ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN services around, but so many reviews of it seem just too positive.
Even its website claims it to be the “#1 trusted leader in VPN,” which is too big of a statement to go unchecked.
We’d be fools to take a company at its word, so we put it through our own rigorous, independent VPN testing process to find out whether the hype is real.
This ExpressVPN review sets out to find the real answers to questions from our readers like:
- Is ExpressVPN really that fast?
- Is it legit and safe to use?
- Does it work with Netflix and torrenting?
- How much does ExpressVPN cost and is it worth it?
- Is a free trial available?
We tested ExpressVPN extensively, trying out all of its VPN apps and making sure we didn’t miss a thing.
Curious to know what we discovered?
Read on to find out, starting with the most important takeaways from our tests.
ExpressVPN Pros & Cons
ExpressVPN Key Summary
|Top Download Speed||85Mbps|
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|IP, DNS or WebRTC Leaks||No|
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$6.67/mo over 15 Months|
That’s just a few highlights of what’s to come.
First off, lets find out more about ExpressVPN – plus a complete examination of its VPN logging policy.
Who is ExpressVPN?
About & Logging
ExpressVPN was founded in 2009 and is operated by Express VPN International Ltd., which is based in the British Virgin Islands and far outside of the intrusive 14-eyes surveillance alliance.
That’s an excellent choice of location for a privacy-minded VPN company, as the British Virgin Islands has full sovereignty over its own data regulations.
Foreign governments can still make demands for information, but ExpressVPN makes it clear that it will never share data with them and, crucially, that it doesn’t have any personally identifiable information to share in the first place.
ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any personally identifiable activity logs. Here’s all the information collected by ExpressVPN’s servers:
- Dates when connected to the VPN service
- Choice of VPN server location
- Total amount of data transferred per day
That’s it. ExpressVPN maintains that this is the minimum amount of information required to be collected in order to keep the performance of its servers as strong as possible.
We spoke to Harold Li VP of ExpressVPN about the VPN’s data retention policy and this is what he told us:
“. . . we do not have a publicly stated data retention period for these types of data . . . 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. 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 exactly how long this data is retained, the most important thing of all is that it cannot be used to identify you, or what you do online.
All that’s possible to reveal is that you have used ExpressVPN’s service at some point. This is totally anonymous, and about as close to zero-logs as you can get.
A 2018 report by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) questioned ExpressVPN in greater detail, and concluded that its servers were both “extremely difficult to compromise” and “limited in the amount of data that could be revealed” in the event that they were.
ExpressVPN’s logging policy was put to the test in December 2017 when one of ExpressVPN’s Turkish VPN servers was seized and inspected by Turkish authorities investigating the assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. The investigators couldn’t find any customer connection logs.
In case you’re still wondering, you’re safe with ExpressVPN.
One of the fastest VPNs we've tested
Speed & Reliability
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN services we’ve tested – it’s extremely quick and responsive.
It’s also remarkably reliable and consistent, whether you’re connecting to a nearby server or one on the other side of the world.
It’s speed is also very impressive in high censorship countries like China, where most other VPN services struggle to even connect.
Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.
Before using ExpressVPN:
When connected to ExpressVPN:
Download speed without ExpressVPN: 95.71Mbps
Download speed with ExpressVPN: 85.00Mbps
Our download speed loss when ExpressVPN is running: 11%
On top of fast download and upload speeds, ExpressVPN’s low latency and low ping times make it a good VPN for gaming, not as good as other VPN services but a strong gaming contender nonetheless.
From our testing lab in the UK, we measured ExpressVPN’s average speeds connecting out to various locations worldwide. These were the results:
- USA: 77Mbps (download) & 40Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 79Mbps (download) & 66Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 73Mbps (download) & 22Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 59Mbps (download) & 1Mbps (upload)
The numbers speak for themselves: ExpressVPN is by far the fastest VPN on long-distance connections, something most VPN services struggle with.
To get the fastest speeds, and you’re happy connecting to a nearby server, you can also use the Smart Location feature. It’s a clever tool that picks a close-by server optimised for high speed and low latency.
3,000+ servers across 160 locations
ExpressVPN operates more than 3,000 VPN servers across the world, spread evenly over every continent (excluding Antarctica).
Basically, no matter where you’re located you should have no trouble finding a VPN server near you.
3,000 servers is one of the widest ranges of servers we’ve seen from any VPN service, and the ExpressVPN website even lists which VPN security protocols are available in each location (either country or city).
You can access specific city-level servers in a number of locations, too:
ExpressVPN’s 20 different city-level locations in the US and four in Australia are some of the highest we’ve seen.
Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer & torrenting
Streaming & Torrenting
ExpressVPN easily unlocks US Netflix through almost all of its US-based VPN servers (apart from New York).
The following ExpressVPN servers worked for unblocking Netflix:
- USA (New Jersey, Washington DC, San Francisco)
- Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
- UK (Isle of Man, Jersey)
ExpressVPN doesn’t have servers dedicated to streaming, like CyberGhost does, but this isn’t much of an issue since most ExpressVPN servers work with streaming sites.
The Isle of Man and Jersey servers still work well with UK Netflix, while most UK servers unlock BBC iPlayer (although customer support informed us it will only work if you’re located outside of the UK).
ExpressVPN also unlocks the Australian, Canadian, French, Italian, Japanese and German Netflix libraries.
What’s more, plenty of ExpressVPN subscribers enjoy using it to stream:
- Amazon Prime Video
- Sling TV
- Now TV
- PlayStation Vue
Unsurprisingly, ExpressVPN also stands out at torrenting and downloading files.
It allows any type of P2P traffic across all its servers, resulting in less server congestion and ultimately faster download and upload speeds. That’s exactly what we saw in our tests.
ExpressVPN is also great for streaming Kodi or similar media player apps.
Privacy and security-wise, ExpressVPN’s kill switch – which they’ve named Network Lock – works extremely well (should your VPN connection drop at any point) and when we tested for IP or DNS leaks, we found zero.
And, ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any user activity logs so your privacy and identity is safe (read more on this below).
Beats censorship in China, UAE & more
ExpressVPN works in China, bypassing Chinese censorship with ease, largely thanks to the company devoting significant resources into outsmarting the censors. That’s why it’s our highest-rated VPN for China.
If you have protocol selection switched to Automatic, ExpressVPN’s proprietary obfuscation security protocols are activated, which are very effective in beating aggressive state-level censors.
These obfuscation protocols ensure that its VPN apps easily beat even the most aggressive of blocks in countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
ExpressVPN recommends specific servers for users in China – just get in touch with customer support (available 24/7) for updated information.
VPN apps for all popular devices
Platforms & Devices
ExpressVPN supports just about any operating system or device out there:
- Microsoft Windows
On ExpressVPN’s website, you’ll find setup instructions for the above platforms as well as workarounds for devices where a custom VPN app isn’t available.
For less common devices, ExpressVPN may not have a native dedicated VPN app, but on their website you’ll find walkthrough on their website to show you how to set up a workaround for your device.
Remember, you can use ExpressVPN on five different devices simultaneously. However, if you need more to use it on more devices at the same time, you’ll have to set the VPN on your home router.
In fact, you use ExpressVPN’s router app to enjoy unlimited simultaneous connections and use the VPN on as many devices as you want.
The ExpressVPN app is compatible with the following routers:
- Asus RT-AC68U
- Asus RT-AC87U
- Asus RT-AC56(U/R/S)
- Linksys EA6200
- Linksys WRT1200AC
- Linksys WRT1900AC(S or V2)
- Linksys WRT3200ACM
- Netgear R6300v2
- Nighthawk R7000
But, you can also manually set up the VPN on these router manufacturers:
- Other Asus models
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
ExpressVPN has a very good VPN app for Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, although it’s not our number one choice.
Why is not our top pick?
Well, ExpressVPN may have been one of the first VPN providers to roll out a Fire TV Stick app, and it works fine, but it’s now looking out-dated and lacks some of the features that we enjoy in more recent Firestick VPN apps.
If you own a Fire TV Stick and want to use a VPN app with it, take a look at our latest recommendations.
While it’s not our top pick for Firestick, ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for other streaming devices as well as gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation.
In fact, you can use the MediaStreamer feature (included in every subscription plan), which makes it very easy to unblock web services with a whole range of devices.
MediaStreamer doesn’t encrypt your traffic, though.
If you want to secure all (or most) connections in your home, you should instead install ExpressVPN on your router (see above).
Don’t want to set up ExpressVPN on your router?
You can always connect the new device to a device where the VPN is already running (for example, your PC or your Mac).
ExpressVPN provides full VPN browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Most of the VPN browser add-ons we see are proxies and not full VPNs, but ExpressVPN’s extensions are the real deal. However, they are extensions of the ExpressVPN app so the desktop application will need to be running at the same time.
Some of our readers ask us: “why use the extensions when the VPN app is already running?”
The answer is simple: the VPN extension allows you to control the VPN app from your browser. You an easily switch between server locations without having to do so from the desktop VPN client.
