Easy Steps to Set Up a VPN on Windows 10 + 2019’s Best VPNs
From data security to privacy protection, from accessing geoblocked streaming sites to torrenting anonymously, there are plenty of reasons to install a VPN on your Windows 10 desktop. But setting one up can seem a bit intimidating.
This guide will take you through a simple, step-by-step process to set up a Windows 10 VPN app. In case you’re new to the VPN world, we’ll also show you how to get the full benefits of a VPN service and offer you some tips on finding one you can trust.
If you have previously installed a VPN on an older Windows version, you’ll notice some key differences in the setup process, but we’ve got you covered. Your VPN will be up and running better than ever in no time.
Best of all, your Windows 10 VPN has unique capabilities you might not know about. For example, your PC can connect devices like Apple TV and Chromecast to your VPN to unblock streaming services. Read on to learn how!
5 Best VPNs for Windows 10 – Quick List
Before we get into setup, let’s make sure you have a VPN that actually does what a VPN is supposed to do. Many VPNs slow your connection to a crawl, have ugly histories of data breaches, or can’t unblock Netflix and other popular sites.
Here’s a quick list of top performers in our VPN testing for Windows 10. They all offer dedicated apps for Windows and helpful Windows 10 setup guides. You’ll find more information about them below.
NordVPN is known for exceptional speed and security. You can’t go wrong with 2048-bit encryption, a Double VPN option, and one of the world’s largest server networks.
ExpressVPN claims to be the fastest VPN on the market, and every test we’ve run confirms it. With easy-to-use apps for almost every device, including routers, it’s a true do-it-all VPN.
CyberGhost specializes in easy customization for your specific needs. A unique preconfigured Windows profile automatically connects you to the most compatible servers.
VyprVPN offers one of the simplest PC installation processes for Windows 10. A customizable kill switch ensures that your data is never accidentally exposed to prying eyes.
Hide.me has a strict zero-logs policy and offers a range of security protocols. A limited free plan enables you to test the service before committing to a premium subscription.
How to Easily Setup Your VPN on Windows 10
In this guide, we’ll show you not only how to install and setup your Windows 10 VPN, but also how to keep the app running in the background so all your internet activity is safe, all the time.
We’ll use NordVPN to demonstrate the steps, but the setup process is similar with other top-rated VPNs.
1. Sign up for NordVPN, then navigate to the Downloads page and select the Windows client.
2. Find the NordVPN Setup.exe file in your Downloads folder and open it.
NOTE: If a new window pops up and asks, Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?, click Yes.
3. The OpenVPN TAP adapter will appear if this is the first time you’re installing the VPN on Windows 10. Click Next, I Agree, and Install to continue with the installation process.
4. Click Install once the installer window opens, and wait while the Setup Wizard proceeds with installation.
5. As soon as installation is complete, the NordVPN application will run and appear in a new window. You’ll also see a shortcut icon now on your desktop.
6. If Windows asks you if you wish to allow NordVPN to install a TAP driver, click Allow. This step is essential to connect to NordVPN’s servers.
7. Log in to NordVPN by entering your credentials in the app window and clicking Login now.
8. You’ll now see the application’s main screen. If you click the Quick Connect button in the top middle, the app will automatically connect you to the best available server based on current network traffic. On the map, you’ll see the pin representing that server’s location light up in green. Your new IP address will be displayed right below the Quick Connect button.
9. Alternatively, you can manually choose a country by clicking any country pin on the map. Use this feature if you want to access geo-restricted content. For example, click on the US to access Hulu, the UK to reach the BBC iPlayer, etc.
10. If you’re not sure which server is best to use, simply wait a few seconds. When the Connection Wizard appears, click on it and it will recommend a server based on your needs.
11. You can also search for a specific server in any country by clicking the search icon in the upper right and typing in the name of the country.
12. For a detailed breakdown of your server options, click the Servers tab. There you will find all of NordVPN’s 5,000+ servers, organized by categories (server types) and countries.
The percentage listed next to each server reflects the current load on the server. A higher percentage means more people are using the server. Generally, servers with the lowest loads will be fastest.
You can also easily see the distance between you and each server.
13. When you choose and click on a specific server, you’ll see the Quick Connect button slide to the right to indicate that you’re connected. The sidebar will show how much data you’re transmitting and receiving, and at what speed.
14. If you have a great experience with a particular server, you can add it to your favorites by clicking the heart symbol next to it, making it easy to use again in the future.
Once you’re happy with your server connection, you can either click Settings to further customize your VPN, or simply close the app window and start surfing!
15. When you close the application, it continues to run in the background. To be able to see this, you need to enable Show Tray Icon in the NordVPNapp Settings. Otherwise, you can find the app icon by clicking on the up arrow in your system tray area to see hidden apps.
