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Using ExpressVPN for Firestick – setup and benefits

Verified by Nick Jones

Want to install ExpressVPN on your Amazon Firestick? While there’s generally more demand for the privacy and security of a virtual private network (VPN) on a laptop or mobile phone, there are still multiple reasons why someone might get a VPN on a streaming device. 

And if you want a VPN on your streamer, the Firestick range is highly popular, with various price points for high-definition or 4K-enabled models – if you’re reading this article, you may already have one in your home.

Customers typically use VPNs as a security measure. However, on streaming devices such as the Amazon Firestick, the main benefits relate to streaming quality and access to geo-restricted content, which we’ll cover in more detail below. If you’re looking to install ExpressVPN on your Amazon Firestick or want to understand the benefits, we’ll explain everything you need to know in this extensive guide, including a step-by-step process.

Why use ExpressVPN for Firestick?

So, why use ExpressVPN on a Firestick? The usual privacy advantages of using a VPN on your phone or computer apply here; VPNs ensure your online activity remains private, encrypting web traffic from your devices and scrambling your identity so your internet service provider (ISP) can’t easily track your data.

A VPN also has the potential to speed up your internet connection because ISPs often throttle the speeds of certain kinds of web traffic (e.g. video streaming) to manage high data usage across an entire server. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the European Union asked high-traffic platforms such as Netflix and YouTube to reign in high-resolution streaming across Europe because of the surge of online traffic during lockdowns – streaming TV uses more data than general web browsing, after all.

A VPN conceals your online information within a concealed data packet, which prevents your ISP from knowing what you’re up to. So, if your ISP is limiting streaming capabilities in your area, a VPN may help.

However, you’d mainly use ExpressVPN on a streaming stick – a device largely focused on video content – to sidestep region-specific content restrictions. 

VPN providers run many servers around the world. ExpressVPN, specifically, has servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, enabling users to redirect their online activity to many different places.

Depending on your country, YouTube and other streaming video services will show you different content. It’s possible to use a VPN server in another region to access geo-restricted content you usually aren’t able to. Some apps may even be banned in your country of residence – for example, YouTube or other Western streaming apps in China – and require a VPN to be accessed.

How to install ExpressVPN on Firestick

Step-by-step installation guide

1. Set up Amazon Firestick

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure your Firestick is up and running. It plugs into a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port in your television and displays the Fire TV operating system on your screen. You’ll need to sign into your Amazon account before being able to download new apps from the app store.

firestick vpn on a tv

2. Download the ExpressVPN app

After plugging the Firestick into the TV’s HDMI port and signing in, you can head to the app store and search for the ExpressVPN app. You can also use an Alexa Voice Remote or connected Alexa device to search for this with voice commands.

Select the ExpressVPN app, then push the “Download” button to install the app onto your device. You can open the app from this screen once finished or find it on the home page of the Fire TV operating system.

firestick vpn on a tv

However, if you can’t find the ExpressVPN app in the app store, you should be able to sideload the app’s install file through a little workaround:

  • Go to your device settings in “My Fire TV”
  • Select “About” and the name of your Fire TV device
  • Press the “Select” button on your Fire TV remote seven times to open the “Developer Options” menu under “My Fire TV”
  • Turn on “Apps from Unknown Sources” in the “Developer Options” menu
  • Search for the “Downloader” app, download it and give it access to files on your device when prompted

Last, enter this web address: expressvpn.com/latest/android

Setting up and configuring ExpressVPN on Firestick

Sign-in and account setup

firestick vpn on a tv

If you’re already an ExpressVPN customer, you can simply sign in with your existing account details (email and password). Otherwise, you’ll be prompted to make a new account, which you’ll have to do by going to expressvpn.com/order and signing up for one of the presented payment plans.

You can subscribe on a monthly basis or commit to a six- or 12-month subscription for a slight discount overall. Once payment is set up, with any free trial period in effect, you simply have to choose an email address for your account – you’ll get a follow-up email to set a password. 

You’ll also be asked whether you want to send usage data and crash reports to ExpressVPN to help it improve its service.

Connecting ExpressVPN to Firestick

firestick vpn on a tv

After that, you should see a connection request by ExpressVPN, which you’ll need to approve before the VPN can start running.

firestick vpn on a tv

The last thing to do is select the large power button, with a helpful “Tap to connect” prompt underneath it. You’ll then connect to a VPN server in your region so you can start browsing or using your Fire TV device with all the comforts and privacies of a VPN.

Configuring VPN settings

firestick vpn on a tv

When connecting to ExpressVPN, you’ll connect to a local server by default – but it’s straightforward to pick a server from another region entirely. The “Connect” button has a drop-down location menu beneath it, which lets you pick a server from one of the 94 countries in which ExpressVPN is active across the Asia-Pacific, Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Some countries also have multiple server locations available to choose from.

However, ExpressVPN recommends using the server closest to your physical location for optimum speeds, and its Smart Location feature automatically picks the optimal option.

vpn on firestick settings

You can toggle or consider other options in the settings, such as an auto-connect feature that automatically activates the VPN when turning on your device or joining untrusted networks.

