ExpressVPN In Depth Review

By: Kelly | Last updated November 5, 2019
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ExpressVPN is a VPN service developed by a company based in the British Virgin Islands. The service was launched 10 years ago and has become one of, if not the best VPN service on the market right now. It is the number one VPN service in our lineup, holding the highest rating. It’s also been named ‘editors’ choice’ by TechRadar and Comparitech.

Pros vs Cons

Pros

  • Impressive speeds
  • Large number of servers in 94 countries worldwide
  • Reputable provider with a good reputation
  • Offers support for all types of devices
  • Very user-friendly interface
  • Solid security features
  • Protects your privacy
  • Great customer support

Cons

  • Not the most affordable VPN service on the market

Summary

ExpressVPN is the best VPN service in our lineup and the number one VPN for many other review websites. This VPN is one of the most popular ones in the industry, because it is very complex in terms of features, it is fast and secure and offers apps for all types of devices. The customer support is also high-quality and reliable.

Safety

Security is our main concern when we are surfing the internet. Our data is constantly exposed to threats, because we have to share so much online: personal details, financial details and so on. Credit and financial fraud, identity theft, phishing scams are just a few examples of such dangers. Protection has to be a top priority no matter what kind of device we are using to connect to the internet: whether it is a mobile phone, a laptop, tablet or our desktop computer. And luckily enough, all VPN services nowadays offer dedicated apps and extensions for pretty much any type of device, operating system and web browser.

VPNs make sure you stay safe on the internet by encrypting your data using strong protocols and by offering additional security tools as well, for more added protection. With the help of a virtual private network, you first connect to a remote server and only after that you can start browsing the internet and access the websites you want. VPNs change your real location by assigning you a virtual IP address, depending on the server you want to connect to. For instance, you may be located in Asia and connect to a server from Europe and you’ll get a European IP address. This way, you maintain your anonymity while surfing the web, by hiding your true identity. That means you become significantly harder to track.

ExpressVPN can really hold its own when it comes to security features. This VPN service offers the highest and most uncrackable encryption available: AES-256 bit. The VPN also supports PFS (perfect forward secrecy) which is a very useful security tool that ensures even in case the private key of the server is corrupted, your session keys won’t get compromised.

Protocols are very important as well when it comes to securing your connection. They are the technology used by a VPN service to protect your data. There are several available encryption protocols nowadays, some faster and some safer than others.

ExpressVPN offers support for several protocols: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), IPSec/L2TP, PPTP.

In addition to strong encryption, ExpressVPN also has other useful security tools. One of them is the network lock, which is basically the kill-switch feature. The kill-switch ensures you don’t risk exposing yourself and your data, in case your VPN connection drops. Should that happen, the network lock feature will block all your internet traffic until your VPN will work again.

This VPN helps you surf the internet faster and safer because it runs its own private and encrypted DNS (on all its servers). No DNS leaks were registered during testing. IPv6 leak protection is another useful tool offered by ExpressVPN.

Kill-switch feature

In addition to strong encryption methods, which are mandatory for any VPN provider that wants to make it in this competitive industry, there are other sought for security tools a VPN should offer. The most common and popular one is the kill-switch feature. This feature basically disconnects you from the internet in case your VPN connection drops, to make sure that your online data does not get compromised in any way. Once the VPN connection is restored, the kill-switch feature is disabled and you can start using the internet again.

ExpressVPN offers this feature as well and it is called ‘Network Lock’ kill-switch. Its effect is the same: this tool blocks all your internet traffic in case you get disconnected from their VPN, until you can reconnect through ExpressVPN.

Protocols

As mentioned above, ExpressVPN supports several protocols. You can choose between OpenVPN TCP, OpenVPN UDP, PPTP, IPSec/L2TP. Just like with most VPNs, you can enable or disable the ‘automatic’ setting. With the feature on, the VPN will choose the best protocol for you, depending on the settings of your network. More often than not, the OpenVPN UDP protocol is the best choice.

Not all protocols are best at the same things, so you’ve got to figure out which is more important to you, speed or security and choose the protocol accordingly.

Logs and privacy

Privacy is an important factor to consider when choosing your VPN provider. Your online activities should be no one’s business but your own and you should be able to maintain your anonymity and privacy regardless of the provider you opt for. Best VPN providers are the ones that offer a strict no-log or zero-logs policy. That means that the VPN provider won’t store any of your activity logs and your browsing will remain anonymous.

ExpressVPN is very preoccupied with respecting its customers’ privacy and states on its website that believes ‘everyone has a right to privacy’. This VPN provider also ensures that it doesn’t log your IP addresses, your browsing history, your traffic destination or metadata and DNS queries, the duration of your sessions.

