VPN (also known as Virtual Private Network) is a technology that provides a private and secure connection between your computer and the destination. VPN services mask your IP address, encrypt your data and route it through secure networks to the server, so that your internet traffic and data cannot be tracked, monitored, or attacked by anyone, not even your Internet service provider (ISP).
VPN not only makes you anonymous and secure on the internet, but it also enables you to access geo-restricted or blocked websites and avoid online censorship. For example, if you want to watch some content from a streaming website (say, HBO Max) that is not available in your country, you can use VPN to stream that site with relative ease.
There are two ways you can establish a connection to a VPN server – via manual setup or a direct connection from a native VPN app. But if you don’t want to install yet another app on your Windows 11 PC and clutter it, you can manually configure the connection instead.
In this article, we will show you different ways to manually set up, connect, disconnect, and remove a VPN connection on Windows 11. Let’s get going!
Set up a VPN Connection on Windows 11 via Settings
If you don’t want to use the app provided by the VPN service provider, you can manually configure your VPN directly within Windows 11 settings. To manually set up a VPN connection on Windows 11, use these steps:
To start with, open Windows 11 settings by right-clicking the Start menu and selecting ‘Settings’ or by pressing the Win+I keyboard shortcut.
In the Settings app, select the ‘Network & Internet’ tab from the left sidebar and click on the ‘VPN’ tile on the right-side pane.
From the VPN settings page, click on the ‘Add VPN’ button on the right of the VPN connections tile.
After that, you will see an ‘Add a VPN connection’ popup window where you need to configure the VPN settings. Each VPN provider has configuration settings and protocols specific to their service, so you should apply the settings according to the VPN service you are subscribed to.
VPN provider: Here, make sure the ‘Windows (built-in)’ option is selected from the VPN provider drop-down menu.
Connection name: In the ‘Connection name’ field, enter the name for your VPN connection. It can be anything you want, something that lets you identify the connection.
Server name or address: Enter the server name or address in the ‘Server name or address’ field to connect to the specific server – for example, uk1094.norvpn.com or 132.122.102.022. This is usually provided by the VPN service you have subscribed to. If it’s not provided, you can easily find the server name or server address on your VPN provider’s website.
VPN type: From the ‘VPN type’ drop-down, choose a VPN protocol required to connect to the specific VPN server. Most VPN servers use L2TP/IPsec protocol, but the server you are connecting to may have a different configuration. If it’s not specified by your service provider, you can just choose ‘Automatic’.
Here is a list of all the VPN protocols supported by Windows 11.
- Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
- L2TP/IPsec with certificate
- L2TP/IPsec with pre-shared key
- Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
If you selected the ‘L2TP/IPsec with pre-shared key’ protocol, you might see another field where you need to enter the ‘Pre-shared key’.
Type of sign-in info: Next, use the ‘Type of sign-in info’ drop-down menu to choose an authentication method. Most VPN services use a username and password to authenticate the connection. But some VPN service providers offer a smart card, one-time password, or certificate.
Username and Password: If you selected the Username and password authentication method, you need to enter the username and password in the boxes below. You can find the credentials on your VPN service provider’s website.
If you are using a free connection with no username and password, you can just leave these fields blank. However, if you leave these fields empty when you have the credentials, you will be prompted to enter them every time you connect to the VPN service.
Finally, select the ‘Remember my sign-in info’ checkbox if you want Windows to remember your login credentials. Then, click on the ‘Save’ button to save your manual VPN settings.
Once you complete the above steps, a new VPN connection will be created and saved.
Install Digital Certificates for IKEv2 or L2TP/IPsec VPN Connection
While configuring IKEv2 or L2TP/IPsec type VPN connection, you may need to download and install a digital certificate first. Here’s how you can install digital certificates to connect to a VPN server on your Windows 11 device:
First, go to your VPN service provider and download the respective digital certificate. Once downloaded, double-click on it and click ‘Open’.
