You’ll find endless rave reviews about ExpressVPN online — but all these positive statements just seem too good to be true. I needed real proof and not just marketing buzzwords.
How much better could ExpressVPN possibly be than its rivals, especially to justify its pricey subscription plans? Even after I found ExpressVPN’s reduced prices, it was still more expensive than NordVPN, CyberGhost, and other top-rated VPN services. I wanted to know if it’s really worth the money (or if it’s just completely overrated).
That’s why in this May 2020 review, I found honest answers to questions like:
To see if the hype was true, I ran independent tests on my desktop and mobile (from Turkey where I was on a business trip). I even tried ExpressVPN during a trip to China to see how well it worked there. I also fact-checked its security and privacy claims, and ran speed tests when streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
I was surprised to find that ExpressVPN does deserve its stellar reputation and I definitely feel it’s worth the money. My full testing results are below — and you can even try ExpressVPN for free for 30 days using its money-back guarantee and confirm it for yourself.
ExpressVPN is one of the most reliable services for streaming blocked sites and media players worldwide. During my tests, I successfully accessed Netflix (US, UK, Canada, Brazil, and more), Amazon Prime Video (US and UK), Disney+ (all countries), Hulu, Kodi add-ons, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, HBO, Showtime, UKTV, DAZN, and ESPN+.
Out of all the VPNs I’ve tested, not many providers can unblock all of these streaming services (e.g. CyberGhost struggles to access DAZN).
But ExpressVPN constantly updates its global network of 3,000+ servers, so you’ll always have a fast working server to choose from. This is especially important if you want to connect to the US and UK, where most of the world’s most popular streaming services are located.
You can find the full list of every unblocked site on the ExpressVPN website, which is a bold move as it alerts streaming services (like Netflix) to crack down harder. By sharing a public list, it confirms to me that ExpressVPN is extremely confident in its VPN technology and ability to overcome any blocks.
I tested more than 30 providers with Netflix and ExpressVPN is one of my top VPN choices. It can consistently unblock Netflix in more than 18 countries, including the US, UK, Japan, France, Germany, and Australia.
On every server I tested, I could stream Netflix in HD and only had to wait for 1-3 seconds of buffering. I was especially impressed with these servers, where my speeds were between 15-18 Mbps:
Helpful Tip: How to Avoid the Netflix Proxy Error
If you’re seeing the Netflix Error Proxy, there’s a few quick fixes. The fastest solution is to clear the browser cache to delete any stored data. If Netflix still isn’t working, try switching to another server in the same country or region. Alternatively, send a message to ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat team. They’ve always recommended a suitable Netflix server for me within minutes.
During testing, I could easily access Amazon Prime Video using these servers:
ExpressVPN’s US servers unblocked Hulu without any issues. I was able to stream the movie Transformers: The Last Knight on the New York, New Jersey, Washington, and Los Angeles servers in HD with no interruptions. Even after watching Hulu for over an hour, my connection to ExpressVPN remained steady.
I connected to servers in the US, UK, Netherlands, and Australia, and every server I tested easily unblocked Disney+. The show The Mandalorian loaded within seconds and I only experienced a couple of seconds of buffering at the start.
When I ran speed tests, the UK–London server was the fastest at 17 Mbps and Australia-Sydney was the slowest at 15 Mbps. Speeds between 15-17 Mbps are still fast enough to stream in HD quality, so I was more than satisfied with this result.
ExpressVPN claims to unblock Kodi add-ons restricted to specific countries. To test this, I streamed the (legal but geo-restricted) Popcornflix add-on, which is only available in the US and Canada. And it worked — I successfully watched the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows using the USA–New York and Canada–Toronto servers.
Next, I tested a Kodi add-on that streams cached BitTorent files. I was able to watch new TV shows and movies in HD, and only had to wait a few seconds for the stream to load. An added bonus was knowing my traffic was secure the entire time I was streaming on Kodi.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs I’ve ever tested — I sometimes even forget that I’m connected! It’s super quick to switch between servers too (it only takes a few seconds) and I’ve never experienced any connection failures.
I’ve now used ExpressVPN for nearly a year to browse the internet, stream TV shows and movies, play online games, and torrent large files of 90GB and higher, and I have no complaints about its speed.
