Difficulty ★★★☆☆ — Moderate
It isn’t as easy to get a VPN running on Windows Phone as it is on other mobile platforms.
Because Windows isn’t a particularly popular operating system for mobile users, it has struggled to attract the same volume of app development as Android or iOS.
This means that specific apps for Windows Phone are few and far between. Even the largest VPN providers generally don’t produce them.
Like on PC, though, Microsoft have provided a built-in VPN client for Windows Phone.
You will need a VPN provider that supports either the IKEv2 or L2TP protocol, and you will need to access the manual configuration information for it.
The best way to find this information will vary slightly by provider, but the general steps are similar.
Here is an example of how to get your VPN working on Windows Phone 8.1 using ExpressVPN:
- In a web browser, log into your ExpressVPN account.
- Select Set Up ExpressVPN.
- From the list of available devices, select Manual Config.
- Select the PPTP & L2TP/IPsec tab, then make a note of the Username and Password on the right hand side of the page.
- Scroll down the page to find your preferred server, then make a note of its address.
- On your Windows Phone, open the Settings app.
- Select VPN set up.
- Turn the VPN toggle on, then tap the + symbol at the bottom of the screen.
- You need to enter the server address of your desired server and select L2TP with IPSec before scrolling down the page.
- In the “Connect using” field, select username+password+pre-shared key, then enter the Username and Password you retrieved from your VPN service provider’s website earlier.
- Scrolling further down, enter the Pre-shared key you found earlier.
- Make sure to toggle Send all traffic on, name the VPN connection (e.g. “ExpressVPN”), then press save.
- Your VPN is now set up and ready to use.
There are some limitations to this method: you will need to set up a new connection for every location you want to connect to and this is not as secure as an OpenVPN connection.
It’s much better than nothing, though.
If you’re a Windows Phone user, though, you should take note – Microsoft has said that it’s officially ending support for Windows 8.1 mobile on 10 December 2019. Microsoft even recommends that you change to an iOS or Android handset and, frankly, we do too.