Despite many VPN providers already offering their own, custom-built apps for Android devices, some virtual private network users still prefer manual configuration over automatic.
This could be for a variety of reasons, such as the smartphone or tablet not having enough memory for installing any additional applications, or because the native VPN app doesn’t allow for connections over certain encryption protocols, though its provider has made them available over manual connections.
One such protocol is PPTP, which, although no longer recommended for its weak and penetrable encryption, can still be utilised for bypassing geographic content restrictions by changing IP addresses. Its thin-layer of security allows for generally faster speeds than when using its counterpart 256-bit-supporting protocols like L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN. Although OpenVPN speeds can be very good, particularly with 128-bit keys, using the stronger 256-bit encryption will significantly increase overheads, resulting in slower VPN performance.
The following tutorial will show you how to set up a PPTP VPN connection on Android operating system (versions 4 and 5) using a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini smartphone for the example.
PPTP setup manual for Android
Step 1: Go to device settings
Firstly, head to your Android smartphone or tablet settings. From the menu, choose More Networks.
Step 2: Create a VPN connection
From the More Networks menu, choose VPN. If there are no previous connections saved, the list should be empty, displaying the message “No VPNs”.
At this point, tap on the “+” icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. This will bring up the first set of options for the new VPN connection.
Step 3: Enter VPN server details
Having tapped on the “+” icon, you will see a popup window with the title “Add VPN”. In the new window, you will see options to give your connection a name, choose the encryption protocol, enter the VPN server address and to toggle encryption On/Off.
In the Name field, enter a title for your VPN connection. In this example, we wanted to connect to a US-based server, therefore, for easy reference, we will name the connection “US VPN“.
The Type field lets you select the desired encryption protocol, and PPTP is already chosen as the default selection.
The Server address is where you need to enter the address of the preferred VPN node. The full list of server addresses for different locations can be found on your VPN provider’s website; usually in your customer control panel. If you’re still not sure where to locate them, contact your provider’s support team, who will show you where to find the list.
Below the Server address field, you will see a toggle option for using PPP (MPEE) encryption. PPTP uses MPEE encryption, which means that this field is for choosing whether to use any encryption with your connection or not.
The PPTP protocol is known to be quite unstable on Android OS, which is why for the sake of this example, we will turn encryption off with the aim of just changing our IP location and optimising connection speeds (e.g. for streaming purposes). Of course, if you do wish to use light encryption after all, simply tick the box prior to saving your connection settings by tapping Save.
You will then be taken to the previous page, where you will see your newly created VPN connection available to select from the list.
Step 4: Enter your VPN login details and hit connect
Having selected your new connection, you will see a popup window asking for your VPN login details. These were provided by your VPN service and can normally be found in your welcome email or within your client control panel on the provider’s website.
Enter you VPN Username and Password in their respective fields (you can check the box below to save your login details for later use) and tap Connect.
VPN connection established
Success! Your PPTP VPN connection should now be up and running. You should see the word Connected displaying under the name of the connection and there will be a key icon appearing in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
Verifying the connection
Despite seeing the key icon, it’s still worth double-checking that the connection is working through a simple IP address check.
As you can see in the screenshot below, our Android device data was now being routed through a US-based VPN server and we were now assigned with a new IP address based in the new location.