ExpressVPN review

TOP rank 8.7 Reviewed by Michael Brown
March 18, 2020

ExpressVPN dubs itself as “vocal advocates for internet freedom.” The company lives up to this mantra by giving users the ability to surf the internet safely and anonymously. ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, a crown dependency that is notorious for its strict privacy laws.

With over 3000+ VPN servers scattered in 90 countries, ExpressVPN is said to provide one of the best VPN services today. It often appears in the lists of the top-rated VPN apps.
To secure communications, the company relies on the military grade AES 256-bit standard. It’s the same standard used by some of the world’s most powerful militaries for sharing classified information. As for the protocols, ExpressVPN uses several, such as the UDP, TCP, L2TP/IPSec, or PPTP protocols.

Should ExpressVPN make it to the list of the top ten best VPNs? That is the question that this review seeks to answer. I performed a number of tests on the app (desktop and mobile versions) to see whether it lives up to the hype.

15 months: $6.67/month
Save 49%

ExpressVPN dubs itself as “vocal advocates for internet freedom.” The company lives up to this mantra by giving users the ability to surf the internet safely and anonymously. ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, a crown dependency that is notorious for its strict privacy laws.

With over 3000+ VPN servers scattered in 90 countries, ExpressVPN is said to provide one of the best VPN services today. It often appears in the lists of the top-rated VPN apps.
To secure communications, the company relies on the military grade AES 256-bit standard. It’s the same standard used by some of the world’s most powerful militaries for sharing classified information. As for the protocols, ExpressVPN uses several, such as the UDP, TCP, L2TP/IPSec, or PPTP protocols.

Should ExpressVPN make it to the list of the top ten best VPNs? That is the question that this review seeks to answer. I performed a number of tests on the app (desktop and mobile versions) to see whether it lives up to the hype.

8.4
Speed
8.9
Security
9.2
Compatibility
8.5
Price
8.8
Support
Pros
Fast speeds
256-AES military grade encryption
Error-free streaming
5 simultaneous connections for all plans
3000+ servers in over 90 countries
Availability across multiple platforms
Cons
There are no phone lines, only chat and mail
Servers outside of Japan, North America, Europe and Australia can be slow
The choice to change between protocols can lead to poor security especially for newbies

Summary

Speed drop speedtest We check the speed with and without VPN, then calculate the average in percentage. The smaller the speed drop, the faster the VPN.
-13%
Logging
Strict No Logs Policy
IP, DNS Leaks
No
Jurisdiction The 5 Eyes (FVEY), 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes alliances impose laws that force VPN companies to hand over logs to the government upon request. Privacy Havens - These are countries where companies don't have to share their logs to the government and VPN users are completely protected.
British Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
Servers
3000+
Countries
94
Netflix Unblock
Yes
Torrenting speed drop
-5%Excellent
Simultaneous connections
5
Works in China
No special features
Support
Live chat, Mail
Kill switch
Yes
Encryption AES-256 is the most secure type of encryption today. Other standards like DES-CBC, AES-128 provide lower levels of security.
AES-256
Protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec are the most popular protocols which provide optimal balance between speed and security.
IPSec, L2TP, OpenVPN, PPTP
Platforms
Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows
Applications
Amazon FireStick, Chrome, Firefox, Routers, TV

ExpressVPN Speed Tests

Ordinary connection
Download: 2.31 Mbps
Ping: 358 Ms
Upload: 0.36 Mbps

Speed is always a strong selling point for any VPN service. You would want a VPN app that does not slow down your internet to the point that you cannot browse without being frustrated. For this test, I used a 2 Mbps internet connection (already slow speed) to see whether ExpressVPN would make visiting certain sites, such as YouTube, impossible.

Checking VPN servers

All the speed tests point to the fact that indeed, ExpressVPN offers one of the fastest VPN connections. It does not slow down the internet and the difference in both before and after speeds is hardly noticeable.

Italy
Download: 2.02 Mbps
Ping: 374 Ms
Upload: 0.14 Mbps
Japan
Download: 2.0 Mbps
Ping: 370 Ms
Upload: 0.25 Mbps
USA
Download: 2.01 Mbps
Ping: 214 Ms
Upload: 0.20 Mbps
Australia
Download: 1.96 Mbps
Ping: 445 Ms
Upload: 0.24 Mbps

Average speed drop: -13%Good

ExpressVPN Security Features

Privacy and security are strong selling points for any VPN app. It is the reason VPN apps exist in the first place because sometimes people just want to acess the internet without having someone snooping on them. In countries, such as China, Sudan and North Korea, visiting restricted sites can be a matter of life and death, and users need to be sure that the gorvernment in these places will not be able to track them down.

Military Grade AES-256 Encryption

ExpressVPN uses similar data encyption techniques as the Russian, Chinese and US militaries. This means that the data sent over the VPN connection is hack proof.
As for the protocols, ExpressVPN uses the following:

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

PPTP is one of the oldest protocols for implementing VPNs and is also the least safest. It is, however, computionally fast, easy to set up, and is suitable for devices like routers when there is no need for too much security.

