ExpressVPN Pros & Cons
ExpressVPN Key Data
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||-|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$6.67/mo over 15 Months|
Built for Streaming, Excellent for Netflix
Streams 19 Global Netflix Libraries
In our most recent tests, ExpressVPN worked to stream the US Netflix library on almost all of its US VPN servers. New York was the only server that didn’t work.
Overall, we found that ExpressVPN worked to access 19 different Netflix regions in a variety of different languages. Some of the most popular libraries ExpressVPN works with include Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Sweden, UK, and US.
Only Windscribe, PrivateVPN, and Surfshark work with more Netflix regions, but ExpressVPN is more reliable at streaming US Netflix specifically. For a full list of libraries ExpressVPN works with, read our list of the best-rated VPNs for Netflix.
Issues streaming BBC iPlayer
ExpressVPN has issues streaming BBC iPlayer, but it works most of the time. Beating BBC iPlayer’s VPN ban isn’t easy, and it can take a few tries for ExpressVPN to work.
For BBC iPlayer, 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.
If you’re using ExpressVPN and it doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer, try connecting to a different UK server or changing connection protocols. Its Smart DNS service called ‘MediaStreamer’ works well with iPlayer, too.
Because of the level of ‘tweaking’ required, ExpressVPN is not the best VPN for BBC iPlayer. If that’s what you’re looking for, read our NordVPN review to see why we recommend it instead.
Access to Many Other Streaming Platforms
While ExpressVPN doesn’t have dedicated streaming servers like CyberGhost, our testing found that vast majority of its servers work with almost every streaming platform, including:
- Amazon Prime Video
- HBO Max
- Now TV
- Sling TV
Its fast download speeds mean that it’s capable of streaming all of these platforms internationally with very little buffering, too.
How Does ExpressVPN Compare to Other Streaming VPNs?
In the table below, you’ll find all of the raw data from our latest streaming tests with ExpressVPN.
You can find out how it performed compared to other top streaming VPNs, and see all of the test data including download speeds, streaming services accessed, Smart DNS capabilities, and more.
Consistently Fast Local & International Speeds
Speed & Reliability
The VPN’s speeds are remarkably consistent on both short-distance and long-distance connections. All of its apps connect quickly to servers, and we didn’t experience any unexpected connection drops over thousands of tests.
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 local speed test results:
Local Speed Test results before using ExpressVPN:
- Download Speed: 95.46Mbps
- Upload Speed: 99.62Mbps
- Ping: 3ms
Local Speed Test results with ExpressVPN:
Download speed loss when ExpressVPN is running: 8%
An 8% speed loss using a VPN is very impressive. The OpenVPN and Lightway protocols had barely any impact on our download and upload speeds. Wherever you’re located, you can expect similar speed performances connecting to nearby servers.
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 ExpressVPN’s 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 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 past few years, and continues to be in 2021. Over the last eight weeks, our automated speed tests have seen ExpressVPN widening the gap when compared to NordVPN and Private Internet Access.
Overall, ExpressVPN’s superb local and international speeds are perfect to torrent large files and stream HD/4K video.
Fast and Anonymous Torrenting
We tested ExpressVPN with torrent clients like qBittorrent, uTorrent, and Deluge. The VPN didn’t leak our torrent IP address or DNS information once.
If the VPN connection had dropped, the VPN kill switch would have prevented our real IP address from being exposed.
Combined with AES-256 encryption and other forms of leak protection, it’s this level of security that makes ExpressVPN a safe choice for torrenting.
You can torrent files across the entire server network without restrictions. None of your file-sharing activity will be tracked, logged or stored. The VPN’s advanced security features will also let you stream P2P-based Kodi add-ons and IPTV apps anonymously.
Fast Torrenting Speeds, But No Port Forwarding
In our ExpressVPN P2P tests, we also recorded an excellent torrenting bitrate of 13.2MiB/s. This is much faster than CyberGhost’s 6.5MiB/s and Tunnelbear’s 4.8MiB/s.
