I still remember getting my first generation Xbox and spending a sleepless night on Halo. Xbox Live continued to bridge through PC web features to the console. I had missed out on Dreamcast and PlayStation for the most part before that, but quickly realized the potential new generation consoles would have on online content and entertainment. It didn’t take long for consoles to become one of the most used media centers in living rooms of millions of gamers, and with it came the need of using a VPN on your Xbox in order to unlock its full potential, while securing your data from a high number of attackers known to prowl gaming networks.
Besides encrypting your data and providing a layer of security otherwise not present, I think that the most popular reason that users seek to setup a VPN on an Xbox console, is to unlock geo-restricted content such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and so on. Gaming consoles now double as media center solutions to stream both locally and online. Gamers can also gain access to regional demos, betas, or special invitations that would otherwise not be available in their country.
Speed is another big concern, and VPN providers can often land shorter routes to various gaming communities across the world. Using a VPN allows to connect to gaming servers in the US, UK, Japan, South Korea or Taiwan, no matter where you are located, however, good routes and fast servers are important to keep acceptable ping times.
How to Use a VPN on Xbox
You cannot just add a VPN server connection on an Xbox One or 360 as it lacks the needed connection protocols. Same thing goes for the Sony Playstation 4, or Nintendo’s Wii U. You can change DNS servers, which could be interesting with SmartDNS services instead; simpler but provides no encryption.
Before I go on, it’s important to know that no VPN provider officially supports their service on gaming consoles, and cannot guarantee protection against DDOS attacks. The best way to use a VPN on your Xbox is through a VPN router. There is an alternative way of connecting it through a computer’ Network Sharing config, but the security and speed is not as reliable. I have made a tutorial on configuring a VPN service on your gaming console to help you understand the necessary steps.
- Windows Network Sharing or Mac OSX Network Sharing
- Use a VPN Router (In other words, setup the VPN connection on your network router, which requires VPN ready firmware.)
All the VPN services I suggest below currently provide tutorials on manually setting up the VPN on Windows Network and Sharing Center, and also on how to configure a VPN Router, but not on how to share the connection to an Xbox. They do not officially support the service as I mentioned above.
To help with the setup, I wrote a tutorial on how to configure Network Sharing to work in conjunction with your Xbox, Playstation, Wii U, or any other device such as an Apple TV. I also touch on VPN routers, and using SmartDNS as an alternate option. First, let’s go over my top picks for best VPNs for Xbox One and 360.
ExpressVPN – Full Review
ExpressVPN tops my list as the best VPN service for Xbox One because it provides an all in one solution. They currently offer an unannounced SmartDNS service in the backend, with full tutorials on how to set it up on your Xbox One, as well as other devices. Their Windows software works great, and more importantly, the speed is great across the network.
78 countries are available with key located servers for shorter routes between connection nodes. You can connect 1 console, 1 mobile device, 1 computer, and 1 VPN router per account. The support team is unmatched and providing the best possible experience when running into hard times setting up. Cost is a little higher than most, but the 24/7 support and extra SmartDNS make up in value.
IPVanish – Full Review
IPVanish makes an excellent choice for Xbox users for having great speeds and a large global coverage. They have even worked with HBO NOW to bring access to HBO shows to the world. The tier-1 network guarantees high speed servers across almost 70 countries. They have worked out very short routes between their servers and connection nodes, the VPN experience is great for both streaming video, and gaming online, without sacrificing encryption levels or reliability.
Service is great and software is very simple and easy to use, good customer service, and a 7-day money back guarantee. 2 Simultaneous devices can connect to a single account, but keeping in mind that a VPN router can encrypt as many as needed.
PureVPN – Full Review
If any of the three providers up top are out of budget, PureVPN does a great service to gaming and streaming with their own large network of short routes, bettering ping response times for many locations across the world. They cover an impressive 100+ countries, so unlocking content will not be a concern.
Customer service is good, and price is a few dollars lower than competitors on the yearly plan while allowing up to 5 simultaneous connections at a time. Software does differ a bit from platform to platform, but overall a very good VPN for Xbox.
VyprVPN – Full Review
Another great tier-1 network for gaming and Xbox One is VyprVPN. They provide over 700 servers across 40+ countries and in constant expansion. Golden Frog has over a decade of online freedom and privacy experience along with encrypted cloud storage that is included with their VPN packages as a plus. One thing to note they do not support P2P torrents of copyright material.
As far as gaming, and VPN network speeds, they do great, and also provide excellent software across all major platforms. Customer service is just as good, making them a solid choice for Xbox. Enough coverage to unlock web content like Netflix, early game access, DDOS protection and fast ping times to keep your FPS intact.
Private Internet Access – Full Review
If you’re looking for something even cheaper, and are not as concerned with short server hops, and fast ping times, PIA still delivers a great VPN experience. The service is still fast, but if what you need is slow ping time to frag fast, Private Internet Access may slow you down a tad. However, if all you want is security, privacy, and access to all websites, game regions, and video streaming, I can vouch for it.
You can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously, the service has good setup tutorials with a friendly staff to help. The yearly plan only comes out to $3.33 per month, making them the cheapest.
Once you have selected a service, or if you already have a subscription, but need some help on setting it up, head to my step-by-step guide on how to configure VPN with Xbox. Many VPN providers do not have this specific tutorial available, and do not necessarily fully support it through their tech service agents, so hopefully this guide is easy for you to understand.