How to Set Up a VPN on Android: Step-by-Step Guide

Smartphones and tablets store large amounts of personal and professional information. We also rely on them for tasks that could reveal plenty about what you’re up to, including getting directions, accessing social media, online shopping, and banking. Using a VPN on your smartphone or tablet is the easiest way to protect and secure your data, but how do you set up a VPN on an Android device?

Don’t worry, it’s easy! Below, we provide step-by-step instructions. Let’s start with a basic explanation of what a VPN is and how it works.

Quick Guide: How to Install CyberGhost VPN on Android

Want to connect to a reliable VPN with fast servers on your Android device? Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Find CyberGhost VPN on the Google Play Store and tap Install
  2. Launch the app, agree to the terms and conditions, choose your plan, and tap Subscribe
  3. Tap the connect button. That’s it! You’ll be able to browse, stream, shop and more safely from your phone.

What Is an Android VPN and How Does It Work?

Let’s start with the big question – why use a VPN? You’ll find plenty of reasons! A VPN protects your connection against cyber threats, lets you access sites from back home when you’re traveling, helps you bypass local network restrictions, and prevents others (including your ISP) from seeing or tracking your online activities.

So how does it work? Normally, when you connect to the internet, your data travels on specific ports through multiple servers. This can expose your data to potential threats, like people snooping on the network looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. A VPN changes this by: 

    • Encrypting your data: When you connect to a VPN, the data you send and receive are encrypted. This means that, even if someone tries to read it, they won’t be able to make sense of it.
    • Hiding your IP address: A VPN also reroutes your traffic through a private server in its network. This masks your real IP address and gives you a new one, making it seem like you’re browsing from the server’s location.
    • Securing your connection: The VPN then establishes a secure connection using VPN protocols. As your data travels through this secure tunnel, it’s safely hidden from prying eyes.

Setting Up a VPN on Android: Is an App or Manual Setup Better?

Manually setting up an Android VPN can be complex. You’ll need to access your phone’s network settings and add the VPN configuration details. These details usually include the server address, login credentials provided by your VPN provider, and a recognizable VPN connection name. 

Alternatively, you can opt to set up a VPN using an app downloaded from the Google Play Store. This method is generally more user-friendly, with fewer steps. 

Deciding whether to set up everything manually or use an app depends on your comfort level with technology and your specific needs. Here’s a list of pros and cons to help you decide:

    • VPN apps are typically user-friendly and designed for non-technical users, making setup a breeze.
    • Most VPN apps can be downloaded and installed within minutes from the Google Play Store.
    • With an app, you’re always assured of having the latest features and security patches.

    • Apps consume space on your device, which could be an issue if storage is limited.
    • You need to trust the app provider with your data, as some may collect usage statistics.
Manual Setup
    • This method doesn’t require downloading an app, saving storage space on your device.
    • Manual setup gives you more control over the configuration.
    • Setting up a VPN manually can be complicated and requires some technical knowledge.
    • Manual setups may lack additional features provided by apps, such as kill switches or auto-connect.
    • You’re responsible for keeping up with any changes and updates to the VPN service.

How to Set Up a VPN on an Android Using a Third-Party App

First, you have to choose a VPN service. Look for features like a kill switch, no-logs policy, and multiple device support. Then follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Google Play Store and download the Android VPN app.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app listing on the Google Play Store
  1. Open the app and create an account, or log in if you already have one.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app sign up page
  1. Accept the Privacy Notice, and tap OK to add the VPN to your phone’s network settings.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app terms and conditions
CyberGhost's Android VPN app confirmation to add VPN to phone settings
  1. Follow the app’s instructions to connect to the VPN. This usually involves selecting a server location and turning on the VPN.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app connected
CyberGhost's Android VPN app list of servers

It’s that simple! Remember, keeping your data secure is a continuous process. Regularly update your VPN app and check your security settings to ensure optimal protection.

