ExpressVPN Review
8.3/10
All-around reliable VPN service

ExpressVPN Review

8.3/10 Good
All-around reliable VPN service

ExpressVPN is one of the best tools on the market. It has it all – great speeds, impenetrable security, professional customer support… if you can afford it.

Last update: April 7, 2020

ExpressVPN is one of the best tools on the market. It has it all – great speeds, impenetrable security, professional customer support… if you can afford it.

10
Out of 215
VPN providers
Things we like:
  • Excellent security
  • Awesome for Netflix
  • Very fast
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, Linux, and more
  • Excellent knowledge-base and 24/7 live chat
  • Great server list (3,000+ servers in 90+ countries)
Things we don't like:
  • Very expensive
Minimum Price:
$6.67 / month
Apps available:
windows macos ios android linux androidtv firetv router chrome firefox
Works with:
kodi appletv
ExpressVPN Review:
10
Out of 215
VPN providers
Things we like:
  • Excellent security
  • Awesome for Netflix
  • Very fast
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, Linux, and more
  • Excellent knowledge-base and 24/7 live chat
  • Great server list (3,000+ servers in 90+ countries)
Things we don't like:
  • Very expensive

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

I tested ExpressVPN hoping to find the best VPN service on the market. For a frequent traveler, a VPN tool fit for any purpose is essential. ExpressVPN often gets praised as just that sort of VPN, but so do many others.

Is ExpressVPN safe to use? Does it offer top-of-the-line AES-256 encryption? Can I stream Netflix with it? How good is it for torrenting? And finally, how fast is ExpressVPN – really? After all, this is not the cheapest VPN service out there, and I want to get my money’s worth.

I explore these and other questions in this new ExpressVPN review, so stick around.

Overview

location
Company location: British Virgin Islands (BVI)
website
Website: expressvpn.com
countries
Number of locations: 90+ countries
servers
Number of servers: 3000+
netflix
Netflix: Yes
torrenting
Torrenting: Yes
encryption
Encryption: AES-256
protocols
Protocols: OpenVPN and IKEv2
support
Support: 24/7 live chat
logs
Logs: Minimal data collection
price
Price: From $6.67/month
free_trial
Free version or trial: Yes, 7-day free trial for mobile devices

Security and privacy features

ExpressVPN is one of the most secure and private VPN services on the market. To protect user anonymity, VPNs must consider many different aspects. Few do this as well as ExpressVPN, which has a particularly rich set of cybersecurity features.

Encryption and tunneling protocols

With ExpressVPN, your data is protected by the strongest encryption on the market – AES-256. This is an unbreakable cipher, currently used by government institutions, banks, and the military.

In other words, your data is safe even if a hacker (or the NSA) intercepts your connection. 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is simply too much to handle for brute force attacks.

ExpressVPN uses the following tunneling protocols (not every one of them is available on each platform):

  • OpenVPN (UDP and TCP)
  • IKEv2/IPsec
  • L2TP/IPsec
  • PPTP

ExpressVPN protocols

These security protocols are responsible for creating encrypted connections between you and the VPN server. OpenVPN (default on most apps) and IKEv2/IPsec are the primary tunneling protocols – they will be enough for most users.

Of the other available options, take care not to use PPTP unless you know what you’re doing. This is an outdated tunneling protocol with weak cryptography and serious vulnerabilities.

To summarize, you can rest assured that ExpressVPN is one of the most secure services available.

Kill switch

The ExpressVPN kill switch is known as the Network Lock. If you’re doing something sensitive and your VPN connection drops, the kill switch will stop all traffic and protect your real IP address from leaking.

The kill switch is a crucial security feature – any serious service should have it.

You can use the Network Lock feature on all desktop apps and routers. To activate it, go to the General settings menu and tick the first box under the Network Lock section. You can also make it ignore LAN traffic or specific apps – some will find this very convenient. There’s also an unbranded kill switch for Android, in addition to its native Always-on VPN feature. Unfortunately, there was no kill switch for iOS at the moment of writing this article.

