VPN of choice is installed on your Fire Stick and you’ve signed into your account with the service, you can allow the VPN to run in the background and watch any media on your television, all with the added benefit of knowing you’ve protected your content.
All three of our picks above, including ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and IPVanish, have apps available for Fire Stick on the Appstore, but they aren’t alone. There are dozens of reputable VPN services on the platform, including:
In addition, several smaller VPN companies also have apps for the Fire Stick, so most users should be able to secure their Fire Stick. We recommend choosing one of the above VPNs, since you can easily get the app up and running on your Fire Stick without having to resort to other tricks to use a VPN on your device. Most apps simply allow you to turn your VPN switch on and return to the home screen, making it an easy way to secure your movie streaming while online.
What If My VPN Isn’t On the Appstore?
Well, you aren’t completely out of luck. If you’ve already bought into a VPN that doesn’t have an app on the Appstore—like TunnelBear, for example—you do have two options on how you can continue to use your VPN on your Fire Stick despite the incompatibility. First, you can try to sideload your application using an APK from APKMirror. This is fairly involved, but it’s actually pretty easy to do once you know the steps. Check out our guide on installing Kodi to learn how to sideload applications onto your Fire Stick.
Do note that, thanks to incompatibilities with how the remote interface works with ported Android apps, you’re going to need to use an external application called Mouse Toggle for Fire TV in order to correctly control your sideloaded applications. Generally speaking, this is a bit more complicated than just switching your VPN over to a supported one, but if you’re in the middle of a year-long subscription with an unsupported app, this is one of the best ways to go about protecting your Fire Stick.
You could also use plug your VPN into your router, which will reroute all traffic from your ISP to your VPN, securing every device on your network. In order to do this properly, you’ll want to look into how it’s done independently on the VPN of your choice, along with instructions for your brand of router, on your VPN’s website.
Overall, if you can, we recommend using one of the VPNs listed above, since starting with a VPN natively supported by your Amazon Fire Stick will be the easiest route to protecting your streaming.
Using your Fire Stick to watch your favorite movies, television shows, and so much more is a no-brainer, and thanks to how easy it is to get a VPN up and running on your Fire Stick, you don’t have to worry about giving up your privacy to do it. Whether you’re looking to hide what you’re streaming from your internet service provider, or you’re just looking to secure your internet connection, a VPN is a must-have for any Amazon Fire Stick user.