A Virtual Private Network (VPN) refers to a network configuration that enables you to connect to a private network from an external location. There are a couple of reasons why you might want to do this, and we will get to them shortly.
If you’re a first-time user of VPNs, setting one up might seem daunting. In reality, using this tool is not hard, so there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by it. With this guide on setting up a VPN on Windows 10, you can be ready to browse the Internet securely through your VPN in no more than 10 minutes.
Before we outline the procedure for setting up a VPN on Windows 10, let’s have a look at the basics.
Why Use a VPN?
A VPN has two main uses:
- Connecting to a private network. Most organizations and companies maintain a private network that houses numerous servers which are only accessible from a company computer situated inside the company building. A VPN makes it possible for authorized employees to access the company network from a remote location such as their home.
- Tunneling data through a private network. Connecting to a VPN enables you to create a link with a computer in the private network, which interfaces with the Internet. Once the connection is made, all your traffic is passed through that computer so that other parties, such as your Internet service provider or destination websites, see the computer in the VPN instead of the one you are using.
In practical terms, these two functions of a VPN create myriad opportunities related to online activities.
For example, VPNs enable you to work away from the office. Rather than being tethered to your workstation and needing to be connected to the corporate network via Ethernet in order to access company files, you can securely access those files from other places outside the office, such as your home or a hotel if you’re traveling.
Another benefit of VPNs is that they hide your online activity. This is not something that only criminals are interested in. If you don’t want to be tracked and profiled by advertisers, you’ll find this functionality extremely useful. You also want to make sure that neither your government nor your ISP can monitor your traffic, in which case a highly encrypted, no-logs VPN would be valuable.
How Do I Get a VPN?
A VPN can be either public or private. Private VPNs are only accessible to a specified group of people. For example, access to the network of an organization is typically limited to its employees. To gain access to the network, non-employees would need to reach out to the organization’s IT department for authorization.
On the other hand, public VPNs are open to any user who purchases a subscription to the VPN service. Once you make the payment for the service, the VPN provider gives you an activation key that opens the features of the VPN available for the package you paid for. Public VPNs are primarily used to hide a user’s online activity whereas private VPNs are typically used by employees to access an organization’s network.
How Do I Pick the Best VPN?
To begin with, steer clear of free VPN services. A majority of them provide slow VPN services and don’t offer customer support due to lack of revenue (which means they don’t have the funds to support the infrastructure and personnel needed to offer much beyond a stripped-down version of the basics). That’s the best-case scenario.
The worst-case scenario as far as free VPNs are concerned is that they keep a record of all your online activity and sell it to third parties who may use it to hijack your computer for their malicious agendas.
It is for this reason that our experts recommend using a well-established and highly reputable premium VPN service that doesn’t keep logs of your online activity. Our top recommendations include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, SaferVPN and Private Internet Access, among others. It’s a well-known fact that any worthwhile product or service comes at a cost.
How Do I Set Up a VPN on My Windows 10 Computer?
For the purpose of this illustration, we’re going to share with you the procedure for setting up a VPN on your Windows 10 computer with the popular VPN service Private Internet Access. There’s little difference between the process used for this provider and other top VPN providers. Moreover, the VPN settings built into Windows 10 make the process easier.
Also, note that it is a good idea to educate yourself on the major VPN protocols that are currently in use to determine which one best suits your individual VPN needs. In this guide, we’ll outline the setup process for the L2TP protocol, which is among the most popular. The PPTP protocol is not recommended because it’s not as secure.
Steps for Setting Up an L2TP VPN on Windows 10
- Go to the “Start” menu and type “virtual private” into the search box. Select “Change virtual private network (VPN)”, launch the VPN page, and tap on “Add a VPN Connection”.
- Select “Windows (built-in)” in the “VPN Provider” field.
- Choose a name for the VPN and input it in the “Connection Name” field. Any name will do. You can use “My Private VPN”, for example.
- In the “Server Name or Address” field, input the VPN server’s hostname or IP address provided by the VPN provider (in this case Private Internet Access) or your employer’s IT department.
- In the “VPN Type” field, choose “L2tp/IPsec with pre-shared key” and enter the pre-shared key, which is also provided by your VPN provider or your employer’s IT department.
- Leave the “Type of Sign-In Info” field as “Username and password” and input your username and password.
- Finally, click “Save”.
Once you complete setting up the VPN profile, you can now select the profile by left-clicking the Wi-Fi icon on the system tray and then clicking “Connect” to switch on the VPN connection.
A Final Word from VPNPros
You now know how to set up a VPN on any Windows 10 computer and can browse the Internet with peace of mind because you know that your data is protected. If your VPN service provides a dedicated Windows 10 client, give preference to it, because such an app is usually developed in a way that using it on the Windows 10 operating system is easy.
Also, keep in mind that IP and DNS leaks can compromise your anonymity, so go for a VPN provider that offers DNS and IPv6 leak protection to stay secure. To learn more, read our list of the best VPN providers in the industry.