How to use a VPN on a computer

How to install a VPN? More importantly, how do you use it properly? The use of a VPN is not necessarily obvious. Here’s a step-by-step guide to installing and using a VPN on a Mac or Windows PC.

Have you just subscribed to a VPN? This is only the first step before you can use it. Whether you’re on Mac or Windows, here’s how to install and use it.

A few reminders before starting: the principle of VPN

Installing a VPN may seem cumbersome on the surface. There are reasons for that. The main thing is that a VPN, by its nature, will alter your connection.

The principle of a VPN is to encrypt and relocate your connection, to locate you elsewhere on the globe (or elsewhere in France) in a secure manner. Concretely, once you are connected to a VPN, it is impossible for your ISP or a hacker to know what you are doing online.

Le principe d’une connexion VPN chiffrée // Source : Claire Braikeh

The principle of an encrypted VPN connection // Source: Claire Braikeh

The VPN application then has two roles. The first is to encrypt the connection. In the case of ExpressVPN, the application uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (or AES) for encryption, a security standard considered unbreakable today. Then the application will connect to a server, which the user chooses, to relocate the connection. Your IP address will then move to the country where this server is installed.

Un ordinateur avec le VPN ExpressVPN installé dessus. // Source : Louise

A computer with the VPN ExpressVPN installed on it // Source: Louise

Simply put, you delegate your Internet connection to the VPN service when you connect to a VPN. This is why the installation sometimes requires your permission.

How to install a VPN on a Mac or Windows computer?

On Windows

To get started, download the executable file available on your VPN provider’s website. In our case, we will use ExpressVPN.

Launch the downloaded file and click Connect. In the case of ExpressVPN, you are asked to enter an activation code. This can be found in the “My Account” section on the ExpressVPN site. Other VPN vendors are satisfied with a simple login and password.

Sur Windows, l’installation est très simple. Pour se connecter, il suffit simplement d’entrer un code d’activation disponible sur son compte sur le site d’ExpressVPN.

On Windows, the installation is very simple. To log in, simply enter an activation code available in your account on the ExpressVPN website.

Once the code is entered, ExpressVPN will ask you to configure the application summarily: automatically launch the application at startup and participate in the application enhancement program – you can refuse. Once these steps have been completed, you are ready to use the VPN.

On Mac

Installation on the Mac differs slightly from Windows because Apple generally requires more permissions to install apps than Microsoft for security reasons. Once the file is downloaded and launched, skip the first two steps. Then enter your computer’s password in the “type of installation” step. Finally, complete the installation.

Sur Mac, l’installation demande d’entrer son mot de passe.

On the Mac, the installation asks you to enter your password.

Once the application is installed, log in with an activation code found in the “My Account” section of the ExpressVPN website. The application will then ask you to allow the application to add a VPN connection. MacOS will warn you that the application can then filter and control the Internet connection. In fact, he will encrypt it to make it unreadable, even by himself, which is mandatory for a quality VPN. Click Allow. Then you just have to allow or disallow the application to launch at startup to get to the VPN login screen.

MacOS indique que le VPN va prendre le contrôle de la connexion. Un comportement attendu étant donné la nature de l’application VPN.

MacOS indicates that the VPN will take control of the connection. An expected behavior given the nature of the VPN application.

How to use a VPN on a computer

The use of a VPN is identical on Mac and Windows. When you launch the application, it displays by default that you are logged off. To activate the VPN connection, simply click on the connect button. After a few seconds, you will be connected to one of ExpressVPN’s servers and your connection will be automatically encrypted and protected.

Une fois le VPN installé, il ne vous reste plus qu’à cliquer sur le bouton de connexion pour lancer la connexion à un serveur VPN.

Once the VPN is installed, all you have to do is click the connect button to start the connection to a VPN server.

You also have the possibility to choose a server located in a particular location (in France, Germany, USA…). By clicking on the name of the country, you can choose in which country you intend to relocate your connection. On ExpressVPN, the list is long, with over 160 locations. If you wish to connect to the United States, it is also possible to choose between several cities. Keep in mind that the farther the server is geographically from you, the more ping and throughput will degrade.

Une fois la connexion établie, la connexion passe au vert. Elle est désormais sécurisée et anonymisée.

