Recommended VPN for Windows 2019

How To Set-Up VPN on Windows 10

The Microsoft Windows operating system has been the global software standard for desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, and servers for a very long time. Consumer versions of Windows have progressed in the last 15 years with Windows XP, Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. While the evolution of this software has led to a much better user experience in general, a few things have not changed at all, especially when it comes to online user experiences.

However, issues such as privacy and security have long 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 your internet safety and privacy.

In addition to these issues, Windows users have limited legal access to streaming videos and music, downloading content, or playing online games. Fortunately, thanks to the advent of VPN technologies, 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 Would 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 shows that in previous years, Windows 7 has held over 80% of the global market share in desktop operating systems. This means that cybercriminals 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 untrustworthy wifi 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.

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.

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

Wait for the Setup to run through the installation components.

Once finished, you will see the following screen:

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”.

Activation takes a few seconds.

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

 

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.

Next, click Manual Config.

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

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.

Next, we start the manual setup on Windows 10.

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

Select Network Settings.

Select VPN > Add a VPN connection.

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)

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

Server name or address: [ExpressVPN server address]

 

VPN type: Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

Type of sign-in info: Username and password

User name: [From the manual Config section]

Password: [From the manual Config section]

Check the box for Remember my sign-in info.

Click Save.

Connect

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

 

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

Your VPN is now working and your browsing is private.

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

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 www.whatismyip.com 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.

Isn’t 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 set up 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.

Conclusion

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
22 October 2018

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.

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.

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