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ExpressVPN’s new feature can get you connected in under a second

ExpressVPN on/off switch with a flame tail, indicating extreme speeds
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN’s Parallel Connections feature launched on January 26, 2022, with the intention of allowing users to connect more quickly. If you’ve ever used one of the best VPN services, you’ll know how frustrating it can be when the app is slow to connect, and this new feature takes advantage of ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol to improve user experience.

“With Parallel Connections, the ExpressVPN app now attempts to connect by trying all possible methods simultaneously,” claims ExpressVPN. “This means significantly faster connections for ExpressVPN users, especially when they are on networks that apply some traffic restrictions, such as schools, workplaces, hotels, hospitals, and airports.” 

Parallel Connections comes as a multi-feature update to ExpressVPN's apps, with the other major addition being Threat Manager, which stops apps sharing your personal information with a blocklist of data collectors. 

Lightway and Parallel Connections

In simple terms, there are a number of different ways a VPN can initiate a connection to a server, and when you tell the VPN to connect, the application will try the method that it considers to be most likely to work. If that method doesn’t work, it will then try another. 

Parallel Connections doesn’t eliminate this trial-and-error process, but it allows the ExpressVPN app to try all the methods simultaneously, cutting out the time between attempts. Parallel Connections is only available when using Lightway, and for a technical breakdown, check out ExpressVPN’s blog post (opens in new tab) on the subject.

Lightway also serves to increase upload and download speeds when connected, but that’s not unique to ExpressVPN. In fact, while Lightway easily outstripped the speeds delivered by providers still relying on OpenVPN, the very fastest VPN services use WireGuard or WireGuard-based protocols. 

In our testing, though, Parallel Connections does appear to have a significant effect on connection times, and the claim of “around 25% more users connecting in under one second” is believable. 

Parallel Connections is currently only available in ExpressVPN’s iOS VPN app, but there are plans to implement the tech across all major platforms. We don’t have any set date for a full release on all platforms, but ExpressVPN’s recent track record of regular and prompt updates indicates that we might not be waiting too long.

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.