In our connected world, everything you do online can be traced back to you.Despite the false sense of anonymity offered by screen names and private browsing sessions, your information is still accessible to numerous third parties.Whenever you connect to the web, your activities and data can be viewed by your internet service provider, websites you're visiting, surveillance programs, and even hackers.
VPNs are a great way to restore your privacy and stay safe on the web.Virtual private networks work to encrypt your data, hiding it from prying eyes and providing you with true anonymity.In the past, VPN services were reserved only for tech-savvy users and large enterprises.Today they are accessible to anyone.
Before you can start browsing with peace of mind, you'll need to establish your VPN connection.This can be done on many different devices, ensuring that all your activities are protected wherever you go.Check out our step-by-step guides below to set up a VPN on your computer or mobile device.
What is a VPN? Virtual private networks operate according to very simple principles.When you connect to the internet normally, your device is communicating with another server that hosts the website you're trying to visit.Along the way, your IP address is logged and your data is vulnerable to attacks.
With a VPN, your connection goes through a secure tunnel to be encrypted.This effectively hides your identity and makes it nearly impossible for hackers to understand your data.
Using a VPN has many advantages.The biggest is online security.If you regularly use public Wi-Fi networks, you're at risk of stealing your information, falling victim to malware, and more.Public Internet connections are completely open to anyone.As a result, you have to worry more about security threats than when accessing your password-protected network.
Even still, home networks have their vulnerabilities.A VPN service protects you from these problems by keeping your personal IP address hidden as well.As your data passes through the VPN, it takes on the provider's address.Everything you do after going through that tunnel is a secret, even to your ISP.
This is especially useful if you live in a country with strict censorship laws.You can easily select a server location other than your country to gain access to content you wouldn't normally be able to view.This applies to blocked sites and streaming platforms like Netflix.While the extra hurdles going through your connection often lead to connection speeds that aren't as fast as you're used to, the peace of mind and protection offered by a VPN is worth the sacrifice.
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VPN Client vs. Manual Setup
To make their service easy to use for the masses, most of the best VPN providers offer dedicated customers who do all the hard work for you.Companies like NordVPN and ExpressVPN have downloadable apps for computers and mobile devices.The best VPN protocol, OpenVPN, allows these clients to easily access device settings and make changes to establish the connection.To download these VPN apps, simply visit the provider's website or search the respective digital store of the device.
Setting up your VPN manually is a great alternative to using automated clients.They allow you to have more control over the connection and use protocols that are not available to the provider's software, such as IKEv2.Thankfully, it's a fairly simple process.
VPN configuration for Windows 10
If you are using a Windows computer, you already have your VPN client on the system.Microsoft includes an integrated client.It works with many protocols.These include OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP.The first step in the process is to create a profile for your VPN.To do this, you will have to go to the network section of the control panel.
- Click the Windows button in the lower-left corner of the desktop.Then, go to Settings> Network & VPN> VPN.
- When the VPN window opens, click the "Add a VPN Connection" button.You'll be taken to a page with multiple data fields that you need to fill in.
- At the top, under "VPN provider," select "Windows (built-in).When you select this option, the section labeled "VPN Type" should change by itself to "Automatic".
- In the "Connection name" field, you can create your VPN name.Use something you can easily remember and identify.This will come in handy later.
- Next is the section called "Server Name or Address". Here you will find the information that is provided to you by your VPN.In the "Login information type" box, choose how your VPN checks your credentials.Most use a standard username and password system.
- Scroll down the page and you should see boxes to enter your VPN username and password.This is the account information you created when you signed up for the VPN service.
- Finally, you can create a username or password specific to the Windows client VPN.You can also check your computer's box to remember your login information.
- Once you have filled in all the information, press the "Save" button at the bottom of this page.
At this point, you've told your computer how it will connect to the VPN.In essence, this process creates a new network.To actually start the connection, click the Wi-Fi Networks button on the taskbar.It's the little Wi-Fi icon that shows you all the available networks you can connect to.Click on the newly created VPN connection and you're good to go.
VPN configuration for MacOS
Connecting to a VPN server on Apple computers is also a relatively simple process.It involves creating a new network and entering information from your provider.
- Start by opening the "System Preferences" app.This can be done by clicking on the gear icon in the dock.Then, click the "Network" icon.
