If you’re a movie buff or enjoy nothing more than binge-watching box sets, chances are you’ve heard of Kodi. Kodi is a free, open-source software media player app formerly known as XBMB that acts as a hub for all your music, movies, and TV content, which can be shared across all your devices.
Benefits include being able to turn your gadgets into a part of a digital streaming hub, accessing all sorts of file formats and searching for content in one place, watching geo-blocked content and adding lots of customizable features via addons such as iPlayer and USTV Now, which are needed for streaming content. Of course, there are drawbacks too, but most of these can be circumnavigated with a VPN (virtual private network), which encrypts data leaving a device and makes it impossible for others to see what you’re downloading.
Our top VPN picks
When assessing VPN providers, we really like Nord VPN for Kodi because of its unbeatable security and no logging policy. One of the largest VPN services around, Nord has user-friendly apps for iOS, Android, Mac OS, and more — so all of your devices can be covered. We’re also fans of PureVPN, which we found to be the easiest VPN to use for accessing geo-blocked streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. If Amazon Fire is your thing, then IP Vanish is the way to go. Let’s face it — Kodi isn’t the only way you experience your entertainment and if you’re going to invest in a VPN for Kodi, it makes sense that it works well with streaming services too. We’re all about options.
Whether you’re after high speeds or an easy interface, read on to see six of our favorite VPNs for the influential media player app Kodi.
When using Kodi you want to focus on finding the best content — not be worried about security. NordVPN is widely regarded as one of the most secure for this purpose. It has tons of security tools such as shared IP addresses to make your activity even more anonymous and that all important zero logs policy so personal data can’t be passed onto third parties. There’s military-grade encryption and DNS leak protection to safeguard users’ IP addresses. The VPN is registered in Panama, which isn’t known for its surveillance laws.
A good all-rounder, NordVPN offers user-friendly apps for Mac OS, Windows, iOS, and Android, which is handy for streaming content to mobile devices, for example. The service also boasts unlimited bandwidth and fast, reliable connections throughout its large network. Being one of the largest VPNs around, it has excellent server coverage with 4,346 servers in 62 locations.
The downside of this VPN is that some users have trouble accessing Netflix and other geo-blocked services. There is no app for Amazon Fire devices and its monthly plan is relatively expensive at $11.95/month, but the price drops significantly to $3.29/month as part of a two-year subscription.
PureVPN – Best for geo-blocked streaming services
Using a VPN is the easiest way to access geo-blocked streaming services, enabling you to stream your favorite shows regardless of your location. This is because a VPN allows you to appear as if you are in another region where the material isn’t blocked, letting you watch what you want, while also boosting your privacy. Lots of larger VPNs are credited with being good for geo-unblocking and PureVPN is one of them.
Users can browse anywhere online and stream channels such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime and “take full advantage of Kodi and all its features and services,” according to PureVPN. The VPN has more than 750 servers in 141 countries, but it’s clever because users can choose a location by activity, enabling them to connect to an optimal server and find the fastest connection possible.
Pure VPN claims that installing its VPN on Kodi is easier than you may think because users are redirected to the download page for a particular device with one click and the installation process begins instantly.
To make life easier, there are apps for Mac OS, Windows, Android, and iOS devices and the company claims its product is easy to set up on games consoles and smart TVs too. Customers can pay for Pure VPN using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as well as gift cards and other handy options.
When it comes to security, there are lots of options including an industry standard 256-bit encryption, support for pretty much all protocols, built-in ad and malware blocking, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch. The company claims it has a zero logging policy, but it recently ran into trouble when session data was used to arrest a man. Session logs are not unusual among VPNs and they shouldn’t present a problem for the average user who isn’t up to no good.
The best-value subscription costs just $2.88/month for two years, but the seven-day money-back guarantee has terms and conditions attached.
VyprVPN – Best for speed and HD streaming
Most of us want to watch a film in HD if the option is available, but to do that using a VPN you need one that gives you fast download speeds to avoid the dreaded buffering. Step forward VyprVPN.
When streaming content without a VPN, an ISP and streaming service can monitor a user’s activity and throttle their internet connection. But because a provider can see only encrypted traffic when someone is using a VPN, this doesn’t happen, meaning that using one should, in theory, give Kodi a speed boost. But VyprVPN has another trick up its sleeve to ensure fast download speeds. It owns its own servers and manages a global network of some 700 servers maintained by network engineers to continually optimize its network for speed. VyprVPN also claims that it never limits its users, so they can connect to any of its servers anytime without restrictions or download caps. Users can also switch between server locations as many times as they like at no additional cost for a speed boost.
The provider uses its own Chameleon technology to stop VPN blocking and throttling. Chameleon scrambles OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it’s not recognizable via deep packet inspection (DPI), while still keeping it fast. The technology uses the unmodified 256-bit protocol for the underlying data encryption, so that VyprVPN users can bypass restrictions securely. Security-wise, the VPN also boasts multiple protocols for encryption, its own DNS solution, a kill switch and NAT Firewall, which provides an extra layer of security and protection on the user’s router or mobile device. VyprVPN has a no-logging policy, although it does record connection times like some other VPNs.