However, the VPN service only allows port forwarding on its router app. You can still technically upload (or ‘seed’) files using the other VPN clients, but your speeds will be very slow.
For seeders, the only VPN we recommend that’s equipped with port forwarding is Private Internet Access.
No-logs VPN Based in a Safe Jurisdiction
Logging & Jurisdiction
Minimal Logging of User Data
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. The service 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, Vice President 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?
The VPN service was founded in 2009, and is operated by Express VPN International Ltd. Little is known about ExpressVPN’s management.
Ideally, a VPN company should be transparent about their ownership. ExpressVPN maintains that its private nature helps it to maintain a safe and reliable service in countries like China.
On September 13 2021 it was announced that ExpressVPN is to be purchased by Kape Technologies for almost $1 billion. The British-Israeli tech firm already has a large portfolio of VPNs, with CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate already under its oversight.
Very little should change in the day-to-day operation of ExpressVPN, and for users it should seem the same as always.
Where is ExpressVPN Based?
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.
How Private Is ExpressVPN Compared to Other VPNs?
Using the table below, you can compare ExpressVPN to other leading VPN services based on its logging policy, jurisdiction, and auditing history.
Very Secure and Private Applications
Security & Features
Powerful Encryption & First-Party DNS Servers
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.
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. Very few VPN services have these servers.
By default, the VPN service uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). PFS creates a new encryption key for every VPN session, replacing it every 60 minutes. Even if someone intercepted and decrypted your connection, the most they could get is 60 minutes of data.
Secure VPN Connection 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 bandwidth and battery power than other VPN protocols, since it has fewer lines of code.
ExpressVPN recently made the Lightway protocol open-source (allowing anyone to inspect its code). This is a great way to build trust in a proprietary VPN protocol.
Dependable Kill Switch
ExpressVPN doesn’t have a ton of advanced security features, but those it does have are extremely effective.
Its reliable VPN kill switch is called Network Lock. It 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.
TrustedServer is the proprietary technology ExpressVPN has developed to ensure your web data is never written to a VPN 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.
This setting 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.
Split tunneling isn’t available on Mac.
IP & DNS Leak Test Results
We ran the VPN apps through IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests and it passed all tests with zero leaks.
As you can see in the screenshot below, ExpressVPN masked our real UK IP address, replacing it with a Swedish one.
We also tested ExpressVPN’s extensions for HTML5 browser leaks and torrent IP leaks, and they also passed with flying colors.
Malware & Virus Checks
We uploaded the ExpressVPN.exe installation file to VirusTotal.com, a website that scans applications for known malware. The test 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 test found that 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|
ExpressVPN Works in China, Turkey & the UAE
The vast majority of VPN services simply do not work in China at all. It takes a serious investment to create a server network that consistently bypasses restrictions in the region.
To its credit, ExpressVPN has invested significant resources into outsmarting the Great Firewall of China.
Its obfuscation technology activates by default when you switch the protocol selection feature to “Automatic.” This disguises your VPN traffic as normal web traffic, allowing you to access restricted websites and services.
Good choice of servers from China
ExpressVPN recommends specific servers for its 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
Wide Range of City-Level Servers
ExpressVPN allows you to access 51 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)
A wide selection of city-level servers is another rare feature amongst top VPNs. It allows you to be more specific in your choice of nearby server for the absolute best speeds possible.
The VPN includes 14 city-level server locations in the US, and four in Australia. Having servers on both sides of these big countries equals fast VPN speeds wherever you are.
There are plenty of servers in Asia, as well as 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.
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.
ExpressVPN Works on Most Devices
ExpressVPN is available to download and install on the following devices:
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 routers from these 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. Our tests found that ExpressVPN works well with Apple TV, and it’s also compatible with the following games consoles and streaming devices:
Effective 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 on the ExpressVPN website.
Good Fire TV Stick App
A very popular streaming device right now is Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, but not many VPN services offer a native application for it. ExpressVPN has a good Fire OS app that works with multiple content platforms, Kodi add-ons and IPTV apps.
