|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
ExpressVPN is a large, well-regarded VPN service used by many people – but how well does it actually perform?
In this new and updated ExpressVPN review, I put the service through extensive testing in order to answer the following questions:
- Is ExpressVPN fast and reliable?
- How well do the features and leak-protection settings work?
- Are the VPN apps secure and user-friendly?
- Can it unblock Netflix and other streaming services?
- Is it really worth the price?
To answer these questions, I ran dozens of tests using ExpressVPN apps on all major operating systems to verify speeds, reliability, security, and whether all the features worked correctly. All results are posted as screenshots in the review below.
Here is a brief overview of the test results and research findings for this ExpressVPN review:
Pros of ExpressVPN
- Secure and reliable VPN apps (support for all devices)
- Strong encryption, great security features, and no leaks
- Good speeds and reliability
- Proven no logs VPN provider (audited)
- Located in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction (BVI)
- Large, secure server network, servers running in RAM-disk mode
- Works with Netflix, great for streaming
- Browser extensions with HTTPS Everywhere
- Split tunneling feature
- Reliable Android and iOS apps
- Dedicated VPN router app (for unlimited connections)
- Great customer support and refund policy
Cons of ExpressVPN
- More expensive than some rivals (but see the 49% discount coupon)
Additional research findings
- Can you use ExpressVPN for torrenting? (Yes)
- Does ExpressVPN work in China? (Yes)
- ExpressVPN allows 5 simultaneous connections
Now let’s examine the details and findings of this ExpressVPN review, starting with the pros.
Here are the pros of ExpressVPN:
1. Secure and reliable VPN apps (support for all devices)
When it comes to secure, reliable, and user-friendly VPN apps that just work, ExpressVPN is one of the best options available.
ExpressVPN offers dedicated apps for all major operating systems and devices, including:
- Mac OS
- Kindle Fire and Nook
Here you can see the new ExpressVPN Windows app I tested for this review. (It is the same design for Mac OS, Android, and iOS.)
Tapping the three lines in the top left corner of the VPN app opens up a new window with more features and settings, which we’ll cover below.
The ExpressVPN app has always been one of my favorites with an intuitive design and great layout. Many VPN apps are buggy and/or clunky. This is not the case with ExpressVPN, especially with the latest version.
2. Strong encryption, great security features, and no leaks
When it comes to implementing strong encryption and security, ExpressVPN does not cut any corners. We’ll examine the encryption, VPN protocols, security features, and leak test results in this section.
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 and is currently considered unbreakable, while also offering good performance. Additionally, ExpressVPN supports Perfect Forward Secrecy negotiated through a Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
ExpressVPN gives you the ability to select which VPN protocols you want to use directly in the apps. Here you can see the available VPN protocols in the Windows client:
With “Automatic” enabled, ExpressVPN will select the best VPN protocol based on your network settings. For the vast majority of cases, this will be the OpenVPN UDP protocol, which offers the best combination of speed and security. If you are experiencing connection problems on your network, OpenVPN TCP may be a better option (but not as fast as UDP). The IKEv2 protocol is also secure and fast.
ExpressVPN Network Lock (kill switch)
ExpressVPN refers to the 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 encrypted and secure, 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.
The kill switch (Network Lock) is important to keep your data secure if your connection drops for any reason. Most VPNs offer this feature, but in many cases it does not work well.
ExpressVPN leak test results (no leaks)
I ran the ExpressVPN Windows and Mac OS apps through some basic VPN tests to identify any issues or problems. The main testing site I used was ipleak.net. I did not find any leaks or security issues with any of the ExpressVPN apps.
ExpressVPN Windows client with no leaks:
As you can see above, 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. ExpressVPN’s Windows app passed all tests (no leaks were found).
I also ran the ExpressVPN Mac OS client through these tests and did not find any leaks or security problems.
I really liked the ExpressVPN Mac OS app. It is arguably the best VPN for Mac with the design, leak protection settings, and performance.
Conclusion on ExpressVPN security
ExpressVPN is a great choice if you want a high-security VPN service, with maximum encryption and data protection features. It offers both performance and security.