How to Manually Set Up a VPN on Android using OpenVPN 

Setting up OpenVPN on your Android device is an alternative way to connect to your VPN provider’s servers. OpenVPN provides full DNS leak protection for both IPv4 and IPv6, full IPv6 routing, and WebRTC leak protection. It also uses the most updated version of OpenVPN, ensuring maximum security. Here’s how to set up OpenVPN on your Android device:

  1. Log into your VPN account, select the dropdown menu in the top-right of the screen, then click Download Hub.
CyberGhost VPN's download hub
  1. Scroll down to Other and then click Configure.
CyberGhost VPN's apps list
  1. Now, it’s time to create your server configuration. Here, you’ll add information such as the protocol, country, server group, and more. For open VPN, this information is as follows:
    • Protocol: OpenVPN
    • Country: Since native protocol connections may only be used with exactly one server, you now have to choose the country you want to surf from.
    • Choose the server group and the OpenVPN protocol – UDP or TCP – you want to use. A quick note here: The default protocol, OpenVPN UDP, offers speed, but may cause broken downloads. While TCP is slower, it provides stability, ideal for avoiding recurrent connection issues.
CyberGhost VPN's manual setup page.
CyberGhost VPN's manual setup page - select protocol.
CyberGhost VPN's manual setup page - select protocol.
  1. Once you’ve added your desired parameters, save them by tapping Save Configuration.
CyberGhost VPN's configure routers or other devices page.
  1. After saving the configuration, you’ll be redirected to the VPN section of your web account. There, you can view all linked devices and existing configurations. To view the OpenVPN credentials generated for you on the configuration dashboard, tap View next to the configuration you wish to see from the list.
CyberGhost VPN's manage devices page.
  1. Once you’ve finished, download the configuration file by clicking Download Configuration. The configurations will be downloaded as a .zip file, which you should then extract to any folder of your choice.
CyberGhost VPN's OpenVPN protocol.
  1. Open the Google Play Store and install the OpenVPN Connect client.
OpenVPN Connect app listing on the Google Play Store
  1. After installing the OpenVPN Connect Client, agree to the OpenVPN Data Collection, Use and Retention terms.
OpenVPN Connect's Data Collection, Use and Retention notice.
  1. Once you have installed the OpenVPN Connect client, run it and select Import Profile > FILE.
OpenVPN Connect Android app's import profile screen.
Android phone downloads folder
  1. A list of folders will appear. Open the folder with your extracted .zip file and select OK to import the openvpn.ovpn file.
OpenVPN Connect Android app's import .ovpn profile screen.
  1. After the profile is imported successfully, enter your username and password. You have to use the OpenVPN credentials you generated in Step 5.
OpenVPN Connect Android app's credentials screen.
OpenVPN Connect Android app's create password screen.
  1. After you add the profile, click it to connect. You may have to accept a request to trust the service, if so – feel free to accept it. After you establish a connection, the status icon will turn green.
OpenVPN Connect Android app's connect screen.
  1. You are now successfully connected to a CyberGhost VPN server via OpenVPN.

6 Benefits of Using a VPN on Your Android Phone

VPNs aren’t just for tech enthusiasts or security experts. They’re for anyone who values their privacy and freedom while navigating the digital world. Let’s explore their benefits:

1. Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

When you connect to public Wi-Fi, you expose yourself to possible attacks. Cybercriminals often lurk on unsecured networks, just waiting for a chance to access sensitive information. The smart move is to use a reliable VPN to protect yourself against snooping and cyber attacks while using public Wi-Fi. It sets up a secure, encrypted tunnel between your Android device and the internet, keeping the man in the middle from intercepting your data when you use any Wi-Fi.

2. Avoid Content-Based Bandwidth Throttling

Sometimes, your internet service provider slows down your streaming on purpose, for example, when streaming or gaming. This is called content-based bandwidth throttling. It’s used to regulate data flow, manage network congestion, and prioritize certain types of traffic. 

By encrypting your internet traffic, a VPN prevents your ISP from seeing which websites you visit and the content you access, and so helps you avoid bandwidth throttling based on ISPs’ traffic prioritization systems. It can’t help you bypass regular bandwidth throttling, congestion-related throttling, or data caps, though. 