ExpressVPN does collects some minimal data, other than personal, just like most VPNs: the dates (but not the time) when you connected through their VPN, the location of your server, the total amount of MB of data you used in a day. However, all this information is standard and does not indicate someone’s online activity or behaviors.

Another great thing about ExpressVPN, privacy-wise, is that this VPN provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has very non-invasive laws and places a lot of importance on respecting privacy. 

There are no data retention laws it has to obey, which means your data is kept safe and private. The British Virgin Islands are not part of the 5/9/14 eyes surveillance alliances.

Confidential data

ExpressVPN clearly stresses in its privacy policy that ‘we do not sell your personal information to third parties’. The personal information collected by them is mostly related to contact details (your e-mail address) and payment information. The info depends on the payment method you opt for, so if you want to give away as little as possible, the best option is Bitcoin.

Speed and network/Speed tests

When you connect through a virtual private network, your data has to travel to that encrypted tunnel first and only after that you get to reach your destination and access the certain website you want to. VPNs are commonly known to slow down your internet connection, which is a small price to pay for your peace of mind, privacy and protection. Besides, in case of reputable VPN providers, that decrease in speed is barely noticeable and won’t affect your online activities. However, with some VPNs this becomes a very annoying problem, as downloads/uploads speeds slow down considerably, to the point where streaming your favorite show becomes frustrating if not impossible. That buffer sign couldn’t be more annoying…

ExpressVPN has a lot of qualities that make it a top VPN provider. Fortunately, speed is one of them.

We placed this VPN on the first position in our lineup and speed was definitely a factor when we reviewed this VPN provider.

As with any other VPN, ExpressVPN registers the best results in speed tests on servers that are closest to your location. If you are from Europe, average speeds are approximately 140 -150 Mbps on most European servers, which are excellent results! Long-distance servers registered impressive results as well, somewhere in the 120-140 Mbps range for all the servers in the United States and Canada.

Even though the speed results are great as they are, you can even increase those results if you avail of the ‘recommended server’ tool. This feature tells you what the fastest servers to connect to are in your area.

All in all, ExpressVPN is among, if not the fastest VPN on the market.

Servers in the world

ExpressVPN is one of the major industry leaders on the VPN market. It is top-notch in all aspects and the number of available servers is just another area in which it thrives.

ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations, in 94 countries worldwide. That’s an impressive number that can compete with that offered by other giants such as NordVPN, CyberGhost and the like.

ExpressVPN has servers all over the world:

  • The Americas: US, Canada, Argentina, the Bahamas, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Costa Rica and many more
  • Europe: France, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, Malta, Monaco, Luxembourg, Greece, Hungary and many more
  • Asia Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zeeland, Philippines, South Korea, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Pakistan, Vietnam and many others
  • Middle East and Africa: South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Algeria

There are also a lot of virtual server locations in many of these countries, which let you connect to whichever country you want to and get an IP address from there, using a server in a different country, with a better connection.

A big plus for ExpressVPN is the fact that it’s recently switched to TrustedServer technology, by running all its servers exclusively on RAM. That means there is no risk on having your data logged because each time a server restarts, it’s completely fresh, with 0 memory on it, because everything is wiped out.

Dedicated IP address

ExpressVPN doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses, nor does it offer static IPs. ExpressVPN explains on its website though that it rotates its IP addresses on a constant basis and each time you use ExpressVPN, you will be offered the best IP option they have.  

Ease of use, installation and appearance

ExpressVPN is very user-friendly regardless of the app you are using. When you are on their website and you want to download the app, the site identifies what kind of device you are using and will automatically generate the appropriate download link for you.

After that, you have to copy-paste the activation code you get on the download page and you’ll receive your login details, without having to manually type in a username and a password.

The Windows client interface is as straightforward as possible. You have a large On/Off button that lets you activate/deactivate the VPN and your server location is visibly displayed. The menu with all the features is located on the top/left. If you want to connect to the closest server, you can use the Smart Location feature and you can save favorite locations to a list of favorites. You can also see your most recent servers or the recommended servers. By default, the software will choose the best protocol for you, but you can change it manually from the settings if you like (OpenVPN/UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP-IPSec, PPTP, IKEv2).

There’s a section called Preferences where you have several tabs: General, Protocol, Account, Shortcuts, Browsers and Advanced.

In Preferences you can opt to launch the VPN on Startup, you can check the Split tunneling box, activate or deactivate the Network Lock (kill-switch).

The website

The ExpressVPN website is very clean and provides a lot of useful information on all the ExpressVPN products (the apps for all types of devices, browser extensions, etc.), the features offered by the VPN provider, a section with the plans offered, a list with all their servers and a very comprehensive Support Center. There is a blog, there are useful VPN setup tutorials and more. Also, the website has a Tools section where you can find out what your IP is, you can run a DNS leak test, a WebRTC leak test and more. Overall, we are pleased with the way ExpressVPN structured its website and we find it easy to navigate.

