VPN is a versatile and extremely applicable service that is getting increasingly relevant in modern days, bringing more security, privacy, and convenience to the lives of millions of users.
With dozens of services available on the market, it’s important to know that there is an alternative to ready-made services which is configuring your own VPN on the server you rent located in the place of your choice, like VPS Germany or dedicated servers Netherlands.
Today we want to have a quick look into how to configure your own VPN server. But first, let’s recall what a VPN actually is and why you might want to set it up on your server.
What is VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. This can be seen as an additional layer within the typical organization of internet networks. When a VPN is created, basically what happens is that all your interactions on the web take place in a private network between your device and the server on which the VPN is set up.
Since the network is private, everything that happens within it remains unknown to anyone who could possibly access the stream of data between you and the internet (be it your ISP or somebody trying to eyedrop on your data).
The data is encrypted, which makes intercepting it almost impossible. Besides that, even your location remains hidden, so you share even less information about your activities on the internet.
All this provides VPN users with such features as security and privacy while browsing, together with a very useful side benefit of being able to access resources restricted to certain locations.
Why configure a VPN on your server?
Although it might seem easier just to buy a ready-made service, configuring your own VPN might have another bunch of benefits that can attract a certain audience.
- Transparency: Since there is no third party in charge, there is no process that can be hidden from you, and no one can possibly access your data. There is only you, your VPN, and a bare server it’s installed on.
- Conifgurability: Configuring your VPN on your own, you’ll be able to set up any custom configuration.
- Dedicated resources: Your VPN won’t have any performance issues as you don’t share them with other users: the server is entirely at your service.
- Cost: Basic VPS servers, sufficient to set up a VPN, are pretty much cheap with pricing schemes that are often more flexible and convenient than ones offered by specialized VPN providers.
- Minimalism: If you’re not fond of graphic interfaces containing lots of unnecessary details that eat up your memory in addition, here is a piece of good news for you: custom VPN clients (like OpenVPN) have a handy minimalistic yet convenient interface just enough to run your VPN.
The problem with such an approach is that you’ll need to perform a few technical operations before you can use your service and that it will be restricted to a single location, one of your servers.
While the latter is a matter of your preferences, the former is to be clarified in the following.
Setting up a VPN on your server
Step 1: Choose a VPN Server Software
A VPN is created using one of the available free client programs. Some popular ones include OpenVPN, WireGuard, and SoftEther. Learn more about them and find one that suits you best.
Step 2: Choose a Server Hosting Provider
You’ll need a virtual private server (VPS) to host your VPN server. Look for a reliable hosting provider that offers plans with features and prices suitable to your needs.
Step 3: Set Up the VPS and Install the Required Software
After purchasing a VPS plan, access your VPS and perform the basic configuration and software installation.
To do it, Connect to your VPS using SSH and install the necessary software (updates, essential packages, as well as your chosen VPN server software).
For example, in case you’ve chosen OpenVPN on Ubuntu, you can run:
sudo apt update
sudo apt install openvpn
Step 4: Configuration
Configure your VPN depending on what kind of software you’ve chosen. This can include generating cryptographic keys, configuring the VPN settings, and setting up firewall rules to allow VPN traffic.
For OpenVPN, the configuration involves creating a server configuration file, generating keys and certificates, and setting up firewall rules
Step 5: Start the VPN Server
After configuring everything, start your VPN server. For OpenVPN, you can use the following command:
sudo systemctl start openvpn@your_server_config
Step 6: Enable Autostart (Optional)
If you want that your VPN server starts automatically when the VPS boots up, enable the service to start on boot:
sudo systemctl enable openvpn@your_server_config
Step 7: Client Configuration
To make your VPN work, you’ll also need to generate client configuration files for devices that will connect to your VPN. These files most often include keys and certificates for each client as well as the appropriate configuration files.
Step 8: Test the VPN
Install the VPN client on your device and use the generated configuration files to connect to your VPN server. Test the connection to ensure it’s working as it is supposed to.
Step 9: Secure and Maintain
Don’t forget about updating your server’s software, including the VPN server software, to ensure security and monitoring logs for any suspicious activity.
Setting up your own VPN server is a great alternative to the more common way of purchasing a VPN service from a specialized provider, offering a range of advantages, being, however, suitable not for everyone.
We hope that this guide has clarified everything you needed to know, thank you for your attention.