ExpressVPN preferences

ExpressVPN‘s Network Lock is a very reliable kill switch. We tried several ways to interrupt our VPN connection, but the app managed to protect our identity every time.

No identity leaks

VPN services are susceptible to various kinds of leaks – DNS, IPv6, WebRTC leaks, the list goes on. ExpressVPN has features addressing all these risks. The virtual private network has private, zero-knowledge, encrypted DNS servers, and leak protection measures built into the apps and extensive tests reveal no leaks of any kind.

ExpressVPN DNS IP WebRTC leak test

As the image above shows, the VPN doesn’t leak your IP, WebRTC requests, or DNS queries.

To prove their commitment to a leak-free service, ExpressVPN offers various leak testing tools on their official website. Under the Products section of the site, you will find an IP leak test, a DNS leak test, and a WebRTC leak test. Give them a try to make sure your security has not been compromised.

Privacy-friendly location: British Virgin Islands

The company behind ExpressVPN is registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This puts it outside the scope of the Fourteen Eyes intelligence country group. It is not subject to EU data protection laws or the far-flung reach of US Intelligence. While the BVI is a British overseas territory, it enjoys a high level of autonomy and has no data retention laws.

Operating under the jurisdiction of the BVI allows ExpressVPN to maintain a strong user-privacy standard. For example, they are not legally obliged to collect sensitive user data or honor subpoenas from the US (and other Western states).

No logging policy

ExpressVPN has a strict “no logging” policy. We read the company’s privacy policy document for this review and learned that it does not collect your connection logs, activity logs, or any other data that could be used to identify you.

This bold claim has already been proven on at least 2 occasions:

At the end of 2017, Turkish authorities seized an ExpressVPN server. They were hoping to obtain information related to the killing of a Russian ambassador in Ankara. Unfortunately for them, all this did was give ExpressVPN some free advertising.

The no-logging promises were also independently audited by PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) – one of the most respected auditing firms in the world. After rigorous testing, they were able to confirm the truth behind ExpressVPN’s claims about their logging practices.

TrustedServer Technology

In April of 2019, ExpressVPN announced their TrustedServer Technology. It eliminates the need to use hard drives on VPN servers, which instead run purely on RAM.

TrustedServer reduces the risk that user data can fall into the wrong hands. Whereas the data on regular servers has to be deleted periodically, on ExpressVPN servers it gets destroyed automatically with each reboot — yet another example of privacy by design approach.

Tor website

If you’re worried about visiting the ExpressVPN website or are unable to reach it, you can visit their Tor (.onion) website instead. This is useful if VPN websites are blocked in your country or if you want to keep buying one a secret.

The onion website is only reachable via the anonymous Tor network. In other words, it’s very difficult to find out you’re using a VPN if you got it off the ExpressVPN Tor site.

Speed: the fastest VPN?

Indeed, ExpressVPN has some of the best speeds on the market.

However, where ExpressVPN impressed me most is consistency. We ran speed tests with servers on four different continents and got very similar download speeds across the board.

Perhaps with 3000+ servers in 160+ locations across 90+ countries, this is only natural. So just how fast is ExpressVPN?

First, we tested our connection speed without a VPN:

ExpressVPN baseline connection speed

  • Download: 236.04 Mbps
  • Upload: 238.56 Mbps
  • Ping: 4 ms

ExpressVPN USA server speed results

ExpressVPN speed test US server

  • Download: 63.92 Mbps (73% drop-off)
  • Upload: 49.13 Mbps (79% drop-off)
  • Ping: 142 ms

ExpressVPN Netherlands server speed results

ExpressVPN speed test Netherlands server

  • Download: 55.99 Mbps (77% drop-off)
  • Upload: 49.48 Mbps (79% drop-off)
  • Ping: 42 ms

ExpressVPN Australia server speed resultsExpressVPN speed test Australian server

  • Download: 59.38 Mbps (75% drop-off)
  • Upload: 4.20 Mbps (98% drop-off)
  • Ping: 324 ms

As you can see, the download speeds are similar despite the USA and Australia being on opposite sides of the globe. The numbers are virtually the same in Europe as well. The upload speed and ping change, but there’s little ExpressVPN can do about that.

