If you haven’t tried a VPN yet, you are missing out on some important online security and privacy features. In a nutshell, a VPN acts as a middleperson during your online activities. Instead of you directly accessing a website, a VPN will access that site on your behalf. You can do many other things with a VPN, like access blocked websites, download movies safely, and protect your information from hackers and spying eyes.
If you’re new to VPNs, they can be intimidating. Perhaps the most intimidating thing is actually going from not having a VPN working on your computer at all, to actually installing one and getting it going. This post is going to show you, step by step, a typical VPN installation so that you can see it’s not that difficult to do!
Choose the right VPN before installing
Before you install just any VPN, figure out your needs and find the VPN which best matches them. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you download movies through torrents? Then you’ll find this list of the best VPNs for torrenting useful.
- Are you looking for a VPN with fast streaming? Then check the best VPNs for streaming.
- Do you want to unblock Netflix in your region? Get around the geo-blocks, and use one of these 5 VPNs for Netflix.
- Do you need an OS/device-specific VPN? Here are the choices for iOS as well as Android, those for routers, Macs, and Kodi players.
Not every VPN will be capable of everything—one can be strong in one area, but could be weak in another. Asking the questions above will help you narrow down your choices. Check the links above, or read our reviews of the top 10 VPNs to get the process of choosing the perfect VPN started.
Visit the VPN’s website and let’s install that VPN
Once you have made your choice, it’s now time to get the VPN software. All of our reviews have direct links to the website’s providers. If you’ve been using our reviews to narrow down your choices, click the “Visit Provider” button.
For illustrational purposes, we’re going to do this using VyprVPN from Golden Frog. While these steps will be specific to Vypr, nearly every VPN follows the same basic steps so it is transferable. We’ve downloaded and installed dozens of VPN apps over the years, and they all basically start on a page just like this:
For mobile devices, look for the app in Google Play or App Store. Here is VyprVPN’s app in Google Play:
Choose a subscription plan
Different VPN providers have different pricing plans. Usually, there’s a basic package for personal use, but some providers may have higher plans geared for multiple users. Here are the steps in choosing a subscription plan:
- Choose a plan. Pay attention to pricing and features. Often, the longer the subscription period (say, one year), the lower the monthly rate will be (though you’ll have to pay upfront for a whole year). Check if your choice of provider offers money-back or free trial.
- Sign-up for an account.
- Provide payment details.
- Review your final selection and the Terms of Service.
- Verify the transaction. Check for a confirmation email to activate your account.
Once you have finalized your subscription plan with these steps, you’re ready to download the VPN software.
Download the VPN software
Download the software version for your OS. Some VPNs will automatically detect your OS; if not, click the correct download link. For this instance, download the Windows desktop version of VyprVPN.
Open the installer file and install the VPN
Your device will download an installation file. You’ll see this file parked in the download tray. Follow these steps to launch this file and then proceed to installation.
- Open the downloaded file.
- A pop-up will ask, “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?” Click “Yes.” The installation will commence. Click “Next.”
- In the license agreement, click “I Agree.”
- Choose the type of installation. For beginners, use the Standard or Default settings. Click “Next.”
- Choose the destination folder. For now, leave this at the default path. Click “Install,” and wait for the installation to be completed.
- A pop-up will ask, “Would you like to install this device software?” Click “Install.”
- The installation will continue. Once it’s completed, click “Next.”
- The installation will be complete as soon as you click “Finish!”
This may look like a guide on how to install VyprVPN, but it is nearly 100% identical to every other VPN we’ve tested. Installation is one thing, but knowing what to do next can be challenging as well!
Use your VPN for the first time after installation
The moment you opened the VPN app, you’ll be asked to enter your login credentials. The login window will look like this:
Choosing a VPN server
By default, the fastest server nearest you is usually selected by most providers. If you want to change this server, you can do so within the app itself. Click the location icon, and choose “Show All Server Locations,” or something similar depending on the provider.
A list of server locations will be displayed. Choose the one you prefer. This particular provider, and most others, display a Ping rate for the provider. Think of Ping rate as distance measure in time as closer servers have lower Ping times.
As seen below, the default “fastest server” has been changed to a server in the US.
This server switch will help get around geo-blocks. For instance, by choosing a US server, you should be able to access sites or content that are available only in the US (like shows from the Netflix US library). If you want to access another country’s content, select a VPN server that’s located in that country.
Test if your VPN is working well
This time, let’s check if your VPN is successfully hiding your local IP address. With a VPN on, use BrowserLeaks to check for IP leaks. See the IP address and IP address location below? It reflects the VPN’s details, which is a good sign.
The result has been verified with IPLeak.
Next, turn the VPN off. Run another test with BrowserLeaks. This time, the VPN’s IP address is not shown:
IPLeak also shows the same result:
Your choice of VPN must suit your needs
VPN providers will vary slightly in the specific steps of how to install a VPN. While we used VyprVPN as an example here, the above steps will give you a sufficient overview of how to install a VPN as they are all very similar.
Again, before you attempt to install a VPN, know first why you need it so you can choose the right one that will meet your needs. For your convenience, check our reviews of the best VPNs so you can make an informed decision.