How to configure VPN access on your iPhone, iPad

Curious how to configure access to a VPN client on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec VPN support are all built right into iOS and we'll show you how to set them up after the break!

One thing to note is that you'll need to make sure you have all the settings and information about your VPN service handy. Some companies will not allow mobile access to a VPN, and some carriers limit 3G VPN access to business accounts, so that's another thing you'll need to check on before attempting to add one.

First you'll need to configure your VPN by adding the settings for your VPN (in most cases, these are provided by the system administrator or IT person at your company).

To configure your VPN, do the follow:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Network
  4. Tap VPN
  5. Tap Add VPN Configuration
  6. Along the top you will see some tabs, you'll need to select which type of configuration you need. In most cases, you'll choose IPSec (unless your system administrator has told you different). For this example, I've used IPSec.
  7. Enter the information for your VPN in the corresponding fields. If you used a proxy, make sure to enable it towards the bottom of the settings page.
  8. Tap Save

You've now configured your VPN for use. Now you'll need to turn it on.

  1. From your homescreen, tap Settings
  2. Under the main settings page, you'll now see a VPN option, this only appears when you have a VPN configured. Toggle the switch to On
  3. Your phone should connect to the VPN. If an error message pops up, go back into your VPN settings and make sure all your settings are input correctly.

That's it! If you guys have ever used this, let us know your input too. Have any issues setting up a VPN? Check out our TiPb Forums to get helpful from many of our awesome community members.

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Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to configure VPN access on your iPhone, iPad


I have a vpn setup in my home using a vpn wireless router I use it to remote control my home pc's in case someone is having trouble with the ability to do vpn on my iPhone I am able to remote all of them using a vnc client its very helpful and useful however I already new how to set it up before this tutorial but its a good one to know..

Works well with my PPTP VPN server on my home router running DD-WRT. Kinda wish iPhone supported openvpn but this works for now.

I've used the PPTP connection to connect to work. I can't use the Cisco VPN because apparently the IOS on the Cisco device is not current enough. But the PPTP seems to work fine. I've used it to facilitate minor server maintenance.

Many companies wont give you access to their VPN for personal use (even if you work for them). Maybe you´re a student and you dont have access to this kind of IT data.
As a workaround you can use HotSpot Shield for iPhone for free. The service is great, it provides you with an U.S. IP address, so you can browse the web anonymously. You´ll experience some internet speed loss, but you´ll hardly notice it.
I´ve been using this service to open apps with territorial restrictions as Pandora Radio which only works in the U.S., I live in Mexico and it works like a charm!
The down side is that the "remote server" will only provide you with 1 hour of service before shutting down... you only need to turn off the VPN in Settings and turn it on again without the need to wait... just Off-On and you´re ready to go again.
There´s no need to give them any personal information, no logins required, just fallow the 5 or 6 steps and 3 minutes later you´ll be connected to the VPN.

Thanks for the reminder about the 1 hour shut off time. I was wondering why mine kept stopping after about 60 mins or so.

I'm usually not a noob on most things iOS, BUT this is one area that I am lacking. I understand the 'concept' of using a virtual private network, but I don't get how this will improve what comes with the iPhone and iPad out of the box What are the advantages of using a VPN for my corporate network? As it stands, I am able to do 90% of what I need to do with my company from my iPhone and iPad. What will I gain from going through this process? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

One possible useful feature: say your company has an "intranet" web site that is useful for getting work done (as an example, our outfit stores things like the most current expense report forms there)... but they make it impossible to see from outside the company network. VPN gets your iPhone connected to your company network, so you can see the site.
I personally don't find this useful enough to go through the bother, but your mileage may vary. Also, as noted, a lot of outfits won't allow you to connect your personally owned equipment to their network (via VPN or otherwise), so this might not work for you.

If you trust your internet service at home, which you probably do, I highly recommend iVPN. Since Mac OS X has built-in VPN support, just without a GUI for it (unless you buy Mac OS X Server), you can install iVPN and set it up.
Then, set up port forwarding on your router (instructions on the site) and your iPhone and iPad is all ready to go. You can also you DynDNS if you have a dynamic IP address, like DSL.
I'm not affiliated with the product or the company, except a satisfied customer.

Thanks for this tip, Allyson! You are a life saver. My company just stationed me here in Asia for the year, and I've been unable to watch Hulu or listen to Pandora because they would not give me a VPN for personal use. I never thought about using Hotspotshield until I saw it in your post. Works great!

Is this like Logmein Ignition? I have to admit, I know nothing about what VPN access does. Thanks.

What does VPN do? If I can connect via wifi or my home network, why do I need VPN. I don't get what the difference is, or what it even does

VPN: a "virtual private network". When you "VPN in" to a network, you get an IP address that's part of that network, rather than part of your home network, Starbucks' network, or wherever you are physically located. It gets you access to services that are only available inside the network. One example: your company uses Exchange for e-mail, but doesn't allow machines outside the network to connect to it with Outlook (this is pretty common). So by connecting via VPN, your machine appears to be inside the company's network, and Outlook can connect and get mail.
For personal use, some people have discussed scenarios above. Say you're located outside the US, but want to use Internet services that are made available only in the US. You can use a VPN to connect to a US network, and as if by magic, your machine appears to be in the US. Problem solved.
Hope this helps.

Just set this up to connect to my office, downloaded Mocha VNC lite and successfully connected to my work PC. I also use Teamviewer free edition APP for Clients that do not have VPN. Just curious what VNC clients other users are using?