ExpressVPN is the best VPN of 2021. It's a verified no-logs service with superb speeds across 3,000+ servers. It's built for anonymous torrenting and worldwide streaming, with secure and easy to use apps. It's more expensive than most top-rated VPNs, but it's worth the higher price.
ExpressVPN is a very popular VPN with millions of users, but it’s also one of the more expensive services on the market.
For this ExpressVPN review, we tested all its applications to see if they are just as fast and secure as before.
Ultimately, we needed to know: is the VPN service still worth the higher price?
Thankfully, it is. While ExpressVPN isn’t perfect, it comes close, and it remains our top-rated VPN. It delivers fast global speeds, strong security and great usability.
The highlight is the VPN’s ability to bypass strict geo-blocks. Aside from unblocking streaming platforms like Netflix (19 regions), BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video, it’s one of few VPNs to work in China.
Also, ExpressVPN allows P2P traffic on all its no-log 3,000+ servers. Traffic flows through secure VPN protocols and AES 256-bit encryption.
It also features DNS and IP leak protection, and a VPN kill switch to mask your real IP address at all times.
Before diving into the full review, below is a summary of the VPN’s pros and cons.
ExpressVPN Pros & Cons
ExpressVPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$6.67/mo over 15 Months|
A Top VPN for Netflix and Anonymous Torrenting
Streaming & Torrenting
ExpressVPN is our best-rated Netflix VPN. It’s also a great choice to unblock other streaming services.
The VPN easily unblocks platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video with minimal buffering.
Optimized for Netflix
In our latest tests, we streamed the US Netflix library through almost all of its US VPN servers. New York was the only server that didn’t work.
The Isle of Man and Jersey servers worked well to unblock UK Netflix.
Overall, we unlocked 19 different Netflix regions in a variety of different languages. Some of the most popular libraries ExpressVPN unblocks are:
Just connect to a server located in the same country as the Netflix library you want to watch, and you’re good to go.
Does ExpressVPN Still Work with BBC iPlayer?
ExpressVPN still works with BBC iPlayer, but recently it’s having some issues. Beating BBC iPlayer’s VPN ban isn’t easy, and it can take a few tries for ExpressVPN to work.
We recommend using ExpressVPN’s browser extensions, and connecting to the London server, or the Wembley one. This method works well, as long as you’re located outside the UK.
Here are more tips to get the VPN working:
- Try connecting to a different UK server – getting a new IP address can be enough to stream iPlayer.
- Change protocol – sadly, less secure protocols can sometimes work with BBC iPlayer. If you’re ok with this, try PPTP (do NOT use PPTP in other instances).
- Use MediaStreamer DNS – ExpressVPN’s smart DNS service isn’t a full VPN, but it works well with iPlayer.
Acces to Many Other Streaming Platforms
While ExpressVPN doesn’t have specific streaming servers like CyberGhost, this isn’t a problem.
The vast majority of servers work with many streaming platforms, including:
- Amazon Prime Video
- HBO Max
- Now TV
- Sling TV
The VPN’s fast download speeds mean that whatever video you stream, it will be buffer-free.
Torrenting with ExpressVPN
Simply put, ExpressVPN is great for torrenting. You can torrent files across the entire server network without restrictions. None of your file-sharing activity will be stored.
We tested ExpressVPN with torrent clients like qBittorrent, uTorrent, and Deluge. The VPN didn’t leak our torrent IP address once.
And if the VPN connection had dropped, the VPN kill switch would have prevented our real IP address from being exposed.
The only issue with torrenting with this VPN is that it doesn’t allow port forwarding. While you can still technically upload or ‘seed’ torrent files, your speeds will be very slow.
ExpressVPN Recorded Very Fast Global Speeds
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested.
We recorded an average speed loss of just 8% connecting to its nearby VPN servers. ExpressVPN is just as fast as major rivals like NordVPN.
The VPN’s speeds are remarkably consistent, on both short-distance and long-distance connections.
All apps connect quickly to servers, and we didn’t experience any connection drops over thousands of tests.