I ran all my speed tests from my hotel room in Turkey — and I was impressed to see that ExpressVPN is consistently fast worldwide. Generally speaking, servers that are further away from your actual location tend to perform slower. However, there was very little difference between ExpressVPN’s server speeds in nearby Bulgaria or 15,000 km away in Sydney.
I tested each country’s servers multiple times and the results were always very similar with minimal fluctuations. While my regular download speed did drop, I could still browse the internet, download files, and stream in HD with all server locations.
In comparison to its competitors, ExpressVPN has the least impact on internet connection speeds (which means it won’t slow you down). To test this, I launched ExpressVPN on my MacBook and connected to a Sydney server, which was furthest away from my location. My download speed slowed down by just 31% — which isn’t much at all considering the long distance.
I then performed the same test with NordVPN, CyberGhost, Surfshark, and PrivateVPN to see how ExpressVPN fared against other top VPNs. NordVPN closely followed ExpressVPN with a 34% decrease in speed. CyberGhost, Surfshark, and PrivateVPN did much worse, recording over 40% speed reductions.
This makes ExpressVPN the clear winner when it comes to reliable and fast speeds. For the quickest server connection, I’d still suggest using a server that’s close to your physical location. But if you’re traveling or need to connect to a server far away, ExpressVPN has proven to offer great connection speeds worldwide so you won’t experience a significant slowdown.
Top Tip: Get the Fastest Speeds With ExpressVPN
As a gamer, I know how important it is to have super fast speeds while gaming. Unfortunately, you’ll find most reviewers only perform basic speed tests with zero activity in the background.
When using a VPN, it’s more likely that you’ll experience problems when connecting to game servers and lag during gameplay. That’s why I tested ExpressVPN with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) on Steam. This online game requires a huge amount of bandwidth and top-notch connection speeds. Any delays could mean the difference between winning and losing.
I was pleasantly surprised by ExpressVPN’s performance — when I connected to a server in Germany, my ping rate was 41ms (I find anything below 50 ms is fine for gaming). Even with all the high-speed action, I didn’t experience any connection issues or lag. I barely noticed I was connected to a VPN, aside from most of my fellow players now speaking German. I was even prepared to endure lower resolution — but I played CS:GO in HD throughout my entire session.
If you’re using a VPN when gaming, ExpressVPN is a top choice due to its fast speeds. I recommend connecting to a server nearby for the lowest ping and fastest speeds.
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.
ExpressVPN offers 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, which is a large amount for any VPN. Even though it doesn’t have the highest number of total servers, ExpressVPN offers the widest server coverage worldwide. This means you’ll always be able to find a server nearby, whether you live in the US, Kyrgyzstan, France, Sri Lanka, or New Zealand.
The best server coverage is available for countries in Europe and North America, but there’s also a solid selection in the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Asia-Pacific.
ExpressVPN doesn’t heavily advertise its P2P features like other VPNs do, so I thought it might not support torrenting — but I was wrong. After conducting extensive tests, I was impressed to find that ExpressVPN is actually one of the best VPNs for torrenting. Here are 5 key reasons why:
ExpressVPN works with all torrenting clients, including uTorrent, qBittorrent, Transmission, Vuze, and any other Bittorrent client. Unlike other VPNs, there are no “special” P2P servers or features — instead, all servers have been optimized for maximum security and fast downloading speeds. This means P2P servers won’t be overcrowded with other users, which can slow down speeds during peak times (I’ve experienced this with NordVPN and Surfshark’s P2P servers).
All the global servers I tested are exceptionally fast, so it’s easy to download files safely and quickly. When I tested servers during off-peak hours, I even found some servers (like UK-East London) actually improved my download speeds for faster torrenting.
There’s no restrictions on the size of downloaded files, whether it’s free music, movies, TV shows, games, or software. I even downloaded the free version of Grand Theft Auto 5, which is a whopping 94 GB, quickly and without any issues.
None of your P2P activity can be traced back to you. I confirmed this when I found zero IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. An automatic kill switch (called Network Lock) also blocks all unencrypted internet traffic when you’re switching servers or if the VPN unexpectedly disconnects. On top of this, the strict no-logs policy ensures that none of your downloading activity is tracked or stored, so no third party can access it (not even ExpressVPN).
The company is located in the British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws and isn’t subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or other international copyright agreements. This helps you avoid most legal and privacy issues when torrenting with ExpressVPN’s servers.
