Does a VPN Block/Hide Router History?

There’s a lot of talk about how Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are meant to protect your online browsing from being tracked by prying eyes, like ISPs or authorities, but can they also stop your router from tracking and storing your browsing history? Does using a VPN block your router from seeing and saving your browsing history?

When in use, A VPN will prevent your browsing history from being stored on your router or being tracked by your ISP. It is possible to see the volume of data being sent over a VPN connection, but not the contents of the actual traffic, since a VPN connection is always end-to-end encrypted and only the user and VPN server has the encryption key.

In other words, yes, using a high quality, legitimate VPN will block your router from storing your browsing history, since it produces a powerfully encrypted connection that can only be seen by the end user and the VPN server, but nothing or no one in between.

When using a proper VPN service, the only thing your router or ISP could see if that there is some kind of encrypted connection, but NOT what’s being sent over that connection. A VPN anonymizes your internet traffic so it can’t be seen or stored by anyone, and so does help a lot with security and privacy conscious internet users.

Let’s look at how a VPN accomplishes this blocking of router history, plus some good VPN options for users that want to start doing this for greater privacy online.

How A VPN Hides Your Online Activity From Your Router

To understand exactly how a VPN does this, it’s important to understand the processes of tunneling and encryption, which effectively hides internet traffic or other data in a kind of virtual tunnel. In essence, VPNs are just powerful pieces of software which encrypt or protect any traffic which is sent through their servers.

Firstly, tunneling is a more rudimentary process which hides your internet traffic amongst other traffic instead – hides data packets within other data packets.

Encryption complements this, and is just a digital form of scrambling data into a mixed up mess of bits that is only put back together at the other end of the connection, and can’t be deciphered or read at any point in between (hence the term end to end encryption).

Once encrypted, this data can only be decrypted (decoded/unscrambled/deciphered) by whoever has the encryption key, which acts like a kind of “virtual key” to unlock the connection tunnel which is holding the data and keeping it confidential, and actually decipher or unscramble it so it makes sense again.

In the case of VPNs, only you and the VPN server holds the encryption key to actually unscramble data being sent over their servers.  Nothing or no one else holds this key, including your ISP, router or any other government or private agency. A VPN connection is a totally anonymized, private connection that isn’t hackable by anything in the commercial world (super elite intelligence agencies like the NSA may be able to hack them, but we have less control over this in the civilian world).

How VPNs Use Encryption


Good bottom line analogy – Using a non VPN connection is akin to sending a postcard to someone – the post guy transporting it (analogous to your router/ISP) can easily snoop and read what’s on it. Using a VPN connection is akin to sending something to someone in a locked box that only you and the recipient have the key for. The postman can’t see what’s in the box and can only forward it to the recipient, but has on idea what’s in it.

Therefore the most your router or ISP could “see” or track when using a VPN is that there IS some sort of encrypted connection. They can also track the volume of data being sent over that connection (this is why VPNs still do use up cellular data allowances) But they can’t see what actual traffic is being sent over that connection. It’s totally anonymized, which is why VPNs are such useful privacy tools to keep online activity from prying eyes.

Contrast this with using an unprotected, non VPN connection – your router and ISP can track and store ALL your online activity, and browsing history on unprotected connections often is stored on Wi-Fi routers.

Similarly, some ISPs do collect and store customer browsing history if they don’t protect their connections for possible safekeeping and for complying with data requests from authorities (laws vary from country to country), but this data isn’t ever displayed on Wi-Fi bills.

Therefore if you’re serious about online privacy and security, then a VPN should be worth considering, especially since there are plenty of viable free VPNs as well as paid for ones. We’ll look at some good options below.

What Else Does a VPN Hide?

Here are some other things that a VPN hides when you use a proper one:

Browsing History From Search Engines (eg. Google) – This is a mixed bag, since it CAN anonymize your online activity if you use Google with a VPN when NOT logged into your account. By changing your IP address and location, Google will not be able to track browsing back to you personally if you’re logged out using a VPN. However, if you log into any Google accounts (Gmail, YouTube etc) when using a VPN, your activity will still be tracked and traced back to you. Google does track all user activity to some extent, whether logged in or not, but a VPN can help anonymize you. But if you’re concerned about privacy, use a different search engine like DuckDuckGo that’s more geared towards privacy, along with a VPN for maximum security.

IP Address/Location – VPNs are great for this – they always mask your real public/external IP address and location and replace it with a VPN IP address and a location you select from their server menu. In this way, websites will think you are coming from the location and IP address your VPN sets, not your real, actual one, which the VPN masks and conceals for more privacy. This is exactly why VPNs can be used to access geo-restricted websites and streaming platforms, since a good VPN can “fool” them into thinking the user is in the correct country even if they’re not.

Browsing History From Your ISP – Already largely covered above – internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes also track and store user history themselves, separately from anything the router stores, but using a good VPN will prevent this for the same reasons it blocks a router from doing so. It creates an end-to-end encrypted connection that can’t be accessed or inspected by any third party like an internet provider, so they can’t see what’s being sent over a VPN connection.

Sensitive/Personal Information – This is another really valid use case for a VPN – they create a much stronger connection for entering any really sensitive personal information, like usernames, passwords, financial details for online transactions, online banking details, etc. By making purchases over a VPN connection, you can be sure the connection can’t be snooped on or hacked and your details stolen, especially over insecure networks like public Wi-Fi in all it’s various forms. Standard HTTPS is pretty secure, but a VPN will add another layer and make a connection bulletproof and hide your details from any prying third parties.

