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TL;DR: Apple doesn't allow for native VPN configuration on Apple TVs, is there a reliable way to use a VPN service with my Apple TV?

As someone who lives abroad, a VPN can be a real life saver when it comes to catching up on shows from home. However, one thing which continues to annoy me is the lack of an option to configure a VPN on an Apple TV. With iOS and macOS, using a VPN is as simple as downloading an app and pressing one button, but this is not the case with the Apple TV.

I understand that some VPN providers offer smart DNS solutions, however, the truth is that this is limiting as it fails to provide the same amount of security offered by standard VPNs and completely omits the option to specify a geo-location which would be my primary use for such a service.

As a result, I have been trawling the Internet trying to find a solution. I have come across guides which explain how to put a VPN directly onto a router, however, it is impossible to do so with my router firmware and even if it were, it would come with a few downsides including speed. Other guides suggest using something like a Raspberry Pi to act as a repeater but I do not think this is a reasonable solution for me and it would also prevent my Apple TV from being used as the hub for my HomeKit setup.

Is there a reasonable alternative (software or hardware) for VPN access on AppleTV other than the ones listed above which would solve this issue?

Currently, to circumvent the problem I have been using a VPN on my iPad and then using AirPlay to mirror the video, however, this is rather irritating as it is bottle-necked by Wi-Fi speeds and thus can sometimes buffer and result in low quality.

  • @Allan I apologise for the question appearing to be outside of the Help Centre guidelines. In order to prevent this issue from being closed, I have modified it to be pertain more to solving the issue rather than questioning it. Hopefully you approve of these changes. Best – Rocco Mar 31 at 20:35
  • I have edited your question to leave out the opinion-based part (which cannot be answered here), and emphasize the practical part (i.e. how can I solve my problem). – jksoegaard Mar 31 at 20:49
  • @jksoegaard You overlooked the title it seems :) – ankii Jul 14 at 7:30
  • @ankiiiiiii Fixed! – jksoegaard Jul 14 at 10:33
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There's no way to add a "real" native VPN to the AppleTV through software currently. The DNS-based solutions you describe are really not what you would normally expect from a full VPN solution.

The best alternative currently is a hardware solution where you add the VPN externally. I.e. instead of connecting the AppleTV directly to your internet connection, you connect it to a VPN box instead. Such a setup does not prevent your AppleTV from being used as a HomeKit hub.

The VPN box might be a dedicated box that does nothing but encapsulate network traffic from the device into the VPN (could be a specialized off-the-shelf VPN device, or a generic device with VPN software such as a small Linux computer or similar). It might also be just functionality within equipment you already have, such as your existing router or firewall, if they support such VPN functionality.

  • Thank you for your response, it's a shame that there is no way to add native VPN support on Apple TV. I understand that you have recommended a VPN 'box' solution. As I mentioned in my question, this was something I was hesetant to try; are there any down sides to this solution other than the cost? May it also affect my ATV's ability to act as a hub for my HomeKit setup? – Rocco Mar 31 at 21:04
  • Well, cost and you have to keep a separate box updated. I cannot see why it would affect your HomeKit setup at all, why do you think that? – jksoegaard Mar 31 at 21:26
  • This is the best approach. There's no reason why have an issue with bandwidth. HomeKit will still function with a VPN. See: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/348581/… – Allan Mar 31 at 21:38
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Here is a summary of what did to get my Apple TV to route through a VPN service.

Complete details, including crucial details on how to configure the VPN service (using the System Preferences->Network) are here.

  1. MacBook Pro running OSX 10.14.3. (Mojave)

  2. Wired Ethernet connection from router to the MacBook.

  3. VPN service. I used ExpressVPN, although from what I read, several others work as well, and have a similar setup. Follow crucial details on how to configure the VPN here.

  4. "Internet Sharing" to share internet/VPN service with Apple TV (via local WiFi settings).

  5. Connect Apple TV to shared internet connection.

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