- Is ExpressVPN consistently fast and reliable?
- Can it unblock Netflix?
- How well do the features and leak-protection settings work?
- Is it really worth the price?
Unlike with other review sites that merely focus on marketing claims, this ExpressVPN review is based on extensive, in-depth testing with all results posted below via screenshots.
Specifically, I ran dozens of tests using ExpressVPN apps on all major operating systems to check for speeds, reliability, leaks, and whether all the features functioned as advertised. I tested the ExpressVPN apps on Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS for this review.
ExpressVPN Overview (Pros and Cons)
Numerous speed tests found ExpressVPN to offer consistently fast speeds throughout their server network – more so than any other VPN I have used and tested. (See the speed test results section below.)
For security, ExpressVPN is also among the best in the VPN industry. Their apps implement an advanced Network Lock kill switch, which will block all traffic in the event of a VPN connection interruption, thereby keeping your data safe and secure. Network Lock works with your operating system firewall and keeps all data packets secure through the VPN. Unlike with other VPNs, ExpressVPN’s apps even protect users against leaks when switching network interfaces or going in and out of connectivity.
For this review, I tested the ExpressVPN apps on Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS – and they worked flawlessly. In addition to being secure and reliable, the apps are also user-friendly and very well designed.
What are ExpressVPN’s drawbacks?
The main drawback with ExpressVPN is the price. While they are currently offering a 49% discount, it remains a premium VPN service with an above-average price tag, especially for the monthly plan. But if you value speed, security, and reliability, then ExpressVPN is worth the money.
ExpressVPN also limits you to three simultaneous connections per subscription, but you can use it with an unlimited number of devices. So unless you plan on surfing the internet with 4+ devices at the exact same time, then this isn’t much of a drawback. Furthermore, you can use ExpressVPN on your router to easily connect every device on your network to the VPN, with the router only counting as one connection.
Based on these latest test results, ExpressVPN is currently the #1 VPN recommendation on the best VPN report.
British Virgin Islands
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Exceptional speeds throughout the server network
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Split tunneling feature (Mac OS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Slightly more expensive (but currently offering a 49% discount)
ExpressVPN speed test
Let’s jump right into what most people want to know: how fast is ExpressVPN?
To measure ExpressVPN’s speeds I ran numerous tests with ExpressVPN servers around the world. My physical location for all testing was Germany and my baseline internet download speed (without a VPN) was about 100 Mbps. All tests were conducted with ExpressVPN’s apps using 256-bit OpenVPN.
Nearby ExpressVPN servers (Europe)
The first round of speed testing was with ExpressVPN servers in Europe. With nearby servers in Europe I could consistently get around 90 to 95 Mbps, which nearly maxed out my baseline speed.
For the first test, I went with a nearby server in Switzerland.
Download speed: 92 Mbps
Here is a test from a server in France.
Download speed: 91 Mbps
And another speed test in the Netherlands.
Download speed: 92 Mbps
And finally a speed test with a server in Milan, Italy, with the best result of them all.
Download speed: 94 Mbps
As you can see with nearby servers, ExpressVPN consistently performed at the upper limit of my internet provider (baseline) speed.
This is a consistently fast VPN, especially when using nearby servers.
If you are looking for the best speeds when using ExpressVPN, connecting to nearby servers, wherever you are located, will give you optimal results.
Long-distance ExpressVPN speed tests
I also a number of long-distance speed tests with servers in North America (from my location in Europe). Again, the speeds were excellent with all servers tested.
Here I am testing an ExpressVPN server in New York.
Download speed: 77 Mbps
Here is another test with a server in Washington D.C.
Download speed: 78 Mbps
I also tested servers in Canada and a few ExpressVPN servers in Asia. The results were all very good, consistent with the results posted above. Even with long-distance servers, my speeds were fast and reliable.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs I have tested. Based on these results, it appears to have earned its reputation as one of the fastest VPNs on the market. If you want a fast VPN that gives you the fastest speeds throughout the entire server network, ExpressVPN is arguably the best choice.
You can also see on the ExpressVPN website that performance is one of their main focus areas.
ExpressVPN company and policies
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The British Virgin Islands are an independent, self-governing entity with strict laws protecting the privacy of businesses and individuals operating there. Unlike the UK, the BVI have no mandatory data retention laws. Similar to Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands are well-known for staunch privacy protection and financial secrecy.
Considering all these factors, ExpressVPN seems to be located in a good privacy jurisdiction, which is not part of the 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance alliances.
In terms of company policies, ExpressVPN also does quite well. ExpressVPN clarifies their core beliefs on their website regarding user privacy:
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN provider focused on user privacy and anonymity. Our network is built around specifically NOT knowing the internet activities of our users. As privacy is a core part of our service offering, ExpressVPN is in the business of protecting our users’ private internet data.
