Kodi is one of the most user-friendly and extensible media players on the market. The free and open source software is available for nearly every modern device and makes it extremely easy to download and stream music, movies, and other media at home and on the go. Just search for content or load your own files and start watching.
Using Kodi isn’t without its caveats, however. Sending so much unencrypted data across the internet carries some privacy concerns, especially if you use torrent or P2P networks on a regular basis. This can set off red flags with your internet service provider and may even lead to account termination. Accessing geo-blocked channels and content is also difficult with an out of the box version of Kodi.
Fortunately, pairing a virtual private network (VPN) service with Kodi neatly tackles both issues. Not only does it provide encrypted, anonymous traffic, but VPNs also let you sidestep region blocked content with a quick click of the mouse.
Updated: August 18, 2017
Evaluating the VPNs
Using a VPN with Kodi has a few special requirements over standard web browsing VPNs. Since you’ll be downloading and streaming a lot of large files, data speed is a high priority, as are bandwidth and file type limitations. We took these and several other factors into consideration when choosing our list of recommended VPNs for Kodi.
- Logging and security policies – There’s no point in using a VPN that can store and sell your data. To keep privacy a top priority, we made sure each VPN service encrypts all traffic and has a strict zero-logging policy. Your location and your information will stay safe.
- Traffic limitations – Some lower-tier VPNs like to block high-volume types of traffic from their service, including P2P and torrent files. This can cripple your Kodi experience by severely limiting what you can download and stream. All of the VPNs below support the widest range of traffic possible, including P2P and torrents.
- Bandwidth limitations – Speed is crucial when streaming videos and music through Kodi. Some VPNs impose limits on how fast you can transfer files, often capping speeds after you’ve reached a certain threshold. All of the VPN services below feature unlimited bandwidth.
- Geographical restrictions – One of the key benefits of using a VPN with Kodi is bypassing local censorship regulations put in place by governments or universities. These are especially troublesome when you travel or when certain content is blocked in your region. We checked the services featured below to make sure you have a range of options and can switch between countries without penalty.
- Platform availability – Kodi is cross-platform and available on nearly all mobile and desktop platforms. In order to take advantage of your VPN, you’ll need to install their software on the same device you use Kodi. Each of the chosen services below provides custom software for a wide range of platforms, including desktop computers, mobile devices and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Best Kodi VPNs that work in 2017
IPVanish has a strong focus on speed, security, and privacy. The service delivers true anonymity by using over 40,000 shared IPs spread across 750 servers in 60 different countries. This unrestricted network also allows users to get around censorship efforts put in place by universities, employers, and governments. Unlimited bandwidth makes streaming movies a breeze, and IPVanish doesn’t restrict P2P or torrent traffic, opening up your entertainment options considerably. Add to that 256-bit AES encryption and a strict zero-logging policy and you’ve got the makings of a fantastic VPN tailor made for Kodi.
Whereas most VPNs are resellers, IPVanish is unusual because they are one of the few VPNs that own their own server network. This gives them more control over speed and security.
All IPVanish plans include the above features and can be billed by the month or annually. Device support includes Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, Chromebook, and router software.
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ExpressVPN aims to make VPNs a little more accessible to the general public. The service touts fast speeds and strong security along with instant set-up for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, and Linux. There are servers in over 94 countries spread across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, great for anonymity as well as circumventing region locked content and censorship. You also get unlimited speed, unlimited bandwidth, and no restrictions on what types of files you stream or download. Finally, ExpressVPN boasts strong encryption, IP address masking, and zero-logging policies, making it a solid choice for anonymous and secure VPN usage.
ExpressVPN plans include all of the above service features for a flat monthly or yearly rate. Platform support includes VPN software for Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS, routers, and even Blackberry devices.
There is a special offer running here which gives an extra 3 months access free with the annual plan. ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free and get a full refund if you decide against keeping it.
NordVPN is known for its unrestricted traffic policies and long lasting reliability. The service features double data encryption that does exactly what you’d think: encrypts data once, then encrypts it a second time. This, combined with a strict zero-logging policy, bitcoin payments, and an automatic kill switch to shut down software if your connection vanishes, makes NordVPN one of the best choices for security and privacy minded users. 783 servers in 57 countries give plenty of options for avoiding region blocks, and a complete absence of file type and bandwidth restrictions means you’ll be able to stream movies all you like.
All NordVPN plans include the entirety of the service’s features billed at a flat monthly or yearly rate. Device support includes Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Linux, Blackberry, and Android. NordVPN also boasts some of the lowest rates around, perfect if you’re looking to test the VPN waters without making too much of an investment.
