Now that I have the Amazon Fire TV Stick and am able to watch a ton of movies, I decided to get a VPN to hinder the tracking of my viewing pleasure. Not only that, I’ve come to find out that cable companies can not only track my online usage, but they are allowed to sell my usage information. That is so not cool!
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for virtual private network. As the name implies, it’s a network that keeps your internet activity private. In other words, the local cable company cannot get their grubby little hands on user’s online comings and goings. For a better and more detailed user-friendly explanation of VPNs, check out the article VPNs for Beginners – What you Need to Know.
After I understood the concept of VPNs coupled with the disturbing information regarding the sale of my online antics, I knew I had to quickly find something to protect my household’s internet wanderings. I spent quite a bit of time researching to find the right VPN for my household. One of the first VPNs I stumbled upon was IPVanish. The pricing seemed right and the ratings were pretty good.They usually ranked a 4.5 out of 5 or 9 out of 10. Of course, being the person I am I wanted to investigate the VPN companies that received the 5 out of 5 and the 10 out of 10 ratings. So I went on another quest to investigate the perfect score VPN services.
The 5/5 and 10/10 companies offered much more than I needed. All I wanted was something to mask my Fire TV Stick movie viewings and my daily online internet jaunts. After reviewing the top-rated companies I realized they were geared more towards businesses. They were much more expensive and seemed complicated to set up.
They use something called flash technology. This flash technology isn’t compatible with my current router. As such, I would have to purchase a flash technology compatible router ranging in price from $250 to $600! After that, I would have to become familiar with the router techno-jargon in order to configure it correctly. Having played around with router configurations once or twice, I know that one wrong move means no internet. Been there, done that, didn’t want to go there again. At this point in my life, I want things as simple as they come.
Back to IPVanish
After learning more about what I didn’t want I came back to IPVanish. Not only was it a more affordable solution, but It offered all of the encryption I needed plus it was simple to set up. So I signed up with IPVanish (which was super easy), and then installed it on my Fire Stick (that was even easier). To get it on the TV Stick, all I had to do was click on the “Download Fire TV App” link from IPVanish’s website. That option brought me to my Amazon account. I then “purchased it” for free and told Amazon which device to download the app to. The app was then installed onto the Fire Stick.
At first, I didn’t see the app on the TV Stick, so from the Fire Stick’s Home screen I clicked on “Settings” and navigated to “My Account.” There I selected the “Amazon Account” and chose “Sync Amazon Content.” I went back to the Home page and there the icon was under Recent.
Can’t Find the IPVanish Icon on Fire Stick?
If the icon doesn’t appear under Recent on your Home screen, don’t fret. You’ll have to go and get the icon and place it there. Here’s how:
- From the Fire Stick’s Home screen navigate down to the second row, “Your Apps & Games” and scroll all the way to the right until you see “See All”
- Click on “See All” and it will bring you to a screen of all your Fire TV Stick apps.
- Scroll down and select IPVanish.
- Press the Options button on your remote. Doing so will display a few menu options.
- Select “Move”
- Now move the icon to the first position in the add-on screen (top left) and press enter.
- Return to Home screen.
Hint: Because I use Kodi often, I placed Kodi in the second position next to IPVanish. The position of the Recent apps icons will change based on what was recently used, but the Apps & Games order does not change unless you manually change them.
Fire It Up
Next, I clicked on the IPVanish icon and was ready to connect. But, before clicking the “Connect” button, I scrolled down to choose my preferred server location.
Hint: Select a server location that’s close to your home location. The further away the server, the higher the chances of a slower computer connection.
I also wandered around to see what else the interface had to offer. Clicking the “Profile” icon displayed my profile information such as email address, account status, and renewal date among other things. By clicking the “Settings” wheel I found several configuration options. The photo below doesn’t show all of the options, but it’s enough for you to get a taste of what’s there.
Satisfied with what I saw, I clicked “Connect” and began protecting my TV Stick connection.
Installing IPVanish on My Windows Computer
As easy as it was to install IPVanish on the Fire Stick, I ran into a minor problem with installing it on my Windows 10 computer.
I downloaded the app from the IPVanish site and ran the installer. Once installed, I selected the server location and clicked “Connect.” Instead of connecting I received the following error message:
When I received the error message I got on Google to find out why. Google directed me to the IPVanish site that very easily and clearly explained the reason. It also had a simple solution.
All I had to do was navigate to the Connection screen from the Settings menu. Once there I scrolled down to the Install/Repair Open VPN Driver option and clicked the green “Install/Repair” button. That fixed everything.
Installing IPVanish Android or iPhones
Installing IPVanish on my android tablet and iPhone was simple. For the Android device, I went to Google Playstore, downloaded and installed the app. For my iPhone I went to the Apple store, then downloaded and installed the app. As with the computer and Fire Stick versions, I chose my server and then connected.
Understandable Downsides to VPNs
My brother was the first to alert me to an issue he had. In an attempt to sign into his banking website, he had to go through re-authenticating his computer because the IP address was different. This is understandable. I didn’t run into such an issue with my bank.
What I did run into, however, was a problem with my cable service provider. I use my tablet as a TV when I cook dinner. I prop the tablet, go to my cable company’s app and select a channel/show I wish to watch. At first, I was taken off guard when I received a notice that I was outside of my service area so the local app wouldn’t work. If I wanted to watch my usual channels, I’d have to watch via that channel’s app. For example, if the show was on HBO, I had to use the HBOGo app. No biggie. I switched to the appropriate app and finished cooking.
VPN Lag Time
One concern I had was that IPVanish would cause my internet browsing to slow down. Fortunately, since installing the VPN, I haven’t noticed a lag as yet. I currently have IPVanish installed on 2 computers, 1 laptop, a tablet, two Amazon fire sticks and two mobile phones. So far so good!
I’m happy to find a reliable and inexpensive VPN that works on all my devices. I played around with it as much as I could during the 7-day money back guarantee time frame. I’m pleased to say the service has more than met my expectations.
Grandmotherly advice. If you are using the Amazon Fire TV Stick and have installed Kodi and the various add ons, I strongly suggest you invest in a VPN (even if you don’t have a Fire Stick, you still need a VPN). For my purposes, IPVanish fits the bill. It’s easy to install, affordable and protects my privacy.
Full disclosure: Since I’m happy with the IPVanish service, I decided to become an affiliate. That means if you sign up through one of my links, I’ll earn commission.
BTW, if you’re looking for a VPN guide for beginners, go over to the Best VPN Website and read their comprehensive VPN Beginner’s Guide. It taught me quite a bit about VPNs.