Setting up a virtual private network on a Windows PC is a relatively straightforward affair, bar some bizarre accident, especially since Windows 10 entered the scene. Doing so usually requires up to five minutes of your time and a bit of focus, but as it’s better to be safe than sorry, below you’ll find an in-depth outline of what to expect. Without further ado, here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a VPN on Windows.
Set up a Windows 10 VPN using a built-in client
Assuming you don’t want to use a dedicated first-party client, and presuming your VPN provider of choice supports third-party clients, you can set up a connection to a virtual private network using the standalone Windows 10 client. To access it, simply navigate to the VPN section of the Settings app which you can also access by hitting the Windows key and typing “VPN” into the OS search bar.
From there, select the Add a VPN connection option, pick the Windows (built-in) as your provider from the dropdown menu on top of the following interface, and fill in the rest of the details with the information you were given after subscribing to your VPN. Note that this method must have your VPN Provider set as Automatic, which Windows 10 will conveniently do on its own as soon as you select its built-in solution. This procedure is essentially identical on Windows 8, as well.
Set up a Windows 7 VPN using a built-in client
On the off chance you’re still using the technically-not-longer-supported-but-still-immensely-popular version of Microsoft’s operating system, you can take advantage of a built-in VPN client by finding a dedicated option to do so under the View Network Status of the Control Panel. The command in question is called Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection and the actual process of setting it up is identical to the Windows 10 one described above.
Set up a Windows VPN using a third-party client
This is by far the most straightforward method for establishing a VPN connection on Windows; 10 or otherwise. What a third-party client actually is is merely a program developed by a VPN provider for streamlining the method of using its service. E.g. let’s say you have just subscribed to PIA; you’ll want to follow up on that by downloading its client via the massive “Download” button on its website, installing it, using the credentials you were emailed to log into the service and then clicking on the sizable “Connect” button in the middle of the app’s homepage.
See that massive ON button slapped in the middle of the Ivacy VPN client? Yes, it’s that simple.
That’s pretty much how any modern VPN client works, in fact. It’s also why this is the option we’d recommend to any newcomer to virtual private networks, as well as those who don’t have an explicit need for relying on a built-in client. The latter group primarily consists of users on company-issued Windows laptops and desktops who can’t install unauthorized software on their devices. Naturally, keep in mind that if you fit that description and are using a VPN without your IT department’s knowledge, you probably won’t avoid having your Internet activity tracked, or – at the very least – detected.
“How to set up a VPN on Windows” was written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.
If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.