DEAL ALERT: NordVPN ran a very popular year end deal which gave a 72% discount on the 2 year plan. The deal ended but is now back on the site here. There is no mention of an end date but we can confirm it works at the time of writing.
StrongVPN is all about privacy and freedom. The service works to encrypt each connection with PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IPSec protocols for reliable anonymity along with a strict zero-logging policy. The server distribution covers 46 cities in 24 countries, which is a little shallower than some services but still provides plenty of options for getting around censorship or regional restrictions. Total privacy mixed with unlimited bandwidth also makes for a great torrenting and streaming VPN, which pairs nicely with Kodi.
StrongVPN features several VPN packages billed monthly or yearly. Software support includes Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. StrongVPN also features a StrongDNS option for users who need a little extra speed.
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How to Spot a Bad VPN
The age of privacy awareness has attracted a host of unscrupulous providers looking to take advantage of new users. This has led to a swarm of unreliable and dangerous services that collect, sell, and trade user information to turn a profit. Fortunately, a little research is all it takes to stay a step ahead of these bad eggs.
The first and most important rule for VPNs is this: free is always a bad idea. It may sound tempting, especially if you’re not sure if a VPN is really necessary, but it never pays off in the end. Free VPN services have no incentive to encrypt your data or keep it private. Most of them have hidden data caps, throttled download speeds, and blocked file types, which make using Kodi nearly impossible. As a rule, if a VPN offers free or nearly free service, you should pass. The privacy risks just aren’t worth it.
When researching a potential VPN, your first concern should always be encryption and logging policies. Anything other than full encryption and zero-logging is unacceptable, even when using Kodi. Check the provider’s FAQs and terms of service to see what their official word on the subject is. If no information is available, strike that VPN off your research list and don’t look back.
A special consideration for using VPNs with Kodi are file type and bandwidth restrictions. Good VPNs state up front that P2P and torrent traffic is unmonitored and unlimited. Although restricting these downloads isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, the vast majority of Kodi users find themselves relying on them from time to time. If there’s any doubt, search for your potential provider’s name with the phrase “torrent blocked” and see what other users are saying.
Do You Have to Use a VPN with Kodi?
While using Kodi doesn’t require using a VPN, it’s strongly recommended that you do. With online privacy becoming a greater concern, sending so much unencrypted personal data through the internet can raise red flags with your service provider, especially if you use P2P networks or torrents. Every online action leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, and that information can leave you vulnerable.
VPNs are inexpensive and easy to set up. They also provide extra features that work well with Kodi. Even if digital privacy isn’t a concern, using a VPN can give you access to content and streaming channels normally blocked in your region. Traveling overseas and want to keep watching your favorite show? Switch your VPN to a home server and you’re good to go. Certain Kodi extensions and channels also have region restrictions that can be sidestepped with a good VPN.
Setting Up a VPN with Kodi
Kodi can run on a wide variety of platforms, not just computers, laptops, or tablets. To encrypt and protect your privacy while using Kodi, you must have your VPN software installed on the same device. Not all VPNs will support some of the more unusual Kodi installation options (Amazon Fire TV Stick or Apple TV, for example), so you’ll need to take extra steps to keep your information safe.
To ensure your non-standard Kodi devices are protected, you’ll need to connect your router directly to your VPN service. The process will vary depending on your router brand and your VPN provider, but it generally involves opening a browser window to your router’s configuration page and entering server/protocol information for your specific VPN. It may sound complicated and technical, but the process is actually very straightforward.
Occasionally you’ll need a specific type of router or a stock router with special firmware installed. Check your VPN provider’s support pages for more detailed information on securing your connection. Some VPNs even sell routers with custom software and VPN information entered already.
Alternative to VPNs
VPN services have gotten much easier to use in the last several years. Most offer quick one-click installations for desktop and mobile devices, so all you have to do is sign in and you’re streaming safely. If you’re not concerned about data privacy and just want to access geo-blocked content, there are a few services that provide quick workarounds.
Two of the leading and reputable proxy services are Tunnelbear and CyberGhost. Both offer geo-blocking workarounds along with limited free usage for simple tasks like browsing or downloading a few files. If you’re using a bandwidth heavy program like Kodi, however, you’ll quickly use up the free download allocation and enter paid territory. It’s also important to note that proxy services won’t deliver the fast speeds or security advantages of a full VPN.