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CyberGhost is a well-known company that provides users with excellent browsing speeds, complete anonymity, and no user activity logging. They offer a massive 1250+ servers worldwide, based in 50+ different countries, which is one of the most comprehensive location-strong services that we have seen thus far. They provide unlimited traffic bandwidth, AES 256t-bit encryption, and they keep no client logs. Users can take advantage of geo-location specific services thanks to CyberGhost VPN’s considerable server footprint.

The VPN provider’s encryption technology is also highly regarded. CyberGhost uses OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, and IPSec protocols to give you a wide selection when you are looking to browse privately online. It supports a wide range of Windows operating systems, including Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and Windows 10. Apple mobile devices are also supported, such as the iPhone and iPad. This means that public browsing from a Windows laptop or Apple mobile device can keep your information safe and private just by activating your VPN client software.

CyberGhost does not throttle or limit your internet traffic, so you will not be punished for streaming high-quality video and audio content with their service. Likewise, gaming and content downloads have good performance on this platform, making it ideal for home users to take their internet activities to the next level, without sacrificing speed or privacy.

We found customer support to be quite decent, and support agents are always at hand to assist users with any connection related issues that they might be experiencing. Overall, this is a good service that offers a wide variety of server locations, as well as strong security measures, zero logging, and decent performance.

Read CyberGhost review »


Avira is an anti-virus company that is based in Germany and offers a great VPN product, Avira Phantom VPN. The service can be installed on Windows, Android, Mac OS, and iOS. Installing the service on Windows is very straightforward. Simply launch the installation and follow the on-screen prompts. Once installed, users can launch the application by double-clicking on the VPN shortcut that is created on the desktop.

Avira hosts some high-performance servers for its VPN services, meaning that their traffic is not throttled for premium users that wish to take advantage of streaming content services such as Netflix and Hulu. HD video streaming works like a treat, and there are over 36 different server locations to choose from, including Sweden, USA, UK, Austria, and Germany, to name but a few. These servers can be selected from within the application and can be changed at any time depending on where your VPN connection needs to be established from.

Avira Phantom VPN  uses the OpenVPN protocol to establish secure connections, which means it is highly secure and offers excellent transmission speeds and performance. It is important to note that Avira does not keep logs of client activities, such as IP address history and traffic to services. Most people prefer to not be monitored or tracked when they are online, while others are not too worried about it.

The speeds Avira offers are good for users that stream HD content like movies, TV shows, and music videos, and although there are some speed dips occasionally, the service is solid overall. Users are able to connect to an unlimited number of devices, and the devices can be run simultaneously, even on the free version. (Although, your free data allocation will be depleted much faster with multiple concurrent devices connected.)

Establishing a connection to a VPN server is also very quick, with connection times rarely exceeding a few seconds, depending on geographical location and how far away you are from the connection area. Using Avira Phantom VPN  is very easy, especially for Windows users, and the user interface is simple and self-explanatory. The customer support is top notch, with agents contactable via telephone, email, and even Twitter. Personalized user support is available for premium members only, but the website contains lots of information relating to technical issues, which is great if you prefer trying to fix an issue on your own first before you contact customer support.

As a home user, you will find Avira’s Phantom VPN Client easy to use, quick, and well-supported. The way that it offers protection against third parties is the main selling point for any VPN, and this service does it very well. Pricing may be a factor for some people, as there are certainly cheaper products on the market.

Read Avira review »


ExpressVPN is a globally situated VPN company that boasts over 1500 servers in over 145 locations around the world. The service does not keep any user browsing logs or downloading activities, and it is protected by a 256-bit encryption method that is sure to safeguard user activity from untrusted parties. At its core, ExpressVPN offers a service that is easy to use and performs exceptionally well. There are a multitude of server locations to choose from, making your geo-location issues a thing of the past.

With ExpressVPN, content is streamed in an unthrottled environment, which means that your traffic is always considered a priority for ExpressVPN. This, coupled with the fact that the data service is unmetered, comes together to create an internet browsing experience that is private, safe, and secure without sacrificing performance and functionality.

Windows operating systems, among many others, are supported, and the installation and setup are really easy. As with so many other products and services in this review, users just need to follow a basic installation prompt and select the appropriate options. Once installed, users are greeted with a basic interface that is easy to understand and use. The protocols that ExpressVPN uses are OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSec, SSTP, and PPTP. This means that no matter the service that you intend to use, you will get a fast and unrestricted VPN connection.

All of these factors make for a simple, speedy, and sophisticated service from ExpressVPN, and their service can be run from a Windows-based PC or laptop just as easily as from a mobile device or router. In comparison to the other VPNs in this review, ExpressVPN’s pricing is high, but with so many sites to choose from around the world, we can understand the reasoning behind it.

Read ExpressVPN review »

Getting started with a VPN for Windows

Over the years, issues such as privacy and security have been a sore point for Windows operating systems, primarily due to the OS’s popularity. This has led to the development of malicious software and eavesdropping tools that undermine internet safety and privacy.

