You’ve probably seen ads on TV and on the Internet for VPN services. VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. Nearly all these ads stress privacy and protection. Nord VPN is one example of a well-advertised VPN service.

Typically, these services claim privacy and protection by hiding your home IP address. The IP address is a number like this:

If you go to you can see your IP address. Once you connect to a VPN service like Nord VPN you will see a different IP address. The VPN connection will hide your home IP address.

There are times, however, when you may want to reverse the well-advertised benefits of VPN services. There may be reasons when you are away from home that you want to appear as though you are at home.

Here are some real-life reasons:

Traveling outside the United States

My friend John was stuck in Ireland with COVID. He coud not fly back to the US until he tested negative. His employer allowed him to work remotely. However, he could not work remotely from Ireland because his work servers were configured to block European IP numbers. I set up an account on my existing home VPN server. After he connected to it, he was able to connect to his work servers. I helped him set up his own home VPN server just in case.

Another acquaintance is a luxury travel agent who works from home. She has had problems getting into Sabre while traveling. A home VPN server allows her to connect to Sabre as though she is home.

Arthur is another acquaintance who travels internationally nearly full-time. All of his banking is with US-based banks. He has had many problems connecting to his banks while outside the US, even when using commercial VPN services like Nord VPN. He solved this problem by setting up home VPN servers in various friends’ houses.

Arthur’s experiences bring up two important problems.

1. Some banks may lock you out of your account because they will assume that access from an IP address outside the US is nefarious. This has happened to me.

2. Even if you could log into your account from a non-US IP address the financial institution may eventually think you are no longer a US resident, which may be a requirement to keep the account.

Beating the Blackouts

Sports broadcasts are frequently blacked out during home games, such as in Seattle. When I use a remote VPN home server (outside WA State) my IP number is not in WW State. This allows me to watch the Seattle home baseball games on MLB TV. thinks I’m outside the Seattle market area.

Appearing from a home IP Address

Some remote database connections require IP addresses to be added to a list of permitted IP addresses. If your home IP address is on the list, then a connection to your home VPN server will allow the remote connection to the database.

Many streaming services are getting sharp to VPN services and block connections from VPN services like Nord VPN. Being able to connect to your home VPN server will allow you to connect to the streaming service as though you were sitting at home. This is important because streaming services are now detecting whether you are connecting from a residential IP address. If not, no streaming.

Comcast — now known as Xfinity — also allows streaming of its content through an Xfinity TV account. However, some content is not available when you are streaming from outside your house because your IP address is not associated with the Xfinity account. I’ve successfully devised a system to overcome those restrictions by using a home VPN server.

There are several ways to set up your own VPN server at home.

Option 1: Use a VPN router

The easiest way to create your own home VPN server is to buy a router with built-in VPN server features.

These routers are not hugely expensive, from about $100 on up.

Before you buy a router, make sure it supports the VPN protocol your remote devices will use. Your remote device might be a phone, an iPad, a computer, or another router working as a VPN client.

I prefer the WireGuard protocol because of its speed is often better than OpenVPN. Additionally, routers with WireGuard VPN server built-in are very easy to set up.

Option 2: Flash Your Current router

I don’t recommend this, so I’m not going to take much space on this. It can be done, but it is much more complicated than buying a router with built-in abilities. Flashing a router with different firmware can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Option 3: Use Other Devices as VPN Servers

You can create a VPN server on a computer, but that can be complex, too, like flashing a router with different firmware.

If you have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) running at home there may be a VPN server app available. I have two different NAS devices running as I type: Synology and QNAP. Both have OpenVPN server apps available. I use these as backups to the router running the WireGuard VPN server.

Disadvantages of a Home VPN Server

If your internet connection suffers from slow upload speed, a home VPN server may not provide the benefits you want, especially if your main use is for streaming.

All VPN connections have a lot of what’s called overhead — encrypting and decrypting the data. This means more data needs to flow through the VPN connection. Remember that when you are in a remote location and using a home VPN server, your download speed at the remote location will be affected by your home’s upload speed and any overhead from the VPN protocol.

That being said, my home WireGuard VPN server has delivered up to 290 megabits down when using 1 gigabit connections on both ends. This is an excellent speed.

Home VPN servers require setup and updates. While some technical knowledge is required, it may not be overwhelming.

Remember that a home-based VPN server only provides privacy from the remote device to the home VPN server. Anyplace you go on the Internet will see your home IP number. But, as mentioned above, that is one of the main benefits of a home VPN server.

— Bruce Miller

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