Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN in 2023

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: January 16, 2023
Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN
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Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are long-standing service providers in the virtual private network industry. Their long tenure allowed them to build impressive cybersecurity tools for removing geographical restrictions and keeping customers confidential.

While many consider NordVPN to be the best in the industry, it’s not always clear which provider is the runner-up. Could it be ExpressVPN or Proton VPN?

To find out, let’s first compare the two against each other to see which is superior overall. We’ll analyze them in various VPN-relevant categories, including speed, security, streaming, and pricing. After that, we’ll tally the results and announce a winner. So stick around to find out the results of our Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN comparison!

Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN comparison highlights

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Our rating8.5 ⭐8.2⭐
Current offerGet Proton VPN for 50% OFF!Get for ExpressVPN 35% OFF!
Price starts from$3.99/month$8.32/month
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days
No-logs policyIndependently-auditedCourt proven and independently audited
Servers1700+ in 66+ countries3000+ in 94+ countries
VPN protocolsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, StealthLightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP
StreamingNetflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and moreNetflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more

Speed

Let’s kick things off with the primary feature of any VPN provider – connection speed. This aspect is the most vital because it affects all other avenues of the service. For example, a fast VPN allows streaming in UHD and browsing the web without noticing any slowdowns.

Connectivity can vary greatly depending on various factors that are difficult to account for. However, it’s clear that providers with modern and efficient VPN tunneling protocols perform the best in this scenario. Naturally, there are also proprietary means of improving upload and download speeds.

The fastest protocol that Proton VPN uses is WireGuard. The technology is modern, open-source, and well-regarded. Unsurprisingly, it’s a popular choice among the best VPN services.

Customers can also enable OpenVPN or IKEv2 to suit their needs. If that wasn’t enough, the service offers its one-of-a-kind VPN Accelerator technology to improve connectivity further. In short, it removes various inefficiencies from the data transfer process.

On the flip side, Express VPN utilizes the proprietary Lightway protocol. The in-house solution is open-source and audited to ensure security and performance. Alternatively, you can use the age-old OpenVPN or IKEv2 protocols.

While the two providers are definitely ultra-fast, we have to give the win to Proton VPN for the inclusion of VPN Accelerator. Also, consider checking our VPN speed test to see how Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are faring against other providers.

Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN: 14-Day Speed Average

More live data from our VPN Speed Test tool
Proton VPN ExpressVPN
USA server
Download Speed159 Mbps95 Mbps
Upload Speed43 Mbps108 Mbps
UK server
Download Speed179 Mbps133 Mbps
Upload Speed157 Mbps184 Mbps
Germany server
Download Speed169 Mbps183 Mbps
Upload Speed171 Mbps154 Mbps

Servers

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Servers1700+3000+
Countries66+94+
All physical serversYesNo
Owns all serversNoNo
RAM-only serversNoYes

Server infrastructure is the second aspect we’ll measure because it marginally influences connectivity. It also showcases how much foreign content you can unblock with the service. Additionally, various specialty servers can improve security and privacy, which is a considerable benefit for some users.

Proton VPN runs a network of  1700+ servers across 66+ countries. The entire fleet is bare-metal, meaning all hardware is located in its respective countries, and there are no virtual servers. Additionally, the service offers specialty Secure Core servers, which redirect your connection through multiple locations.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN customers can pick from over 3000 servers across 94+ countries. The impressive variety is achieved with the help of a small percentage of virtual servers. Additionally, the service includes TrustedServer technology, which is their way of naming RAM-only servers. This technology prevents hard drive use for data storage and instead uses Random Access Memory, which wipes any information the moment you pull the plug or restart.

Pricing

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Free versionYesNo
One month$9.99/month$12.95/month
One year$5.99/month$8.32/month
Two years$3.99/monthN/A
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days
Payment optionsCredit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, cashCredit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall (AliPay, UnionPay, and more)

From a pricing perspective Proton VPN is the superior option. For starters, it has a free plan to provide essential security and privacy at no cost. Furthermore, its premium subscription costs are more affordable than those of ExpressVPN.

Thankfully, both offer a 30-day money-back guarantee as a means of testing the service before fully committing. And if you’re looking for the best possible deals, use an appropriate VPN coupon code.

Proton VPN pricing

Once you’re done with the free plan, Proton VPN premium subscriptions include three options.

As you can see, the lengthiest subscription includes a 50% discount. You can also scour the web for Proton VPN discount codes to find alternative deals. And don’t forget that you can bundle the VPN with other tools from the Proton family, such as Drive, Calendar, and Mail.

Proton VPN plan prices

If you picked your plan, payment options include credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and cash for absolute anonymity.