3. Security for Online Banking and Shopping

Every time you log in to your online banking, you potentially put your highly sensitive banking details at risk. If cybercriminals get their hands on it, they can sell it or use it to steal your money. Therefore, it’s a clever move to always use a VPN when you’re doing anything related to online banking.

The same goes for any online transactions, especially when you’re using your credit card. Even if you don’t use your online banking password for online shopping, you’re still sharing your card information – and guess what? Cybercriminals can sell this information or directly steal money from you.

4. Unblock Websites at School and Work

Sometimes, certain websites are blocked at school or work. This could be due to organizational policies aiming to keep you off of social media or ChatGPT.  You can bypass these restrictions with a VPN. 

VPN encryption helps you get around the restrictions on your school or work network as it ensures network administrators and firewalls can’t see what you’re doing. 

5. Score Better Deals While Shopping

Price discrimination occurs when the prices of the same items vary between regions. Airlines, hotels, and vacation packages are known for employing this tactic. For example, you might be able to get better deals online when booking a trip to Europe from somewhere within Europe rather than booking it from the US. To take advantage of this, you can use a VPN to connect to a server somewhere in Europe, like Germany or the UK, to make it appear as if you’re browsing from there.

6. Access Region-Specific Content, Platforms and Services

The security and privacy that come with VPNs also extend to streaming content or accessing services that might otherwise not be available to you. You might have noticed, especially when traveling, that certain services, platforms and content aren’t available at your destination. 

When you connect to a VPN, your traffic is rerouted through your VPN provider’s servers. This means your original IP address is concealed with a new one from the location of the VPN server you choose to connect to. This lets you access content, services, and platforms from back home, or those that are available in the region you’re visiting. 

Additionally, certain countries, like China and the UAE, restrict access to popular social media platforms, streaming, and messaging services due to censorship laws. A VPN helps you avoid surveillance and censorship so you can access the sites you need. 

You can use a VPN to access your subscriptions and content libraries safely when you travel. Get the best streaming VPN to access your favorite TV show securely from anywhere.

Does Android Have a Built-In VPN?

Even though Android has built-in support for VPNs, you still have to sign up for a VPN service to set it up manually. This involves using VPN protocols like OpenVPN or WireGuard® for manual setup. 

You should also remember that the best protocol and VPN settings for Android depend on your specific needs and circumstances. Consider what’s most important to you in terms of speed, security, and compatibility before making a decision.

What to Look for When Choosing an Android VPN

While numerous VPN services are available, they don’t offer the same level of security and privacy. When selecting a VPN for your phone, consider factors such as the provider’s privacy policy, the number of VPN servers they offer, speed, ease of use, and customer reviews. For instance, CyberGhost VPN offers a strict no-logs policy, high-speed 10-Gbps servers across the globe, and dedicated apps for both Android and iOS.

When selecting a VPN, consider these features:

    • Kill switch: This disconnects you from the internet if your connection drops and you’re disconnected from your VPN. It protects your IP address and data from accidental exposure. 
    • Server locations: Look for a VPN with a wide range of servers in different locations to ensure better speed and flexibility.
    • No-logs policy: This ensures your online activity isn’t recorded or shared, giving you extra privacy protection. Choose a VPN provider that can prove this claim. For one, CyberGhost’s no-logs policy has been independently audited by Deloitte
    • Strong encryption: This encodes your data to make sure no-one can read it while it’s in transit.
    • Multiple device support: Make sure your VPN can protect all the devices you want to use under one subscription. CyberGhost VPN has apps for all major devices and lets you connect up to seven devices at a time.
    • 24/7 support: A reputable VPN should provide excellent customer support, ideally round-the-clock, so you can always get help when you need it.
    • RAM-only servers: When choosing a VPN, look for one with RAM-only servers instead of hard disk servers. CyberGhost VPN’s RAM-only servers enhance security, privacy, and performance by storing data using volatile memory instead of hard disks. Any traces of data are wiped with each reboot, helping us ensure there’s no data to store or log.