In addition to this, Windows users have limited legal access to streaming videos and music, downloading content, or playing online games. Fortunately, thanks to the advent of VPN technology, all of these issues can be overcome by the average user, with little to no technical knowledge about how networking or the internet functions.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is an internet connection that creates a secure tunnel between your computer and a private server, which then routes your traffic requests anonymously and safely to your desired internet destinations. In this way, VPN services are able to direct your requests from a list of secured servers from around the world, giving you access to content that you would otherwise not be able to legally connect to. Because of the specific protocols that are used within a VPN, your connection also has the added bonus of being encrypted and secure, as well as anonymous. Many VPN providers keep no logs of your online activity, meaning that no unauthorized people or authorities can trace your online activity back to you.

Why Do You Need a VPN for Windows?

One of the main reasons that you might want to use a VPN for is for the security benefits that it brings. Because your online identity is hidden from the rest of the internet, you stand a better chance of not being targeted by cyber criminals and hackers. If any of your communications are intercepted by a third party, they will not be able to extract any meaningful data from it.

A recent statistic shows that in previous years, Windows 7 has held over 80% of the global market share in desktop operating systems. This means that cyber criminals are more likely to attack a Windows-based system by virtue of their sheer abundance, which is why an added layer of protection, like a VPN, is an important tool for anybody that accesses the internet via a Windows-based system.

Using a VPN will shield your data from a host of unwanted parties, and it can be used to access content. Using a VPN can also protect your data when you are forced to connect to an untrustworthywifi hotspot, as your VPN connection is private. It connects to a trusted, private server that relays your requests to the services, websites, and platforms that you are trying to view.

Certain protocols might be throttled or blocked outright by your ISP, meaning that download services such as torrenting might not be available to you. Streaming services may not be given a high priority on your internet connection, which can lead to buffering, lower quality streams, and interrupted viewing. By using a VPN to connect to such services, your ISP only sees your VPN connection, which hides all traffic from everybody that is not authorized to join your VPN connection or session.  Sometimes a streaming or torrenting service might not be active in your country, meaning that you cannot access content, even though you have paid to use the service. In an instance such as this, a VPN service acts as a proxy to connect you to the service that you are after.

What about free VPNs?

A free VPN service may provide you with a similar experience to a paid, premium service, but there are four major limiting factors that count heavily against this method.

  • Throttling – In order to provide a free service to as many users as possible, free VPN services need to prioritize traffic on their VPN. This means that activities such as internet browsing may take precedence over gaming or content streaming, which usually leaves users frustrated and waiting for their streaming content to buffer. Latencies can also mean games take a major hit in performance, making them unplayable in multiplayer scenarios.
  • Data Caps – Another way to keep a free service as open and as fair as possible is to limit the amount of data that each user on the VPN can consume before their access is blocked. This prevents users with much faster internet connections from hogging all of the bandwidth. This results in a user being disconnected prematurely from a VPN service, exposing them to security threats and monitoring until they can get access to the free VPN provider’s services again.
  • Lack of Locations – Free VPN services are usually not as well-funded as their paid counterparts, which means that they are unable to procure the services of as many VPN servers in as many regions as their commercialized competition. This means that the location-based services of each region may not be able to be fully utilized by the average free VPN user, limiting their choices, and ultimately the utility of the free VPN service will be at a much lower level than a commercial variant.
  • Logging and Privacy – Because you are not paying for a VPN service, you might not be aware of how the company generates income. Sometimes, user data such as site history and browsing patterns are sold to analytics companies. This can lead to unsolicited advertising and tracking by unsavory online elements in extreme cases. You also may find that your activities are logged, reducing your privacy and opening you up to security risks.

Setting up a VPN on Windows

Option 1: Install ExpressVPN via Application

This is by far the easiest way to install ExpressVPN and is, therefore, the recommended method suggested for Windows users.

Download the app

Look for the Welcome Email that you received when you joined ExpressVPN. There is a link in the email. Click it.

After logging in, click on “Setup ExpressVPN” in the Active Subscriptions section. You will be redirected to the “Downloads” page.

Click on Windows, and then click Download for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 to start downloading the setup file.

Do not close the window. You will need it for the next step.

Get your activation code

In order to use ExpressVPN on your Windows computer, you will need your activation code, so make sure that you copy it.

To copy your activation code, click the copy code icon in the top right corner of the box that contains the code.

Install the app

Double-click on the downloaded installation file that is now on your computer after it has finished downloading.

The setup process starts with a Welcome screen. Next, click Install.


Installing ExpressVPN

You might see a dialogue box that says, “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your PC?” Click Yes.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Wait for the Setup to run through the installation components.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Once finished, you will see the following screen:

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Set up ExpressVPN

When you get to the ExpressVPN Setup screen, you must paste your activation code into the provided field. Once entered or pasted into the field, click “OK”.

Best VPNs for Windows

Activation takes a few seconds. When the activation is complete, you will see a “Success!” screen.

How to Setup ExpressVPN


Click “Start Using The App.”

You are now able to access ExpressVPN’s servers in various locations.

