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As an increasing number of users cut cords worldwide, the free and open-source Kodi app continues to offer a great alternative to traditional options on a range of devices. Originally a piece of homebrew software released for the first Xbox console, it has morphed into a multi-functional app that can even play retro games.
We’ve included everything you need to know about installing a VPN to use with Kodi, from how to do so to why they’re so useful when paired together.
What is a VPN & why is it helpful with Kodi?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is software that creates a secure connection between your device and its physical servers. Typically a paid service, a VPN ensures that any data sent to and from your device is private, hidden from your internet service provider (ISP) and any websites you visit. The data is also encrypted, so you’ll be safe from anyone aiming to find out your real IP address, physical location, or login information.
Kodi apps are susceptible to a number of hacks, especially if you’re more interested in various third-party add-ons that allow for a range of additional features. If you’re downloading an older version of an add-on or it lacks the relevant security certificates, a Kodi VPN offers another layer of privacy which is always going to be useful.
How to use a VPN with Kodi
If you’re wondering how to use a VPN with Kodi, it’s a fairly painless process that should only take a few minutes to set up. You’ll need to select a provider beforehand. Check out our latest 2021 VPN reviews if you’re unsure of which to pick.
You will also need to have the Kodi app installed on your device. You can check out their Download page for more information about how to do so. It’s normally simple, although to install Kodi for iOS you need to have a jailbroken iDevice.
The method for using a VPN with Kodi is the same, no matter which device or platform you use.
- Open the VPN client app, and sign in with your login credentials.
- Select a server location to connect to. (For example, you would select the UK if you wanted to access or install the BBC iPlayer add-on.)
- Next, open the Kodi app on your device.
- You will now be protected by the VPN while using Kodi.
It’s a simple method that should take less than a minute each time, and it can be set to start automatically in the background so you won’t have to worry about it.
An add-on is an application that can be used for everything from streaming movies to accessing the news. The majority of add-ons increase functionality, leading to unique builds depending on the user’s interests. It only takes a few minutes to completely change the basic layout of the Kodi app.
Official releases are always going to be safer than add-ons built hastily, but we’d always advocate for the use of a VPN regardless. Kodi notes that:
“All Add-Ons can be installed via the application itself and they will automatically update as new versions are released. It is kind of like an ‘App Store’ for Kodi, but everything is free!”
It’s a great system, but it’s also home to a range of illegal apps and services that are growing increasingly popular. For example, Canadian cybersecurity firm Sandvine reported that “almost 10% of homes in North America were using a Kodi device” back in 2017.
This aligned with Digital Citizens polling that found “13% of U.S. respondents used an illicit streaming device. Of the devices that Sandvine researched, almost 70% of Kodi boxes are re-purposed or ‘loaded’ with add-ons configured to access unlicensed content.”
The point is, according to the stats seen in the poll above, illegal Kodi add-ons are more likely than not to be tested by the average user. They come with a range of additional risks that are somewhat mitigated with the use of a VPN.
To install (legal) add-ons from the Kodi Repository:
- Open the Kodi app.
- Click the ‘Add-Ons’ tab on the left.
- Click ‘Download’ at the bottom.
- You’ll now see a large list with potential add-ons to choose from.
- Always a popular choice, we selected ‘Video add-ons’.
- From the following list of legal options, we selected DailyMotion.
- After you’ve chosen the add-on you want, click the ‘Install’ button found on the bottom right corner.
- After it has downloaded, you’ll be able to find it by going back to the main menu and selecting ‘Video’, then ‘Add-Ons’.
The best VPN for Kodi
What should you look for in a VPN predominantly used with Kodi? If you just want us to identify a couple of great contenders for you, I’d point you towards an option like IPVanish or NordVPN as they easily fulfill the criteria laid out below.
If you’d prefer to check for yourself, ensure that the VPN ticks the following boxes:
- Server speeds are always important for streaming content, while you’ll also need to ensure that they have locations where you’d like to connect to
- Compatibility should also be on your agenda, so ensure that the VPN will work on your selected device(s). Thankfully, Kodi runs on just about anything, while the best VPNs should also have a native client app.
- How many simultaneous devices are covered with one VPN account? Will you be able to share with family members?
- Can the VPN be trusted with your data? We’d stick with an audited service to be sure.
- Do they offer additional security features? An example of a useful feature would be ‘split tunneling’, which lets you route a portion of your traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel while other devices or apps can access the internet directly.
- Do they have a money-back guarantee?
Ultimately the best VPN for Kodi comes down to your specific needs, so be sure you take the extra time to find one that checks off all the boxes for you.
How to install a VPN on your Kodi device
Kodi will run on almost any device, and the same is true for the majority of (but not all) VPN providers.
There are also Kodi boxes, which is a term used to describe any internet TV box which is produced and sold specifically for use with the app. These often come with the app (and various add-ons) installed and are known as “fully loaded” options.
For the purposes of this guide, we’re operating under the assumption that you’ve already selected a VPN service to use with Kodi. If you’re still struggling to choose, check out the five best VPNs for Kodi on the market.
Here’s how to install a VPN on a desktop:
- Go to the VPN’s website, and make an account.
- Find their download page, and select your OS (macOS/Windows/Linux, etc.).
- Download and install the latest version of the VPN software.
- Open the VPN app, and sign in with the account credentials from earlier.
- Select a server location that corresponds with the Kodi service you want to use if applicable. (Remember, you would select a server based in the UK if you wanted to access or install the BBC iPlayer Add-on, or one found in the U.S. for an American add-on.)
- Some services have no geo-restrictions. In this case, select one of the faster (or nearby) servers for quicker connection speeds.
As with Kodi, VPNs aren’t restricted to desktop devices. Be sure to double-check that the service has a native app for Android or iOS before you begin.
- Choose a VPN service that is compatible with your mobile OS. (Check out our latest VPN reviews if you’re not sure.)
- Search for it on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
- Download it to your device.
- Sign up, and choose a server location relevant to the service you wish to access.
In terms of installing a VPN on mobile, it’s similar to desktop devices in most respects. You can still make an account via their website, but the majority will have apps which are much improved when it comes to functionality.
Amazon Fire Stick/Smart TV/Others
For the Fire Stick and similar apps, you can download an option like ExpressVPN, which is available directly from the Amazon Appstore. (You can also download the ExpressVPN APK as an alternative option.)
To download ExpressVPN directly to a Fire device:
- Find ExpressVPN using the search bar.
- Select the ExpressVPN app.
- Click Download and wait for it to complete.
- Sign up with the service, and connect to a relevant server.
- Now you’ll be safe to open Kodi on your Fire device.
Some VPNs will offer minimal smart TV support, while others will offer installation guides to walk you through setup. You could also use a pre-configured VPN router if you’d like to protect all of your devices with no hassle involving setup for each one.
VPNs & Kodi: Summary
The ability to use Kodi safely is another notable benefit you’ll see with a VPN. We’d advise you to switch on the VPN every time you open Kodi, and even more so, whenever you plan to use your device for extended periods. It’ll work seamlessly in the background as it provides an added layer of privacy, and it’s extremely easy to set up.
Be careful with third-party add-ons, even if they seem like a good way to find additional content. Legal is always the way to go here.
There are lots of great VPNs specifically for Kodi such as CyberGhost or IPVanish. You may ultimately want to test out a few options to see what best suits you as some VPNs can be directly downloaded to a TV device or a router depending on your needs.