How to Set up a VPN on Windows 10

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Last Updated on November 23, 2020

Of the many features that a Windows 10 machine has to offer, the prebuilt VPN service is helpful to both tech novices and experts alike. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to manually set up a VPN on Windows 10. But first, here’s a quick look at why you would want to manually configure a VPN service on Windows 10 and what you will need to get started.

Reasons to Manually Configure Your VPN on Windows 10

The idea of installing a VPN client manually may scare some people away, but it is simpler than you think. Here are some reasons why you might consider manually installing a VPN solution on your Windows 10 machine:

  • You have a work computer that you do not have local admin permissions to install your VPN provider’s application on.
  • You prefer a robust security level and want to select a VPN protocol focused more on encryption.
  • The VPN solution you have chosen doesn’t natively support the authentication type you prefer (Smart card, certificate, biometric, etc.).
  • You have multiple VPNs that you want to be able to toggle back and forth between (e.g. a work VPN and a personal VPN).

What You Need to Get Started

To get started you will need a VPN solution at your disposal. Whether it be a free version or something you paid for, you will need to have credentials to the VPN that you plan to use during this setup.

Secondly, you will need to have some ideas about what VPN protocol you want to use. If you have no interest in messing with protocols, or the VPN you have selected doesn’t allow you to, Windows 10 provides a way to automatically select the best protocol based on the service you are using.

1. Choose a VPN Service

There are several factors to consider when evaluating a VPN solution, but they vary depending on whether your VPN is intended for work or personal use.

If your VPN is for work:

  • First, inquire with your IT staff at your place of business to determine if they already have a VPN that you can use. Your IT team may want to push a VPN client directly onto your computer so they can manage the administration around it themselves.
  • If they do not have a VPN you can use, ask if there are any that they recommend that work best with the corporate environment.

If your VPN is for personal use:

  • Determine your reasons for purchasing a personal use VPN. Is your VPN for overall security and privacy while on the internet? Or is it to gain the ability to access parts of the internet that are located in a different geo-region (Netflix content)?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • What level of control and maintenance do you want? Would you rather be more hands-off?
  • Are you installing on one device or several, or on your entire home network?

These are just some of the high-level questions you should be asking yourself before committing to a VPN service. Check out this resource to help answer a majority of the questions around price and purpose.

2. Select a VPN Protocol

During the Windows 10 VPN set up, you will be prompted to select which protocol you will use. If the VPN solution you choose does this automatically for you, there is an automatic option to select.

Selecting your VPN protocol is essential and depends on the type of activity you plan on using for your VPN. Some are more focused on increased encryption and security, while others focus on speed, bandwidth, and connections. Below are four of the top VPN protocols to consider along with information on what they are primarily used for and our recommendation of which VPN solution best supports each protocol.

VPN ProtocolBest ForOur Pick
Point to Point Tunneling (PPTP)Most commonly seen in the traditional workplace. PPTP is the oldest VPN protocol and is used solely on Windows operating systems. Its overall security is very weak due to its low level of encryption, but it makes the protocol very fast. https://www.expressvpn.com/what-is-vpn/protocols/pptp
L2TP/IPsec (Cert or shared key)Highest level of security due to it performing double encapsulation, but as a result it suffers in speed. Otherwise it is very versatile and stable within all OS platforms. It also allows you to select between certification or key authentication.https://www.expressvpn.com/what-is-vpn/protocols/l2tp
Secure Socket Tunneling (SSTP)Overall one of the best in regards to high security. Its fast speeds and stability are also supported on windows and most linux operating systems.https://www.purevpn.com/what-is-vpn/protocols/sstp
IKEv2This protocol is also highly secure and fast. It is mostly used on mobile devices but has Windows 10 support as well.https://www.watchguard.com/help/docs/help-center/en-US/Content/en-US/Fireware/mvpn/ikev2/mvpn_ikev2_about_c.html

Connect to a VPN on Windows 10: Step-by-Step Guide

Once you’ve selected your VPN service and protocol, you’re ready to manually connect your VPN on your Windows 10 machine. Follow the steps below to get started;

1.) Click the Windows icon and then “Settings” to get started.

settings-image

2.) Next, click “Network & Internet.”

network-and-internet

3.) Navigate to the “VPN” section.

VPN-section

4.) Then click “Add a VPN connection” to get started with the setup.

VPN-connection

5.) Fill in the VPN provider information as prompted (or select “Windows (built-in)” if desired).

VPN-provider

6.) Select the “VPN type” drop-down to choose a custom protocol if required.

VPN-type

7.) You can customize the login type under “Type of sign-in info” based on your preference and provider.

Type-of-sign-in-info

8.) Click “Save” and “Connect” to start your VPN session, or click “Advanced options” for more options.

Advanced-options

9.) Under “Advanced options,” you can edit general connection info or add proxy settings if needed for your network.

general-connection

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