3. Good speeds and reliability
In terms of speeds, ExpressVPN also does well. For testing, my baseline speed was about 150 Mbps and I ran all tests from my location in Western Europe.
Nearby ExpressVPN speed tests
First I tested a server in Frankfurt, Germany: 101 Mbps.
Here was an ExpressVPN server in Belgium with speeds of 103 Mbps.
Next I tested speeds with an ExpressVPN server in Italy. It was similar to the others at around 102 Mbps.
These are pretty good speeds, and also consistent.
Long-distance speed tests
I also tested some ExpressVPN servers in the US and Canada.
Here was an ExpressVPN server in New York giving me 92 Mbps.
Next, was an ExpressVPN server in Dallas, Texas at 91 Mbps.
Overall these are good speeds.
Finally I also tested servers in Canada. The speeds were again pretty good.
Here was an ExpressVPN server in Montreal at 88 Mbps.
If you need a good VPN for Canada, ExpressVPN is a good choice.
Note: Slower speeds can be expected with these long-distance servers because they were further away from my location. Nonetheless, the test results were still good.
Tip for getting the fastest speeds with ExpressVPN
The ExpressVPN apps have a useful feature to help you select the fastest server, which is the “recommended server” feature. The “Recommended” servers will offer the best speeds based on your proximity to the server location and available bandwidth (server loads).
Conclusion on speeds: ExpressVPN offers fast and reliable speeds and does well in the performance category. With that being said, it’s not quite as fast as some other VPNs I’ve tested, such as NordVPN. (I’ll also be running more tests for the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison.)
4. Proven no logs VPN provider
ExpressVPN is also one of the few VPNs with no logs that has been verified and proven. First, we will take an in-depth look at ExpressVPN’s policies, then we’ll cover the real-world case that further verified these policies.
ExpressVPN no-logs policy
ExpressVPN clarifies its commitment to user privacy on their website:
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.
Here is a brief overview of ExpressVPN’s stance on logs:
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.
That being said, there is an option in the VPN apps to share crash statistics, which helps ExpressVPN improve apps, but this data is completely anonymized, does not include personal information, and is optional. Nonetheless, it can also easily be disabled with one click in the Settings area.
Passes third-party audit of logging policies
ExpressVPN is also one of a handful of VPNs that has been independently audited.
To verify and prove their no-logs claims, ExpressVPN underwent a third-party audit from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The audit verified the TrustedServer feature (discussed below), no logs policy, and that all privacy protections are being adhered to correctly.
Very few VPNs have undergone third-party audits to verify logging policies. And there’s also further proof that ExpressVPN is following a true no-logs policy.
ExpressVPN servers seized: ‘no logs’ policy tested
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’re a no-logs VPN, not subject to Turkish law, and they do not have any data to provide.
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 here, which explains the case:
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.
5. Located in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction (BVI)
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) IS an independent, self-governing entity with strict laws protecting the privacy of businesses and individuals operating there.
Unlike the UK, the BVI has no mandatory data retention laws or wide-scale surveillance programs, which affect UK VPN services. Similar to Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands are well-known for strong privacy protection and data secrecy.
The judicial system in the BVI also cannot be compelled to force BVI companies to produce records on their customers. As a country, the BVI is fully independent and does not fall under any other country’s jurisdiction, despite the historical connection to Britain.
Considering all these factors, ExpressVPN seems to be located in a good privacy jurisdiction, which is not part of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance.
6. Large and secure server network
ExpressVPN offers a large selection of servers around the world, with a very secure network setup.
At the time of this review, ExpressVPN has about 160 VPN server locations in 94 countries. This includes a total of more than 3,000 VPN servers. 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.
The server page allows you to see all the locations in your area. This page also shows which servers are online and the available VPN protocols each server supports.
All servers running in RAM-disk mode (TrustedServer feature)
ExpressVPN is now one of a handful of VPNs that run all servers in RAM-disk mode. In other words, ExpressVPN does not use any hard drives with its server network, but instead, only RAM memory. This network security setup is referred to as the TrustedServer feature.
This major upgrade offers ExpressVPN users a higher level of security:
With our industry-first TrustedServer technology, our VPN servers run only on volatile memory (RAM), not on hard drives. Since RAM requires power to store data, this guarantees that all information on a server is wiped every time it is powered off and on again.
