We all know this: one of the biggest issues with Windows 10 Mobile (previously known as Windows Phone) is the lack of apps. I am convinced it’s one of the main causes of the platform failing massively in the global smartphone market (only 0.7% market share last year according to Gartner).
This kinda makes me sad a little, as I felt the mobile OS market could use a bit of fresh air after all these years of iOS and Android which, even if constantly improved, always felt like more of the same to me. I agree that Windows Phone sucks on so many levels that it would be hard to list all of its problems without forgetting about some others, but at least it was different, you know? And it looked awesome.
Anyway, enough with the melancholic intro. If you want to configure a Private Internet Access VPN on your Windows Mobile or Windows Phone device, you will have to take care of things manually, as PIA does not offer a Windows Mobile app (hence my introduction, just to tie up all loose ends).
Unfortunately, the lack of a native app is not the only problem. If you still want to connect to a VPN, you are going to have to use L2TP/IPsec with a pre-shared key, which is not a very secure configuration. Basically, your real IP address won’t be revealed, but you will still be at risk of other attacks (namely, MITM attacks). There is also a known problem with this configuration leaking DNS information, although it seems like you can take care of that too (I haven’t tried it personally).
If you need the highest possible security from a VPN on your Windows Mobile device, you shouldn’t use this. However, if you do not have such strict security requirements, and you think that some kind of VPN is better than nothing, you can definitely do this on your Windows device.
The instructions on the PIA support website worked for me on the first try, but there were some design changes in the VPN configuration menu going from Windows Phone 8.1 to 10, so here are the instructions for Windows 10 Mobile:
- In the App List, Tap Settings > Network & wireless > VPN
- Tap Add a VPN connection
- Under Connection name, enter the name of your choice
- In the Server name or address field, enter the region you want to connect to from this list: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/network/
- In the VPN Type menu, select L2TP/IPsec with pre-shared key
- Enter the pre-shared key “mysafety” (without quotes) in the Pre-shared key field
- Select User name and password from the Type of sign-in info menu
- Enter the Username starting with X into the User name field
- Enter the Generated password into the Password (optional) field
- Optionally, tap on Remember my sign-in info
- Tap Save to save the settings.
Just remember that you won’t have to login with your PIA username and password combination, you need to manually generate a PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS password on their website first, and use those instead.