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How to set up a VPN on Xbox

Geoblocking and ISP snooping can impact your Xbox experience. Here's how to lower the blinds on your device.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

If your virtual private network can protect your laptop and phone from prying eyes, why shouldn't it protect your Xbox too? Whether gamingstreaming Hulu and Netflix, using an onboard browser or all of the above, more people are turning to their Xbox consoles as a full-service, big-screen entertainment hub. And that means a greater need for privacy on your gaming console. 

Investing in a VPN to protect your Xbox's privacy opens up a slew of benefits: You can more easily join games on servers around the world, circumvent geoblocking restrictions on YouTube and Netflix content and dodge any shady data-throttling practices your internet service provider tries to pull. 

Best of all, setting it up a VPN on Xbox is easier than you might think. Here's how to do it. 

What you'll need

VPN service: If you've already got a VPN service, that's one less thing. If you don't, here are three VPNs that work well with Xbox. Your VPN service is going to give you the information you'll need to enter when you connect to your router: IP address, subnet mask and VPN login information. 

Router access: You'll need to log in to your home Wi-Fi router. If you've never done it, it's fairly simple and just requires getting the login information -- a username and password -- for the make and model of your router, as provided in the product's documentation. If your router was provided by your ISP, this information should be in the documentation that came with it. If that paperwork is long gone, a Google search can help you find it. 

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Connect the router to the VPN

1. Log in to your router according to its documentation instructions. Usually, this will mean opening a web browser and typing your router's IP address into the URL bar to get to the router's login screen. This is where you'll need the username and password mentioned above. 

2. Once you're logged in, look for a tab or screen that says Control Panel. If you don't see one, look for a network settings tab. These are usually labelled Network or Basic, but may also be called Settings or Network/WAN Setup. While all routers' interfaces are going to be a little different, pretty much all of them have one clearly labeled section where you can tell your router how to talk to the rest of the world's internet. 

You'll know you're in the right place when you see text entry fields under a heading that says DHCP. The text fields will be labeled IP Address, Subnet Mask and Gateway Address

3. Once you're in your router's network settings, you're going to tell your router to talk to your VPN. This is where you'll need that information from your VPN service that I mentioned above. Every Xbox-capable VPN has its own preferred setup method here, so contact your VPN company for specific steps as needed. 

4. Don't forget to save the changes you made to the router's connection information before exiting. 

Connect the Xbox to the router 

The most reliable way to connect the Xbox to the router at this point is via ethernet cable, of course, but jumping back onto your now-VPN-protected wireless network is simple. 

1. Power up the Xbox, then press the Xbox button and go to Settings

2. Under the settings, select Network

3. Choose Set up wireless network

4. When prompted by the Xbox, select your home wireless network from a list of those it can detect. Then hop onto your Wi-Fi with your normal password. 

Voila. And just like that, to all outside eyes, your Xbox should now appear to be located in another country courtesy of your VPN and a smidgen of elbow grease. 

For more, check out how to identify a good VPN and NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN: Speed, security and price compared