How to Connect to a VPN on Windows

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Since the dawn of the world wide web, people have been browsing, learning, and creating through the internet. The web has changed and improved much beyond what it was in those early years. However, not everything has evolved as much as it could have. Some would even say as much as it should have. While cybercriminals have been getting smarter, the security services offered by ISPs (internet service providers) haven’t changed much in the past 20-odd years. Service providers aren’t doing all they can to protect their users’ data and privacy. And not just from cybercriminals either, but from themselves as well.

Cybersecurity hasn’t always been a big concern for most people, and unfortunately, attackers have taken advantage of that through phishing, malware, ransomware, and various other devious tactics. Luckily, people are starting to become much more aware of the dangers they face and how that could affect their lives. Especially since technology has become such a prevalent part of everyday life. People are turning to tools like VPNs (virtual private networks) to help protect themselves against any potential privacy leaks – and to keep their service providers from selling their data to the highest bidders.

There are many types of VPN connections (called protocols) currently available. Some can be connected to manually, while others will need a third-party application to work. Both these options have different advantages and drawbacks. The choice ultimately lies with how much effort a person is willing to put in, their general understanding of technical terms, and how much they’re willing to pay. The level of security a person is looking for also plays a role.

Here are the two VPN connection types currently available across all Windows desktop operating systems:

  • Manual

Windows operating system natively supports most VPN protocols, and they can be activated or installed without any outside party, through the operating system’s built-in client. This type of setup is useful for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, people don’t have to install any third-party software with this option because the operating system already has the necessary network setup in place. So anyone who is considering this option won’t have to install any additional software. That’s a big bonus to anyone who has significant security concerns. Because they don’t have to put their trust in the VPN service provider in addition to those that created the third party VPN client. This is also a good option for people who are looking at VPN service providers who don’t offer their own client; as well as for people who want to use a different protocol than the ones their VPN provider is offering.

The most significant downsides to setting up a manual VPN connection is that it requires some technical knowledge. So the process can get a little tricky for anyone who isn’t familiar with how VPNs work.

  • Third-party app

Someone who doesn’t fancy themselves a tech whizz will likely go for the third-party option instead. This is also the more popular option, currently, because it’s much quicker than the manual option. There are two choices in this category: commercial VPN services and generic third-party software. Again, each option has its pros and cons. But both usually offer users the opportunity to jump between different server locations, whereas the manual option often limits users to a few servers.

So how does one set up and connect to a VPN on Windows? Below is a detailed guide on how to connect to a VPN on Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8. This guide will focus on how to create a VPN connection manually, which only offers PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IKEv2 options. OpenVPN requires that users download a VPN client and third-party services will have detailed guides on their client setup processes.

How to connect to a VPN on Windows 10

After having created a VPN connection on Windows 10 (take a look at the How to Create a VPN on Windows 10 section if this isn’t already set up), a user can then connect to it. Here are the quick steps on how to connect to a VPN using Windows 10:

  1. Click on the Network icon on the far left of the desktop taskbar
  2. Select the VPN connection, then choose one of the following actions depending on the type of a VPN connection:
  • If there’s a Connect button under the VPN connection, click on it to connect.
  • If the Settings menu opens, select a VPN connection there, then click on Connect.
  1. If prompted, type the username and password obtained from the VPN service or other sign-in info an employer has provided.

To see if a VPN is connected, click on the Network icon again. The VPN network will display “connected” underneath it.

How to create VPN on Windows 10

Manually setting up a VPN on Windows 10 doesn’t require any additional software or client downloads. It does, however, need a VPN service provider who will provide the private connection and servers to connect through. So anyone who wants to set up a VPN connection manually has to make use of a service provider, just not their client. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to Create a VPN Windows 10:

Step 1: Find the Settings menu

  1. Right-click the Start button on the taskbar then click on Settings.
  2. Click on the Network and Internet option.
  3. Select the VPN option from the lefthand sidebar.
  4. Choose the Add a VPN connection option at the top of the menu.

Step 2: Fill in the details on the VPN screen

  1. Under the “VPN provider” drop-down bar, choose “Windows (built-in).”
  2. Fill out the “Connection name” and “Server name or address” bars – the details of these two options are provided by the VPN service provider a user has chosen.
  3. Ignore the “VPN type” bar unless the user needs to choose a specific option. Just note that the IKEv2 protocol option requires a root certificate installation, which can be obtained from the VPN provider if they support that option, along with installation instructions.
  4. Again, ignore the “Type of sign-in info” bar. Unless a particular situation calls for changing the sign-in details, for instance, an employer network requires a specific sign-in option.
  5. Enter the username and password the VPN service provider has supplied.

The computer now has a working VPN connection.

How to connect to a VPN on Windows 7

Want to know how to connect to a VPN on Windows 7? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Just make sure to create a VPN connection first, then follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Windows Start button and select Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel menu, click on “View Network Status.”
  3. Select the “Connect to a Network” option.
  4. Find the VPN that’s been set up and click on its name, then click the Connect button.
  5. Enter the network security key the VPN service provider supplied if prompted.
  6. Click “OK” then click on Connect.

How to create a VPN on Windows 7

Anyone looking to set up a VPN on Windows 7 must be subscribed to a VPN service provider. Below are the steps detailing how to create a VPN for Windows 7:

  1. Click on the Windows Start button and type the word “network” into the search bar.
  2. Select the Network and Sharing Center option.
  3. Choose the “Set up a new connection or network” option.
  4. Select “Connect to a workplace,” then click “Next.”
  5. Choose the “Use my internet connection (VPN)” option.
  6. In the “Internet address” box, type either the IP address a workplace network admin provided or the name of the VPN server the VPN service provider has supplied.
  7. Give the VPN network connection any name in the “Description name” box.
  8. Make sure to check the “Don’t connect now; just set it up so I can connect later” checkbox.
  9. In the next window, type in the username and password that’s been provided by the VPN service.
  10. Click close.

How to connect to a VPN on Windows 8

Anyone who wants to set up a VPN on Windows 8 can look at the process for Windows 7. The Windows OS may seem a little different, but many of the steps are the same. As for how to connect to a VPN on Windows 8, here are the steps for that below:

  1. Click on the network icon at the bottom right corner of the taskbar,
  2. Select the name of the VPN connection and click Connect.

If the VPN is connected, it should say “connected” under the name of the VPN.

Now, anyone with a Windows PC regardless of their operating system will be able to take the next step in securing their online activities through a VPN.