Additionally, ExpressVPN’s extensions all use HTTPS Everywhere – a collaboration between The TOR Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation – which encrypts communications and requests with websites that still use HTTP (unencrypted).
Extremely secure with features like Network Lock & TrustedServer
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
ExpressVPN is a legitimate and extremely secure VPN service. It uses a multitude of security standards and VPN protocols to keep your browsing data private and secure.
By default, the VPN protocol selection is set to ‘Automatic,’ which we recommend you leave as is. The ExpressVPN app will determine what is the best security protocol to use – a great feature that very few VPN services have.
ExpressVPN also uses AES-256 encryption, which is widely regarded as near-unbreakable. In combination with a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication, ExpressVPN will keep you protected online.
Unsurprisingly, ExpressVPN mainly uses OpenVPN as it’s primary VPN protocol. OpenVPN is currently the best security protocol, although from the VPN app you can choose other protocols – we don’t think you’ll need to, though.
By default, ExpressVPN also uses Perfect Forward Secrecy, which in very simple terms means that even if someone was able to intercept your VPN connection, they still wouldn’t be able to decrypt any of the traffic.
If you want to dig deeper on ExpressVPN’s high levels of encryption, read this simple yet useful guide.
ExpressVPN also has the always-essential VPN kill switch, which it calls Network Lock. This feature stops your internet connection altogether in the unlikely event your VPN connection drops. In so doing, your true IP address is never exposed.
However, this feature isn’t included in the iOS app – it’s only available on the Windows, Mac, Android (called Network Protection) and Linux apps.
Talking about IP addresses, we didn’t detect any IP or DNS leaks so you can count on ExpressVPN to successfully hide your real IP address.
Split tunneling is yet another powerful feature that’s not commonly found in other VPNs. This feature lets you select the apps or devices to put through the VPN connection, and the ones you may want to use your standard internet connection for, like your printer for example.
It doesn’t stop here, though.
ExpressVPN launched its TrustedServer feature, a proprietary technology that removes the need for local storage such as hard disks or solid state drives.
If you’re a Tor user, ExpressVPN also has its own website on the Tor network. However, make note that ExpressVPN only supports Tor over VPN.
We could go on but it’s clear that ExpressVPN is leading the pack when it comes to your security and privacy.
And the fact that ExpressVPN has passed several security audits in 2018 and in 2019 without a hitch is further evidence of how secure it is.
Hassle-free setup and easy to get started
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is so easy to use that it’s hard to go wrong – not just with the main desktop client, but also with its many device-specific apps and browser extensions.
The ExpressVPN home screen is simply a big on/off button and a list of VPN servers, but if you want to customize things you can also find advanced settings behind a separate menu.
Even the advanced options are explained in plain and easily-understood language, so you’ll never make changes without knowing exactly what you’re doing.
As we mentioned above, ExpressVPN’s browser extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox web browsers.
They give you full protection that fully masks your web activity without you having to leave your browser window.
ExpressVPN has recently added dark mode to its browser extensions, which is a nice plus for customisation.
Responsive & friendly live chat
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
ExpressVPN’s helpful 24/7 live chat means if you ever have a problem, you’ll be back up and running as quickly as possible.
ExpressVPN really is one of the most customer-focused VPN services we’ve reviewed, and their support team makes sure to keep you happy before and well after you’ve become their customer.
You can also reach out to customer support via email, with equally responsive, helpful and enthusiastic responses.
A little expensive, but well worth it
ExpressVPN Pricing Plan
ExpressVPN provides the same features on all its price plans, so the only decision to make is how much you want to pay upfront and how much your subscription costs you per month.
The longer you subscribe for, the cheaper the monthly cost: a single month of ExpressVPN costs $12.95 (which is more costly than other 1-month plans offered by its rivals), but there’s a 49% reduction to $6.67 for a 15-month plan, which is great value for our current best all-round VPN service.
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
You’re entitled to a 30-day money-back guarantee when you first sign up to ExpressVPN. We found that they grant refunds quickly and with no questions asked, after we made a simple request to customer service.
In case you’re wondering, ExpressVPN doesn’t have a true free trial in place, but there is a way you can make the most of the 30-day refund guarantee.
There’s also a ‘Refer a Friend’ program which earns you a 30-day free ExpressVPN subscription for both you and the friend you convince to sign up – plus there’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer.
Do We Recommend ExpressVPN?
The Bottom Line
There’s no doubt about it – we 100% recommend using ExpressVPN.
It passed our testing with flying colors, proving itself to be one of the fastest and safest VPNs you can buy right now.