On the next dialog window, click ‘Install Certificate…’ under the General tab.
When the Certificate Import Wizard appears, select ‘Local machine’ if you want to store the certificate on the local computer or select ‘Current User’ if you want to store the certificates on the current user account.
Windows automatically determines the certificate storage location. However, if you want to specify a location for the certificate, choose the ‘Place all certificates in the following store’ option and click the ‘Browse’ button.
Next, choose ‘Trusted Root Certification Authorities’ in the dialog box and click ‘OK’.
Finally, click the ‘Finish’ button to import the certificates.
In the Certificate Import Wizard confirmation popup window, click ‘OK’.
Now, you need to edit the certificate in the certificate manager. To do that, press Win+R to open the Run command. Then, type certmgr.msc in the text field and hit Enter to launch Certificate Management Tool.
When the Certificate Management tool opens, go to ‘Trusted Root Certification Authorities’ on the left panel and click on ‘Certificates’ under it.
After that, scroll down the list and right-click on the imported certificate, and then select ‘Properties’.
Next, check the ‘Enable only for the following purposes’ option under the General tab. Then, uncheck all the purposes in the box except ‘Server Authentication’. Finally, click ‘Apply’ and then ‘OK’.
Set up a VPN Connection from Network and Sharing Center
Another way you can configure a VPN connection on Windows 11 is through the Network Sharing Center in the Control Panel. However, this method may require a few more steps to configure a VPN connection. Here’s how you can set up a VPN connection from Network and Sharing Center:
First, click the Start button or the search icon on the desktop, type ‘Control Panel’ in the search box, and select the top result.
If the control panel settings are viewed as categories, select ‘Network and Internet’. Alternatively, if the control panel settings are viewed as large icons or small icons, click on ‘Network and Sharing Center’.
On the next window, click on ‘Network and Sharing Center’ from the right panel.
In the Network and Sharing Center, click the ‘Set up a new connection or network’ under the Choose your networking settings section.
On the Set up a connection or Network windows, select the ‘Connect to a workplace’ connection option and click ‘Next’.
If you already created a VPN connection, it will be listed here. Here, select the ‘No, create a new connection’ option and click ‘Next’. If you don’t have an existing connection, it will take you directly to the next step without showing this step.
On the next window, click the ‘Use my Internet connection (VPN)’ option.
Next, enter the VPN domain name or address in the ‘Internat address’ field to connect to the specific server. Then, specify the destination name in the next field and click ‘Create’.
Then, you will be returned to the ‘Network and Sharing Center’. Here, click ‘Change adapter settings’ in the left menu.
Under the Network Connections window, you will see the added VPN adaptor on the screen, as shown below. Now, right-click on the VPN adaptor and select ‘Properties’.
When the VPN Connection Properties dialog window opens, switch to the ‘Security’ tab. From the ‘Type of VPN’ drop-down menu, choose a VPN protocol option.
Next, use the ‘Data encryption’ drop-down to choose a data encryption method. Usually, it is set to ‘Require encryption (disconnect if server declines)’ or ‘Optional encryption (connect even if no encryption)’ option. If you don’t want any data encryption, choose ‘No encryption allowed’.
After that, select an authentication method under the Authentication section. Usually, you need to select ‘Allow these protocols’. If you select this method, make sure the below options are checked and then click ‘OK’.
- Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP)
- Microsoft CHAP Version 2 (MS-CHAP v2)
After that, switch to the ‘Networking’ tab, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and click the ‘Properties’ button below.
In the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) Properties window, ensure ‘Obtain an IP address automatically’ and ‘Obtain DNS server address automatically’ options are selected. Then, click the ‘Advanced’ button.
In the Advanced TCP/IP Settings dialog box, make sure that ‘Use default gateway on remote network’ is checked under the IP Settings tab.
However, if you don’t want to allow web traffic through a VPN connection, which may slow down the internet, then uncheck this option and finally click ‘OK’.
