Help me setup VPN please..

Hi All,

I paid for Express VPN. I thought I was going to be able to set this up on my router, but just now I found out there are two types. Open and L2TP. It appears my router will only work with the L2TP, but from what I understand this really is not that secure? I am much more interested in the security aspect than in getting new shows on Netflix. I can’t just get another router because my internet is LTE, the router comes with a preinstalled simcard from the company.

1. Is going around installing the VPN on every device going to be as good?
2. If i install the OpenVPN software on the computers etc should I still install the L2TP on the router?
3. If i install the VPN on my phone will it use the VPN only when connected to Wifi or will it work when using my data?

I’m not sure if this matters, but here is my basic setup. LTE router connects to a network switch that connects my house and shop PC to the NAS. I have other devices like my TV and laptop that connect to the router using Wifi.


Can you bypass your LTE router and use it in bridge mode?

If so, you can use another router.


Do you just want extra security when you surf the web?

If so, you could use the browser Tor, though Tor is not allowed on some websites.

3. If i install the VPN on my phone will it use the VPN only when connected to Wifi or will it work when using my data?

I think it'll work for both, though I haven't used a VPN on a phone.


By the way, you'll need some sort of kill switch so that if your VPN stops working, whatever application you're using will quit using the internet.

This type of VPN is client based. All the functionality for VPNing is in the client. You shouldn’t have to do anything to your router or network to get this to work. This type of VPN used to be (or still is) also called an anonymizer. Your phone or PC (client) runs the VPN app and it will encrypt data and connect to the VPN server (proxy) through your router and the Internet. You should not have to do anything special. Using a VPN makes your machine anonymous on the Internet because the VPN proxy server will be connecting to a web site for you and sending the web site content to you. The web site never sees your connection, only the proxy’s.

By the way, some websites don't like it if you visit them using a VPN.

My VPN has split tunneling, which let's me use my VPN with only the applications that I choose.

I can have one browser use my VPN while another doesn't.

I don't know if Express VPN offers that, but it's a nice feature.

Running the VPN on your router is a valid thing to do. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea, though.

If you do use one VPN connection on your router, then all your devices on your NATed network will have the same VPN IP address. So, in case you do decide to do something like torrenting a movie, or watching the BBC, that’s all on the same VPN connection. If you also log into gmail, or from that same IP address, it’s possible (not saying it’s ever been done before) that a 3rd party could connect that usage by client IP. That’s why I recommend you put the client on individual devices. Then each device connects and reconnects all the time, the IP addresses change, and there are lots of them, and harder to track.

But, remember that only 5 devices can be connected simultaneously with ExpressVPN

Yes it absolutely is. Router based has it’s advantages. We could go down a big hole here.
Going by the title of the thread, the simplest way to get started is to install the app on your device(s), fire it up, sign in. That should get it going. If it doesn’t… write back.

You probably already know, but if you give them more money, more than 5 can use it.

1. Is going around installing the VPN on every device going to be as good? Yes. Same principal and protocols so it will be good.

2. If i install the OpenVPN software on the computers etc should I still install the L2TP on the router? Are you using OpenVPN clients? Try the ExpressVPN client app. Shouldn’t have to do anything on the router. Typically these clients use the TLS (SSL) protocol which should pass through all routers.

3. If i install the VPN on my phone will it use the VPN only when connected to Wifi or will it work when using my data? You connect and disconnect from the VPN using the client. Any time the client is enabled/connected to the VPN it will use it. So you control it on the device and it should work anywhere, anytime you turn it on. LTE, wireless, ethernet - doesn’t matter.

I would consider this, but so far I can’t find anything that would indicate its possible on my router. Its a Dionlink LTE router (not very common or popular) so there are not a lot of videos etc about that particular one. I looked in the LAN settings and everywhere else I could think it might be and didn’t see anything that said Bridge mode. Can it be called something else?

Check out the manual for the router.

The manual will have your answer.

Personally, I use a second, semi-inexpensive linksys router, that I installed a version of DD-WRT on. You can find a list of compatible routers on that site. Other people like to use Tomato Firmware

In any case, I have OpenVPN set up on that router, and a device or two plugged into that router that I want the traffic masked for. Everything else is plugged into the regular router like normal.

I use a program called RemoteUtilities to manage that computer. I used to use TeamViewer, but they got a little draconian in their “free” usage licensing check since I use it from work too, so I ditched it.

