ExpressVPN claims to be the most reliable ultra-fast VPN around – but is it really worth the price? What else does this VPN service offer? Does it collect the activity logs of its customers?
In this ExpressVPN review, I’m going to explore every aspect of the service as well as to conduct several tests to answer the above questions.
I’ll also help you determine the following:
- How fast and secure ExpressVPN really is
- Whether it can truly stream Netflix in various countries
- If it bypasses the Great Firewall of China
- Whether its customer support lives up to the hype
- If it is compatible with devices like Apple TV and Kindle Fire
And cover pretty much everything else about the service. Let’s see how ExpressVPN performs!
ExpressVPN Quick Overview
Many VPN providers out there claim to offer the best speeds, an anonymous browsing experience, and the most secure encryption protocols – but most fail to deliver.
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, delivers in every aspect. The company offers fast and secure browsing in more than 90 countries. Plus, you get one of the most advanced levels of encryption when you sign up for their service.
|ExpressVPN Facts and Features
|The British Virgin Islands
|3,000+ servers in 90+ countries
|No logs (confirmed)
|256-bit AES encryption, OpenVPN, TrustedServer Technology
|Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, etc.
|24/7 chat, email, FAQs, ticketing
ExpressVPN Pros and Cons
While exploring and testing the different features of ExpressVPN, I had no choice but to appreciate the following things about the service.
- Easy to use
- High speeds across most servers
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, and more
- Unlimited data and bandwidth
- Works in China, Thailand, and many other Asian countries
- DNS and IPv6 leak protection
- Excellent iOS and Android apps
However, there are a few things that I didn’t like.
- No dedicated profiles for streaming
- Slightly more expensive than other VPNs
I’ll cover each of these points and more below.
Now that you have some idea of what to expect from ExpressVPN, here’s an in-depth look at the various aspects of the service.
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ExpressVPN’s headquarters are located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This exotic place is an excellent choice for a VPN company since it’s a territory of the United Kingdom with strict laws protecting the privacy of companies located there. Also, the fact that this territory has self-governing courts and legislature means that businesses operating there don’t need to sign any surveillance agreements.
The judicial system in the British Virgin Islands also can’t force businesses to share records on their customers. Similar to Switzerland, the territory is renowned for data secrecy. Additionally, BVI doesn’t have any laws connecting it to the United Kingdom, despite the historical connection to the island nation.
Considering all of these things, ExpressVPN is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, which is outside of the Five, Nine, or Fourteen Eyes Alliance.
Who owns ExpressVPN? The VPN service is owned by ExpressVPN International Limited, a firm registered in an offshore, privacy-friendly jurisdiction.
Ease of Use
ExpressVPN comes with a simple user interface. You get a big ON/OFF button that lets you connect to (and disconnect from) a secure server. Activating the service makes the red circle around the button go green.
The screen also lets you see the location you’re currently connected to. To choose another location, click the ellipsis (the three dots) on the right-hand side of the current location.
There are several ways to determine which locations work best. But if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands and want to quickly connect to a fast server, you can use ExpressVPN’s Smart Location feature to let the program select the best server that is nearest to you.
Alternatively, you can browse every location in a specific country so you can manually select the server that you like.
Countries that have arrows also expand to display the best locations that are available for those nations. Plus, there’s a search box at the top that makes it easy to find locations by entering the names of countries that you intend to connect to.
ExpressVPN also gives you the option to test the speed of its servers based on your actual location. To do so, click the hamburger menu (the three vertical lines) at the top left and choose “Speed Test” from the list of options.
The speed test shows three types of data: speed index, latency, and download speed. If you manage to find a suitable server, clicking on the star icon will mark it as your favorite.
You can also use the same hamburger menu to access your preferences. This is essentially the settings menu of ExpressVPN where you can decide whether or not you want ExpressVPN to launch on startup.
Also, you can activate/deactivate the “Network Lock” which is another term for a VPN kill switch from this menu. I’ll talk about this and the other options present in the preferences menu later in the review.
A quality VPN has servers all over the globe. This is what allows you to get a wide range of IP addresses. However, a global network of servers is only useful if there are no restrictions on server switching. Below is what ExpressVPN has to offer:
- Number of Servers: 3,000+
- Locations: 90+
- City Selection: Allowed
- Switching: Unlimited
Some locations offer more servers than others. ExpressVPN server count in the US, for instance, is 25+. You’ll also find multiple servers in popular countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Hong Kong, Germany, and Italy. If you live near one of these countries, you can test a number of servers for better connectivity, faster speeds, and lower latency.
