How To Set Up a VPN on Windows

As you can imagine, Windows allows you to run a VPN service in more ways than one. More precisely, there are three methods of installing a VPN on Windows. The easiest one is to go for a native application (if your VPN 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). So, let’s talk about how to set up a VPN on Windows.

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 go with ExpressVPN. This is truly the best VPN in 2020, and we’re sure it’ll more than meet your needs. This VPN service unblocks websites, allows you to download P2P files, safeguards your online privacy in the best way possible, and plenty more. If you need more options, don’t worry as we’ve published our guide to the best VPNs for Windows as well.

So, there are 3 different methods to set up a VPN on Windows in 2020:

Method #1: Install a Native Windows VPN Client (App)

Good to Know: This installation method will allow you to use every VPN protocol that your chosen VPN offers (on Windows). So, keep in mind that you need to visit your VPN’s settings page to switch to a different protocol.

By far, 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, due to the fact that it comes with hugely intuitive installation, as explained below.

  • Once you subscribe to ExpressVPN, you’ll get your username and password for this VPN service. So, go to ExpressVPN’s website and click on “My Account,” where you can log-in to your account and 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” in 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. 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. More precisely, you can decide whether to run the app on startup, send anonymous diagnostic data, and similar. 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: Use OpenVPN Connect for Windows

Good to Know: 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 set up 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.

  • 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 make sure to 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. Now 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

Good to Know: 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 easily.

  • We assume that you already have your ExpressVPN credentials. In case you don’t, now is a good time to obtain your ExpressVPN subscription. Then, feel free to proceed to log-in to your account on 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 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.

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.

So, that would be all on how to set up 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 issue, we’ll be glad to assist. And of course, enjoy using your chosen VPN!


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