September 2019: Major Updates
– ExpressVPN now supports 5 devices at the same time
– Deep-dived into newly-launched TrustedServer technology. Verdict: It significantly improves user data security.
– Tested new Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. Verdict: Mild improvements.
The first thing I thought was: Why should I pay almost twice as much for this VPN?
I tried to tackle any claims ExpressVPN made about being the fastest VPN or having a bulletproof no-logs policy. I must say that whilst many of you can get a great deal with one of the cheaper VPNs out there, if you’re looking for a premium super-fast VPN, Express is a great choice (oh and they hide their discount page pretty well so you can actually get a few months for free so it doesn’t come out as expensive as you think).
Many VPN services promise to have the best speeds, the most secure security protocols, or privacy policies worth trusting in — but not many deliver. What makes ExpressVPN one of the best VPNs on the market is that it not only delivers in every aspect, it gives you extra features that other VPNs simply do not. Its proprietary TrustedServer technology enhances your safety on top of already impressive security protocols. The VPN is compatible with a wide range of platforms and devices, including routers. With a browser extension, you can also control the app directly from your browser for utmost convenience. Top that off with an honest approach to its business and I believe ExpressVPN has the winning edge.
With over 3000 servers available in 160 server locations in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has a huge variety of secure connection options worldwide. Apart from connections in the US and Europe, ExpressVPN also offers numerous servers in more remote locations like the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. You won’t find this variety with other VPN providers like TunnelBear or Windscribe.
Introducing its TrustedServer technology is a sign that ExpressVPN is clearly ahead of the game in server security. ExpressVPN’s servers now run on RAM, which ensures your data is wiped from its servers as soon as it reboots. Its use of dynamic encryption keys for Perfect Forward Secrecy further reinforces your level of data privacy and security online.
Another key highlight is that ExpressVPN now gives you the ability to connect up to 5 devices at the same time. This may not be as many as other services offer, but it may just be enough for a single user. Broad platform compatibility also means that you can use ExpressVPN with the majority of your devices. Apps are available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux, as well as custom firmware for compatible routers, and in-depth guides for Apple TV, Chromebooks, and Kodi among others.
One thing that I really hate about VPNs is the use of virtual servers, and pretending like they are actual servers. ExpressVPN regretfully does this, but I’d say that at least they are transparent about it. The company explains that it does this with only 3% of its servers, and only in censored countries where they don’t want anyone seizing their servers. So while I don’t like it, the explanation did win me over.
Many VPN services won’t claim that they can unblock particular sites for fear of backlash if the service doesn’t deliver — but ExpressVPN is an exception. The company publicly lists over 25 sites it provides access to, including Wikipedia, Netflix, and Facebook. This bold move by ExpressVPN really inspired my confidence in its product.
These are some of the sites I’ve managed to unblock with ExpressVPN:
– BBC iPlayer
– Amazon Prime Video
– Sky TV
– HBO Now
We all know that many of these sites are constantly stepping up their efforts to block VPNs from accessing their content. So I decided to test a few from this list (using various servers, of course) to see if ExpressVPN could still get past them.
With the help of my research assistant, I tested ExpressVPN with Netflix in over 20 countries. I focused on the countries with big Netflix libraries, such as Netflix US, UK, Canada, France, Japan, Australia. Once the VPN was connected, I cleaned my cookies, opened up Netflix and watched a few different shows. For the most part, everything ran smoothly, my speeds were good enough that I had no buffering or lagging videos. The one exception was South America. I tried multiple servers in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil but was unable to bypass the Netflix streaming error. without any issues. Streaming was smooth and high quality, with minimal buffering.
BBC iPlayer has some pretty strong VPN detection, and it took me several tries to find a server that allowed access. Fortunately, ExpressVPN has plenty of UK-based servers to choose from, so it was just a matter of trying a few different options until I found the right one. I was able to access both live TV and popular series like Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders, and Top Gear.
With ExpressVPN, I was able to access Vudu quickly. After signing up for a basic free account, I could stream any content I wanted in high quality with minimal buffering.
Netflix’s VPN detection is continually evolving and changing, with more servers being “burned” (or discovered by the algorithm) daily. I encountered the Netflix Error Proxy several times during testing — but there are ways around it.
If you face the Netflix proxy error, try switching to a new server in the same country or the same region. ExpressVPN has an abundance of servers to choose from in a host of different countries, so finding one that works is easy. You can also contact ExpressVPN’s live chat team who will readily recommend you a suitable server.
