Setting up a VPN on an Android device is usually a low-complexity task, as we’re explaining here today. That’s mighty fortunate because if there’s one device category we’d want to always have rerouted through a virtual private network or ten, and those are definitely smartphones.
The sheer volume of sketchy, insecure public hotspots our handsets link up with on a daily basis is reason enough never to want for so much as a glimpse of the Internet without the safety of a VPN – and that’s without even thinking about the countless Wi-Fi vulnerabilities plaguing Android apps.
With this mandatory daily dose of online histeria now harassing your brain cells, you’re ready and able to learn how to set up a VPN on Android (np).
Set up an Android VPN with an app
The relatively open nature of Android works both for and against it in the field of network security. That’s why we’d – more often than not – recommend using a VPN app over manually configuring a rerouting protocol on Android. If you don’t have one, you can visit our Best VPN for Android recommendation list, we covered most of the good ones there.
Speaking as plainly as possible, if your existing VPN provider or one that you’re considering committing to has an Android app – and chances out, it does – just use that to get yourself started as soon and painlessly as possible, much like you would while setting up a VPN on an iPhone.
That’s not because extra manual configuration steps yield more opportunities for mistakes. Nah, anyone wise enough to Google instructions on how to set up a VPN on Android should be capable enough to follow them. The thing is, flagship VPN apps tend to be better-equipped to handle modern user browsing habits than Android’s native support for traffic tunneling is.
For example, Google is still fine with supporting PPTP. For the uninitiated, this is a technology that’s so ancient that its fundamental flaws have already spawned countless papers and dissertations, with their exhaustive list amounting to a semester’s worth of required reading in a cybersecurity class.
Set up an Android VPN without an app
If you’re still with us and fully adamant to do things the hard way, what you need to do is get your VPN configuration details from your provider, launch the Settings app, then locate its Network & Internet subsection.
From the following interface, tap Advanced, select the VPN option, and hit the large plus button to add a new rerouting node to your list of approved connections.
This is where you’ll want to carefully input all of the connection details received from your VPN provider before tapping Save.
From here on out, the VPN should work as intended, on a native level.
Of course, if you’re in the mood for more fiddling, Android supports a few other VPN features baked into the OS itself. One of the most popular such solutions is the Always-on VPN service found under this very same Settings section.
Much like its name suggests, tap it to activate a mobile kill switch of sorts, preventing you from accessing the Internet without an active VPN connection which your device will always attempt to establish automatically. Note that this option is exclusive to manual VPN connections on Android, i.e. you won’t even see it if you’ve previously set up your VPN via a third-party app.
Another great justification for going through the trouble of setting up an Android VPN without an app is being able to use the OS’s Work profiles to their full extent. You could, for example, set up a work-only VPN, or even leverage this functionality to automate your mobile VPN usage regardless of where you’re located. You’ll need a G Suite account to do so, however, most heavy Android VPN users will agree that this solution presents a small price to pay for the benefit of utilizing the full spectrum of Google’s smartphone and tablet portfolio.
“How to set up a VPN on Android” 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.