A VPN allows you to connect over the internet to a private network. There are a few reasons you might want to do this. You can:

  1. Work from home and access company network resources such as file servers.
  2. Access resources that the remote private network has access to, like services on the internet that have been whitelisted for access from the remote network.
  3. Securely access the internet whilst on public WiFi networks. 

Step-by-step guide

This guide has been written for Windows 10 and the screenshots are from a Windows 10 computer. But you can follow the same process for Windows 7.

To connect your Windows 10 PC to an OpenVPN, you need to install the OpenVPN client application and the specific .opvn configuration file you've been given for the connection.

You need local administrator privileges to install the OpenVPN client.

You can make the screenshots below bigger by clicking on them.

If that applies to you then:

  1. Download the latest OpenVPN client installer from https://openvpn.net/community-downloads/

At time of writing the latest is OpenVPN 2.4.8 – released on 2019.10.31. For Windows 10 you want openvpn-install-2.4.8-i602-win10.exe

2. Run the installer you’ve downloaded– you can choose the default values and click Next, Next, Next as per the screenshots below:

3. Once you've installed the OpenVPN client, you need to install the configuration files you've been given. The first time you start the OpenVPN GUI (you should have an icon on the desk) you will be told that there are no readable connection properties.

4. Open the location  C:\Users\<your username>\OpenVPN\config (changing <your username> to whatever your user name is on the PC you're using). This directory will be empty. 

Download the configuration files you've been sent. If you've been sent a .zip file, unzip it first. There should be 3 files that need to be copied:

  • A file ending .ovpn
  • A file ending .p12
  • A file ending .key

5. Navigate to this directory and copy these three files for the configuration into the C:\Users\<your username>\OpenVPN\config directory:

6. Start Up the OpenVPN GUI and this time, it should start without a problem, and there will be an OpenVPN icon in the system tray. Right click on this to show the OpenVPN menu. Click on Connect:

7. You will be asked to enter your username and password. Enter your username (normally firstname.lastname) and the password you use to login to your computer:

8. Once you've connected successfully, the OpenVPN windows will close automatically. If you click on the system tray you should see that the OpenVPN icon is now green, which confirms your working connection:

  1. You need to connect using OpenVPN every time you want to use drives, or remote desktop services and are working outside the office. 
  2. Don't connect to the VPN when you are inside the Office. 
  3. You can only have one OpenVPN connection connected at a time with your username and password. If you have more than one computer with it installed and you connect with both computers then each computer will constantly knock the other off the connection over and over again. If you find the connection constantly dropping and reconnecting, check that you haven't got OpenVPN running on another computer.