Most people have no idea that android Virtual Private Network apps can be installed directly on your Amazon FireTV or FireStick streaming devices.
But most VPN apps aren’t available in the Amazon Fire Appstore, so you’ll have to sideload them (install manually). But once installed they work beautifully.
This tutorial will show you exactly how to install a VPN onto your Fire device. Step-by-step.
Important Note: This tutorial works for the 1st and 2nd-generation Fire TV. It also works for the 2nd-generation (newest) Fire Stick. The architecture of the original fire stick (gen 1) does not support VPN tunneling. But you can still connect to a VPN by connecting to a wireless VPN router.
Quick Intro: What’s a VPN, and why use one for FireTV?
What is a VPN? And why would you install one on your Fire TV device in the first place?
What: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a networking tool/service that will route all your internet traffic through a 3rd-party server (multiple locations available). It allows you to choose your virtual (internet) location, and encrypt (protect) all data transferred between you and the VPN server.
Why use one for your Fire Stick/ Fire TV?
Most people who install a VPN on their Fire are using it with Kodi, the incredibly popular media center and streaming app. But a VPN also has benefits for any streaming app you use.
- Reduce/Eliminate Throttling by your ISP – no more buffering & low quality streams
- Change your geolocation to access content (Like BBC iPlayer, Netflix or sports streams)
- Keep your IP address private when using Kodi Addons
What you’ll need for this tutorial:
1. A VPN-compatible Fire device
- FireTV (All versions, 1st & 2nd gen)
- Fire Stick (Second Generation only).
2. A VPN Provider who’s app works with FireOS
In our testing, only certain VPN apps worked properly and were stable. Some couldn’t even connect at all. You will need an active VPN subscription in order to complete this tutorial.
Here are the three we recommend:
Private Internet Access: The cheapest option, but still fast enough for 1080p (and even 4k streams). A big advantage of PIA is the mobile app lets you choose encryption strength. This will raise your maximum speed, because the CPU on a FireTV or FireStick will get maxed out by the complex math behind VPN encryption.
VyprVPN: The priciest option, but it has two big advantages…
- It’s the only native VPN app for FireOS: No sideloading necessary VyprVPN is optimized for your Fire device and can be installed directly from the app store. And we’ve got a coupon for 50% off your first month.
- Works with Netflix: Most VPNs are currently blocked by Netflix. VyprVPN and NordVPN are 2 of the only ones that aren’t. But NordVPN’s app doesn’t work properly with FireOS, so VyprVPN is the last man standing.
IPVanish: Priced in the middle, IPVanish is the fastest VPN we’ve tested. If you want 4k streams, go with IPvanish. They’re also extremely Kodi-friendly as far as VPN’s go. Read our IPVanish review, and then take advantage of this 20% off deal.
Note: Don’t worry too much about the choice. You can’t really go wrong with ANY of these VPNs. Most people start out with Private Internet Access simply because it’s the cheapest. And that’s fine.
Best of all, all 3 of these providers can be used with all your devices, even simultaneously. So once you subscribe, make sure to secure your Smartphones, tablets, and computers as well. It’s all included!
3. An Installation Method:
We’ll provide step-by-step instructions for all three of these methods later on in this guide. They are:
Super-Easy Method (VyprVPN Only): Install the VyprVPN app direct from the Fire appstore. Subscription required.
Sideload from your phone: If you already own an android device with access to the google play store, download the apps2fire app. This will allow you to take any app installed on your phone and quickly install it to your FireTV or Fire Stick with a single click.
Download the VPN APK manually: Use the ‘Downloader’ Fire app to directly download your VPN provider’s android APK to your FireTV. You can then manually install the app with a single click.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter which sideloading method you choose. They both work great and it really comes down to personal preference.
Here are the in-depth instructions…
How to Install the VPN App
Method #1 — Direct from Appstore (VyprVPN only)
Step #1 – Get a VyprVPN subscription if you don’t have one already
Step #2 – Go to the ‘Apps’ section of your fire device and then choose ‘Categories’ to browse the available apps. Choose ‘Productivity’ as the category and look for the VyprVPN app in the list. You can also use the search function to search for VyprVPN. (or just ‘VPN’).
