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 pricier subscription plans? Even after I found ExpressVPN’s reduced prices, it was still more expensive than 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).
To find honest answers, I put together a global research team to conduct a full analysis from 10 countries, including countries like China and Turkey. All tests were conducted on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and gaming consoles. I also fact-checked ExpressVPN’s security and privacy claims, and ran speed tests when browsing, 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 — although it’s risk-free to test out ExpressVPN for yourself as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you find it doesn’t meet your specific needs, you can easily request a refund over 24/7 live chat.
July 2022 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
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, play games and keep my browsing data secure, and I have no complaints about its speed.
I ran all my speed tests from the UK — and I was impressed to see that ExpressVPN’s servers are 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 France or almost 17,000 km away in Australia.
I tested each country’s servers multiple times and the results were always very similar with minimal fluctuations. While it was a small drop from my regular ISP speed, I could easily browse the internet and download large files with all server locations.
I also tested ExpressVPN’s Lightway and OpenVPN protocols to see if they could boost my speed. Lightway, ExpressVPN’s own VPN protocol, is designed to be less resource-intensive while maintaining security and top speeds. With Lightway, my speeds reached an impressive 104Mbps. OpenVPN’s UDP protocol is designed for speed, achieving 101Mbps. Both of these protocols gave me faster speeds than ExpressVPN’s automatic setting.
In comparison to its competitors, ExpressVPN has the least impact on my regular internet connection speeds (which means it won’t slow you down). To test this, I launched ExpressVPN on my Windows laptop and connected to a Melbourne server, which was furthest away from my location. My download speed slowed down by just 25% — which isn’t much at all considering the long distance.
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.
ExpressVPN even improved my gaming speeds when I was traveling. During a short trip to Latin America, I experienced tons of lag while playing the game Call of Duty. Not only was my Internet Service Provider (ISP) throttling my speeds, but I was also far away from my usual gaming servers in the US. Luckily, I connected to ExpressVPN’s server in the US and immediately had less lag and more responsive gameplay.
If you’re in a rush to start gaming, you can always reach out to ExpressVPN’s customer support team over 24/7 live chat. The representatives can find VPN servers closest to your gaming servers for you and save you time.
Speed determines how fast content uploads. 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 3000 servers in over 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.
In addition, ExpressVPN offers virtual server locations in countries where the infrastructure is unstable. For example, imagine you need to connect to a server in Venezuela. You’ll be assigned a Venezuelan IP address, but ExpressVPN will actually connect you to a server physically located in neighboring Brazil. This ensures you’ll have a safe and steady connection at all times.
The company is located in the British Virgin Islands. This is an ideal location for a VPN — there are no data retention laws and the British Virgin Islands aren’t subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or other international copyright agreements. This keeps you safe from legal and privacy issues when browsing on ExpressVPN’s servers.
When my team ran tests in China, we found that ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that will actually work in China.
Once connected, your internet traffic is encrypted and hidden, keeping your data private and secure. 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, my research team ran a DNS leak test from China while connected to ExpressVPN’s New York server. There were no leaks found — so you can be confident that your online traffic is well-secured.
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. 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.
ExpressVPN offers the unique Lightway protocol, alongside standard options like OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec. Lightway is a proprietary protocol developed specifically for ExpressVPN’s customers. In my tests, I found it has faster speeds and stronger security than the older protocols (including the popular OpenVPN). Please note that Lightway is not to be confused with WireGuard, which similarly improves speed and security but is open-source (so any VPN provider can use the technology).
ExpressVPN doesn’t make all protocols available on every device, although each operating system gives you plenty of options. I strongly suggest you stick to the secure protocols like Lightway, OpenVPN, and IKEv2.
You can easily choose a protocol by clicking on the “Settings” icon and navigating to “Protocol”. 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 Lightway or OpenVPN (UDP) protocol. Both options provide the best combination of speed and security.
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. However, I was disappointed to discover that this feature isn’t available on iOS. If you want this extra layer of protection on your iPhone or iPad, CyberGhost offers a kill switch on its iOS app.
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 not use the VPN. Let’s say you want to browse on a foreign website — but you also want to check the local news in your country. By enabling split tunneling, you can set up one browser to stay connected to ExpressVPN, while your regular internet browser doesn’t use the VPN.
