How to Set Up a VPN on Windows in 2024

By Novak Bozovic / June 23, 2022

Windows lets you run a VPN in more ways than one. More precisely, there are 3 methods to set up 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, here's how to get started with a VPN on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and 11.

How to Set Up a VPN on Windows

Let's get to the point. There are 3 different methods to set up a VPN on any version of Windows, as explained just below:

Method #1: Use Your VPN's Native Software


This installation method allows you to use every VPN protocol your chosen VPN offers. So, don't forget to visit your VPN app's settings to change a protocol if you want 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, which you can install in the following way:

1. Subscribe to a VPN that has a native application for Windows, such as ExpressVPN. (You can try it risk-free for 30 days.)

2. Return to ExpressVPN's website and click 'My Account.'

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Access your online dashboard using your ExpressVPN credentials.

4. You should see a banner at the top. Click 'Download for Windows.'

Downloading ExpressVPN for Windows

5. Launch the installation file and install ExpressVPN on your computer.

Running ExpressVPN Installation File on Windows

6. Open ExpressVPN. Access your account using your ExpressVPN activation code.

Logging in to ExpressVPN

7. Decide if you want to allow ExpressVPN to launch on start-up.

ExpressVPN System Startup Prompt

8. Decide if you want to send anonymous data to ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN Usage Collection Prompt

9. You should now be looking at ExpressVPN's home screen.

Connecting to ExpressVPN Server

10. Pick any server (using the button below the ON/OFF switch) and connect. That's it!

Method #2: Use 'OpenVPN Connect' to Set Up a VPN


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.

If your chosen VPN doesn't offer a native Windows application, there's a different way to run it. Using 'OpenVPN Connect,' you can set up a VPN on Windows and create an OpenVPN connection, done in the following way:

1. Get a VPN that supports manual OpenVPN connections, like ExpressVPN.

2. Once you subscribe, return to ExpressVPN's home page. Click 'My Account.'

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Click 'Set Up Other Devices.' Then, select 'Manual Configuration.'

Set Up ExpressVPN Other Devices Button

4. Pick 'OpenVPN,' and you'll see your username and password. Keep that page open.

ExpressVPN OpenVPN Files

5. Pick a server and download its OVPN file to your computer.

6. Now, download OpenVPN Connect. Install and open the app on your Windows PC.

7. Select the 'File' tab and drag and drop the recently downloaded ExpressVPN OVPN file.

OpenVPN Connect for Winows Interface

8. You'll be asked for your username and password. Provide your credentials.

9. Click 'Add' to add your newly created connection to OpenVPN Connect.

OpenVPN Connect Window

10. Lastly, feel free to connect. You can also add more connections. That's it!

Method #3: Configure a VPN Manually via Windows' Built-In Client


If you decide to configure a VPN on Windows manually, you’ll get to choose from PPTP or L2TP/IPSec. We don’t recommend using PPTP, as it's the weakest VPN protocol available.

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. Remember that you'll need a VPN that lets you manually configure new VPN connections.

1. Pick a VPN that supports manual configuration, such as ExpressVPN.

2. Once you subscribe, return to ExpressVPN's home page and click 'My Account.'

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Access your online dashboard and pick 'Set Up Other Devices.'

Set Up ExpressVPN Other Devices Button

4. Select 'Manual Configuration.' Then, click on the button labeled 'L2TP/IPsec.'

ExpressVPN Manual Connection Creation

5. You'll now see your username and password. You'll also need to pick a server address.

ExpressVPN L2TP Credentials

6. Then, launch the Start Menu, type in 'VPN,' and press Enter.

7. Proceed by clicking 'Add a VPN Connection.'

VPN Settings Windows 10

8. Select 'Windows (built-in)' as your VPN provider, and input a connection name.

9. Input the desired server address - found on your ExpressVPN online dashboard.

10. Next, select 'L2TP/IPSec with pre-shared key' in the 'VPN Type' field.

Adding VPN Connection Manually Windows 10

11. Go with '12345678' for the 'Pre-shared key.'

12. Pick 'User name and Password' in the 'Type of sign-in info' field.

13. Click 'Save' to input your newly added information.

14. Select your newly created VPN connection and use the 'Connect' button.

ExpressVPN Log-in Windows Manual Configuration

15. Provide your L2TP username and password (from your ExpressVPN dashboard). That's it!

VPN Connections Settings App Windows 10

You can repeat the procedure above to add more connections. ExpressVPN gives you all the info 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.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.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to setting up a VPN on any version of Windows, the most straightforward route to take is using native VPN software. However, depending on your level of knowledge regarding VPNs, you can always opt for manual configuration. So, you have plenty of options overall.

We'll also remind you that we've focused on ExpressVPN in this guide, as that's the best VPN for Windows (you can try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days). Other VPNs have similar installation methods but make sure to consult their support guides for more info.


How Do I Install a VPN on Windows 10?

The easiest way to install a VPN on Windows 10 (and any other version of Windows) is to visit your VPN's site and download its installation file from there.

That means you'll install a native VPN app on your Windows PC like you would install any other software. However, you also have other options. You can use 'OpenVPN Connect' or even Windows' built-in VPN client to configure new connections manually.

How Do I Use a VPN on My Windows PC?

To use a VPN on your Windows PC, you need to download and install it on your computer. Then, launch it and connect to a server. As easy as that!

What's the Easiest Way to Set Up a VPN on WIndows?

In general, the easiest way to set up a VPN on Windows is via native VPN apps. By doing so, you get access to every single feature your chosen VPN service offers.

That includes multiple 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.

Does Windows 10 Have a VPN Built In?

Windows 10 comes with a built-in VPN client (Start > Settings > Network & Internet > VPN). However, this VPN client acts as a "container" only.

In other words, Windows' built-VPN 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 Any 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 (such as L2TP/IPsec or PPTP). Therefore, we always recommend going with native VPN software instead.

So, you now know how to set up a VPN on your Windows PC. If you have any questions, let us know via the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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