How to Change Your VPN Settings on Android

In addition to setting up a VPN on your Android device, you can also change the VPN settings directly from the app or your device’s settings. Here’s how:

Using the VPN App

  1. Start by launching your VPN app on your Android device. You’ll be greeted with the main interface of the app.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app connected
  1. On the main screen, look for a gear icon or a menu button. Tap it to access the settings menu.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app settings
  1. Within the settings menu, you’ll see various options to customize your VPN experience. These can include selecting your preferred server location, enabling or disabling auto-connect, adjusting the kill switch settings, and more. Make the necessary changes as per your preference.
CyberGhost's Android VPN app settings

Remember, every VPN app has a slightly different user interface and settings options. Therefore, the exact steps can vary depending on the app you’re using.

In the Android Network Settings

  1. On your Android device, tap Settings and then Connections. Depending on your device, you may need to go to Wireless & Networks or Wi-Fi & Internet to find the VPN settings. Then click on More Connection Settings.
Android phone setting menu
Android phone connections menu
  1. Once you’re in the correct menu, look for the VPN option and select it. This will bring you to the VPN settings menu.
Android phone VPN list screen
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  1. Here, you can edit an existing VPN by tapping on the gear icon. Simply tap the name of the VPN you want to edit the settings for and select Edit profile. You’ll then be able to change the VPN’s name, server address, and other settings as needed.

Final Thoughts

The simplest and quickest way to protect your data on the go is with a VPN for Android. Installing one is easy, so you can enjoy safer, more private connections wherever you go.

With a strict no-logs policy, powerful encryption, and a kill switch, CyberGhost VPN is a solid choice for Android users. Whether you’re concerned about accessing geo-restricted content, staying secure on public Wi-Fi networks, or simply safeguarding your online privacy, CyberGhost VPN has you covered. 


Does Android have a built-in VPN?

Yes, Android does come with a built-in VPN feature. You can manually set up this feature by navigating to Settings, then Wireless & Networks or Wi-Fi & Internet, and finally selecting VPN. Alternatively, you can also opt to use a VPN application downloaded from the Google Play Store for enhanced options and ease of use.

How do I set the VPN location on Android?

To set the VPN location on Android, navigate to Settings, then Wireless & Networks or Wi-Fi & Internet. Select VPN, tap the + sign or Advanced Options, and enter the configuration details from your VPN provider. These include username, server address, and password. Save the settings and activate the VPN connection.

How do I set up a free VPN on my Android?

The steps to set up a free VPN on your Android device are the same as setting up a paid VPN. The bigger concern you should have is that you put your privacy at risk when you use a free VPN instead of a reputable, premium VPN. Remember, data security is paramount, so think carefully before using a free VPN. CyberGhost VPN is the premium choice to protect your data and privacy online. You can install the app in 4 easy steps and first test it out hassle-free by taking advantage of CyberGhost VPN’s 45-day money-back guarantee.

How do VPNs work on Android?

VPNs on Android reroute your internet traffic via private servers, effectively masking your IP address and encrypting your data. This lets you access geo-restricted websites and safeguards your data against snoopers like cybercriminals and ISPs. Although Android has a built-in VPN client, a premium VPN with a dedicated app is advised for enhanced security and a better user experience.

How do I start a VPN on my phone?

Starting a VPN on your Android phone can be done in two ways: manual setup or using a dedicated VPN app. For manual setup, navigate to Network Settings, access the VPN tab, and input the necessary VPN configuration details. Alternatively, you can install the CyberGhost VPN app from the Play Store, log in, and select server to connect to. Always prioritize data security when choosing a VPN provider.

Which is the best free VPN for Android?

While there are free VPNs out there, their limitations often outweigh the benefits. They may offer limited data, slower speeds, and questionable privacy policies. For optimal security on your Android device, we recommend investing in a reputable, paid VPN service to ensure comprehensive protection.

Are VPNs safe?

Yes, VPNs are generally safe. They provide privacy and security by encrypting your web activity and hiding your IP address. However, the safety depends on choosing a reputable VPN provider that does not log data and uses strong encryption. CyberGhost VPN uses powerful encryption, guarantees an audited no-logs policy, plus plenty of additional features and security tools.

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