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Setting up VPN connections on Mac devices is much simpler today than it was a few years ago. Many reliable VPN providers have software and packages that are fully compatible with different Mac OS versions and offer various protocols to suit different online security needs.
Setting up VPN Software
The simplest solution today for setting up VPN connections on Mac devices is to use software developed by VPN providers. The development of this VPN software has put advanced VPN technology into the hands of the average Internet user. With VPN software, users no longer need tech experience and skills for setting up VPN connections. Each provider has their own procedures for setting up VPN connections, but they are quite similar. So to demonstrate, here is the procedure for setting up ExpressVPN on Mac OS X 10.5:
When you sign up with ExpressVPN, you will receive an email with a link to download the ExpressVPN app. Download the app, and confirm any security warnings. The setup assistant will start, and you just need to follow the steps. Don’t change the default settings as it has already been preconfigured for use. When you are asked to enter your name and password, use the credentials that you use to log into your Mac.
When the installation has finished, you can activate ExpressVPN. Go to “Applications”, locate and open ExpressVPN. You will be prompted to enter the activation code that you received by email. Your account will now be configured, and you will be taken to the server locations screen. Simply select a server to connect to, wait for connection confirmation, and you are ready to go. When you are done, click “Disconnect” and close the app.
The next time you open ExpressVPN, you will be taken directly to the server selection screen. If you need a faster server, you can click on “Options” on the upper right of the server selection screen and run a speed test. The app will recommend the fastest servers for your location. You can also try selecting a different protocol from the Options screen. This will also help you if you are experiencing connection difficulties. If you still have trouble, you can always save your connection log and send it to support for assistance.
Using L2TP/IPSec and PPTP on Macs
You can also set up L2TP and PPTP VPN connections on your Mac. Some OS X versions do not work well with VPN apps, and some users simply prefer this setup. There will be some configuration, but there should be no more than a few extra steps. Here again is the ExpressVPN procedure for example:
If you don’t know what version of OS X you are on, go to the Apple menu on the upper left of your screen and select “About this Mac”. Take note of the version, then go to “System Preferences”, “Internet and Wireless/Network”, and select “Network”. On the left, you will see a connections list. Add a new connection by clicking the “+”. From the dropdowns, set the Interface to VPN, the VPN Type to L2TP over IPSec or PPTP, and the Service Name to whatever you want to call your ExpressVPN connection, and click create.
Go back to the connections list and select your new connection. Here, you will see that the Status is “Not Configured”. Check that the Configuration is set to Default, then enter one of the server addresses provided to you when you signed up. The Account Name is the username for your ExpressVPN account. Confirm that the “Show VPN status in menu bar” box is checked, and click the “Authentication Settings” button. Under “User Authentication” select “Password” and enter the account password provided. Under “Machine Authentication” select “Shared Secret” and enter “12345678”. Click “OK” and go back to your new connection under Connection Properties. Go to “Advanced”, “Options”, select the three Session options:
- Disconnect when switching user accounts
- Disconnect when user logs out
- Send all traffic over VPN connection
Click “OK” and “Apply”. You will now see the ExpressVPN connection in your menu bar, and you just click “Connect [VPN Name]”. If you have problems connecting on L2TP, your Internet Service Provider might be blocking it. Go back to the beginning and set the VPN Type to PPTP instead of L2TP over IPSec.