Best VPN for Android TV Boxes in 2017 + Installation Guides

Android TV boxes bring the best of the video streaming world to your television. Instead of hooking your PC to your TV, spending a lot of money on a gaming console, or struggling with clunky SmartTV interfaces, you can simply buy an Android device, plug it in, and start streaming. Android TVs give you fast access to things like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, HBO, and hundreds of other services, all from a small, inexpensive device that sits next to your TV.

As is the case with media on any device, Android TVs have to deal with the limitations of content availability. Movies and TV shows are often made unavailable in certain countries, and some services are completely inaccessible, such as the BBC iPlayer blocking users outside of the UK. These limitations can be frustrating for Android TV users or anyone who likes to travel. Fortunately, there are some workaround that help keep content accessible for everyone.

Virtual private networks are an excellent way to bypass geo-blocked content or to push through censorship locks. You can even use VPNs on your Android TV box to open up a world of streaming content on your television. And all it takes is a little research and a few minutes of installation time.

The Benefits of Using a VPN

VPNs are like a multi-tool for the digital age. With a VPN active your data is encrypted and sent through a network of servers far from your physical location. This has the dual advantage of keeping your information private as well as making it nearly impossible to track down your origin. The benefits extend to any device you use the VPN on, including Android TV boxes. It’s especially important if you sideload personal content or stream videos from torrents or P2P networks. You never know who might be watching.

Below are some of the main benefits of using a VPN for everyday activities, including watching movies and TV shows on an Android TV device:

Hide your IP address – Every time you connect to the internet your local service provider assigns your device an IP address. This series of numbers is attached to every piece of data that passes through your computer, making it easy to monitor your activity and trace it back to your home. With a VPN, your data is no longer associated with a local IP address, but an IP address owned by the VPN provider. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to track activity back to you when a VPN is active.

Watch Netflix videos from other countries – One of the most tantalizing benefits of using a VPN is the ability to switch virtual locations without leaving your chair. This allows your Android TV box to identify as being from another country, instantly unlocking new videos from services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Can’t find the show you’re looking for? Switch countries and try again!

Stop surveillance and tracking – The data you send across the internet can be monitored or even sold by ISPs and snooping third parties. It isn’t as big of an issue since you won’t be accessing private e-mails or online bank accounts through your Android TV, but maintaining a measure of privacy online is something that should be on everyone’s minds.

Access blocked content – Censorship and blocked content is becoming more and more common. Media companies restrict where videos can be played, corporations block websites or video streaming services, and governments make entire sections of the internet simply disappear. With a VPN in place, you can sidestep almost all of these blockades with just a few clicks.

Evaluating the Best VPNs

The digital age has brought about hundreds of virtual private network services. Each and every one promises to deliver fast downloads, perfect privacy, amazing device availability, and a network of servers that stretches around the globe. This competition has done wonders for consumers, as we now have access to streamlined VPN services at extremely low prices.

Competition has also made choosing a good VPN difficult. There are dozens of major considerations to take into account, including things like encryption protocols and file restrictions. To help streamline the process, we used the criteria below to narrow down our VPN selections to the best of the bunch.

App compatibility – A VPN that doesn’t support an Android TV box isn’t very useful, is it? Most major VPN providers have custom apps that work well enough in the Android ecosystem. Those who don’t support OpenVPN, which is freely available for every Android device. All of these VPN apps aren’t created equal, however. To ensure uninterrupted video streams, you need a lightweight VPN that’s easy to use and won’t devour precious TV box resources.

Speed – Speed is crucial when it comes to a VPN. Encryption adds data to each packet, and because you’re using servers located around the world, each request you make has farther to travel. This can add up to some serious slowdown, which is a huge drawback when streaming HD movies and TV shows. Good VPNs keep speed as a high priority and can deliver fast downloads without sacrificing privacy or security.

File and traffic restrictions – It’s still surprisingly common to see some VPNs limiting download speeds, adding bandwidth caps, or preventing users from downloading via P2P or torrent networks. Always make sure your VPN doesn’t have any kind of traffic restrictions, especially when it comes to allowed file types. While most Android TV boxes won’t utilize these protocols, it’s always good to have your options open.

Server distribution – The larger a VPN’s server network, the more options are at your disposal. Bigger networks let you choose from more connections in more locations, increasing the odds you’ll find a fast server in the country you want to connect to.