Now, you have successfully set up the VPN in Windows 11 and it is available for connection.
Connect to the VPN Server on Windows 11
Once you set a VPN connection either through the settings or control panel, it will be available to connect to a VPN network from the Quick Settings panel, the settings app, or the control panel. A VPN server is a physical or virtual server that hosts and delivers VPN services such as data encryption, privacy protection, etc. Here’s how you can connect to a VPN server:
Open the Start menu and click on ‘Settings’.
In the left sidebar of Settings, go to ‘Network & internet’ and click on ‘VPN’ on the right.
All the VPN connections you have created will be listed here. Click on the ‘Connect’ button next to the VPN profile you want to use.
After clicking the connect button, your PC will connect to the VPN server and let you browse anonymously and securely.
Edit the VPN connection
After creating the VPN connection, you can edit the VPN configuration anytime you want. To do that, click the down arrow next to the Connect button.
From the revealed button, click on ‘Advanced options’.
Then, click the ‘Edit’ button to edit the VPN connection properties.
Connect from Taskbar/Quick Settings
Windows 11 also allows you to connect to your VPN service directly from Quick Settings.
To make a VPN connection from the Taskbar, click the combined button of battery, network, and volume icon on the taskbar corner to open Quick Settings (or press Win + A)
Once you set up a VPN connection, the VPN toggle button will appear in the Quick Settings. Now, click the ‘VPN’ button in the Quick Settings.
This will bring up a list of the different VPN profiles you’ve added. Click on the VPN connection you want to use and select ‘Connect’.
Once you do that, your PC will authenticate and connect to the VPN server.
To check if the VPN is working or not, you can search for ‘What is my IP address?’ in your desired search engine and it should show the VPNs IP address instead of your actual public IP address.
Disconnect a VPN Connection on Windows 11
When you finish surfing anonymously, you can disconnect the VPN connection to browse normally.
To disconnect the VPN connection via settings, open Settings, go to ‘Network & Internet’ on the left sidebar, and select ‘VPN’ on the right.
On the VPN page, click the ‘Disconnect’ button next to the VPN profile you are using.
To disconnect VPN from the Taskbar, click the network icon (battery, network, or volume icon) in the Taskbar, and then click the ‘VPN’ button/tile. Then, select the VPN connection and click the ‘Disconnect’ button.
Remove a VPN Connection
If you no longer need a VPN connection, you can delete the VPN profile from the device. To remove a VPN connection, use the below steps:
Open the Settings app, click on ‘Network & internet’, and then select the VPN option from the right side. Then, click on the profile to access its settings. After that, click the ‘Remove’ button.
This will delete the VPN profile from your computer.
How to Share a VPN Connection on Windows 11
Some devices like Game consoles and Smart TVs don’t support VPN. However, you can easily share your Windows VPN connection with those devices to protect your internet security and privacy. Here’s how you can do that:
First, open Windows Settings by pressing Win+I. Then, go to the Network & internet section and click on the ‘Mobile Hostspot’ tile on the right.
Next, click the ‘Mobile hotspot’ toggle to turn it on. Then, make sure the ‘Share my internet connection from’ and ‘Share over’ options are both set to WiFi.
After that, click on the ‘Properties’ option below to view network properties.
Then, note down the name and password of the hotspot to which you need to connect your other devices. You can connect up to 8 devices on your Windows 11 hotspot.
The default Windows 11 hotspot and password are a bit complex to remember. If you want to change your hotspot name and password to something that you can remember and enter easily, you can click the ‘Edit’ button.
After changing the network name and password, click ‘Save’.
Once the hotspot has been turned on, you need to change your VPN adaptor properties to share the VPN connection. To do that, open Control Panel and select the ‘Network and internet’ category.
Then, click on ‘Network and Sharing Center’.
Click on ‘Change adapter settings’ in the Network and Sharing Center on the left sidebar.
Alternatively, you can just type ‘View network connections’ in the Windows search and select the top result.