- The left side of this window shows the different types of connections that your computer can make.At the bottom, you'll notice a plus (+) and minus (-) button.Click the Plus (+) button.
- Next to "Interface", select "VPN" from the drop-down menu.This brings up an additional drop-down menu.
- For "VPN Type" and "Service Name", use your VPN provider's information.The "VPN Type" allows you to choose the desired protocol.It includes options such as IKEv2 and IPsec.After filling in this information, press the "Create" button.
- This brings you back to the previous network window.Choose the new VPN from the left side to enter your VPN credentials.A small yellow dot will be next to the VPN name, indicating that you are not yet connected.
- Type the provider information for the "Server Address", "Remote ID", and "Local ID" fields.
- Click the "Authentication settings" button… " Here you'll find the account username and password for your VPN.
To complete the installation process, click the "Apply" and "Connect" buttons.
VPN configuration for ChromeOS
ChromeOS is a relatively new operating system that is quite limited in terms of what you can do.However, the operating system allows you to connect to VPN servers that use L2TP/IPsec or OpenVPN protocols.
- Click the digital clock at the bottom right of the screen.A small menu should appear.Click "Settings" to start the installation process.
- In the "Networks" section of the settings page, select "Add connection".
- You should see various options.Look for the one labeled "OpenVPN/L2TP" by pressing the small plus (+) button next to it.
- A window will appear asking you to provide information about the VPN.For "Server Hostname," you'll need to enter the IP address for the VPN server.In the "Username and password" section, type the account information established with your VPN provider.
- After filling in the information, press "Connect".
Depending on the particular VPN service you're working with, you may need to have a certificate that authenticates your identity.If you have not already imported the certificate, you must do so before you create the connection.
- In the address bar of the Chrome browser, type "chrome://settings/certificates"
- This takes you to a window with various tabs.Select the "Authorities" tab and choose the applicable certificate for your VPN.Click "Import" and restart the installation process.
VPN configuration for Android
Whether you're using a tablet or smartphone, Google has made it easy to set up a VPN on the Android operating system.Some device manufacturers use slightly modified versions of Android.Keep this in mind as you follow your guide.Although some steps may differ slightly, the settings pages should be in the same place.
- Go to the "Settings" menu.It can be found on the home screen or in the notifications tab after swiping down.The menu can be identified with a gear icon.
- In this menu, select "Network & Internet", > "Advanced" > "VPN".
- This takes you to the VPN screen, which shows all the available networks you can connect to.Click the "Add" button to set up the new connection.
- This prompts your device to request your screen lock code or password.In case you haven't set one up yet, you'll be prompted to create one for security reasons.Once it has been cured, you will be presented with various fields that you need to fill in.
- Within this window, you can select the type of protocol you want to use with the drop-down menu next to it under "Type". You can also create a name and login information for added security.When it is done, hit "Save".
- Now tap on the new VPN you just created and hit "Connect".
- At this point, you will be asked to type in the provider information.This includes the VPN server address and login credentials unique to the VPN company.Press "Save".
VPN configuration for iOS
You can create a new VPN connection on iPhone and iPad.The connection process remains the same.
- Visit the "Settings" app by clicking the gear icon.Next, scroll down and select the "General" submenu.
- Scroll down to find the "VPN" section.It's near the bottom of the menu.Next to this button, you should be able to tell if you're connected to a VPN or not.
- Tapping on "VPN" will display all the VPNs you've set up.To create a new one, press "Add VPN Configuration".
- The next window is where you will provide information about the VPN.For "Type", you can select between IKEv2, IPsec and L2TP.Choose the protocol compatible with your provider.
- Fill in all the necessary information.Apple lets you know what information you need and what's not. Everything can be found on the VPN service provider's website.When everything is completed, tap on the "Done" button at the top right of the screen.
- The VPN you just set up will have a little switch next to its name.Just press the switch to turn the connection on or off.
Test your VPN connection
No matter what type of device and operating system you're using, it's always good to test your connection before browsing as usual.There are several ways to check if data passes through the encrypted tunnel.Just visit one of the many sites available for IP and DNS leak checking.If any of your information is transmitted, you may have provided some incorrect data during the installation process.Go back and double-check the server address and login credentials to make sure everything is as it should be.