When you connect your PlayStation to the internet, you’re subject to the same hacking and snooping attempts that can threaten your regular internet browsing. To protect your activity, it’s a good idea to connect your PS4 through a VPN.
When it comes to setting up a VPN on your PlayStation, you have a couple of options. You can either install the VPN software at router level or use another device (such as your PC or Mac) to share the VPN connection. For the purposes of this guide, we’re focusing exclusively on the PS4, but the process will be pretty similar for older models.
What You'll Need
To install a VPN and run your PlayStation through it, you will need:
- A fully-functional VPN account; we’ll use ExpressVPN to demonstrate (check out our other top VPN picks for gaming here); remember to check your email and confirm your account before you begin
- A PlayStation 4
- An external device capable of sharing your internet connection.
There are various ways to connect to the internet through a VPN on your PlayStation, but you can’t do it in the settings of the PlayStation itself. You’ll need to use another device to route the connection through. Typically, this will be a PC, a Mac, or a router.
Remember that the device you connect through will need to have the right connectivity too. You may need to purchase ethernet or Wi-Fi adapters before you start.
Method 1: VPN On a Router
We’ve written a guide to help you install a VPN on your router.
If you need to buy a router specifically to get your devices working through a VPN, we recommend that you buy a pre-flashed router, or one that’s running software to support your chosen provider. Most of the routers supplied by ISPs don’t have VPN functionality.
Look for a Tomato-based router, or a router running DD-WRT, a type of open source firmware. If you’ve already signed up with a VPN provider, check their website for compatible models.
If you can’t find a pre-flashed or open source router specifically recommended by your VPN service, look at business routers that provide more customisable settings than a regular consumer-grade router.
Method 2: VPN via a PC
If you don’t have a router that supports VPNs, your next best option is your computer.
On a PC, you’ll need to set up a virtual router, and then you’ll connect your PS4 to the internet through that. Once the VPN is running on the PC, the PS4’s traffic will be protected as well.
Here’s how to start:
- Open a command prompt window on your PC. You’ll need to be logged in as an Administrator, or use the Run As… command.
- At the prompt, type netsh wlan show drivers to check whether your drivers are capable of supporting a virtual router; look for the line Hosted network supported: Yes
- On your PC, install the desktop application for your VPN provider; we’ve published a guide for ExpressVPN that shows how it’s done
- Make sure that your VPN connection is not connected before you proceed.
- Go back to the command prompt window. Type netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=MYNETWORK key=MYPASSWORD and hit enter, replacing MYNETWORK and MYPASSWORD with your chosen SSID (network name) and password; be sure to pick a unique SSID here
- Type netsh wlan start hostednetwork and hit the Enter key; this will start up the virtual router and display the message The hosted network started
- Open Control Panel, then Network Connections
- Locate the adapter with the SSID you chose — it’ll be a Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter
- Look for a TAP adapter in the same window
- Right-click on the list item, and then click Properties
- Click the Sharing tab
- Check Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection
- In the drop-down, select the name of your Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter.
You’re all set. Connect to your VPN using your provider’s software, and connect your PlayStation to your virtual router, using the SSID and password you chose.
Your PlayStation activity will now be protected by the VPN.
Method 3: VPN via a Mac
The procedure for connecting your PlayStation to your Mac follows the same principles as the Windows guide, but we’ll be using connection sharing on the Mac, and we’ll be creating a manual connection to the VPN server. It’s very easy to achieve.
Note that you will need to use an Ethernet cable to connect your Mac to your router, so you might want to think about its location, and maybe pick up a couple of Powerline adapters to make this work. The connection from the PlayStation to the Mac will be wireless.
To install your VPN for your PlayStation:
- Create your VPN connection using manual config; you’ll find all the instructions for this in our Mac VPN guide
- Connect to the VPN and leave the connection running as you run through the rest of these steps
- Open System Preferences, Sharing, then select Internet Sharing
- Check the box labeled Wi-Fi
- Click the Wi-Fi Options button
- Choose WPA Personal and type in the network name and password you want to use
- Click OK
- Check the box next to Internet Sharing, then Start.
Now you can connect your PlayStation to your Mac’s shared network via Wi-Fi, while your Mac’s connected to your router (or Powerline adapter) using Ethernet. Your VPN should be connected already, so you’re good to go.
Need More Help?
Connection sharing is really easy to set up in OS X or Windows, so connecting your PlayStation should be very simple. It’s a good idea to get your VPN connection working first before you start sharing your connection, so you can easily rule out problems with one or the other. If your VPN doesn’t connect, check your account’s confirmed to rule out any verification issues.
Routers can be trickier to get working, and it’s really dependent on the features available as to where problems can crop up. It’s difficult to provide guidance for every model; your VPN provider should be your first port of call, along with your user guide.