ExpressVPN Review

The homepage of ExpressVPN's website

ExpressVPN logoScore:
9/10

One of the best-known VPN providers around, ExpressVPN offers fast performance, great client software design and some of the strongest security features you’ll find. It’s both easy for beginners to pick up and run with and packs more than enough power for the advanced user.

Pros

  • Excellent data encryption options
  • A very complete and intuitive client
  • Fast servers with consistent speeds
  • Plenty of servers and server locations
  • Strong back-end technology
  • Top notch customer service

Cons

  • Low number of concurrent connections
  • Some aggregated connection logging

If I had to pick a VPN provider I could recommend to just about anyone, ExpressVPN would be at the very top of my list.

It all starts with a refined client that’s so simple anyone can use it but packs enough features for even the most advanced users.

The security options are airtight. And then there is, of course, the great global network coverage and server performance.

Yes, they may not be the cheapest VPN provider around (albeit only by a few dollars). But, as you’ll hopefully realize after reading this ExpressVPN review, they’re worth every penny.

Features

As a more established VPN provider, you would expect ExpressVPN to deliver on every mainstream VPN feature. That they certainly do very well.

Split Tunneling

ExpressVPN has a split tunneling option available on its Windows and Mac clients. Though, for some reasons, on Macs, it goes by the name Connection Per App.

In a single sentence, split tunneling lets you send data from some apps through the encrypted VPN tunnel while at the same time letting other apps use your regular internet connection.

You can toggle the functionality in the general setting section of the client software. The three options you have are to:

  • Make all apps use the VPN (the equivalent of turning split tunneling off)
  • Specify which apps you want using the VPN (by default, all other apps will you the regular internet connection)
  • Specify which apps you don’t wish to use the VPN (by default, all other apps will use the VPN)

Configuration options for ExpressVPN's split tunneling feature

I’ve tested the feature on the two operating systems where it’s available, and in both cases, it worked exactly as advertised.

Torrenting and P2P

There is no mention of torrenting or P2P at all on any of ExpressVPN’s main website pages. So, at first glance, things may not look that great. Thankfully, in this case, no news is good news.

Once you dig in a little, you’ll find an entire page dedicated to torrenting support. They even help you get up and running with uTorrent.

So yes, you absolutely can use ExpressVPN for torrenting. And in case you’re wondering, you can do so on any server (no need to seek out special servers here).

ExpressVPN and Netflix

Netflix has really come down hard on VPNs over the past few years. Finding a provider that is not blocked (especially by Netflix US), is no easy task.

ExpressVPN, however, seems to be one of the few exceptions. They work just fine (at least as I write this).

ExpressVPN working with Netflix

Not every US server gets a pass. About half of them were rejected with the dreaded “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy” error. But, finding one that works should at most take a few re-connection attempts.

Elsewhere, ExpressVPN fared better with Netflix. For example, I had zero issues accessing the Canadian or UK version of the service.

Data, Bandwidth, and Connection Limits

ExpressVPN doesn’t set any limits for data or bandwidth, nor would I expect them to. No self-respecting VPN provider does these days.

There is, however, a limit on the number of simultaneous connections. It’s three and, in my opinion, a little low when compared to some competitors. Surfshark, for example, doesn’t even impose connection limits at all.

I will concede that in practice you rarely need to run more than three devices at the same time. In fact, for me, two is often a stretch. Hence, I suspect this limit won’t hinder anyone much.

If the connection limit does become an issue, ExpressVPN runs on routers. In that setup, only the router counts. The potentially dozens of devices connected to it do not.

Other Features

There are a few other notable ExpressVPN features.

One is in-client VPN speed testing. It allows you to test the current latency and download speeds of every ExpressVPN server (you can break things down by region).

The latency results seemed accurate enough. The download speed results, however, were way off, as in much slower than what they actually are.

For example, my own speed tests of the Amsterdam location show download performance upwards of 50 Mbps.

ExpressVPN review of connection speeds

The best I got through the client’s tool was a measly 11.79 Mbps.

ExpressVPN's in-client speed test results

I see this feature being useful for picking the fastest current server (and maybe that’s what it’s intended for). But it does not seem to return numbers indicative of actual performance, of which I’ll talk about more a little later.

A more useful feature, ExpressVPN also offers a kill switch. This one too I will get to very soon, in the privacy and security section below.

Privacy and Security

When a VPN provider operates out of a privacy-friendly country, has a clearly defined no logging policy, and uses some of the most robust encryption options available, you know you (and your data) are in good hands.

With Express VPN, you get precisely that.

Jurisdiction

ExpressVPN operates out of the British Virgin Islands (a.k.a. BVI). That’s good news for privacy.

First, BVI does not have any data retention laws. Second, they’re not part of any intelligence sharing pacts (the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes of the world).

Third, BVI is known as a bit of a tax haven. If maintaining privacy was ever a concern, I seriously doubt that would be the case.

Logging policy

Though ExpressVPN is pretty close to having an absolute no logging policy, they do fall a little short.

They don’t store any critical details which could be used to identify you, like your IP address, DNS queries or traffic destination (as you can see from the screenshot off their website below).

