The VPN world is confusing at the best of times and knowing what is useful and what isn’t when it comes to Windows VPN applications can be a headache that many newcomers find too off-putting and eventually give up. I’m taking a look at 5 of the easiest Windows VPN applications that can remove the burden of complicated set-up and even add features that can greatly increase the functionality and security of using a VPN.
The IPVanish Windows VPN software is what can be considered a fully fledged application. While some VPN provider opt for a simple interface that basically makes connection others such as IPVanish have created more of a suite of features from within their software.
The main window of the software is broken down into sub-sections. This is divided into a main area to make a connection and further more advanced features.
For new users selecting a server is made easy by a large map view, a further server selection option breaks usage down into categories. Set options are available for US, UK, and Canadian Gaming or Media usage. This allows you to simply one click the option for the country of choice and then access geo-restricted content such as streaming sites like Sky Go or HBO Now. For the absolute novice this simplifies the process and takes out any of the guesswork.
Those who wish to have a little more control over location are able to select country by use, by map, or by list and when by list it’s possible to sort by Ping, Country, Last Connected or Times Connected allowing you to find both the fastest server and also your favourites by use.
The settings area of the software allows user configuration of the VPN protocol, port and also further options such as enabling the software on boot as well as how the software should act (ie; connect to a specific server automatically) and even what action the quit button performs from minimising to exiting the application.
Account information and support requests can be sent via the software itself allowing you an all in one solution that incorporates each feature of the service into one handy package.
VyprVPN offers a compact Windows VPN program which concentrates on the most critical job of connection on the main screen. Simply divided into a section for connection or choosing a server and a data transfer speed graph. The lower section allows you to quickly see what settings are currently in use and includes your current IP address, time connected, VPN protocol & encryption and NAT firewall status.
In the upper half of the window you can open a new window to select a server location or when favourite servers have been added they are quickly accessible. In a new window, servers can be sorted by region, favourites or simply search for a country of your choice. A set option to connect to the fastest server as determined by the software is also available.
The settings option has evolved quite rapidly as updates of the VyprVPN software have been released and now includes some non-standard features that add weight to the service. As well as the usual options to launch the program on start-up a more advanced feature of a VPN kill switch is included which will stop all internet activity should the VPN connection drop unexpectedly. This is essential for users who are concerned their browsing usage may be leaked outside of the VPN connection and a massive bonus to the software.
Further settings include the option to change the protocol and DNS leak protection which includes the possibility to use VyprVPN’s own DNS servers or user specified ones. Final options include general start on boot options and account information.
While the VyprVPN Windows software has some advanced options tucked away the main screen is extremely minimal so is suitable for the novice while having added features for those who want to expand.
VPN.ac have one of the more basic Windows VPN software packages that focus on connection and the variety of protocols without the added additions of what could be confusing features.
A compact window packs in all the options of the software so within one interface users can make a connection and also tweak settings to their needs. Simple drop down boxes reveals server location options with those suitable for torrent use highlighted. Protocols and ports are available to be altered with some more unique options available in the OpenVPN sphere with ECC and Xor options for those who know a little more in depth with what they want in terms of encryption.
Final areas of the VPN software include the latest news from the VPN.ac service itself and a large connect button. While the VPN.ac software is feature light there is an additional script included in the package to act as a kill switch and being one of the most requested features from VPN users is a welcome addition.
ExpressVPN in recent months has moved from a large window based VPN software to a more compact view with further options tucked away neatly behind the scenes. The main window itself is very minimalist and concentrates solely on connection which is achieved via a large connection button with one further option for selecting the location of the server you wish to access.
All further options are stowed away in a separate options menu. This is split into two panels that include general options such as loading the software on start-up plus the option to use custom DNS servers provided by ExpressVPN themselves. These will safeguard the names (domains) of websites you visit.
A second section of the options menu is dedicated to the selection of VPN protocol. For the new user, an automatic option is available which will select the most suitable VPN protocol that the software itself feels is best for your network. If you understand the differences in protocols and want to use a specific one from OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP to SSTP then these are individually available to be chosen.
LiquidVPN is unique as although they offer Windows VPN custom software it is built by a third party. The software suite itself is known as Viscosity and while it is not custom directly to LiquidVPN it is a well known and sought after brand of VPN software which LiquidVPN have licensed.
The actual feature set of Liquid Viscosity is rather rich and for the new user there will be more features than required. However, although it has the possibility to be feature rich and for the new user confusing it is also rather simple to use just from the general interface. This guide is aimed at simple software and including a feature full Windows VPN software may seem a little peculiar but in all honesty due to the simplicity of the software to get connected it really does fall under the umbrella of simple VPN software.
Liquid Viscosity starts directly into the notification area (the one near the time) and by right clicking has folder type access to 4 different VPN protocols including PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN and SSTP. Each folder expands to give a list of server locations and ports and are also broken down into protocols such as UDP or TCP.
For the novice simply clicking on these connections allows you to get connected and protected by a VPN connection, it doesn’t get much easier than that! For the intermediate there are a large range of further options available outside the scope of this article which includes the ability to use add-on scripts, some of which are supplied directly by LiquidVPN themselves and others which can be download or even created yourself should you be of technical mind.
Windows VPN software summary
Each package from the 5 providers is good in its own right. All offer the easiest way to get connected and enjoy the protection a VPN provides. While some offer more features than others you should ask yourself what you require and if you’re likely to want to expand your knowledge and use more advanced options in the future.
Providers who have incorporated additional features have made them easy to use via the software and even new users should be able to take advantage of the increased security those options enable.