Does ExpressVPN have servers in China? If you enter China as the location in the ExpressVPN search bar, you won’t get any results. That’s because the company has servers in Hong Kong – a country that’s near Mainland China. Whether you want to access Youku or want to watch a show on iQiyi, you would be able to do so with ease. Just connect to a Hong Kong server!
TrustedServer Technology – All Servers Run In RAM-disk Mode
ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that run all servers in “RAM-disk” mode, which means all of your data is entirely deleted with every reboot (RAM doesn’t have the capability to store any data, so once the server is switched off and on again, any data from your session is completely wiped). The company refers to this setup as the TrustedServer feature.
TrustedServer makes you less attractive to hackers, as there’s no information for them to target.
ExpressVPN uses a fresh program and OS upon every restart, which helps prevent security vulnerabilities. The company knows what’s on each server (since everything is fresh). In case of an attack, ExpressVPN will know and address the situation immediately.
A Limited Number of Virtual Server Locations
For the majority of ExpressVPN’s servers, the physical server and the registered IP address are in the same location, but the company does give you the option to use virtual servers.
Virtual servers provide the registered IP address of the country you’re connected to, but the physical servers will not be located in that country. Instead, they’ll be in another country that’s usually close to the target country.
Why does ExpressVPN offer virtual servers? It’s because certain countries do not have adequate network infrastructure to support their servers. Also, it helps the company provide IP addresses of countries where it can’t physically install servers due to security reasons. Though less than 3% of its servers utilize virtual locations, the facility ensures that you enjoy a reliable, secure, and fast connection in several countries.
If you want to use the IP address of a remote region like the Isle of Man, ExpressVPN would be a great choice because of its global network of servers.
Unlike other VPNs that aren’t transparent about the exact locations of their virtual servers, the company publishes information on all of its virtual server locations and gives reasons for using them. To learn more about these servers, visit ExpressVPN’s virtual server location page.
Ookla Speed Tests
I’m going to use Ookla’s speed testing tool for my ExpressVPN speed tests. The company is popular for having the fastest servers in the VPN market, and I want to see if that’s actually the case.
Important: I’ll run all of the tests from my location in Lahore, Pakistan.
First, I’m going to determine my baseline speed, i.e. the speed of my internet connection without a VPN. This is an important step as it’ll help me understand how a VPN affects my overall speed. Here’s the result:
My baseline download speed is about 25.30 Mbps. Next, I’ll connect to a nearby server using Smart Location to see how ExpressVPN affects the speed of my internet connection. Here’s what I got:
Considering my baseline speed is around 25.30 Mbps, 22.83 Mbps is excellent – pretty close to what I got without being connected to a VPN. I’m now going to test a few more nearby servers to see if speeds remain fast and consistent. Here’s what I got upon connecting to India:
And these are the ExpressVPN download and upload speeds when I connected to Malaysia:
Clearly, ExpressVPN works fast on nearby servers.
But how does it perform on long-distance servers? I’m going to find out by testing a few servers in the US and Canada. These locations are quite far from where I’m located, so I’m expecting a significant reduction in download and upload speeds.
Here’s how ExpressVPN performed on a long-distance server in the US:
The speed was more or less the same for servers in Canada:
Even though there’s a long-distance between my location and the US and Canadian servers, the speeds with ExpressVPN are still awesome.
Overall, ExpressVPN offers fast and reliable servers and performs well in most locations. The results prove that it’s on par with other premium VPN services.
Privacy and Security
To find out if ExpressVPN protects the privacy and security of its users, I’ll examine its encryption, VPN protocols, logging policy, kill switch, and DNS leaks in this section.
ExpressVPN uses uncrackable encryption for all of its connections, ensuring no one can read the contents of your online activity. Below are the types of encryptions it implements:
- AES 256-bit cipher with a 4096-bit RSA key – Ensures the same key used to encrypt your information is requested to decrypt it
- SHA-512 HMAC authentication – With the shared secret key, the receiver and sender of P2P downloads have a way of verifying the legitimacy of a document
- Perfect Forward Secrecy – Ensures that even if hackers manage to steal your encryption key, they cannot use it to decrypt your previous sessions
ExpressVPN lets you choose which VPN protocols you want to use in its applications. Here’s a screenshot displaying the available protocols in the Mac app:
OpenVPN is the most secure protocol in the list, and the VPN lets you select it with UDP or TCP. Combined with ExpressVPN’s encryption, you can be sure that no prying eye will be able to see or spoof your personal data.
