How to install and set up a VPN on the NVIDIA Shield TV
No more region restrictions! Installing a VPN on your Shield TV is easy.
There are plenty of reasons to use a VPN. Security and privacy come to mind, but when you’re talking about a streaming device like the NVIDIA Shield TV, regional restrictions are right up there at the top, too. You don’t turn into a pirate just because you’re on vacation.
The issue is that setting up a VPN sounds intimidating. And it can be if you have to dig into the network settings and do it manually. Thanks to Google Play, you don’t have to. All you need is a valid VPN subscription and a couple of apps installed on your Shield TV and you’re halfway there.
A dedicated VPN app
The first thing you need to do is see if your VPN company has an app in Google Play. There are a good many of them available, and even if you can’t find one through your Shield’s Play Store, sideloading is easy.
Once you get an app for a specific VPN installed, whether through the Play Store or from an SD card/USB Drive, open it and sign in with your credentials.
You’re done. Pick a server and off you go!
What to do if your VPN doesn’t have an Android TV app
There are more VPN companies that don’t have their own app than there are ones that do. A lot more. The good news is that almost every VPN company has a set of OpenVPN profiles and a certificate that you can use on any device. You’ll find this information at your VPN company’s website, and you’ll need to download at least one server profile and the certificate.
The files are small so it’s not a bad idea to download all the server profiles. They will all use the same certificate so you only need to download it once.
The Shield TV doesn’t come with a web browser (that’s so silly) and if you haven’t sideloaded one, there’s no need to for this because we’re going to use a utility every Shield TV owner should have: WiFi File Explorer Pro. It’s a 99-cent app that acts as an FTP server for your Shield TV so you can connect to it through any web browser and transfer files.
You’ll find it in the Shield TV’s Play Store so it’s easy to install. There’s also a free version, but it is limited to 50 uploads; you’ll burn through those quickly once you see how easy it is and know you’ll never have to reach into the back of your entertainment cabinet and plug in a thumb drive again.
Fire WiFi File Explorer up on your Shield (or use whatever method you like to transfer files) and create a folder on the device to put your server profile(s) and the certificate in. Copy those over, and close the app by pressing back on your Shield TV remote.
Next, head back into Google Play on your Shield and search for the OpenVPN for Android app. Search for VPN if you’re using voice search because for some reason it turns OpenVPN into two words and can’t find the app. If only Google was a search company …
OpenVPN for Android is free (awesome) so go ahead and install it. When it’s done installing — it will only take a few seconds as the app isn’t very big — open the app. Don’t get freaked out by the ugly interface with a bunch of stuff you might not understand. All we’re going to do is “click” in a few places and use the files you transferred to automagically set everything up.
In the upper right corner of the app, you’ll see four icons. The box with the arrow is the import button and it’s the one we want. Click on it and in the file browser window that opens, find the VPN Server profile(s) you transferred over. Click on one of them. If you transferred more than one, you’ll need to do this for all of them individually.
It will start the import process and end with an error. That’s because it can’t find the certificate, but there’s nothing to worry about — we never told it where the certificate was. Click the button to let it finish importing and it will take you back to the main interface screen.
Now it’s time to point it to the certificate, so click the pencil icon for the entry on the right side. A window where you can choose the certificate and enter your VPN credentials will open.
You’ll see a button marked Select on the right side of the screen. Click it and browse to the certificate you transferred earlier and choose it. Now the authentication certificate and server profile(s) are both set up and all you need to do is enter your VPN username and password.
You can enter those here, or leave them blank to enter them each time you start a VPN connection. You can ignore the other settings unless your VPN company has instructions for you to change them. It probably doesn’t.
Once you’re done on this tab, switch over to the Server list tab at the top of the screen. Click the entry you just set up and it will automatically connect. You’re now tunneling your traffic through your VPN server and your real IP address and location are hidden.
Besides getting around region locking, you’ll be able to stay private if you do anything where you’d like some privacy. Another bonus is that beacons, trackers, and all the other tricks companies like Facebook use to monitor everything you do online become useless data. Remember that your ISP can see you’re connected to a VPN, and the company running the VPN can monitor your connection, though.
It’s just another computer
We love the Shield TV. it’s powerful for gaming and 4K HDR video, NVIDIA keeps it updated with all the latest stuff for Android as well as NVIDIA-specific apps and games, and it’s hands-down the best set-top box you can buy because it’s not shackled to iTunes and the App Store. But at its heart, it’s really just a computer like any other computer.
That means using it through a VPN, or installing apps you got from somewhere other than the Play Store app or even importing your own certificates of trust are simple and work as expected. And that makes us love the Shield TV even more.
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