How to Get a VPN, How to Set Up a VPN & How to Use a VPN

Last Updated:Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Whether you want to unblock Netflix content from around the world, surf social media sites with total privacy, or do some torrenting here and there, you need to know how to use a VPN.

This text will look at how to get a VPN and then will go into more detail about how to set up a VPN at home on various devices or operating systems, from MacOS to Windows to Chrome and beyond. 

Whether you opt for Surfshark, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or another provider, there are many options to stay hidden from ISPs and unblock hidden or restricted content. This is why you need to know how to create a home VPN or set up an office VPN.


Here’s how to get a VPN

Before we get into setting up VPNs, let us briefly go over the points you should consider when deciding how to get a VPN.

  • Understand your VPN needs

  • Figure out how you will use a VPN

  • Setting up VPNs on different devices

1. Understand your VPN needs

Knowing where to get a VPN is not something you need to worry about before you understand your virtual private network needs.

For online privacy

A VPN provides online privacy, meaning it masks your true IP address, passes all your internet traffic through encrypted tunnels, and prevents anyone from viewing your online activity. The best VPN for online privacy might be NordVPN and ExpressVPN, though others are great as well.

For added security

VPN apps are great for enhanced cybersecurity, like blocking invasive ads, malware, spyware, viruses, trojans, trackers, unwanted cookies, and more. For the best cybersecurity, the top VPNs are often Tunnelbear and Surfshark, though some people shop elsewhere.

For accessing restricted or censored content

If you use streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney Plus, you’ll notice different countries get different content. VPNs can get you any Netflix show or flick from any country, no matter where you are physically located. When it comes to unblocking content for Netflix and other streaming services, and bypassing firewalls, check out ProtonVPN and Hotspot Shield, among other options.

For creating internal networks

Finally, a VPN network can be set up for private communication networks, which is great for offices or even professional teams that all work remotely from one another.

2. Figure out how you will use a VPN

Once you know your general VPN needs, it is time to think about how you will use a VPN, and these are the main points to consider. And once you decide what you need this software for, we’ll go on and teach you how to create a VPN connection.

How many devices will use a VPN

Many VPNs allow for simultaneous connections on multiple devices, from desktops to game consoles to smart TVs to mobile phones. Are you a single user or a whole family of VPN users? This is important to know.

VPN internet speeds

Does VPN slow down internet?Of course it does a little. That’s why everyone searches for the fastest VPN. But sometimes, the fastest VPN may compromise cybersecurity. Figure out if connection speeds are the most important factor for you.

VPN data usage

Since VPNs always route data through their servers, some have limits or caps on your data bandwidth usage. So, if you use tons of data and download a lot with torrenting, look for a VPN with unlimited data usage.

VPN server list

You may only need a free VPN server because you live in a country with a lot of firewall censorship, or maybe you want the largest number of global servers for a variety of reasons from streaming services to comparative shopping.

VPN security protocols

Security protocols that VPNs offer have different strengths and weaknesses. Look into the various protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard,  SSTP,  L2TP/IPSec and PPTP to see which is best for you.

Added VPN tools and features

Finally, pick a VPN with the right features, including a kill switch, split tunneling, firewall bypassing, double VPNs, DNS leak tests, or even torrenting capabilities. One of the benefits of VPN is the kill switch, for example, which shuts down your internet access automatically if the VPN connection drops. So, make sure to pinpoint which features and benefits are of importance to you.

Plans and pricing

Some VPN providers have free VPN plans. Many of the paid VPN clients offer free trials or 30-day money-back guarantees. Knowing your monthly VPN budget is always smart before shopping.

3. Setting up VPNs on different devices

A VPN connection functions a bit differently depending on your device or operating system. Ultimately, you need to know the answer to this question: is my VPN working as effectively as it should be depending on my device or operating system.

Home computer OS

Whether you use a computer that runs on macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux or a Chrome system, your VPN configuration may require some specific setting up. The first decision you will likely need to make is whether to download an app, extension or use a VPN simply through a  web browser.

Mobile and tablet devices

What makes mobile and tablet devices unique for VPN providers is how they can often pass back and forth between cellular data and public wi-fi connections. You will want a VPN app that is flexible and fast at adapting to your mobile connection.


