ExpressVPN Review Summary
+ Streaming videos anywhere
+ Online privacy and security
In an overcrowded VPN market, ExpressVPN continues to stand out from the rest and remains the top recommendation at Restore Privacy. Extensive testing for this review found ExpressVPN to offer exceptionally fast speeds and secure, reliable applications. Although ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive than other options (minor drawback), this premium VPN is worth every penny if you value performance and security.
British Virgin Islands
No activity or connection logs
Passed all tests
24/7 live chat
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Exceptional speeds throughout the server network
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Split tunneling feature (for 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)
In this ExpressVPN review we’ll take a deep dive into the following general areas:
- Company and policies
- VPN price and applications
- VPN features
- VPN performance and cross-platform testing results (speed and security/privacy tests)
- ExpressVPN for torrenting and Netflix
- ExpressVPN review conclusion
Now let’s first start with the company.
ExpressVPN company and policies
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Despite being a British Overseas Territory, the British Virgin Islands are an independent, self-governing entity with full control over their own laws and legal system. 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, despite the tertiary connection to the United Kingdom.
In terms of company policies, ExpressVPN also does quite well. ExpressVPN clarifies their core beliefs on the 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 recently 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.
ExpressVPN has cordially extended reduced prices to Restore Privacy readers. Without using the exclusive discount below, the cheapest you can get ExpressVPN for is $8.32 per month.
However, through this discount link, you can now get ExpressVPN for $6.67 per month, which drops the VPN price significantly.
Below are the ExpressVPN prices when you use the discount:
When considering the price of a VPN, the key question is always value – what you get for your money.
After running numerous performance tests (posted below) and considering the quality and wide selection of the applications, I would consider ExpressVPN’s price and value to be quite good.
The other consideration is customer service. In the area of customer service, ExpressVPN is among the best. It offers the best refund window in the VPN industry (below) as well as 24/7 live chat support with friendly and professional technicians.
ExpressVPN refund policy – ExpressVPN offers a 30 day “no questions asked” money-back guarantee with every VPN subscription. I carefully read through the Terms and did not find any stipulations or hidden clauses. Additionally, they may even consider refunds outside of the 30-day window in certain cases, as explained further on their website.
To get a 49% discount and the full 30-day money-back guarantee, you can visit ExpressVPN here >>
ExpressVPN offers a large selection of apps for different devices and platforms.
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 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 limits you to three simultaneous connections at the same time, 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.
While the 3 device limit may be a drawback for some, you can easily get around this restriction by using a VPN 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.
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. Additionally, ExpressVPN utilizes Perfect Forward Secrecy negotiated through Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
ExpressVPN offers a very high level of encryption that is considered unbreakable by current standards.
Protocols – You can select which encryption protocol to use directly in the apps. Below you can see the protocols with the ExpressVPN Windows app:
Despite utilizing a very high standard of encryption (perhaps overkill) ExpressVPN still offers excellent speeds, which you’ll see below.
If you want more information on ExpressVPN’s encryption implementation, you can find that on their website.
Kill switch (network lock)
ExpressVPN refers to their kill switch as the network lock. The network lock feature is included 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 seemed to work well when testing it out with Windows and Mac OS. VPN traffic was effectively blocked when I simulated various interruptions to the connection.
Important note: The network lock is designed to block traffic “if ExpressVPN disconnects unexpectedly.” This means that if you are connected to a VPN server and the connection drops, you will be protected. However, there are certain times when non-VPN traffic will not get blocked.
In other words, if you intentionally disconnect the VPN server, such as when switching servers, the network lock will be disabled. The graphic below comes from the ExpressVPN website and explains exactly how the network lock behaves.
For most people, this won’t be an issue, especially since there are times when you probably won’t want to use the VPN. However, if you want all non-VPN completely blocked 100% of the time, you can simply implement a firewall rule for your operating system (or use a VPN router that will always be connected).
