Create Your Own VPN Server in 10 Minutes with Vultr & OpenVPN

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Setting up a cloud VPN server with Vultr

Do you need to set up a VPN for your business? Are you looking for a more secure way to connect to the internet? If so, then this guide is for you! We show you how to create your own cloud VPN server using Vultr. We’ll show you how to create a new virtual machine, install and configure OpenVPN, and finally test your setup. Let’s get started!

This article was created in partnership with Vultr. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

What Is Vultr?

Vultr is a popular cloud hosting provider that offers virtual machines in multiple locations around the world. It offers high-performance virtual machines with multiple locations to choose from. 

Vultr is a great choice if you want to make your own VPN server. It offers performance at affordable prices, and delivers it reliably. Vultr is also easy to use. It has a user-friendly control panel that offers direct access to some great VPN setup tools.

Vultr offers a wide range of virtual machines to choose from, so you can find one that fits your needs. Plans for these start at US$2.50 per month.

Why Run Your Own VPN?

There are many reasons why you might want to set up your own VPN instead of using a commercial VPN provider.

Setting Up a VPN to Replace a Paid VPN Service

The biggest reasons are security and privacy. When you use a commercial VPN service, your IP address is hidden from most of the web. However, the VPN provider can still see your traffic because it passes through their servers. This means that they can see all of the sites you visit and the data you transmit.

If they wanted to, they could log this data and sell it to third parties. It’s hard to know which services that advertise a no-logging policy follow it.

In our review of the best VPN providers, we found court cases to be a useful guide: knowing whether services that advertise a no-logging policy were able to produce logs as evidence is a start. But not all providers have been tested in this way, and companies that have been can change their internal processes at any time.

You’re forced to trust a third party, and that’s fundamentally unsound when it comes to security and privacy.

Running your own private VPN server means that you’re in control. You can choose where your VPN servers are located, and you can add or remove servers as needed. You’re not at the mercy of a VPN provider’s whims.

Why Not Run a Home VPN Server?

You might be wondering why you can’t just run a VPN server on your home computer. After all, it’s probably more convenient than using Vultr.

The answer is that it’s not very secure. Your home IP address is easy to find, and if someone wanted to target you, they could do so with relative ease. By using Vultr, you’re putting your VPN server in the cloud, which makes it much more difficult to target.

So, if you’re looking for security and privacy, it’s best to use a cloud hosting provider like Vultr to stay in control. If you’re just looking for convenience, then running a VPN server on your home computer might be fine.

Now that we’ve looked at some reasons why you might want to run your own VPN on a cloud server, let’s take a look at how to set one up on Vultr.

1. Create a Vultr Account

The first step is to create a Vultr account. You can do this by going to the Vultr website (with a free $100 credit using this link!). Enter your email address and a password of your choice, then click on the “Create account” button.

Vultr will send you an email to verify your account. You can log in immediately, but you won’t be able to deploy a server until that step is completed.

2. Create a New Virtual Machine on Vultr

Next, create a new virtual machine on Vultr. To do this, log in to your Vultr account and click on the Deploy Server button. This is where you really start to create your own VPN server.

On this page, you’ll select your virtual machine server type, location, size, and software, and be able to see the price impact as you choose between various options.

You’ll need to make a few selections here:

  • Choose Server: Select Cloud Compute here — these shared vCPU servers are suitable for our needs, and the price is right.
  • CPU & Storage Technology: We selected Regular Performance here since we don’t need cutting-edge hardware for production workloads.
  • Server Location: Vultr offers locations all around the world. For our purposes, the best choice is the one that is closest to you.
  • Server Image: Switch to the Marketplace Apps tab. There are a few VPN server options here, but for this guide, we’ll select OpenVPN Access Server.
  • Server Size: Select the $5/month option ($0.007/hour), unless you know that you’ll need a server capable of handling more — such as a whole team’s traffic. You can always upgrade if this proves to be insufficient for you.

For the remaining options, such as automated backups, feel free to select according to your preferences.

Finally, give your virtual machine a name. This can be anything you want. Click on the Deploy Now button.

Your virtual machine will be created, and you’ll be able to see it in the Vultr control panel. 

Now that your virtual machine has been created, we can move on to setting up OpenVPN.

3. Create Your Own VPN Server with OpenVPN

Now that we’ve got a virtual machine up and running, it’s time to set up OpenVPN, a free and open-source VPN implementation.

This process is quite simple.

First, log in to your Vultr account and ensure you’re on the Instances tab of the Products page. Find the virtual machine that you just created, and click on its name to view its management dashboard.

On this page, scroll down to the App Instructions section to find a direct link to the OpenVPN admin directory on your server, as well as the username and password created during setup.

Verify VPN Services Are Running

Open the admin panel in a new tab. You will see a browser security warning page that looks something like this:

This is simply a result of our self-signed certificate, so just click Proceed to ignore the warning.

You’ll then be taken to the OpenVPN Access Server authentication page. Drop in the credentials from the server management dashboard and log in.