ExpressVPN is committed to protecting your privacy. We want you to understand what information we collect, what we don’t collect, and how we collect, use, and store information. We do not collect logs of your activity, including no logging of browsing history, traffic destination, data content, or DNS queries. We also never store connection logs, meaning no logs of your IP address, your outgoing VPN IP address, connection timestamp, or session duration.
These policies were confirmed when authorities in Turkey seized an ExpressVPN server but were unable to obtain any customer data. We will discuss this case further below in the VPN Logs section.
Considering ExpressVPN’s jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands and their privacy-focused policies, this appears to be an excellent VPN if you are serious about online anonymity and data security.
How much does ExpressVPN cost?
ExpressVPN costs $6.67 per month if you use the discount coupon and select the 15-month plan.
ExpressVPN has cordially offered reduced prices to Restore Privacy readers with the three-months free coupon. Without using the discount, the cheapest you can get ExpressVPN for is $8.32 per month.
Here are the prices with the current ExpressVPN coupon. (You’ll see the discount applied on the checkout page.)
When considering the price of a VPN, the key question is always value – what you get for your money.
While many VPNs promise great performance, ExpressVPN is one of the few that actually delivers on speed and reliability.
Two other areas where ExpressVPN outperforms most other services is with customer service and VPN apps. ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat support and a 30 day money-back guarantee (the best in the industry). The second factor is ExpressVPN’s apps which are user-friendly, stable, and very secure (see leak test results below).
Here is a breakdown of the prices:
- $6.67/month for the 15-month plan (best deal)
- $9.99/month for the 6-month plan
- $12.95/month for the monthly plan
While ExpressVPN is on the higher end of the price spectrum, you typically get what you pay for with VPNs.
ExpressVPN offers a large selection of VPN apps for different devices and platforms. This allows you to use ExpressVPN with nearly any device.
For this review, I tested the ExpressVPN apps on Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS (iPhone).
Overall I found all of their apps to be well-designed, stable and also user-friendly. All of the ExpressVPN apps performed well in testing, without any crashes, bugs, or other problems.
Here is a screenshot of the ExpressVPN Windows client with the server locations screen on the right:
Currently, ExpressVPN offers dedicated VPN apps for:
- Mac OS
3 Simultaneous connections – ExpressVPN gives you to three simultaneous connections with all subscriptions, but you can use the VPN with an unlimited number of devices. Here is the exact clarification from ExpressVPN support:
You can install or configure ExpressVPN on as many devices as you like (i.e., computers, mobile devices, streaming media consoles and wireless routers). With one subscription, you’ll be able to connect up to 3 devices on any platform simultaneously.
If you want to use more than three devices with the VPN, there is a simple solution: use ExpressVPN on your router. The router will count as only one connection and you’ll be able to use it with as many devices as you wish. Check out the VPN router guide for more info (not all routers work with VPNs).
You can get more information on all the ExpressVPN apps and support for other devices on their website here.
For encryption, ExpressVPN uses an AES 256-bit cipher with a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication. This is the highest level of encryption that is currently considered unbreakable, while also offering good performance. Additionally, ExpressVPN supports Perfect Forward Secrecy negotiated through Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
VPN Protocols – You can select which VPN protocol you want to use directly in the ExpressVPN apps. Below you can see the available VPN protocols with the ExpressVPN Windows app:
Despite utilizing a very high standard of encryption (perhaps overkill), ExpressVPN still offers excellent speeds, as shown in the speed tests above.
If you want more information on ExpressVPN’s encryption implementation, you can find that on their website.
ExpressVPN network lock (kill switch)
ExpressVPN refers to their kill switch as the Network Lock. The Network Lock feature will keep your data secure by blocking all traffic if the VPN connection drops. This ensures every data packet remains secured and encrypted, with your real IP address being protected at all times.
The Network Lock feature is currently available in the following apps:
- Mac OS
Below you can see ExpressVPN’s network lock feature under the General settings in the Windows app:
The network lock feature worked well when I tested it out with Windows and Mac OS. All traffic was effectively blocked when I manually interrupted the VPN connection, blocking traffic, and then forcing the VPN to reconnect. When the VPN connection is interrupted, both the Windows and Mac OS apps provide a notification that Network Lock is active and no unencrypted traffic is getting through your operating system firewall.
The kill switch (Network Lock) is a very important feature to keep your data secure in the event of a dropped connection. Most VPNs offer this feature, but in many cases it does not work well. For example with PureVPN, the kill switch does is broken, which results in traffic leaking out when the tunnel drops, thereby de-anonymizing the user.
ExpressVPN’s apps do very well in protecting and securing user data.
ExpressVPN split tunneling
ExpressVPN offers a split tunneling feature with their applications for Windows, Mac OS, and routers.
Split tunneling allows you to select which apps will go through the VPN tunnel and which can bypass the VPN to the regular (unencrypted) internet.
