There is no arguing with the fact that the advent of the internet has resulted in enormous levels of improvement in our everyday lives. Obviously, I am not here to speak for everyone in the world, but I for one can hardly remember how I ever got through life without it. Nowadays, I use it for just about everything. Getting from point A to point B; finding information (no need to remember facts anymore); shopping; even ordering food. How did we even survive pre-internet?
However, for all of the perks and improvements that the internet has created, it has also resulted in a nearly equal amount of dangers. For every website that makes life infinitely easier, there are at least two miscreants who lurk in the shadows of our wifi connections, waiting to find and exploit our sensitive information. That means credit card numbers, addresses, pictures, videos, anything transmitted or accessed on a public wifi network is fair game for sadistic individuals that know what they’re doing.
In fact, it’s not just the occasional rogue hacker who you have to worry about either. Even the more ‘reputable’ companies that you need in order to access the internet can act in bad faith when it comes to your data. That’s right, I’m talking about your Internet Service Provider (ISP). A disconcertingly high number of them, access, mine, and sell your data to third-party companies. You know, so they can then target you in their own way, with personalized advertisements and who knows what else.
You aren’t safe from the government either. Depending on where you live, you may (and probably are) vulnerable to being spied on by the state. Most nations (even the so-called ‘free’ ones) regularly monitor their citizens’ online activity. They do so in the name of ‘safety,’ at least in the case of free countries … but there is no arguing the fact that it is invasive and Orwellian, nonetheless. And if you are in a particularly oppressive country, forget about it, most of the internet won’t be available to you anyway. Censorship is a favorite tool of oppression, after all.
There is a bit of good news that I have for you, though, and that is the fact that hope is not entirely lost. Whether you are worried about being spied on by an amateur hacker, your government, or you want to get around national censorship firewalls, a VPN can do the trick. The first trick to safeguarding your privacy is to know what makes you vulnerable.
Sure, we could all stand to have more online privacy, but you are especially vulnerable if you spend a lot of time in coffee shops or traveling. A public wifi connection is the least secure of them all, and anyone can easily break in and spy on what you’re doing over them. So, if this describes you, a VPN is of special importance. However, even if you only use the internet at home, that doesn’t protect you from more advanced hackers. And nothing but a VPN (or the Tor dark web browser) can protect you from most governments.
The acronym, VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. Essentially, they create a truly private connection to the internet specific to your IP address where an unsafe or public one already exists. Maybe a more descriptive way to look at it would be to picture a tunnel of private internet access that is burrowed below the usual internet traffic on your network.
By digging under the ground, so to speak, you are undetectable by any devices that wish to monitor your activity. Whatever you do underground is your business and your business alone. It is total privacy at its best.
It was a low-level Microsoft employee, believe it or not, that invented the first-ever peer-to-peer tunneling protocol (PPTP) software in 1996. This software is widely considered to be the necessary precursor to the VPN technology that we know and love today. Slightly different (and much more complicated) than contemporary VPNs, if it weren’t for PPTP we wouldn’t have the constant influx of VPN technologies we have today safeguarding our privacy.
Express VPN is far from the first VPN to ever hit the market. But it is one of the most critically acclaimed. Registered as a company in the British Virgin Islands, it runs over 3,000 remote servers in over 160 locations and 94 separate countries. Both Tech Radar and Comparitech named Express VPN their editor’s choice for a VPN service in 2018.
As is the case with most VPN programs and apps, there is not a whole lot to be said in the way of design. This is because the VPN itself does not require you to use it a whole lot. All you really have to do is open the program, select your location from a list, and turn the power button “on” to activate your total privacy and censorship evasion. It is as simple as that.
That being said, Express VPN is one of the easiest ones on the market to use. Hence where it’s name comes from, I suppose … all you have to do is open the app, click “on” and begin browsing as you normally would, only with less anxiety because the service is excellent at masking your IP address and, thus, the data it transmits!
Express VPN offers the following services:
-Access to 160 remote server locations
-IP address masking
-Available on every device (Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, game consoles, smart TVs, etc.
-Bypass website blocks to access any content from anywhere on the web, no matter where you live
-Fully anonymous browsing
-24-hour chat support with real people
In addition to everything that the program and app do (above), Express VPN offers other services like a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox, Express VPN routers, and plenty of informational tools and resources to test your own privacy and learn more about VPNs. Plus, Express VPN even has a regularly updated blog to keep you in the loop on the latest in privacy tech.
Pricing and Plans
Not only is Express VPN one of the most effectively secure VPNs on the market, but they also have some of the fairest prices on the market as well with plenty of payment options (credit card, Pay Pal, Bitcoin, Union Pay, Web Money, Mint, any many more). But for the sake of keeping things simple, today I will run down Express VPN’s prices in USDs (the site will work out the exchange rates for you before checking out, don’t worry).
If you are willing to commit to a full year subscription of Express VPN, it will run you $8.32/month. Not bad at all when compared to the prices of comparable VPN services out there. Pretty on par, I would say, with the top 5 (including Nord, Ghost, Windscribe, etc.).
However, if you are not willing or able to make that kind of financial commitment, Express VPN also offers a 6-month subscription for $9.99/month. This is a little bit on the pricier side if I’m being honest. There are some similar VPNs that run $9.99 a month for the simple month-by-month payment plan.
Express VPN also offers a minimally committal monthly payment plan that lets you pay as you go for $12.95, recurring until canceled. So, perhaps Express VPN is not the cheapest. But it is one of the highest-rated, so, that is certainly important to keep in mind.
Suggestions that I have for Windscribe VPN
My main suggestion for Express VPN concerns its prices. As I said, it’s a little more on the expensive end of the spectrum than I would prefer. Even if you are getting a superior VPN, I would like to see these price points go down a bit. Or, at the very least, it would be nice to see Express VPN offer a free trial period of some sort before deciding to a yearly or biannually commitment, or having to drop at least $13 to try it out for a month.
If you do not currently have a VPN, what are you waiting for? Go over to Express VPN right now and see if this is the service for you.