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ExpressVPN Getting Started: Putting the Fastest VPN on the Market to the Test

With more than three million users on the clock, ExpressVPN must have some serious assets to seduce the public, with its premium price. To convince ourselves of this, we tested it thoroughly and the software surprised us both with its ease of use and the number of options it contains. Simplicity, because all you have to do is activate a large button on the interface for the magic of the VPN to work. But if we seek to go further in personalization, it is possible as this test will demonstrate.

Installation on computer and smartphone

For enhanced security, the VPN can be used on both your mobile and your computer. Everything happens from the ExpressVPN site and you will have to create an account and choose one of the subscription plans. Then comes the time to download the application. On PC, its installation is “express”, after downloading and validating an installation authorization, you just have to copy the code received by e-mail for everything to be operational.

From your mobile’s application store, you can perform the same operation by entering ExpressVPN in the search field and displaying the app’s card to install it. Note that there is an extension for your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave and Vivaldi). The plugin is offered directly by the application and all you have to do is click on the Install button at the top right of ExpressVPN to display the web page of the plugin corresponding to your browser, then click on Download and add the module. This extension is a kind of remote control that allows you to quickly launch and adjust the VPN and hide HTML5 geolocation.

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Interface and functionality

The application is built around a large button in the center which makes it very easy to connect and know if you are still connected to the VPN. When disconnected, the top third resembles a sunset that turns bright green when connected. The interface is the same, whether you use the applications for PC, Mac or smartphone.

By clicking on the button located just below this large round button, a second window is displayed to the right of the main module. You then have a search field to find a country from which you wish to connect. Three tabs are also available with, for the first, a list of recommended connection points. The second displays your own country selection. To add one, from the list of all available countries by selecting the last tab, just click on the little star that appears to the right of the flag when you point to the country. You will notice the presence of a chevron on certain countries. This means that the country in question has several access points. For example, for France, you can connect from Paris, Strasbourg and Marseille.

To go further in the settings, click on the three small bars at the top left. In the module that appears, you have access to all the settings and options. Thus, in the general tab, you can activate the launch of the VPN as soon as Windows starts. Similarly, it is possible to block the Internet connection if the VPN suddenly stops. On the other hand, the VPN does not block access to connected devices in the house, such as a network printer for example.

The most interesting option is available at the bottom. This is “split-tunneling”. This process makes it possible to remove certain applications from VPN protection. This can be useful in some cases, when a server connection is only allowed from your real IP address, for example. With ExpressVPN, it’s bespoke and you can require all apps to use the VPN, or separate specific apps from the VPN connection. Finally, you can also do the opposite by limiting the connection via VPN to only a few apps.

For the most erudite of users, the tab Protocols provides access to many specific connection protocols. Better to leave the one selected by the application. There are two tabs dedicated to shortcuts leading to your applications which will be displayed directly on the application, or the download of the extension for your browser. Finally, the Advanced tab brings a few more options, two of which are security-related and best left enabled.

Among the options, there is also the possibility of generating tests that allow you to verify the protection offered by ExpressVPN. This is particularly the case of DNS leak tests or WebRTC which are classics of their kind in terms of hacking. The application also allows you to check whether your IP address remains visible, despite the protections. Depending on the operating system used, you have to look in the different menus to find these options. For example, on a PC with Windows, it is necessary to click on the top left on the three superimposed lines and choose Help & Support from the available menu. Only on the iOS version does the option split tunneling is absent.

Performance

According to ExpressVPN, there are more than 3,000 physical servers in 94 countries. The software knows how to choose the most appropriate protocol depending on where it is connecting. In terms of pure performance, unlike other VPN services, the servers available are essentially physical and it is this ability that allows ExpressVPN to circumvent certain blockages and in particular those that may be encountered by virtual servers, which are too easy to identify.

ExpressVPN updates its list of recommended hotspots all the time so you can surf privately, unbridled and at the best speeds. Moreover, if you wish to carry out a speed test yourself on one of the servers, it is possible manually by connecting to this server and clicking on the menu button at the top left. This option is not available on mobile apps.

Unblock streaming content

Streaming services like Netflix sometimes block your access when you use a VPN. A devious behavior that we understand, because it allows content to be protected depending on the country. Indeed, the catalog is not identical from one country to another; however, it has been a few years now that VPN software has overcome this concern. This is the case for ExpressVPN and moreover, it is renowned for this ability. Another advantage, behind a VPN with encryption, any speed restrictions from your operator will be bypassed.

Privacy

The company says it keeps no logs of user activity, originating IP address, VPN IP you connect with, session length, or exact time. of the connection. Even better, ExpressVPN makes it clear in its policy that the company does not sell user data. Finally, data is deleted after each restart of a server and the servers are configured to run on RAM. This means that the data is not written to a hard disk.

Futura’s opinion

ExpressVPN is the ideal tool for nomadic or sedentary Internet users who wish to ensure the protection of both their data and their identity, while circumventing any restrictions in certain countries. Formidably simple since it only involves pressing a button to activate the protection, the VPN can also be tailored to meet the specific needs of the user.

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Technical sheet

  • Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv1/2, Lightway
  • Simultaneous connections: 5
  • Availability: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox
  • “No-log” policy: yes, certified by several audits
  • 24/7 customer chat in French

Article produced in partnership with ExpressVPN