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Installing a VPN on Android

Last edited: March 20, 2020
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Installing a VPN on Android fast and affordably!

If you simply want to set up a VPN on Android as fast as possible, read the quick and easy guide below! For this guide we’re using Surfshark, because this excellent VPN is affordable, easy to set up and user-friendly.

  1. Go to the Surfshark website and get a subscription by pressing the red button.
  2. Go to the Google Play Store on your phone or other Android device and download the Surfshark app.
  3. Open the app – Surfshark might ask you for permission to establish a connection, allow this – and fill out your login details.
  4. Now choose a VPN server to connect to and enjoy browsing a safer, freer and more anonymous web!

If you’ve got a VPN subscription, there’s a good chance you’ll want to use this on your Android device(s) as well. After all, these days many of us spend even more of their online time on their mobile phone or tablet than on their PC. There are several ways to install a VPN on your Android device. In this article, we’ll discuss and explain four of these. For those of you who want to get to it right away, we’ll start out with probably the fastest and easiest way: using a dedicated VPN app for Android. If you do require more information, don’t worry. After all, this article also discusses the best VPN services for Android and three other ways to install a VPN on your Android device(s).

Installing a VPN on Android using a VPN app

Using a dedicated Android app is, in our opinion, the easiest and fastest way to install and configure a VPN on Android. Hence this is what recommend we to Android users. However, do make sure your VPN offers a dedicated Android app if you’re going down this route. After all, not all VPN providers do. However, virtually all popular VPN providers have a decent or even a good Android app these days.

Are you unsure what the best VPN app for your Android device is? Have a look at the section that deals with this further down in the article or, if you want to start using a VPN right away, choose one of our top 5 VPN providers. All of the VPNs on this list offer a great app for Android.

Now without further ado, read the short guide below to find out how to setup a VPN on your Android device using a dedicated app from the Google Play Store.

1. Get a subscription and an account with your preferred VPN provider.

2. Download your VPN provider’s Android app from the Google Play Store.

Google Play Store search: VPN

3. Install the app.

4. Open the app. A message will probably appear, in which the app asks you for permission to create a VPN connection to your device. Click “allow” or “yes” (or whatever button you need to click to indicate your permission).

5. Log in with the VPN service. You have probably received an email by now from your VPN service containing login instructions and/or you will probably have created a password yourself. Use these details to log into the VPN service.

6. After logging in, you’ll get to your VPN app’s dashboard, where you’ll see different options depending on your VPN provider.

7. Choose a server location and a server to connect to.

Surfshark server selection Android

8. The VPN is turned on now. Most Android devices will show you a VPN is running. They mostly do so by displaying a little icon at the top of your screen.

What is the best VPN for my Android device?

If you’ve skipped our short and handy guide for now, because you require some more information, on the best VPN for you for example, don’t worry. We understand not everyone is already clear on which VPN is best for them. The choice can seem a bit overwhelming with so many VPN providers out there these days.

Fortunately, choosing a good VPN provider is not as difficult as you might think. After all, just like with any other purchase, you just need to be aware of your own wants and needs when choosing a VPN provider. For instance, do you want to use the VPN to unblock and enjoy streaming content, such as the US version of Netflix? Or do you just want more privacy at a very reasonable price?

Because we understand that Android users too, have very different requirements when it comes to their VPN service, we included three great Android VPNs below, all of which offer there own advantages. Af course, all three of these providers are perfectly compatible with Android and offer a great Android app.

ExpressVPN: the best all-round and streaming VPN for Android

In our opinion, ExpressVPN is the best all-round VPN for Android. ExpressVPN is extremely fast, has lots of servers (3000+ servers in 94 countries) and is easy to install on Android. Moreover, ExpressVPN’s super fast servers make this VPN great for streaming (and even downloading) on Android. Together with ExpressVPN’s ability to unblock geo-restricted content, such as the US version of Netflix (if you’re out of the US), its impressive streaming speeds make ExpressVPN perfect for all your entertainment needs on Android!

Furthermore, ExpressVPN is a very secure VPN which offers great data encryption. This is great to know of course. After all, many of us use our (portable) Android devices to connect to public wifi hot spots and the like. These can be very unsafe without the protection a reliable VPN, such as ExpressVPN, offers.

Our pick
Our pick
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
  • Super fast and simple VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading and streaming (i.a. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

NordVPN: the ultimate unblocking VPN for Android

Despite its low price, NordVPN offers everything you would expect from a true premium VPN. For starters, Android users with a NordVPN subscription can choose from two of the very best VPN encryption protocols out there: OpenVPN (UDP) and OpenVPN (TCP). Furthermore, NordVPN offers good speeds and an impressive selection of servers (5200+ servers in 59 countries).

NordVPN’s large server network comes in very handy during one of NordVPN’s most useful applications: circumventing geo-restrictions and censorship. After all, NordVPN is great at unblocking geo-blocked content, such as the US version of Netflix when you’re not in the US, or Google or other applications and websites when you’re in China. NordVPN’s many different servers locations ensure you can unblock content form a host of different countries. One of the reasons NordVPN is so good at unblocking, is because of two very useful features it offers: dedicated IP-addresses and obfuscated servers. If you want to learn more about these features, just click on the links.

