If you want to download an app not available in your country, connect to a company network on the road, or just stay safe on public Wi-Fi, you’ll need a VPN. Here’s how to connect to a VPN on your Android phone.
It’s worth noting that Nexus devices have a built-in VPN for staying safe on public Wi-Fi, and you can read more about that here. But for any other uses, you have a few options for connecting to a VPN on your Android phone.
Use a Standalone VPN App (The Easiest Option)
Here at How-To Geek we have a few favorite VPN services, all of which have dedicated Android apps that make setup a breeze.
ExpressVPN is definitely our top choice, as their clients are not only easy to use, but you can share an account across any kind of device — Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, Linux, or even your home router. We also like StrongVPN, which is great for more advanced users, and if you really need a free tier, TunnelBear has a free trial that gives you 500mb of data.
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 older versions of Android, you will need to root your device.
Android’s Built-In 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, but neither is ideal. PPTP is generally regarded as outdated and insecure, and L2TP has some security issues as well (notably its use of pre-shared keys, which many VPN providers publish publicly). If you can, we recommend using OpenVPN or a standalone app instead. But if you must use PPTP and P2TP, here’s how to do it.
Open the Settings app and tap “More” under Wireless & Networks.
Tap the VPN option on the Wireless & Networks screen.
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
Starting with Android 4.2, Google included 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, tap on the cog icon next to the VPN name, then toggle the “Always-on VPN” slider.
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.