What really stands out is ExpressVPN’s speeds on long-distance connections. It’s the best VPN to connect to a country far away from your real location.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using ExpressVPN:
When connected to ExpressVPN:
To measure the impact of ExpressVPN on internet speed, we compared our download speeds before and after manually connecting to a nearby VPN server (using the ‘Smart Location’ feature).
Here are our full speed test results:
Download speed without ExpressVPN: 95.46Mbps
Download speed with ExpressVPN: 87.46Mbps
Our download speed loss when ExpressVPN is running: 8%
Only 8% speed loss while using a VPN is very impressive. Testing the OpenVPN and Lightway protocols, ExpressVPN had barely any impact on our download and upload speeds. Wherever you are in the world, expect a similar speed performance connecting to a server near you.
An 8ms ping time is also excellent, especially if you’re gaming online. Lag can ruin an online video game, so the lower the latency (ping time) the less lag you’ll experience.
International Speed Test Results
We also measured ExpressVPN’s average speeds connecting to servers around the world. We wanted to see how well the service performs over long-distance connections (even if these places may not be far from you).
Here are our latest long-distance speed test results:
USA (New Jersey):
- Download: 78.92Mbps (17% slower)
- Upload: 45.36Mbps (55% slower)
- Download: 88Mbps (8% slower)
- Upload: 74.98Mbps (25% slower)
- Download: 73.12Mbps (24% slower)
- Upload: 22.35Mbps (78% slower)
- Download: 69.44Mbps (27% slower)
- Upload: 23.44Mbps (77% slower)
ExpressVPN is by far the fastest VPN on long-distance connections, something many VPN services struggle with. We only had a a 30% speed loss connecting from the UK to East Asia and Australia, which is remarkable.
How Fast Is ExpressVPN Compared to Other VPNs?
We carried out the speed tests above manually. The speed results below are from our automated VPN speed test tool, instead. Our tool tests 18 VPNs across 13 different cities around the world.
The graph below shows VPN speed loss on a New York to New York test connection, compared to no VPN running. Tests run automatically, four times per day, with speeds capped at 100Mbps (a typical home internet connection).
ExpressVPN has been extremely fast over the years, and continues to be in 2021. However, in our review of Hotspot Shield’s speeds and latest Private Internet Access tests, we saw both narrowing the gap.
Overall, ExpressVPN’s superb local and international speeds are perfect to torrent large files and stream HD/4K video.
No-logs VPN Based in a Safe Jurisdiction
Logging Policy & Audits
ExpressVPN is a virtually zero-logs VPN service. It’s a trustworthy company that goes to great lengths to protect user privacy.
The VPN doesn’t collect any personal activity logs. It only keeps some connection data, including the date of the connection and your choice of server, but it doesn’t store your full IP address or web activity.
Here’s all the information ExpressVPN collects:
- Dates when connected to the VPN service
- Choice of VPN server location
- Total amount of data transferred per day
That’s it. ExpressVPN maintains this is the minimum amount of data needed to keep server performance as strong as possible. All this data reveals is that you used the VPN at some point.
We also spoke to Harold Li, VP of ExpressVPN, about the VPN’s data retention policy. This is what he told us:
“. . .duration of retention varies based on the type of data . . . we never collect nor retain any data that could link an individual customer with specific activity on the VPN network. EU customers can also request for their data to be deleted at any time, in line with their rights under the GDPR.”
While it’s disappointing not to know how long this data is retained, the crucial aspect is that it cannot be used to identify you or what you do online.
ExpressVPN’s logging policy was stress tested in December 2017. One of its servers was seized and inspected by Turkish authorities investigating the assassination of the Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov.
However, the Turkish investigators couldn’t find any user connection logs.
Who Owns ExpressVPN?
Little is known about who owns ExpressVPN. The VPN company has made the decision to stay discreet and private in order to help keep itself and its users safe.
While we always want VPN companies to be transparent about their ownership, we also appreciate its private nature helps it maintain a safe and reliable service in countries like China.