Step #3 – Install the VyprVPN App and then launch it.
Step #4 – Enter your username/password (sent to you after subscribing) and then sign in.
Step #5 – You can now connect to any VyprVPN server location you want with 1 click. For the fastest possible streaming, choose a nearby server. To access specific geo-blocked content, choose a server in that specific country.
That’s it, you can skip ahead to the ‘Verifying your connection‘ section.
Method #2 — Use Apps2Fire to Install your VPN on the Fire TV
It’s way easier to show you how to use Apps2fire than to just tell you. So we found an awesome Video tutorial which you’ll find below. Use the steps in the video to send your VPN app to your FireTV/Fire Stick.
But first, make sure:
Step #1 – Make sure you have an active subscription with a VPN service with a proprietary app that works on the Fire. We recommend PIA or IPVanish (since we’ve confirmed that both work well).
If you already have a VPN subscription from a different provider, simply follow these same steps to install their custom VPN app. Just keep in mind that some won’t work properly on the Fire (we found this to be the case for NordVPN, among others).
Step #2 – Download apps2fire on your phone. You will need a phone or tablet with access to the google play store.
Step #3 – Download the VPN app to your phone. The VPN app will be copied from your phone to the FireTV/Stick and installed.
And for the rest of the steps, follow this video. It will take less than 5 minutes from start to finish. Future app installations via this method literally take 10 seconds.
By following the video you will complete these steps as well…
Step #4 – Turn on USB Debugging and Allow installation of apps from ‘unknown sources’
Step #5 – Find the IP address of your FireTV
Step #6 – Connect to your FireTV (using the apps2fire app on your phone)
Step #7 – Install the VPN App to the FireTV/Fire Stick
That’s it! Easy, eh?
Proceed to the next section on ‘Using a VPN on your Fire device‘
Method #3 — Download the APK and install directly to FireTV
This manual installation method will use an app from the Fire Appstore called ‘Downloader’. This allows you to manually download any file accessible from the internet (including Android APK installable files).
We’ll use this to download the APK for either Private Internet Access or IPVanish. If you have a different VPN provider, ask tech support for a direct link to their Android APK.
Step #1 – Turn on ‘ADB Debugging’ and installation of apps from ‘Unknown Sources’
These settings are in your Fire TV Menu under:
Menu > Settings > Device > Developer Options
Step #2 – Install the ‘Downloader’ App from the appstore
Your FireTV may come with this app preinstalled, but if it isn’t, simply download it from the Fire/Amazon appstore.
Step #3 – Download the VPN App’s APK file
Use the ‘Downloader’ app to enter the URL where your VPN provider keeps the latest version of their Android APK. This will allow you to manually install the app.
You can also enter the following shortcut links we made for IPvanish and PIA. They’re easier to type and remember than the long URL used by each provider, so just enter one of these links in downloader instead.
Step #4 – Install the APK
After downloading, Downloader will automatically ask you if you want to install the new APK file. Simply select ‘Yes’ to proceed with the install.
That’s it, the install is complete. The next section will cover ‘Using your VPN on a Fire Stick/FireTV‘
Using the VPN on your Fire TV / Stick
You can now launch your installed VPN app from the apps home page on your Fire device. Here you’ll need to sign in using the username/password provided when you subscribed to your VPN service.
Note: Some of the VPN apps (like VyprVPN) can be navigated just with the FireTV remote. Others aren’t fire-optimized so you will need to use a pointing device like a Bluetooth mouse in order to complete the initial sign-in process. It takes about 2 minutes to pair any Bluetooth device (including keyboards/mice) with your Fire device.
You can tell the VPN app to ‘remember’ your username/password so you only have to complete this process once.
Here are the steps we used with the Private Internet Access VPN app on the 2nd-generation Fire Stick:
Step #1 – Launch the VPN App
Step #2 – Sign in with username/password
This may require you to connect a bluetooth pointing device. If you have a FireTV (not stick) you can connect a USB wireless or wired mouse to one of the free USB ports.
