OpenVPN Connect is an open source VPN app for iPhone. If your VPN provider offers downloadable .ovpn profiles, you can use OpenVPN Connect to set up your connection instead of using the provider’s own app.
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.
There are a couple of things to note if you choose this method:
- Each server has a different .ovpn file. If you just want to connect to one or two, this process is quick. If you need access to dozens, you will need to set aside more time to get set up.
- You may get a ‘fragment directive’ error. This is easy to overcome if you run into it; you’ll just need to edit the .ovpn file in a text editor and remove a line. We’ll show you what to do below.
Finding Your .ovpn File
To get your first server set up, the quickest way is to download the .ovpn file from your provider’s website, and then email it to yourself. You can then open the file in your iPhone email app to get started.
If you’re security-conscious, there are better alternatives, such as using cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If you are on a Mac , you can use Airdrop. However, we’ll go with the easy option to demonstrate how it’s done.
Creating an OpenVPN Connection on the iPhone
- Log on to your VPN provider’s site on the web.
- Find your settings for a manual configuration using OpenVPN. If you’re using ExpressVPN, for example, you’ll find these by logging in, clicking Set Up ExpressVPN, then clicking Manual Config at the bottom of the list.
- On the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see a list of server locations. Click a continent, and then click a server to download the .ovpn profile.
- Attach the profile to an email, and send it to yourself, or save it as a Draft message.
Leave this browser window open; you’ll need the username and password in a moment.
On your iPhone:
- Open the app you use to check email, and locate the email you sent to yourself. Open it, and tap the file attachment.
- The email app shows a choice of applications that you can use to open the file. Find OpenVPN and tap to open.
- OpenVPN confirms that the file is ready to import. Tap the green plus icon.
- Tap Allow to set up the VPN connection. You’ll need to confirm this with Touch ID.
At this point, you need to switch back to your desktop computer and look at the Manual config instructions that you used earlier:
- On your iPhone, type the Manual config username and password provided by your provider into the User ID and Password fields. Remember: these details are not the same as your login details for the web. So if you type, for example, your email address, it won’t work.
- If you want to save your details, tap the Save slider to switch it on.
- Tap Connect to test your connection, and then click Yes.
How to Deal with the Fragment Directive Not Supported Error
If your connection fails, you may see a message about the fragment directive not being supported by the app.
To fix this, go back to your computer, and open the .ovpn file in a text editor.
Locate the line beginning with the word fragment, delete it, and save the file. It’s important not to change anything else, and to ensure that the file extension is still .ovpn.
Email the file to yourself again, and repeat the second and third section of the above sequence.