A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is meant to provide an encrypted connection to the Internet from your device. You can mask your IP address, bypass geological restrictions, and enhance your digital privacy on the Internet.
But, how do you set up a VPN?
In this article, we are going to compile a variety of methods for you to set up and use a VPN on your PC and smartphone. Fret not, this guide will include all the relevant information to help you configure a VPN, pick a VPN service, and create your personal VPN (if needed).
Which VPN Service Should You Choose?
There are several VPN services to go with but you need to avoid the free VPN services. When you end up using a VPN service completely for free, there are trade-offs such as – your data maybe collected, which you do not want.
So, you need to look for the following pointers before picking any VPN service to easily enhance your digital privacy:
- No-log policy
- Independent security audits and reviews
- Prefer open-source applications (if feasible)
- Plenty of server locations
Methods to Set Up A VPN
There are a couple of ways that you can choose to set up your VPN. Of course, it depends on your priorities and requirements but we have a listed all the options available:
1. Download & Install the VPN App: The Easiest Way
When you pick a VPN service, if you do not need the hassle of configuring a VPN on your device or your router, you can simply download the app on your smartphone or PC to get started.
So, make sure to check whether the VPN service offers a mobile or desktop application depending on the platform you’re on (Android/iOS/Windows/macOS/Linux).
The app will automatically connect you to the VPN service and give you the option to configure the connection if needed. If you are a Linux user, you might need to utilize the terminal and type in a few commands to connect.
In either case, if you do not know how to get started on any platform, you might want to check the official resources or documentation of the VPN service or simply contact the VPN service for help.
2. Set Up A VPN on Windows 10
If you want to configure a VPN service on Windows 10 without installing the desktop application available, or maybe if you have your VPN service, here’s what you need to do:
- Search for “VPN Settings” using the search bar and click on it or directly click on “Add a VPN connection“.
- If you are in the VPN settings window, click on “Add a VPN Connection“.
- Next, you need to fill in the VPN name (any custom name of your choice), server address (check your VPN settings or documentation to find it), and the username/password that you used to sign up for the VPN service. And, proceed with it.
Once you save the settings, you will get the option to connect as shown in the screenshot below.
- It will attempt to connect to the service. If the configuration is correct, it will connect you to the VPN or else you need to troubleshoot with the correct settings from your VPN provider.Do note that the information in the screenshot above is just for an example, it will vary user to user depending on what server you want to connect and the VPN service provider.
3. Set up a VPN on Android
To set it up on your Android phone, here’s what you have to do:
- Head to the System Settings.
- Navigate your way through Network & Internet -> Advanced -> VPN
After you get to the VPN options, you just need to tap on the + icon to add a new VPN configuration as shown in the screenshot. The options might look a little different depending on the version of Android and the custom UI of your device manufacturer, but it is more or less the same.
Similar to the method that you follow for Windows 10, you will have to ask your VPN provider to help you with the details (Server address, type of connection, or any other advanced options). In either case, you can check the documentation of the VPN provider and configure it accordingly.
Once done, you just need to save the configuration then connect it from the list of available VPNs (if you have multiple saved).
4. Set up a VPN on iOS
Manually setting up a VPN on iOS is quite similar to that of Android. To get started, you need to head to the System Settings.
Navigate your way through General settings -> VPN -> Add VPN Configuration as shown in the screenshot above. You just need to fill in the information depending on the type of VPN connection you select.
You can refer to the documentation on the official site of your VPN service provider or just contact their customer support for help.
5. Set up your own VPN
Did you know that you can create your own VPN service from scratch? You do not need to spend a bomb, it just takes $5 per month to get started.
Yes, it will take some effort for you to set it up and manage it but if you do not trust other VPN providers or if you do not want to lock yourself to a year-long subscription for a VPN service, this is the best way.
For this example, I will be mentioning Digital Ocean as the cloud infrastructure provider, but you can go with any cloud server provider.
To get started, you just need to head to its one-click app marketplace and deploy an OpenVPN droplet as shown in the screenshot below.
Once done, you just need to simply follow the official documentation to configure the options and connect to it just as you would connect to any VPN service normally. Similar to the steps above, you can utilize other cloud providers like Linode as well (as per your preference and budget).
Do note that with this made, you will have your VPN service but will be limited to various server locations, so pick a server from a location you prefer (if it is available).
Now that you are aware of several methods to set up VPN on your preferred device, feel free to connect to a VPN service and protect your Internet activity from your ISP or any other potential attacker.
Downloading and installing the native app provided by the VPN service is usually the recommended method but if you have a specific set of requirements, you can always manually configure it.