Other protocols like IKEv2 and L2TP – IPsec are also available, but they don’t offer the same level of security as OpenVPN does. However, they’re fast and work with minimal throttling of your internet connection. If you’re not worried about your online privacy, you can use them to get a better experience on Netflix and other streaming services.
Here’s what ExpressVPN says about logging:
After taking a good look at these policies, I can say with confidence that ExpressVPN won’t collect your personal information. The company even underwent an audit from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which verified its no logs policy, TrustedServer feature, and compliance with all privacy protections.
The only information it collects is the timestamp of the VPN connection, the amount of data transferred, and the server used. However, these details aren’t connected to your name and are just used for diagnostic reasons.
Kill Switch (Network Lock)
ExpressVPN’s kill switch is referred to as the Network Lock. This feature will keep your data safe by blocking the incoming and outgoing traffic when the VPN connection drops. Here’s a screenshot of the Network Lock feature in ExpressVPN’s Mac app:
The kill switch feature is currently available for macOS, Windows, Linux, and routers.
I tested the feature with both Mac and Windows OS. ExpressVPN blocked all traffic when I manually disconnected the VPN service. If you’re looking to keep your data and real IP address protected at all times, make sure to activate the Network Lock option from the VPN’s settings.
DNS Leak Test
Although a VPN uses an encrypted tunnel for transferring your personal data, there’s a risk of the data being leaked. This is referred to as a DNS leak, and it allows your ISP to view your online activities. A quality VPN offers you anonymity by preventing the DNS from leaking.
I ran DNS leak tests on ExpressVPN’s Mac, Windows, Chrome, and iOS apps to identify any problems or leaks. The main website that I used for testing was ipleak.net. As I had expected, ExpressVPN had no DNS leaks or security issues.
As you can see in the image above, ExpressVPN is protecting my IP address by providing me with an IPv4 address. It’s also blocking IPv6, which is a request from my ISP to the device that provided me with an IP address. This means my ISP can’t see my real location or IP address as there its a request that was blocked. This only confirms to me that ExpressVPN’s DNS leak protection and other security features do what they’re supposed to do.
Overall, ExpressVPN is a great choice if you want a highly secure VPN service with DNS protection and advanced encryption features.
Split tunneling lets you choose which apps will send your traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel and which apps can skip the VPN to the standard unencrypted connection.
You can find this feature in the Preferences area of ExpressVPN. By default, split tunneling is turned off. Clicking the checkbox for it will activate the feature on your system.
Once activated, ExpressVPN will give you the following three options:
Clicking the second or third option will let you remove or add specific apps to the VPN. Any apps you remove won’t be secured by the VPN’s encryption, so use this option with care.
I expect most people to use split tunneling when using ExpressVPN on a router, as it lets you choose particular devices and/or apps to skip the VPN connection.
Media Streaming (Netflix, BBC iPlayer, etc.)
If you’re looking for a VPN that unblocks the US, UK, Australia, France, Canada, and other versions of Netflix, then ExpressVPN is an excellent choice. It is one of the few services that continue to provide Netflix streaming support. In fact, an ExpressVPN subscription will let you bypass some of the toughest firewalls on most streaming platforms, including BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Sky TV, etc.
For this ExpressVPN review, I tested the US Netflix library across many of ExpressVPN’s US servers, and I was able to stream content in HD easily on each one.
I also tested a few other ExpressVPN Netflix countries to see if the VPN really unblocks content libraries across various locations. It was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that it bypasses most geoblocks.
I was able to access the Netflix content library for Japan:
As well as for India:
If you get a Netflix proxy error while you’re connected to one of ExpressVPN’s servers, just contact the company’s support team via live chat, and they’ll tell you which locations currently work with Netflix.
How to Use VPN for Netflix – A Four-Step Guide
- Create a Netflix account.
- Install the VPN app from your service provider’s website (like from Expressvpn.com).
- Connect to a VPN server. Choose a location that matches the location of the Netflix library you want to open; for instance, an Australian server for Netflix Australia.
