Windows is by far the most commonly used operating system. Most of the users on the World Wide Web are almost certainly using Windows to browse the internet. However, what most users are not aware of is just how dangerous it is to browse the web without having certain security measures in place.
We will start by giving you all of the reasons why you should have a VPN installed and activated on your Windows device at all times. We will also take you through some of the best VPNs that you can use, and guide you through the process of how to set up a VPN on Windows (both Windows 10 and Windows 7).
Although you will need to purchase a VPN to get the most out of it, you’ll be able to see all of the advantages that go along with having a VPN during the time you are online.
Why you need a VPN for Windows
VPNs were initially intended to bypass geo-blocking restrictions. However, the quest for VPN companies to get a competitive advantage in the market has led to VPNs being your one-stop solution for all things privacy related. Nowadays, your VPN can do a lot more than simply route your traffic through one of its servers.
It’s almost effortless for a competent onlooker to get access to the files hosted on your PC through the internet. On top of that, your browsing history and everything else that you do when online can be put under surveillance and many governments make it legal for law-enforcement agencies to target specific citizens with their surveillance.
A VPN not only fools anyone spying on you into thinking that you are sending and receiving all traffic from a single server, but most VPNs have AES-256 encryption which is almost impossible to crack and allows you to send information over the internet without worry. Remember that protecting your information is especially important when on open wifi networks.
The features above are just the beginning. There are many ways through which VPNs make sure that their customers stick to them. Customer loyalty is one of the most important things when it comes to VPNs since it is a subscription-based service and a customer can end up paying a fortune over the course of a few years.
We have taken a look at the VPNs that can be used on Windows, so let us guide you through the 3 which we would recommend for all purposes ranging from business to video streaming. Two of these are paid VPNs which offer all the best features in the market while one of them is free, which you can use if you can’t use the first 2 for any reason.
NordVPN – the best security
NordVPN is easily one of the best VPNs available on Windows. The main reason for which NordVPN is so well-known in the VPN market is the amazing security features that it provides. You have access to all of the VPN features such as AES-256 encryption, a killswitch, and access to the VPN from multiple platforms and devices.
NordVPN does have amazing privacy practices such as their no-logs policy (no record of your browsing history is kept) and over 5,700 servers in a total of 60 countries. When it comes to speed, NordVPN will suffice for a fairly large number of users. However, some other industry-leading VPNs do offer better speeds, albeit for a bigger price.
NordVPN allows you to have full access to the internet including gaming, torrenting, Netflix, and other streaming platforms. If you live in a country where they try to block VPNs, e.g. China, you will have no problem using NordVPN to bypass all of the restrictions that have been placed on you.
Check out our NordVPN review
ExpressVPN – the best speed
ExpressVPN is another tool that you can use to have a safer and more private internet experience on windows. For the most part, ExpressVPN and NordVPN have the same features. ExpressVPN is a little bit more expensive though, so let’s take a look at what extra features are offered by Express and their VPN.
The number of servers that you can use on ExpressVPN is less than NordVPN at 3,000 and change. However, the servers here are spread across 90+ countries so you might have more options when it comes to choosing a server with the lowest latency. All of its servers can be used from restricted countries such as China and Russia.
The main place where ExpressVPN eclipses NordVPN is the speed. ExpressVPN has some of the best speeds among all of the VPNs currently available in the market. However, it does fall a little short to NordVPN when it comes to security, so choose ExpressVPN if you are simply using a VPN to unblock access and use NordVPN if you want improved protection against all threats the virus brings.
ProtonVPN – the best free VPN
ProtonVPN is not really an ideal VPN for Windows as it does not have enough features to satisfy all users. Everything that is offered by ProtonVPN has a better version of it being provided by other VPNs in the market. However, ProtonVPN is free, and unlike other free VPNs available, ProtonVPN gives you ‘Unlimited Bandwidth’.
We’d hesitate to recommend using ProtonVPN if you have money to spare. The two alternatives above are simply better. However, those looking for a free VPN should stop looking here as it does not get better than this (apart from the low number of servers available on the service).
Check out our ProtonVPN review
How to set up a VPN on Windows
Let’s go ahead and take a look at how you can set up a VPN and begin using it. For this portion, we will be using NordVPN. Remember that this process can be carried over to any of the other VPNs on this list with little alteration.
First, head over to the NordVPN website and purchase the plan you want. You have a total of 4 options starting at payment for each month going all the way up to 3 years (which is the most economical).
After that, you need to create an account (pretty standard stuff) with your email address and choose a payment method.
Once you’ve made the payment, you can download the NordVPN application for the platform of your choice.
NordVPN has applications for 6 different platforms plus browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. You can have up to 6 devices connected simultaneously, ensuring that you can protect not only your Windows computer, but your phone, tablet, and your smart TV.
Using a VPN on Windows
Once you have downloaded and installed NordVPN, start it up and enter your login information. After you are logged into the network, select a server location by sifting through all of the servers that are available. If you don’t want to go through the fuss, directly hit “Quick connect” at the bottom of the window and you’ll be connected to the server that’s closest to you.
On NordVPN, you can either select the location through the map on the screen, or you can search for a country and then decide which server you want to use from all of the servers that are in that location. There are also special servers such as those with Double VPN and dedicated P2P capabilities, so you have a lot of options.
How to set up a VPN on Windows 10
Setting up a VPN on Windows 10 is quite easy. All of the modern VPNs have dedicated apps that you can use. You can follow the process as detailed above and have a VPN set up and ready in a few minutes.
If you do not want to use the dedicated app, you can use the OpenVPN protocol. Simply download the OpenVPN app from the website and complete the setup wizard. After that, download the configuration files for OpenVPN from the company that you bought the VPN from and load them into your OpenVPN client.
You can only import one configuration at a time through the client. If you want to import them in bulk, find the config folder in your OpenVPN directory and paste all of the configurations there. Once the import is complete, right-click the OpenVPN icon in the system tray and connect to the server you want (it will ask for a username and password which you already have).
How to set up a VPN on Windows 7
First, head to the “Network and Sharing Center” under “Control Panel”. Here, click on “Set up a new connection or network.” From there, you can select the VPN option to move forward.
You will already have the IP address of the server that you want to connect to from your VPN provider. Enter that information and enter the username and password when you are asked to input it. If you do not enter a username and a password, then you will have to enter it when you try to connect to the VPN.
Once everything is ready, simply click on the network icon in the system tray and you will be able to see your new VPN under the “Dial-up and VPN” category. Then, you can connect to the VPN and begin using it.