What Is A VPN Passthrough?

The definition of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) passthrough is simple. It’s a feature that allows the devices connected to your router to set up a VPN connection.

However, to understand better what a VPN passthrough is, you need to know a few basic things first. For example, if you are already a user of a VPN, you know by now that they can use different protocols. It’s crucial to understand the difference between them if you want to fully grasp the concept of a VPN passthrough.

Let’s go over some important details first.

VPN Protocols & NAT Firewall

In order to establish and maintain a VPN connection, you need a VPN protocol. Over the years, there have been many improvements in this technology, and currently, users can choose between different protocols, depending on their needs.


PPTP stands for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. This is one of the oldest VPN protocols, and it’s quite outdated nowadays. Nevertheless, VPN providers still use this one because it’s faster than some alternatives. Nevertheless, PPTP owes its speed to the fact that it provides very little encryption. Essentially, it’s far from secure compared to the other options.


Internet Protocol Security or IPSec is a commonly used VPN protocol that encrypts each data packet separately. You might’ve heard of L2TP/IPsec which is also the outdated security protocol. A better, faster, and more secure version is the IKEv2/IPsec.


SSTP or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is the secure version of PPTP. SSTP layers PPTP connection in an HTTPS channel to provide security.  Unfortunately, despite many benefits of this software, it’s mostly used in Microsoft products which makes it quite limited.


This is probably the most used protocol nowadays, it certainly is the most praised. Despite slight limitations in speed, the OpenVPN protocol is recommended as the best to use currently because it’s much more vetted than the others. It uses technology similar to HTTPS connections, and it can easily bypass censorship and internet restrictions. Combined with good encryption, with OpenVPN, you won’t have to worry about anything when it comes to your online safety.

Network Address Translation (NAT)

Every time you connect to the internet, you carry an IP address. Think of it as your online ID. It’s a way for others to know that it’s you accessing a certain website for example. The IP address is the same for all of your devices, as long as they are connected to the same router. The feature that allows all of your devices to have the same address is the Network Address Translation (NAT) firewall inside of your router.

Not only does it do this, but the NAT can also filter the traffic that circulates through your devices in order to protect you and to make sure that you’ve only received the data package you asked for.

What Does A VPN Passthrough Do?

As previously mentioned, VPN passthrough is a feature in your router that allows you to set up a VPN connection through it, on all your connected devices. It allows devices on a private internet network to set up an outbound VPN connection, meaning that the passthrough feature has nothing to do with the inbound VPNs, but only the VPN connections that are leaving the router.

If your router supports VPN connections and has this feature, it will automatically work, and you won’t have any problem whatsoever to set up a VPN connection through your router.

However, there is a possibility that you have an older type of router that does not include the VPN passthrough feature. This can cause you problems as the NAT firewall blocks some of your connections. The problem appears when you try to connect with older, outdated VPN protocols, such as the previously mentioned PPTP and IPSec VPN protocols.

Do You Need A VPN Passthrough?

Usually, with routers that support VPN connections you will find the following listed among its features:

  • PPTP passthrough
  • IPSec passthrough
  • L2TP passthrough

Even though they are outdated, these protocols are still offered by many VPN service providers, despite their drawbacks. Therefore, the answer to the question of whether you really need this feature depends on your router and your VPN.

If your router happens to be missing the feature that enables the PPTP or the L2TP/IPsec protocols, think whether you really want to be using these VPN protocols. Keep in mind that OpenVPN can pass through your router even without the VPN passthrough feature.

VPNs are a handy tool in many ways, from encrypting your whole network traffic to finally opening that website that has been blocked for a long time now. They are your solution to a secure and private internet experience, without any restrictions or surveillance. Therefore, it’s important to use them on every device that can be connected on the internet, not just on your computer, so make sure your router will allow their use.

Do you have any additional questions regarding this topic? If you do, make sure you leave a comment in the comment section below!