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How to set up a manual connection on Windows using OpenVPN

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The OpenVPN GUI application is an alternative option to connecting to NordVPN servers on your Windows PC. If you prefer manual connection and tinkering with open-source software, this is a good way of connecting to NordVPN. That said, it lacks the additional features of the NordVPN native app, but it still uses the same VPN protocol — OpenVPN. It's also more complicated to set up, so here are instructions to guide you through the process.

  1. Download the OpenVPN GUI application.

    For Windows 7/8/8.1
    For Windows 10
     
  2. Open the installation file and follow the instructions in the setup wizard.

    Double-click the downloaded installation file to launch the OpenVPN setup wizard

    Follow the setup wizard to install OpenVPN for Windows devices
     
  3. Once the application is installed, download the NordVPN server configuration files. The OpenVPN app uses them to connect to specific NordVPN servers.
  4. The above link will also display the server recommended for the best possible experience. Click “Show available protocols” under the suggested server to see the different protocol options.

    In the list of available options, click on the “Download config” link next to OpenVPN TCP or OpenVPN UDP.

    The NordVPN recommended server page lets you download VPN protocol configuration files
  5. Go to the folder where you downloaded the configuration files, select them all, then right-click and choose “Copy.”
  6. Extract the configuration files to this directory:
     
    C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config\

    6.1. To quickly find the OpenVPN\config\ folder, right-click the OpenVPN GUI shortcut on your desktop and select “Open file location.”

    The OpenVPN setup wizard will set up a shortcut to the OpenVPN installation folder on your desktop

    6.2. Once you're there, click the parent OpenVPN folder in the address bar.

    Use Windows Explorer shortcuts to quickly navigate the OpenVPN installation folder

    Open the "Config" folder.

    Double-click the “Config” folder to open it and proceed with manual NordVPN setup

    6.3. Paste the copied configuration files in the folder by right-clicking anywhere in the folder and selecting "Paste":

     How to paste the OpenVPN configuration files into your “Config” folder

    Click "Continue" to allow the files to be extracted to the folder.

    Clicking “Continue” gives administrator permission to copy files to the selected folder

    Note: if you are using Windows 10, add an extra line in the configuration files to prevent possible DNS leaks:

    To do that, open the downloaded .ovpn configuration file with any text editor and paste this line:

    block-outside-dns

    Save the file before proceeding to the next step of this tutorial.

  7. Now that the configuration files are in the proper folder for the application to detect them, open the OpenVPN GUI app by double-clicking the shortcut on your desktop.

    The OpenVPN GUI shortcut requires administrator permission to run
     
  8. Allow the application to make changes to your device because they are necessary for a VPN connection.

    Because the OpenVPN GUI requires administrator permission to run, you need to click “Yes”
     
  9. The application will start running in the system tray, which is the notification area next to your device’s clock:

    The system tray is found next to the clock, usually in the bottom-left corner of the screen

    It might also be in the hidden system tray area:

    You can expand the system tray by clicking on the "up" arrow
  10. Right-click on the application icon, hover over one of the servers, and click “Connect.”

    Choose a server and click “Connect” to continue manually setting up NordVPN
  11. Enter your NordVPN service username and password, then click “OK.”

    You can find your NordVPN service credentials (service username and service password) in the Nord Account dashboard. Copy the credentials using the “Copy” buttons on the right.

    Copy your service credentials from the NordVPN section of the Nord Account dashboard
     
    Paste your NordVPN service credentials into OpenVPN when asked for a username and password
  12. In a few seconds, the application will connect and close the window. The system tray icon will turn green and show your connection status when you hover over it.

    OpenVPN connection status in the system tray

And that's it! You should be successfully connected. To disconnect, right-click on the application icon, hover over the server, and click “Disconnect.”


Tip: Your VPN connection safety depends on your account password, too. Don't forget to use a strong password on your account because it will help you to avoid credential stuffing attacks and will keep your connections safe and uninterrupted.

Because  generating and remembering strong and secure passwords is not an easy task, we recommend downloading our free password manager — NordPass. It generates secure passwords for you and stores them safely, letting you avoid time-wasting password resets in the future.

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