It offers easy-to-use apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, TVs, and routers and there’s a three-day trial available for users to test its unique features. This is good because VyprVPN doesn’t allow refunds. Another drawback is that some features, including Chameleon Protocol, are only available as part of its premium package, which costs $6.67/month. The non-premium plan goes for $5/month.
For some users getting to grips with Kodi can be a challenge, so adding a VPN can seem offputting and complicated. Cyberghost boasts a simple interface and uses easy-to-understand terminology to explain all its features. It’s fast to set up, too, claiming to be a “one-click solution for your digital needs,” and has intuitive apps for a variety of popular devices. This means it’s easy to use Kodi on mobile devices (although it’s worth noting there is no dedicated Kodi app for iOS to go with CyberGhost) and there’s friendly support via chat or email as well as troubleshooting guides if anything goes wrong.
Despite its accessible approach, CyberGhost is on par with other serious offerings on this list. For example, users have access to 1,300 servers in 115 locations across the globe. The VPN categorizes its servers by which video streaming service the user wants to use, as well as by location, which is handy for people using BBC iPlayer, for example.
The network is used for geo-unblocking and CyberGhost offers unlimited bandwidth and traffic. This makes for reliable streaming of Hulu, Netflix, and iPlayer, for example, although some users have said connections can be slower than with other VPN offerings.
CyberGhost’s best-value subscription is currently $2.75/month for three years or $11.99/month on a monthly basis. It offers a 30-day money back guarantee and there’s a seven day trial.
TV and streaming subscriptions soon add up, and a good way to save some cash is to opt for an app like Kodi. PrivateInternetAccess (PIA) is the cheapest of the well-known VPN brands, making it a good accompaniment, and claims to offer the “highest quality for the lowest price.” Customers can pay just $2.91/month if they sign up to PIA’s two-year subscription, or pay $6.95 per month on a monthly basis.
When it comes to security, PIA offers anonymous IP, encrypted Wi-Fi, ad and malware blockers, a kill switch, as well as various levels of encryption. They also have a no-logging policy to keep users’ viewing habits secret.
Designed to be intuitive and simple to use, the VPN offers one-click connection and software for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, as well as Linux and Google Chrome. The service can be used across five connections at the same time and download speeds are generally thought to be fairly impressive for a cheaper VPN, although they can be a bit patchy.
PIA boasts global coverage with 3,041 servers in 45 locations across 28 countries and claims to be able to unblock websites, although some users have reported difficulty trying to access Netflix.
When it comes to downsides, PIA’s location may put some users off, as it’s based in the US, AKA a Five Eyes country. Basically, security agencies operating in countries that are part of this surveillance alliance could demand access to customer data, which may be a worry for Kodi users consuming a lot of illegal content. However, PIA says it has designed its operations “to prevent this from happening in the first place,” because there are no logs of identifying information collected about users. This means that in theory, it can’t be handed over no matter how much force is applied.
One month of PIA use goes for $6.95, but prices plummet to just $2.91/month when you sign up for a two-year subscription.
IP Vanish – Best all-rounded option (and good for Amazon Fire)
When it comes to providing a balance of security and speedy features in a user-friendly way, IP Vanish is a winner. Said to be one of the fastest VPNs for streaming, the IPVanish VPN both owns and operates its network so it’s able to manage it to deliver low latency, fast download and upload speeds. The VPN also has more than 1,000 servers in 60 countries to provide stable VPN connections and offers unlimited bandwidth.
IPVanish offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS as well as installation instructions for other platforms. There is a real focus on user experience when it comes to ease of set-up. IPVanish was perhaps the first company to make a stand-alone app for Fire and Amazon Fire TVs and users can install it from the Amazon app store directly instead of side-loading.
When it comes to security, the VPN follows a no logs policy and only collects payment data and an email address from its customers. It uses 256-bit AES encryption and offers access to 40,000 anonymous IP addresses, which are shared and rotated among users for extra security.
There’s no free trial and IP Vanish isn’t the cheapest on the market, with customers who sign up for a one year subscription paying $6.49/month and monthly users paying $10/month. There is also a seven day money-back guarantee, however.
Why having a VPN is important for Kodi
Having a VPN is important when using Kodi because the media player is popular and open source, so there are inevitably security flaws exploited by hackers. These are predominantly found within third party addons — some of which offer pirated material — rather than those found in the Official Kodi Addon Repository. VPNs assign a virtual IP address to obscure your real location from others, protecting you from security scams, viruses, and malware. For example, a VPN can stop malware infecting your home network from a Kodi box and add an extra layer of protection to your computer or laptop by securing the connection.
Using a VPN also enables a Kodi user to become anonymous, preventing hackers from gathering personal data needed for an addon and assigning a different IP address that’s untraceable, keeping you safe and keeping your viewing habits secret. This obviously means there’s a benefit for when it comes to watching geo-unblocked and pirated content (which we obviously don’t condone).
Whatever you choose to use Kodi for, a VPN will enhance its features while offering much-needed security.