5 Best VPNs for Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD

10 May 2013 |

K fire logo 2Kindle fire hd logo

The Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD are great devices that allow you to easily access Amazon’s vast catalogue of movies, TV shows, books, games and music, plus surf the web from the comfort of your sofa.

However, designed as front-ends for the Amazon store, so that users can readily consume Amazon content, it quickly becomes apparent that there are many limitations built in to the product line:

  • There is a lot of content that is geo-restricted – this will be particularly noticeable to users outside the United States who regularly find thmselves told that the content they are after is not available in their region. While this is at least to a certain extent thanks to Amazon’s heinous market protection policies, it is also the result of copyright licencing deals over which Amazon has no control. This is nevertheless one of the most frustrating aspects of owning a Kindle
  •  The heavily customized and cut down version of Android used in the devices restricts which apps you can install, mainly by limiting you to the Amazon Appstore, rather than allowing access to the much larger Google Play store
  • The VPN api built into all versions of Android, and which allows easy setup of PPTP and L2TP VPN connections has been removed from the Kindle software

The solutions to these problems are inter-related, because to get unrestricted access to the (mainly US) Amazon catalogue requires the use of a VPN, but since both Android’s built in VPN client, and access to the Google Play store (which has various OpenVPN clients available to download) has been restricted on Kindle devices, users are prevented from easily setting up a VPN service (which we understand to be a deliberate choice on Amazon’s part).

Of course, in addition to unblocking geo-restricted Amazon services (plus allowing access to third party geo-restricted services such as Hulu and NetFlix),  using a VPN allows you to surf the internet using  your Kindle in absolute privacy.

So how do you use a VPN service with your Kindle?

There are a number of different approaches.

Connect using a flashed router

This is probably the easiest way, especially as it is possible to buy routers that have been pre-configured to work with certain VPN services, allowing simple plug-and-play setup.

Some routers can be flashed with firmware (either DD-WRT or Tomato) that gives users a high degree of control over customisation and configuration of the router, and which include the ability to set up a VPN. If you are interested flashing a router and configuring it for VPN yourself (a somewhat complex job) rather than using a pre-configured solution, then you may find the following links helpful:

  • DD-WRT – a full list of compatible routers can be found here, information about installing and configuring DD-WRT can be found here, and click the links for guides to setting up PPTP and OpenVPN. Lots more general information on using DD-WRT can be found here.
  • Tomato – a full list of compatible routers can be found here, information on installing and configuring Tomato can be found here, and a guide to setting up OpenVPN can be found here.

One big advantage of using a flashed router is that all of your internet connected devices (including games consoles, mobile phones, and internet TV’s) will benefit from being connected through VPN when they connect through the router.

Side-loading Android VPN apps

Although Amazon doesn’t want you to do it (and it may well violate your Terms and Condition), it is possible to ‘side-load’, and install regular Android apps on your Kindle, including (at least in theory) VPN apps.

1. Drag the Kindle notification bar down, and select More -> Device and set ‘Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources’ to ‘On’.

Kindle Fire

2. Download ES File Explorer from Amazon Appstore (free)

3. Download the OpenVPN Installer to your desktop computer

4. Connect your Kindle to your PC or Mac using the USB lead and drag-and-drop the OpenVPN Installer (icsopenvpn0529.apk) to your Kindle’s Downloads folder

5. Fire up your Kindle (pun intended!) and use ES Explorer to navigate to the Downloads, tap on the .apk file and Install

6. Sign up for a VPN service if you haven’t already done so

7. Setup the OpenVPN installer using the OpenVPN config files supplied by your VPN provider

If you hunt around the internet you may be able to find the .apk files for individual Android clients, including OpenVPN for Android by Arne Schwabe (the standard generic OpenVPN Android client). Individual VPN companies may also be willing to supply the .apk file for their android app if you ask them nicely. We should also note that this method can be used to side-load other Android apps (including Google ones such as Docs and Gmail), although they will not be optimized for the Kindle.

Rooting your Kindle

Underneath the fancy and heavily modified Kindle interface lies a very capable Android tablet. It is possible to remove the Android interface and replace it with either a ‘vanilla’ version Android (such as Ice Cream Sandwich), or with a ‘custom ROM’ (enthusiast modified version of Android), through the process known as ‘rooting’.

Rooting your Kindle is a somewhat extreme solution as it invalidates your warranty and can potentially ‘brick’ you device, making it unusable (this isn’t very likely, but rooting is always done at your own risk). It also means that you lose the nice and easy, consumer friendly portal to the World of Amazon, which is why many chose a Kindle rather than a straight Android tablet in the first place.

Still, the Kindle does sport some lovely hardware, and for those frustrated at the limitations Amazon places on the device, rooting is the way to set it free, and access the Android experience unfettered by Amazon’s restrictions. This includes gaining full access to the Google Play Store (with VPN apps), and Android’s built-in VPN client.

There are many guides to rooting Kindles on the internet, but good ones can be found here (Kindle Fire HD), and here  (Kindle Fire).  Before rooting your Kindle however, we do urge that you perform some research so that you fully understand the process, and are aware of any issues with the process that have been discovered.

