Most people who have purchased a Firestick are either already using it or planning to use it in the near future. The standalone device is perfect for users who want to stream content to TVs, play games online, or just want to keep their personal data secure while on the go.
To ensure that your Firestick is always connected to the internet when you need it, you can install OpenVPN onto it. The popular VPN app can be downloaded directly from the App Store and is compatible with most modern operating systems including iOS, macOS, and Linux.
You’ll need to make sure that your device is running an up-to-date operating system. Once you’ve downloaded the app, connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi network and open the app. If you’re using a mobile device, you’ll need to connect it to your computer via a USB cable and launch the software from there. On a Mac, for example, you can click the small round icon in the top-right corner of the screen to open the app.
You’ll need to ensure that your operating system is updated to at least the latest version to ensure that you’re not missing out on any required system updates. Some outdated apps and drivers can cause severe problems if not updated properly. If you’re not sure whether or not your system is up-to-date, check with the vendor’s website or support page.
Configure Your VPN Account
If you’re a seasoned user, you’ll know precisely how annoying it can be to type in your login and password every time you want to use a VPN service. To ensure that you’ll never have to type in those digits again, you can create a VPN account on your Firestick and integrate it with your other devices. The convenience of this approach is substantial. You’ll just need to remember a single login and password instead of entering them every time you use the service.
To create a VPN account, navigate to Settings, then Network, and tap on VPN. You can then enter a name for the VPN account and select a server location. You’ll then be asked to enter a password for the account. Finally, you’ll need to configure port forwarding on your router to ensure that your device can always reach the internet via the VPN connection. Most VPNs come with fairly detailed instructions that cover port forwarding and allow for easy setup. If you’re not sure how to do this, it’s often a better idea to contact the customer support of the VPN provider you’re using instead of trying to figure it out yourself.
Restart Your Device
If you’ve updated your operating system recently, you’ll need to restart your device to ensure that it’s using the most up-to-date version of the app. To force a restart, you can hold down the power button on your device for about 10 seconds or connect it to a charger and let it sit for a few minutes. After the reboot is complete, launch the app and log in using the newly created account.
Use the VPN App
Now that you’ve set up your VPN account, you can use the app to access the internet via a protected connection. To establish a secure connection, simply click the “Connect” button in the app’s main screen. You’ll then be presented with a login screen where you can enter your VPN credentials. Once you’ve entered these, the app will then connect you to one of the many servers in the country where you are based (if you’re based in the U.S., for example, you’ll usually be connected to a U.S. server).
Now that you’re connected, you can click the menu button in the top-right corner of the app’s screen to display the available networks and connections. You can then change your location by clicking the “Location Settings” button next to the network you wish to connect to. Your choice here will determine which server you connect to. When you’re satisfied with the server’s location, simply click the “Connect” button to restore your internet connection and continue using the app as usual.
Secure All Your Devices
If you’re using different devices to access the internet (e.g., a laptop and a mobile device), you can set up a VPN account on each one and use the apps to securely connect to a server when necessary. For instance, if you’re on your laptop while traveling, you can connect to a VPN server when you leave the office. Once you’ve connected, all your traffic is encrypted and protected, so someone nearby cannot interfere with your session.
Some users prefer to use a USB wireless dongle to connect their mobile devices to a laptop, as those devices often have limited storage and cannot handle the large volume of data that a dedicated SD card would store. A dongle is also a less conspicuous and more portable option than an external hard drive, and it has the added bonus of being able to wirelessly connect to a network. To use a USB wireless dongle on your laptop, you’ll need to download and install a driver from the vendor’s website (if you’re not sure where to look for such a thing, you can search for “USB wireless dongle” on your device’s App Store).
Keep Your Device Charged
If you’re frequently on the move and forget to plug your device in every night, its battery life will quickly diminish and require you to connect it to a charger every few hours. To avoid this, you can setup a VPN account on your Firestick and enable the “Auto-Configure” option from the Network settings. Once you’ve enabled this, the app will connect to a VPN server and establish a secure connection every time your Firestick is plugged into a power source. Unplug it and it’ll disconnect, losing all its connections, until you plug it back in again.
While this undoubtedly provides convenience, it also has the potential to create a serious security threat. As long as you remain connected to a power source, anyone nearby can access your personal data. Even if you’re on the move and have no Wi-Fi available to connect to, a determined hacker may be able to physically connect to your network via your power source. Most people who have installed this feature acknowledge that they would not recommend it to others due to its potential vulnerability to online threats. So, while it may be convenient to have your VPN run in the background as you use other apps on your device, the reality is that all your traffic is still unencrypted and open to the world (or at least, anyone with the right equipment). To fully utilize the benefits of a VPN without the risks, use strong passwords and security questions to authenticate your account and enable two-factor authentication if possible.
Monitor Your Connections
With any luck, you’ll never have to monitor your VPN connection closely. After all, it’s only a matter of time before your traffic is encrypted and safely delivered to the server. Still, you may find it convenient to occasionally inspect the connection to ensure that it’s always encrypted and making the proper progress toward security. To do this, simply go to Settings, then Network, and click on the VPN icon. From here, you can click on the connection to view detailed information such as the number of packets communicated per second and the estimated date and time of disconnection.
Even if you trust your VPN service, you may still want to periodically check these stats to ensure that your connection is always safe and performing at its best.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get the most out of your Firestick and ensure that you have a safe and worry-free internet experience.