Check all ExpressVPN features

L2TP/IPsec

L2TP is another low-level security protocol that offers a virtually no protection level, but when paired with IPsec, it is able to provide a level of security that is superior to PPTP. It is also fairly easy to set up. ExpressVPN recommends the use of this protocol when changing between different server locations.

OpenVPN With TCP/UDP

OpenVPN is the latest and most secure VPN protocol at the moment. As the name suggests, it is open-source, meaning that anyone is free to use and develop it. ExpressVPN uses a version of the protocol that supports UDP and TCP. While UDP is generally faster, TCP compensates by being more secure and versatile, especially when it comes to bypassing firewalls. Users of ExpressVPN have a choice to choose between the two protocols.

Kill Switch Option

When your VPN app malfunctions, you don’t want it to leave you naked and exposed for all to see. That is why it is essential to have a kill switch that will automatically kill your internet connection anytime your app stops working. ExpressVPN’s kill switch is turned on by default and is to be found in the options section of the app.

 

IP and DNS Leaks

Before connecting to a VPN app, it is important to check whether there are any IP or DNS leaks that might put your identity at risk.

The way to do this is to set up a VPN connection, and then run a test on a site such as Ipleak.org to see if there is any private information is leaking. After running several tests, I found that ExpressVPN provides a secure and private connection, given that there were no leaks whatsover.

IP leak results:
No leaks
DNS leak results:
No leaks

Logs policy

ExpressVPN’s no logs policy is clearly spelt out and the company does not keep any information related to what sites you are visiting or the activities you are up to on the internet. A strict no logs policy is super important because it establishes a level of trust that makes VPN users comfortable, especially in the age of mass spying and surveillance.

Users can, however, choose to voluntarily share crash reports, speed tests, and success or failures when trying setting up a VPN connection. Reports shared never contain personally identifiable information.

ExpressVPN’s no logs policy is to be found in the privacy section of the company’s site.

ExpressVPN For Netflix

Can you stream videos with ExpressVPN? After running some tests, I found the answer to be a very convincing yes. As we saw earlier, ExpressVPN does not slow down the internet, so I already expected that streaming on Netflix would still be possible, but only if there were no errors to report.

Netflix is very good at detecting proxy servers and will stop anyone from accessing their content whenever they detect the slightest hint of a falsified IP address. So, to check whether ExpressVPN would be detected by Netflix, I set up a connection to a server in the US and tried to stream a movie.

Nothing happened, Netflix did not detect anything, which means that I can stream content that is reserved for North American and European audiences from anywhere on the planet.

Netflix
Netflix unblock status:
Success

ExpressVPN For Torrenting

If you are into downloading stuff (videos and tutorials) that shouldn’t be free, you most likely have considered using a VPN app or are already using one. The anonymity afforded means that you can download as much “free” content as you want without worrying about being caught.

And although security is a top priority, when it comes to choosing a VPN app, you also want a connection that won’t slow down your internet to the point where it takes inordinate amounts of time to complete a download.

Torrenting without VPN:
156 kb/sec
Torrenting with VPN:
149 kb/sec
Speed deduction: -5%
Excellent

So, how well does ExpressVPN perform when you set up a VPN connection? See the results for yourself. Notably, the VPN connection did not significantly affect the average download speeds and this has to do with the quality of the VPN service.

Tor Check

Compared to other browsers, the Tor browser (some prefer to call it the Tor network) is a little safer. However, that doesn’t mean that by using the Tor network, you are completely anonymous- you still need a VPN app to add an extra layer of security.

So, how does ExpressVPN perform on the Tor network? I would say pretty good. Check the results for yourself.

As you can see, I was still able to watch HD content on a 2 Mbps connection, and mind you, it was on a notoriously slow network. This says a lot about the quality of the VPN service.

Tor
Compatibility status:
Success

Platforms

Android
iOS
Linux
macOS
Windows
Amazon FireStick
Chrome
Firefox
Routers
TV
Simultaneous connections:
5 devices

ExpressVPN is available on all major platforms i.e. Android, Linux, Windows, IOS, routers, TV and gaming consoles. You can connect up to five devices at a time and for the tests that I conducted, I had the app on my desktop computer and Android phone. The app’s appearance on an Android phone:

Customer Support

ExpressVPN

As noted earlier, ExpressVPN only has two channels for customer support: mail and chat. The most responsive by far is the chat, and I don’t think there are any waiting lines because I received a response in one or two minutes whenever I asked a question. The answers given were also very in-depth and informative. The service was a 5-star for me.

Support channels:
Email
Live chat
Help center
Phone line

Pricing

ExpressVPN has three pricing tiers: $12.95 a month, $6.67 per month for a year, and $9.99 per month for 6 months. All of these different subscription plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

1 month
$ 12.95
per month
 
$12.95 billed every month
6 months
$ 9.99
per month
Save 23%
$59.95 billed every 6 months
15 months
$ 6.67
per month
Save 49%
$99.95 billed first 15 months and 12 months thereafter

When I was purchasing the app, I did not experience any delays in payment processing. The 30-day money back guarantee also went smoothly given that I received my money back 2 days after canceling my subscription.