Reviewers tend to agree that ExpressVPN has great performance. Yet speeds depend on many variables, so testing for yourself is a good idea.

Does ExpressVPN support my device?

Most likely yes: ExpressVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Kindle Fire, Chromebook, Fire TV & Fire Stick, and Routers. There are also ExpressVPN web browser plug-ins for Chrome and Firefox.

Fortunately, one ExpressVPN subscription will let you connect with 5 devices at a time. This means you’ll probably be able to use the service on all your devices with just one subscription.

Most ExpressVPN apps have an almost identical interface, focusing on simplicity. The home screen has only a few buttons, and all the features have clear explanations. While experienced users might miss customization options, newbies definitely won’t feel lost.

ExpressVPN desktop apps: Windows, macOS, and Linux

ExpressVPN apps for Windows and Mac are very similar. They have the same interface and features, including the most crucial ones: AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN, a kill switch, and Split Tunneling.

ExpressVPN home screen

The home screen of each app only has a large connection button, a smaller hamburger menu button at the top left for more options, and the “Smart Location”/”Choose Location” buttons.

Crucially, ExpressVPN for Mac is just as secure as it is for Windows. Rigorous tests show no leaks with either app – as expected with the VPN’s solid security suite. Typically, VPN apps for Windows are less secure than they are for Mac, but ExpressVPN ensures this is not the case.

The Linux app of ExpressVPN is available on Ubuntu and Fedora. Rather than being a complete graphic interface, the Linux version of ExpressVPN is command-line based. Still, this is more than most VPN providers offer.

ExpressVPN mobile apps: Android and iOS (iPhone & iPad)

The simple, intuitive design of ExpressVPN makes it the ideal VPN app for mobile devices – Android and iOS. With only a few caveats, ExpressVPN for Android and iOS are just as secure as the desktop versions.

ExpressVPN Android client

Android users will have to use the native Android kill switch (Always-on VPN), and both apps offer fewer tunneling protocols, but nevertheless, they remain among the safest on the market. Unlike many VPN providers, ExpressVPN doesn’t like to water down the features for mobile devices.

The ExpressVPN Android app can either be found on Google Play or downloaded directly as an APK file found on their website. It is based on OpenVPN – the most secure VPN protocol.

ExpressVPN iOS client

The iOS app is available via the App Store. iPhone and iPad users are given a choice between the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec protocols, both of which have AES-256 encryption. Unfortunately, ExpressVPN is yet to implement a kill switch in its iOS app.

ExpressVPN for web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

You will find browser add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari as well. These are not fully autonomous – rather they let you control ExpressVPN straight from your browser of choice.

ExpressVPN browser extension
Source: ExpressVPN

The browser extension can also help users spoof their HTML5 location, features HTTPS Everywhere, and blocks WebRTC leaks, among other features.

ExpressVPN Router app: unlimited connections

Using the ExpressVPN app for routers solves quite a few issues:

  • You will never have to worry about forgetting to connect.
  • It’s a good way to bypass ExpressVPN’s 5 simultaneous connection limitation. The router is just one device, but it works as a funnel for all the traffic that goes through your wifi.
  • It’s a good way to make use of the ExpressVPN Split Tunneling feature. Used on the router client, split tunneling allows you to split your traffic by device rather than by app.

You can find a list of router models that support the ExpressVPN router firmware on their website. There are some things you should consider before picking a router for your VPN service—you can read more about it on their website.

Other platforms and ExpressVPN MediaStreamer

If there’s no custom ExpressVPN app for your device, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the service. You can still access the network via freeware OpenVPN apps or MediaStreamer.

This way, you will be able to use ExpressVPN on game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch), SmartTVs (Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV), and other devices, such as Chromecast, Roku, and Nvidia Shield.

ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer is a SmartDNS tool. It is useful for unblocking restricted content when there is no need for encryption. Do not use it if you’re doing something risky!

Netflix and other streaming services

ExpressVPN unblocks Netflix USA regardless of where you are located. There are plenty of servers to choose from in the United States and other Netflix-critical areas, such as the Netherlands. I tried several, and they all worked without fail. Also, the focus on performance means your streams will look almost as good as using a regular connection (the speeds were enough for Ultra HD across the board).ExpressVPN unblocks Netflix

Using ExpressVPN SmartDNS, you’ll also have access to the MediaStreamer feature. This will let you watch on more or less any device (Amazon Firestick, PS4, Xbox, etc.). Finally, ExpressVPN Kodi is definitely a thing—although there’s no custom app, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better for Kodi.

Does ExpressVPN support torrenting?

Yes, torrenting and P2P are supported on all ExpressVPN servers.

Additionally, the VPN’s strong security features (particularly the kill switch) and absence of leaks make it great for torrenting in countries where copyrights are robustly enforced.

Torrenters will also appreciate that this service has no bandwidth limit and the speeds are great. Moreover, if you want to save bandwidth, ExpressVPN’s Split Tunneling feature will let you choose to protect only your torrent app.

Perhaps the only thing lacking is that ExpressVPN does not offer a free SOCKS5 proxy, but Split Tunneling mostly makes up for it.

Does ExpressVPN work in China?

Yes, the Great Firewall of China is no match for ExpressVPN – at least for now.

Whether it’s censorship or more sinister things you want to avoid in China, ExpressVPN will do the job. You can even get the subscription from their .onion page to avoid being seen entering the “shop.”

Yet there’s some reason for skepticism with regard to ExpressVPN in China. Namely, the service doesn’t have a “stealth protocol.” China is known to employ Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) – an efficient method for finding VPN traffic on the network. A stealth protocol helps to hinder the effectiveness of DPI by scrambling the traffic. Although reports maintain that ExpressVPN functions in China reliably, the absence of a stealth protocol makes it potentially less secure.

Support: live chat, email, extensive guides

ExpressVPN has great customer support. It will please both those who prefer dealing with issues themselves and those who would rather ask for assistance. You will find:

  • A 24/7 live chat
  • Email
  • Support tickets
  • An extensive list of troubleshooting guides
  • The ExpressVPN Internet Privacy How-to guide page

There will always be cracks in the support system, but with ExpressVPN, these seem to be minimal. The customer service agents available via the chat are knowledgeable and quick to respond.

VPN support

When I couldn’t get an answer the quick way, the self-help resources on the website gave me a way out. There are guides and FAQs available in English, French, Dutch, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Finally, if you can wait, ExpressVPN support will give you a detailed answer by email.

Pricing: is ExpressVPN a good deal?

ExpressVPN is very expensive, even though the price is justified. If you use a VPN as often as I do, you will see that you can get almost the same feature package for half the price.

ExpressVPN has the following pricing plan options:

  • 1-month plan: $12.95/month
  • 6-month plan: $59.95 ($9.99/month)
  • 1-year plan: $99.95 ($8.32/month)

ExpressVPN pricing plans

All ExpressVPN plans offer the same features (AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN, DNS leak protection, kill switch, etc.), so you won’t feel forced into a more expensive deal.

There is no free version, lifetime subscription, and no free trial for the desktop versions. With that said, ExpressVPN does offer an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee. While we haven’t tested it, all sources seem to suggest the refund comes quickly!

Each subscription allows 5 simultaneous connections. This means you can probably get away with one subscription for your whole family or team.

Is ExpressVPN worth your money?

No, even though ExpressVPN is one of the best. In today’s VPN market, you can find a secure and transparent VPN service for a much better price.

In terms of quality, there is no question that ExpressVPN is at the top of the market. Its security is as great as its speed test performance, and you’ll have someone to help you troubleshoot 24/7.

Those who are only looking for an entertainment tool will also appreciate ExpressVPN because of its ability to unblock online content and support for P2P (torrenting) traffic.