You can also select the specific VPN protocol running on your device. ExpressVPN automatically chooses the protocol most appropriate for your network, but you can have more precise control over this if you like. Here are the protocols available on Firestick:

  • Lightway: this is ExpressVPN’s next-generation VPN protocol, which the company developed to offer strong security and fast connection speeds
  • OpenVPN: this is an open-source and incredibly secure VPN protocol but not quite as fast as Lightway

Both Lightway and OpenVPN offer User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). This can get a little technical, but all you need to know is that UDP is better for fast performance, though TCP is better for connecting reliably. You might want to try both protocols to see which works better for you.

Benefits of using ExpressVPN with Firestick

Enhanced privacy and security

ExpressVPN offers several perks for anyone using a Firestick. It’s a smart workaround for anyone wanting to access geo-restricted content or apps that helps improve your privacy and security by obscuring your Internet Protocol address and encrypting data so that even your ISP provider can’t see it.

Any VPN is likely to impact internet speeds given the added work it takes to encrypt data or redirect traffic through servers around the globe – even if ExpressVPN is a famously fast VPN provider. But if you’re the victim of any bandwidth throttling by your ISP, a VPN can intelligently bypass this by ensuring your internet usage happens under the radar.

ExpressVPN features for Firestick

Two key features offered by ExpressVPN are also worth discussing.

By default, ExpressVPN will block your internet access if there’s a sudden or unexpected failure to connect to the VPN server, using a “kill switch” to sever the connection to your ISP before any of your data is exposed. You can opt out of this feature in the settings, but it’s generally a good security measure.

If you want to use some services without the protection of a VPN – say, if a certain app doesn’t work with your VPN provider –there’s also an optional split tunnelling feature. This splits your web traffic into an encrypted, VPN-protected tunnel and a separate, unprotected tunnel, giving you much control over what your VPN does and doesn’t conceal.

Common issues and solutions

ExpressVPN generally provides a smooth setup process, but occasionally users can experience issues – whether they can’t connect in the first place or find that their connection is slow or prone to dropping out.

There’s a help section in the ExpressVPN app, with an option to contact its customer service team, but here are a few examples of what may help if you have trouble connecting to the VPN server.

ExpressVPN advises you to make sure you’ve downloaded the latest version of ExpressVPN in case your device is sporting an older iteration of the software. Otherwise, it’s worth trying to connect to other servers (say, in a different region, ideally closer to your actual location) or select a different protocol to see if it serves you better. 

Your Firestick might be having trouble connecting to your home wifi, too – so it’s worth turning off your VPN to see how your Firestick fares with general usage.

ExpressVPN for Firestick FAQs

ExpressVPN costs £10.41 for a single month’s usage, though buying six- or 12-month subscriptions can lower this to £8.03 per month and £6.69 per month, respectively.

And if you don’t have a Firestick already, the cheapest one retails for £34.99 (often less in sales) – though you can spend £64.99 on an advanced 4K version.

VPNs are legal in most regions worldwide, though some territories have bans or restrictions on certain VPN providers – you’ll need to check your country of residence specifically. It’s also important to remember that while a VPN may be legal, using it for illegal activity is not.

ExpressVPN won’t run on first-generation Firestick models – only the second-generation and third-generation models released in 2016 onwards. So, any new Firestick you buy will support ExpressVPN just fine, but anyone holding onto an original 2014 model is out of luck.

 

VPNs can help improve the data bandwidth available to you, which could help with buffering on your Firestick. However, it’s a little complicated – VPNs can reduce internet speed due to the time it takes to encrypt data or travel to a specific server. Speeds can also slow down if a server is congested with many concurrent users. But if your ISP is intentionally throttling certain kinds of web traffic to manage overall speeds, your encrypted data may be able to sidestep those constraints. 

We recommend using a VPN known for its speed, like Surfshark or ExpressVPN.

Conclusion

ExpressVPN is one of the leading VPN providers working today. It offers a mix of VPN protocols to cater to different user needs, including its in-house Lightway invention offering market-leading speeds.

While VPNs may get the most use on desktop and mobile, there are plenty of benefits for those looking to use a secure VPN across a variety of different devices, such as streaming sticks – and using ExpressVPN on your Firestick is a sure-fire way to enhance your privacy and security, alongside enabling you to bypass restrictions on geo-locked content.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.92 /Month
£6.92 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £3.88 /Month
£3.88 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.48 /Month
£1.48 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £1.96 /Month
£1.96 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.33 /Month
£3.33 /Month
henry st leger

Henry St Leger

Consumer Tech and Software

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former news and features Editor at TechRadar, where he specialised in consumer technology, software, and home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, soundbars, and smart speakers.

He has been writing about technology and related topics for over six years. His work for the Independent Advisor focuses on cyber security and internet-connected software including VPNs.

Henry has written for a wide number of prominent websites including NBC News, Healthline, The Times, Edge, T3, iMore, and GamesRadar.

Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.