How to Connect to a VPN in Windows

By Chris Hoffman on January 17th, 2013

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
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