Where is ExpressVPN Based?
The VPN service was founded in 2009, and is operated by Express VPN International Ltd.
The company is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and outside the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance.
The BVI is an excellent choice of jurisdiction for a privacy-minded company. The country has full sovereignty over its data regulations, and outside governments or agencies cannot force ExpressVPN to surrender information.
ExpressVPN is Very Secure and Private
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
ExpressVPN is an extremely safe VPN service that uses the highest standard of security protocols and encryption.
The VPN’s security has been verified through audits by trusted firms like PWC and Cure53.
Not to mention many of the VPN applications are open-source and open for external scrutiny by security researchers.
High Degree of Encryption
All apps use AES-256 bit encryption, in combination with the OpenVPN protocol, a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication. This is the level of encryption that governments and banks recommend.
What’s more, ExpressVPN runs its own private, zero-knowledge DNS servers. In other words, ExpressVPN handles and encrypts your DNS requests (the websites you visit), not a third party. Only the finest VPN services offer this.
By default, the VPN service uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). This adds another layer of protection by creating a new encryption key for every session, and replacing it every 60 minutes.
PFS means that even if someone intercepted and decrypted your data transfer, the most they could get is 60 minutes of data.
Secure VPN Protocols
The VPN apps automatically choose the best VPN protocol for you, but you can choose one manually if you prefer.
We recommend using OpenVPN, or ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol named Lightway.
Lightway has been performing very well in our speed and security tests. It also uses less battery than other VPN protocols, since it has fewer lines of code.
Effective Kill Switch
ExpressVPN doesn’t have a tonne of advanced security features, but those it does have are extremely effective.
Its reliable VPN kill switch is called Network Lock. This feature stops your internet connection entirely in the unlikely event your VPN connection drops. In doing so, your true IP address is never exposed.
Network Lock is available on Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Android (on which it’s called Network Protection). It’s not on the iOS app yet, which ExpressVPN needs to fix.
The VPN also comes with TrustedServer. This proprietary technology ensures your web data is never written to a server’s hard drive.
TrustedServer has the following security benefits:
- Wipes all data with every reboot, as VPN servers run on RAM only
- Servers never write to the hard drive, further minimizing data risk
- The entire software stack is reinstalled on every server at startup
- Allows ExpressVPN to know what’s running on every server, with no inconsistencies
Split tunneling is a useful setting that you won’t find in many VPNs. It lets you decide which apps should use the VPN connection, and which ones shouldn’t.
Split tunneling can have practical uses (for example with your wireless printer). You can keep certain devices connected to your standard internet line, rather than the VPN, preventing connection issues between devices.
IP and DNS Leak Test Results
We ran the VPN apps through IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests and it passed all tests with no leaks whatsoever.
As you can see below, ExpressVPN masked our real UK IP address, replacing it with a Swedish one.
We also tested the VPN extensions for HTML5 browser leaks, which also passed with flying colors.
Is ExpressVPN Safe?
For this updated review, we also uploaded ExpressVPN.exe to VirusTotal.com, a website that scans applications for known malware. ExpressVPN’s results came back clean, with no viruses detected.
Android App Permission Analysis
We also scanned the Android app for dangerous device permissions using the εxodus tool.
The trackers and permissions in ExpressVPN’s Android app are all normal, non-intrusive and above board.
We only found two trackers: Google CrashLytics and Google Firebase Analytics. Both are event-based data collection trackers, which help ExpressVPN respond to crashes and bugs.
The following table shows all of ExpressVPN’s device permissions and what they mean:
|ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE||Allows ExpressVPN to view your device’s network connections|
|ACCESS_WIFI_STATE||Allows ExpressVPN to view your device’s WiFi connections|
|FOREGROUND_SERVICE||Allows ExpressVPN to run as a foreground service|
|INTERNET||Grants ExpressVPN full network access (necessary for any VPN)|
|RECEIVE_BOOT_COMPLETED||Allows ExpressVPN to run at startup (if you decide to enable that option)|
|VIBRATE||Allows ExpressVPN to control vibration (the app will sometimes vibrate for notifications)|
|WAKE_LOCK||Prevents the device from sleeping|
|BILLING||Permits in-app purchases|
|RECEIVE||Allows ExpressVPN to receive messages from the Cloud|
|BIND_GET_INSTALL_REFERRER_SERVICE||Tells ExpressVPN where and when the app was downloaded from if you discovered it via an advertising link|
Still works in China, Turkey and the UAE
Access in China
ExpressVPN is one of the only VPNs that still works in China.