Logging policy – Privacy is still a concern with a VPN, even if you’re just streaming movies. A VPN’s security policy is only as strong as its logs. Data that passes through their servers can be stored just like any internet service provider. If a government agency demands access, some VPNs are forced to comply. If they don’t keep logs, however, there won’t be any data to turn over, making it the most secure option possible.


ExpressVPN has a well-deserved reputation for speed. The service delivers top results from a wide mix of servers around the world, covering over 94 different countries with its ever-expanding network. Windows, Mac, and Android users have access to a built-in speed test from within the app. Simply connect to a server, run the test, see if it’s fast enough for your liking, then switch to a new server if necessary. This feature alone goes a long way to ensuring you always have a fast connection, and it works surprisingly well on Android TV.

Outside of its speed accomplishments, ExpressVPN also offers top notch privacy and great accessibility. A strict zero-logging policy keeps your data invisible to snooping third parties. No speed caps, no bandwidth limits, and no file type restrictions let you download and stream whatever you want. There’s also a custom app for Android that’s available through Google Play, making it extremely easy to install on your TV box.

Every ExpressVPN plan is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee, so there’s no risk to get started. Longer subscriptions even offer discounts, which keeps the service extremely affordable for Android TV box users around the world, including countries with restrictive information policies such as China and Turkey.

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NordVPN does two things extremely well: encryption, and speed. The well-established company wraps important data in unbreakable 2048-bit SSL encryption, which comes in handy when you use your VPN for sensitive tasks on your PC or Android phone. Combined with its great zero-logging policy, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more security conscious VPN provider than NordVPN.

With over 950 servers operating in 57 different countries, users will enjoy access to one of the largest networks on the market. Many of these servers are configured to handle certain types of data more efficiently, making downloads amazingly fast on some connections. It has also allowed NordVPN to stay a step ahead of VPN blocking efforts put into place by companies like Netflix.

Additionally, their custom Android app runs natively on the operating system, ensuring it’s lightweight and easy to use, even on TV box devices. It’s also available from the Google Play marketplace for a fast and simple installation.

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IPVanish is built around three promises: security, speed, and zero logs. The network delivers this by offering access to over 750 servers in 60 different countries, each of which protects your data with 256-bit AES encryption. You’ll also have the benefit of unlimited bandwidth, no file or traffic restrictions, and up to five simultaneous connections, which is perfect if you want to use your TV box along with a PC, smartphone, or other device.

IPVanish has a custom Android app built to support devices as old as Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0. It includes all of the basic VPN options and configuration features in a somewhat bare bones interface. You can even install the app straight from an .apk in case you’re not interested in going through Google Play.

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StrongVPN was established to help promote online privacy and freedom through stellar encryption practices and a strict zero-logging policy. The service’s suite of features works to protect your information at home and on public connections by using PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IPSec protocols offering up to 2048-bit encryption. All of this is built around unlimited bandwidth, no file or speed restrictions, and a network that covers 24 countries.

The StrongVPN Android app is one of the simpler offerings on the VPN market. It includes all of the basic features you need for finding and connecting to a fast server along with quick access to 24/7 support in case something goes wrong. The simplistic app may turn some Android users away, but it’s an enormous benefit for Android TV box users who have to navigate without a touch screen.

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How to Install a VPN on an Android TV Box

Android TVs have somewhat limited access to the Google Play marketplace. This is largely done to preserve the usability of the environment, as most apps were designed for phones and tablets with touch screens. That doesn’t mean you can’t install apps from external sources, however. The process is called sideloading, and in some cases you’ll need to use it to get your VPN up and running on an Android TV.

When signing up for a VPN service check to see where they host the Android version of their software. In many cases you’ll be able to download the VPN’s app directly from Google Play, which makes for a quick no-fuss installation to your TV box.

How to install a VPN from Google Play

1. Locate the Google Play icon on your Android TV box’s home menu.
2. Search for your VPN’s name.
3. Install the official app to your home menu.
4. Run the app and enter your login details.
5. Enjoy private streaming on your Android TV box!

Sometimes a VPN’s app isn’t offered on Google Play, or it simply doesn’t show under the TV box’s access to the marketplace. In this case you’ll need to do a little more work to get the VPN up and running. Don’t worry, though. The process doesn’t take long, and it doesn’t require rooting or hacking of any sort.