When I tested ExpressVPN in China, I found that it is one of the few VPNs that successfully gets around the country’s strong firewalls. I never had any issues accessing sites like Facebook, Instagram, Google, Gmail, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Netflix.
You don’t have to be concerned about strict censorship laws either. ExpressVPN doesn’t operate any servers in China, meaning the provider isn’t legally required to comply with Chinese regulations or keep data logs on its users. Instead, you can connect to fast servers in nearby Japan in order to bypass China’s firewalls.
Once connected, your internet traffic is encrypted and hidden from all censorship, governments, and ISPs. As an extra security measure, the Network Lock kill switch will block all internet traffic if the VPN connection is ever unstable or not working. This prevents any of your personal data from accidentally leaking online and exposing your identity. To verify this, I ran a DNS leak test from China while connected to ExpressVPN’s Los Angeles server. There were no leaks found — giving me an extra sense of confidence that my online traffic is well-secured.
One minor con I found was that not all of its servers work in China, so you’ll be slightly limited by the options available to you. That being said, I never had an issue accessing the sites I wanted.
Just make sure you download ExpressVPN before you arrive in China as the website is blocked inside the country. Although it might not be too late — a method that sometimes works is to install the Tor browser and download ExpressVPN from its .onion site (http://expressobutiolem.onion).
ExpressVPN uses an AES 256-bit encryption combined with a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication. What does this mean? This is the highest standard of encryption and is currently considered near-impossible to break.
The SHA-512 HMAC authentication adds an extra layer of security to data transfers (like P2P file-sharing and torrenting). Both the sender and receiver of the download file use a shared secret key — any changes in the secret key means the connection has been intercepted, so you’ll know immediately if there’s an intruder.
You can choose from any of ExpressVPN’s VPN protocols: UDP (OpenVPN), TCP (OpenVPN), IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec.
With the default option of “Automatic” enabled, ExpressVPN will select the best VPN protocol based on your network settings. For most people, this will be the OpenVPN UDP protocol as it offers the best combination of speed and security (I usually use this option too).
ExpressVPN’s automatic kill switch (which they call “Network Lock”) ensures your device and internet activity remains hidden — especially when the VPN connection is unsteady or you’re switching between servers. This feature is available on Windows, Mac, Android (version 7.4 onwards), Linux, and router apps.
I tested the kill switch on my Macbook Pro, Windows PC, and smartphone (running on Android version 9), and my internet was successfully blocked every time I manually interrupted the VPN connection. It’s enabled automatically so you don’t need to waste time switching it on.
This is where ExpressVPN is a clear winner. Not many VPNs have split tunneling, and even VPNs with this feature only provide it on 1 or 2 apps — usually Android. However, ExpressVPN offers split tunneling on all its native Android, Windows, Mac, and router apps (iOS is currently unavailable).
Split tunneling is a truly underrated VPN feature. The main advantage with split tunneling is the ability to choose specific apps to bypass the VPN. Let’s say you want to watch shows on a foreign streaming platform (like US Netflix or BBC iPlayer UK) — but you also want to check the local news in your country. By enabling split tunneling, you can set up Netflix to stay connected to ExpressVPN, while your regular internet browser bypasses the VPN.
To see whether the split tunneling feature works well, I first excluded the Chrome browser app from using ExpressVPN. I then connected to a server in the UK and started streaming BBC iPlayer. While an episode of the TV show Killing Eve was playing, I browsed for coffee machines on Google. I was happy to only see options from local vendors in Turkey displaying prices in Turkish Lira (as opposed to UK retailers with prices in GBP!).
This is one of ExpressVPN’s most unique security features and it makes the service stand out from its competitors. Its 3,000+ servers operate through RAM disks as opposed to hard drives. RAM disks require power to store data, so every time it’s powered on and off again, all information is instantly wiped out. And it’s not just information that gets erased — any unwanted intruders on the server are also removed during the reboot.
Typically, the industry runs servers through hard drives. The problem is that hard drives retain all data until they’re manually erased or overwritten. This includes sensitive data, which creates potential privacy issues if there’s a leak or hacker.
What makes TrustedServer technology different is that it ensures all data on ExpressVPN’s servers is deleted with every reboot. It’s an impressive feature, especially since very few premium VPNs offer this layer of security for users.
|DNS leak detected?||
|WebRTC leak detected?||
|IPv4 leak detected?||
Even though a VPN encrypts your online traffic, it’s still possible for your data to leak in other ways — so it’s important to get a VPN that specifically prevents leaks.