Power users may want more advanced options to tinker with, but for most, the high cost is probably the only serious issue.

Good

  • Excellent security
  • Awesome for Netflix
  • Very fast
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, Linux, and more
  • Excellent knowledge-base and 24/7 live chat
  • Great server list (3,000+ servers in 90+ countries)
  • Very good for torrenting
  • Great for China and other restricted countries

Bad

  • Very expensive
  • No kill switch for iOS
  • No "stealth protocol"
 8.3 / 10
Total score
$6.67 / month
Minimum Price
Top VPN options:
1. NordVPN
9.6 / 10
Excellent security
Very fast speeds
2. Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Great performance
3. VyprVPN
9.3 / 10
Better price/quality ratio

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

Top VPN options:
1. NordVPN
9.6 / 10
Excellent security
Very fast speeds
2. Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Great performance
3. VyprVPN
9.3 / 10
Better price/quality ratio

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


20 comments
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  1. John

    I am using Expressvpn for years but now switched to nordvpn.But,Expressvpn isn’t as perfect as Nord.In Nord I get 40% increase in speed with udp and with nordlynx protocol the boost is about 90%.Wow,excellent service by nord.With Expressvpn there is 40% decrease in speed with udp.

    Not speedy as nordvpn


  2. Richard Maxwell

    Although I have not been using this service for so long, it inspires confidence from the first minutes. I am completely satisfied with the number of locations here, and the speed is much higher than on other similar services, so definitely RusVpn is my choice. For all the time of use, there have never been any malfunctions or braking, I hope in the future everything will work just as stable.


  3. Milo

    The main advantage of using Express VPN service is speed where you’ll be amazed by its speed for streaming Netflix videos or transmitting files without leaking any of your information.


  4. David Antony

    ExpressVPN’s reliability is a question to check individually as it differs with devices. However, it is safe to use with Netflix or any other application unless OpenVPN isn’t working in your device. In order to overcome it, you have to go through its setting for full-proof security which could easily blow your idea of using it.


  5. fuschiagreen89

    Hey guys, I seem to have problems with the speed of ExpressVPN. Do you have any ideas why the speed is not as good as it is supposed to be? Anything I should check on?


    1. Kevin Marlowe Author

      Hi fuschiagreen89,

      VPN speed is always tough to talk about due to all the variables it depends on. Could you be more precise about your speed issue: are you connecting to a nearby server or a remote one? How fast is your connection without a VPN and what does the download/upload drop to when you are using ExpressVPN?

      ExpressVPN has good customer service, so I suggest contacting them for troubleshooting if switching regions/servers doesn’t help.

      Cheers!


  6. Sam

    Everybody doesn’t need topnotch security or great speed but everybody does need the best VPN service otherwise they couldn’t achieve their requirement. Previously I have been using a NordVPN but due to one of my clients request and sponsoring I started to use Express VPN which is good though I can’t continue to use it for my personal works as its price is above my budget.


  7. Lee

    If it could help to intrude to social pages from China then it could be highly productive for users.


  8. Pauline S

    This VPN sound great ! It has a great speed, which is an important point for me. And it overall looks like a great VPN, reliable, fast, and helps you keep your privacy online ! Thanks for the review !


  9. Makaela

    Good things always cost a little higher so its price won’t be a shock if they had known people used Express VPN or if they don’t mind to spend money to try new (things) VPN service. For others, it might be a difficult thing to come to a decision so it’s better to list out the requirements in terms of value which will be easier to finalize a decision.


  10. Tux

    I tested many VPN services after NordVPN stopped unblocking Italian public television in a foreign country: PIA, PureVPN, IPVanish, Mullwad, HydeMyAss, Buffered, Proton, AirVPN, and a lot more but ExpressVPN is the only one one with a consistent experience, no issue at all.


  11. Letizia

    I was using NordVPN and then I switched to ExpressVPN even though it’s a little more expensive. I find it easier to use than NordVPN, and the speed is just amazing. It’s a great service overall, I wouldn’t change it.


