How to Set up a VPN in Windows 10

Looking for more privacy? Add a VPN to your Windows 10 system


If you're a Windows 10 user wanting to know how to set up a VPN on your computer, you're in the right place. With Windows 10, you have a few options for setting up a VPN service. You can use a paid VPN service (the easiest option), use Windows' built-in client, or set up free OpenVPN software. To get started, here's a look at these options in more detail.

If you're looking to get up and running with a VPN quickly, we recommend going with a paid VPN service such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN. These services work with Windows 10 as well as other versions of Windows and other platforms.

How to Set Up a Paid VPN Service on Windows 10

Getting and setting up a VPN service on a Windows 10 is easy. To get started, you'll need to spend a little time researching the best VPN service for your needs. Once you've found a VPN provider you want to use, just head over the VPN provider's website to get started.

  1. Download the app to your Windows 10 device. On the website, look for a list of download links you can click on — they're usually at the top of the page. Locate the appropriate application for your Windows 10 device and begin the download.

    The NordVPN Download page.
  2. Provide payment information. Depending on the VPN provider, you may have to buy a plan or provide a credit card before you can use the service. If so, be sure to check the money-back guarantee period just in case the service doesn't work for you and you need a refund.

    NordVPN plan options.
  3. Set up the VPN on your Windows 10 device. Launch the .exe file or installer to begin the installation process and follow the directions on your screen. With some VPNs, you may be asked to grant permission to install different parts of the application, such as configuration files or helper tools.

    Screenshots of the NordVPN installation.
  4. Sign into and launch the VPN service. Once installed, launch the application, sign in, and begin using the service by choosing a VPN server location (or Quick Connect) and connecting to your preferred VPN server.

    The NordVPN Connection Screen.

How to Set Up a VPN in Windows 10

Windows 10 offers its own VPN client that can be enabled and managed via Windows' setting app. The steps below illustrate how to set up, connect to, and edit a connection with Windows 10's built-in VPN client. To use this method, you'll need an active VPN service, (free or paid) with access to a client or member area.

The exact steps for finding your VPN server addresses may differ slightly depending on your provider. The basic instructions will be similar for most reliable VPN services.

  1. Sign in to your VPN client area, navigate to the section that lists their servers, then copy the IP addresses you wish to use to a text file.

    A screenshot of example server addresses.
  2. Expand Windows' Quick Actions section, then select VPN.

    A screenshot of Windows 10 quick action and notification center.
  3. Select Add a VPN connection.

    A screenshot of Windows 10 VPN options.
  4. Under VPN provider, select Windows (built-in).

    A screenshot of the add a vpn connection screen in Windows 10
  5. Under Connection name, enter a name that represents the server you're adding.

    A scteenshot showing the Windows 10 VPN set up wizard.
  6. Under Server name or address, enter the IP or URL you copied to a text file in the first step.

    A screenshot showing how to add a connection in Windows' built-in VPN client.
  7. Under VPN type, select the option your VPN service provider suggests, or Automatic if you're unsure.

    A screenshot of the vPN types offered in Windows 10 native client.

    When using the built-in VPN app in Windows 10, make sure the VPN type matches the server you're using from your provider.

  8. Under Type of sign-in info, select the option required by your VPN service provider.

    A screenshot showing the login options for Windows 10 built-in VPN.
  9. Enter your username and password (if using this sign-in method), select Remember my sign-in info, then select Save.

    A screenshot of the username and password field in windows 10 built-in VPN client.
  10. Select the VPN (connection name) you just set up, then select Connect. To edit your VPN's settings, select Advanced options.

    A screenshot of Windows 10 connecting to a VPN.
  11. Select Edit to change any of your VPN's connection properties.

    A screenshot of a VPN's connection properties in Windows 10 built-in VPN client.
  12. Expand the VPN proxy settings menu, then select the appropriate option (if applicable).

    A screenshot showing the VPN proxy settings options in Windows 10 built-in VPN app.
  13. To delete a VPN connection, select it, then select Remove.

    A screenshot showing how to remove a VPN connection via Windows 10 built-in client.

How to Set Up a Free VPN in Windows 10 Using OpenVPN

In addition to the built-in VPN client in Windows 10, you can use free OpenVPN software to secure your connection and protect your privacy.

OpenVPN is a free VPN client UI that works with OpenVPN (.ovpn) configuration files. Each config file is assigned a specific server address or location. You'll have to get OpenVPN configuration files via your VPN provider's client area. The steps below show how to generate and download an OpenVPN config file, install the OpenVPN client for Windows, and connect to a server.

The steps for generating .ovpn files could be slightly different depending on your VPN provider. The core instructions are generally the same for most popular VPN services.

  1. Sign in to your VPN provider's client area, navigate to the OpenVPN configuration generator, then select Windows.

    A screenshot of Aircpn's OpenVPN config generator.
  2. Select UDP for the protocol type.

    A screenshot of AirVPN's protocol options.
  3. Select the server locations you wish to use.

    A screenshot of AirVPN's servers by country.
  4. Read through and accept the Terms of Service agreement (if applicable), then select Generate.

    A screenshot of AirVPN's terms of service agreement.
  5. Download the .ovpn config files you just generated, either individually or as an archive (zip, 7z, rar, etc.).

    A screenshot of showing config file download options.
  6. Go to OpenVPN's download page, choose the WINDOWS INSTALLER, then select Save File.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN's download options.
  7. Go to your Downloads folder, right-click the ovpn-install file, then select Run as administrator.

    A screenshot of the Downloads folderin Windows 10.
  8. Select Yes when the User Account Control window appears.

    A screenshot of a UAC dialog window.
  9. Select Next when the OpenVPN setup wizard appears.

    The initial step in OpenVPN's installation process.
  10. Review the License Agreement, then select I Agree.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN's license agreement.
  11. Choose each component you wish to install (or the default selection), then select Next.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN's component options.
  12. Select Browse to change the installation location, or select Install to continue the setup process.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN's installation location settings.
  13. Select Next once the installation is complete.

    A screenshot showing OpenVPN's installation progress in Windows 10.
  14. Select Finish to close the setup wizard.

    A screenshot of the final step in OpenVPN's setup wizard.
  15. Navigate to your Downloads folder, then copy the .ovpn files (or archive) you downloaded earlier.

    A screenshot of files being copied in Windows 10 file explorer.
  16. Navigate to This PC > Windows (C:) > Program Files > OpenVPN > config, then paste your .OPVN files.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN's config folder.
  17. Launch OpenVPN from your desktop Start menu.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN getting opened in Windows 10.
  18. Expand the Windows' Quick Actions center, right-click the OpenVPN icon, choose a server, then select Connect.

    A screenshot of OpenVPN connecting to a server.
  19. Once connected, a message will appear in the lower right corner displaying your assigned IP address.

    A screenshot of a connection message in OpenVPN for Windows.