ExpressVPN offers its own leak test but I wanted to run my own independent tests. Using ipleak.net, I tested ExpressVPN’s servers in the UK, US, and Japan on my Mac. The result? I found zero leaks throughout my entire browsing session.
Only my new IPv4 address was visible and IPv6 was blocked, so there were zero risks of any leaks exposing my personal data.
I found ExpressVPN works exceptionally well with Tor due to its:
For even greater security and privacy, I always recommend connecting to ExpressVPN first and then Tor. This method is known as “Tor over VPN” or “Onion over VPN”, and it prevents even Tor from seeing your real IP address.
Unlike many VPNs, ExpressVPN even has its own.onion site in the Tor network. This allows you to access the ExpressVPN homepage and download the app, which is especially useful if you’re in a country where VPNs are banned.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN doesn’t come with an ad blocker. This is slightly unusual as you’ll find most premium VPNs offer this feature, such as NordVPN and CyberGhost.
While this might seem like a small downside, I actually don’t mind as it gives me the flexibility to use a standalone ad blocker of my own choosing. My preference is the ad blocker uBlock Origin, which I’ve used for years and I find works very well with ExpressVPN.
You’ll find many VPN services claim to keep zero logs — but it’s not always true. Popular VPN providers with a “no-logs policy” will still track its users’ IP addresses, connection timestamps, and devices. That’s why it’s so significant that ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy has been verified and proven.
In 2017, Turkish authorities demanded user logs from ExpressVPN. However, there wasn’t any data to provide as a result of the no-logs policy. In addition, ExpressVPN wasn’t subject to Turkish law as the company is located in the British Virgin Islands. The Turkish authorities then physically seized an ExpressVPN server in an attempt to obtain customer data, but were ultimately unsuccessful. ExpressVPN issued a statement here, which summarizes the (lack of) findings:
“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.”
As you can see, the authorities couldn’t obtain any data on ExpressVPN’s customers — because there were no logs available.
ExpressVPN does give you the option to share data with its technical team for diagnostic purposes. This data includes speed tests reports, connection failures, or app crashes. All data is anonymous and can’t be traced back to any individuals or devices, so your privacy is still ensured. As an extra safety precaution, I’d still recommend opting out.
ExpressVPN is owned by Express VPN International Limited, which is a privately-held company in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). ExpressVPN’s location in the BVI is important because:
Very few VPNs have been independently audited by third-party companies. I find this odd — are people meant to rely on nothing more than reputation and blind trust when evaluating the claims made by VPN providers?
ExpressVPN has also worked with cybersecurity firm Cure53 to audit its browser extensions for any security flaws. The full results of the audit are publically available online. ExpressVPN even open-sourced its browser extensions so people could review the code themselves.
To me, this shows that ExpressVPN has nothing to hide and is committed to complete transparency with its users.
Not many premium VPNs offer native apps for more than 4 or 5 devices. However, ExpressVPN has a native app for Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV (all versions), Amazon Fire Stick (2nd generation onward), Android TV, Nvidia Shield, and routers. The native apps only take a couple of minutes to install, which makes ExpressVPN a great choice if you’re a beginner and new to VPNs. There’s no complex manual configuration involved.
The quickest way to get started is to download the ExpressVPN app directly from the website. ExpressVPN will automatically detect which device you’re using and create a download button. Once you’ve downloaded the app, the site provides you with a unique access code to log in. The software then quickly sets up your credentials for you, making the entire setup process smooth and straightforward.
With a single subscription, you can connect up to 5 different devices at once. You can also get an unlimited number of connections if you install the ExpressVPN app on your router. This allows every device connected to the router to use ExpressVPN.
I’ve used ExpressVPN for nearly a year and I have to say — the app is the best for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. The design is clean and simple with an intuitive layout. The app interface is the same across these different operating systems, making it easy to quickly switch between different devices throughout the day.
There’s a large “power” button that allows you to connect to the fastest available server in a single click. You can also choose from a list of servers or manually a type in a location and choose a server that way. For Windows and Mac users, you’ve got the option to launch ExpressVPN automatically upon startup (I find this really convenient).