Once the connection is established, the connection turns green. It is now secure and anonymous.

Which waiter to choose?

We advise you to connect to servers located in specific countries according to your needs. If you need to browse the web securely, connect to servers located in Europe or even in France. If it is to bypass a geoblock (in the case of the American press, Netflix or Disney+), connect to the United States or Canada. The quality of the servers depends very much on the VPN provider. ExpressVPN is among the best in terms of throughput, stability and performance.

Il est possible de choisir le pays dans lequel on veut se connecter et dans certains cas, la ville précise dans laquelle on veut se connecter. Un moteur de recherche est également présent.

It is possible to choose the country in which you want to connect and in some cases, the precise city in which you want to connect. A search engine is also present.

ExpressVPN has a handy feature to find out which VPN to connect to: the speed test. It’s a good way to choose a waiter. Choose a region and launch it. This will give you the latency (the ping) and download speed of each server, so you can see which one is the fastest at any given time.

ExpressVPN permet de réaliser un speedtest de ses différents serveurs pour trouver le plus rapide en fonction de ses besoins.

ExpressVPN allows you to perform a speed test of its different servers to find the fastest one according to your needs.

From now on, all applications and programs running on your computer will go through the VPN connection. This means that your Steam, Chrome or Discord client will all pass through the VPN connection. And will act as if you were present in the country of the server to which you are connected.

Pour vérifier que vous êtes bien connecté à un serveur, vous pouvez effectuer un test d’adresse IP.

To verify that you are connected to a server, you can perform an IP address test.

The options you need to know

Split tunneling

This may have some disadvantages. For example, if you want to play a multiplayer game on Steam and download files on Chrome while connected to a VPN, your connection may suffer. ExpressVPN then offers an option to split the VPN connection according to applications, called “Split Tunneling”.

La fonctionnalité de « split tunneling » permet de choisir les applications qui disposent ou non de la connexion VPN.

The split tunneling feature allows you to choose which applications have or do not have a VPN connection.

Going to the client options, in the general tab, is the Split Tunneling option. It allows you to manage the VPN connection according to each application. This gives you the choice to apply the VPN connection to all applications on the PC, or to exclude some of them from the VPN connection. A very handy option if you are used to using a VPN for very specific tasks.

The kill switch

The other option that you should absolutely know is the “kill switch”. It allows you to completely cut the Internet connection if the connection with the VPN server is lost. It guarantees the user to remain anonymous and not to switch to his classic connection in case of unexpected disconnection. On the ExpressVPN client, this option can be found in the “General” tab and then on the “Block all Internet traffic in case of unexpected disconnection of the VPN” option.

SI votre utilisation d’un VPN se limite à la navigation sur Internet, il est possible d’installer une extension sur son navigateur.

If your use of a VPN is limited to browsing the Internet, it is possible to install an extension on its browser.

If you master these two options, you are generally familiar with using a VPN. Unless you have an advanced level, you are not advised to touch the connection protocols, for example. Finally note that ExpressVPN has extensions for Chrome or Firefox, which allow to launch a VPN connection directly to the browser (the VPN connection is then exclusive to the browser).

Why choose ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN has one of the best VPN applications on the market. Available on computers (Windows, Mac, Linux), smartphones (iOS and Android) and even on some routers. It allows you to connect to more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations around the world.

Servers are precisely the strong point of this service. They are stable and efficient and guarantee excellent throughput, regardless of the country in which the server is located. Crucial point in the choice of a VPN, ExpressVPN is also very clear on the protection of the privacy of its users. The VPN provider never records user activity, browsing history, IP addresses or DNS queries.

Most importantly, ExpressVPN is a VPN that works. Whether it’s connecting to Netflix US, circumventing Chinese censorship or hiding its IP address to escape surveillance, ExpressVPN works right away, without having to test three different servers first.

ExpressVPN is now on sale. Currently his subscription is at the price of 6 euros per month for 15 months, which is a 49% reduction compared to his usual price. This subscription allows you to use your VPN service on 5 different devices simultaneously.

To convince yourself of its quality, it is possible to try it free of charge for one month thanks to its “satisfied or reimbursed” guarantee which runs for 30 days when you subscribe.

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