Windows is still the world’s most popular brand of desktop operating system, but it never rose to the same level of success on mobile devices. While Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile might be decent operating systems, a late entry into the handheld device market left Microsoft stuck in a catch-22. Consumers don’t buy Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile devices because there aren’t enough apps for them, and app developers don’t bother making apps because consumers aren’t buying Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile devices.
When it comes to VPNs, the story is no different. You’re more likely to find a VPN provider that makes a Linux app than one who invests time and money into developing an app for one of Microsoft’s unpopular mobile operating systems.
OpenVPN, the open-source foundation used by most commercial VPN providers today, doesn’t make an official app for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile. Even third-party apps are scarce.
The best VPNs for Windows 8.1 & Windows 10 Handsets
So, how can one judge which VPNs are best when none of them even bother to make apps for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile? We’ve decided to focus on criteria that aren’t found in apps:
- Speed and reliability
- Security and privacy
- Customer support
- Windows-compatible protocols supported:
- L2TP and IKEv2 on Windows Phone 8.1
- L2TP, IKEv2, and SSTP on Windows 10 Mobile
Without further ado, here are the best VPNs for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile. You can find manual setup instructions further down.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our top choice for Windows Phone. It supports L2TP, IKEv2, and SSTP protocols. Speeds are the fastest we’ve tested and there are more than 5,000 servers to choose from. NordVPN maintains a strict zero-logs policy and uses strong encryption on all connections. Live chat will be able to help you with setup.
- Extremely fast speeds
- Offers secure, encrypted connections at all times
- Offers both round-the-clock live chat support and a ticket submission system
- Windows 10 app works well
- Sometimes connections can take a while
BEST VPN FOR WINDOWS PHONE:NordVPN is our top pick and a solid Windows device performer. Connects up to 6 devices simultaneously. Also works well with most popular streaming services and achieves consistently good speeds. 30-day money back guarantee makes it risk-free.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN supports L2TP and SSTP protocols. Servers are fast and among the most reliable we’ve tested. It ranks near the top in our security assessment with a no-logs policy and strong encryption standards. Users get 94 countries to choose from. ExpressVPN’s website publishes detailed instructions on how to set up all possible device and protocol combinations.
- Optimized for fast connections
- Comprehensive security and privacy features
- Extensive customer support includes documentation and 24/7 chat
- Not the cheapest option here
SOLID OPTION FOR WINDOWS PHONE:ExpressVPN is another good choice. Vast server network that is optimized for high-speed connections. Great privacy and security. Works with all major streaming services including Netflix. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost supports L2TP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols and has over 5,700 high-speed servers across 90 countries. This service keeps your activities secure and private at all times using various pre-configured security features (including 256-bit encryption and a kill switch). It operates with a no-logging policy. The CyberGhost website has detailed instructions on how to set up an L2TP connection on your Windows phone.
- Fast enough speeds to stream HD content without interruptions
- All security features enabled by default
- 24/7 live chat available
- Vast server network is great for unblocking most popular streaming content
- Lack of customizable features may be frustrating for advanced users
easy-to-use apps:CyberGhost is an inexpensive VPN that puts major emphasis on your security. With a no-logs policy and consistently high speeds, it’s perfect for anyone looking to browse securely while on the go. Plans include a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our in-depth CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN supports the L2TP protocol. It’s the only company to own and operate all of its own server equipment, which makes it fast and reliable. The company doesn’t collect traffic logs but does store some questionable metadata logs, such as the user’s source IP address. The website, unfortunately, doesn’t have any tutorials for manual VPN setup on Windows mobile devices, but live chat support is available.
- Speeds are fast and stable
- Class-leading security and privacy features
- Slick Windows 10 mobile app
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Could have more options for advanced configuration
EASY TO USE APP:VyprVPN is user friendly. Works well with Windows 8.1 Phone and Windows 10 Mobile. Good privacy and security. Generally a good performer but a bit pricey. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish supports the L2TP and IKEv2 protocols. A huge range of servers are available, and they’re fast enough that you should have no trouble streaming high-quality video or downloading files. Strong encryption and a no-logs policy are staples of the service. The website publishes some instructions for manual setup, but not for all protocols.
