Top 10 VPNs for Apple TV: Two Effective Ways to Use Them in 2023
In this article, I will share with you my experience of using Virtual Private Network with Apple TV. Using a VPN will greatly expand the range of video content available from the apps of this popular TV platform (Smart TV) and beyond.
So, since you are here, then you have a modern TV running tvOS, an Apple TV set-top box, or you have installed the Apple TV app on your smartphone or tablet. In all these cases, you can use the information from this article to easily and quickly unblock video content for any region (also relevant for iTunes) or to increase the speed of the Internet in cases where the Internet provider sets restrictions on streaming traffic.
Best VPNs for Apple TV
- ExpressVPN: A strong and incredibly effective VPN service for any purpose, including changing regions of streaming services. It has a well-debugged app for all kinds of Apple devices and super-fast VPN servers.
- Surfshark: Best budget VPN with Apple TV support practically not inferior to the leaders in efficiency but costs more than 2 times cheaper (with a 2-year subscription).
- NordVPN: Effective VPN service for changing iTunes region and installed apps on Apple TV. It can work even when VPNs are prohibited by the Internet provider.
- CyberGhost: VPN service that has special features for unblocking various streaming video services and TV channels.
- PIA: Fast powerful VPN service with a good reputation among users. Has an app for Apple TV, but doesn’t support Netflix, Hulu, Disney + and some other services with advanced anti-VPN protection.
* all services presented have a long-term money-back guarantee in case of failure.
Free VPN services for Apple TV
- ProtonVPN: Probably the best option for Apple TV. Has no traffic limit. Only speed and access to popular video storages are limited.
- Windscribe: Similar inefficiency to ProtonVPN, but additionally has a 10GB traffic limit per month. The paid version has no drawbacks.
- hide.me: Same 10GB per month, but lower connection quality than Windscribe.
- TunnelBear: Fast free VPN with significant bandwidth limitation.
- Hotspot Shield: Has a daily traffic limit, only one location in the Netherlands is available for free.
** Free VPNs are poorly suited for video content. They have limited speed and are ineffective at unblocking popular services.
What's the best VPN for Apple TV and iTunes?
The Apple TV platform doesn’t support direct VPN installation through the settings of the set-top box itself. I've set up VPNs on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and Apple TV 4K at various times. None of these devices provide a VPN configuration.
But there are two alternative technologies for using a VPN with Apple TV!
- Using DNS servers of a VPN service.
- Setting up a VPN on a router.
Which way to prefer?
It primarily depends on how many devices are used on your Wi-Fi network. The fact is that widely used Wi-Fi routers have a rather weak processor that will be overloaded even with three simultaneous connections. The only way out is to replace it with a more powerful router. This is a costly move, as powerful routers cost as much as an average laptop.
So, most likely you will prefer the first option - connecting the Apple TV set-top box through the DNS settings.
It's more complicated than setting up a VPN on an iPhone or Mac, but I'll show you the easiest way.
The fastest way to do this is with ExpressVPN. It is a fast and efficient VPN service for unblocking geo-restricted content. Take a look at how quickly and easily you can set up DNS using their tutorial video, where everything is described in steps:
What if you're using the Apple TV app?
To use a VPN with the Apple TV app, you just need to install the VPN app for your OS. It will disguise your real IP address as a virtual one, thus changing the region, for all the apps at once, including the Apple TV one. It works equally well for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows (iTunes), Kodi, and other platforms.
Best VPNs & apps for Apple TV 4K and older
Next, I will list and briefly describe 5 VPN services that are best suited for use with Apple TV and Apple TV app. When selecting them, I took into account
- Server speed and overall service quality;
- the effectiveness of bypassing geo-restrictions;
- availability of software and settings for the easiest VPN installation.
Comparison of key features of VPN services for Apple TV
|Service||Ranking (out of 10)||Stealth level (out of 10)||Speed, Mbps||Country selection||Number of servers||Price (monthly)|
- Premium VPN
- Super high speed and reliability
- Effective for all apps on Apple TV
- Extensive base of video instructions for all cases
- Up to 5 devices simultaneously
- 91 countries
- Support for routers
- No cheap tariff plans shorter than one year
The best VPN for all the versions of Apple TV is ExpressVPN. It combines two use cases, apps for all platforms where the Apple TV app can be used and supports routers.