- Sign into Netflix, find your favorite TV series or movie, and press the play button.
ExpressVPN Works on BBC iPlayer, Too
Moving on from Netflix, I tested ExpressVPN on BBC iPlayer, which is specific to the United Kingdom. While the platform is known for putting strict geoblocks on VPN servers, ExpressVPN’s UK servers allowed me to stream its contents without any restrictions. In fact, I was also able to download some BBC iPlayer programs on my computer to watch later.
Apart from Netflix and BBC iPlayer, I was able to unblock many other region-blocked streaming services, including:
- Sky Go
- Amazon Prime Video
- ITV Hub
- And many more!
As long as you’re connected to the right server (get in touch with ExpressVPN’s support team to ask which servers work best with a particular streaming platform), you’ll be able to watch content in HD without any lagging, buffering, or fuzzy images.
ExpressVPN is also reliable for unblocking Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, Google, and other restricted websites. The application bypasses local geo-restrictions with ease, and you can use these websites without any issues.
Lastly, in terms of streaming, ExpressVPN is also one of the best VPNs for Kodi. Its apps for Fire TV, Android TV, and Linux allow you to connect almost any Kodi device to its servers.
Apps (iOS, Android, Linux, etc.)
ExpressVPN offers apps for nearly every device. You can install it on:
- Amazon Kindle Fire
- Amazon Fire TV
- Xbox One
- PlayStation 4
- And many other devices
Although most VPN providers limit the features they offer on non-desktop devices (like on iOS and Android smartphones), ExpressVPN tries to ensure you get the same experience regardless of the device you’re using. Its iOS and Android apps, for instance, come with a fully functional OpenVPN, TrustedServer Technology, and AES-256 encryption. Plus, they give you the option to auto-connect to the VPN when you connect to a WiFi network.
Here’s a screenshot of ExpressVPN’s iOS app:
The only downside of these apps is that they don’t let you test ExpressVPN’s speed. You can’t access servers for download speed and latency on mobile or streaming devices. That being said, you can still check the IP address and perform a DNS leak test on iOS and Android devices.
If you use non-desktop apps on a regular basis, ExpressVPN has you covered with reliable apps for its service. Also, you can easily find an ExpressVPN APK if you plan to use its app on rooted or limited versions of Android that have restricted access to the Google Play store.
Browser Extensions (Chrome, Safari, Firefox)
ExpressVPN offers dedicated browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Each of them includes the option to change server locations directly from the browser. You can also instruct the extension to connect as soon as you launch your browser, which is useful in case you don’t remember to switch the VPN on.
Here’s what the extension looks like for Chrome:
You also get WebRTC leak protection and the ability to hide your HTML geo-location (the place where you’re physically present). Preventing your physical location from being tracked is important if you’re browsing a blocked website in a foreign country.
Plus, the Chrome ExpressVPN extension offers HTTPS Everywhere, which automatically connects you to a secure version of a website.
How to Get the ExpressVPN Extension– A Five-Step Guide
- Open the ExpressVPN desktop app.
- Click the hamburger menu (the three vertical lines) at the top left.
- Select “Preferences” and then click the “Browsers tab”.
- Click “Get Browser Extension”.
- On ExpressVPN’s website, click “Get Extension”.
Dedicated VPN Router App
ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN companies that offer a dedicated app for select routers. Installing it on your router (if you have a compatible model) means you’ll protect every device in your home. This includes any tablets, smartphones, game consoles, and Smart TVs. Every connected device will get the full benefits of the VPN service: new IP address, encrypted traffic, location secrecy, etc.
If you want to install ExpressVPN on your router, you can use the ExpressVPN router app on one of the supported router models. Check ExpressVPN’s website to see what router brands and models support the dedicated app.
The other option is to manually set up ExpressVPN on your router. If you haven’t done this before, I recommend that you follow the first method to set up the VPN service.
I was pleased to discover that there’s no limit on the number of connections once ExpressVPN is installed on your router. This is because the router will only be taken as one connection, but it’ll offer every device that connects to your router complete access to the VPN.
Customer Support (24/7, Quick & Reliable)
ExpressVPN’s main support channel is live chat, and I tried it a few times while testing its service. In most of my chat sessions, I found the support team to be knowledgeable, polite, and helpful. They also took my email address so they can send me answers via email if the chat gets disconnected.
