How to set up a VPN on an iPhone

Virtual private networks — also known as VPNs — provide a secure and easy way of connecting to another network in order to surf the web. Instead of connecting via your own home network and IP address, they let you connect via a different network and address. Doing this can help you avoid geographic restrictions on media content, while you can also use it for work, connecting to your office’s VPN in order to have access to company networks, databases, and resources, for example.

In this article, we explain how to set up a VPN on an iPhone. We run through the steps you need to take to download and use a commercial VPN on your iPhone, while we also explain how to configure your iPhone’s VPN settings in order to connect with a work-based or private VPN.

How to setup VPN on an iPhone: Third-party apps

The easiest way to set up a VPN on an iPhone is to download a reliable VPN app from the App Store. As our article on the best VPNs for iPhone explains, some of the most well-known iPhone VPNs include CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish VPN, and VPN by Private Internet Access (although there are numerous others, such as VPN 360 and Norton Secure VPN).

Step 1: To download one of these, simply open App Store, tap Search (at the bottom of the screen), and then type the name of the app into the search bar. Select the app once it appears and then tap Get.

Step 2: After it has downloaded, launch the app and tap Allow when you’re prompted to grant permission for it to add a VPN configuration to your iPhone.

Step 3: Next, set up the app as instructed by the on-screen prompts. In many cases, you can simply tap the Connect button (or something similar) and connect to a VPN almost instantly. You should also see a tab somewhere on the app’s screen that lets you change the location of the VPN connection, although in the example above — and in many other cases — you may have to subscribe to the premium version of the app to access the full range.

That’s pretty much it. However, you can connect and disconnect from your VPN without actually opening its app. Simply go to Settings > General > VPN. Then, tap the slider next to Status, so that it turns green. You’ll now be connected to your VPN app, and you can disconnect by tapping the slider again.

Note: if you have more than one VPN app installed, you will need to tap on the desired VPN before tapping the Status slider.

How to configure a workplace or private VPN

If the VPN you’d like to connect to doesn’t have its own app (i.e. if it’s a workplace VPN), you can still set it up and connect to it on your iPhone. To do this, you need to go to Settings > General > VPN > Add VPN Configuration…

Once you’re on the Add Configuration screen, you will need to enter various pieces of information in order to connect to the VPN. This includes selecting the type of VPN you’re using (e.g. IKEv2, IPsec, or L2TP), as well as entering the description, server, and remote ID info. Assuming that you’re connecting to a workplace VPN, you should ask for this info from the person responsible for the VPN.

They should also provide you with a username and password — or send you a certificate — in order to log in. Once you’ve entered all of this information, tap Done and then tap the Status slider to connect to the VPN. As before, you should tap this slider again to disconnect.

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