This feature can be found in the settings area of the Windows and Mac OS clients. By default, all traffic and applications are routed through the VPN. In the settings, you can select three different options:
- All apps use the VPN
- Do not allow selected apps to use the VPN
- Only allow selected apps to use the VPN
If you click the second or third options, a pop-up window appears, allowing you to select the specific apps.
The Mac OS split tunneling feature is basically the same as with Windows above.
Many people want a split tunneling feature for various applications or use cases, such as streaming Netflix or with certain applications.
ExpressVPN is one of the few providers that offer this feature (and it works well).
ExpressVPN privacy and security tests
I ran the ExpressVPN Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS apps through some basic VPN tests to identify any issues/problems. The main testing site I used was ipleak.net.
Results – ExpressVPN passed all tests. I did not identify any leaks, bugs, or problems with the ExpressVPN apps.
Below are a few of the different testing results.
Here is a test with the ExpressVPN Windows client while connected to a server in Sweden.
As you can see, ExpressVPN is securing all my traffic by providing me with an IPv4 address, blocking IPv6, and handling all my DNS requests with their secure DNS resolvers. (The address in the WebRTC box is local and not a leak.) ExpressVPN’s Windows app passed all tests (no leaks were found).
Now moving on to the ExpressVPN Mac OS client, the results were the same: no leaks.
Just like with the Windows app, the ExpressVPN Mac OS client performed well in all tests. Overall it remains one of the top recommendations for privacy and security-focused users.
ExpressVPN leak testing tools
Over the past several months, ExpressVPN has made several major improvements to its applications. While the apps still look the same, they are now hardened and secured to protect users against rare leak scenarios.
Here is a brief overview of these security updates:
- Additional WebRTC leak protection – The WebRTC vulnerability pertains to the Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Chromium-based browsers whereby your real IP address can be exposed. While this is technically a browser flaw that many VPNs won’t protect you against, ExpressVPN now implements advanced WebRTC leak protection in their apps.
- Additional DNS leak protection – ExpressVPN has also updated their applications to patch a rare DNS leak that may occur when switching network interfaces with an active VPN connection (such as switching from an ethernet cable to WiFi). Very few VPNs protect against this leak scenario.
To identify problems with their VPN service, ExpressVPN developed a suite of privacy testing tools. They decided to make the leak testing tools completely free and open source – they can be used to test any VPN for failures (available on GitHub).
As we have already covered, ExpressVPN is a provider that takes privacy and online anonymity very seriously. Here is a brief overview of their logging policies from their website:
They further clarify their core philosophy here:
We have carefully engineered our apps and VPN servers to categorically eliminate sensitive information. As a result, ExpressVPN can never be compelled to provide customer data that do not exist.
This all sounds good, but how do you really know if ExpressVPN is taking these policies seriously? After all, we do know of VPNs that claim to have a “zero log policy” while logging customer data for US authorities – see PureVPN and IPVanish, for examples.
ExpressVPN servers seized: ‘no logs’ policy confirmed
In December 2017 news broke that authorities in Turkey seized an ExpressVPN server in an attempt to obtain customer data. Before the server was seized in Turkey, Turkish authorities had attempted to force ExpressVPN to provide logs from the server in question. ExpressVPN informed the officials that they are a no logs VPN, not subject to Turkish authorities, and they did not have any data to provide. (This was part of a criminal investigation.)
Why is this important?
The relevant issue here is that the authorities were not able to obtain any customer data – because there were no logs available.
ExpressVPN issued a statement on their website, here is a brief excerpt:
As we stated to Turkish authorities in January 2017, ExpressVPN does not and has never possessed any customer connection logs that would enable us to know which customer was using the specific IPs cited by the investigators. Furthermore, we were unable to see which customers accessed Gmail or Facebook during the time in question, as we do not keep activity logs. We believe that the investigators’ seizure and inspection of the VPN server in question confirmed these points.
This case confirms ExpressVPN’s logging policies and overall commitment to securing customer data.
ExpressVPN offers a great selection of servers around the world.
They currently have more than 2,000 servers in 94 different countries. Europe and North America have the best coverage, but they also offer a good selection of servers in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific region. Check out the server page on the ExpressVPN website to see locations in your area.
ExpressVPN also has a server status page showing exactly which servers are online and the available VPN protocols those servers support.
Does ExpressVPN use virtual servers?
ExpressVPN does offer a small number of virtual servers, comprising less than 3% of its network. Unlike other VPN providers that do not explain which servers are virtual location, ExpressVPN lists all virtual locations on their website and explained their reason for using them. (Note: A virtual server location is where the physical location of the server does not match the “virtual” location it broadcasts).
Even though there are some drawbacks to “virtual” server locations, these are generally only used for remote geographic regions, such as Bhutan or Sri Lanka. Virtual locations are also used in countries where having physical servers may present a security risk, such as in Turkey following the server seizure case in 2017. Finally, ExpressVPN’s website explains that less than 3% of its network consists of virtual server locations.