  12. Jean10

    There are many things to look at when you choose a VPN but one of the most important (besides no logs, a kill switch and great encryption) is how good is the support. If the support staff is unprepared, doesn’t reply quickly or at all, is rude, then all bets are off. In this case, the support staff is one of the best in the industry with great reply times and helpful answer no matter the question. It works especially well for beginners that may encounter different things they don’t know much about. Fixing almost anything can take 3-10 minutes with this VPN.


  13. HananBlokland222

    I know that ExpressVPN is a little pricey compared to some of the others but I guess it really comes down to what you need in a VPN. I think that its features more than make up for the cost. I think the biggest strength of ExpressVPN is its upload and download speed limits.


  14. Fiodor

    I choose to get a VPN after a very nasty information (personal and business related) leak. ExpressVPN did not disappoint, and I am a very happy customer. It’s true that it is expensive, but it’s worth it.


  15. everybodylovesmonica

    It is no surprise that they don’t offer a free trial as they have been in the business for quite some time with a great track record. However, if you ask me, I’d choose NordVPN as it helps keep the cost lower.


    1. Kevin Marlowe Author

      You’re quite right, ExpressVPN has no reason to offer a free trial, but since you’re mentioning NordVPN – arguably they have no reason for offering a free trial either, yet they do!


  16. Matti

    Thanks for replying, Kevin.

    Yes, NordVPN is one of those I’m considering. It’s well priced, but there are a few things that quite don’t sit right (same for every VPN provider) with me about it. Main one has to be related to the sheer rate they seem to registering new users. These guys are one of the few VPN providers (maybe even the only one?) that have ads running on TV. They also seem to have “agents” on many tech forums worldwide selling highly discounted subscription plans which are even localized in the local currencies (eg: 3yr plan for $300 XX dollars, which ends up even cheaper than the cheapest plan in USD available on their main site). All of which makes me wonder if they’re;

    1. Growing their userbase faster than they’re growing their server count. I already know a handful of users that bought NordVPN subscriptions (mainly thanks to all the discounted offers I mentioned earlier), and many of them have been complaining of abysmal speeds in our part of the world. Heck, in some of our local/regional tech forums, the consensus seems to be that NordVPN can only be taken seriously if you factor the cost of getting the dedicated IP (you should do a feature on dedicated IP VPN providers) option added into your subscription.

    2. Simply painting a big target on themselves with regards to authorities, state hackers/firewalls and all other sorts of nefarious characters. This same concern applies to other popular VPN providers (like ExpressVPN), but NordVPN just seems to be expanding at a rate we’ve not seen before, if they’re advertising campaigns are anything to go by.

    Cheers.


  17. Matti

    With the recent accusations of email leakage and facebook pixels (yes, I also read your exchange with a ExpressVPN representative in the comments section), do you still rate this VPN provider as highly? I’m asking because my current VPN subscription is due to end and I’m trying to whittle down a list of providers to trial, and wondering if the recent accusations are serious enough to affect one’s trust in a provider.


    1. Kevin Marlowe Author

      Hi Matti,

      Here’s the thing: certainly there are some bad practices surrounding their VPN service. However, we’re still convinced the product itself is very good. If you feel you’d rather spend your money elsewhere, NordVPN is the obvious other choice. What they offer is very similar – better in some senses, worse in others, so you definitely won’t be missing out on much! Here’s our NordVPN review if you’re interested.

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10
Out of 215
VPN providers
Things we like:
  • Excellent security
  • Awesome for Netflix
  • Very fast
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, routers, Linux, and more
  • Excellent knowledge-base and 24/7 live chat
  • Great server list (3,000+ servers in 90+ countries)
Things we don't like:
  • Very expensive
Pricing plans:
15 months
Save 49%
$6.67 / month
6 months
$9.99 / month
1 month
$12.95 / month
Top VPN options:
1. NordVPN
9.6 / 10
Excellent security
2. Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
3. VyprVPN
9.3 / 10
Better price/quality ratio

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

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