Though functional, the Firestick application is 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.
ExpressVPN provides full VPN browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Edge. Almost a million Chrome users and over 87,000 Firefox users now use them.
Most of the VPN browser add-ons we review are proxies, but not ExpressVPN’s. That’s because they need the desktop application to run at the same time, essentially acting like a remote control for the full VPN client.
Private & 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.
HTTPS Everywhere 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 we’ve tested that prevent HTML5 IP location leaks.
ExpressVPN Is Expensive but Worth the Price
Price & Value
ExpressVPN’s Monthly Subscription Prices
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.
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
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 all above average for a VPN service, and more expensive than most competitors including Surfshark and PrivateVPN. However, it’s still good value for the best all-round VPN service you can get.
Running a large VPN server network costs money, and optimizing that network for streaming and torrenting costs even more. That means there might be cheaper VPNs available, but they’re likely to be much less effective than ExpressVPN overall.
Payment & Refund Options
ExpressVPN offers a seven-day free trial to new mobile customers. All subscriptions also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, no-questions-asked. This means that effectively, you can get ExpressVPN completely 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 five to 10 business days.
Different payment methods offer different levels of anonymity. If you’re really concerned about your privacy, you might want to consider choosing a VPN that allows you to pay with cash.
However, most VPN users simply pay using their credit card or PayPal.
ExpressVPN accepts PayPal and Bitcoin, as well as credit/debit cards including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and more.
Here’s a full list of payment methods that ExpressVPN supports:
The only major option missing here is cash payments. This is great for extra anonymity, although only IVPN and Mullvad currently offer this payment method.
How Expensive Is ExpressVPN Compared to Other VPNs?
Use the table below to compare ExpressVPN’s pricing data to its top competitors. You’ll find information about each VPN’s cheapest monthly subscription cost, refund policy, and free trial period:
ExpressVPN's Apps Are Easy to Set Up and Use
Ease of Use
How to Connect to a Server with ExpressVPN
How to Change Settings in ExpressVPN
To get started with ExpressVPN, simply choose 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 main differences between ExpressVPN’s applications for each device:
Let’s take a closer look at each application and the key differences between them:
ExpressVPN Windows 10 Client
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 Mac Client
ExpressVPN’s MacOS app is practically identical to the Windows version. Many VPN providers release subpar 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 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 the desktop features on the iOS app, too. The kill switch is the most notable absence of all.
ExpressVPN 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. ExpressVPN was able to introduce this feature because the Android platform is more flexible, which lets you choose which apps (if any) should not use the VPN connection.
ExpressVPN 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.
Well-Trained 24/7 Live Support
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
ExpressVPN’s helpful 24/7 live chat support is exemplary. If you ever have a problem, you’ll be back up and running as quickly as possible.
Its support team is friendly and 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 tailored responses to your queries.
There’s also a wide range of support guides, FAQs, video tutorials, and troubleshooting options available on the website. The online help center is available in over 16 languages.
It might seem trivial, but an effective customer support team is essential if you ever run into a problem using a VPN service. Though some rivals come close, ExpressVPN leads the industry when it comes to customer support.
We Highly Recommend ExpressVPN
The Bottom Line
ExpressVPN is the VPN service we recommend the most. Based on our review above, we think it’s worth the higher price.
You’ll get optimal user experience on all apps, plus fast speeds and a high degree of internet security.
Whether you want to stream US Netflix or protect your online privacy, we believe ExpressVPN is ideal for both beginner and advanced VPN users alike.
While ExpressVPN isn’t perfect, it’s difficult to find a better all-round VPN.
ExpressVPN Compared to Other Top VPNs
The table below compares ExpressVPN to its leading competitors based on average speed, privacy, security, and more:
As you can see above, ExpressVPN either matches or beats its main rivals in most areas.
ExpressVPN is our top-rated VPN of 2021. Try it risk-free for 30 days.
Additional research by Liam Mullally
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