Protecting your iPad with a VPN, just like any device that contains personal information, is vital. We already explained VPNs and provided compelling reasons to use one. We know what you might be thinking, “I’m using an Apple device, known for its well-protected operating system impervious to viruses and hacking, what can go wrong?” You also feel more confident knowing Apple carefully vets all apps on the App Store. While that is undeniably true to an extent, it’s still no reason to disregard the benefits VPN brings. Therefore, we advise you to learn how to add VPN in iPad sooner rather than later.
1. Add VPN in iPad Settings
The first method of getting your iPad protected with a VPN is to manually enter the necessary information for connecting to a VPN server, followed by your login credentials. While straightforward, since it hasn’t changed drastically since 2019, it’s not necessarily up to date. For instance, the choice of VPN protocols is lagging, it lacks several industry-standard features, and not all VPN providers support manual connection. With that acknowledged, here’s how adding VPN in iPad’s Settings works:
- Open the Settings app on your home screen.
- Scroll down and tap on General.
- Select VPN.
- Tap the option named Add VPN Configuration.
- Select the Type option.
- Choose one of the offered security protocols under “VPN type”. At the time of writing, you can pick between:
- Fill out the rest of the information your VPN service provided:
- Description: The name of your VPN profile
- Server: IP address or hostname, such as “123.456.123.456:255” or “usa.vpnservice.com”
- Remote ID: This option only appears with IKEv2 and is identical or similar to the server hostname
- Local ID: Skip unless VPN service instructed you what to enter
- User Authentication: You can choose between:
- Username: Enter the username and password your VPN provider supplied. For L2TP, you may also have to enter a Secret (usually a 9-digit number) and enable RSA SecurID and Send All Traffic.
- Certificate: Download a certificate (.cer, .crt, .pfx, .p12, .der) from the account panel on the VPN provider’s website or an e-mail they sent you. Select it, and you can later see it by going to Settings → General → About → Certificate Trust Setting.
- For “Proxy”, you can select between Auto, Manual, and Off. Since most VPN providers supply one as part of the service, keep it on Off unless explicitly told otherwise.
- Tap on Done in the top right corner.
- Go back to the “VPN” window from step 3.
- Toggle the switch next to the profile name to connect to a VPN.
2. Adding VPN to iPad via a third-party application
Due to the lack of basic features such as one-tap server switching and support for open-source protocols such as WireGuard, SoftEther, and OpenVPN, many VPN services suggest installing their application for iPadOS. Without that, you’d also miss out on features such as VPN kill switch, split tunneling, ad-blocking, TOR over VPN, and much more. In most cases, there will be two ways to add VPN in your iPad through a third-party application:
Proprietary VPN application
With hundreds of services on the market, it’s hard to show a one-size-fits-all method. Moreover, not all support iOS and iPadOS. Because we don’t give preferential treatment, we’ll demonstrate the procedure in general terms:
- Visit the Apple App Store on your iPad and search for the VPN application’s name.
- Tip. You can also head over to the Downloads section of your VPN provider and click an embedded link.
- On the application page, tap the cloud download icon in the top right corner.
- Install the application.
- Enter your username/e-mail address and password to log in.
- Tip. Some providers require you to sign in with an activation code visible on your user account dashboard or sent to your e-mail.
- Select which VPN server you want to connect to. This may be an option in the top menu, sidebar, or a choice below the connect button.
- Go through the app settings (commonly top left or bottom right corner).
- Tap the big power button or on Connect, depending on the app.
- Wait until the button turns green, or you get a connection success message.
Open-source VPN app
Some providers don’t have the resources or desire to develop apps for smart devices. To provide service nonetheless, they turn to open-source applications. Therefore, we’ll demonstrate how to set up VPN on iPad via OpenVPN, a popular choice:
- Download the OpenVPN Connect iPad app.
- Install the app, then exit.
- Download your VPN service’s certificate in ways we demonstrated in method 1, step 7, substep 5.
- Find and select the certificate in your Downloads folder.
- Tap the Share icon in the upper right corner.
- Select Copy to OpenVPN.
- OpenVPN Connect should open automatically. Tap on File → Add → Allow to give permissions.
- After the “Profile successfully imported” message, toggle the Connect button in the top left corner.
- Note. If you want to switch VPN servers, you must download a new certificate.
3. Connect your Apple iPad to a router
We mentioned public Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsafe. However, protecting a router with a VPN, or using one of the top home VPN routers, solves that problem. With that done, you merely have to connect to your network as you normally do:
- Tap on Settings.
- Go to Wi-Fi.
- Toggle the switch next to Wi-Fi, so it begins searching for networks nearby.
- After it finds yours, enter a password and agree to the Terms and Conditions.
- You are connected and thus protected, once you see the blue checkmark in front of the network’s name.
Don’t depend on iCloud Private Relay
With the introduction of the iPadOS 15 in September 2021, Apple began advertising a security feature called iCloud Private Relay. Although the way it was presented makes it look like a Virtual Private Network, it isn’t. It can be utilized alongside a VPN and will ignore its traffic. However, it shouldn’t be used in place of VPNs. Moreover, it’s already unavailable in select countries, as it must work under local laws.