The popularity of streaming services has led many users to purchase brand new Smart TVs, which operate on a version of Android. In contrast, those who couldn’t afford it or saw no need for an upgrade simply opted for a Smart TV box. And while both groups reaped the benefits of a TV connected to the Internet, this came with risks to privacy and security. Even worse, Smart TVs, Smart TV boxes, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are often high on the hacker’s list. Therefore, to protect every device connected to your network, you must learn how to add a VPN in Android TV. So, let’s demonstrate that.
1. Add a VPN to Android TV via an app
The most beginner-friendly way to add a VPN is by installing an application for Android TV, whether on the TV itself or the smart TV box. These are 2 ways to install an Android TV app:
1. From the Play Store
If your VPN provider has a dedicated VPN app on the Play Store, do the following:
- Open Google Play Store on your Android TV or the box.
- Search for your VPN provider’s app name and select the app from the search results.
- Tap on the Install button on the app page.
- Tap on Open.
- If prompted, enter your login credentials to sign in.
- You’ll get a “Connection request” prompt. Tap on OK.
- Select your location, configure settings if needed, and tap the Connect/power button.
2. Using app side-loading
Many VPN services avoid adding their VPN app to the Play Store. In most cases, either the app doesn’t meet the Play Store requirements, or the developers don’t want to pay Google a cut of their profits. In those cases, you must do the following:
- Visit the VPN provider’s website, and go to their Download section.
- Download the .apk file. The option is under “Android” and is commonly named Download APK.
- Transfer the .apk file to the storage of your Android TV or the box.
- Open the File Explorer/File Manager app.
- Navigate to the .apk file, tap to open it, and install the application.
- Follow steps 5, 6, and 7 above.
I can’t open/install the app. What do I do?
Most Android TVs enable protection against unverified apps by default. To disable it, you’ll have to look through options. Here’s how the process looks on our end:
- Android TV: Go to Settings, then find Security & Restrictions. Find an option named Unknown Sources and tap on it. Tap on OK/Allow.
- Android TV box: Tap on Settings, then go to Additional Settings. Select Safety & Privacy, then scroll down to tap on Device Administration. Toggle Allow Installation of Apps from Unknown Sources to on.
2. Configure VPN in Android TV settings
Although rare in Smart TVs, Android TV boxes often have a built-in VPN section that resembles that on Android smartphones. Before you start, you’ll need to generate a VPN configuration manually or copy/paste the one automatically generated for you. In both cases, you’ll have to sign in to your user account on the VPN service website or contact Customer Support. Here’s how the process looks on one of many Android TV boxes:
- Open Settings.
- Tap on More, then go to VPN.
- Tap the + icon, then enter the following information according to the VPN provider’s instructions:
- Name (can be anything)
- Type of authentication
- Server address
- Now enter this information based on the configuration:
- Security protocol preshared key (if one is used)
- Select Save, tap on the newly created profile, then Connect.
3. Use the OpenVPN app on Android TV
VPN services that don’t want to bother with creating dedicated apps often opt for OpenVPN, a free VPN system available on a wide variety of platforms. If your service fits the bill, here’s how to add OpenVPN to Android TV:
- Head to your VPN provider’s website and sign in.
- Download their OpenVPN configuration file, then extract the .zip file anywhere you want.
- Keep the file handy and don’t close the tab.
- Use method 1 to download the OpenVPN Connect app for Android TV.
- Open the app, and tap on the OpenVPN profile option.
- In the top left corner, tap on the menu icon.
- Find the configuration file you extracted and tap on Import.
- Enter any name for the profile.
- Find and enter the credentials such as username and password. They’re likely displayed below the download option from step 2.
- Toggle the switch in the top left corner so that it shows Connected.
- Accept any trust/security prompts.
4. Connect your TV to the VPN router
Another method of protecting your Android TV with a VPN is to connect it to a wired or wireless network generated by a router with firmware that supports VPNs. We already demonstrated adding ExpressVPN to the router and even used the example above to showcase creating VPN servers on the router via OpenVPN.
5. Use a hotspot from devices with a VPN
Another way to shield your Android TV with a VPN is to share a connection from another device in the form of a hotspot. First, set up VPN on Windows, configure VPN on Mac, setup VPN on iPhone, or configure ExpressVPN on Android if you haven’t. Connect to VPN on the desired platform, and then follow method 2 in our guide for adding a VPN to Apple TV. With Mac and iOS covered, here’s how to create a hotspot on the remaining operating systems:
On Android, do this create your hotspot:
- Launch Settings.
- Tap on Network & Internet.
- Go to Hotspot & tethering, then Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Select the name and password and configure desired security.
- Toggle the Wi-Fi hotspot option to on.
Creating a hotspot on your Windows 10 PC looks like this:
- Open Start.
- Click on Settings (cog icon).
- Click on Network & Internet > Mobile hotspot.
- Under “Share my Internet connection from”, select your network.
- Click on Edit, enter a network name and password, and click on Save.
- Toggle Share my Internet connection with other devices to on.