How to Set up a VPN on Windows in 2021 – Covering 3 Different Methods, Step-by-Step!

Windows lets you run a VPN in more ways than one. More precisely, there are three different methods to install a VPN on Windows. The easiest one is to go for a native application (if your chosen VPN service offers one). Then, you can rely on third-party software (OpenVPN Connect), or you can configure a VPN on Windows manually.

No matter which method you pick, you'll get to connect to a secure server and boost your online privacy (among many other benefits that VPNs offer). So, let's talk about how to set up a VPN on Windows in 2021.

Before we jump to our easy-to-follow guides, we have a useful piece of advice. Based on extensive testing of dozens of VPN services, we've decided to recommend ExpressVPN (and use it throughout this article). This is truly the best VPN in 2021, and we're sure it'll meet all your needs. In case you need more options, keep in mind that we've published our guide to the best VPNs for Windows as well.

We're sure you'll want to install a VPN on all your devices - and protect yourself while at home, as well as on the go. With that said, feel free to check the following VPN installation guides as well.

TechNadu's Step-by-Step Guide: Here's How to Install and Set up a VPN on Windows in 2021!

So, let's get to the point. There are 3 different methods to set up a VPN on Windows in 2021, as explained below:

Method #1: Set up a VPN on Windows by Installing a Native VPN Client (App)


This installation method will allow you to use every VPN protocol your chosen VPN offers (on Windows). Therefore, don't forget to visit your VPN app's settings to change a protocol if you'd like to optimize your VPN connection and speed it up.

The easiest method of getting started with VPNs on Windows is by using native software. For this purpose, you need a VPN with an application made for this operating system.

ExpressVPN is perhaps the best example here since it comes with hugely intuitive installation, as explained below. So, here's how to install this VPN's native software on Windows.

  • Once you subscribe to ExpressVPN, you'll get your username and password. So, go to ExpressVPN's website, click on "My Account," and log in to access your dashboard.
  • ExpressVPN's website should automatically recognize your operating system. So, you can go ahead and click on "Download for Windows" at the top of the page. In case your OS isn't recognized for some reason, you can click on "Windows" using the "Set Up Your Devices" card.
ExpressVPN Account Dashboard Website
  • Once the installation file starts to download, ExpressVPN should open another Web page, which is where you'll see your activation code (here's more info on how to find and use your ExpressVPN activation code). You'll need this piece of information soon enough, so make sure to leave this page open in the background.
  • This is a very lightweight file, so it shouldn't take too long to download. Once done, double-click on the file to initialize the installation process. As you'll see, ExpressVPN will do everything on its own, without any input needed. In under a minute, you should be greeted by the VPN's log-in screen.
ExpressVPN Activation Code Screen Windows
  • You can log in using the previously mentioned activation code. ExpressVPN will also ask you a series of questions related to its behavior. Soon enough, you should be able to see the VPN's home screen.
ExpressVPN UI Windows 10
  • That's it! You're now free to select any server that ExpressVPN offers. Also, you can return to this application at any moment to disconnect or jump to another server.

Method #2: Set up a VPN on Windows Using 'OpenVPN Connect'


This installation method will help you create an OpenVPN connection based on the OpenVPN protocol. It means that you won’t get any other protocol – which shouldn’t be a problem, as OpenVPN is perhaps the safest option right now.

In case your chosen VPN doesn't offer a native Windows application, there's a different way to run it. More precisely, we'll explain how to use a third-party application to install a VPN on Windows.

Once again, ExpressVPN should be your best option here, as it's fully compatible with a range of third-party applications as well (as it supports the required OpenVPN configuration files).

  • First, you need to collect certain information from your VPN service. So, go to ExpressVPN's website and log in to your account. Then, click on "Set Up Other Devices" and then select "Manual Configuration."
OpenVPN Configuration Files ExpressVPN
  • Make sure that "OpenVPN" is selected on the right side of the screen. Then, check your OpenVPN username and password. Keep in mind that you'll need this information soon enough. Then, scroll down until you see a list of ExpressVPN's servers. Choose one, click on its name, and you'll end up with an OVPN file on your computer.
  • Then, go ahead and check out the recently released OpenVPN Connect application. Click on the provided link to visit its official website. From there, download the application and install it on your Windows PC. Finally, run OpenVPN Connect.
OpenVPN Connect for Winows Interface
  • You should see OpenVPN Connect's home screen at this point. Select "File" and then drag-and-drop the recently downloaded OVPN file here. Your VPN profile should import now, and you'll finally need to provide your username and password. Keep in mind that this is your OpenVPN username and password, so check out the second bullet point of this segment to reveal that information.
OpenVPN Connect Window
  • Finally, click on "Add" in the top-right corner, and your new VPN profile should be visible on OpenVPN Connection's home screen. Feel free to connect to the server you've just added. And, keep in mind that you can repeat this procedure as many times as you like, adding new servers along the way.