16. By clicking the NordVPN app icon in the visible or hidden system tray, you will bring the application to the foreground. Or you can right-click on the icon to activate Quick Connect or quit the application entirely.
That’s it! Your new VPN for Windows 10 is now fully up and running and easy to adapt for any online purpose.
If you’re a tech savvy VPN user and want to fully customize your VPN from the ground up, you can also choose to manually configure protocols. You’ll find detailed manual setup guides on your VPN provider’s website.
Bear in mind, however, that if you configure your connection manually, you might lose the protection of a kill switch and DNS leak protection. These important features ensure that your data never spills onto the public internet without your knowledge.
Benefits of Installing a VPN on Your Windows 10 PC
A VPN will give you access to a huge variety of content otherwise unavailable to you by assigning you a new IP address to change your apparent location. This is great if you are in a censorship-heavy region or want to access geo-restricted sites like US Netflix.
However, most free and low-quality VPNs can’t get past tough geoblocks and firewalls because their IP addresses have been detected and banned. The best VPNs constantly refresh their IPs and use advanced data obfuscation to get you past the blocks.
A top-quality VPN will also keep your data secure and safely hidden from anyone who wants to get their hands on it. By encrypting all your traffic, VPNs keep your ISP, your government, and hackers out of your internet business.
Using a VPN with a Windows 10 PC is especially valuable, because you can easily set up a virtual router and extend your VPN coverage to other devices in your home.
A virtual router even makes your VPN connection available to devices like Chromecast and Apple TV that don’t support VPN installation. See one of our virtual router setup guides for all the details – and enjoy skipping half the steps with Windows 10!
The Best VPNs for Windows 10 – Key Features
NordVPN for Windows 10 is an intuitive desktop app with a variety of valuable features. Quick Connect instantly connects you to the fastest available server, while the SmartPlay feature gives you simple, secure access to popular streaming websites.
NordVPN supports torrenting on its network and protects your anonymity with Onion over VPN and a strict no-logs policy. You can browse with peace of mind, thanks to the CyberSec security suite’s protection against malware and many other online threats.
You can try out NordVPN risk free by taking advantage of a 3-day free trial and 30-day-money-back-guarantee.
To learn more about NordVPN, read our full review.
Known for its exceptional speed, Express VPN optimizes every server for great performance during high-bandwidth activities like streaming and torrenting. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and more allow you to control the VPN right from your web browser.
On the security front, you’ll receive advanced leak protection by default, as well as a Network Lock kill switch that prevents your online activity from being exposed if your VPN server connection drops unexpectedly.
A no-questions-asked, 30-day-money-back-guarantee makes it easy to get a full refund if you’re not entirely satisfied with the service. However, based on its many glowing reviews, not many users take ExpressVPN up on the offer.
CyberGhost makes setting up a VPN simple with preconfigured profiles for a variety of different VPN uses. Windows 10 profile options include anonymous browsing, seamless streaming, and extra security for public wi-fi hotspots.
With over 3,000 servers across 60 countries, AES-256 encryption, a wide range of encryption protocols, and very affordable long-term plans, it’s hard to find a reason not to use CyberGhost.
Even better, a subscription of 6 months or longer entitles you to a 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s one of many reasons for this VPN’s rapidly rising popularity.
VyprVPN makes it simple to get ironclad security for your Windows 10 computer. This highly rated VPN’s customizable kill switch can be set to automatically route all your traffic through the VPN tunnel so you never connect to a public server by mistake.
The intuitive interface makes it easy to activate advanced features such as the unique Chameleon protocol, which disguises your VPN traffic so you can easily bypass blocks on geo-restricted or censored content.
VyprVPN offers a 3-day free trial if you want to try the service, but there is no money-back guarantee on subscriptions. Learn more about this unique Switzerland-based VPN by checking out our collection of real user reviews.
Hide.me gives you a variety of convenient features that work seamlessly with Windows 10. One-Click Connect allows you to connect to your favorite server location instantly, while Auto Server automatically chooses the fastest available server.
For security, Hide.me offers a kill switch and DNS leak protection for maximum privacy. You can use Hide.me absolutely FREE forever, with a limit of 500MB of data every two weeks – not enough for streaming or torrenting, but plenty for light browsing.
When you’re ready to upgrade to a premium subscription, you can do it without risk thanks to a 14-day money-back guarantee. Check out what users have to say about it to see what else Hide.me has to offer.
Windows 10 is an advanced platform with unique features and better security than any previous version of Windows. However, no operating system can keep you truly safe from online risks on its own.
Installing a VPN on your Windows computer takes just a few minutes, and it’s critical if you want a secure, private internet connection. The best VPNs for Windows 10 are also powerful tools to access restricted content from anywhere on Earth.
And there’s one more great thing top-rated VPNs do: regularly offer amazing discounts! Check out our latest coupon codes to see how much you can save.