To configure secure access to the corporate secure network or to a VPN service, you can use an OpenVPN client.
The best method to protect your Internet connection involves the use of a VPN tunnel, capable of encrypting and making anonymous the connection of our device to the company protected network (when we want to access sensitive company resources remotely) or to obtain a new hidden IP and surf the web without leaving traces (using one of the many VPN services that protect connected users). One of the most used programs to create secure VPN connections is OpenVPN, which we will have to manually configure in order to establish a connection with the corporate network or with the server of the chosen VPN service.
Guide to OpenVPN
OpenVPN is an open-source client, so it can be downloaded for free and without limits on any compatible device. It must be configured to be able to make the encrypted connection with the VPN server we have chosen to protect our connection or to access a corporate network even from home (or anywhere else in the world).
As you can guess, OpenVPN has no configuration parameters just installed: it is an “empty” client, which needs to be configured manually in order to create an encrypted connection.
The parameters for the VPN connection can be entered by hand, but the steps are reserved for IT professionals or network administrators, as it is also necessary to configure the encryption certificates between server and client (not within the reach of home users). To quickly make a connection with OpenVPN we can also use God’s preconfigured profiles: they are simple files available with .ovpn extension and contain all the parameters and settings to configure OpenVPN on any device with two mouse clicks or two taps on the touch screen.
Before continuing with the guide, therefore, contact the system administrator of the corporate network or check with the premium VPN service of your choice the presence of ready-to-use .ovpn files. For example, the NordVPN service allows you to download the preconfigured profiles of all its servers: just choose the fastest one and download the file by clicking on Download config, present next to OpenVPN TCP.
Once we have downloaded or obtained this file we are ready to configure OpenVPN on any device. Obviously we will also have to have access credentials (username and password) and, in the case of a paid VPN service, we will also have to pay the monthly subscription before being able to access the servers.
How to set up OpenVPN on Windows
To configure OpenVPN on Windows 10 or any other Microsoft system we download the suitable client, taking us to the official download site.
Once we have downloaded the right version for our system, let’s start the installation and make sure to install every element recommended by the program installer. At the end of the installation, we open the Start menu at the bottom left and start the app OpenVPN GUI, which will be placed in the system tray at the bottom right. In order to add the .ovpn file for our connection, we right-click on the app icon at the bottom right (the eye that could be hidden among the non-visible apps: if necessary, press the icon in the shape of an up arrow) and select the item Import files.
A file manager window will open: all we have to do is select the .ovpn to file in our possession and confirm its import into the app. In order to establish the VPN connection, press the right button again on the OpenVPN icon at the bottom left and this time press on Connect.
A new window will open where we can enter the username and password for the VPN service we own or to access the VPN server on the company network; if necessary we also check the item Save password so as not to have to repeat it at every connection.
After confirming the credentials, the OpenVPN app will make the connection and, if we have done everything correctly, a warning window will appear at the bottom right.
From now on we will be connected to the VPN server or to the corporate network via a secure and encrypted connection, at least as long as the OpenVPN icon is green (make sure to move it between the visible icons, so as to always keep the connection under control).
To check if the VPN connection is actually active, we can also check the IP address of our network, using a service such as My-IP.it.
If instead, we want to stop the service, just press the right button again on the OpenVPN icon and then select Disconnect.
How to set up OpenVPN on Mac
On Mac, we can configure OpenVPN quickly and easily by downloading the client dedicated to macOS systems from the official website. For this guide, we recommend that you download version 3.x.x, so as to maintain good consistency with the features seen on the other apps. At the end of the download, we open the DMG file and double-click on the PKG file, so as to start the app installer.
We press on Go on come on Install to finish the installation quickly. As soon as we are ready we open the Launchpad in the bottom bar and select the app OpenVPN Connect.
In the program interface, let’s go to the tab File, we press the button Browse and select the file with the .ovpn extension; alternatively, we can also drag the files from the Finder, taking us to the folder where it is located (usually Download).
At the end of the import, a window will open with the information imported from the file: make sure to enter the username in the appropriate field, to indicate the suitable certificate file in the field Certificate and put the checkmark on Connect after import, then press the top right on Add. If we want the password to be saved on Mac, we also put the checkmark on Save password (we will be asked only once). To connect, we will be asked to select a valid external certificate: if we do not have one installed, we can still continue by pressing Continue in the window that will appear (to be used with VPN services to become anonymous).
If, on the other hand, we need to connect to a secure corporate network, we need to obtain the authentication certificate for the VPN server (we can look for it to the system administrator). To add a certificate to OpenVPN just open the app, press on the menu at the top right, select Certificates and finally press the + symbol.
How to set up OpenVPN on smartphones and tablets
If we want to create a secure connection through the Internet using our smartphone or tablet, all we have to do is download the app OpenVPN Connect, available free for Android and for iPhone / iPad.
After adding the right app to our device let’s open it, press on the tab File, let’s go to the folder of the device where the .ovpn file is stored, and, after selecting it, press the key Import. A new screen similar to the one saw on Mac will open, in which we will have to enter the username of the VPN service, check the Connect after import and Save password (only in case we want automatic access), and finally press the top right on Add.
The system will ask us for the access password: enter it, click on OK, and finally on Continue in the warning window of the missing certificate (it works fine too).
Obviously, if we need to connect to a secure corporate network, we contact the system administrator for the credentials and the certificate to be used within OpenVPN.
OpenVPN is undoubtedly the best app to be able to connect to a specific VPN server or to work from home by turning on the corporate network, so as to have all the files and shared resources at hand without having to configure other external services. The app is available for all major operating systems and is very simple to configure, especially if we retrieve the preconfigured files in .ovpn format.
If we want to connect to our company computer or our server without having to bother with a VPN service, we invite you to read our guides How to turn on the PC remotely to work remotely is Best remote desktop programs to remotely connect to your computer.
Looking for a good paid VPN service to pair with OpenVPN? We advise you to choose among those present in our in-depth analysis Fastest, most reliable, and limitless premium VPNs.