Like the desktop app, the Android and iOS apps are equally easy to navigate. I found the one-click feature particularly useful, enabling me to connect to my desired location quickly. I could also add shortcuts to my 5 favorite apps (like Netflix, Spotify, and Chrome), making it even faster to browse the internet securely.
Both mobile apps also offer the highly-secure OpenVPN protocol. Not many VPN services offer OpenVPN for mobile devices, especially iOS (it’s usually the IKEv2/IPsec protocol instead). Unfortunately, iOS doesn’t offer the split tunneling feature — but other than that, both iOS and Android apps include all the same functionalities as the desktop apps.
ExpressVPN offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. The browser add-on is an extension of the ExpressVPN app, so the app itself needs to be running in the background. To get the browser extension, you need to have installed the ExpressVPN app for:
The main reason I like the browser extension is for convenience — I can easily switch between servers directly in my browser in a couple of clicks. Here’s what it looks like in Chrome and Firefox:
MediaSteamer lets you change your virtual location on game consoles and smart TVs. This is particularly useful for streaming — for example, if you wanted to watch Netflix US from the UK on PlayStation 4. Aside from PlayStation 4, you can also use MediaStreamer on Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
To be honest, I don’t like using MediaStreamer for a couple of reasons. First, it doesn’t encrypt your internet traffic so there’s no security benefits associated with a VPN. Second, MediaStreamer needs to be manually set up. Although it was easy to install by following instructions on the ExpressVPN website, I prefer using the dedicated router app instead of MediaStreamer.
A huge perk is that ExpressVPN is one of the only premium VPNs with a dedicated router app. You can connect every device in your household to ExpressVPN when you install the app on your router (even devices that don’t support VPNs, like smart TVs and game consoles). This gives it a huge competitive advantage over premium rivals like NordVPN, CyberGhost, and Surfshark. Better yet, the router is only considered as 1 device connection, so you’ve still got 4 device connections left.
You can use the router app on 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, and Netgear Nighthawk R7000P.
While you can manually configure routers to work with ExpressVPN, I recommend using the router app instead. I found it easier to switch between servers on the app, and I could still access features like split tunneling and the Network Lock kill switch.
Whenever I pay for a service, I expect to see quality customer support — and ExpressVPN certainly delivers it.
You can seek help in 3 different ways:
There’s no phone call option, but this wasn’t an issue for me as I got all the help I needed from the available options.
I sent multiple emails to customer support over a time period of 24 hours. I asked which servers were best for Netflix and whether there was an ad blocker available (sadly there is not). I even sent emails from a non-registered email address, as I wanted to see whether ExpressVPN would still help me if I wasn’t a current customer.
I was very impressed with the quick turnaround! I received a response to my emails within 30 minutes every time, and every reply was friendly and helpful. There was no difference to the level of service I received, whether I was an existing customer or just enquiring about the VPN.
I tested the live chat option on the ExpressVPN website when I was experiencing issues connecting my laptop to Chromecast.
It only took a few seconds to connect to a customer support agent, who then provided a detailed explanation about what was happening and why. I was offered a solution (to install the ExpressVPN app on my router so all devices, including my Chromecast, would be automatically connected) — which successfully solved the problem.
Live chat is my preferred method of contacting ExpressVPN since it’s so quick and easy. When I tested live chat a few more times, I never had to wait more than 3 minutes for a response.
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.
While it’s not the most expensive provider, ExpressVPN has a slightly more premium price than its competitors. The monthly plan is the most costly, so I suggest choosing the 15-month plan as it offers the best value. This is actually a 12-month subscription, but you automatically receive a 49% discount with an extra 3 months for free.
You can pay for an ExpressVPN subscription by using any of the following methods:
Every plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test ExpressVPN for a few weeks without any risk. If you change your mind afterwards, you can either request a refund from a live chat agent or cancel your subscription on the website. The best part about the money-back guarantee is that it’s “no questions asked” — so you don’t even need to offer a reason for why you’re canceling (unlike other VPNs that waste your time trying to troubleshoot and get you to stay).
I’ve even tested the 30-day money-back guarantee myself. I signed up for a plan, used the service for 29 days, and then asked for a refund. It was granted within minutes and I got my money back within a week.
WizCase is an independent review site. We are reader-supported so we may receive a commission when you buy through links on our site. You do not pay extra for anything you buy on our site — our commission comes directly from the product owner.
Support WizCase to help us guarantee honest and unbiased advice. Share our site to support us!