How to set up a VPN on Android (Install in less than 5 minutes)
If you don’t want to use the dedicated VPN app from your VPN service provider, or if it didn’t come with one, you can configure the VPN configuration files with a third-party VPN app instead, such as OpenVPN for Android.
You may use these third-party applications to connect to your service provider’s server network using account credentials that provide you with a general experience similar to using your provider’s application.
Third-party apps may be more configurable than the VPN provider’s dedicated app, and they allow you to use multiple providers within a single app, if you have more than one subscription.
We will be using OpenVPN for Android for this guide, because it is open source, which means that it can be scanned for security flaws and vulnerabilities, and the OpenVPN protocol itself offers the best balance between performance and security.
You can also use the official OpenVPN Connect, OpenVPN, Inc app for Android.
ExpressVPN recommends OpenVPN for Android because it works best with its configuration files, while NordVPN recommends OpenVPN Connect. It is best to contact your VPN service provider to see which app they recommend.
If your VPN provider doesn’t have OpenVPN configuration files, you can skip to Method 3, which shows you how to configure L2TP files manually.
Here’s how to manually configure a VPN on Android using OpenVPN for Android:
- Search for OpenVPN for Android (or OpenVPN Connect) on the Google Play Store and tap Installations.
- Once the app has been successfully downloaded, the green button will read to open. Click to open the OpenVPN Android app.
- This is the home screen of the OpenVPN app for Android. We’ll come back to this after downloading the configuration files from the ExpressVPN website.
- Go to your VPN service provider’s website on your mobile browser and log in to your VPN account using your credentials.
- Now go to the VPN Account page section where you can set up the VPN on different devices. Faucet Set up ExpressVPN.
- Faucet View other devices.
- Scroll through the list of devices and tap Manual configuration.
- Faucet OpenVPN. Here you will see your unique username and password for manual OpenVPN configuration. You will need these later.
- You can download as many configuration files as you want – each file will allow you to connect to a different VPN server location – but we recommend starting with one until you know how to go through the entire installation process. to connect to it and it will automatically download to your phone storage. We chose the USA – New York.
- Now go back to the OpenVPN app for Android and tap the download folder icon in the top right corner of the app (between the + icon and the three vertical dots).
- Find the VPN configuration file in File Downloads Folder. Some users will have to go to internal storage before moving to Downloads folder to select the file. When you find the file, tap on it.
- Click on tick Code to finish downloading the configuration file.
- Click on Modification Icon to the right side of the configuration file name.
- Under Basic Enter the unique OpenVPN username and password displayed in your account on the ExpressVPN website. Then click on File back on your device. Note: OpenVPN for Android has several configuration options; We’re just showing you the basics here, but you can go back and customize your VPN profile later.
- Click on a file Profile personly.
- Faucet OK To accept the connection request.
- Once the VPN is connected successfully, you will see a connection notification and a key icon will remain in the upper left corner of your screen for the duration of the VPN connection. Make sure to test the VPN connection for any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.
- To disconnect from the VPN, tap on the OpenVPN profile from within the OpenVPN app for Android and then tap Disconnect.
There are several configurable options you can play with within the OpenVPN app for Android to customize your connection.
For example, you can switch between UDP and TCP, bypass DNS settings, block IPv6 and IPv4 leaks, and enable split tunneling of a VPN – allowing Internet traffic for specific applications to travel outside the encrypted VPN tunnel.
You should only play around with these settings if you are confident that you know what you are doing.
There are other third-party open source applications that you can use to configure different VPN protocols, such as strongSwan for IKEv2/IPsec and WireGuard for WireGuard, but OpenVPN remains our preferred protocol and software.
Beginners should prioritize using the VPN provider’s dedicated app over manual configuration.