If you want to use IP addresses from remote regions of the world, ExpressVPN would be a good choice due to their large network of servers.
Does ExpressVPN offer static/dedicated IP addresses?
No, ExpressVPN does not offer dedicated IP addresses.
If you want a dedicated IP address, see the dedicated IP VPN guide for more details. (Remember that dedicated/static IPs are not a good choice for privacy because your internet traffic is not getting mixed with other users, such as the case with shared IPs.)
I tested out ExpressVPN’s support repeatedly for this review. In all my interactions, I found the support department to be prompt, knowledgeable, and polite.
You can get access to 24/7 live chat support directly through their website in the bottom-right corner. With each chat session I initiated, I was connected to a representative in under a minute.
Support with larger VPNs can often be hit or miss.
With ExpressVPN, it seems to very good (as of the time of this review).
ExpressVPN browser extensions
ExpressVPN offers a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browser. The browser add-on is an extension of the ExpressVPN app, therefore you will need to be running the ExpressVPN Windows, Mac OS, or Linux desktop application.
Why use the browser extension when you can use the desktop VPN app?
The biggest advantage of using the browser app is convenience – i.e. the ability to easily switch server locations directly in your browser, rather than having to navigate to the desktop VPN client. Additionally, the ExpressVPN Chrome extension also incorporates HTTPS Everywhere – a great add-on that forces HTTPS connections – from the Electronic Frontier.
ExpressVPN on Android and iOS
Both ExpressVPN mobile apps I tested on Android and iOS did well in testing.
ExpressVPN is one of the best options for both Android and iOS, allowing you to use the OpenVPN protocol and secure tunneling. Most VPN providers are limited with the VPN protocols they offer on mobile devices. This is especially true for iOS, where most VPNs only support the IPSec/IKEv2 protocol.
ExpressVPN has fully-functional OpenVPN apps with secure 256-bit encryption for both Android and iOS (iPhone and iPads). With iOS, you can choose between OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols. The ExpressVPN Android app uses only the OpenVPN protocol.
Below you can see the iOS app (left) and the Android app (right):
If you want to use a VPN on your mobile devices and tablets, ExpressVPN offers some of the best mobile apps you’ll find.
Can you use ExpressVPN for torrenting?
There are four factors that make ExpressVPN a solid choice for torrenting:
- High-performance (premium) server network with exceptionally fast speeds and great reliability.
- Overseas jurisdiction that is not subject to DMCA requests or copyright violation demands.
- High-quality applications that will keep your data and anonymity secure while also protecting you against leaks and vulnerabilities (WebRTC). This, of course, also protects you from copyright trolls and DMCA notices.
- No bandwidth limitations or traffic restrictions whatsoever.
ExpressVPN is among the top recommendations in our VPN for torrenting guide.
You can also get more information on the ExpressVPN torrenting page.
Does ExpressVPN work with Netflix?
Yes. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN providers that continues to work with Netflix, no matter where you’re located in the world.
If you get any kind of proxy error with Netflix when you are connected to an ExpressVPN server, just contact ExpressVPN’s chat support and they’ll tell which server to use instead.
Below I’m streaming US Netflix with an ExpressVPN server located in Washington DC. The quality was perfect and there were no interruptions or buffering problems. Everything worked well:
To use Netflix with ExpressVPN, simply start the ExpressVPN app on your device, connect to a server of your choice in the Netflix region you want to use, and then stream Netflix as normal.
ExpressVPN review conclusion
ExpressVPN’s performance for this latest review update has earned it a top spot in the best VPN service report.
In an overcrowded VPN market, ExpressVPN continues to stand out from the rest and remains the top recommendation at Restore Privacy. To summarize, here are the main findings from this ExpressVPN review:
- Superior performance with excellent speeds and reliability throughout the VPN server network.
- High-security applications with maximum encryption (passed all privacy/security tests) and the Network Lock feature to keep all data secure.
- Excellent offshore jurisdiction and company policies to protect customer data and user privacy (which were also verified with the server seizure in Turkey).
- Continues to work with Netflix and other streaming services.
- Huge selection of apps that are well-designed, reliable, and very user-friendly.
- Top-notch customer service with 24/7 live chat support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
There is very little not to like with ExpressVPN. It is a service that continues to improve and gets better over time. While the price has traditionally been on the higher end (at $8.32 per month) you can now get an exclusive discount to reduce the price down to $6.67 per month.
Alternatives to ExpressVPN:
Note: I also have a comparison guide for ExpressVPN vs NordVPN, as these are two of the most popular VPNs in the industry.
If you have used ExpressVPN, feel free to share your honest review (good or bad) below. And if you have general questions, please use the contact form.