How to set up a VPN in Windows 11

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Catherine Le Nevez

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Here's how to manually set up and configure a VPN in Windows 11 for added privacy and security.

Most major VPN services provide desktop or mobile software, but you don't need to use it. You can install and access the VPN within Windows 11 which means you don't need their software.

There are pros and cons to this method, which we will explain shortly, but first how to install a VPN in Windows 11.

Why use a VPN with Windows 11?

The reasons you would use a VPN with Windows 11 are the same as why you would use a VPN at any time: to increase your security and privacy. Once connected to a VPN service, internet traffic from your machine is transmitted through an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN provider's servers.

It prevents people from snooping on your data, lets you access geo-restricted content, and access private networks outside your own with relative ease.

There are a lot of myths about VPNs circulating, like VPNs are for professional users only or that you just need a VPN to hide "questionable" online activity. However, that's not the case and you can use a VPN as and when you want.

Plus, it's easier than ever to use a VPN service, with almost any VPN provider offering a desktop or mobile solution to make connecting easier.

But you don't have to use their software. Instead, you can set up your VPN directly within Windows 11, cutting the VPN software in the process. There are pros and cons to this, which we'll get to in a moment, but read on first to learn how to set up a VPN service in Windows 11.

Should you use a free or paid VPN?

We've talked about free or paid VPNs multiple times over the years, and the answer remains the same - a paid VPN is always the best option.

Of course, if you need to use a free VPN in no time, that's fine. But for long-term use, you should consider purchasing a VPN subscription, such as or.

How to set up a VPN on Windows 11

As with its predecessor, you can set up a VPN connection within Windows 11. The following examples use NordVPN.

Inserisci vpn in the Start menu search bar and select the best match.

  • Select Add VPN .
  • Now select Windows (integrated) per il provider VPN.
  • Add a connection name . This doesn't have to match your VPN service name or a specific server.
  • Add a server name or address , which you can find on your VPN provider's website. Search for "[VPN provider name] host names" or "[VPN provider name] server IP addresses" to find specific servers.
  • Select the type of VPN you are using. Typically, this is it L2TP/IPsec , but the server you connect to may be using a different configuration. Again, check with your VPN provider for the specifics and change this setting accordingly.
  • Finally, you need to add your VPN username and password. However, you should also note that some VPNs provide you with a different username and password combination for manual VPN setups, which you will find in your VPN settings.
  • Awards Save.

The instructions above will work for most VPN providers, although some services have specific quirks, such as different usernames and passwords, or other service-specific settings.

How to set up an IKEv2 VPN on Windows 11

A manual IKEv2 VPN connection is slightly different from the more commonly used L2TP / IPsec protocol as it also requires the installation of a security certificate.

While this requires a few more steps, IKEv2 is considered to be one of the strongest and most stable VPN protocols and is worth using if you require exceptional security.

Also, while it was once difficult to find support for IKEv2 connections, most major VPN providers now support the protocol and provide detailed instructions specific to their service.

However, you can use the following instructions as a general overview.

  • Go to your VPN service and download their IKEv2 certificate. Your VPN provider will have a specific download and support page if they offer this service.
  • Once downloaded, double click on the IKEv2 certificate, select Install certificate and continue with the Certificate Import Wizard.
  • Select Local machine and click Next.
  • Select Place all certificates in the following archive and click Browse.
  • Select Trusted Root Certification Authorities and click OK.
  • Returning to the Certificate Import Wizard, click Next.
  • Click Finish, then click OK.
  • Once you're ready, you can go back to the previous set of instructions for installing a VPN on Windows 11, but change the type of VPN per IKEv2 .

Your VPN provider's website will also list any service-specific quirks.

Pros and cons of manual VPN setup

Wondering if you should opt for manual VPN setup or your VPN provider's software? There are some pros and cons to consider.

  • BESS - Extensive customization options, lots of open source tweaks, and more direct control over your VPN connection.
  • BESS : one less software on your computer that takes up space.
  • BESS - You are still using exactly the same VPN protocols and your connection is as secure as if you were using desktop or mobile VPN software.
  • Cons - harder to set up and maintain, not a great option for those unfamiliar with VPNs.
  • Cons - You lose some of the functionality offered by your desktop or mobile software, be it additional connection modes or additional security features.

All things considered, using the VPN provider's dedicated software is often the best option for most users. It makes it easy to connect to your servers, make it easy to switch between servers, and most apps come with additional security features.

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