From the list of network adaptors, find the hotspot network you just created which is usually named ‘Local Area Connection*…’.
After that, right-click on the VPN network adaptor, and select ‘Properties’.
In the Properties dialog box, switch to the ‘Sharing’ tab and check the box marked ‘Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection’. Then, uncheck the ‘Allow other network users to control or disable the shared internet connection’ option.
After that, choose the hotspot network you just created in the drop-down list, and click the ‘OK’ button.
After completing the above steps, connect your Windows PC to the VPN. Then, connect your other device like Smart TV to your Windows hotspot network. Your device is now connected to your VPN, and all the device’s web traffic will be routed through the same VPN server that your computer is connected to.
Set up a VPN Connection Using OpenVPN
OpenVPN is a new VPN (virtual private network) protocol that is currently widely supported by many VPN service providers. It is an open-source VPN protocol that allows you to establish a secure network and provide remote access to the internet. OpenVPN is a fast and highly secure VPN protocol that can be used to configure various ports and encryption types.
Windows 11 doesn’t support the OpenVPN protocol by default, so you have to manually install the protocol on your device. Here’s how you can install the OpenVPN protocol via OpenVPN GUI:
First, visit the OpenVPN download page and download the OpenVPN version that is suitable for your device (which is usually a Windows 64-bit MSI installer).
Then, double-click on the download file to open it. When the installer launches, click ‘Install Now’. You can also click the ‘Customize’ button for Custom Installation.
Once the installation is complete, click ‘Close’.
Next, you need to add server configuration files to the OpenVPN. To do that, you can sign in to your VPN account on the VPN service website and download the configuration files.
Most VPN websites provide you with configuration files that let you configure OpenVPN on your computer to connect your desired VPN servers when using a third-party VPN app or setting up a VPN connection on a router. You can usually find these configuration files under the OpenVPN configuration files section of your VPN website.
Once the server config file is downloaded, go to the desktop, then right-click on the ‘OpenVPN GUI’ desktop shortcut, and then click on ‘Open file location’.
Alternatively, you can also search ‘OpenVPN GUI’ in the Windows search and select the ’Open file location’ search result.
When the Windows Explorer opens, click ‘OpenVPN’ in the navigation bar at the top or click the up arrow button in front of the navigation bar to go to the main folder.
Then, double-click on the ‘config’ folder to open it.
Next, copy the download configuration files and paste them inside this folder (config).
Now, you need to enable DNS leakage protection by editing the config file.
To do that, right-click on the OpenVPN configuration file in the config folder. Move to the ‘Open with’ option and select the ‘Choose another app’ from the sub-menu.
Then, click the ‘More apps’ option in the ‘How do you want to open this file?’ dialog box.
Scroll down the list of apps and choose ‘Notepad’ or any other text editor.
When the file opens in the Notepad, scroll to the bottom of the text and paste this code:
Make sure not to change anything else in the document.
Then, save the file by clicking the ‘File’ menu and selecting ‘Save’. And then close the editor.
In case, you see the below error that you do not have the permission to open this file, you can just edit the file somewhere else and copy it to the config folder.
Now, you can make a VPN connection to the VPN server via OpenGUI.
Check if the OpenGUI app is running in the system tray, if not double-click the OpenVPN GUI shortcut on your desktop to get it running.
Then, right-click on the OpenVPN icon in the system tray, choose a server, and click ‘Connect’.
Next, get the username and password for manual setup from the VPN service provider’s website. Now, enter the Username and Password in the OpenVPN GUI, then click ‘OK’.
The OpenGUI will establish a remote connection to the VPN server. Once the connection is established, you will see a notification at the bottom right corner of the screen.
If you wish to disconnect, right-click on the app icon, hover over the connected server, and click ‘Disconnect’.
That’s about it. Now you know everything about configuring a VPN manually on Windows 11. Although it can be time-consuming, if you’re absolutely sure you don’t want another app on your PC, it is a great alternative.