Using the built-in Android VPN client can be a good alternative to running your virtual private connection through its provider’s own app. In instances where you don’t wish to cram your device with more app installs, or, if your provider supports certain VPN protocols that are not available through its custom apps, manual configuration is an option to explore.
One particular protocol that isn’t always supported by native VPN applications is L2TP/IPsec. With strong 256-bit encryption and capability of maintaining fairly decent speeds, the protocol is often overlooked, particularly due to the widespread availability of the more secure OpenVPN. However, despite rumours that L2TP/IPsec encryption had been compromised by the NSA, the protocol still remains a widely available option for all common operating systems including Android.
We’ve put together an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to set up an L2TP/IPsec VPN connection on Android 4 and 5 operating systems, using Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for our example.
L2TP/IPsec setup manual for Android
Step 1: Go to device settings
Go to your Android device’s settings and choose More Networks under the Connections sub-menu.
Step 2: Create a VPN connection
From the More Networks menu, choose VPN. If there were no previous connection settings saved, the list on the next page should be empty.
Tap on the “+” icon to create a new connection.
Step 3: Enter VPN server details
Here you will need to set the desired server and encryption details.
In the Name field, create any title for the connection. For this example, we will connect to Australia, therefore we will name it “Australia VPN”.
The Type field lets you choose the encryption protocol. For a standard L2TP/IPsec connection, choose L2TP/IPsec PSK (PSK stands for pre-shared key).
In the Server address field, type the address of the VPN location you wish to use. The list of server addresses can be found on your provider’s website, usually in the customer control panel.
Having scrolled further down, leave the L2TP secret and IPsec identifier fields blank.
In the IPsec pre-shared key field, enter the unique key provided by your VPN service. The key is usually found in their Tutorials section. If you’re having trouble locating it, contact the provider’s support.
Leave the Show advanced options section unchecked. Then tap Save.
Step 4: Enter your VPN login details and hit Connect
Having tapped Save, you will be taken back to the previous page where you will see your newly saved VPN connection. Tap on the new connection – in our case it is the only connection and it’s titled Australia VPN.
This will have opened an login prompt window. Enter your VPN Username and Password; both are normally found in your VPN provider’s welcome email or in your customer control panel on their website.
Next, save your login details for later by checking the box below and then tap Connect to initiate the connection.
Wait for connection to establish
If you’ve entered the correct server address and VPN account login details, your connection should be running within some 10 seconds (give or take).
Once established, you should see the status Connected displaying under the name of your connection. Additionally, a key icon, representing an active VPN connection on your Android device should now be displaying in the top left corner of the screen.
Verifying the connection
Although the connection is visibly active, it’s important to double-check that it is working correctly. You can do this by running a simple IP address check trough your device’s web browser.
As you can see in the screenshot below, our IP address was now successfully changed to a location in Australia, confirming that the VPN was working as intended.