While using a VPN on a computer has been fairly common for a while now, it’s not often that we think about using them on our other devices. However, with the amount of time spent on smartphones, it may be time to start thinking about using a VPN when you’re on your phone too!
Luckily, the difficulty level of setting up a VPN on your phone ranges from “really easy”, to “quite easy”, so you shouldn’t have any problems. Read on to find out how and why you should install a VPN on your phone!
Why Use A VPN On Android?
The reasons for using a VPN on Android are pretty much the same as for using a VPN on any other platform. Basically, they protect your privacy online, add an extra layer of security to your data, and help you access location restricted content.
The extra layer of security can be extra important when on your phone. While you may occasionally use an unsecured network if you happen to need to use your laptop while out, it is fairly likely that you often connect to unsecured networks when on your phone.
This is especially likely to be the case if you don’t have unlimited data on your phone plan and therefore spend a lot of time on public networks. Every time you connect to an unprotected public network, such as one in a cafe, you risk having someone intercept your data.
However, with a VPN, all traffic that passes between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted. This essentially means that you have an extra layer of protection between yourself and anyone trying to spy on your data!
As well as this, some VPNs include something called a NAT firewall. When you use your data plan to connect to the internet, you lack the protection of a router’s firewall. This means if someone is able to hack your connection, they will have a direct line to your phone.
However, a NAT firewall means that when using the VPN with your data plan, your connection will be firewalled off and you should be more secure.
Of course, it is possible to install a dedicated firewall on your phone but with a VPN you will also get the other benefits we have mentioned in this article.
As well as this, there are the benefits of being able to stream location blocked content on your phone. As phone screens get bigger and data speeds get faster, streaming movies or TV shows on your phone on a service such as Netflix is becoming more and more common. Using a VPN will potentially allow you to watch content from anywhere in the world.
What Do I Need?
When Using An App
There are two ways to set up a VPN on your phone. The first and easiest is to simply download an app from a VPN provider. If you do this, you will generally only need to choose a VPN server and press connect to get started.
A VPN app will also likely make it easier to switch between VPNs in different locations which can offer benefits if you are mainly trying to access geo-restricted content.
Some VPN providers do offer more options if you want to get technical, but basically this is a very simple way to connect to a VPN. What you will need is:
- A subscription to a VPN provider
- The app itself, downloaded from the Play Store
And that is it! Of course, all this assumes that your VPN provider does offer the option to use an app. While nowadays pretty much all of them do, it is worth checking before you sign up if you think you will be using a VPN on your Android phone.
Set Up A VPN Manually
The second way to set up a VPN is to set it up manually using the inbuilt Android VPN manager. This can be useful if you need to connect to an office or home network or alternatively if your VPN provider doesn’t provide an app.
Before setting up a VPN manually, however, you will need some details about the VPN server you want to connect to. You can get these details from your VPN provider and they are as follows:
- Name (Well actually, you choose this yourself)
- Type of VPN (PPTP/L2TP/IPSec)
- Server Address
There are many different types of layer of encryption in the L2TP/IPSec VPN protocol so make sure you know exactly which one your VPN uses. Some of these protocols may also require extra information such as IPSec certificates, identifiers, or pre-shared keys. This will depend on your VPN provider so make sure you find out if you need any of these details.
How To Set Up A VPN On Android Manually
So, now you have all the information required you will be pleased to find out that it is an extremely easy process to setup a VPN using the inbuilt software!
Now, due to the nature of Android, the exact path you choose may differ slightly but on most Android devices you will have to follow a path similar to this:
1. Go to 'Settings'
2. Under ‘Connections’ click ‘More networks’
3. Select the option for ‘VPN’
4. Click the “+” sign to add a new VPN
5. Fill in the server name
6. Choose the type of VPN you use from the list
7. Type in the server address
8. Press “Save”. Your VPN will now be available in the VPN menu
Connecting To The VPN
1. Click on the VPN in the list
2. Enter the username and password (you will have the option to save these details)
3. Click connect
4. Here, you will also have the option to set your VPN to always on. This is useful if you want to make sure you never connect to the internet without your VPN.
You should now be connected to your VPN! To add another VPN simply go through the steps as above. Alternatively, to adjust the settings of your VPN or delete a VPN you have added previously just click the settings button.
When you are connected to the VPN you will notice that there is a key symbol in the top right hand corner of your screen.
Disconnecting From The VPN
1. Open the VPN menu from the settings
2. Click on the VPN you are using
3. Select 'Disconnect'
VPNs are a great way to add some extra security and privacy to your internet browsing, access geo-restricted content, or connect to a work/home network on the go.
While downloading a VPN app from your VPN provider is generally the easiest way to do this, if you VPN service does not offer this option it is also fairly easy to setup a VPN using the manual process.
Hopefully, this has cleared up some of your questions about how to setup a VPN on your Android phone.
Please leave a comment if you have any questions and feel free to share on social media.