This article is building on a set of guides on how to set up a TP-Link router as an OpenVPN server. However this information isn’t specific to TP-Link, and if you have an .OVPN file, the steps below will get you up and running.
Select a Client
The first thing you’ll need is OpenVPN client software. Any OpenVPN compatible software client will work, and OpenVPN has their own client they produce. Here are some suggestions for various operating systems.
OpenVPN Connect – From Open VPN is good, and easy to use. The link is for a beta version of the client, there is a link on that page to the current stable release.
Pritunl – An open source client for their OpenVPN system. It’s my personal recommendation. It’s easy to configure and use.
OpenVPN Official Client – I can’t really test these as I am not a Mac user. However, it ranks pretty high on a few lists I looked up for it.
Tunnelblick – Most of the lists I saw put this higher than the OpenVPN client. So it might be better. It seems to be well documented.
OpenVPN Official Client – I tried a bunch of clients for Android. Honestly, this was the easiest to use, and a lot just looked like clones. No ads, just a free OpenVPN client.
OpenVPN Official Client – As with Android, I tried a few different clients on my iPad and this one was by far the best.
Once you’ve picked a client and installed them on your remote device you need to import a profile.
Typically all you need to do to import the profile into the Windows client is find the .OVPN file and double click on it. The client will ask you if you are sure, click OK then click the “Add” button on the upper right once it imports the profile. I assume this works just the same on a Mac.
You can also import directly by opening the client and clicking on the file tab. You simply browse for or drag the .ovpn file into the client.
The process for importing a profile on Android is identical to Windows. The tricky part is getting the .ovpn file to your phone or tablet.
The best method I’ve found to get the file to an Android phone is to use a service like OneDrive or Google Drive to create a shareable link. You can then e-mail or share the link via text messaging services. Once the user clicks on it they’ll be given the option to open it in OpenVPN and add the profile.
You can also e-mail the profile as an attachment, download the attachment then browse for it from the Client.
iOS does not make this very easy compared to Windows and Android. You can’t use a shareable link.
You can use iTunes Sync to drop the file into OpenVPN Connect according to the instructions. I suggest the less secure but also less annoying method of simply emailing, or Airdropping the .ovpn file and importing it into the client that way.
Connecting to VPN
Once all the profiles are imported, to connect it’s as simple as connecting to the internet somewhere other than the network you’re connecting to. Use a hotspot, go to a coffee shop, McDonalds, or even your home network (assuming you aren’t connecting to your home). Open the OpenVPN client and hit the connect slide, then try to access something on the remote network, like your file server.