In contrast, the traditional and most common way of running servers relies very much on hard drives, which retain all data until they are erased and written over, a painstaking and error-prone process. This increases the risk that servers could inadvertently contain sensitive user information. If someone were to hack or seize the server, they could gain access to this data. Even worse, hackers who do find their way in might be able to install a backdoor that remains indefinitely.
This is a huge benefit and further lines up with no logs and no data collection. Furthermore, it also protects customer data if a VPN server were ever to be seized by authorities.
Does ExpressVPN use virtual server locations?
A virtual server location is when a VPN server announces an IP address that does not match the physical location of the server. As ExpressVPN has explained on its website, they utilize virtual server locations for these reasons:
- When data centers in certain countries do not meet the security requirements of ExpressVPN (such as in Turkey, where servers were seized by authorities)
- In countries where there is inadequate network infrastructure to support ExpressVPN servers
Because some ExpressVPN users need IP addresses in these locations, ExpressVPN does utilize a limited number of virtual server locations, which comprise less than 3% of the total network. Some other VPNs that use virtual locations, such as PureVPN, are not transparent about the exact locations. ExpressVPN, however, lists all virtual locations and explains the reason for using them.
If you want to use IP addresses from remote regions of the world, ExpressVPN would be a good choice due to the 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 my guide on VPNs with dedicated IPs for more details. (Note that dedicated/static IPs are not the best choice for privacy because your internet traffic is not getting mixed with other users.)
7. Works with Netflix, great for streaming
If you need a good VPN that works with Netflix and other streaming services, then ExpressVPN is a great choice. It is one of the few VPNs that continues to work with Netflix, providing 24/7 access.
For this review, I tested out US Netflix with an ExpressVPN server in Washington DC. Everything worked perfectly, as you can see below.
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.
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.
ExpressVPN is currently the best VPN for Netflix for three main reasons:
- Excellent streaming quality with fast speeds (no buffering or interruptions)
- 24/7 access to Netflix (no network-wide blocks)
- Unblocks numerous Netflix regions around the world (US Netflix, UK Netflix, Canada Netflix, France, Germany, and more)
Lastly, speaking of streaming, ExpressVPN is also a great choice if you need a reliable VPN for Kodi.
8. Browser extensions with HTTPS Everywhere
ExpressVPN offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers. The browser add-on is an extension of the ExpressVPN app. This means you’ll 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. It offers the ability to easily switch server locations directly in your browser, rather than having to navigate to the desktop VPN client. Here’s what that looks like in Firefox:
9. Split tunneling feature
ExpressVPN offers a split tunneling feature with their applications for Windows, Mac OS, Android, 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 VPN client. 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.
This is also really useful with routers, because it allows you to select specific devices and/or websites to bypass the VPN.
10. Reliable Android and iOS apps
The ExpressVPN mobile apps I tested on Android and iOS performed well.
ExpressVPN is one of the best options for both Android and iOS, allowing you to use the OpenVPN protocol for secure tunneling. Most VPN providers are limited with the VPN protocols they offer on mobile devices, particularly with iOS.
ExpressVPN has fully-functional OpenVPN apps with secure AES-256 encryption for both Android and iOS (iPhone and iPads). The Android and iOS apps both come with all available features and functionality. The one exception to this is with the iOS app, which does not offer the split tunneling feature.
Here’s a screenshot of the ExpressVPN iOS client.
If you are a heavy mobile user, ExpressVPN has you covered with mobile VPN apps.
11. Dedicated VPN router app (for unlimited connections)
ExpressVPN is also one of the few VPN services that offer a dedicated VPN router app. The router app works on select router models.
Using a VPN on your router is a smart way to get an unlimited number of connections with your VPN. This is because the router will only count as one connection, but it will provide every device that connects to your router with the full benefits of the VPN: encrypted traffic, new IP address, location anonymity.
