After putting up with what my roommates and I like to joke is the "first Roku ever made" for the past few years, I recently decided to do all my video watching through my PlayStation 4 instead. The experience has been a million times better (no more lag, random crashes, or app designs that haven't been updated in years), but it also got me thinking about whether I could use a virtual private network (VPN) on my gaming console to improve things even more.
It turns out that getting a VPN running on your PS4 or Xbox One is actually pretty easy, and the advantages make it worth the minimal effort (and cost) required to get the job done.
Why Would You Want a VPN for Your PS4 or Xbox One?
The reason to get a VPN for your gaming console is the same reason you'd want one on your computer. Virtual private networks let you spoof your location so you can watch a movie on Netflix that's only available in the US or a sports game that's blocked out in your country. They also hide your identity and encrypt your data, keeping you protected from hackers and government snooping. All of this applies to your gaming console as well. So whether you're streaming video on your PS4 or making a purchase through your Xbox One, it's worth having a VPN.
On top of that, you may be able to find better deals on games by scouring the PS4 and Xbox One digital storefronts in different parts of the world. You could even get early access to a new video if it's released in some countries first.
Not all virtual private networks (VPNs) are created equal. Some keep logs, some cap your traffic, some don't work on mobile, some don't work at all. This is what you need to know about choosing a VPN provider, as well as a few recommendations to get you started.
Which VPN Should You Use?
BestVPN has separate guides for picking and installing a VPN on your PS4 and Xbox One, but in both cases the site recommends the same option: ExpressVPN. This service is a bit pricey at $8.32 per month with a year-long contract (it's even more expensive if you only pay for one month at a time), but it does come with some nice advantages. ExpressVPN offers strong encryption, fast servers and 24/7 support through live chat. There's no free trial, but you can get a refund in the first 30 days if you change your mind.
If you're looking for something cheaper, BestVPN's suggestions go all the way down to around $5 per month. There are also plenty of free VPNs out there, but most of those will probably put a cap on your bandwidth - not ideal for online gaming - and may even show you ads.
How to Install a VPN on Your Console
According to BestVPN, there are two ways to get your VPN running on a PS4 or Xbox One: through your router or through a desktop computer. The first takes a little longer, but the second requires an Ethernet cable to connect the console to the VPN. You can find the full directions for PS4 here and Xbox One here.
The exact step-by-step process varies slightly depending on which console you have, but either way it shouldn't take you more than half-an-hour to get the job done. Once you're done you can go back to enjoying your console with all the added advantages of a VPN.