How-To Geek

How to Connect to a VPN in Windows

We’ve covered virtual private networks and when you might want to use them before. Connecting to a VPN is easy, as Windows and most other operating systems offer built-in VPN support.

The Easy Way: Use a VPN Client

Note that some VPN providers offer their own desktop clients, which means you won’t need the setup process described in this guide. All of our favorite VPNs—StrongVPN for advanced users, and SurfEasy and TunnelBear for basic users—offer their own desktop application for connecting to their VPNs and selecting VPN server locations.

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Windows 10

Windows 10 supports PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and IKEv2 connections without any third-party software.

To connect to a VPN on Windows 10, head to Settings > Network & Internet > VPN. Click the “Add a VPN connection” button to set up a new VPN connection.

Provide the connection details for your VPN. You can enter any name you like under “Connection Name”. This name is just used on your computer to help you identify the VPN connection.

Your VPN provider should be able to provide you with these details. If the VPN is provided by your employer, your employer’s IT department should provide you with the details you’ll need to connect.

Once you’ve set up a VPN, you’ll see it in the network popup menu next to any nearby Wi-Fi networks.

Click the network name in the popup menu and Windows will open the Settings > Network & Internet > VPN window for you. Select the VPN and click “Connect” to connect to it. You can also configure or remove VPN connections from here.

Windows 7 and 8

To connect to a VPN on Windows 7, press the Windows key and, type VPN, and press Enter. (Note: If you’re using Windows 8, the process will be very similar, but some of the windows may look a little different.)

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Enter the address of your VPN provider in the Internet Address box. You can enter an address like vpn.example.com or a numerical IP address, depending on the server information your VPN provider gave you.

You should also enter a Destination name—this can be anything you like. It’s only used to help you remember which VPN connection is which.

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Enter your login credentials on the next screen. Use the username and password your VPN provider gave you.

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Windows will connect you to the VPN you configured. If you checked the “Don’t connect now” checkbox on the first screen, Windows will save the VPN connection so you can easily connect later.

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Once connected, you can click the network icon in your system tray to view your VPN connections. While connected to a VPN, all your network traffic will be sent over it.

To disconnect from a VPN, click it and click “Disconnect”. You can then reconnect to it later by clicking it and selecting Connect. You can have multiple VPNs configured and switch between them in this way.

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To delete a saved VPN connection, press the Windows key, type “Network Connections”, and press Enter. Right-click a VPN connection and use the Delete option.

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Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 01/17/13

Comments (13)

  1. Bill B

    My problem is ALL traffic is sent over the VPN. This slows a fast internet connection to a virtual crawl.

    What do you use if you just want normal high-speed internet access from your provider, but you want to have access to a server located in another location, such as a relative’s house? This connection would be used for storage, backups and other LAN like tasks.

  2. Steve

    Hi Bill B.
    I had the same problem, turns out its an easy solution.
    Connect to the VPN as stated above, then right click on the VPN connection -> Properties -> TCP/IPv4 properties -> advanced -> untick “use as default gateway”
    This way you can use your own internet connection not that of the VPN, whilst still accessing the VPN files etc.
    Hope that helps

  3. Bill B

    Thanks, Steve. I’ll give it a try. Was also looking at whether you can force one connection to use one of the two ethernet ports on the motherboard exclusively. That might help….

  4. Kevalin

    Thanks to both of you for your comments. Bill B, if you find that you can use an ethernet port, please let us know how to do so… sounds like it could be handy. :-)

  5. Adrian Kentleton

    I’m not sure the words ‘easy’ and ‘VPN’ belong in the same sentence! You need to have suitable routers at both ends of the connection! SSH client-server setups are ‘easier’ in that regard.

  6. Brad Morgan

    Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but the native VPN support in Windows is IPSEC. SSL based VPNs like OpenVPN require an additional application.

  7. TheFu

    Some routers will let you run VPNs on them AND control which type of traffic or/and target subnets force the VPN to be used. Of course, I don’t have any first-hand knowledge about this.

    Suppose you have a VPN provider in … er … Russia, and would like to force a certain type of traffic through that VPN … perhaps usenet or bittorrents. I’ve heard from friends that is possible.

    Last time I checked, Windows supported IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP VPN protocols with PPTP the default. Since PPTP has been broken/hacked a few times the last 10 yrs, including last year, it is better to select one of the other options, IMHO.

    Of course, using ssh is much easier on pretty much any platform and much more flexible, but a VPN does have much to prefer over ssh, including performance since VPNs tend to use UDP which has much, much less overhead than TCP.

  8. Eagle

    OpenVPN

  9. EviL

    I´m on XP…….
    I use “CybetrghostVPN” (1 Month Promocode 1TB)
    look out for Cyberghost on Facebook (not the App) and you´ll get 1-month Premium free

  10. Somebody X

    What about TeamViewer VPN, it’s a whole lot easier.

  11. lorettauz2luv007

    You truly made my day with the tutorial on the VPN. Thannk you so much for a job well-done. I can’t wait to see how it works out. I have no doubt that I will be completely satisfied.Keep up the goog work!

  12. williamwclee
  13. Emmanuel

    What an easier to follow class session. Thank you for your intelligent contributions. I have learned a lot.

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