We test ExpressVPN’s access in China weekly, and its undoubtedly one of the most consistent VPNs to work there.
This is thanks to investing significant resources into outsmarting the Great Firewall of China.
Its obfuscation technology activates by default when protocol selection in the app is switched to Automatic.
ExpressVPN recommends specific servers for users in China. Contact their customer support (available 24/7) for updated server tips.
These servers tend to be in nearby locations, like Hong Kong (which still enjoys a free internet). The Hong Kong servers also let you access Chinese TV and websites from outside China.
The official ExpressVPN website is blocked in China, so remember to download the latest version of the app(s) before you arrive.
ExpressVPN’s built-in obfuscation tool is so effective that the VPN also works in the UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other restrictive nations.
3,000+ Secure Servers in 160 Locations
ExpressVPN operates 3,000+ VPN servers across 160 cities in 94 countries.
It’s one of the largest VPN server networks available. No matter where you’re located you shouldn’t have trouble finding a server close by.
The more servers there are, the less likely they’ll suffer from traffic congestion and slower speeds.
Wide Range of City-level Servers
You can access 51 specific city-level servers in the following locations:
- Australia (4 cities)
- Brazil (2)
- Canada (3)
- France (2)
- Germany (2)
- Hong Kong (3)
- India (2)
- Italy (2)
- Japan (3)
- Netherlands (3)
- Singapore (3)
- Spain (2)
- Switzerland (2)
- UK (4)
- US (14)
The VPN has servers in 14 city-level locations in the US, and four in Australia. Servers on both sides of these big countries equals fast VPN speeds across the land.
There are plenty of servers in Asia, and in countries that aren’t typically available with other VPN services.
Does ExpressVPN Use Virtual Servers?
ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN services that is open and transparent about using virtual server locations.
40 of its 160 server locations are virtual server locations. You can see the full list here.
A physical VPN server is physically located in the country or city you wish to connect to. The server and the IP address it assigns are located in the same country. Most ExpressVPN servers are physical.
Virtual server locations work differently. They are physically in one country, but they give you an IP address of another country. They help you connect to countries where it’s difficult to install a physical server.
Virtual server locations are just as effective at bypassing web geo-restrictions. Your IP address is still registered in the country you’ve chosen to connect to. However, if the server is physically located further from you than expected, it can have an impact on connection speeds.
Dedicated VPN Apps and Smart DNS
ExpressVPN has apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Fire OS and Linux. All the apps are very easy to set up and use.
You can use one ExpressVPN subscription on five devices at the same time, which is the industry average.
For unlimited connections, you’ll need to install the VPN on your home router.
ExpressVPN is compatible with the following routers:
- Asus RT-AC56(U/R/S)
- Asus RT-AC68U
- Asus RT-AC87U
- Linksys EA6200
- Linksys WRT1200AC
- Linksys WRT1900AC(S)
- Linksys WRT3200ACM
- Netgear R6300v2
- Netgear R6700v3
- Netgear Nighthawk R7000
- Netgear Nighthawk R7000P
You can also manually set up the VPN on these router manufacturers:
- Other Asus models
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
ExpressVPN is a great VPN to use on games consoles and streaming devices that don’t support native VPN applications.
ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer (Smart DNS Tool)
For devices which don’t support dedicated VPN apps you can use MediaStreamer, ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS service.
MediaStreamer lets you connect to VPN servers on devices like Apple TV, Roku, Xbox and PlayStation.