Through the rounds of testing, ExpressVPN has emerged the overall winner. Successfully accessing a range of sites using different servers, I could not recommend it more for unblocking global content.
I’ve tested over 300 VPNs to let you know if ExpressVPN is worth investing in. Here’s a quick summary of what I liked and disliked about ExpressVPN before we get into the details:
ExpressVPN is definitely one of the fastest VPNs I have ever used. It exceeded my expectations as I had really minimal buffering and interruptions with streaming, torrenting, gaming, and normal browsing.
In my speed tests, I looked for consistency in download and upload speeds across different servers, and checked to see if distances from the server impacted our internet speed.
In order to get a fair representation of speed, I tested at least 3 servers from each ExpressVPN server region: Asia Pacific, Europe, The Americas, and The Middle East & Africa.
ExpressVPN does have its own in-built speed test, but for the sake of being impartial, I used Ookla to perform all speed tests. I also tested speeds at different times during the day for the most accurate results.
Here’s what I found:
Speed tests run on different servers showed similar download speeds across the board. Local servers provided better speeds, but even those located further away offered a more than adequate overseas connection.
I got some of our team members around the world to run some speed tests to see how ExpressVPN fared from different physical locations. The results demonstrate ExpressVPN’s impressive ability to maintain — if not improve — connectivity speeds.
I connected to a local server using Smart Location and was surprised to find that the Smart Location server had a 37% drop in download speed. But despite this drop, there was no change in site streaming speeds and I didn’t face any additional buffering on Netflix.
In my tests, ExpressVPN allowed me to use a variety of servers with minimal buffering and streaming interruptions. Watching shows, gaming, listening to music, and accessing different sites were all quick and smooth experiences. In comparison to other major VPNs I’ve tested (including NordVPN, CyberGhost, and IPVanish), ExpressVPN is the clear winner in terms of speed.
I tested Fortnite with ExpressVPN and found no lags in the game flow. I could play for hours and compete with gamers from all over the world with no interruptions.
I also connected to Steam and managed to play Team Fortress 2. The gameplay was excellent with no lagging or other frustrating slowdowns.
On the rare occasion that you experience a slow connection, here are some ways to quickly fix it:
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
When it comes to VPN servers, ExpressVPN delivers on both quality and quantity.
With 3000+ servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN offers a massive selection for you to choose from — and those numbers are growing all the time.
Its quality servers are encrypted with sophisticated security protocols to protect you online. Firstly, TrustedServer technology ensures that your data is not stored on servers. Secondly, ExpressVPN uses OpenVPN by default, which is the most secure VPN protocol currently available. This protocol is encrypted with 256-bit AES and uses a 4096-bit SHA-512 RSA certificate to ensure your online activities stay safe. I was certainly impressed with how ExpressVPN has gone the extra mile to ensure the highest level of security.
Whilst many VPN services lack transparency when it comes to disclosing details on their no-logs policies, I found ExpressVPN refreshingly different in its honesty. ExpressVPN clearly states that it does not log sensitive information, such as activity and collection logs. It also lists down the minimal information it collects for customer support and service purposes (which is pretty much an industry standard). This transparent nothing-to-hide approach definitely helped earn my trust.
ExpressVPN offers some great features to enhance your torrenting experience. One of the best perks is saying goodbye to overloaded servers. ExpressVPN gives you access to all its server locations so you won’t be restricted to using dedicated torrent-only servers.
The company also states that there is no data cap and promises never to throttle your connection. Whilst most VPNs reserve the right to limit bandwidth with a “fair use” clause, ExpressVPN makes no mention of one in its Terms of Service. It has a comprehensive Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits things like downloading copyrighted material, but does not mention any sort of data cap or limit.
I tested ExpressVPN with different torrent sites and different servers to see how well it would perform. Overall, I was pleased with the way the VPN handled P2P traffic and the level of security I had. I found that I was able to access torrent sites (like The Pirate Bay and Extratorrent) easily, and speeds were consistent while torrenting with uTorrent. Downloading TV shows was not a long, laborious process. Take a look at the screenshot below to see our upload and download speeds.
One of our team members had a long layover in China, which gave him the perfect opportunity to test ExpressVPN and see if it could avoid detection by the Great Firewall of China.
While in China, we found that we were able to connect to ExpressVPN as easily as at home, with no extra steps required. Once connected, we were able to browse the web normally, undetected by the firewall. We could access all the blocked sites we wanted (like Netflix, Facebook, and Google) without any trouble.