- No issues using their Windows 10 app during testing
- Keep no logs on user activities and have solid security settings
- Good speeds for streaming
- Doesn’t reliably unblock Netflix, Hulu
- Look elsewhere if you need to use apps in China
UP TO 10 DEVICES:IPVanish has a large network of servers and handles multiple connections well. Easy to use and preferred by users who need high standards of privacy. Can’t unblock as many streaming services as some of its rivals. 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 7 Day
LiquidVPN supports the L2TP and SSTP protocols. It has the strongest security and privacy practices of any VPN on this list. It’s a fairly new service, so its selection of servers is somewhat limited. Despite that, they are blazing fast. Unfortunately, it hasn’t published any setup tutorials for Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile users yet. If you get stuck, you’ll have to submit a support ticket.
- Supports L2TP and SSTP protocols, ideal for Windows 10 mobiles
- Fast download speeds
- Has top-notch security features, including a modulating IP address option
- Customer service isn’t live, but they were fast to respond to our tickets
- Limited server selection
- No tutorial documentation yet for Windows 10 mobile app
GREAT SPEEDS:US-based LiquidVPN offers robust security features. Easy-to-use apps. Could do with having more servers and lacks live support. Pricey compared to rivals with more to offer. 7-day money back guarantee.
VPNs to avoid for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile
Buffered exclusively uses the OpenVPN protocol, which means it’s not compatible with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile devices.
OneVPN only supports OpenVPN and PPTP protocols. PPTP is insecure and OpenVPN is incompatible with Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone.
Both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile have some built-in support for VPNs. You will have to configure each VPN manually, which admittedly can get a bit tedious. We recommend using the L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2 or SSTP protocols when available, as they are more secure than PPTP.
Before you get started, search your VPN provider’s website for a list of server addresses and a pre-shared key. You’ll also need your username and password.
How to manually set up a VPN on Windows Phone 8.1
- Swipe down on the top notification bar and click Settings.
- Scroll down and tap on VPN.
- Toggle the VPN status to On and then click the ‘+’ sign at the bottom of the screen
- Enter a server address from the list given to you by the provider.
- Click the dropdown menu under Type and select your preferred protocol. In this example we’ll use L2TP/IPSec, which is the most common.
- Tap Connect using and choose username+password+preshared key
- Enter your username, password, and the pre-shared key from your provider
- You can opt to connect automatically if you want the VPN on at all times.
- Toggle Send all traffic to On.
- Enter a profile name. Call it whatever you want, probably either the VPN provider name or the location of the server.
- Tap Save
- Back in the VPN menu, tap the name of the VPN to connect to it.
- Rinse and repeat to add more servers.
How to manually set up a VPN on Windows 10 Mobile
- Swipe down on the top notification bar to reveal the settings panel. Tap VPN.
- Tap the ‘+’ sign to add a VPN connection.
- Under VPN provider, choose Windows (built-in)
- Enter a connection name. call it whatever you want, probably either the VPN provider name or the location of the server.
- Enter a server address from the VPN provider’s list.
- Choose your preferred protocol. In this example we will use L2TP/IPSec as it is the most widely supported.
- Enter the pre-shared key from your VPN provider.
- In the Type of sign-in info drop down, choose Username and password
- Enter your username and password.
- Check Remember my sign-in info.
- Tap Save.
- Back on the VPN menu, tap the connection profile you just set up and choose Connect.
Note: Sometimes Windows 10 Mobile encounters an issue in which the pre-shared key is modified and won’t allow the connection to be established. To solve this problem, do the following:
- In the VPN menu, tap the name of the VPN connection you just set up and then tap Properties.
- Tap Edit.
- Enter the pre-shared key again, then tap Save.
- Go back to the VPN menu and attempt the connection again.
OpenVPN for Windows Phone 8.1 and 10 Mobile?
The developers of OpenVPN have not ported an official app to Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile. Users of either should not be optimistic. Despite being open source, we’ve yet to see any third party create a reliable and trusted port for Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile.
If you know of a secure and reliable third-party OpenVPN app for Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile, please let us know in the comments.
Best VPN for Microsoft Surface?
The latest Microsoft Surface models are loaded with either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. These are full operating systems and not just mobile counterparts. If you’re looking for a VPN that you can use with your Surface Pro or Surface RT, we recommend checking out our article on the best VPNs for Windows 10.