VPN For Remote Desktop: How to Set it up & Use it

For best-in-class data protection, use our VPN recommendation

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Key notes

  • Setting up a VPN with Remote Desktop on Windows 10 implies separate steps for the server and the client PC involved.
  • At a first glance, using a VPN with Remote Desktop seems complicated, but it's not.
  • If you don't know how to set up a VPN for remote access on Windows 10, start by allowing remote connection on the server PC.
  • Some networking knowledge would be useful to set up a remote desktop connection, but we're guiding you step by step.

If you need to access your home PC from work or a friend’s computer, you can do this easily by turning to remote desktop software.

Such tools make it possible to establish a remote connection between two devices so that you can view, edit, delete, download, or upload data with minimum effort – just as if you were sitting in front of the computer.

But there’s a huge difference between LAN-only and Internet access. For example, you can use third-party remote control tools to gain entry to your PC through the Internet. But the best ones aren’t free. Also, they are susceptible to hacker attacks, like TeamViewer which was hacked in 2016.

Microsoft has a free solution called Remote Desktop Connection, which you can use to remotely connect to any PC in the same network, but you can also use a third-party client to set up VPN over RDP.

It’s also possible to do this through the Internet in two ways: setting up port forwarding mode on your router or enabling VPN connections on the router.

In the first case, you only need to forward the RDP listening port (default is 3389) to the PC’s local IP address. But it’s dangerous because it means exposing your home network to the web.

The second option is more secure but requires a bit of tinkering: setting up a VPN with Remote Desktop on Windows 10.

Best VPN for Remote Desktop

In order to do this, you’ll need a VPN router. Some routers (older models especially) are not compatible with a VPN and you won’t be able to go further with the steps in this guide.

Before getting started, access your router admin panel and look for VPN compatibility and for a VPN server option.

Also, keep in mind this: the server PC is the computer that you want to access remotely while the client PC is the computer used to access the server PC.

Tip icon Tip
For an easier method to use a VPN for RDP on your Windows 10 device that doesn’t require technical expertise, go for software like Private Internet Access.

How can I set up a VPN for Remote Desktop on Windows 10?

1. Allow Remote Desktop connections on the server PC

enable Remote Desktop connections on Windows 10
  1. Right-click the Windows 10 Start button and go to System.
  2. Select Remote Desktop.
  3. Turn on Enable Remote Desktop and click Confirm.
  4. Write down the PC name.

2. Create a VPN server using your router

Note icon NOTE
➡ Using a web browser, log in to your router admin panel.
➡ Locate the VPN area and inspect the available protocols.
➡ If your router supports the OpenVPN protocol, then we strongly recommend using it.
➡ Otherwise, you can enable PPTP.

2.1. OpenVPN

enable OpenVPN server on your router

  1. Generate an OpenVPN certificate.
  2. Export the OpenVPN configuration file.
  3. Upload the OpenVPN config to a safe place.
  4. Enable the VPN server.

OpenVPN is a modern and safe protocol that can truly protect you from eavesdroppers and hackers. If your router supports it, we highly suggest using it because it surpasses PTTP.

Your security is ensured by the certificate and private key included in the config file. OpenVPN is an excellent solution for home and business users alike.

However, it comes with some inconveniences. For example, if you generate a new certificate through your router’s firmware, you have to replace the old certificate from the client device with the new one. You must also install an OpenVPN client (for free) on every device you wish to use for remote connections.

2.2. PPTP

enable PPTP VPN server on your router

  1. Create a username and password required to connect to the server PC.
  2. Enable the VPN server.

PPTP is one of the oldest protocols, and it’s native to most platforms. That means that you don’t have to install any additional software since you can create a manual PPTP VPN connection using the Windows 10 built-in VPN provider or the integrated PPTP support of another OS.

Furthermore, since it doesn’t use too many resources, it’s ideal for older computers that can’t take the heat of modern VPN protocols like OpenVPN. Most routers support PPTP but few of them work with OpenVPN.

Unfortunately, PPTP can be easily hacked. In fact, many VPN companies and other security groups consider that PPTP is now obsolete, and they strongly advise against using it. For example, using PPTP VPN in corporations is out of the question.

No matter the option you select above, afterward use Google to find your IP address and write it down.

If you have a dynamic IP address, consider registering for a dynamic DNS server and using it for VPN connections and remote desktop connections. It might be possible to request a static IP address from your ISP or set up a secondary IP address and make it static. Otherwise, devices will not be able to remotely connect to the PC once the IP address changes.

3. Set up a VPN connection on the client PC

3.1. For OpenVPN

view OpenVPN GUI connection status
  1. Download OpenVPN GUI for Windows 10.
  2. Install the tool with default settings.
  3. Download the OpenVPN config file you created from the router panel.
  4. Right-click the OpenVPN GUI systray icon and click Import file.
  5. Select the OpenVPN config file from your router.
  6. Right-click the OpenVPN GUI systray icon and select Connect.

If OpenVPN GUI won’t work on your PC, you can easily diagnose and fix the problem.

3.2. For PPTP

add a VPN connection in Windows 10
  1. On Windows 10, click the Start button or press the Win key.
  2. Type VPN settings and press Enter.
  3. Click Add a VPN connection and set the following:
    • VPN provider to Windows (built-in).
    • Connection name to any display name.
    • Server name or address to the public IP address* of the server PC.
    • VPN type to Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP).
    • Type of sign-in info to User name and password.
    • User name (optional) and Password (optional) to the account info you specified in the router panel for PPTP.
  4. Check Remember my sign-in info.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Select the VPN connection and click Connect.

If the PPTP connection isn’t working, make sure to troubleshoot the issue.

4. Connect to the server PC

use Remote Desktop Connection on Windows 10
  1. On Windows 10*, click Start or press Win key.
  2. Type Remote Desktop Connection and press Enter.
  3. Set Computer to the PC name**.
  4. Click Connect.
  5. When prompted for the password***, write it down.
  6. Congratulations! You have connected to another PC remotely through a VPN.

In case you need a more straightforward solution for remote desktop services, Mikogo can help you have high-secured protection of your computer. Or, you can give a try to the following article for another software solution regarding this issue.

Is it safe to use RDP over Internet?

RDP is frequently updated and has encryption, but your connection is still vulnerable, that’s why it’s recommended you use a VPN.

➡️ Is RDP illegal?

RDP is not illegal, but you have to make sure you don’t break any data privacy policies. That’s if you use RDP for your school or work devices.

➡️ Is RDP secure without VPN?

The Remote Desktop app is secure on its own, but it doesn’t fully protect your data. Many reported having to deal with man-in-the-middle attacks when on a RDP connection.

That’s why using a VPN will help improve your RDP security.

To summarize, you can remotely connect to another PC using Remote Desktop from anywhere in the world with the help of a VPN and a router that has native support for VPN connections.

It’s a much safer solution than the alternative, where you have to expose the network to the Internet by setting up port forwarding mode on your router. By connecting to a VPN before making the Remote Desktop connection, you encrypt all data traffic and protect it from any eavesdroppers.

Besides, if you get equipped with a powerful VPN client, you can access blocked websites, evade geoblocks, unblock unavailable Netflix catalogs, reduce your ping while gaming, and much more. If you’re interested in crypto, you can also use a VPN for Bitcoin trading and mining.