How to set up a VPN

Want to set up your own virtual private network? Here's how

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Setting up a virtual private network in Windows 10

If you’re running Windows 10, there’s a new VPN configuration tool that makes it easy to configure a VPN connection. If you’re using an older protocol — like L2TP or PPTP — to connect to your VPN provider, the Windows 10 VPN configuration tool makes it very straightforward. If you’re opting to connect to use a newer protocol, like IKEv2, some additional steps are required, and we’ll walk you through how to setup everything in Windows 10 in this guide.

Step 1. Navigate the new Windows 10 VPN configuration tool by typing in VPN into the Cortana search bar next to the Windows Start menu. Then click on the option for “Change virtual private networks (VPN).” Alternatively, you can also go to Windows Settings, click on Network & Internet, and choose VPN on the left column.

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Step 2. Click on the “+” sign to add a VPN connection.

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Step 3. A blue popup wizard should appear.

Click on the drop down for “VPN provider.” and choose “Windows (built-in),” as it’s your only option.

In the “Connection name” field, you can name it anything you want. We chose to name this connection with a combination of my VPN provider’s name, the server location, and the server number. In this case, because we are using NordVPN’s service and connecting to a US server with an ID of 2093 from NordVPN’s directory of servers, we opted for “NordVPN USA 2093″ as my connection name. Being descriptive will help you identify the server from a list in the future if you decide to add multiple server locations.

Each VPN provider will publish their directory of available connections, and you’ll want to consult with your provider on specifics about server addresses. In our case, we chose NordVPN’s US-based server at “us2093.nordvpn.com.” That will be the address that will go into the “Server name or address” field.

In general, you’ll want to choose a server location that’s closest to you for better connection speeds and reliability. However, if you’re looking to skirt geographic restrictions, you can also choose a server location in another country.

Under “VPN Type,” choose the connection type that you want to use to connect and authenticate with your VPN service. For the purpose of this guide, we chose “IKEv2″ from the drop-down.

For “Type of sign-in info,” we chose “User name and password” option. There are different ways you can log in to a VPN and authenticate with the service, including using a smart card, a one-time password, or a certificate. You’ll want to refer to your VPN service for instructions on the best way to login. Most services will accept a user name and password.

And optionally, you can enter your login credentials and have it saved. If you don’t save your login credentials, you’ll be prompted to enter your user name and password when you connect to the VPN service. After you’re finished, click “Save.”

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Step 4. Your newly created VPN name should appear in the list now. For most types of connections, you should be done and ready to connect, in which case you’ll want to jump ahead to Step 19 in this section of the guide. However, for an IKEv2 connection, you’ll want to continue on to download a certificate and change some additional settings before you can connect.

Your VPN provider will give you instructions on where to download the certificate from its website. We navigated to NordVPN’s certificate download page for this example. After you’ve downloaded the certificate, click it to open it. A security warning will pop up, and you’ll want to click “Open.”

Step 5. In the first tab of the certificate labelled “General,” you’ll click “Install Certificate” located near the bottom.

Step 6. The certificate wizard will appear asking you where you want to install the certificate. Make sure the bubble next to “Local machine” is selected. Click “Next” and then click “Yes” in the next security popup.

Step 7. In this step, you’ll want to customize where you want your certificate placed. Choose the bubble for “Place all certificates in the following store” and then click “Browse.”

Step 8. A popup with a directory will appear. Choose “Trusted Root Certificates Authorities” and click “OK.”

Step 9. Click “Next” and then click “Finish.” Click “OK” and then click “OK” again to confirm that the certificate has been installed.

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Step 10. Go to the Cortana search bar in your taskbar and type “Control Panel.” Click on “Control Panel” to launch it.

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Step 11. Click “Network and Internet.”

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Step 12. Click “Network and Sharing Center.”

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Step 13. On the left column, click “Change adapter settings.”

Step 14. You should see your VPN connection’s name (NordVPN USA 2093) here. Right-click on it and select “Properties.” Then click on the “Security” tab.

Step 15: Choose “IKEv2″ under the “Type of VPN” if it wasn’t already specified. Under “Data encryption,” make sure that “Require encryption (disconnect if server declines)” is chosen. Under “Authentication,” choose “Use Extensive Authentication Protocol (EAP)” and select “Microsoft: Secured password EAP-MSCHAPv2.” Click “OK” when done.

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Step 19: Now, you’re ready to connect. Click on the Wi-Fi symbol on the right-hand side of the Windows taskbar. At the top, you should see your VPN name. Click on it, and then select “Connect.” If you didn’t save your user name and password during configuration, you’ll be asked to enter your username and password to authenticate with the service. Once the service connects, you should be able to enjoy a more secure internet experience.

One limitation to note when you’re using a built-in VPN connection tool, like the one that ships with Windows 10, is that when you configure the service, you’re identifying a very specific server for your PC to connect to. Depending on your needs, you may want to repeat the steps above to add multiple servers to the list. That way, if for example the current server gets too congested, you can disconnect and connect to a different server to see if speeds are faster. Some users will have country-specific servers to skirt geographical limitations for some streaming services and a number of local servers to quickly and securely browse the web.

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