Windows is still the world’s most popular brand of desktop operating systems, but it never rose to the same level of success on mobile devices. This led to a shortage of software for users.
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 that invests time and money into developing an app for one of Microsoft’s unpopular mobile operating systems. Not all is lost, though. Although limited, there are some options. We’ve done our homework and identified the best VPNs for Windows phones.
The best VPNs for Windows 8.1 & Windows 10 Handsets
Our criteria for Windows phone VPNs are specific, and each product is subject to the Comparitech methodology. Here are some of the areas that we take a close look at:
- 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 also 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 is also available to help with setup and any other technical queries.
- 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
- You can only choose to connect to a location, not a server
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. A 30-day money-back guarantee makes it risk-free.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark is a great value VPN that works seamlessly on Windows Phones. A subscription allows for an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, so great for the whole family. There are over 3,200 servers to choose from, all of which come with the highest standards of security and encryption. A 30-day money-back guarantee is provided so there’s nothing to lose.
- Private DNS on every server with leak protection
- Unlimited simultaneous devices
- Great security features including a kill switch
- Not the best servers for file sharing
GREAT VALUE VPN FOR WINDOWS PHONE:Surfshark can be shared amongst friends and family for one low price. Has a user-friendly Windows phone app and an impressive list of fast servers.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
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 over 3,000 servers in 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 IKEv2, Wireguard, and OpenVPN protocols and has over 7,000 high-speed servers across 91 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 IKEv2 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 the 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
UNLIMITED 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 relatively 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.
Methodology: How we find the best VPNs for Windows phones
Not every VPN works with Windows phones, and so our methodology is how we find those that do and those that do it best. We analyze each VPN to specific criteria, including a complete evaluation of these areas:
- Protocols: Windows Phone 8.1 only supports L2TP and IKEv2 protocols. Windows 10 supports these and SSTP. We ensure that the VPN provider gives users a choice of protocols and that those compatible with Windows are readily available. Without this, they cannot be used on a Windows mobile device.
- Speeds: Whether you’re simply browsing the web, or streaming on Netflix, or Amazon Prime, you need consistent speeds. We only recommend VPNs that perform well during our speed tests to prevent any delays, lag, or buffering.
- Apps: An app specifically designed for Windows phones is the preference, but if not, we expect to see detailed instructions on how to get set up manually. We test the apps for user-friendliness and follow installation instructions to ensure they work.
- Security: We evaluate the level of security and privacy features available. These should keep users protected on mobile networks and wifi, and include AES encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy.
This is just a snippet of our VPN testing methodology. There are many other areas that we take a look at before recommending a VPN to our readers.
How to add and connect to a VPN on Windows 10 Mobile & Windows Phone 8.1
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. Here’s 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.
Here’s 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.
How to Encrypt a Windows Phone
The quickest and easiest way to encrypt a Windows Phone is to use a VPN. The software will protect both your mobile network and wifi connections, ensuring that you’re safe as you browse. If you’re looking for more protection for your files and personal data stored on your phone, we recommend using a passcode at all times.