A virtual private network (VPN) helps to keep users safe online. There are many VPN providers out there offering services through apps that make set up extremely easy. However, if you don't want to use their client there are other ways to set up a VPN connection on your computer. Of course, you are still going to have to take out a subscription from a VPN provider to use their server.
Why You Need A VPN
The internet is a great resource, but some people have turned to use it for financial gain. Hackers obtain access to personal information, steal identities and your hard-earned money. Some use it to spy on others and steal valuable files or information. Even your internet service provider spies on you to determine how to you are using the internet.
These are threats you have to contend with when not only browsing the internet on public Wi-Fi but also when using the internet on your own network. This is why you need a VPN.
The easiest solution for a VPN is to sign up with one of the numerous providers and download the software or app to your device.
However, you can also use the VPN servers of the provider to set up your own VPN manually without using their client. Once you have set up the VPN an encrypted tunnel is created between the server offered by the VPN provider and your device.
All of your internet traffic then passes through the tunnel before going onto the web anonymously courtesy of the server. The information is secure and no one can see it, not even your own internet service provider.
Setting Up A VPN Connection
Even if you do not want to make use of the client from a VPN provider, you are still going to have to sign up for service with a provider, there are many out there.
When choosing a VPN provider, check to make sure you can easily gain access to the list of servers, as you will need this information to set up the connection on your computer.
You will have to choose the VPN protocol you will use to connect to the server. The main ones are Open VPN, PPTP, IKEv2/IPsec and L2TP/IPSec. Out of these, OpenVPN is the best for speed and reliability however your options will be limited by the protocols used by your provided.
How To Configure An OpenVPN Protocol VPN
To use the OpenVPN protocol you will need to download and install the OpenVPN client. You can then follow the steps below, follow the more in-depth explanation here.
Download the Server Configuration Files
The first step to configure the VPN server on your computer is to download the configuration files of your chosen VPN provider to the computer. Some providers offer these in single zip files.
NordVPN and Cyberghost VPN providers both offer tools that help you to choose the best server along with giving the needed credentials. The provider will offer information in their help and FAQ pages.
Load the Config Files into the Client
You now need to load the config files into the OpenVPN client by right-clicking on the OpenVPN app in the system tray. Simply choose “Import” and go to the folder you saved the configuration files. Load all the files into the client. You can then close the file window.
If all has gone well, you should now see a list of VPN servers when you right click on the system tray OpenVPN icon.
Choose a Server
You can now choose a VPN server from the list that has popped up to connect. You will be prompted to log in with the VPN username and password. To make it easier to connect to the server the next time, you can save the password.
If you have connected to the VPN server correctly, you will see the icon in the system tray glowing green.
How To Configure An IKEv2/IPSec or L2TP/IPSec Protocol VPN
If you have chosen to go with IKEv2/IPSec, to configure the connection follow the steps below:
- You will need the VPN service username and password
- The name of the server you want to connect
- Download then install the certificate offered by the VPN service and choose “Local Machine” for the installation
- Choose “Trusted Root Certification Authorities” then click on the OK button and Next, then Finish
- Create a connection on your computer
To create the VPN connection on the computer follow the steps below:
- Go to the “Control Panel” and open “Network and Internet”
- Go to “Network and Sharing Center”
- Click on “Set up a new network or connection”
- Click “Connect to a workplace”
- Choose to “Create a new connection” and “Use my Internet connection (VPN)”
- Find the name of the server the VPN provider recommends for you on their website
- Go into “Network and Sharing Center” click on “Change adapter” then right click on the name of the server you created, then on properties and “Security”
You will need to enter the following:
Type of VPN: (Select the protocol you want to use)
Data encryption: Require encryption (disconnect if server declines)
Authentication: Use Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) and EAP-MSCHAPv2
You can now click on the OK button.
To Make the Connection
Click on the network icon at the bottom corner of the screen then click on the name of the connection you made and choose “Connect”. You will be prompted for the username and password you used when signing up with the VPN provider. Enter these then click OK and you should be connected to the server.
VPN providers offer apps and software that can be installed on numerous devices. Setting these up is as easy as downloading and installing the relevant software or app and running it. All you need to do when you want to connect to a VPN server anywhere in the world is run the program, choose the server and connect.
However, using the steps above you should be able to set up and use a VPN connection on your Windows computer without the client of your provider if you so wish.