One of the benefits of using OpenVPN is the fact it is available cross platform. That is especially good for users such as yourself because for those of you who have become accustomed to the encryption, reliability and freedom it offers on your desktop you are also able to take this with you in a portable sense on both your mobile and tablet devices running the Android operating system from Google.
There are a handful of OpenVPN apps available for Android and not all are actual apps to make connection. Just typing in “OpenVPN” at the Google Play store brings up around 10 or more options, from OpenVPN settings to other supposedly “helpful” apps that help you achieve a number of useful tasks, useful depending on how you look at it. So to sort the wheat from the chaff we’re going to be looking at ultimately the best OpenVPN client for Android known as, OpenVPN Connect.
This is available to download directly from the Play store on your mobile device or by logging in to your Google account and opting to install via desktop. There is an alternative client known as OpenVPN for Android which is equally as good but requires slightly different set up.
Once you’ve installed OpenVPN Connect you’ll be able to run it from your Android device, before you do though you need to import an OpenVPN configuration file which come in the form of “.ovpn” files that you would normally use with your desktop client. They are exactly the same but if you haven’t used OpenVPN directly on your desktop just head over to your VPN service provider as most good providers will have access to downloading them usually in their download or support area.
Connect your device to your desktop in the usual manner you would as if you’re copying a song or a photo. Then simply drag the configuration file in to the main storage area of your phone. In the example below I’ve created a new folder called “OpenVPN” just to keep the imported configuration files all in one place but it would also be possible to drag them to the main folder of your device, just slightly more messy!
Once the configuration file(s) you require have been copied over to your Android device you can go ahead and disconnect it.
Next load up OpenVPN Connect from your app menu. Depending on your device bring up what I would class as the “Further Options” menu. On my mobile device this is the hard key on the bottom right hand side of my phone and navigate to the option “Import“. Next select “Import Profile from SD Card“.
From the screen now visible you’ll be able to navigate through the folders and directories of your device. If you created a specific folder to copy the configuration files in to then look for the name and enter it, if you copied just to the main area of your device then either one or more of your config files should be located at the lower end of the screen scrolling downwards. Click on the one you require and press “Select“.
You should now see the name of the configuration file under the heading “OpenVPN Profile” and beneath this two fields, one for Username and one for Password. Below this a success message informing you that the profile has been successfully imported should be visible. You are now free to enter both your VPN service username and password. It is entirely up to yourself if you wish to save this information.
From one point of view it is handy if your password is (and it should be) difficult to remember, after all on a mobile device you’re likely to be going to be using it on the move so the chances you want to cart around a piece of paper with your password are slim. However from a security point of view if you lost your device someone would be able to login to your VPN service, not overly insecure as if you realised you had lost your device you could always change your VPN service password. Either way the choice is yours.
You can now repeat the process for further server profiles. Many providers include their certificate inside the actual .ovpn file but occasionally there may be an additional “.ca” file that needs to be copied at the same time as the .ovpn file. You will be prompted to import this separately after the main server configuration file.
The last thing to do is hit connect and OpenVPN Connect will do the rest of the work for you making connection. Nothing more to it, if you get stuck then please feel free to post in our comments section and we’ll assist you where needed.