ExpressVPN statement on their no logging policy

They do however log a few details for claimed purposes of ensuring a good user experience. These are outline in ExpressVPN’s privacy policy and include:

  • Which version of the app you’re using
  • The dates on which you connect to a VPN server (though not the times)
  • Which country or ISP you connect from (but not your IP… that’s important)
  • Which VPN location you connect to (but not the outgoing IP… that’s just as important)
  • The total daily amount of your data transfers

None of the above, even when combined with logs from your ISP and any website or service you visit, are enough to identify you uniquely.

So, while I prefer completely zero logging providers (why take any chances), ExpressVPN comes pretty darn close and certainly close enough to keep you completely anonymous.

Privacy at Signup

When you first sign up for ExpressVPN, you have to give them your email address. The form of payment you pick dictates what other personal information you need to supply.

The payment option requiring the least amount of information is Bitcoin (the only accepted cryptocurrency, by the way). So, if you’re not willing to part with any personal data beyond your email, it’s what you should use.

While signing up, ExpressVPN’s website will, of course, store your IP and cookie your browser. That too can be a privacy concern to some of us.

An easy way to get around that is to sign up from your local coffee shop using a private browser window. And if you’re already taking things that far, at the same time you might as well create a throwaway email address and just give that to ExpressVPN. This way, no one gets your real IP address.

Kill Switch

As do all premium VPN providers, ExpressVPN offers an internet kill switch. And, as do many VPN providers, they also chose to give it its own name. Network Lock is what it’s called, in case you’re looking for it.

The ExpressVPN app's general options window has kill switch toggle

Network Lock is on by default and set to stop all internet traffic (but only internet traffic) when/if the VPN suddenly drops. Local network will continue to be allowed. To me, that makes perfect sense.

However, if for whatever reason you want to kill your network connection entirely during an unexpected VPN disconnect, that option too is available.

Please note that kill switch functionality is only available on the Windows and Mac clients. No other platform supports it.

Special Purpose Servers

Perhaps one area where ExpressVPN falls a bit short is by not offering special server functionality like double VPN, TOR over VPN, or server obfuscation. When privacy and anonymity are of the utmost importance, these are the features (combined with a kill switch) that you want to be using.

I agree that few of us need to take things that far. That is likely why ExpressVPN chose not to invest their time and money there.

But, it’s worth mentioning. And if that is functionality which matters to you, another provider like NordVPN may be better suited for your needs.

Protocols and Encryption

Your choice of protocols with ExpressVPN is pretty close to complete.

The options include OpenVPN over UDP or TCP, SSTP (on Windows only), L2TP/IPsec and PPTP. IKEv2 is the odd man out and not currently supported.

Review of ExpressVPN's connection protocol options

By default, the client software on all platforms has the protocol selection set to automatic. This will pick the most appropriate one for your current network conditions.

On mobile devices, only OpenVPN over UDP and TCP are available. In the vast majority of the cases, however, that’s what you want anyway. So, the limited number of options isn’t necessarily a concern.

For encryption, ExpressVPN uses an AES-256-CBC cipher with SHA-256 HMAC data authentication.

If those standards do not mean much to you, the takeaway is your data is very, very safe. This is the level of encryption government agencies and banks use to secure their stuff.

Leak Tests

All the privacy and anonymity features mean little if a VPN provider is leaking your DNS or IP address. Thankfully, with ExpressVPN, there are no concerns.

I ran my standard tests, and no leaks were to be found. IPv4, IPv6, and DNS all passed with flying colors, including over WebRTC.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's leak test results

ExpressVPN has its own DNS and WebRTC leak tests available on its website. Shortcuts to those are available under the Help & Support submenu of the client. While they seem accurate enough, just on principle, I prefer to use third party websites.

Apps and Clients

I’ve played up the ExpressVPN client a few times already. It’s now time to dig in and see how good it really is.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is how clean it looks. It doesn’t overwhelm at all.

An ExpressVPN app disconnected from the service

Everything is logically laid out, and the more advanced features are nicely hidden away in the settings menu. So, they won’t interfere with your experience unless you want them to.

The Smart Location button picks your best currently available server and sets it to your selected location. Selections like this usually happen based on a combination of distance, latency, and server load.

If you want to connect somewhere specific, you can also pick a location with the Choose Location button.

Location selection in the ExpressVPN app

Once your selected location is set, off you go by pressing the giant power button in the middle. You disconnect by clicking on the same button again.

It’s a straightforward and intuitive process.

On the subject of manual server selection, it is the one function which may be a little confusing at first (but that’ll get used to by the second or third time).

The window that pops up after clicking the Choose Location button has three tabs on it, including ones called Recommended and All. The servers listed as recommended are but a small subset of all available servers. Not every location is there.

For example, if you want to connect to the UK Kent server, you can’t from the recommended list. And because a few other UK servers are listed there, you may think UK Kent doesn’t even exist. It does, just under the All tab.

Once you realize what’s going on, it’s simple enough. But like I said. Initially, it can throw you off.

Supported Platforms

Are you refusing to let go of your Blackberry phone? If so, ExpressVPN may not be for you. But, for just about any other platform imaginable, they have you covered.