Customer support

A reliable, around the clock customer support is always a big selling point for any product or service. ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat support, contact forms and e-mail support as well. Response times are really good (instant for live chat) and reps are knowledgeable and friendly.  

In addition to direct customer support, ExpressVPN offers a comprehensive support center on its website.

There are troubleshooting guides available, which give you solutions for various issues: how to reset a lost/forgotten password, how to find account credentials for manual configuration, how to connect if your subscription expired, troubleshoot when you can’t activate the app and more.

There are also useful setup tutorials for all the apps offered by ExpressVPN: Windows setup, Mac setup, Android setup, iOS setup, streaming media consoles setup and more.

The blog can also be a valuable support source, as it has articles on various topics such as cybersecurity threats to keep an eye on, what are the most secure messaging apps this year and more.

Specific features offered by ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN recently upgraded the number of allowed simultaneous connections from 3 to 5, although it is not the most impressive number, given that there are VPN providers out there who allow even 7 or an unlimited number of connections in some cases.

The Network Lock feature is another note-worthy one. As we’ve already explained it, this tool is basically a kill-switch.

The TrustedServer feature is another big selling point for ExpressVPN.

Other interesting features offered by this VPN provider are the recommended server feature, the split tunneling option, Tor compatible servers for an enhanced protection.

Apps offered by ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has dedicated apps for pretty much any type of device, desktop and mobile: Windows app, Mac app, iOS app, Android app, Linux app. It is also compatible with routers, has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox and works with game and consoles: PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, Fire TV.

The Android app is used by more than 5 million users and has a rating of 4.1. It works very similar to the Windows app: there is a location picker feature, it comes with one-click connect/disconnect and installing it takes only a few seconds.

The iOS app is a bit harder to setup, because you have to get through some additional security steps first. The interface is user-friendly here as well. The menu and connect options are clearly visible and you’ve also got the location picker, as well as a list with your recent connections. You can choose between the OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), L2TP and IKEv2 protocols. There is also an auto-reconnect feature, in case you get disconnected.

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

ExpressVPN is great at unblocking geo-restricted content. It can unlock YouTube, Facebook, Google, Wikipedia and all the popular streaming services such as: Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Video, NBC, CBC, ITV, HBO Go and more (more than 25 services).

Netflix works like a charm with ExpressVPN with a large number of their servers. If you do face difficulties in accessing it though, you can easily receive server recommendations from their customer support staff, by contacting them via live chat.

ExpressVPN and torrenting

At a first glance, ExpressVPN doesn’t really brag on having a very torrenting-friendly policy as other VPN providers advertise it all over their official website. However, that doesn’t mean that P2P file sharing is not allowed with this VPN service. On the contrary, ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all their servers. Moreover, this VPN provider doesn’t limit you in terms of speed or bandwidth so you can torrent as much as you want, at a quite impressive speed.

Pricing and payment methods

ExpressVPN is subscription-based and offers three plans to choose from: a 1-month plan, a 6-months plan and a 12-months plan.

The 1-month plan is priced at $12.95 per month.

The 6-months plan is priced at $9.99 per month, $59.95 billed every 6 months.

The 12-months plan is priced at $8.32 per month, $99.95 billed every 12 months.

All the plans include ExpressVPN’s 30-day money back guarantee. This VPN provider doesn’t offer a free trial, but you can use the 30-day money back guarantee as a form of trial and request a refund after that period.

Once you choose the plan you want, you have to provide your e-mail address and then select your preferred payment method. ExpressVPN accepts credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club International), PayPal, Bitcoin and more (WebMoney, Yandex Money, giropay, etc.).

Reviews and conclusion

ExpressVPN is considered one of the top 3 best VPN services on the market by almost every review website. We offered the highest ranking to ExpressVPN, for a variety of reasons: it is extremely secure and private, it has thousands to servers worldwide and dedicated apps for any type of device, it extremely fast and efficient at unlocking restricted content, including Netflix.

This VPN service has received good ratings from Trustpilot, The New York Times, Cnet, BBC, Forbes and more.

How to choose a VPN?

Not every user has the same expectations from a VPN. Some may need one just for protection, especially when connecting to public WiFi, other may need it for accessing restricted content, others for torrenting. Some VPNs may shine brighter when it comes to security features, while other might be faster or richer in features. However, all reliable VPN should meet the following requirements:

  • Offer top-notch encryption methods
  • Have a strict no-log policy
  • Have a large number of servers to choose from, in as many different locations as possible
  • Allow at least 5 simultaneous devices on a single account
  • Offer unlimited bandwidth
  • Offer great customer support
  • Allow torrenting
  • Support several protocols
  • Offer dedicated apps for any type of device and also browser extensions
By: Kelly | Last updated November 5, 2019