ExpressVPN split tunneling
ExpressVPN offers a split tunneling feature with their applications for Mac OS, Windows, and routers.
Split tunneling allows you to select which apps will go through the VPN 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. ExpressVPN is one of the few providers that offer this feature (and it works well).
ExpressVPN speed test
ExpressVPN is known for excellent performance – and in all speed tests for this review, it certainly did not disappoint.
For all speed tests, my baseline speed (without a VPN) was about 100 Mbps. The physical testing location was Germany.
Below are a few of the speed test results using different ExpressVPN servers around the world.
This speed test was with a nearby server in Germany at about 74.5 Mbps download speed.
Here was another speed test with a server in France, giving me a download speed of 71.9 Mbps – another excellent result.
And here is the final speed test result for a nearby server in Italy at 66.84 Mbps.
Nearby servers – For all nearby servers I tested in Europe, the speeds were consistently fast – generally ranging from 60 to 75 Mbps.
Long-distance server speed tests
I also ran some speed tests for servers in the United States and Canada. Due to the longer distance between me and the VPN servers, slower speeds are to be expected. However, ExpressVPN still did great with all servers giving me speeds between 50 and 60 Mbps.
Here is a speed test with an ExpressVPN server in New York at about 54 Mbps.
Considering that I conducted all the tests over the course of a few days, and my non-VPN internet speed could vary from 80 to 105 Mbps, these results are excellent. You will probably get even better speeds if your ISP connection is above 100 Mbps.
Given these speed test results, ExpressVPN would be an excellent choice for streaming media or torrenting. This is one reason why ExpressVPN is the top recommendation in the VPN for Kodi guide.
ExpressVPN privacy and security
I ran the 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.
Overall I really liked the look, feel, and performance of the ExpressVPN app. It is not overloaded with features or settings – instead it is simple and powerful.
Now moving on to the ExpressVPN Mac OS client, the results were the same: no leaks.
ExpressVPN 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, and Chrome 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 recently 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).
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. You can find everything on GitHub.
While I have always found ExpressVPN to perform well in testing, they have raised the bar with these latest developments.
You can check out the ExpressVPN Privacy Research Lab here >>
As we have already covered, ExpressVPN is a provider that takes privacy and online anonymity very seriously.
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” and then hand customer data over to the FBI (US authorities) – see PureVPN.
Server seized – ‘no logs’ confirmed
In December 2017 news broke that authorities in Turkey seized an ExpressVPN server in an attempt to obtain customer data. This was part of an investigation concerning the shooting of a Russian ambassador by a Turkish police officer.
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 good selection of servers around the world.
While I previously criticized ExpressVPN for the use of “virtual” server locations, they have since clarified all virtual locations on their website (where the physical location does not match the “virtual” location).
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. Finally, ExpressVPN’s website explains that less than 3% of their network consists of virtual server locations.
If you want to use IP addresses from remote regions of the world, ExpressVPN would be a decent choice.
You can see all the different locations on the ExpressVPN website.
I tested out ExpressVPN’s support repeatedly for this review. In all my interactions I found the support department to be friendly and helpful. This is one factor that makes ExpressVPN ideal for people who are new to VPNs.
You can get access to 24/7 live chat support directly on their website. 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).
There are three factors that make ExpressVPN an 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).
- No bandwidth limitations or traffic restrictions whatsoever.
ExpressVPN is among the top recommendations in our torrent VPN guide.
You can also get more information on the ExpressVPN torrenting page here.
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, and then stream Netflix as normal.
ExpressVPN review conclusion
ExpressVPN’s performance in this latest review update has earned it a top spot on the best VPN recommendation list. 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).
- Excellent offshore jurisdiction and company policies to protect customer data and user privacy (which were recently verified with the server seizure in Turkey).
- Still works with Netflix and other streaming services.
- Huge selection of apps that are well-designed 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 get 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 which drops the price down to $6.67 per month.