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How to Connect to a VPN in Windows

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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.

Note that some VPN providers offer their own desktop clients, which means you won’t need this setup process. For example, TunnelBear and proXPN both offer their own desktop applications for connecting to their VPNs and selecting VPN server locations.

Windows 7

To connect to a VPN on Windows 7, press the Windows key and, type VPN, and press Enter.

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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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Windows 8

Connecting to a VPN is a similar process in Windows 8. Press the Windows key, type VPN, click the Settings category, and select the same Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection option as in Windows 7.

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You’ll see the same VPN connection window on the desktop. Enter the address and name of your VPN.

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You’ll then see the Networks pane appear. Select the VPN you added and click Connect.

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Enter the username and password credentials your VPN requires and you can connect to the VPN.

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To access the Network pane in the future, click the network icon in the system tray or open the charms bar, select Settings, and select Network.

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To connect or disconnect from a VPN, select it in the Network pane and use the Connect or Disconnect buttons.

To remove a saved VPN connection, press the Windows key, type View network connections, select the Settings category, and click the View network connections option. Right-click a VPN Connection and select Delete to remove it.

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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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