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 any advanced user.
- A feature-rich and intuitive client
- Strong back-end technology
- Plenty of servers and server locations
- Fast and consistent connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix
- Top-notch customer support
- Some aggregated logging
- Not the cheapest
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, it may not be the cheapest VPN provider around – albeit only by a few dollars. But, as I’ll explain in this ExpressVPN review, the service is worth every penny.
As a more established VPN provider, you would expect ExpressVPN to deliver on every mainstream VPN feature. And they certainly do very well there.
ExpressVPN has split tunnel functionality available on its Windows and macOS clients. Though, for some reasons, on macOS, 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)
I’ve tested the feature on the two operating systems where it’s available and, in both cases, it worked exactly as advertised.
And what to do if you would like to use split tunneling on, say, an Android device? Then, unfortunately, you’ll have to go with a different provider. IPVanish and ProtonVPN, both well-reviewed VPNs, offer it in their Android clients.
BitTorrent 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 do not look great. Thankfully, in this case, no news is good news.
Once you dig in a little, you’ll find an entire page dedicated to BitTorrent 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.
Is Expressvpn Safe for Torrenting?
Just because a VPN allows torrenting, doesn’t mean it’s safe to do so. With ExpressVPN, however, there’s little to worry about.
As I’ll cover a bit further down in this review, not only does ExpressVPN makes use of very secure protocols and bulletproof encryption, but it also operates out of a privacy-friendly jurisdiction and has an excellent zero-logging policy.
In other words, when you use ExpressVPN to torrent, there is no chance that activity can be traced back to you. You’re safe.
ExpressVPN and Netflix
Finding a VPN not blocked by Netflix – especially by the US version – has been no easy task since the company instituted a VPN ban in early 2016.
ExpressVPN, however, seems to be one of the few exceptions and works just fine (at least as I write this).
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.
How Many Users Can Use ExpressVPN?
With one ExpressVPN subscription, you’re allowed to connect five users or devices at the same time.
You can install the client on as many devices as you like. You just can’t connect more than five of them to the VPN simultaneously.
Five is more or less the industry standard, and, in practice, you’ll rarely need to run more connections at once. In fact, for me, three is stretching it.
That said, if you do find yourself seeing the “Connection Limit Reached” message a bit too often, ExpressVPN runs on routers. When set up like that, only the router counts as an active connection, and the potentially dozens of devices sitting behind it do not.
Alternatively, if the connection limit becomes an issue, you can also investigate other well-reviewed providers like Surfshark that don’t cap concurrent connections at all.
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 of nearly 70 Mbps.
The best I got through the client’s tool was a measly 11.79 Mbps.
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.
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.
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).
- 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.
Can ExpressVPN Be Traced?
As we just saw, ExpressVPN does not log any internet traffic. Your IP address, your shared server IP address, or the exact times when you use the service are never stored.
That means, for as long as you’re connected to the VPN, none of your online activity is traceable back to you.
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.
Does ExpressVPN Have a Kill Switch?
As do all premium VPN providers, ExpressVPN comes with an internet kill switch. And, as do many VPN providers, they also chose to give it its own name. In case you’re looking for it, it’s called Network Lock.
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. At this time, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 countries and 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.
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. Here are a few samples taken from those full speed test results.
Above, 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.
Does ExpressVPN Slow Down Internet Speed?
Yes, using ExpressVPN – or any other VPN service for that matter – will slow down your internet. By how much depends on how fast your connection is.
In my case, because my internet is much quicker than the speeds ExpressVPN’s servers can reach, the slowdown is significant – at least in terms of percentages. Sheer numbers-wise, though, the connection is still very quick and allows me to do anything I want online.
If, however, your internet is slower than what the VPN server you connect to can manage, you shouldn’t be looking at more than a 10% to 15% performance drop.
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.
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.
How Much Does ExpressVPN Cost?
ExpressVPN has three subscription plans: 1 month, 6 months, and 12 months. The current prices are as follows:
- 1 Month: $12.95 per month
- 6 Months: $9.99 per month
- 1 Year: $6.67 per month
Even though the 12-month plan (plus three months for free) for $6.67 per month is the best ExpressVPN discount currently available, it is on the higher end of the scale.
That said, despite the relatively high cost, it’s still a price well worth paying.
How Do You Buy ExpressVPN?
To buy an ExpressVPN subscription, follows these steps:
- Click here to go to ExpressVPN’s hidden discount page to make sure you get the best price possible.
- On the discount page, click any of the red buttons. Doing so will activate the sale and take you to a different page that shows the associated ExpressVPN plans and their prices.
- Pick the plan you want.
- Fill out your email address (needed for ExpressVPN to send you your subscription key) and proceed with the checkout.
When it comes time to pay for your subscription, ExpressVPN makes it easy. Every major form of payment is accepted.
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.
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.