Windows 10 issues with ExpressVPN TAP adapter 

ExpressVPN's latest Windows 10 app, version 6.0.7.1305 as of this writing, may have issues working on Windows 10 Pro for some users due to the prepackaged OpenVPN TAP driver adapter.




This article was tested on Windows 10 Pro and ExpressVPN version 6.0.7.1305 on a Surface Pro 4.

If you are having issues connecting to any of ExpressVPN's servers on your Windows 10 machine, but can access ExpressVPN using your other devices, check the following:
  • ExpressVPN Tap adapter in Device Manager
  • An entry for TAP-Windows Adapter under Network Connections
If the ExpressVPN Tap adapter in Device Manager indicates error code 52, this indicates that Windows prevented the driver from installation because Windows considers the driver as digitally unsigned software. Without the TAP adapter, ExpressVPN will fail to connect to any server available.

The ExpressVPN Tap Adapter cannot be enabled due to Windows Security restrictions. Uninstalling the ExpressVPN app or using the Repair option from the app does not resolve the driver issue.

ExpressVPN's support site provides a solution, but it is a temporary placebo at best. Moreover, it's not a process typical users would enjoy implementing. The process involves switching the testsigning mode on (bcdedit /set testsigning on), which allows installation and use of unsigned drivers on the system. The solution provided in the support page will work after you run the command, reinstall the app, and therefore the included driver. The problem with this "fix" is that if you re-enable driver signature enforcement (which is enabled by default in Windows), the TAP driver will stop working.

For the full steps involving bcdedit, visit the ExpressVPN support page for the related TAP adapter issue.

Another issue with this fix is performing it on Windows 10 Pro, which by default enables Secure Boot and BitLocker recovery. In order for users to run commands such as bcdedit, Secure Boot must be disabled in the UEFI settings, which also means users have to reboot the system at least twice to input the BitLocker key.

BitLocker will prevent casual users from editing Windows 10 boot settings.

After running the bcdedit command to enable testsigning to get the TAP adapter to work, users will have to once again input the BitLocker key and re-enable Secure Boot in the UEFI settings. The task can be unpleasant for mainstream users, particularly since the BitLocker key is extremely cumbersome to type on a tablet, or even a physical keyboard.



Note: For home users, the BitLocker key is stored by default in your OneDrive account when you set up your system.

Note that the previous version of the Windows 10 ExpressVPN app doesn't have this issue. If you encounter the TAP adapter problem, arguably the best solution is to manually set up VPN access on the Windows 10 machine. Setting up access to a few ExpressVPN servers may be more inconvenient compared to just installing and running GUI app, but it's more reliable and you only need to do it once.



For details on manually setting up VPN on Windows 10, refer to ExpressVPN's dedicated support page.



Note: The Android version of ExpressVPN had a somewhat similar issue, albeit easily circumvented with an Android update. Linux and macOS support OpenVPN natively and don't require the driver adapter so ExpressVPN's provided software for either platforms are largely unaffected by this issue. Windows 10 Mobile requires manual setup for ExpressVPN so it's also not affected.

Comments

  1. I had the same issue, and instead of going for the ExpressVPN solution you described, I uninstalled ExpressVPN, then first installed the TAP-windows-9.21.2.exe from https://openvpn.net/index.php/download/community-downloads.html and then reinstalled the ExpressVPN app. Did the job. Now my device mgr shows an unsigned ExpressVPN Tap Adapter next to the OpenVPN TAP 6 Adapter

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