ExpressVPN pricing

Potential ExpressVPN customers can choose from three pricing plans.

If you’ve done some research, you’ll notice that these prices are significantly above-average in the VPN industry, even with the 35% discount. However, it’s arguable that the service is worth it, especially considering that it includes a password manager (ExpressVPN Keys) with every plan.

ExpressVPN pricing

The service supports various payment methods, such as Credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and Paymentwall. And don’t forget to snag an ExpressVPN discount code for the best possible deals.

Security

Proton VPNExpressVPN
EncryptionAES-256AES-256
ProtocolsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, StealthLightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Security featuresSecure Core, NetShield, split tunneling, Tor over VPNThreat Manager, Parallel connections, TrustedServer, zero-knowledge DNS, ExpressVPN Keys

Like any other secure VPN, ExpressVPN and Proton VPN use virtually uncrackable AES-256 encryption to mask customer activities. Additionally, they include VPN kill switches to prevent IP address leakage when connections unexpectedly drop. Finally, you have a fair number of options in the secure tunneling protocol department.

Besides the basics, the two services offer a fair share of bonus security features for tackling other online threats. This combination of the essential and extra features puts Proton VPN and ExpressVPN on par regarding digital security.

Proton VPN security features

Here’s an introduction to some of the cybersecurity perks that Proton VPN customers unlock.

  • Secure Core. Some users need improved encryption and security, which is only possible via Double VPN.
  • NetShield. This tool will block malicious ads, privacy-breaching trackers, and malware-laden websites.
  • Tor over VPN. Proton VPN offers servers that route their traffic through the Tor Network.
  • Stealth protocol. This proprietary protocol masks your traffic and allows you to bypass VPN restrictions and online censorship.

Learn more about the tools this service offers by reading our comprehensive Proton VPN review.

ExpressVPN security features

It should come as no surprise that ExpressVPN offers an expansive feature arsenal due to its hefty price tag. Have a look at some of those tools.

  • Threat Manager. This tool prevents various apps and websites from sharing your information with third-party advertisers.
  • Parallel connections. ExpressVPN ensures that your VPN connection is established swiftly by attempting multiple connection methods simultaneously.
  • ExpressVPN Keys. Unlike most VPNs, ExpressVPN includes a secure password manager at no additional cost.
  • Stealth servers. This often overlooked feature allows customers to bypass online censorship by making their traffic appear as regular HTTPS traffic.

Find out what else is included with your subscription by checking out our ExpressVPN review.

Privacy

Proton VPNExpressVPN
JurisdictionSwitzerlandBritish Virgin Islands
LoggingIndependently-audited no-logs policyIndependently-audited and court-proven no-logs policy
Anonymous paymentBitcoin, cashBitcoin

VPN services can guarantee digital confidentiality not through empty promises, but by sticking to tried and tested privacy practices. Specifically, they need to operate from countries outside Five Eyes alliance jurisdictions and adhere to strict no-logging policies. The first part is straightforward, while the latter is tricky because anyone can claim to keep no logs, but only a third party can verify that.

Thankfully, the participants of this comparison win in all regards. Firstly, both are located in privacy-friendly regions (Proton VPN in Switzerland and ExpressVPN in the British Virgin Islands). Secondly, their zero-logs policies were audited and received stamps of approval from established cybersecurity companies.

Customers can also purchase these services anonymously via the most well-known cryptocurrency – Bitcoin. However, Proton VPN gains a mild edge with the inclusion of cash payment support. Otherwise, the two providers are on equal footing if online privacy is your goal.

Device compatibility

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Major dedicated appsWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Other dedicated appsAndroid TV, ChromebookFire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV, Chromebook, Routers, Kindle Fire, Nook HD
Browser extensionsN/AChrome, Edge, Firefox
Manual setupRoutersChromecast, Nvidia Shield, routers
Simultaneous devices105

A versatile VPN should be compatible with every device you own. Additionally, it should support enough simultaneous connections to protect all your properties without issues. Naturally, it should also have apps for your preferred devices. If not, it must support manual router configuration.

While ExpressVPN supports a wider range of devices, Proton VPN is the superior choice overall. It supports 10 simultaneous connections with one account, double what ExpressVPN musters up.

Both providers have apps for all desktop and mobile devices, plus they support manual router configuration. A key difference is that ExpressVPN has browser extensions, while Proton VPN doesn’t. Ultimately, the choice between the two in this area revolves around personal preference.

Streaming

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Netflix USYesYes
Other Netflix librariesYesYes
Other platformsYesYes
Smart DNSNoYes, MediaStreamer

While streaming and foreign content unblocking are popular VPN use cases, they heavily rely on connection speed and airtight security. As such, we had to cover those topics first. But now we can finally proclaim ExpressVPN is the better VPN for streaming. It wins in this category because of the specialized MediaStreamer tool and greater country variety.

