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How to configure VPN on iPhone or iPad

VPN symbol on iPad Pro
(Image credit: iMore)

Do you worry about identity theft whenever you're online with your iPhone or iPad? Then you should consider using a multi-functional VPN service. 

If your company has a private intranet that you need access to while on the road, you regularly use public Wi-Fi networks, or you travel the globe and want your iPhone to think it's still in your home country (or a different country), a VPN will help you out. 

Here's how to configure a VPN on iPhone or iPad.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network (opens in new tab), or VPN, is a service that creates a direct connection from your computer to another network. For example, some businesses have an internal intranet that can only be accessed while you are on-location. The best VPN services (opens in new tab) can create a secure connection by rerouting the link to that location.

A VPN helps protect your identity and data and keeps you safe from other online threats for personal use. If you want to stop advertisers from profiling you across the web, regularly bank or shop online, or want to protect yourself when on public Wi-Fi networks, a VPN is for you.

Another everyday use of a VPN is making your iPhone or iPad appear in a different geographical location. This is useful if you want to access regional services away from home or content unavailable in your current country.

What you need

You can use a VPN service on your iPhone or iPad with ease. First, you'll need to pick a provider and install its app. We recommend ExpressVPN as the best iPhone & iPad VPN and Mac VPN because it's easy to use, offers a fast, reliable connection, has excellent customer service, and is affordable. With our special deal, you can save 49% on a one-year subscription and get free three months of extra service.

There are also other excellent services like NordVPN, Surfshark, and others.

You can also configure your VPN client manually. To set up your VPN client manually, you will need the setup information before starting, like the server, remote ID, username, and password. If you don't have this information, ask your company's system administrator or tech support, or contact your VPN service for help.

(opens in new tab)

ExpressVPN

This is our top pick for anyone looking to get started with a VPN. It offers a great mix of speed, reliability, outstanding customer service, and affordability. In addition, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee, so give it a shot today.

Download from: ExpressVPN (opens in new tab)

Using a VPN provider

The easiest way to set up a VPN client on your iPhone or iPad is through a provider like those listed above. First, check out some of the best VPN deals, sign up for one of those excellent services, and install the relevant app on your iOS device. Then open it and sign in to your account.

After signing in, you'll be prompted to permit the app to add a VPN configuration to your iPhone. Tap Allow to have the VPN configured on your iPhone automatically.

You'll then be prompted to enter your passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID to permit a change in your VPN settings. Enter your passcode, or activate Touch/Face ID.

Once the VPN is enabled, you can select and connect to it anytime without having to open the app again (use the app to change your location and adjust other settings).

  1. Launch Settings from your device's Home screen.
  2. Tap General.

(Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select VPN. If you have more than one, select the VPN client you want to use.
  2. Toggle the Status switch on.

(Image credit: iMore)

When you're done using the VPN, follow the instructions above to turn it off. Don't forget to turn it off, especially if you're on a free, limited plan.

Manually configuring a VPN

With your login information on hand, you can manually configure a VPN client on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap General.

(Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap VPN.
  2. Choose Add VPN Configuration.

(Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Type.
  2. Select your VPN type from IKEv2, IPSec, or L2TP.
  3. If you change your mind, you can tap on Cancel in the upper left corner to go back.
  4. Enter the VPN settings information, including description, server, and remote ID.
  5. Enter your authentication login, including your username (or certificate) and password.
  6. If you use a proxy, enable it by tapping Manual or Auto, depending on your preferences.
  7. Tap Done.
  8. Under VPN Configurations, toggle the Status switch on.

(Image credit: iMore)

When you're done using the VPN, follow the same steps as above to turn it off. Then, repeat the process when you need to turn it on again.

Lots of VPN benefits

VPNs provide a great way to protect yourself from scammers and marketers alike. Better still, the packages are often on sale, so you can save big depending on the time of year. If you need to activate a VPN on Mac, we have a guide for that as well. 

Updated August 2022: Includes current information.

Note: We test and review VPN services for legal recreational uses. 

For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).

2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone VPN services' illegal or malicious use. Furthermore, consuming paid-for pirated content is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing. 

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.