Here you’ll find options for configuring your VPN, upgrading OpenVPN Server Access if you need to add VPN connection seats, and so on.

Head to the Status Overview page using the left sidebar to get a rundown of relevant details, and to turn the VPN service off and on.

If everything went smoothly, it should be on when you first log in. Otherwise, click “Start VPN services” while you’re here.

Install the OpenVPN Client on Your Device

The next step is to install and open the OpenVPN client on your computer.

Edit the URL bar to remove /admin/ and anything else after it and hit enter. Here, we’re simply getting out of the admin panel to visit the server IP directly, where we can easily access client app downloads.

You may need to log in again using the same credentials as the admin panel. You’ll then see this page:

Click the button for your platform and run the installer on your machine.

Note: If you already use OpenVPN or want to use a different client, you can download the connection profile via the same page as the client downloads (underneath the platform icons).

When you open the app, you should see that this installer has preloaded the correct OpenVPN profile for you out of the box.

You should only need to enter a password — this is the same one we used to access the admin panel earlier.

Then, connect to the VPN and ensure everything works.

Congratulations — you’ve deployed and connected to your own VPN service in just a few minutes.

4. Configure Your OpenVPN Server

Now that you’ve got your virtual machine running, OpenVPN installed, and your first successful connection tested, it’s time to configure your VPN to suit your needs and preferences.

There are a few settings you may want to adjust immediately, like changing the administrative user password, and plenty of advanced options to take things further.

Since these changes will vary from person to person, we won’t cover them here. Here are some good starting points for further improvements:

OpenVPN Alternatives on Vultr

Aside from OpenVPN, there are several other options available in the Vultr App Marketplace.

  • UTunnel is a VPN server that supports multiple VPN protocols, offers an easy-to-use management console to configure settings and access, and a robust selection of additional features like 2FA and an inbuilt firewall.
  • WarpSpeed is a web-based VPN server that uses the open-source WireGuard protocol.
  • Pritunl is a distributed VPN server that supports the OpenVPN, IPsec, and WireGuard protocols. You can connect unlimited devices and unlimited users with no license fees.

All of these applications are available for one-click deployment on Vultr.

You Know How to Make a VPN

If you followed the steps above, you should now have your own VPN up and running. Congratulations on creating your own VPN server!

You can now use this to connect to the internet more securely, or to access resources on your virtual machine that would otherwise be inaccessible.

We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out to us on our support page. Thanks for reading!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Creating Your Own VPN Server

What are the benefits of creating my own VPN server?

Creating your own VPN server provides several benefits. Firstly, it gives you complete control over your data and privacy. You don’t have to rely on third-party VPN providers, who may or may not log your data. Secondly, it can be more cost-effective in the long run, especially if you’re a heavy VPN user. Lastly, it allows you to customize your VPN to your specific needs, such as setting up a VPN for your home network or for your small business.

How secure is a self-hosted VPN server?

A self-hosted VPN server can be very secure, provided you take the necessary precautions. This includes using strong encryption, regularly updating and patching your server, and using secure protocols like OpenVPN or WireGuard. However, keep in mind that the security of your VPN server also depends on the security of the server it’s hosted on.

Can I use any VPS provider to host my VPN server?

Yes, you can use any VPS provider to host your VPN server, as long as they allow VPN traffic. However, some providers may be better suited for this purpose than others. For example, Vultr is a popular choice due to its affordable pricing and wide range of server locations.

How do I choose the right server location for my VPN?

The right server location for your VPN depends on your specific needs. If you’re using a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions, you should choose a server location in the country you want to appear to be browsing from. If you’re using a VPN for privacy, you might want to choose a server location in a country with strong privacy laws.

Can I set up a VPN server on my home computer?

While it’s technically possible to set up a VPN server on your home computer, it’s not recommended for several reasons. Firstly, it would require your computer to be on and connected to the internet at all times. Secondly, it could expose your home network to potential security risks. Lastly, it would likely provide slower speeds than a VPN server hosted on a VPS.

How many devices can connect to my VPN server?

The number of devices that can connect to your VPN server depends on the resources of your server and the bandwidth of your internet connection. However, most VPS providers allow for multiple simultaneous connections, so you should be able to connect several devices at once.

Do I need any special hardware to create a VPN server?

No, you don’t need any special hardware to create a VPN server. All you need is a VPS (Virtual Private Server) and the necessary software, such as OpenVPN or WireGuard.

How do I maintain my VPN server?

Maintaining your VPN server involves regularly updating and patching your server, monitoring for any unusual activity, and troubleshooting any issues that arise. It’s also a good idea to regularly backup your server configuration and data.

Can I use my VPN server for torrenting?

Yes, you can use your VPN server for torrenting. However, keep in mind that while a VPN can help protect your privacy while torrenting, it doesn’t make torrenting legal if it’s illegal in your country.

What do I do if my VPN server is blocked?

If your VPN server is blocked, you can try changing the server location or the VPN protocol. If that doesn’t work, you might need to set up a new VPN server.

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