I especially want to note the presence of convenient text and video instructions for installing and configuring ExpressVPN.
Also, the provider supports unblocking any region for all tested streaming video services and makes it more stable than competitors.Tested on Apple TV 4K.
The table lists the ExpressVPN tariff plans*:
|1 month||1 year||2 years|
|Price (monthly)||$12.95|| $8.32||-|
* discounts if you follow links from cooltechzone.com are included into prices
ExpressVPN supports all the popular payment methods. Its only drawback is the lack of large discounts for long-term subscriptions.
- ExpressVPN works best for Apple TV, Apple TV app and iTunes
- High-quality support for Android (Read Best VPNs for Android TV), iOS and other OS
- Supports Netflix and other popular geo-restricted video content
- Allows up to 5 connections simultaneously
- Doesn’t keep logs, which is emphasized by the use of diskless servers
- Perfect combination of price and quality
- Netflix support
- Improved obfuscation (NoBorders mode) for censored countries
- Apps for all OSs
- Smart DNS
- Support for routers
- Unlimited number of used devices
- Slightly lower speed on US servers
Surfshark offers two ways to connect your Apple TV to VPN and supports all OS when using the Apple TV app. But the main feature of the service is the lowest price among the best VPNs (with a long-term subscription). If you compare Surfshark to ExpressVPN, even with our discount it is more than 3x cheaper with a 2-year subscription.
The service supports the so-called Smart DNS. In short, this is the redirection of requests to sites through specially configured DNS servers. The service is activated from the Surfshark user panel.
Alternatively, Surfshark can set up a VPN on any router.
Tested on Apple TV 4K.
The table enlists the Surfshark VPN plans
|1 month||1 year||2 years|
Surfshark supports many payment methods.
- Surfshark allows you to effectively change the Apple TV region in two ways
- Supports Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other video services
- Unlimited devices
- Super low price
- Suitable for any purpose
- 5400+ servers in 60 countries
- Interactive map of locations
- Netflix, Hulu, Disney + and others
- Support for all OSs
- Up to 6 devices simultaneously
- WireGuard (high-performance protocol for maximum speed Apple TV app)
- Support for routers
- Not found
NordVPN is ideal for use with Apple TV and routers. Its apps support the most advanced VPN protocol of 2020, WireGuard. It allows you to achieve maximum performance with minimum system load.
Also, NordVPN excels at handling the geo-restrictions of streaming services, including Netflix. It supports Fire TV, Kodi, and other entertainment and TV platforms.
The table lists the pricing plans of NordVPN *
|1 month||1 year||2 years|
*As of the time of this writing, NordVPN has a 63% discount on its 2-years plan.
NordVPN supports most of the current payment methods.
- NordVPN Supports smart DNS and is great for Apple TV app and routers
- Stable streaming support
- Allows up to 6 connections simultaneously
- Supports NordLynx (WireGuard)
- 9299+ servers in 91 countries
- Special servers for streaming
- Protection against tracking
- 7 devices
- Indicator of consumption and traffic speed
- Split Tunneling
- May increase the load on Windows
- Supports only 4 Netflix regions
CyberGhost supports Apple TV through DNS settings or a router. The service has a huge number of servers (over 6000), but only a few of them are configured for streaming video, and moreover, with a limited choice of regions.
The service has successfully passed the test for bitrate and is sufficient for viewing 4K HDR.
For the Apple TV app and iTunes, CyberGhost performed well on all platforms except Windows.
Tested on Apple TV 4K.
The table lists CyberGhost's tariff plans
|1 month||1 year||2 years|
|Price (monthly)||$12.99|| $4.29||$2.03|
The provider also offers Dedicated IP connectivity ($5 extra per month).
- CyberGhost supports smart DNS and installation on routers
- Focused on unblocking streaming services
- Stably supports streaming (4 regions of Netflix and some regions of HBO, Amazon PV, and others)
- Allows up to 7 connections simultaneously
- Not very good Windows capacity for iTunes
Also read: Review of all CyberGhost features
5. Private Internet Access
- High speed
- Up to 10 devices simultaneously
- Many advanced options (VPN connection settings)
- Not suitable for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney +
- A slightly smaller selection of countries
Private Internet Access (PIA) doesn’t support Smart DNS, which is why it is only suitable for use on a router and the Apple TV app. But PIA made it to the list of the best VPNs for Apple TV for a reason. The fact is, this is the only top-notch VPN service that allows you to completely disable encryption for maximum speed and capacity. Encrypting video content unnecessarily complicates the operation of the devices used.
