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Maybe you're working for your employer from home and connecting to the company's network. Perhaps you're using your laptop in a public place to shop or bank online. Either way, you should be using a VPN to encrypt and safeguard your access.
But how do you set up a VPN in Windows 10? Here, you have a couple of options. You can always install a third-party VPN application or a security program with a built-in VPN.
Most of the VPN apps mentioned in those two articles linked above are paid products, typically with a monthly or an annual subscription. There are free VPN programs, but you have to be careful here as many of the freebies lack the features and effectiveness of the paid software.
Some products offer basic features for free and more advanced capabilities for a fee. Most will provide you with a free trial, so you can try before you buy. You'll find a lot of VPN apps in the Microsoft Store just by searching for the term VPN, but some are better than others. Check out our list for the best VPNs for Windows.
Each VPN service naturally differs in certain ways, but let's look at a couple to see how they work.
How Proton VPN works
After installing Proton VPN, which is free for basic use, just open it and click the Quick Connect button to turn on the VPN.
Proton VPN then connects to an available network, showing you the connection and displaying traffic stats.
Checking out the program's settings, you can set the VPN to automatically turn on when you log in to Windows or when you launch the app. As with many VPN apps, Proton VPN can protect your connection right out of the box.
But you can also take advantage of additional features. A kill switch lets you quickly sever your internet connection if the VPN goes down. Port forwarding forwards data from the internet to a device on your own network. And split tunneling allows you to exclude an application or IP address from the VPN traffic.
How Hotspot Shield VPN works
Hotspot Shield VPN is another VPN app that's free for basic use. After launching the program, just click the Connect to VPN button to trigger the VPN.
The connection screen shows a map of the VPN network along with certain stats on the speed and traffic.
Under Settings, you can tell Hotspot Shield to automatically turn on the VPN when you connect to a public network, enable a kill switch, and prevent IP leaks that could reveal your actual IP address when connected.
How to add a VPN profile in Windows 10
1. Gather info and go to VPN settings
Beyond using a third-party app, you can create a VPN profile in Windows 10. This is useful if a VPN is available to you through work but is not accessible as a separate application. To set this up, make sure you have the necessary details for the VPN, including the server name or IP address, VPN type, and login information.
Next, go to Settings > Network & Internet > VPN. Click the icon for Add a VPN connection.
2. Set up and name the connection
At the next screen, click the drop-down field for VPN provider and choose Windows (built-in). For Connection name, type any name you'd like, such as Windows VPN. For server name or address, type the name or IP address of the VPN server that was supplied to you. Next, click the drop-down field for VPN type and select the method that was supplied to you. When done, click Save.
3. Connect and use VPN
To use the VPN you set up, click the network icon on the System Tray and select the name of the VPN at the top of the pane. Click Connect.
4. Sign in with password
You'll be prompted to sign in. Enter the username and password for the VPN and then click OK to connect. You should then be connected to the VPN.