Option 2: Install ExpressVPN Manually (Windows 10)

An alternative way to install ExpressVPN on a Windows 10 computer or laptop is to set up a new VPN connection manually. To do this, you will need the VPN server’s IP address as well as your login credentials. Here is a brief guide on how to find all of these details.

Find Your Account Details

You can find your login details on your original email that you received from ExpressVPN.

Once you have logged into your account on the website click on the Dashboard button located in the Active Subscriptions section, then click on the “Set Up on More Devices” button.

How to Setup ExpressVPN on Windows

Next, click Manual Config.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Select PPTP & L2TP-IPSec tab on the right (your username and password will be revealed).

Manual Configuration OpenVPN

You will see server addresses under your username and password. Click on the plus symbol to see all of the server addresses.

All of this information is needed for your setup, so either write it down or leave the screen open so that you can copy it later.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Next, we start the manual setup on Windows 10.

To add a new VPN connection, click the internet access icon in your system tray.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Select Network Settings.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Select VPN > Add a VPN connection.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Set up your VPN connection

Add your server address, username, and password from earlier in the guide.

In the “Add a VPN Connection” menu, enter the following:

VPN provider: Windows (built-in)

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Connection name: [Use a suitable name that you will recognize]

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Server name or address: [ExpressVPN server address]

How to Setup ExpressVPN


VPN type: Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Type of sign-in info: Username and password

How to Setup ExpressVPN

User name: [From the manual Config section]

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Password: [From the manual Config section]

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Check the box for Remember my sign-in info.

How to Setup a VPN

Click Save.

How to Setup ExpressVPN


The VPN connection is now visible in the Network & Internet settings menu.

How to Setup ExpressVPN


To connect to the VPN server, click on connection, then click Connect.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Your VPN is now working and your browsing is private.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

To disconnect from the VPN server, go to Network & Internet > VPN > [Your connection name] > Disconnect.

How to Setup ExpressVPN

Protocol Explanations

  • PPTP: While not the most secure protocol available today, many people find that PPTP’s fast transmission speeds and ease of use make it an ideal VPN technology to use when trying to access content from other regions or protecting their privacy. The technology was championed by Microsoft and is still used today by some providers that need TCP control for PPP connections.
  • IPSec: IPSec is an end to end protocol that is found within the Internet Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite. This is a good protocol for configuring Site-to-Site connections, and is used to configure router VPN connections for permanent VPN availability,
  • IKEv2: This protocol is usually used in conjunction with other VPN technologies, such as a Security Association with IPSec
  • OpenVPN: Those that are familiar with open source projects and VPN technologies will no doubt have heard of OpenVPN. It is a community-driven implementation of VPN that is useful in point-to-point and site-to-site connections.

Windows VPN FAQs

Is a VPN for Windows safe?

Yes, VPNs for Windows are very safe. In fact, it is safer to use a VPN to access the internet than it is to do so without one.

How should you test your Windows VPN?

A good way to test your VPN is to access a website such as www.speedtest,net or and check what IP address you have been assigned, as well as the closest location to your current connection. You will notice that the location closest to your current VPN should be visible. If you are seeing IP addresses and locations that belong to your ISP and are close to your actual location, then your VPN might not be configured correctly.

How badly do I need a VPN for Windows 7/8/8.1/XP?

With today’s cybersecurity threats at an all-time high, it is incredibly important to protect your internet activity as much as possible. This is particularly the case for operating systems like Windows XP, which have been discontinued by Microsoft, making them more vulnerable to viruses and malicious attacks.

Is an antivirus app enough to protect me while using Windows 10?

An antivirus app certainly adds a layer of additional protection, however it does not mask your identity or prevent your ISP from collecting data about your browsing activity. Only a VPN service can protect and secure your internet actions.

What can I use a VPN for?

VPNs can be used to create a private channel for your communications, ensuring you and the intended recipient of your communications are safe from eavesdroppers. VPNs are good choices for accessing worldwide streaming services and for making your connection appear to come from another location. VPNs can also keep your browsing history safe, meaning that your online activity is not tracked or logged by anybody.

How do I set up VPN on Windows 7?

All you have to do is download a VPN client and install the software. All of the steps are self-explanatory, and the process is quick and simple.

How do I to setup VPN on Windows 8?

Windows 7 and Windows 8 are nearly identical in the way that they run and execute set-up programs. Following the same installation prompts from your preferred VPN installation package will yield identical results when installing a VPN client.


Using a VPN is no longer optional if you want to keep your data and online activity private. Hackers, government agencies, and unscrupulous companies have all been found to illegally monitor specific user activities for various reasons. Using a VPN can protect your privacy and enhance your online experience.

Take a look at the products listed in this article and find the best option for your specific needs and budget. Many VPN companies provide free trials for you to sample before you make a decision, so why not try a few before you make a decision? We hope that you have found this information helpful, and we trust that you can now confidently say that you know what a VPN is, how to tell if a VPN is right for you, and how to go about installing one for yourself on your Windows computer or laptop.

Written by: Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics, security, and software. When not building networks and researching the latest software trends, he enjoys writing technical articles and blog posts.