Step #3 – Choose a server location and connect
We recommend a nearby server for the fastest speeds. The only reason to choose a server in a different country is if you want to access a specific service there. For example, connect to a UK server if you want to watch BBC iPlayer.
You’ll need to use the Bluetooth mouse to choose your default server location. Going forward, just hit the ‘Select/enter’ key on your remote to quickly connect to the VPN server.
At the bottom, you’ll notice your original IP as well as the new Current IP address, the one assigned by Private Internet Access to your Fire device. This will help you quickly verify that you’re connected properly.
Step #4 – Adjust settings/options (optional).
You can access the PIA settings menu either by using a mouse to click the ‘Settings’ wheel in the top right corner of the app. You can also access it using the ‘Menu’ key on your FireTV remote. The entire settings menu can be navigated and controlled with the normal remote as well.
The settings menu looks like this:
Here are the settings you’ll want to consider:
Use Small Packets: If you’re having slow speeds, try checking this box. It can make a difference for certain devices and routers. We were able to stream 1080p video without turning the option on.
Encryption: Streaming is a ‘low-security’ VPN usage – meaning you don’t need maximum security settings. Fire devices have pretty weak processors (compared to a computer) so they will struggle with really strong encryption settings.
In order to get the fastest possible speeds, consider turning the Data Encryption strength to AES-128, or even ‘none’.
Even with encryption completely off, all your Fire/Kodi traffic will still be routed through the VPN server, effectively hiding your real IP address. The only reason to keep encryption on at all is if you think your Internet Provider is throttling (slowing) video traffic.
The ability to ‘turn off’ encryption is one of the biggest reasons we recommend PIA for the Fire Stick. It can make a huge difference in speed and buffering.
Options to NEVER use: It’s very important that you don’t turn on the ‘Kill-Switch’ option or PIA Mace. These are designed specifically for Android phones and tablets and may cause major connection issues on your FireTV.
Next up you’ll learn how to 100% verify your VPN connection is working…
How to Verify your VPN connection on your FireTV/Stick
Android VPN apps are pretty stable, but they aren’t actually designed to be used on a Fire streaming device. So it’s a good idea to double-check that the VPN is routing your traffic anonymously (changing your Fire’s IP address).
But we want to check the external IP address (what other websites see) not your internal network IP address. The actual location of your FireTV on your home network will not change.
Step #1 – Open the ‘Downloader’ App
Step #2 – Go to the ‘Browser’ section of the App
Using the menu on the left side of the app, go down 1 tab to the ‘Browser’ section. This will let you browse a web page. We’ll browse a page that shows you your external IP address.
Step #3 – Browse to http://ipmonkey.com
Go to the website ipmonkey.com or www.ipmonkey.com. It will show you what IP address you accessed the page from. This IP address should match the Current IP shown to you on the PIA app after you connect. If it instead matches the Original IP you’ll know it’s not working properly.
Step #4 – Compare your IP address to what your VPN says it should be
Here’s our example:
As you can see, the IP address above matches the Current IP shown in the PIA app…
So everything is working properly!
One Last Note: Some VPN apps will crash/close when the FireTV/Stick goes to sleep, so it’s a good idea to check your IP the first couple times you use the VPN. If it is crashing each time, you will need to either make sure to either:
- Enable ‘Auto-Connect/Auto-Reconnect’ on your VPN settings
- Manually connect each time you use the Fire for streaming
- Use an ‘always-on’ VPN-enabled router, for 24/7 protection
If you followed this tutorial all the way through, you should now have a 100% working VPN on your FireStick or FireTV. If you’re having any issues troubleshooting, feel free to leave us a comment/question.
If you’re looking for a VPN for a FireTV/FireStick/Kodi we highly recommend:
- Private Internet Access: The best value VPN we’ve tried. And the app is stable on Fire devices
- IPVanish: An extremely fast VPN provider, though the mandatory 256-bit encryption may be a struggle for Stick users
- VyprVPN: Not as good a deal as the other two, but the fact that they have a Native FireOS app that is completely controllable from your FireTV remote is a huge plus.
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