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A virtual private network (VPN) is a necessity in today’s increasingly risky online environment. While there’s a lot of discussion about VPNs, there’s also a lot of confusion surrounding them. So what is a VPN, exactly? And which qualities make a VPN worthwhile? Continue reading to find out.
What’s a VPN and Why Does It Matter?
- A VPN allows you to connect to a remote internet server with encryption, which creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet.
- Using a quality VPN, prying eyes won’t be able to intercept your data while you make transactions online or send and receive private information (like bank accounts and passwords). More on that later.
- VPNs also allow you to stream restricted content limited to specific locations. For example, if you were traveling to China, you could use a VPN to bypass those restrictions to stream Netflix at your leisure.
- With a VPN, you’re also able to access content that’s not available in the U.S. That means you can change your location to access international content anonymously, wherever you’d like.
While VPNs provide a slew of benefits, choosing the right one can be challenging: there are many VPN services available, but each one seems to claim that it’s the best.
Keep in mind there are a few things you should look for in a quality VPN service, and take note that ExpressVPN scores big on all of them. With that being said, ExpressVPN might be the best VPN service you can buy today. Here’s what you need to know.
What would be the point of using a VPN if the VPN provider were tracking all of your private activities? Some VPNs do this, but ExpressVPN doesn’t.
ExpressVPN has a notably strong commitment to user privacy and anonymity. ExpressVPN won’t log your browsing history, IP addresses, traffic destinations or metadata, nor DNS queries; which are all critical factors in choosing a trustworthy VPN provider.
“A vocal advocate for internet freedom and privacy, ExpressVPN is a proud financial supporter of nonprofit organizations fighting to protect digital rights, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Defense League, OpenMedia, and others.” – ExpressVPN
Solid Security and Encryption
With ExpressVPN, your traffic is encrypted with 256-bit keys (AES-256). AES-256 is used by security experts worldwide, and even the United States government to hide and classify private information. A brute-force attack on this type of encryption is basically impossible, even with the most powerful supercomputers in the world.
ExpressVPN also takes advantage of multiple VPN protocols like OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IPSec, and PPTP, which may be relevant to more advanced users. ExpressVPN recommends that users take advantage of its “Automatic” setting, which selects the protocol that’s best optimized for security and speed. Easy.
Fast and Unlimited Bandwidth
ExpressVPN features a massive selection of servers from all over the world. Currently, there are more than 3,000 accessible ExpressVPN servers in 160 locations spanning 94 countries. That’s a lot of options allowing you to choose the fastest connection that works best for any given situation.
Using the Smart Location tool, I connected to Los Angeles, which routed my connection through Washington, D.C. This connection allowed me to hit 70.7 Mbps download speeds, and 59.6 Mbps upload speeds. Note that you might see faster or slower speeds depending on your chosen server and your ISP’s speed allotment.
It wasn’t noticeable, but there was a drop off in tested speeds compared to my quicker connection without using a VPN; although that’s the case with any virtual private network. Even still, ExpressVPN was able to provide over 70 Mbps. For comparison, the world’s average household internet speed is only 46.25 Mbps.
Reputable VPN reviewers have corroborated the fact that ExpressVPN offers the fastest download and upload speeds available today.
Even better yet, ExpressVPN won’t cap your bandwidth meaning you can surf the web all you’d like (and download as much as you want). Other VPNs may restrict what ExpressVPN won’t.
VPN services are physically located all around the world, which can be a great benefit depending on where they are, specifically.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and that’s a major plus in this scenario. The British Virgin Islands is a self-governing entity without surveillance programs and is well-known for data protection and user privacy.
Because of its jurisdiction, ExpressVPN can’t be forced to provide its customers’ records to the United States government and has publically refused to do so in the past.
All of this essentially boils down to the fact that ExpressVPN isn’t based in a 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance alliance jurisdiction, which is fantastic news for those seeking a VPN with the best privacy capabilities.
Wide Device Compatibility
We access the internet from a multitude of different devices, and we want our VPN to work with each one of them. ExpressVPN is compatible with Macs, iPhones, iPads, Windows computers, Android devices, Linux devices, and even routers.
ExpressVPN also works over wired internet connections (not just Wi-Fi), and even cellular networks.
No tech skills are necessary to get started either. Get the ExpressVPN app on your compatible device, log in, and click “On.” Done.
Ease-of-Use and Excellent Support
I tested the mobile app on my iPhone XS Max, as well as the desktop application on my MacBook Pro. ExpressVPN only took a few moments to set up on each device.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll find that each of the apps’ interfaces are clean and intuitive. Select the server you’d like to connect to and voila, you’re in.
Changing servers couldn’t be easier either. Select a new location, and ExpressVPN will disconnect from the old location and put you on the new one. ExpressVPN also allows you to bookmark those locations by clicking the star (Favorites) icon – making it effortless to hop to the best servers instantly.
If you do happen to encounter an issue, ExpressVPN employs real people to help via Live Chat or email. You’ll find that their Live Chat support team is quick to help, and if you get disconnected accidentally, they’ll even follow up via email. Nice.
If you decide that you don’t enjoy the service, ExpressVPN offers a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee within the first 30 days of use.
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