Proton VPN unblocks Netflix US

Besides that, Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are great for changing your Netflix region and unblocking the US or any other library. Additionally, they work with other streaming services, such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus. Best of all, their fastest tunneling protocols will ensure lag-free streaming in 4K resolution no matter where you’re located.

Torrenting and P2P

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Allowed onSelect serversAll servers
Split tunnelingYes (Windows, Android)Yes (Windows, Mac, Android)
Port forwardingYesYes

People frequently need a VPN for torrenting because many networks and ISPs restrict P2P (peer-to-peer) technology. Meanwhile, a VPN can reroute your connection through a country where the technology is available. Plus, a virtual private network grants other perks useful while torrenting.

You’ll be better off picking ExpressVPN for torrenting over Proton VPN. The main reason is that it doesn’t limit P2P traffic and permits it in every country location. Meanwhile, Proton VPN allows torrenting in select servers, meaning some customers may end up with suboptimal connection options.

Additionally, ExpressVPN supports split tunneling on a wider range of devices. On the plus side, both services allow port forwarding for even greater connectivity when downloading files with fewer peers.

China

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Works in ChinaYesYes
Stealth VPNYes (Stealth Protocol)Yes (Stealth servers)
Tor over VPNYesNo

The issues of online censorship and digital restrictions are showcased best in China. The country restricts numerous foreign services and excessively surveils the populace. As such, a well-performing VPN for China needs as many tools for tackling such issues as possible.

Proton VPN wins because it offers two options – Stealth VPN and Tor over VPN servers. That means you can fall back on one if the other fails. Conversely, ExpressVPN only offers Stealth servers as a means of combating DPI (Deep Packet Inspection).

Customer support

Proton VPNExpressVPN
24/7 live chatYesYes
Phone LineNoNo
Email YesYes
KnowledgebaseYesYes

Users will inevitably need assistance when facing the many issues VPNs can conquer. Thankfully, ExpressVPN and Proton VPN offer excellent customer support options for granting a helping hand in trying times. You can reach either one 24/7 via live chat or email. Alternatively, you can scour their written guides and try solving issues yourself.

Best VPN by category

Proton VPN🥇ExpressVPN🥈
Speed and serversWins✔️Loses❌
PricingWins✔️Loses❌
SecurityTie 🤝Tie 🤝
PrivacyTie 🤝Tie 🤝
CompatibilityWins✔️Loses❌
StreamingLoses❌Wins✔️
TorrentingLoses❌Wins✔️
ChinaWins✔️Loses❌
Customer supportTie 🤝Tie 🤝
Total wins4 out of 92 out of 9

Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN – which is better?

It was a tough match because the two VPNs have excellent security and privacy features. However, Proton VPN ultimately emerged victorious thanks to its affordable prices, greater speed potential, and more tools for dealing with censorship.

On the flip side, it’s worth investing in ExpressVPN if your primary concern is maximum streaming performance and secure torrenting. Otherwise, you’ll be better off with the more affordable Proton VPN.

Get Proton VPN


You may also like to read:
Proton VPN vs NordVPN
Proton VPN for torrenting
NordVPN vs Surfshark vs ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN vs PureVPN
IPVanish vs ExpressVPN


FAQ

Is ExpressVPN better than Proton VPN?

Not necessarily. The two are on par in many regards, but Proton VPN is the more well-rounded VPN at a reasonable price. It’s swift, secure, confidential, and can protect up to 10 devices with one account. Meanwhile, ExpressVPN has twice as expensive subscription prices yet only grants 5 simultaneous connections.

What is better than Proton VPN?

Overall, NordVPN is a better product than Proton VPN. It’s slightly cheaper yet faster and packed with more features for security and privacy. Additionally, it’s great for streaming and has loads of apps for various devices. You can even try it out with the 7-day free trial on the Google Play Store.

Is Proton VPN a good VPN?

Yes, Proton VPN is an excellent service in many areas. It’s a leading provider in terms of connection speed, digital security, and online privacy. Additionally, it operates from Switzerland and boasts an independently-audited zero-logs policy. Best of all, it offers an unlimited free plan to provide solid protection at no cost.

Is ExpressVPN still trustworthy?

Some would argue that ExpressVPN is no longer trustworthy because of its ties to Kape Technologies and the hacking scandal involving the service’s CIO (Chief Information Officer), Daniel Gericke. However, there’s no substantial evidence to prove that ExpressVPN logs data or performs other heinous activities.

Top category VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
Excellent security
Flawless privacy practices
Fastest speeds
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
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