It works by changing your device’s default DNS servers to ones run by ExpressVPN. It’s not as secure as a full VPN connection, but it’s the easiest way to spoof your location on these devices.
Using MediaStreamer is simple, and there are setup guides for dozens of devices.
ExpressVPN’s Fire TV Stick App
A very popular streaming device right now is Amazon’s Fire TV Stick. ExpressVPN has a good Firestick app that unblocks streaming apps, and streams Kodi add-ons and IPTV apps anonymously.
It works fine, but it’s now rather dated and lacks some of the features newer Firestick VPN apps have. Read our IPVanish review to see why its Fire TV app is better.
Most of the VPN browser add-ons we review are proxies and not full VPNs, but ExpressVPN’s extensions are the real deal. Almost a million Chrome users and over 77,000 Firefox users now use them.
The browser add-ons let you easily switch server locations and fully mask your web activity. But, they need the desktop application to run at the same time. In reality, the browser add-ons act more like a remote control for the full application.
Private and Secure Browser Add-ons
The security and privacy of these extensions is reinforced by the use of HTTPS Everywhere – a security tool made by The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The tool encrypts your browser’s communication with insecure websites still not using SSL certificates.
What’s more, the ExpressVPN extensions are the only browser add-ons that prevent HTML5 IP location leaks.
ExpressVPN is Expensive but Worth the Price
Pricing & Refund Policy
ExpressVPN Pricing Plan
ExpressVPN offers three main subscription plans, all of which include the same features. The longer you subscribe for, the cheaper the monthly cost – although you will have to pay the full subscription fee up front.
The monthly plan costs $12.95 per month, while a six-month plan is priced at $9.99 per month. A 15-month subscription plan gives you a 49% saving, bringing the monthly price down to $6.67.
These prices are above average for a VPN service, and more expensive than competitors like NordVPN and CyberGhost. However, it’s still great value for the best all-round VPN service you can get.
US$12.95/moBilled $12.95 every month
US$9.99/moBilled $59.95 every 6 months
US$6.67/moBilled $99.95 first 15 months and 12 months thereafter
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
ExpressVPN offers a seven-day free trial to new mobile customers. Also, all subscriptions come with a 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. Effectively, you can try ExpressVPN free for a month.
To get a full refund, simply contact customer support within 30 days of signing up. You’ll get your money back within 5 to 10 business days.
There’s also have a ‘Refer a Friend’ program, which earns you a 30-day free ExpressVPN subscription for you and the friend you refer. There’s no limit to the number of new customers you can refer.
As for payment methods, ExpressVPN accepts the following credit/debit cards:
- Visa Electron
- American Express
- Diners Club
Plus, more modern payment methods, such as:
And international payment methods (via Paymentwall), like:
The only option missing is cash payments. This is great for extra anonymity, although only IVPN and Mullvad currently offer this payment method.
Apps Are Easy to Set up and Use
How to Use
How to Connect to a Server with ExpressVPN
How to Change Settings in ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is so easy to use that it’s hard to go wrong. Its apps are among the best in the industry – they’re easy to set up, intuitive and well-designed.
It took us less than five minutes to install each VPN application for our tests. Chose your subscription plan, create an account, and enter your payment details.
After you’ve subscribed, you’ll receive a confirmation email with an activation code and a link to the installation guide for your device.
Once you’ve installed the application, the ExpressVPN home screen is simply a big on/off button and a list of VPN servers.
You can also customize your experience by adjusting the advanced settings in each app. These are labeled and explained in plain language, so you’ll know exactly what you’re doing.
Here’s a summary of the differences between ExpressVPN’s applications:
Let’s take a closer look at each application and the key differences between them:
ExpressVPN’s Windows 10 Client
The Windows app is the most complete out of ExpressVPN’s applications. It’s very easy to use despite having has all the tools and features an advanced VPN user could need.
Click on the server you have selected, and a second window with a server list will open next to it. Don’t miss the two tabs at the top: ‘Recommended’ is selected by default, but it doesn’t reveal the whole server list. Click ‘All Locations’ to see the full list, or use the search bar to find a specific location.