In fact, to say we recommend it is an understatement: ExpressVPN is the overall best VPN at the moment.
Alternatives to ExpressVPN
There's no shame in deciding that ExpressVPN costs more than you'd like to spend on a VPN. NordVPN comes close to ExpressVPN in almost every aspect but it's a lot cheaper (if you subscribe for a multi-year plan) making it excellent value for money. Read NordVPN review
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN for international connections, but if you just want to connect over short distances then PIA is currently unbeatable. It can't quite offer the same all-round package as ExpressVPN, but it's an incredibly fast VPN. Read Private Internet Access review
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When a review is marked "Verified Customer" it means we've verified that the reviewer has had a genuine experience with the company.
ExpressVPN is far and away worth the price. I need it when I travel to tend to finances back in the US; in fact, even at home I use it when banking or anytime sensitive information is involved. It does not slow down traffic in the slightest. I've been using it for a couple of years and would not consider changing.
One Small problem
I have majority good feedback of express vpn. I have used it for several years in various different countries. However, last year in June I had an issue with connecting to Amazon Prime. I literally tried every location and I asked the online help for about 20 minutes. They were not helpful, suggesting I change my vpn locations that I had already tried. Then, they said that because I was located in the States at that time that I didn't have to use the VPN. That did not help because I wanted my online activities private and I was unable to use prime. Other than that, they are good for shopping online and other activities.
Works great!Verified Customer
While there's no local server near me, the Smart Location automatically selects best server. Never a lag, never a hiccup. Had issue when used on my Nvidea Shield, but Uninstalled and reinstalled, now works great!
Highly recommend this VPN!Verified Customer
I have been using ExpressVPN for over a year now, and I have to say that I love it! It's been fantastic for all kinds of tasks. I use it every time I use my laptop or my cellphone. Love the multi-device capability! The only reason I can't give this VPN 5 stars is that it sometimes blocks internet traffic even when it's "connected". It's fixed with a simple disconnect and reconnect, but it's still annoying. Overall, this VPN works great! It's easy to install and use, and I'd definitely recommend it.
nogo for amazon prime video
the company promised a chat, that their product works with amazon prime. Just made a subscription and tried it out. IT DOES NOT WORK WITH ANY OF THEIR SERVERS IN THE USA
ExpressVPN continually disconnects, multiple times per day. Will not let me get on line for 5-10 minutes at a time. When trying to get customer support they only offer online chat. No phone number. How helpful when you can't get on line!!
Waste of money
Total shambles. No support. Cant set up on ps4 . Live chat rude and hang up on you. Would not reccomendSimon | Top10VPN Expert
Hi Sandra. Sorry to hear about your troubles installing ExpressVPN on PS4. There are a few ways to set up the VPN on your console: 1. Install the VPN at router level. 2. Create a virtual router using a PC. 3. Use ExpressVPN's MediaStreamer service directly on the PS4 console. We provide instructions for the first 2 methods on our website, while ExpressVPN has an advice page for the 3rd. We hope that clears things up.
Extremely Satisfied CustomerVerified Customer
This service is completely amazing, I use ExpressVPN on all my devices, including my home router. I would highly recommend this product to anyone who’s looking to surf the web in a safe and secure manner.I’m extremely happy that I purchased and you will be too!!!
I feel safeVerified Customer
I have been using Express VPN for 1 yr. It gives me peace of mind using the internet. It is pretty much seamless - especially leaving it continuously connected on my PC. Sometimes when I start up my laptop it can be slow to connect - more often in the evening than during the day - but switching to another location generally works. Worth the wait. I have recommended Express VPN to my friends and family.
quick reviewVerified Customer
Does the job efficiently and thoroughly. Sometimes stops emails from going out but not a problem to turn off, send email, then turn back on.
It's good.Verified Customer
ExpressVPN is very intuitive and user friendly, and is good enough that there really isn't much to say. The desktop app works well, and I've only ever encountered one extremely situational bug with it. The mobile app also works as advertised, and also has a useful feature where you can set up certain networks as trusted, with the VPN connecting automatically whenever you connect to an untrusted network. It gives peace of mind whenever your phone automatically connects to a public wifi spot, and is probably one of my favorite features of this VPN. All in all, Its not overdone, it's got p2p support, and it just works, making it definitely deserving of a five star rating.
slightly disappointedVerified Customer
upgrades/updates usually do not work on macs, it gets stuck on a loop and you must delete your account and then restart as well usually when you turn your mac off and when you turn on your mac you must clear all of your browsing history to get connected to iplayer, very annoying.