How to Setup a VPN Connection on Your iPhone or iPad

Last Updated by Chase Williams on November 03, 2019

With more than 700 million iPhones and an additional 360 million iPads in use across the globe, it’s safe to say that Apple’s communication technology will be around for a long time.

Because of their small size and flexible functionality, iPhone and iPads are frequently used by people on the go, tapping into public WiFi networks while at airports, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, shopping malls, and academic institutions. Those connections are not secure and using your iPhone or iPad increases the risk of your personal information being stolen by cybercriminals.

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Considering the amount of information stored on iPhones and iPads and the frequency of which they are used, employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a brilliant way to ensure the safety of your personal information as well as the privacy of your time spent on the Internet, be it browsing websites, interacting with other people, streaming audio or video, downloading torrent files or transmitting sensitive data.

Setting up a VPN connection for your iPhone or iPad might seem like a daunting process, particularly if you consider yourself less than “tech-savvy”. However, by learning a few basic terms and following a few simple steps detailed below, you can ensure that your iPhone or iPad has an important extra layer of security when connected to the Internet via a public network.

How does a VPN work?

In a nutshell, VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the Internet that makes your data and personal information invisible to anyone trying to view it from outside the connection.

Instead of transmitting data straight to the Internet, it is sent via an encrypted protocol to the VPN’s server, often located in another country. From there, it is sent on to the Internet using the VPN’s IP address. Information requested from the Internet takes a similar route. It first travels to the VPN server where it is encrypted, sent to your computer and then decrypted for your use.

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How to Set Up a VPN connection on your iPhone or iPad

The easiest way to set up a VPN connection is to download the app of one of the better VPN services available online.

Step 1: Pick a VPN

Before you commit to a particular VPN, you should absolutely do your homework and decide which VPN is best for you and your particular needs. Just like buying a car or deciding on a restaurant for dinner, you should research your subject, comparing features, price, company of origin and previous user reviews to make an informed decision.

Companies like NordVPN and IPVanish are some of the best in the business when it comes to working with iPhone and iPad.

Step 2: Install the VPN

Once you’ve picked a VPN to use, download its app and install it on your iPhone or iPad. Once open, you’ll need to sign up (if it’s your first time) or sign in (if you’ve used the VPN on a different device in the past). When that process is complete, you’ll receive a prompt asking your permission to add a VPN configuration to your device. Tap Allow and the VPN will automatically configure your iPhone or iPad.

Step 3: Activate/Deactivate the VPN Connection for your iPhone/iPad

Once the VPN service is on your phone, you can be in complete command of when you’re using it and when you aren’t. Some scenarios demand that layer of security, but if you’re at your home or using another secure network, it’s your discretion to browse the web without an active VPN.

To toggle the VPN connection on your iPhone/iPad:

  1. Tap Settings on your Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap VPN.
  4. If you have more than one VPN client, you can tap the one you wish to activate/deactivate.
  5. Toggle the Status switch to either ‘Connected’ or ‘Disconnected’ to turn the VPN on or off.

Step 4: Manually Configuring the VPN Connection for your iPhone/iPad

If you’d rather configure your VPN connection personally rather than allowing an app to install it automatically, you’ll need to follow a few extra steps later in the process, but you also have a bit more control over how you’re connecting to the Internet.

To manually configure the VPN connection on your iPhone/iPad:

  1. Tap Settings on your Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap VPN.
  4. Below any pre-existing VPN options, tap “Add VPN Configuration”.
  5. Tap ‘Type’, the first selection on the new screen.
  6. There are three types of VPNs to choose from. If you don’t know which corresponds with the VPN you seek to install, check the VPN’s website. The three types are:
    IKEv2 – Short for Internet Key Exchange. It is a protocol developed by Cisco and Microsoft.
    IPSec – an encryption suite that delivers strong security and privacy.
    L2TP – A common mainstream VPN that has 256-bit encryption but is slower than some other VPNs.
  7. After highlighting your selection, tap “Add VPN Configuration” to lock it in and return to the previous screen.
  8. Enter the VPN settings information, including description, remote ID, and server into the appropriate fields.
  9. Enter your username and password into the appropriate fields.
  10. Tap Done
  11. On the VPN Configurations screen, toggle the Status switch to ‘Connected’ next to the VPN you just configured.

If you own an iPhone or IPad, chances are it’s with you most of the day and you’re constantly using it for information, communication, entertainment or commerce. To keep your data and personal information safe when using your device on a public network, make sure to use VPN services. That one extra level of protection could be the difference giving you the privacy and protection you need.

Chase Williams
Chase is an experienced web security expert. He has researched and written extensively on a variety of online security topics