The table lists PIA tariff plans
|1 month||1 year||2 years|
Note that despite the strongest features PIA is one of the cheapest VPNs.
- Private Internet Access allows you to maximize the speed of data transfer
- Doesn't support Smart DNS
- Not suitable for unblocking major streaming services
- Allows up to 10 connections simultaneously
- Used on a router with Apple TV
Also read: Review of PIA features
Set up a VPN on Apple TV step by step
Let's take a look at two main and one alternative method of setting up and using a VPN with Apple TV, and as a bonus, I'll give you a quick rundown on how to properly use a VPN on Apple TV app devices.
I want to note right away that there is no direct way to launch a VPN on Apple TV since this platform doesn’t support virtual private network technology. All presented methods are either not pure VPN technology or work through auxiliary devices.
A total of 4 methods will be described. They are ranked from the simplest to the most complex. Also, the last 2 methods are often not available.
The first method (and the fastest one): Change the region via DNS
Sign up in the service
You will need to sign up with a VPN service that supports the so-called Smart DNS. This could be ExpressVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost, or another VPN provider of your choice.
Next, I will describe the setup process using Surfshark as an example.
Choose the tariff plan that suits you and subscribe to the service. All tariff plans have the same functionality. No additional services required for Apple TV.
You can take advantage of the money-back guarantee if you want to save money on a long-term subscription but aren’t sure if the VPN service will suit you.
Get DNS addresses
To do this, go to the "Smart DNS" section of the service’s control panel.
Then activate Smart DNS at the bottom of the page by clicking on Activate. A confirmation window will appear (with VPN disabled):
After that, it will take up to 24 hours to activate the service, but in my case, it took 3 minutes.
Set up Apple TV
For the final VPN setup, you will need to go to your Apple TV settings and change the DNS servers you obtained in the previous step.
For this you need to:
- go to the “Settings” menu
- go to the "Network" section
- click on “Wi-Fi” or “Ethernet”
- go to “Configure DNS” -> “Manual”
- register a new DNS address
For more information on the Apple TV setup step, see the instructions on the Surfshark website.
I would like to note that this method doesn’t encrypt traffic and doesn’t hide the real IP address of the device. It is only effective for streaming data and not for all streaming services. Use the following methods to make full use of your virtual network.
The second method: Set up a VPN on the router (the most reliable)
The most efficient way to set up a virtual private network for Apple TV is only on external devices. The most common and universal is to use a VPN on a router (except Google Nest), to which Apple TV is connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
- The more devices are simultaneously connected to the router's network, the more powerful it should be. A sufficiently powerful router that can easily pull VPN for TV, computer, 2-3 smartphones, and Apple TV 4K can be 3-5 times more expensive than the set-top box itself. Some solutions might be to install a redundant router to which only Apple TV will be connected.
- All devices on the router's Wi-Fi network will work through a VPN.
- If the VPN server to which the router is connected becomes unavailable, you will need to manually change the settings. To do this, you will need to go to the settings of the router through a computer or smartphone, turn off the VPN, go to the VPN provider's website, take a new configuration, upload to the router, turn on the VPN. In my experience, if you don’t choose an ultra-stable provider, it can take up to 5 or more times a day.
Step-by-step instructions for setting up a router (using the example of a mid-range router ASUS Wireless-AX3000):
1. Go to the control panel of the VPN service (for example, NordVPN)
2. Find out your unique Username and Password for the router
3. Select a VPN server. Select a country, city, or a specific server in a special section of the VPN service (available without authorization):
4. Go to the router settings
5. Find VPN settings
6. Configure Protocol, Username, Password, HostRegardless of the router model, try to choose the OpenVPN protocol, as it is the most secure and not susceptible to hacking. If the only PPTP is available, use it, but remember that it can be vulnerable.
Setting up Username, Password and Host should be straightforward if you got them in steps 1-3.
