VPNs on Android have a variety of uses, including downloading apps not available in your country, encrypting your browsing on public Wi-Fi, or just connecting to a company network on the road.
OpenVPN Networks & VPN Apps
Android does not include integrated support for OpenVPN servers. If you use an OpenVPN network, you will need to install a third-party app. OpenVPN Connect, OpenVPN’s official app, works on Android 4.0 and higher and does not require root. To connect to an OpenVPN network on a device running Android 2.3 or older, you will need to root your device.
Depending on the VPN you are using, you may need a dedicated VPN app instead of the VPN support integrated into Android. For example, TunnelBear offers an Android app that handles TunnelBear VPN connections.
Integrated VPN Support
Android has integrated support for PPTP and L2TP VPNs. You can connect to these types of VPNs without installing any third-party apps.
To connect to a compatible VPN, open the Settings app and tap More under Wireless & networks. (On Android 2.3, tap Wireless & networks.)
Tap the VPN option on the Wireless & networks screen. (On Android 2.3, tap VPN Settings.)
Tap the + button and provide the VPN’s details. Enter a name to help you remember which VPN is which into the Name field, select the type of VPN server you’re connecting to, and enter the VPN server’s address (either an address like vpn.example.com or a numerical IP address).
Tap the VPN to connect once you have set it up. You can have multiple VPN servers configured and switch between them from the VPN screen.
You will need the username and password your VPN requires when you connect. However, you can save this account information for next time.
While connected to a VPN, you will see a persistent “VPN activated” notification in your notifications drawer. To disconnect, tap the notification and tap Disconnect.
Always-On VPN Mode
Android 4.2 includes the option to enable always-on VPN mode. When this option is enabled, Android will never allow data to be sent except over the VPN. This can be useful if you are using public Wi-Fi and want to ensure your VPN is always used.
To enable this option, you must first connect to a VPN and save your account information. You will then find the option under the menu button.
Again, this feature is only offered in Android 4.2, so you won’t see it if your smartphone or tablet uses an older version of Android.
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 01/27/13