OpenVPN Connect is a third-party, open source VPN app. You can use this instead of downloading your provider’s app if you prefer to use open source software.
This third-party app will connect to your provider’s server network via the OpenVPN protocol only, using credentials supplied by your provider. As well as the protocol and app both being open source, the app is a lot more configurable than many first-party apps.
The most recent version of OpenVPN Connect sometimes produces a fragment directive error. We’ve included the workaround for this below, if you run into the problem.
Finding Your .ovpn File
When you first open the OpenVPN Connect app, you’ll see a list of different import methods for obtaining an .ovpn connection profile. This is the file that contains all of the connection information for a server, and you can install several if you wish.
The easiest way to import the file is to download it on a desktop computer and email it to yourself. For this to work, you’ll need to have a working email account in the Mail app on your iPad.
Sending and receiving .ovpn profiles by email is not the most secure method, but it is the easiest, so it is the method we’ll use in this beginners’ guide. If you are security-sensitive, we recommend that you investigate other options, such as using cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If you are on a Mac , you can use Airdrop.
Using OpenVPN Connect on the iPad
This process is the easiest way to obtain a file without too much hassle. We’re using Express VPN to demonstrate this process, starting on a desktop computer, and then moving back to the iPad:
- On your computer, log on to the ExpressVPN website.
- Click the green Set Up ExpressVPN button.
- Click Show other devices, then scroll down and tap Manual Config.
- Click the blue OpenVPN button to show the settings you’ll need.
- Download at least one OpenVPN configuration profile to your computer. If in doubt, download one that’s geographically close to your current location.
- Email the file to yourself, or save it in a draft.
At this point, you should keep the page open in your browser. Also, check that you can see the email in the Mail app on your iPad before continuing:
- On your iPad, open the Mail app.
- Locate the message containing the file you emailed to yourself. Tap the attachment.
- Your iPad will display a choice of apps that can open the file. Located Copy to OpenVPN, and tap it.
- The OpenVPN Connect app opens, and the profile is displayed towards the bottom of the screen. Check that the details match the server you intended to add, then tap the green plus icon to add the profile to the app.
- In the pop-up that appears, tap Allow.
- Use Touch ID to confirm.
OpenVPN Connect now opens the profile and invites you to customise the connection details. The user ID and password you need here aren’t the same as your username and password for the ExpressVPN website. You’ll find them after logging in, on the Set Up ExpressVPN – Show other devices – Manual config page.
Unfortunately, switching between apps on the iPad will wipe the User ID and password fields in OpenVPN Connect. We found the best option was to type them in manually:
- Copy your User ID from the ExpressVPN site into the User ID field in the ExpressVPN app. Repeat the process with your password.
- If you wish, tap the Save slider to save your details.
You can now connect to your chosen VPN.
How to Resolve the Fragment Directive Error in OpenVPN Connect
In testing, we found that OpenVPN Connect sometimes reports a fragment error and won’t connect. This isn’t unique to iOS. It happens on other devices as well.
If you see this error, you’ll need to edit the .ovpn file that you downloaded from your provider. On your computer, open the file in a text editor and delete the line containing the word “fragment”.