If you don’t want to speak with the support team, you can check out the troubleshooting guides on ExpressVPN’s website. There are video tutorials, too, to guide you through the various aspects of the device setup.
Since I’m using a premium VPN service, I expected top-quality customer service, which ExpressVPN definitely delivered. I found both live chat and the guides to be impressive. If you ever face any issue with their app or service, contact the support team to get the problem solved.
ExpressVPN currently offers support in English, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese.
Pricing (1-month, 6-month, and 12-month plan)
ExpressVPN’s pricing is easy to understand.
If you get the monthly plan, you’ll need to pay $12.95 a month. The six-month plan reduces that to $9.99 a month but requires you to pay $59.95 (9.99 × 6) upfront.
The biggest savings can be found in ExpressVPN’s annual plan, where the price goes down to $6.67 a month. This includes three free months, and requires an advance payment of $99.95 upfront and then the same amount every 12 months after.
Here’s a table that summarizes the details of each plan and potential savings:
|12-month (+3 free)
As you can see, the longest subscription term offers the biggest savings.
ExpressVPN accepts all major debit and credit cards (including Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express), PayPal, AliPay, and several other payment methods. You can even pay in Bitcoins, which is a great way to protect your online anonymity.
I’d also like to mention that you can get one month of ExpressVPN free by referring to a friend when you sign up. There’s no restriction on this option either, so you can invite as many friends as you like to get additional free months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before I give my verdict, let me answer some of the most popular ExpressVPN FAQs:
Does ExpressVPN Work in China?
It does. After you connect to one of ExpressVPN’s servers in Hong Kong, you’ll be able to bypass the Great Firewall with ease. While most VPNs are blocked by the Chinese government, ExpressVPN uses an obfuscation protocol that disguises the VPN traffic so that it looks like a normal connection. Use ExpressVPN to access sites like Facebook, Google, and YouTube in China, and Chinese websites and content outside of China.
Pro tip: Make sure to install ExpressVPN before you make your way to China. If you attempt to install it while you’re there, it’s going to get blocked.
Can I Use ExpressVPN For Torrenting?
Certainly. ExpressVPN allows torrenting and P2P sharing without any traffic or bandwidth limitations. You can use it with BitTorrent, uTorrent, and several other torrenting software. Anonymity is guaranteed since the company is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction that isn’t subject to copyright violations and DCMA requests. Plus, ExpressVPN’s own DNS protection ensures no one is able to spy on your activities. Combined with high speeds, these features make ExpressVPN a solid option for torrenting and P2P downloads.
Does ExpressVPN Work with Apple TV?
ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN services out there that seamlessly work on Apple TV. You can use its app on Apple TV 4K, as well as the 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st gen Apple TV. Samsung Smart TV and Amazon Fire TV, as well as Chromecast and Roku devices, are also supported. All of that makes ExpressVPN an all-rounder when it comes to device compatibility.
How Many Devices Can I Use with ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN currently allows five simultaneous connections with each of its plans. The previous limit was three, so this is a nice upgrade. However, if you set up ExpressVPN on a router as I previously mentioned, you’ll have an unlimited number of connections. This is because the VPN will see the router as one device, and the rest of the connections will go through the router.
Does ExpressVPN Offer a Free Trial?
It doesn’t, but you’d be glad to know that every ExpressVPN subscription plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can use its premium features for a month and then ask for a refund without having to give a detailed explanation. What makes ExpressVPN’s money-back guarantee unique is its no-commitment policy – there’s truly no catch involved. Read about my experience with ExpressVPN’s refund policy to learn more.
My Verdict on ExpressVPN
After testing every feature of ExpressVPN, so I think it’s worth the investment.
In a word: Yes. ExpressVPN offers excellent security, fantastic streaming support, and reliable customer service.
While other services may have better speed on certain servers or offer a unique feature, ExpressVPN manages to do a little bit of everything well.
The downsides, too, are few and far between. The only thing missing is dedicated streaming profiles, which shouldn’t even be an issue since most of ExpressVPN’s servers work well with streaming platforms.
To wrap things up, I think ExpressVPN offers remarkable value for money. In fact, you may struggle to find a better all-around VPN at these prices. That’s why I’d feel comfortable recommending it to everyone from first-time to pro-VPN users. Why not try it yourself and see if you get the same experience?