VPNs are ideal for setting up private internal networks that are safe and secure, especially for workplace purposes, nonprofit organizations, or other kinds of government institutions. This one can be a bit more complicated to set up and will often employ a network expert to run the VPN system for offices or remote work teams.


How to set up a VPN

If you’ve been asking yourself the question, how do I set up a VPN app? Then in this section you will get some good answers. Here we will run through a step-by-step guide for how to install a VPN service. 

Not everyone will need to go through each of these steps in exact order when trying to configure a virtual private network with known VPN providers like Avast VPN. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, ProtonVPN, or Tunnelbear. It usually depends on your specific online activity needs.

How to set up Windows VPN

Here is a quick run-through of our steps for setting up a VPN service:

  1. Sign up with a VPN provider

  2. Create a VPN user account

  3. Download the VPN app

  4. Log in with 2-factor authentication

  5. Choose the best VPN server

  6. Perform a VPN speed test

  7. Read instructions or watch tutorials

1. Sign up with a VPN provider

Step 1 is to choose a VPN provider from an app store and read their terms and conditions, understand which features they offer, compare prices, and finally subscribe to that VPN provider of your choice. You should make sure that this VPN works with your operating system, device preferences, and internet service provider or ISP.

2. Create a VPN user account

Now that you’ve selected the right virtual private network provider, like for example, Surfhsark, NordVPN, or Tunnelbear, you need to create an account. Because VPN services are all about online privacy, make sure to choose a safe, secure password, and not easily cracked by hackers or identity thieves.

3. Download the VPN app

This step is self-explanatory. While there are VPN apps that you can use as extensions, or through web browsers, in most cases, it is advisable to download the VPN app from an app store to your desktop or mobile device for the best VPN control.

4. Log in with 2-factor authentication

Logging in normally requires some extra layers of security and authentication, for example, 2-factor authentication, which means that alongside passwords, you will get a security code to your mobile device or email for a second layer of password security. It is a good idea always to do that when logging in.

5. Choose the best VPN server

The way a VPN works is that the VPN client places their servers in many countries around the world. Depending on your internet connection, bandwidth, physical location, and browsing needs, you will be able to set your VPN settings and pick a VPN server address perfect for your purposes. 

6. Perform a VPN speed test

VPN configuration involves a lot of factors, and the key among those is maintaining a high connection speed. Some VPN clients have connection speed tools, while others recommend you use a third-party speed test on your IP address and overall internet connection.

7. Read instructions or watch tutorials

Finally, there are always more VPN tools and features to take advantage of. Check out all FAQs, video tutorials, webinars, and other useful how-to resources provided by your VPN client to maximize your VPN performance. 

How to set up VPN on Mac

Apple products like Mac computers, iMacs, and Macbooks are very popular, and many Mac users prefer to use a VPN like ProtonVPN or Surfshark. Here are the steps to set up a Mac VPN.

  1. Open up the Apple menu and open up system preferences.

  2. From system preferences, choose the option for network.

  3. In the network options, choose actions, then click to import configurations.

  4. Find the appropriate VPN settings file and choose to import it.

  5. Or, if you do not have a VPN settings file, go back to point 3 but choose to add one.

  6. From there, click on the interface and then click on VPN.

  7. Here you must choose a VPN protocol, which can be OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec, l2TP, or Wireguard.

  8. Type in the name of the VPN provider and select it.

  9. Find the name of the server address and select it.

  10. From there, you must go to authentication settings and fill out the information.

  11. It is possible you will need to configure more settings manually, like for proxies, DNS, or TCP/IP.

  12. Apply the settings you have selected and choose OK.

  13. There you go; now you can surf with a VPN on your Mac.

VPN setup for iOS

From iPads to iPhones, Apple iOS is a great mobile operating system that is even better when used with a VPN system. Follow these steps to get your VPN for iPhones or iPads.

  1. On your iOS device, open up the settings option.

  2. Open up the general settings section and click to add a VPN configuration.

  3. Here you must choose a VPN protocol like L2TP, IKEv2, or IPSec, and it will depend on which VPN client you choose.

  4. Now, you must add the specific information for which VPN service you want to use.

  5. Sometimes, you will have to import your own VPN certification files, and you can do this through email or a Safari download.