Only $3,49 a month for a 3-year subscription
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

Surfshark: the ultimate premium budget VPN for Android

A premium budget VPN? Is that even possible? Thanks to Surfshark we know it is! Surfshark shows this unlikely formula of premium quality and affordability can also be applied to Android. After all, Surfshark offers some of the most reliable encryption protocols around, among which OpenVPN (UDP) and OpenVPN (TCP). These protocols are viewed by many experts as two of the safest (if not the safest, period), fastest and most efficient encryption protocols. As such, Surfshark offers great speeds, whether you’re browsing, streaming, downloading, or even gaming. Moreover, Surfshark offers some great extra features, some of which are normally only offered by pricier competitors. For instance, Surfshark offers a kill switch, static IP-addresses, double VPN connections and a white-listing feature. All of this comes at a price of only $1.99 with Surfshark.

Lastly, Surfshark is one of very few VPN providers (especially within its price range) which allow you to use one subscription on as many devices as you like. As such, Surfshark allows you to enjoy all of a VPN’s advantages on all of your (Android) devices!

Safe and anonymous internet for only $1.99 a month
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30 days money back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

Installing an Android VPN without using an app

Most VPN providers these days offer applications for many different operating systems, including Android. However, this is not true for all VPN providers. Moreover, you might prefer installing a VPN on your router, because you want to connect all of your (Android) devices to the VPN. Unfortunately many VPN services do not offer an application that supports this (yet). Finally, there are also people who’d simply rather set up a VPN manually, for whatever reason.

In any event, whatever your reason to not use a VPN app, below you’ll find three other ways to set up a VPN connection on Android.

Installing a VPN on Android by changing your network settings

If you can’t or don’t want to install a VPN app on your Android device, there is another relatively easy way to set up a VPN: changing your network settings. This method comes in handy if your VPN doesn’t offer a dedicated Android app, for instance. Read the quick and easy guide below to find out how this method works.

  1. Get a subscription and an account with the VPN provider of your choice.
  2. Go to you Android’s devices settings.
  3. Go to the section on networks and select “VPN”.
  4. You’ll get to a screen where all of your VPN connections are displayed (so probably not a single one yet). When you’ve added a VPN connection you can also configure it from this screen. In any event, for now just select “Add VPN”.
  5. Now you’ll see a screen where you can fill out the the details of your VPN-provider and your login information. You can usually find the VPN’s details on the provider’s website. If not, you can contact the VPN’s customer service.
  6. When you’ve filled out all of the information, you just save it. Usually this is done by selecting a little “check-icon” in the upper right corner.
  7. Now connect to the VPN. This is done by pressing on the little switch button, making it turn blue.

Other ways to set up a VPN on Android

RouterApart from installing and setting up a VPN straight on your Android device, you can also connect your device to a VPN through another device which has a VPN connection. This can be accomplished by setting up a VPN on your (virtual) router. This way all of the (Android) devices connected to the router will have a VPN connection, without you having to download and install any VPN apps or configuring the network settings on your Android device(s). Read on down below to learn how this method works.

Installing a VPN on your router

Installing a VPN on your router is not completely risk-free. After all, this involves altering a little bit of fiddling with your router’s firmware, also called “flashing”. If this isn’t done properly, it could damage your router. Therefore, always make sure to follow our instructions to avoid any major issues.

  1. First, check whether it’s possible to install a VPN on your particular router. Our article on the best VPN routers offers help with this.
  2. Flash your router’s firmware and install your VPN. To do this, follow this useful and extensive guide.
  3. When you’ve flashed your router’s firmware and you’ve installed your VPN, you simply connect your Android device to the router. Now it will automatically be connected to the VPN, just like any other devices connected to your router.

Installing a VPN on a virtual router (PC or Mac)

If you can’t or don’t want to flash your router’s firmware, there’s another option. In that case you can use your PC or Mac computer as a virtual router and set up the VPN on this virtual router. This means your computer will essentially act as an actual router for all connected (Android) devices. This in turn means all of these devices will also be connected to your VPN. Follow the quick guide below to use this method.

  1. Install a VPN on your computer. This is usually just a matter of downloading an application for your PC or Mac computer. If you’re having some trouble, just have a look at our VPN review section. Here you’ll find many VPN reviews, including installation instructions.
  2. Enable the hot spot function on your computer. The way this is done differs per computer and operating system. On many computers you”ll just navigate to internet connections and then to “settings”, where you’ll find a section that’s called “mobile hot spot” or something similar.
  3. Connect your Android device to this hot spot. Now you’re device is connected to your VPN as well.
Nathan is an internationally trained journalist and has a special interest in the prevention of cybercrime, especially where vulnerable groups are concerned. For he conducts research in the field of cybersecurity, internet censorship and online privacy.

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