Electronics

How to Set Up and Use ExpressVPN on pfSense

By Novak Bozovic / July 7, 2023

ExpressVPN runs on pfSense routers that support the OpenVPN protocol, which we'll show you how to set up just below. Aside from that, your pfSense must run software version 2.4.5 at least. So, before you can set up ExpressVPN on pfSense, make sure to update your router's software.

It's also worth mentioning that ExpressVPN is designed to run on pfSense routers intended for a basic home network setup. That means professional-grade pfSense routers and firewalls will benefit more from a large-scale VPN solution.

How to Set Up ExpressVPN on pfSense

We'll show you how to set up ExpressVPN on a pfSense router using an OpenVPN connection, which comes combined with AES-256 encryption. Do the following:

1. Subscribe to ExpressVPN using your computer and any Web browser.

2. Then, click "My Account" using the top-placed main menu on the ExpressVPN site. Provide your credentials and access your ExpressVPN dashboard.

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Navigate to Set Up Other Devices > Manual Configuration.

4. Make a note of your OpenVPN username and password. Then, select a server by scrolling down, and then download that server's OpenVPN (OVPN) files to your computer.

ExpressVPN Online Dashboard View for OpenVPN Manual Configuration

5. Now, log in to your pfSense router and navigate to System > Cert. Manager. Select the "CA" tab and click on "+Add." Then, enter the following information:

Saving Certificate Authority pfSense ExpressVPN

6. Now, select "Certificates" and click "+ Add." Use the following information:

Importing ExpressVPN Certificated on pfSense

7. Using the top navigation bar, go to VPN > OpenVPN. Select "Clients" and click on the "+ Add" button. Fill out the information in the "General Information" group based on the following:

ExpressVPN Installation Settings on pfSense

8. Take a look at the "User Authentication Settings" group. Provide your OpenVPN username and password. Then, fill out the "Cryptographic Settings" fields based on the following. 

Cryptographic Settings ExpressVPN on pfSense

9. Then, take a look at the "Tunnel Settings" group of fields. Fill them out based on the following information. 

10. Now, you should see looking at the "Advanced Configuration" group of fields. Make sure to take a look at the "Custom Options" field.  Then, copy the following code:

fast-io;persist-key;persist-tun;remote-random;pull;comp-lzo;tls-client;verify-x509-name Server name-prefix;remote-cert-tls server;key-direction 1;route-method exe;route-delay 2;tun-mtu 1500;fragment 1300;mssfix 1450;verb 3;sndbuf 524288;rcvbuf 524288

11. Now, fill out the rest of the fields based on the following instructions. 

Verbosity Level ExpressVPN pfSense

12. You now need to route your WAN traffic through your VPN tunnel. Using the top navigation bar, go to Interfaces > Interface Assignments. Click on "+ Add," and a new interface will be created. 

13. For "OPT 1," make sure to select "ovpnc1" and then go ahead with "Save."

Interface Assignments ExpressVPN pfSense

14. Using the top navigation bar, go to Interfaces > OPT1. Then, enter the required information based on the following. 

Reserved Networks Settings on pfSense

15. Now, use the "Save" button and then click "Apply Changes."

16. Using the top navigation bar, go to Firewall > Aliases. Once again, click "+ Add," and come up with a name for your network alias. Then, enter the following information. 

Saving Network Properties on pfSense

17. Save your changes and then go to Firewall > NAT > Outbound

18. For "Mode," select "Manual Outbound NAT Rule Generation."

NAT Configuration on pfSense

19. Once again, save your changes by using the Save > Apply Changes route.

20. Scroll down to "Mappings," where you should see your existing WAN connections. For the first WAN connection entry, click on the Copy icon (below "Actions"). 

Copying WAN Tunnels on pfSense

21. For 'Interface,' make sure to select 'EXPRESSVPN.'

Selecting ExpressVPN Interface on pfSense

22. Don’t forget to save your changes. Then, repeat that same process for any other WAN entries you might have. 

23. Lastly, you need to create a rule for your local traffic. Go to Firewall > Rules. Select "LAN," and then click "Add" on the far left. Fill out the required information based on the following. 

Edit Firewall Rule

Source & Destination

Extra Options

Advanced Options

Adjusting Gateways on pfSense

24. Finally, save and apply all your changes by going to Save > Apply Changes

25. One more thing. You need to check whether your VPN connection works. Go to Status > OpenVPN. Then, check for "Up" in the "Status" column. 

Checking ExpressVPN Status on pfSense

Final Thoughts

Setting up ExpressVPN on pfSense does take some time, but that's the nature of pfSense, after all. This is the only router firmware that gives you an unparalleled level of customization, which goes hand-in-hand with high-end ExpressVPN features. That said, we hope you found the steps above clearly explained and that you now have a VPN connection live.

Of course, don't forget that ExpressVPN offers individual apps as well, for computers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, and more. To learn how to get started with those, visit our central guide on how to set up ExpressVPN (covering 60+ devices).

FAQ

Does ExpressVPN Work on pfSense?

Yes, ExpressVPN works on pfSense routers that support VPN connections. More precisely, you can set up OpenVPN connections on pfSense using ExpressVPN.

How Do I Connect to ExpressVPN on pfSense?

Once you subscribe to ExpressVPN and configure the VPN on your pfSense router, you need to go to Status > OpenVPN. If you're connected to ExpressVPN, it should say "Up" in the "Status" column.

What Protocols Does ExpressVPN Support on pfSense?

ExpressVPN supports OpenVPN on pfSense. The VPN combines that protocol with AES-256 encryption, which means you get high-end digital privacy protection.

That would be all on how to set up ExpressVPN on pfSense. In case you have any questions, make sure to let us know via the comments section below. Lastly, thank you for reading!



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