VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, have become widely used tools that help people to securely access a private network and also to share sensitive data through public networks. The main idea is that VPNs can generate virtual P2P (point-to-point) connections, or so-called encrypted tunnels, that allow you to use the internet as a medium for transporting data that is hard to intercept and access by third parties. It also allows you to spoof your physical location, because the VPN provider replaces your real IP address. Luckily, Windows 10 makes it easy for users to create, configure and use VPN connections. Let us see how to make Windows 10 and VPNs work together:
NOTE: The features and screenshots shared in this article are found in Windows 10 with April 2018 Update. If you are using an older version of Windows 10, some of the features we present might not be available, or they may have different names.
What do you need to connect to a VPN?
To be able to connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), regardless of whether it is owned by the company you work for, or if it is a custom connection that you have set up, you have to know the following details:
- The IP address of the VPN server to which you are going to connect;
- The connection name and your VPN account details: username and password;
- Any custom configuration you might need to perform, to be able to establish a secure connection to that VPN.
If you have all these particular details, the only other thing you need is a functioning internet connection. Just pointing out the obvious, it is impossible to connect to a VPN server if you are not already connected to the internet. If you managed to gather all the proper credentials, then feel free to continue on your journey towards using a VPN service, with the help of this guide. Let’s see how to create and configure a VPN connection in Windows 10:
How to create and configure a VPN connection in Windows 10
Before attempting to create a VPN connection, make sure that you have logged into Windows 10 with an administrator account. Then, open the Settings app. A quick way to do it is to click or tap on its shortcut from the Start Menu.
In the Settings window, click or tap the section labeled Network & Internet.
In the Network & Internet section, there are several subsections found on the left side of the window. Click or tap on the one called VPN.
In the VPN subsection, click or tap the button labeled “+ Add a VPN connection.”
The Settings app launches a wizard called “Add a VPN connection,” in which you get to enter your VPN connection details. Normally, before you start setting up a VPN connection in Windows 10, you should already have found a good VPN provider that you can use to secure your online presence. Depending on each particular provider, you might either receive an URL address that is similar to any normal website like vpn.example.com, or a numerical IP address, like 111.222.333.444. However, you should know that VPN services differ greatly concerning of quality and price and you must have a lot of patience to find one that works well with your online habits and internet connection speed.
Coming back to the tutorial and the VPN connection setup window, you must first choose a VPN provider. In the first field of the “Add VPN connection” wizard, which is labeled VPN provider, you should select the “Windows (built-in)” option from the drop-down menu.
In the next field, labeled “Connection name,” enter a name for the VPN connection that you are creating. You can choose to call it anything you like. We decided to call it Digital Citizen VPN.
Enter the VPN server address in the “Server name or address.” Make sure that you double-check it matches precisely the one offered by your VPN service.
In the “VPN type” field, select the type of the VPN connection that you are creating. We chose SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) because this is one of the most commonly used methods of implementing virtual private networks on Windows. If you do not know what type your VPN connection is, you can leave this option set to Automatic, and Windows 10 should determine it on its own.
All VPN providers require you to use a predefined method of authentication to be able to connect to their virtual private networks. In the next field, the one called “Type of sign-in info,” you should select a method that matches the one offered by the VPN provider. The service we used for this tutorial supplies a username and password for its users, so we selected this option from the list.
Note that the Username and Password fields are optional, meaning that if you leave these fields blank, you are going to be prompted to enter your username and password each time you connect to the VPN service. Whether you choose to have this information saved or not, is entirely up to you. It ultimately is just a matter of how secure you want your system to be. If you have chosen to enter a username and a password, you should also check the box labeled “Remember my sign-in info” so that the operating system stores your credentials.
Once you have entered all the required information, click or tap the Save button from the bottom-right corner.
The VPN connection is created and saved, and you are brought back to the Settings app. You can now start using the VPN connection: if you want to see how, read the next page of this guide, by clicking or tapping on the link below. On the next page, we will show you how to connect to a VPN, change its advanced settings, disconnect from the VPN and delete the VPN connection when you no longer need to use it.