VPN stands for virtual private network. In simple terms, it is used as a tool when browsing the internet to ensure anonymity. There are numerous reasons why you might want to remain incognito and make use of such a service. Such as wanting to stream content a country has blocked, or simply to keep your activities online private. However, when it comes to VPN providers, all are not equal.

The aim here is to explain the various factors you might want to take into consideration before signing up with a provider or setting up your own VPN server. Then giving step-by-step details on how to set up a server if this is the option you choose.

Before Going Down The VPN Provider Route>

While you might be tempted to jump into signing up with a VPN provider there are some things to consider.

Sure, if you choose the right provider your internet presence is more secure. However, choose the wrong provider and security may go completely out of the window. Some unethical providers even sell your data to third parties or leave you open to hackers and in a worse position than before. Therefore avoid any provider offering free VPN and stick with ethical providers who have received good reviews.

VPN Provider VS Setting Up Your Own VPN Server

There are numerous ethical VPN providers out there and you might choose to research them and sign up to one. On the other hand, you might go down the route of configuring your own VPN server.

The easier option is going with a VPN provider, providing you find the right one and they can be trusted, again avoid any company offering free VPN. Another benefit of choosing this option is that the VPN is available on different devices via apps. This option may be the best choice if you want a VPN so that you can watch content not available in your own country.

If you set up your own VPN server, it takes time and some hard work on your behalf. This option may not be ideal if you want to watch content not available in your own country.

The Location Of The VPN Server

One of the main factors to consider is the location of the VPN server. This is an important factor because if you set up your own server you may find some content remains blocked. Essentially, if you want to use a VPN to access content blocked in your country you will need an IP address that is outside of your own country.

Also in regards to the location is the fact that security teams try to block VPN servers in some countries. While it is not impossible to use a VPN in such countries, it is more difficult than with other servers in other countries.

If you do elect to set up your own server, you can follow our guide to doing so below.

Steps To Set Up Your VPN Server

Here we will take you through the steps needed to set up your own VPN server so grab a cup of coffee, a comfortable seat and let's begin. The instructions below are for a Windows 10 PC.

1.      Find Your IP Address

The very first thing you need to do is find your own IP address. Luckily, this is not as complicated as it sounds. Simply open up your web browser and type in “What`s my IP”. The top result in the search will be your IP address.

Things are trickier if your IP address is a dynamic public one, meaning that it changes on a regular basis. In this case, you will need to go into your router settings and configure the DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name System). When you have done this, you can move onto the next step.

2.      Port Forwarding

The next step is setting up the router’s port forwarding. On a public network, you will have to allow a VPN connection by forwarding port 1723.

This is possible by heading over to the webpage of your router by typing http://192.168.1.1 or http://192.168.0.1 into the address bar, or by clicking on the links.

Enter your password and username into the fields on the page and then choose “Port Forwarding, Applications and Gaming or NAT/QQS”. Specify the name for your port and then enter “1723” in both the internal and external ports. In the protocol field, choose both. Type in your IP address, click the enable tick box then save your settings.

3.      Setting up The Server

After laying down the foundations for your server, you can move onto setting up the actual server.

Go into the “Control Panel” on the computer and into the “Network and Sharing Center”. Here you need to go into “Change adapter setting and Network connection”. Find the “File” menu and open it pressing “Alt”. Choose “New incoming connection”.

Click on users that you are allowing access to the VPN or create a new user by choosing “Add Someone”, click “Next”. Tick the check button “Through the Internet” and click on “Next” to continue.

On the “Networking software page”, choose Internet Protocol Version 4 or TCP/IPv4. Go to the properties button and “Allow callers to access my local area network”.

Under the “IP Address Assignment”, choose “Specify IP address”. Enter the number of clients you are allowing to use the connection. In order to prevent conflicts with your router use high-order range of IP addresses. Click on “Ok” then “Allow access” and finally “Close”.

Congratulations, if you have followed the steps successfully you should now have completed setting up your VPN server.

4.      Windows Firewall Issues

The Windows firewall is going to cause issues and more than likely will block the server you have just set up from going through.

To make sure Windows firewall issues are avoided you should go to the “Start” menu and search for “Allow an app through the Windows firewall”. Click on the first result shown by the search.

Click on “Change Settings” then scroll to “Routing and Remote access” and ensure it is allowed on both public and private. You can then click on “Ok”.

The Windows firewall should not be an issue after this.

5.      Connect Devices to the VPN Server

The last thing you have to do is connect devices to the virtual private network you just set up. To do this head to the “Control panel” and go into “Network & Internet”, “Sharing Center” then “Change Adapter settings”.

On the VPN adapter, you should right click then choose “Properties”. Head to the “General” tab and double check the IP address or domain then go to the “Security” tab.

Under “Type of VPN”, choose “Point to Point Tunneling Protocol or PPTP”. Under the “Data encryption”, choose “Maximum Strength Encryption”. If the server declines, you should disconnect.

Next, click on the “Ok” button and then head into the “Networking” tab. Here you should untick “Internet Protocol Version 6 or TCP/IPv6” and put a check at the side of “Internet Protocol Version 4 or TCP/IPv4”. Click on “Properties” then “Advanced” and untick “Use default gateway on remote network”

Hit the “Enter” button three times then finally go to “Settings”, then “Network & Internet”, “VPN”, “VPN Connection” and click the “Connect” button.

Phew, you have just completed setting up your own VPN server and you are connected.

Of course, you could have saved yourself all the time and energy that it took to create your own VPN server and chosen to subscribe to a VPN provider. Either way, you will now have peace of mind of privacy when browsing the internet.