The best VPN is one of the most effective ways to keep your information private while using the internet, but they can also be intimidating for users who don’t have much technical experience. While VPNs are easy to use once you take the time to understand how they work, many users are unfamiliar with the technology or how it can improve their online security – but for those in the States, a US VPN is an important tool to have to hand.
Essentially, your online activity will go through VPN servers before going out to the rest of the internet. This process can help you protect your browsing activity from third parties, avoid marketing trackers from Google, Facebook, and other online brands, or even help you access streaming content that isn’t available in your home country.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the necessary steps to download a US VPN service and secure your traffic. While we’ll be using ExpressVPN for the purposes of the guide, the steps should apply for almost any other VPN.
1. Start a subscription
While some free VPN services have a surprisingly deep range of features, paid VPNs are typically faster, more reliable, and more secure. Some providers also offer VPN free trials, but you’ll need to pay for a subscription if you want to use ExpressVPN. Fortunately, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can cancel within the first month if you’re not satisfied with the service.
If you paid for a subscription or entered payment information for a free trial, make sure to note the last day that you’ll be able to cancel the plan or take advantage of the money-back guarantee. Once you’ve finished signing up, you’re ready to download the client and start using your new VPN.
2. Download the VPN
If you’re on Linux, Mac, or Windows, you should be able to download the corresponding VPN client on the provider’s website. On the other hand, if you want to use your new VPN on a mobile device, you’ll likely need to download the app on either Google Play or the Apple App Store. Our guide to mobile VPN services is an excellent resource if you’re looking for a provider with strong support for mobile devices.
After downloading a desktop client, you’ll need to run the installer before getting started. If you’re using a mobile app, it should install automatically after downloading. Make sure that the provider you plan to use supports every platform that you need a VPN for.
3. Install the VPN
If you subscribed to ExpressVPN, you’ll receive a welcome email containing a link to finish setting up your account. After signing in, you’ll have the option to download and activate the VPN.
When you finish the download, look for the installer in your Downloads section and run the program to finish setting up your new VPN. From there, just sign into your account in the desktop app, and copy and paste your activation code to associate the client with your account. ExpressVPN limits subscribers to five simultaneous connections, which means you can only use five activated devices at the same time.
Downloading and installing VPNs can be tricky in China and other countries that heavily restrict internet usage. With that in mind, you should always take the time to get your VPN ready before traveling abroad, especially if you know that your destination country has strict internet regulations.
Which VPN do we recommend for users in the US?
ExpressVPN stands out from the competition in terms of price, features, and value. With servers in nearly 100 countries and plenty within the US, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN has everything that one would need from a VPN.
While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free (opens in new tab).