ExpressVPN is very easy to get started with! It only took me a few minutes from making a purchase to setting up the VPN, to accessing servers.
Once you are logged into the dashboard on your web browser, the site does the work for you. There’s no need to search for the correct download button for your device. The site detects what you’re using and creates a download button for that particular client.
After ExpressVPN has downloaded onto your device, the clever setup means you don’t have to re-enter your login details. Instead, the site provides you with a unique access code, and all you have to do is copy the code and paste it when prompted. The software automatically sets up your credentials for you, making the entire set-up process smooth and straightforward.
One of the best things about ExpressVPN is that I can use it across pretty much all the devices I own. ExpressVPN has made it a priority to support a wide variety of platforms, bringing VPN accessibility across multiple operating systems and IoT devices. This VPN supports Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, as well as having options for AppleTV, Playstation, Kodi, and more.
ExpressVPN also offers the option of installing the app straight to your router (if your router allows it), which secures the connection for every router-connected device. Additionally, you can use the VPN directly in Chrome and Firefox with browser extensions.
The Windows and Mac desktop interface for ExpressVPN is intuitive and straightforward. A big “on/off” button is front and center and navigating between servers is easy. The user can choose from an available list of servers or can manually type in a location and choose a server that way. For Windows and Mac users, the option for ExpressVPN to connect automatically on startup is available.
The mobile app, available for Android and iOS, is optimized for smaller screens but just as easy to navigate as a desktop version. I found the one-click feature particularly useful, enabling me to connect to our desired location quickly. The app also features space for 5 shortcuts to our most-used or favorite apps (like Netflix, Spotify, and our web browser), making it easy to use.
There are VPN services on the market that are known to have compromised security. For instance, HolaVPN was caught turning user devices into exit nodes and selling the bandwidth they’d stolen to third parties. Another VPN service, Zenmate, suffers from frequent IP leaks.
One way ExpressVPN protects your security is by being based in the British Virgin Islands. Non-member to the Five, Nine, and 14 Eyes alliances, the BVI is not a member of any intelligence-sharing agreement. This means that there are no data retention laws and no pressure on ExpressVPN to give anyone access to customer data.
Checking a VPN’s no-logs policy is an impossible task. Almost all VPN companies will tell you they don’t keep logs — but how can you tell for sure?
The only way to tell if a VPN has a true no-logs policy or not is when they’re forced to hand over data. PureVPN was caught giving user logs to the FBI in a cyberstalker incident — despite claiming that they don’t keep logs.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN proved the effectiveness of its security and privacy policies during the 2017 criminal investigation on the assassination of Ambassador Andrey Karlov. Turkish authorities claimed the criminal had used ExpressVPN to delete incriminating data from Facebook and Gmail, and seized the servers to try and trace it to an individual. As ExpressVPN never stores logs and data, the authorities weren’t able to find any useful information for their investigation.
ExpressVPN issued this statement which explained the case:
“According to recent Turkish media reports, investigators in Turkey allege that a still-unknown individual used ExpressVPN in an attempt to delete evidence related to last year’s assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. This individual, according to the reports, logged into the Gmail and Facebook accounts of the assassin (off-duty police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş) and deleted conversations that would have been relevant to the investigation.
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.”
When looking at ExpressVPN’s security features, it’s clear to see that it goes above and beyond to ensure the highest quality service is available. ExpressVPN servers were even recently audited by PwC to confirm essential privacy protections, giving us even more confidence and trust in them.
Some of ExpressVPN’s security measures include:
– 256-bit AES military-grade encryption
– TOR network compatibility
– Built-in kill switch
– HMAC (Keyed-Hash Message Authentication Code)
– A variety of VPN protocols for the user to choose from
On top of that, there were a few security features that stood out from the crowd. Here’s what I was most impressed with.
One way ExpressVPN stands out from other similar VPN services is the introduction of its game-changing TrustedServer technology.
Industry standards have typically run servers through hard drives. The problem with this is that hard drives retain all data until they are manually erased or overwritten. This includes sensitive (personal or identifying) data, which creates potential privacy issues.
ExpressVPN created TrustedServer technology as a solution to this problem. Instead of using hard drives, TrustedServer is run on RAM. RAM requires power to store data, so every time it is powered off and on again, all information is instantly wiped out. And it isn’t just information that gets erased — it also removes any intruders on the server when rebooted. If that isn’t going above and beyond to safeguard privacy, I don’t know what is.
