How to set up and use a VPN on iPhone

How to set up and use a VPN on iPhone

A hand holding an iPhone with NordVPN shown


These days, cyber security is something everyone needs to think about, not just governments and big companies.

The good news is that you can use a few basic tools to defend yourself and become a less desirable target for hackers. Antivirus software can help protect you from viruses and other types of malware. But antivirus programs usually only secure your physical devices. To establish a secure connection and protect your internet activity, you need a VPN to protect the information you send to and from your device.

Even Apple devices, which generally have fewer problems with malware, are not 100% safe. So, it is important to set up a VPN on your iPhone if you want to prevent your personal information from being stolen.

A VPN is an important tool used to encrypt your internet connection and maintain your online privacy.

But VPNs are also useful for other tasks besides protecting your internet traffic and data from prying eyes. You can use a VPN to unblock geo-restricted websites and streaming services, or to securely upload or download files.

Let’s take a look at what a VPN is, how to find the right VPN service for you, and how to set up a VPN on iPhone.

Also: Which VPN should you use on your iPhone and iPad, and is it a free option?

What is a VPN and how does it work?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a tool that can be used to improve your internet security and privacy. It works by creating an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic and hiding information that can identify you, such as your IP address. This makes it harder for others to track your browsing habits or see your personal information.

A VPN service encrypts your data and securely routes it through a VPN server en route to its final destination.

This gives you a level of security and anonymity because your internet provider and the websites you visit will not be able to track you or find your location.

Why you need a VPN for iPhone

A VPN can primarily be used to protect your sensitive data, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. If you regularly work from coffee shops or need to connect to free Wi-Fi networks in airports, you’ll want a good VPN to protect yourself during your travels.

In addition to providing an extra level of security, VPNs are also important tools for accessing geo-restricted content. In the most extreme cases, VPNs can be used to bypass censorship imposed by authoritarian governments and maintain a free flow of information.

However, you’re more likely to want a VPN to unblock location-restricted streaming services or sporting events. VPNs are also popular for P2P file sharing or torrenting because they can hide your activity from your ISP.

Also: Using a VPN to torrent is a simple and legal gray area, so which one is best?

How to choose a VPN service

Not all VPNs are created equal. The level of features, utility, security and service varies greatly from one company to the next.

A good place to start is to find out why you want a VPN for iPhone and test our services to see which one best meets your needs and fits your budget. Most of the best VPNs have money-back guarantee periods of 30 days or more.

There are free VPNs, but in most cases you will want to avoid these services. A free VPN will often have strict data or performance limits and fewer features than a paid service. And that’s the best case scenario.

Free VPNs can make money by selling your data or bombarding you with ads. And even well-intentioned free services may not have the resources to maintain high levels of security and service.

Also: What are the cheapest VPNs that actually still work and protect your data?

It’s a good idea to shop around, read reviews and test out the features. To ensure you find a VPN that works for you, here are some factors to consider:

  • Speed: VPNs can slow down your connection a bit. You want to make sure you choose a VPN that offers good speeds.

  • Server Network: The more servers a VPN has, the more choices you have about where to route your traffic.

  • User-friendly apps: Some VPN apps are feature-rich, while others are simple. Make sure you choose an app that is easy to use and has all the options you want.

  • Safety and trust: Some VPNs make money by selling ads or your data. It is important to trust your VPN provider. Read the terms of service and look for independent audits by the company that confirm the VPN provides the level of security it claims to have.

  • Unit compatibility: If you have more than one device, you want a VPN that can be installed on all of them.

  • Money back guarantee: Make sure you get a VPN that offers a money-back guarantee so that if you don’t like the service, you can easily cancel your subscription within the allotted time frame.

Also: How the best VPNs compare

How to set up and use a VPN on iPhone

Setting up and using a VPN on an iPhone or other iOS device is generally a quick and easy process. The following steps show you how to set up a VPN with the NordVPN app, but you’ll follow very similar steps to set up just about any VPN on your iPhone.

Open the App Store and search for the VPN you want to use, then select Install.

NordVPN downloads from the iOS App Store


Open the VPN app and log into your account.

If you do not have an account, you must create one.

I suggest you find the best deal for the VPN service you want before creating your account. Sometimes the prices or subscription options change based on whether you sign up via mobile or computer. I’ve found that the cheapest long-term plans aren’t always available when you sign up via the mobile app.

Also: VPN deals that actually save you money

NordVPN iPhone account login page


Allow or disallow notifications from the app. Now your VPN should be ready to connect and protect your iPhone connection.

NordVPN iPhone app notification page


Complete your setup by letting the app add VPN configurations.

NordVPN VPN Configuration Setup for iPhone


You can search through a list of NordVPN’s server locations or select a location from a map view. Once you’ve found the server location you want to connect to, simply tap the location or tap the Quick Connect button.

NordVPN iOS app showing server locations


Once a connection is established, you will see Pause and Disconnect buttons for the location. If you want to change the VPN protocol or other VPN settings, you may need to turn off the VPN connection. Then you can create a new encrypted connection using one of the other VPN protocols available to you.

NordVPN connected to a server in France on the iPhone app


How to set up a VPN and iOS devices manually

Installing a VPN provider’s native iOS app is the easiest way to get a VPN up and running without having to access any iPhone settings. However, there are rare cases where you may need to set up a VPN manually, such as when you’re running an older version of an operating system that isn’t supported by the VPN’s native app.

A manual configuration is more complicated, and once set up you won’t usually have access to the features available with a VPN app – even changing the server you’re connected to isn’t easy. So, unless you’re tech-savvy, you’ll be better off using a VPN with built-in app support for your operating system.

If you need to configure your VPN manually, you should be able to find detailed guides for the specific VPN and operating system you’re working with. Here are a few multi-protocol VPN installation guides with a handful of the best VPN providers:

Also: The fastest VPNs: We found shocking results

The bottom line

If you want to secure your iPhone’s internet data and keep your information private, consider installing a VPN on your iPhone. A VPN can also hide your location and unblock geo-restricted content, which also makes it a useful tool for streaming and P2P file sharing.

Most VPNs give you a month or more to try out the service and receive a full refund if you’re not satisfied. So it’s easy to try out a VPN and see if it’s right for you. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our list of the best VPNs for iOS devices.

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