The third method: Connect Apple TV through a Windows computer
An easier and faster way to launch a VPN for Apple TV is to connect the set-top box via an Ethernet cable to a Windows computer with the VPN app installed.The computer itself must be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
Not all computer models allow Internet sharing. Moreover, from my own experience, I know that even different OS versions can affect this. For example, my HP on Windows 7 could distribute the Internet via LAN and Wi-Fi, but not on Windows 10.
So, before moving on to the system settings, check if it supports the distribution of the Internet. To do this, start the command shell “cmd” and enter the command.
>netsh WLAN show drivers
Unfortunately, if you see what is shown in the following screenshot, then your computer won’t be able to transfer VPN to Apple TV:
If you receive a positive value for the “Hosted network supported” parameter, you can proceed to set up the VPN app and configuring the distribution of the secure Internet:
- Install a VPN app on Windows.
- Connect Apple TV Ethernet cable to the laptop.
- Configure VPN distribution using the instructions for your version of Windows (for example, you can use the instruction for Windows 10).
The fourth method: Sharing VPN over Wi-Fi through MacBook
If you have a MacBook, then you can easily set up VPN distribution over Wi-Fi through it. Unfortunately, not all VPNs support this mode. I haven’t tested all Mac apps, but have successfully tested a secure Wi-Fi network obtained with Surfshark.
Let's look at the steps of setting up a MacBook (using my MacBook Pro as an example):
1. Sign up on the Surfshark website and install the app on your Mac.
2. Go to the MacBook system settings and select the “Sharing” section:
3. Set up the incoming and outgoing network for sharing:
Let me explain. In this window, you need to configure the interface where the unsecured Internet will "enter" and the interface for the secure Internet output (with the changed region).
You cannot use the same interface for input and output signals. But macOS allows you to choose any combination. For example, the Internet will go to the MacBook via an Ethernet cable from a router, and via Wi-Fi, it will be distributed to any device.
Personally, I like this method of connecting Apple TV the most for several reasons:
Maximum protection of privacy and data
Easy change of locations via a VPN app
Easy to set up
Bonus: Region change for Apple TV app
An alternative way of using Apple TV without purchasing a set-top box is becoming more widespread - installing the Apple TV app on iOS devices and launching it through iTunes on Windows.
There is still not much information on the Internet on how to properly connect the Apple TV app to VPN.
I will tell you about 3 simple steps that will allow you to 100% effectively change the region for this application and the services it uses.
Sign up on the site of a VPN service that supports streaming content (see the recommended list)
Install and run the VPN app for your OS
Select the desired location and activate the VPN
After that, all programs and apps, including the Apple TV app, will work through the virtual network and have an IP address from the selected location.
Best free VPNs for Apple TV with minimal restrictions
Should you try free VPN services for Apple TV?
I consider this a useless undertaking when it is necessary to bypass geo-restrictions, but I fully endorse the use of such services to unblock some sites that may be blocked in your region.
Free VPNs are too slow to watch high-quality video content. Also, most of these services have restrictions on the amount of traffic used. When it comes to unblocking the regions of Netflix and other similar resources, free VPNs in 2022 are almost useless.
I should also note that there are no free services that support Smart DNS technology, without which VPN installation on Apple TV is impossible. The only way to use them is by installing them on a router.
Next, I will list the 5 best VPNs that support installation on routers and have a minimum of restrictions.
The best free VPN service for most tasks is ProtonVPN. More precisely, his free plan. For Apple TV, it is interesting primarily because it has no traffic limit and allows you to use the Internet with an acceptable speed for average video quality.
Disadvantages of free ProtonVPN are limited server selection, IP addresses blocked by Netflix, and lack of Smart DNS support even on the paid version.
About a year ago, the Windscribe support announced the work of smart DNS support. However, it is not working today.
At the same time, the free version of the service is well suited for the Apple TV app. You won’t be able to unblock popular video resources, but you can easily change your IP address and get access to some sites.
The disadvantage of free Windscribe is the traffic limit (10GB per month).
Suitable for paid use.
Another VPN service with a free plan - hide.me - also has the 10GB per month limit. But unlike Windscribe, it has fewer countries available and lower connection quality.
The main advantage of hide.me is that you don't need to sign up. All you need to do is download and set up the app if you are using the Apple TV app. Hide.me also supports configuring routers.
