Create your own VPN server with Vultr and OpenVPN
Need to set up a VPN for your business? Looking for a safer 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 start!
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 several 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 build 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 provides direct access to excellent VPN configuration tools.
Vultr offers a wide range of virtual machines to choose from, so you can find one that suits 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.
Set up a VPN to replace a paid VPN service
The main 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 as it passes through their servers. This means they can see all the sites you visit and the data you submit.
If they wanted to, they could save this data and sell it to third parties. It’s unclear which services that advertise a no-logs policy follow it.
In our review of the best VPN providers, we found court cases to be a helpful guide: knowing whether services that advertise a no-logs policy have been able to produce logs as evidence is a start. But not all vendors have been tested in this way, and companies that have been may change their internal processes at any time.
You’re forced to trust a third party, and that’s inherently unhealthy when it comes to security and privacy.
Running your own private VPN server means you are in control. You can choose where your VPN servers are located and you can add or remove servers as needed. You are not at the mercy of the whims of a VPN provider.
Why not run a home VPN server?
You might be wondering why you can’t just run a VPN server on your personal computer. After all, it’s probably more convenient than using Vultr.
The answer is that it is not very safe. Your personal IP address is easy to find, and if someone wanted to target you, they could do so quite easily. By using Vultr, you put your VPN server in the cloud, which makes it much harder 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, running a VPN server on your personal 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 see 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. Enter your e-mail address and a password of your choice, then click on the “Create an account” button.
Vultr will send you an email to verify your account. You can connect immediately, but you won’t be able to deploy a server until this step is complete.
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 the server button. This is where you really start creating your own VPN server.
On this page, you’ll select your virtual machine server type, location, size, and software, and you’ll be able to see the impact on price as you choose between different options.
You will need to make a few selections here:
- Choose the server: Select Cloud Compute here — these shared vCPU servers fit our needs, and the price is right.
- Processor and storage technology: We selected regular performance here because we don’t need high-end hardware for production workloads.
- Server location: Vultr offers sites all over the world. For our purposes, the best choice is the one closest to you.
- Server image: Switch to the Marketplace Applications tab. There are a few VPN server options here, but for this guide we’ll be selecting OpenVPN Access Server.
- Server size: Select the $5/month ($0.007/hour) option, unless you know you’ll need a server that can handle more, like an entire team’s traffic. You can always upgrade if that turns out to be insufficient for you.
For the remaining options, such as automated backups, feel free to select based on your preference.
Finally, give your virtual machine a name. It can be anything you want. Click on the Deploy now button.
Your virtual machine will be created and you can 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 have a working virtual machine, it’s time to set up OpenVPN, a free and open-source VPN implementation.
This process is quite simple.
First, log into your Vultr account and make sure you are on the Bodies tab of the Some products page. Find the virtual machine you just created and click on its name to display its management dashboard.
On this page, scroll down to App Instructions to find a direct link to the OpenVPN admin directory on your server, along with the username and password created during installation.
Check that VPN services are working
Open the admin panel in a new tab. You will see a browser security warning page that looks like this:
This is just the result of our self-signed certificate, so just click Proceed ignore the warning.
You will then be redirected to the OpenVPN access server authentication page. Drop credentials from the server management dashboard and log in.
Here you’ll find options to configure your VPN, upgrade OpenVPN server access if you need to add VPN connection seats, and more.
Head to the Status overview page using the left sidebar to get an overview of relevant details and to activate and deactivate the VPN service.
If all went well, it should be enabled the first time you 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 URL bar to remove /admin/ and anything else after and hit enter. Here we just exit out of the admin panel to directly visit the server IP address, where we can easily access client app downloads.
You may need to log in again using the same credentials as the admin panel. You will 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 another client, you can download the connection profile via the same page as the client downloads (under the platform icons).
When you open the app, you should see that this installer has preloaded the correct OpenVPN profile for you.
You should only have to enter a password – it’s the same one we used to access the admin panel earlier.
Then connect to the VPN and make sure everything is working.
Congratulations, you have deployed and connected your own VPN service in just a few minutes.
4. Configure your OpenVPN server
Now that your virtual machine is running, OpenVPN installed, and your first successful connection has been tested, it’s time to configure your VPN according to your needs and preferences.
There are a few settings you might want to adjust right away, like changing the administrative user password, and plenty of advanced options to go further.
Since these changes vary from person to person, we won’t cover them here. Here are some good starting points for further improvements:
OpenVPN alternatives on Vultr
Besides OpenVPN, several other options are available on 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 a built-in firewall.
- WarpSpeed is a web-based VPN server that uses the open source WireGuard protocol.
- Pritunl is a distributed VPN server that supports OpenVPN, IPsec, and WireGuard protocols. You can connect unlimited devices and unlimited users without license fees.
All of these apps are available for one-click deployment on Vultr.
You know how to create 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!
Now you can use it 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 useful. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us on our support page. Thanks for reading!