How to sideload a VPN app

1. Go to your TV box’s settings page.
2. Navigate to Settings > More Settings > Security
3. Turn on the option to allow installations from unknown sources.
4. Locate the Google Play icon on your Android TV box’s home menu.
5. Search for ES File Explorer File Manager (free download)
6. Install the ES File Manager, then return to your home screen.
7. Visit your VPN provider’s website on your Android box browser.
8. Go to the support section and find the Android version of their client.
9. Download the .apk file to your device.
10. When the download completes, open ES File Manager.
11. Navigate to the downloads directory. Most Android devices default to /storage/emulated/0/Download/
12. Locate the VPN software’s .apk file and run it.
13. When the installation completes, return to the home menu.
14. Run the VPN, sign in, and you’re done!

Some Android TV box devices have USB ports that let you plug in devices like keyboards or removable storage. If this is the case, you can save yourself a lot of awkward bluetooth remote control inputs by downloading the VPN software on your PC then transferring it to your TV box with a USB stick.

How to sideload a VPN using a PC and USB stick

1. Go to your TV box’s settings page.
2. Navigate to Settings > More Settings > Security
3. Turn on the option to allow installations from unknown sources.
4. Locate the Google Play icon on your Android TV box’s home menu.
5. Search for ES File Explorer File Manager
6. Install the ES File Manager, then return to your home screen.
7. Visit your VPN provider’s website on your PC or laptop.
8. Go to the support section and find the Android version of their client.
9. Download the .apk file to your computer.
10. Plug in a USB drive and move the file there.
11. Plug the USB drive into your Android TV box.
12. Open ES File Explorer and navigate to the removable storage.
13. Locate the VPN software’s .apk file and run it.
14. When the installation completes, return to the home menu.
15. Run the VPN, sign in, and start streaming!

Use a VPN with OpenVPN on an Android TV Box

OpenVPN is another option for running a VPN on your Android TV box. Not all VPN providers will support it, however, and the setup can be a bit tricky with the TV box environment. Still, OpenVPN gives you a lot of customization options, and it’s extraordinarily lightweight, making it a fine choice for your streaming VPN needs.

How to use a VPN by installing OpenVPN

1. Locate the Google Play icon on your Android TV box’s home menu.
2. Search for OpenVPN Connect, the official Android version of the software.
3. Install the app to your home menu and open it.
4. In your web browser on your Android device, go to your VPN provider’s home page.
5. Search the support articles for a section outlining OpenVPN configuration files.
6. Generate the OpenVPN config using your details and chosen servers.
7. Download the config files to your Android TV box.
8. Launch OpenVPN.
9. Go to Menu > Import > Import Profile from SD Card
10. Navigate to the download location on your Android TV box. Look for an .ovpn file in the default downloads directory: /storage/emulated/0/Download/
11. Click the file and choose “select”
12. Return to the OpenVPN menu and switch the connection to “on”.

Be Wary of Free VPNs

Installing a VPN on an Android TV box isn’t as straightforward as on PC, Mac, iOS, or even touch screen Android devices. Limited access to the Google Play store is a major issue, and sideloading apps can take some time if something goes wrong. Then there’s the fact that most TV box users will be doing all of this with a clunky bluetooth remote, which is a frustration unto itself. Although VPNs are useful, there are some who feel the extra effort just isn’t worth it.

This is where free VPNs come into the picture. Browsing the Google Play marketplace on a TV box or Android device uncovers no-cost VPNs of all types. Most of them promise free access, location switching, and unlimited everything, all for the low, low price of nothing. Best of all, adding one of these is as simple as clicking a button and waiting for the install to complete!

As is usually the case with something that seems too good to be true, VPNs often carry a number of hidden dangers. The number one issue surrounding them is privacy. VPNs are supposed to keep user information private and log-free. Running a VPN service costs money, however, and since the users aren’t paying, that revenue has to be made up elsewhere. This usually comes in the form of selling the very information the VPN is supposed to keep safe. You may gain access to Netflix videos from other countries, but your privacy is forfeit.

No-cost VPNs seem like a convenient solution for opening up the internet, but they often create more problems than they solve. Reliable VPNs are inexpensive, easy to use, and well worth the effort.