 

Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

cexpressvpn_logo $8.32/mo Read Review Visit Site

2

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3

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4

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5

logo $9.00/mo Read Review Visit Site
Editor’s Choice

Winner – ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Positives: Easy-to-use software, excellent speeds, good customer service

Negatives: Bit pricey, but worth it for the features

With apps across all platforms and mobile clients that blow the competition away, ExpressVPN secures our vote as the Best VPN for the Kindle. The download speeds are impressive and the software is straightforward to use. We really love some of the features like automatic protocol selection and server location recommendations.

ExpressVPN boasts round-the-clock customer support and an ultra reliable VPN network spanning 33 countries and hundreds of servers. They are also adding new locations all the time. These guys have done a pretty awesome job in building what we believe to be the best VPN service out there.

The pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. ExpressVPN also offers unlimited bandwidth and supports your mobile device (Android/iOS) for no extra charge.

Try Out the Best VPN for Kindle Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30 day moneyback guarantee

2. TorGuard

Positives: no logs, 256-bit AES encryption, accepts Bitcoins, very fast, UK servers, P2P: yes, Adroid app, pre-configured routers

Negatives: asks for too much information during registration, keeps that info for marketing reasons, some connection problems, no free trial, we’ve received reports of poor customer service

TorGuard is a VPN company with almost everything in place – it keeps no logs, accepts Bitcoin payments, uses 256-bit AES encryption, has a good desktop client, and is blazingly fast. Unfortunately it annoyed us a bit during signup by asking too many personal questions (which may be used for promotion), and we had some strange connection problems when we first used the service, which may be related to reports we’ve received of bad DNS leakage from its servers. We have also received reports of bad customer service. However, the basics are rock-solid, and TorGuard sell pre-configured routers, so connecting to their service with your Kindle can be a painlessly plug-and-play experience. In addition to this, TorGuard have an Android app (newly available for unrooted devices), which makes it possible to use their service on a rooted kindle or, if can find the .apk, to side-load onto your Kindle.

» Visit TorGuard


3. ibVPN

Positives: cheap, no logs (but many caveats), accepts payments via Bitcoins, P2P: yes, pre-configured routers

Negatives: painfully slow on a regular basis, many caveats to ‘no logs’ claim

Despite initially favourable impressions, ibVPN is not a favourite of ours thanks to the slowness of its service in actual long-term use (although our speedtest.net results during the review period were very good). In addition to this, while we applaud ibVPN for being a ‘no logs’ service, we think that its definition of ‘no logs’ is a bit too wide for our tastes. Nevertheless, the fact that ibVPN sells its own range of pre-configured routers (as well as supplying tutorial guides for setting up OpenVPN and PPTP on DD-WRT routers), makes it promising choice for Kindle owners after hassle-free VPN.

» Visit ibVPN


4. IPVanish

Positives: very fast servers, lots of server locations, pre-configured routers

Negatives: claims to keep ‘no logs’ but this very doubtful, P2P:no

This US based company claims to keep no logs, but within 48 hours of using its service we received an email threatening to terminate our contract if we used P2P again, which in our view completely invalidates this claim. Nevertheless, IPVanish did produce the best speedtest.net results we have ever seen during our review, and makes life easy for Kindle users by selling pre-configured routers.

» Visit IPVanish


5. AirVPN

Positives: No logs, accepts Bitcoin, transparent service, fast, excellent attitude to privacy, VPN though SSL and SSH tunnels, Tor over VPN, P2P: yes

Negatives: No pre-configured routers

AirVPN provides no pre-configured routers or Android apps, although they do provide set-up instructions with screen-shots for DD-WRT. However, they do provide a fantastic VPN service, with 256-bit AES encryption, total network transparency, they accept Bitcoin payments and support all sorts of super-cool stuff like VPN over TOR, and VPN through SSL and SSH encrypted tunnels. To use the service with your Kindle you will have to do a little of your own research on how to flash a DD-WRT or Tomato router (see links above), but we think this is easily worth the effort for such a great service if you plan to take this route.

» Visit AirVPN


Conclusion

Using a pre-configured router is by far the simplest way to connect your Kindle to a VPN service, so you can use it surf the web anonymously, or access content denied to you because of where you live. Also, starting at around a quite modest $70, they are a reasonably affordable solution. Side-loading apps can be a bit hit and miss, but if it works then you can use VPN for free (apart from the VPN subscription fee of course), so it’s probably worth giving a try! Perhaps the best all-round solution is to root your Kindle so you can access the full Google Play Store, but this is not for the faint-hearted, and requires some techy know-how. Good luck!


And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

cexpressvpn_logo $8.32/mo Read Review Visit Site

2

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 18.38.21 $9.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

3

logo $4.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

4

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 18.38.21 $9.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

5

logo $9.00/mo Read Review Visit Site
Author Picture Written by Pete Zaborszky
Pete runs Best VPN and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+
  • Timothy Shaw

    DO NOT USE A VPN APP WHEN CLAIMING WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS or any state related income that requires you to be on U.S. soil! They will ‘ping’ you and assume you are out of the country and terminate your income. I used the hotspot shield app from a public wifi hotspot and I have been fighting to get my New York U.I.benefits reinstated for 3 months now. I have lost nearly everything including my home.

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