If you want to use ExpressVPN on your router, you have the following options:
- Use the ExpressVPN router app on one of the supported router models (recommended)
- Manually setup ExpressVPN on your router (more work, but not too difficult with some routers, such as with most Asus models)
Using the ExpressVPN router app is the best solution because it offers the following features:
- Easily switch between VPN servers
- Split tunneling (select which apps or websites bypass the VPN)
- Network Lock (kill switch) to block all traffic if the VPN connection drops
You can check the ExpressVPN website to see what options are available with your router.
Lastly, see my VPN router guide for additional setup options.
12. Great customer support and refund policy
While support with larger VPN services can sometimes be hit or miss, ExpressVPN seems to be doing quite well with live chat support.
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 all of my chat sessions, I was connected with a representative in under a minute (no long delays).
Live chat support is definitely a plus if you need help setting up the VPN on your devices or have specific questions that are not answered on the website.
30 day money-back guarantee
Another great benefit with ExpressVPN is that it offers one of the longest refund windows in the industry. With all VPN subscriptions (even one-month plans), you get a full 30 day money-back guarantee. If you are not 100% satisfied with your VPN subscription, you can cancel on day 30 for a full refund, no questions asked.
Overall ExpressVPN offers great customer support.
1. More expensive than some rivals
One drawback with ExpressVPN is that it is a bit more expensive than some other rival VPN competitors (but certainly not the most expensive).
ExpressVPN costs $6.67 per month if you use this discount coupon and select the 15-month plan. Without the discount coupon, the cheapest price for ExpressVPN is $8.32 per month with the annual plan.
Here are the prices with the current ExpressVPN coupon:
- $6.67 per month (15-month plan)
- $9.99 per month (6-month plan)
- $12.95 per month (monthly plan)
This makes ExpressVPN more expensive than NordVPN ($3.49 per month), even with the NordVPN coupon.
The key question, however, is value: what you get for your money. In terms of value, ExpressVPN has a lot to offer, as you can see with all of the pros above. I would argue the biggest factors that make ExpressVPN a good value are:
- Fast speeds (consistently fast throughout the entire server network)
- Secure and reliable apps with great features
- 24/7 access to Netflix and other streaming services
- Live chat support
While ExpressVPN is on the higher end of the price spectrum, you typically get what you pay for with VPNs.
Note: I’m also maintaining an ExpressVPN coupon page to track the latest discounts and deals.
Additional research findings
Here is some additional information I found for this ExpressVPN review:
Can you use ExpressVPN for torrenting? (Yes)
Many VPNs restrict or limit torrenting on their network. With ExpressVPN, torrenting is allowed without any restrictions or limitations.
There are four factors that make ExpressVPN a good 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 secure while also protecting you against leaks and vulnerabilities. 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 in China? (Yes)
Despite the current VPN blocks and censorship efforts, ExpressVPN continues to work in China.
To use ExpressVPN in China, simply connect to one of the China-designated servers (check with support to see these). These servers will automatically utilize an obfuscation protocol with the VPN app, thereby concealing the VPN traffic as regular HTTPS encryption. This easily gets through the Great Firewall and censorship efforts.
See the best VPNs for China guide for additional information and setup tips.
Five simultaneous connections
ExpressVPN currently allows five simultaneous connections with your subscription. Previously, they allowed only three – so this is a nice improvement.
Note: You can use ExpressVPN on an unlimited number of devices, but you are limited to five simultaneous connections at any one time with your subscription.
If you want to use more than five devices with the VPN, there is an easy solution. Simply use ExpressVPN on your router, as we covered above, for an unlimited number of connections. The router will count as only one connection and you’ll be able to use it with as many devices as you wish.
ExpressVPN review conclusion
ExpressVPN’s performance for this latest review update has earned it a top spot as one of the best VPNs for 2020.
In an overcrowded VPN market, ExpressVPN continues to stand out from the rest and outperform the competition. To summarize, here are the main findings from this ExpressVPN review:
- 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).
- Solid performance with good speeds and reliability throughout the VPN server network.
- Continues to work with Netflix and other streaming services.
- Huge selection of apps that are well-designed, secure, reliable, and user-friendly.
- Proven no logs VPN service with all servers operating in RAM-disk mode (no data storage possible)
- 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 a great discount to reduce the price down to $6.67 per month.
If you have used ExpressVPN, feel free to share your honest review (good or bad) below.