Method #3: Set up & Configure a VPN on Windows Manually


If you decide to configure a VPN on Windows manually, you’ll get to either the PPTP or L2TP/IPSec protocol. We don’t recommend using PPTP, as this is the weakest VPN protocol, and it’s prone to security vulnerabilities.

In case you don't want to use a third-party VPN client, you can rely on Windows to set up and run your VPN connection. Keep in mind that you'll need a VPN that supports this method, something like ExpressVPN, for example.

Here's how to use this VPN to create new VPN connections on Windows, manually.

  • We assume that you already have your ExpressVPN credentials. In case you don't, now is a good time to obtain your subscription. Then, feel free to proceed to log in to your account using the VPN's official website.
  • Once you get to your user account dashboard, select "Set Up Other Devices," and then click on "Manual Configuration." Double-check if you've chosen "PPTP & L2TP/IPSec" on the right side of the screen. Also, make sure to keep this page open in the background, as we'll need it soon enough.
VPN Settings Windows 10
  • Now, launch the Start Menu, type in "VPN," and press Enter. You should now see the Windows Settings app, with the VPN-related options being present on the screen. Feel free to proceed by clicking on "Add a VPN Connection," which should open a new blue-colored window.
  • Make sure to select "Windows (built-in)" as your VPN provider, and then input a connection name. This is how you'll see your new VPN connection in Windows, so you'll want to say which country that particular server represents (for example, name your connection "USA" if you're setting up a VPN server located in the USA.)
Adding VPN Connection Manually Windows 10
  • Then, enter the desired server address - found on ExpressVPN's website (on the page you've previously opened and now keeping in the background). Next, make sure to select "L2TP/IPSec with pre-shared key" in the "VPN Type" field. And finally, go with "12345678" for the "Pre-shared key." Pick "User name and Password" in the "Type of sign-in info" field.
ExpressVPN Log-in Windows Manual Configuration
  • Click "Save" to input your newly added information, and you'll return to the previous screen, with your new VPN connection visible. Click on it and then click on "Connect."
  • You'll be now asked for your username and password, so make sure to once again return to the ExpressVPN's page you're keeping open in the background. Input the required information and connect to the VPN server. That's it!
VPN Connections Settings App Windows 10
  • Finally, one more note - you can repeat this procedure to add as many different servers as you like. ExpressVPN gives you all the information you'll need for this purpose, which is one of the benefits of choosing this particular VPN service.


You Can Also Remove a VPN Connection (Easily) - This is done by going to Start > Settings > Network & Internet > VPN. That's where you'll see the list of your (manually configured) VPN connections. Click on the 'Remove' button (twice) to delete any of those.


Does Windows 10 Have a Built-In VPN?

Windows 10 comes with a built-in VPN client (Start > Settings > Network & Internet > VPN). However, this VPN client acts as a "container" only, and it doesn't allow you to connect to any servers. Therefore, you can use it to configure VPN connections manually - after having subscribed to a VPN service (such as ExpressVPN, for example).

Is Windows' Built-In VPN Good?

Windows' built-in VPN client is useful - but it's far from being a highly secure option. That's because it doesn't let you create OpenVPN connections, so you'll be forced to use other VPN protocols. Therefore, we always recommend going with native VPN software instead.

What's the Most Effective Way to Install u0026amp; Use a VPN on Windows?

In general, it's best to go with native VPN software. By doing so, you get access to everything your VPN offers, including multiple VPN protocols, fine-tuning, a large selection of servers, and the ability to create a secure tunnel easily. That's why we always recommend using your VPN's native Windows application.

What Are the Advantages of Running a VPN on Windows?

VPNs are primarily designed to secure your digital privacy, prevent tracking, as well as to make you anonymous on the Internet. They can also bypass online restrictions, unblock websites, and plenty more. If you'd like to learn more, here's what VPNs are, as well as how VPNs work.

Is There a Free VPN for Windows?

Free-of-charge VPNs aren't safe to use - and we can't stress that enough. They can endanger your privacy, infect your device with malware, and they come with severe limitations. If you're on a tight budget, here's what you need to know about the best cheap VPNs. Also, don't forget to check the best VPN deals available right now.

So, that would be all on installing a VPN on Windows. Keep in mind that we're always willing to help our readers, so feel free to post a comment below. If you're facing any issues, we'll be glad to assist. And of course, enjoy using your chosen VPN!



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