How to setup VPN with Remote Desktop on Windows 10

Elena Constantinescu
by Elena Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
Elena started writing professionally in 2010 and hasn't stopped exploring the tech world since. With a firm grasp of software reviewing and content editing, she is always trying new things to improve her skill... Read more
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  • 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.
how to setup VPN with Remote Desktop on Windows 10
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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 that 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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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

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.

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.
Note icon
NOTE
*You previously obtained this information when you asked Google what’s your IP. If you registered for dynamic DNS, write the name server instead of the IP address.

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.
Note icon
NOTE
*You can also download Remote Desktop for Windows 10, Android, and iOS to remotely connect to a Windows PC.
**You wrote down the PC name when allowing Remote Desktop connections on the server PC.
***Make sure the user account matches the one you gave permission to remotely connect through Remote Desktop.

If the steps above seem too complicated to follow, we recommend resorting to a third-party app such as AnyDesk. Besides the fact that setting it up is much easier, you can use it with ease to connect to your desktop remotely from any of your devices.

For extra protection, install a reliable VPN tool such as NordVPN on your devices, though AnyDesk uses bank-level encryption protocols to protect your data.

With just one click, AnyDesk offers instant support and live administration through remote control of all connected Windows devices. You can use AnyDesk on iOS, macOS, Linux, and Android as well.

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • RDP VPN refers to using remote desktop software to control a remote PC through the Internet securely by connecting to a VPN instead of enabling port forwarding on the router.

  • Using a VPN, you connect to a remote network and become a LAN device to access shared files and printers, map network drives through VPN, and more. With Remote Desktop, you remotely control another PC and automatically access its LAN. But you can use a VPN and Remote Desktop at the same time to increase your security and privacy.

  • Yes, RDP is safer when using a VPN to encrypt your data traffic. It depends on the VPN protocol and encryption you use. We suggest OpenVPN with 256-bit AES.

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