Express VPN on Android phone
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

So, you’re interested in using a VPN on your Android phone. There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to VPN services. Thankfully, they’re all pretty easy to use. We’ll help you get started.

What Is a VPN, and How Does It Work on Android?

First thing first, let’s talk about what actually happens when you use a VPN. “VPN” stands for “Virtual Private Network,” and that’s a pretty good description of what it does.

A VPN encrypts your device’s internet traffic and sends it through a computer (server) that’s located somewhere else. It’s as if you’re using the internet on that remote device instead of your own. This disguises your identity and makes it appear as if you’re browsing the web from somewhere you’re not. If you use a VPN on your Android phone, all the traffic from all apps on your Android device—including Chrome and other browsers—will be sent through the VPN tunnel.

There are several reasons why you might want to use a VPN. VPNs are commonly used to bypass regional restrictions. If a movie isn’t available on Netflix in your country, you can use a VPN to watch it. All you have to do is install the VPN and start it up. You’ll be virtually transported to a different location, and your internet activity will be hidden from your internet provider.

What’s the Best VPN for Android?

There are a lot of great VPN apps available for Android. It can be difficult to decide which one is right for you—and to know which ones to trust. We’ve got a guide to help you find the best VPN service, including the best free VPN. All of the VPN services in our guide have Android apps.

The Best VPN Services of 2023

Best Overall VPN
ExpressVPN
Private Internet Access
Best Budget VPN
Private Internet Access
Best Free VPN
Windscribe
Proton VPN
Best VPN for iPhone
Proton VPN
Best VPN for Android
Hide.me
Best VPN for Streaming
ExpressVPN
Best VPN for Gaming
TorGuard
Best VPN for Torrenting
IVPN
Best VPN for Windows
NordVPN
Best VPN for China
VyprVPN
Mullvad VPN
Best VPN for Privacy
Mullvad VPN

How to Set Up a VPN on Android

Every VPN app is going to work a little differently, but the concept is basically the same. We’ll show you how to get Hide.me—our pick for Best Android VPN—up and running as an example.

The first thing you’ll need to do with most VPN services is create an account and choose a plan. In the case of Hide.me, we can use the free plan without creating an account.

Tap "Get Your Free Plan."

Next, simply tap the “Enable VPN” button to start it.

Tap "Enable VPN."

You’ll need to grant the VPN permission to monitor network traffic. This is why it’s important to use trustworthy VPN services. Tap “OK” to continue.

Tap "OK."

You can see the location at the bottom of the screen. In this case, it’s somewhere in the US. The “Location” tab allows you to move to different countries.

Location tab.

When a VPN is running on your Android device, you’ll see a key icon in the status bar.

That’s pretty much it! Again, every VPN app works a little differently, but this is the general idea. You’ll create an account, choose a location, and run the VPN. Sometimes it’s even a good idea to just leave your VPN connected all the time.

How to Turn Off VPN on Android

Turning off a VPN on Android is as easy as turning it on. Simply open the VPN app that you’re using—in our case, it’s Hide.me. Tap the “Disable VPN” (or similar) button.

Tap "Disable VPN."


VPNs aren’t something that everyone needs—in fact, most users will be fine without ever touching one. But if the occasion arises where one is required, it’s good to know how to use one and which ones you can trust.

RELATED: Should You Trust Your VPN?

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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