  6. Double-check that your preferred browser is compatible with the VPN at the provider’s website if you do not use Safari.

  7. Then to activate the VPN, go to iOS settings, VPN, then move the slider to the on position.

  8. And you are good to go for VPN-secure internet access.

How to create a VPN for Android phones

The iPhone used to reign supreme, but nowadays, Android phones are becoming increasingly popular, and for this reason, there are many great mobile VPN apps for Android devices. Here are the steps to set up Android VPN apps.

  1. On your Android device, hit the icon for settings configurations.

  2. Open up the sections for network settings and internet settings.

  3. Go to the advanced setting section and tap VPN, and then add it.

  4. Key in all the VPN provider’s information, like the name, the VPN type, and the server address.

  5. Here is where you need to select a username and password, then save them.

  6. Return to main settings and then select network and internet again.

  7. Go back to VPN, click on the advanced part, then select the VPN provider name you have added.

  8. Key in your VPN username and password, and from there, connect your Android device to a VPN server. 

  9. As you connect online, you should see your VPN client in the VPN menu.

  10. Voila, now you have VPN protection on your Android device.

How to set up a VPN at home with your router

Now let’s talk a bit about setting up a VPN at home using a router. This is crucial information for those wanting to know how to create your own VPN. These are the simple steps for router VPNs.

  1. Not all home routers have VPN functionality, so the first step is always to make sure the router you choose can work with VPN servers. Visit the router’s web page or read the user manual.

  2. Many routers have their software to set up your login specs, and here you can choose a VPN server. 

  3. Sometimes the router configurations are accessed only through a web portal, so here is where you turn on the VPN.

  4. Many routers have slightly different VPN configuration protocols, so from here on, you must follow the specific instruction from your router.

  5. Use one of many methods to check that your VPN is active and that your IP address is masked from your ISP through a VPN server.

  6. Now you have your very own home VPN router system.

How to set up a free VPN

Some of the best free VPN providers have free VPN options, including open-source VPNs. Obviously, no free VPN will give you as much privacy, server locations, simultaneous connections or fast connection speeds as paid VPNs, but still, a free VPN is better than nothing. Here are the setup steps.

  1. Visit many of the VPN web pages to see if they have free VPN options; for example, Hotspot Shield, Atlas VPN, ProtonVPN, and Tunnelbear usually have free VPN plans.

  2. Ensure the free VPN is compatible with your operating system and device preferences, from desktop to web browser versions to mobile apps.

  3. Follow the simple instructions to download and install the VPN and configure your IP address so that it can pass through a VPN-encrypted tunnel.

  4. Perform regular DNS leak tests, IP leak tests, and WebRTCF leak tests to make sure the free VPN is functioning properly.


How to use a VPN when it is set up

Whether you are using a VPN for surfing, streaming services, gaming, shopping, torrenting, or private communication, once you’ve completed the setup stages, the benefits of a VPN will likely become instantly apparent. This means it is likely you already know the answer to the question, what does a VPN do?

To basically go over the main points, once you log on to the internet, you choose a VPN server to mask your true IP address and block any outside entity from monitoring your internet traffic while also being able to unblock restricted or censored material. 

Now recall, using a VPN is always a good idea, but it is even more important when accessing a public wi-fi network, as this is where hackers and data thieves are active, as well as corporations and governments who want to collect and sell your browsing data.


Our conclusion on setting up a VPN server at home or on your devices

Now that you have read more about how to install a VPN and set up a personal VPN or a private network for a home or office, you should be ready to go out and get started with the best VPN client. 

While there are good free VPN choices, a paid VPN is always better, and in many cases, you can try them out with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The truth is, most VPNs are quite affordable, like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, Surfshark, ProtonVPN, or Tunnelbear.

Say goodbye to restricted social media sites or blocked international Netflix movies when you finally pick out and set up your home VPN.

Need to know how to configure a VPN for best results?

Here are some suggestions for configuring VPNs and ensuring a max VPN speed. Try the following tips:

  • Change servers

  • Switch protocols

  • Check your internet speeds

  • Plug in your ethernet connection

  • Close background apps

  • Shop around for a faster VPN provider