Other important features are the kill switch (called ‘Network Lock’ under the ‘General settings’ tab) and the protocol selection tab. From here you can select your preferred VPN protocol, or leave it set to ‘Automatic.’
ExpressVPN’s Mac Client
ExpressVPN’s MacOS app is practically identical to the Windows version. Many VPN providers put out a sub-par Mac apps compared to their flagship Windows app, but that’s not the case here.
The only issue for Mac users is that there’s no extension for Safari yet.
ExpressVPN’s iOS App
ExpressVPN for iPhone and iPad is even more simplified than the desktop version.
It looks largely the same, however once you dive into the settings menu you’ll notice there’s not much there.
You have the option to choose between OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, and a toggle for whether or not the VPN automatically reconnects if it loses connection. There’s also a button to reset the VPN configuration, if the app stops working.
It’s obvious ExpressVPN decided to make its iOS app more streamlined and lightweight for mobile. But, it would be good to see some of desktop features on the iOS app, too. The kill switch is the most notable absence of all.
ExpressVPN’s Android App
The Android app has the exact same home screen as the iOS app, but there are a few differences between the two applications.
The main difference is the inclusion of a kill switch. With this feature enabled, you can use your smartphone safely with the confidence that your IP address will remain hidden if your VPN connection ever drops.
You’ll find the kill switch under Settings > Network Protection > Block internet when unable to connect or reconnect to VPN.
The other useful feature on Android, that’s missing on iOS, is split-tunneling. Because the Android platform is more flexible, ExpressVPN was able to introduce this feature, which lets you choose which apps (if any) should not use the VPN connection.
ExpressVPN’s Linux Client
Despite having great apps for every other platform, ExpressVPN’s Linux app is disappointing.
In fact, ExpressVPN doesn’t even have a true app for Linux. There’s no GUI (graphical user interface), meaning that it runs straight from the console.
Linux users are likely used to this, and a little more tech-savvy than many ExpressVPN users, but it’s still an oversight.
Once you’ve installed ExpressVPN using standard Linux console commands, you can connect to the recommended server, or see a full list of servers along with the console commands required to connect to them.
You can also toggle the Network Lock (the kill switch), change protocol, and instruct the client to auto-connect on startup.
Excellent 24/7 Live Support
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
ExpressVPN’s helpful 24/7 live chat is the best in class. If you ever have a problem, you’ll be back up and running as quickly as possible.
This is one of the most customer-focused VPN services we’ve reviewed. Its support team makes sure to keep you happy both before and after you’ve become a customer.
You can also email customer support, with equally responsive, helpful and enthusiastic responses.
If you experience a specific technical issue, it makes a big difference to receive a response tailored to your message. Too many VPN companies use support centers with agents who don’t know the product. That’s not the case with ExpressVPN.
There’s also a huge range of support guides, FAQs, video tutorials, and troubleshooting options available on the support website. The online help center is available in over 16 languages.
We Highly Recommend ExpressVPN
The Bottom Line
ExpressVPN is the VPN service we recommend the most. Its speeds are fast and reliable, its security unmatched. Our review above confirms that it’s absolutely worth the cost.
Whatever device you’re using, you get the same smooth user experience with all ExpressVPN’s apps.
Whether you want to unblock US Netflix, or protect your online privacy, ExpressVPN is ideal for both beginner and advanced VPN users.
While ExpressVPN isn’t perfect, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better all-round VPN.
See how ExpressVPN compares to some of its main rivals in this recap table:
However, if ExpressVPN is simply too expensive for you, consider the two cheaper alternatives below:
Alternatives to ExpressVPN
If ExpressVPN costs more than you'd like to spend on a VPN, then take a look at NordVPN. It comes close to ExpressVPN in almost every aspect, and it's cheaper on a multi-year plan. Read NordVPN review
Private Internet Access
PIA VPN is one of the fastest and most private VPNs we've tested. It doesn't offer the same all-round package of ExpressVPN, but it does many things right, at a lower price. Read Private Internet Access review