How to manually configure a VPN on Windows 10

The beauty of most premier VPN services is that they have an intuitive Windows 10 app that makes setting up a connection as easy as clicking a big green button that says "connect." However, if you're running Windows 10 in S mode and can't install apps from outside the Store, or you're using a VPN without a client, you can still configure a VPN manually. If you've purchased a subscription to a VPN service and want to set it up manually, here's everything you need to know.

What you need to get the job done

  • Premier VPN service: NordVPN (From $3 monthly at NordVPN)
  • Microsoft's latest OS: Windows 10 (From $139 at Microsoft)

How to manually add and connect to a VPN on Windows 10

Example of a server list

Once you subscribe to a VPN service like NordVPN — keep in mind there are plenty of other great options out there — you should have access to a list of servers that you can connect to. In the case of IPVanish, another top VPN choice, the Control Panel webpage lists the server's location, the address needed to create a manual connection, and the current load of the server.

You should also determine what protocol you can use to connect. If you aren't using Windows 10 in S mode and can download files from other places than just the Store, you can download an OpenVPN config. If not, always try to go with the most secure protocol available. In most cases, you should try to avoid PPTP.

Once you have the required information to make a connection, you can jump into settings and get everything running.

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.

    Right-click the Start button. Click Settings.

  3. Click Network & Internet.
  4. Click VPN.

    Click Network and internet. Click VPN.

  5. Click Add a VPN connection.
  6. Click the dropdown menu below VPN provider.

    Click Add a VPN connection. Click the dropdown menu.

  7. Click Windows (built-in).
  8. Click the Connection name field.

    Click Windows (built-in). Click the Connection name field.

  9. Type a name for the VPN connection. (In this case, I'll use the name of my provider and the server location.)
  10. Click the Server name or address field.

    Type a name. Click the Server name field.

  11. Type the server's address. (You can likely find this in your VPN account.)
  12. Click the dropdown menu below VPN type.

    Type the address. Click the dropdown menu.

  13. Choose a connection protocol.
  14. Click the dropdown menu below Type of sign-in info.

    Choose a connection protocol. Click the dropdown menu.

  15. Click a sign-in method. (This will no doubt change depending on your VPN provider.)
  16. Click Save.

    Click a sign-in method. Click Save.

  17. Click the VPN you just set up. (It will now appear in the VPN list.)
  18. Click Connect. (Depending on the sign-in method used by your provider, you might have to enter your username and password.)

    Click the VPN you just set up. Click Connect.

How to disconnect and remove a VPN on Windows 10

If you don't want to use a VPN anymore, or if you just want to remove a server from the list, you can disconnect or completely remove it. There is a VPN button for quick on and off located in the Windows 10 action center (the small speech bubble in the bottom-right corner of your display), but we'll go through the entire process, which includes completely removing a VPN from your system.

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.

    Right-click the Start button. Click Settings.

  3. Click Network & Internet.
  4. Click VPN.

    Click Network and internet. Click VPN.

  5. Click a VPN connection you want to disconnect or remove.
  6. Click Disconnect.

    Click a VPN connection. Click Disconnect.

  7. Click Remove.
  8. Click Remove again to confirm.

    Click Remove. Click Remove again to confirm.

Our top VPN and software picks

To complete the steps laid out above, you'll need to invest in a quality VPN and you'll need Windows 10.

Premier VPN service

NordVPN

A great VPN at an outstanding price

With rock-solid encryption and plenty of connection protocols for you to use, including OpenVPN, this is one of the best services operating today.

NordVPN operates out of Panama, which means it has no legal obligation to record any of the activities of its users. You're free to connect to any of the 5,000+ VPN servers in 60 countries, and you can use NordVPN on up to six different devices at once. I awarded NordVPN a near-perfect score in my review, focusing on the large set of extra features, like double VPN, P2P-dedicated servers, a DNS leak resolver, and a dedicated single IP address.

Microsoft's latest OS

Windows 10 Home

Get the latest Windows from Microsoft

Windows 10 is the latest and greatest OS from Microsoft, bringing ever-improving features and security to your PC. If you're not already using Windows 10, it might be time to discover what you're missing.

Windows 10 Home is ideal for most people, bringing a ton of features to the table at a price that's more affordable than Pro versions. You still get Windows Hello security, a built-in gaming suite of tools, access to Windows Ink, Cortana as a personal assistant, and regular updates to keep things running smoothly.

More great VPN services

Not buying what NordVPN is selling? Check out these other great VPN services we recommend.

ExpressVPN (From $9 monthly at ExpressVPN)

With more than 3,000 servers spread out over 160 locations in 94 countries, you're sure to find one that fits your specific needs.

Private Internet Access (From $3 monthly at PIA)

When it comes to a VPN and its apps, some people want a UI that has only what is needed. Private Internet Access is exactly this.

IPVanish (From $7 monthly at IPVanish)

IPVanish is one of the easiest VPNs to use, thanks to an app with a user interface that appeals to both novices and experts alike.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.