Are There Any Cases When A VPN Will NOT Block Router History?

The only precaution I would recommend when using VPNs to protect your online activity is to make sure you’re using a proper one and not a cheap free one that’s not really a legitimate VPN.

In general, this means staying away from:

  • Free VPN/proxy hybrids
  • Free “shared” or “peer to peer” VPNs like UrbanVPN or DewVPN
  • Free VPNs built into browsers
  • Free proxy services in general.

for the simple reason that you don’t know whether they’re actually fully encrypting your connection so your router and ISP can’t see it, and you also don’t know whether they’re tracking your browsing history themselves.

In other words, use a legitimate, well known, reputable, trustworthy VPN service that actually looks and works like a proper VPN program (a separate app which you load up and select and server from). Stay away from free browser add-ons and “proxies” if you’re really serious about having a 100% private VPN connection and look for a strict zero-log policy (no personally identifiable user data collected or stored).

There are even free VPN options that are legit and trustworthy (see below), but there’s lots of free ones that aren’t really up to scratch and you can’t rely on to fully encrypt your connection so it can’t be tracked. Be selective with the VPN you use.

Using Free VPNs To Block Router History

Free VPNs often get a bad rap (sometimes fairly), but in truth, there are some viable, trustworthy free VPNs that you can use to prevent your router from tracking and storing your browsing history. You just need to be picky.

American users are in particular luck, because ALL free VPNs always offer one (and sometimes several) free servers in the USA, and a few of them even have unlimited data use as well (even on their free versions!). Netherlands, Germany and Canada are also popular locations for free VPNs to have servers.

See the comparison table below for some good, viable free VPN options:

ProviderFree Server LocationsData LimitMore Info
ProtonVPN3 (USA, Amsterdam, Japan)UnlimitedSee here
AtlasVPN3 (USA East, USA West, Amsterdam)5 GB/monthSee here
TurboVPN4 (USA, Germany, Singapore, India).UnlimitedSee here
ZoogVPN5 (USA, UK, Netherlands)10 GB/monthSee here
Hide.me5 (Netherlands, USA, Germany, UK, Canada)10 GB/month (random server selection)See here
PrivadoVPN10 (USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand)10 GB/monthSee here
Windscribe10 (USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania, Denmark).10 GB/monthVisit site
Tunnelbear49500 MB/monthVisit site


These will all work exactly the same was as a Premium VPN – providing you with a secure, encrypted connection that blocks your router or ISP from tracking you online.

There are some limitations though with free VPNs:

  • Some of them have data caps (10 GB/month works out at about 300 MB/day). Some are still unlimited though.
  • Server location is much more limited than paid plans.
  • Free VPNs almost NEVER allow access to streaming services like Netflix. You need paid plans for that.
  • Free VPNs sometimes have slower (but still usable) server speeds.
  • Customer support on free versions is either slow or non existent.

But if you want a basic (non streaming) VPN service that just protects and anonymizes your connection, and issues you a new masked IP address, and they’ve got a server location that works for you, then any of the options above can work fine. You don’t always need to pay to get a good VPN connection, especially if you live in the USA.

Using Premium VPNs To Block Router History

If you’re wanting to block your router from tracking your browsing history, but are also more serious about wanting unlimited use, more server choice and access to streaming, then you’ll need to go for a paid for VPN service.

These start at a few dollars a month and are more advanced versions than the free ones, with more locations offered, zero logs policy, 24/7 support, better server speeds and advanced features.

Budget Options:

Top end options:

  • ExpressVPN – $8.33/month – Best VPN for streaming, good speeds, 94 server locations.
  • NordVPN – $6/month – Another good streaming VPN, double encryption for extra security.

Bottom line recommendation – All of these are good, but for the best of everything – low cost and good features, including decent access to some streaming services, you can’t go wrong with Private Internet Access. See our full review of it here.

Clearing Your Existing Router History

If you haven’t been masking your connection with a VPN so far, then your router might have been tracking and storing your browsing history (some routers do store history, while others don’t – it does vary).

If you want to clear this history from your router, you’ve got two main options:

  1. Delete logs – You can go into your router settings with the plus admin/password (check the router label for login details), and then find and clear all logs within the settings.
  2. Factory reset router – An easier option is to just default reset it by pushing a pin into the reset hole for 20-30 seconds until the lights blink or flash, and then waiting 5-10 minutes. This fully resets the router to it’s “out the box” state, clearing all history logs and custom settings and restoring it to it’s original state.


And then for clearing existing history on browsers:

  • Firefox – Click the 3 lines burger icon on the far top right of the screen, then click Options…..Privacy & Security and move down to Cookies & Site Data. Click Clear Data, check the Cached Web Content box and click Clear. Then refresh page and see if video loads. See here.
  • Chrome – Click the 3 dots More icon at the top right, then click More Tools…..Clear Browsing Data. Choose a time range. Make sure the “cached images and files” box is checked and click Clear data. See here
  • The general process is very similar for most other browsers. “Ctrl + H” is a common shortcut to bring history up right away.


As a regular VPN users for 7+ years, I like providing useful info to help people find free or low cost VPN solutions for online security and privacy.

Recent Posts