EDIT: IGNORE THIS POST. I found out the problem was something stupid that I did and nothing to do with the VPN. On the same day I added the VPN I change a bunch of passwords. I did so on the NAS, but didn’t realize I had to do so inside each networked PC (someone else originally set this up for me). I am leaving the information below because otherwise many comments in this thread wont make sens.
———————————————————————————-Original incorrect comment below———————————————

I tried loading the VPN to my devices. When I loaded it to a PC my internet speed did not seem highly effected so I was encouraged. However I later found out it completely destroyed my network connection! Now when I try to access ANY information stored on the NAS like my pictures, videos etc or open any shortcuts with data stored on it I get an error message about the short cut. If I try to open file explorer it stalls out for a long time and then the screen crashes. Either goes either blue or black. Start up is very slow. Whats worse, I tried uninstalling it and restarting everything but the damage is permanent. Worse still I never setup system restore on this PC so now I will have to reformat the hard drive.

I really don’t understand why this happened. The only theory I have is that because both my internet and the NAS data come in on an Ethernet cable that the VPN doesn’t understand the difference??

I know I can’t Chromecast or print when my VPN is on. I don’t know but this sounds like a similar problem.

When you install a system-wide VPN client, you’re telling the VPN client to route all network traffic from that system through your VPN providers servers. The result of that is local connections are disabled, unless they’re available from the Internet, since everything goes straight to ExpressVPN outside your network.

You still haven’t said what you’re trying to accomplish by using a VPN, so that makes it difficult to give specific suggestions. But, maybe the browser extension is what you’re looking for. That will allow your web browsing to go through the VPN, but gives you more control (you can easily turn it off, or use multiple browsers with different settings, etc.). That won’t affect file shares, since that’s independent of your web browser.

That really shouldn’t happen. If you uninstalled the ExpressVPN software, you should have access to local resources again. Have you checked The Windows Network configuration? It’s possible that ExpressVPN configured a VPN protocol that’s built-in to Windows, and that’s still running. I don’t use Windows or ExpressVPN, so that’s just a guess, but I know Windows has some native VPN support.

You may have to look at the vpn app (assuming you’re using one) for a setting to allow local network (LAN) access, or “network lock” or something. If you’re just using a windows VPN I think it’s buried somewhere in the TCPIP or IPV4 settings and called “use default gateway on remote network” or something like that.

When I tried ExpressVPN installed on my router it totally throttled my connection so if you need a bit of speed behind you….

No, I think terminology is getting mixed up here. “System-wide” in this case would mean “Computer-wide”, where installing a VPN on your “Computer”, (also called a “Computer System”) affects everything that computer tries to access.

Other things on your network, apart from that particular computer (system), would not be affected by the VPN, like a NAS, or a chromecast, however the computer with the VPN (if active) would not be able to talk to them. Other computers on the network (like your shop one) would be able to.

Rebooting all the equipment probably introduced some other unknown problem that has nothing to do with the VPN.

Can you uninstall the VPN? At least until everything goes back to normal.

VPNs can introduce slowness. There’s not much to be done about that.
For one, they are encrypting everything, and the more encryption there is, the more horsepower that takes, which can slow stuff down.
For two, a VPN is routing all your traffic somewhere first, before it goes wherever you say you want to go. Like if you decided it would be a good idea to use a VPN that makes you look like you’re in Luxemborg. Guess what, just opening a page to Google has to route through Luxemborg first. Playing CoD or something is just crazy talk at this point.
For three, you’re depending on their servers (in Luxemborg in that example) for speedy routing. Picture a freeway interchange. It’s like that. The bigger the better. How big is theirs?

azj. Thanks for joining the conversation, and clarifying system wide. I already uninstalled the VPN. The problems with house PC continued, and after the restart of all my systems including the NAS the shop PC started having the issue. I don’t think its a coincidence that right after I installed the VPN all of this happened. I have never had any of this happen before.

How did you “go to network status”? Was that on the NAS, or a PC?

It’s highly unlikely that the VPN client on one of your computers modified your NAS.

Unless you’ve had that working before, I wouldn’t expect it to (i.e. it’s not a very good test). In general, you can’t just connect two computers, and your NAS is likely just a small linux or bsd computer, with a straight-through network cable. Unless one or the other has an auto-configuring network adapter (which used to be quite rare, and I think still is), you need a crossover cable to do that.

ETA: Plus addressing issues. That’s just very unlikely to work.

That was on the house PC.

There are 2 things to check. If the network status on the PC is “not connected” there is either a physical problem with the NIC in the PC, the cable, or the switch. Or, it can’t connect to the DHCP server on the router to get its assigned IP address. Check the lights on the port on the PC, lights on the ports on the switch, and double-check your router is still working.

Given that you’re seeing multiple problems on your local network (I think), it’s possible your router is disconnected from your LAN, or not functioning. I would focus on one PC that’s plugged directly in to the router, if possible. Get its network connection working properly by checking every step between it and the router. If you can’t get that working, you’ve almost definitely got a router problem.