Disadvantages of the free hide.me are connection failures and a minimal selection of IP addresses.
Suitable for paid use.
The following service can be called the most charged of all free VPNs. It has good speed, a great choice of countries for free plans (over 20), it even supports Netflix!
It limits monthly traffic to only 500-1500MB and doesn’t support routers.
Thus, TunnelBear is the best solution for a one-time use of the Apple TV app.
The next free VPN limits not monthly, but daily traffic. Hotspot Shield has 500 MB per day. It supports routers, but it won’t help with bypassing geo-restrictions since only one location in the Netherlands is available for free.
What opportunities does the VPN open on Apple TV?
Even if you have already decided to use Apple TV through a VPN, it won’t be superfluous to find out all the functions and possibilities that open thanks to it:
Masking the IP address. This technology is simple from a technical point of view and allows you to hide your real location, and simulate Internet access from another country. This feature is only available when using the Apple TV app on devices with a VPN app installed, via a router or when distributing VPN from a computer.
Change the region for streaming services using DNS settings. This feature isn’t a complete disguise, but it works as a trick to access video content from other countries that isn’t available in yours.
Data protection. It's not uncommon for people to use Apple TV to access some accounts or conduct banking transactions. In this case, the VPN will securely encrypt all traffic and hide all activity from the ISP. This feature is only available for the Apple TV app or via a router.
Increase the speed of the Internet. Often the home Internet has an additional limitation on the speed of streaming traffic. Internet providers benefit from this for two reasons: reducing the cost of information transmission and encouraging the use of extended packages or IPTV broadcasted by them.
How to change the Netflix region on Apple TV?
To securely access Netflix regions other than your location, you need to use one of the listed VPN services that support streaming and Smart DNS. The best ones are ExpressVPN and Surfshark.
These VPNs are guaranteed to consistently bypass Netflix's security, as evidenced by my regular streaming support tests that I've run once every 3 months since 2018.
What VPN settings are important for Apple TV?
When choosing a VPN, pay attention to the following parameters:
For the most comfortable viewing of Apple TV 4K and Apple TV app, the VPN service should operate at speeds exceeding 20-30Mbps. If you've read the reviews of some VPN providers, then you might think that most of them work at this speed. But it isn’t so. The point is that I am talking about the minimum acceptable speed for high definition video. In practice, VPNs reviews publish the maximum registered speed.
Trust my experience, you really need to divide that by at least two. This is due to the difference in speed in different regions and the change in load (number of users) at different times of the day.
Choose VPN services with speeds of 50Mbps or more.
All VPNs I listed earlier were selected in the first place with this recommendation in mind.
Bypassing geo-restrictions. VPN must effectively bypass streaming operators' protection from anonymizers such as VPN. Please note that some services, for example, CyberGhost, bypass geo-blocking only for some countries / regions. This can be achieved if the service has smart DNS support or if it supports work on routers.
Choice of countries. The best VPNs are those that have servers in more countries. This is more convenient and indicates the level of service. For example, ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries around the world, which is a very good indicator.
Availability of secure VPN apps when used with the Apple TV app.
Stability of work. Not all VPN services can maintain a stable connection to the VPN server for hours and days. Especially when it comes to free providers.
How to overcome restrictions to watch Apple TV overseas?
Since it is a US product, access to Apple TV content in other countries may be restricted.
This means that some TV shows, sports, news, and movies aren’t available in all countries due to licensing or other restrictions. People living in Africa and Asia often don’t have access to most American and British TV shows and films. Not only are these programs blocked and restricted in certain geographic locations, but people in those regions also don’t have access to many websites.
To unblock Apple TV content, you need to change your regional settings and your IP address to the one that matches the new settings. The easiest way to do this is by using VPN and Smart DNS, the use of which is described in the main part of the article.
What characteristics should you pay attention to when buying a VPN plan for Apple TV?
First, while enjoying unblocked content with this player (set-top box), remember that bypassing geo-restrictions must be done safely and confidentially for you. Therefore, use a VPN with a strong encryption method sent through this tunnel.
It should be noted that sometimes VPNs have weak data protection methods that don’t provide strong protection. But the services I have provided guarantee a high level of encryption because they use reliable protocols to protect your data from leakage to unknown cybercriminals or any interested third parties.