Oh, wait. Blackberry is supported too.

List of devices supported by ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN also has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

In case you’re wondering, here is the extensive list of permissions the Firefox extension asked of me:

  • Access to your data for all websites
  • Exchange messages with programs other than Firefox
  • Display notifications to you
  • Read and modify privacy settings
  • Control of browser proxy settings
  • Access to browser tabs
  • Store unlimited amount of client-side data
  • Access browser activity during navigation

From a privacy standpoint, that’s just OKish. If this wasn’t a review of Express VPN but some other provider, I would be more concerned. But, I trust ExpressVPN enough to know they won’t try to pull anything sketchy.

Across the board, be it stand-alone, mobile, or browser extension, all clients share the same logical layout. So, jumping between the various versions is a breeze.

Review of ExpressVPN clients on different platforms

Beyond downloadable clients and extensions, you also get detailed setup guides for pretty much every other device you may want a VPN on. From routers and game consoles to smart TVs and various streaming devices, they’re all there.

Server Locations

Even the most feature-rich, intuitive, and secure VPN provider is mostly useless if you can’t connect to a location you need to. With ExpressVPN, I’m willing to bet good money that will never be a problem.

With servers in 95 countries and 164 locations, ExpressVPN has one of the largest networks available. North America and Europe, of course, get the bulk of the coverage. But that’s not to say other world regions are neglected. You can see the full server list here.

Image of all country location supported by ExpressVPN

If by some small chance ExpressVPN doesn’t have the location you want, first I’d like to know what that location is (I’m genuinely curious). Then, you can investigate the few other providers who have even greater server coverage, including PureVPN and HideMyAss!. As I said, though, I doubt it’ll come to that.

All ExpressVPN servers support P2P traffic.

Speed and Performance

ExpressVPN has many strengths, and performance is yet another feather in their cap. Their servers are quick and consistently so, easily making them one of the fastest VPN providers in the market.

As with all services I review, I ran a complete set of performance checks on eight of the most popular locations around the world. Below is a sample taken from those full speed test results.

Best Server

ExpressVPN best server speed test results

Connnected to VPN

ExpressVPN best server speed test baseline results

No VPN

United States Server

ExpressVPN US server speed test results

Connnected to VPN

ExpressVPN US server speed test baseline results

No VPN

Netherlands Server

ExpressVPN Netherlands server speed test results

Connnected to VPN

ExpressVPN Netherlands server speed test baseline results

No VPN

I included my best server, as determined by ExpressVPN’s client (this should theoretically be the fastest connection), one North American server, and one European server.

The results are quite impressive. They’re also more than good enough for even the most bandwidth-intensive activities like large downloads and 4K video streaming.

In other words, performance is not something you need to worry about with ExpressVPN.

Customer Service

The VPN industry is not always known for its stellar customer service. Here too ExpressVPN stands above the crowd.

For starters, they offer live chat support 24/7, 365 days out of the year. And not just any chat support. Knowledge and helpful chat support.

Email is also, of course, an option if you prefer to do things a little more old school.

You can submit a customer support ticket directly from the client too. I like that. Not only is any issue you have experienced still fresh in your mind (and you can, therefore, describe it in greater detail), but the client can also optionally include details of any recent errors it has found.

That combination makes it much more likely your issue will be resolved quickly and to your satisfaction.

ExpressVPN's support portal

And if you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, the ExpressVPN knowledge base is the place for you. Everything from setup to various troubleshooting guides is there. The knowledge base can also be accessed directly from the client.

Price and Value

If you’ve read everything up to this point, it should be clear that ExpressVPN is a premium provider. And, with that, unfortunately, come premium prices.

There are three plans on offer: 1 month, 6 months, and 12 months.

The current ExpressVPN subscription prices

Even though the 12-month plan (plus three months for free) for $6.67/month is the best ExpressVPN discount currently available, it is still on the higher end of the scale. But, despite that, I have no doubt your getting your money’s worth.

Payment Methods

When it comes time to pay for your subscription, ExpressVPN makes it easy. Every major form of payment is accepted.

A list of the available ExpressVPN payment methods

The one area where they maybe fall a little short is in the choice cryptocurrencies. Only Bitcoin is available. But, if you’re crypto savvy enough to go that way, having just the one option won’t be a problem.

ExpressVPN Free Trial and Refunds

There is no free trial with ExpressVPN. What they do have, however, is an excellent refund policy.

When you buy a subscription, you have a generous 30-day money back guarantee backing you up. Unlike other may other providers, it’s no questions asked too.

Technical issues? It doesn’t matter. Simply changed your mind? It doesn’t matter. No explanation necessary, money back in the bank.

Just note that it’s a 30-day guarantee, not a full month one. Avoid any disappointment there.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, ExpressVPN is an excellent provider that no one seeking online privacy, anonymity, or security can go wrong with.

From a huge global pool of well-performing servers and robust security features to one of the best customer service departments I have dealt with, you more than get your money’s worth.

My experience with ExpressVPN has always been a positive one, both during this review process, as well as during the many times I have used them previously. This is reasons why I can so easily recommend them.

Express VPN logoScore:
9/10

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