How to Set Up a VPN (+10 Free Resources)

Mary Clare Novak Mary Clare Novak  |  October 3, 2019

Business or pleasure?

No matter the reason you are online, you are at risk of a cyberattack. Hackers are always targeting sensitive and private information, and yours might be next. And no, that is no longer a paranoid thought to have.

According to Norton, cybercriminals stole 12 billion records in 2018. Those records include all of the special ingredients for an identity theft: your name, address, credit card number, and social security number.

Cyber security is more important now than ever, and if you aren’t taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself from hackers, you could wind up in a pretty sticky situation.

Don’t panic. I’m not just going to tell you that then leave you hanging. That would be rude. Let’s talk about those precautions you can take, more specifically a VPN.

Looking for some specific information on VPNs? Use the jump links below to skip to the section you need information on:

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is programming that connects public network users to secure, private networks where they can send and receive data freely without worrying about a cybersecurity attack.

Essentially, a VPN will route your traffic through the VPN company’s own server so your internet service provider or any other user connected to the same router cannot see your traffic. A lot of companies use VPNs, especially those with traveling or remote employees that connect to various random networks.

how does a vpn work
VPNs are an excellent tool for businesses dealing with any sensitive information. And like a lot of other industries, a lot of developers have hopped on the bandwagon and created their own version and slapped the market, and users, with yet another decision to make: which VPN tool is right for me?

TIP: VPN and proxy servers are often confused. Learn about the difference between a VPN and Proxy here.

Choosing a VPN

When you walk into an ice cream shop, you don’t choose the first enticing flavor you see. You peruse your options until you find the best one in the shop.

The same goes for buying software. You’re not going to buy the first VPN you see. When choosing any software, you will have to see what each option has to offer before you make your decision. This is best done by asking yourself a series of questions.

Why do I need a VPN?

Are you looking to secure your home or workplace? What sort of online activities will you be doing that require a VPN? Streaming movies? Working online while traveling?

What qualities am I looking for in a VPN?

Will the VPN need to support more than one connection? Do you want speed? Anonymity? Better encryption?

Which VPN tools have those items on my wishlist?

Evaluate the reasons you need a VPN and the qualities you are looking for and weed out the options that can’t provide you with what you need.

What is your budget?

Also, see what you can afford. The more capabilities a VPN has, the more expensive it will be. Or, if you want a free version, check out our list of the top 10 free VPN services here

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How to set up a VPN

Alright. You have selected a VPN tool, and now it is time to set it up on your device. We will go over how to set up a VPN on both a Mac and a Windows computer.

How to set up a VPN on a Mac

Let’s start with a Mac.

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the top left corner
  2. Choose “System Preferences” and then “Network”
  3. Click the Add button (+) on the left side of the screen
  4. In the drop down menu that pops up, select VPN for the Interface option
  5. For VPN type, choose the kind of VPN you will be setting up
  6. Give your VPN a name, and then hit “Create”
  7. Next, enter the server address and account name
  8. You should’ve received information from the network’s administrator about authentication. Click on “Authentication Settings” and enter that information.
  9. Click “Apply” and then “OK”

How to set up a VPN on Windows

If you are a Windows user, this one's for you.

  1. Open your settings
  2. Select “Network & Internet” and then “VPN”
  3. Then, select “Add a VPN connection”
  4. You will then need to add some details about the VPN you will be using. For VPN provider, choose “Windows (built-in).” This should change VPN type to “Automatic” and Type of sign in info to “Username and password”
  5. Next, fill out the connection name and server name/address (this will depend on your VPN provider)
  6. Scroll down and enter your username and password for the VPN
  7. Click “Save” and then you can close the Settings app
  8. When you hit the Wi-Fi icon, your VPN should be at the top of the list

The area is secure

There is no room to be lazy or uninformed about securing your network. Cybercriminals are only getting savvier, and they aren’t slowing down either. Be proactive in protecting your data and install a VPN.

Find the best VPN software on the market Explore Now, FREE →


Mary Clare Novak

Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Associate at G2 in Chicago. A recent graduate, she is happy to be back working in her favorite city. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)

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