Perfect Forward Secrecy (also known as Forward Secrecy and PFS) ensures that internet transactions are secure by creating a unique session key for each transaction. Every time you disconnect and connect to ExpressVPN, a new key is generated. The key also regenerates automatically every 60 minutes, which is useful for extended sessions online.
What does this mean for you? If a dedicated hacker successfully compromised your computer or the VPN server, they wouldn’t be able to access data from any past sessions, and they wouldn’t be able to use that same key to access future data. The most data they could ever obtain would be up to 60 minutes’ worth. This adds a layer of security to keep your data safe online.
Third-party DNS services aren’t protected by the same level of encryption and tunneling as the VPN, which can leave the server open to manipulation. These third-party services can log personally identifiable data and are more easily identified by governments, ISPs, and corporations who want to deny access to certain content.
ExpressVPN has its own private DNS, which gives it a considerable advantage over any competitor using a third-party service. Whenever you are connected to ExpressVPN, you are protected by encryption and tunneling protocol. The private DNS is run on every single one of ExpressVPN’s servers, meaning no matter which server you choose, you are covered with 256-bit encryption.
By avoiding the use of third-party DNS services, ExpressVPN is able to ensure your identifiable data is not stored on servers. Requests are protected from censorship, manipulation, phishing, and DNS filtering, which means you can access the content you want.
ExpressVPN’s number of impressive security features seem to be unbeatable. I wanted to find out if they were really effective, so I put them through some tests. Here’s what the security tests revealed:
Using the WizCase IP tool, I checked to see if our local IP would be recognized while using ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN passed with flying colors and masked our location perfectly.
I also checked for DNS leaks by running an online test and the results speak for themselves.
As with any VPN service, some connection drops happen. But with every drop, the automatic kill switch is instantly initiated, meaning that I wasn’t left unprotected while the server connection was reinstated.
All-in-all, ExpressVPN consistently performed well in security tests. I was highly impressed with the layers of protection it has in place — well worth the monthly fee for guaranteed peace of mind.
When you’re paying a premium price for a premium service, you expect top-quality support — and ExpressVPN definitely delivers here.
Confidence in tech support is essential for both experienced users and customers who are entirely new to the service. You want to be sure that your questions and queries will be answered quickly and competently.
I wanted to watch Netflix via my Chromecast, but when I tried to connect my computer said “No Devices Found”. I chatted with the customer service representative who explained what was happening and why. He then gave me a solution – to install ExpressVPN to my router.
Another contact option is via a form on the ExpressVPN website, which you can use to address your issue and wait for an email response. There is no phone number provided, so users are not able to talk directly to customer service representatives.
The support site is well-organized and easy to navigate. An extensive list of troubleshooting guides are also available, from how to diagnose slow speeds to the meaning of particular error messages. I found the setup articles particularly impressive. Each is in-depth, and there are several available for each supported platform, which includes ExpressVPN’s own apps as well as manual setup. Support is currently available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
ExpressVPN’s monthly pricing may be slightly above average when compared to other VPNs, but I feel the extra dollars are worth the quality of the service. It’s a small price to pay for so many value-added features and premium perks.
Several different plans are clearly outlined on the ExpressVPN website. The monthly premium is the most expensive, as it is with other VPN services. The best value deal is the 12-month subscription, which is currently available for 49% off and includes an additional 3 months extra for free – a total of 15 months of VPN service. A 6-month subscription also includes a discount.
Each plan also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, meaning you can use the service for the entire 30 days and still get your entire monthly fee back. I tested the cancellation and money-back guarantee and can say that cancellation is very easy. You can either talk to a live chat agent or access the subscription settings on the desktop site. You won’t be asked to fill out forms or justify why you want to cancel, suggesting that ExpressVPN is confident in the service it provides — a reassuring sign for you.
ExpressVPN accepts a range of different payment methods, from credit cards and PayPal to cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
The high-quality service ExpressVPN provides is well worth the extra monthly expense. You’ll enjoy high-speed connections for uninterrupted streaming, torrenting, and gaming. Iron-clad security and privacy protocols give you peace of mind while you’re online. Reliable access to geo-restricted content means you never have to miss out on an episode of your favorite show again. Top that off with exceptional customer service and a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, and it all makes ExpressVPN extremely hard to beat.
What’s more — you don’t have to pay the full price. Use ExpressVPN’s hidden discount page to grab yourself a better deal!
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