To see whether the split tunneling feature works well, while I was abroad, I first excluded the Chrome browser app from using ExpressVPN. I then connected to a server in the UK and logged into my bank. While I was checking my balance (and avoiding the dreaded fraud warnings you get if you try to access your bank from a foreign IP address, I was also able to listen to the local news for the area of Turkey where I was staying.
This is one of ExpressVPN’s most unique security features and it makes the service stand out from its competitors. Its 3000 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. That means the TrustedServer technology erases any trace of your private data and browsing history with every reboot. This system also gives you extra protection against hackers — if an intruder somehow managed to penetrate a server, they’d also be removed.
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.
Even though a VPN encrypts your online traffic, it’s still possible for your private data to be exposed through DNS, WebRTC, and IPv4 leaks. ExpressVPN offers its own leak test, but I wanted to run my own independent tests on ipleak.net. I tested ExpressVPN’s servers in the UK, US, and Japan on my Mac, and I’m happy to say that ExpressVPN had 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. The tests showed that my IP and DNS server addresses were no longer in Turkey (where I’m based). This proves to me that ExpressVPN’s in-built leak protection works well, and will successfully hide my real location from hackers, governments, and other unwanted third parties.
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.
ExpressVPN doesn’t come with an in-built ad blocker, although I actually don’t mind as it gives me the flexibility to use a standalone ad blocker of my own choosing. I personally use uBlock Origin and I’ve found it works very well with ExpressVPN.
However, the lack of ad blocker is unusual, especially since top-tier VPN services all include it as a standard. CyberGhost is particularly good at blocking ads, as well as malware, viruses, and phishing scams.
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, 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 one of 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 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.
Although the Android app does have a unique Protection Summary feature. This tool gives you personal insights like the number of days and percentage of time you’re connected to ExpressVPN’s servers (and thereby securing your IP address). This helped me feel more in control of my personal security by letting me monitor when and how often I used the app.
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:
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 game consoles). This gives it a huge competitive advantage over premium rivals like CyberGhost. Better yet, the router is only considered as 1 device connection, so you’ve still got 4 device connections left.
You can download the app on the following routers:
You can still manually set up and install ExpressVPN if you’ve got a different router. However, the dedicated router app comes with more perks. I found it easier to switch between servers on the app, and I could still access features like Network Lock kill switch and split tunneling. In fact, I had even more control over split tunneling as I could control which devices in my household were connected to the VPN.
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 whether there was an ad blocker available (sadly there is not), and how to use the Lightway protocol. 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.
I found ExpressVPN’s website is well-organized with many in-depth articles on features, common technical issues, and device installation instructions. I especially liked the useful video tutorials offered for more technical topics! Even if you’re a total beginner, you can easily follow ExpressVPN’s guides to set up complex configurations.
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.
July 2022 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
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 1-year as it offers the best value. Plus, this way you’ll get 49% off and can even get additional months for free.
You can sign up for a subscription with a diverse range of payment methods. In fact, ExpressVPN offers more payment options than most of its competitors. You can choose between:
I especially like that ExpressVPN offers anonymous payment options, like Mint and cryptocurrencies. You can simply sign up for ExpressVPN with one of these payment methods and use a fake email address. This allows you to safely use ExpressVPN without exposing your name and billing information. In combination with the strict no-logs policy, this means no one will be able to link your online activity with your real identity.
Insider Tip: ExpressVPN regularly offers promotions on its subscriptions, but they’re easy to miss. Check out this page to make sure you’re getting the best offer.
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.
Based on my tests, I’ve determined that ExpressVPN is still the best in July 2022 due to its fast speeds, powerful security, and reliable network of servers. Its premium features are definitely worth the investment into a long-term subscription. You’ll get unlimited access to top-notch features that you won’t find in other VPNs on the market.
The only way to know if ExpressVPN is right for you is to test it out yourself. So before committing to a subscription, I suggest you try it with the money-back guarantee. The money-back guarantee is a risk-free way to see how the VPN features really perform. If you’re not convinced, it’s easy to get a refund from the customer service team over 24/7 live chat — no questions will be asked.
While there’s no free plan, you can test out ExpressVPN risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with the service, then you can get a refund with no questions asked. When I tested the process myself, I easily got a refund in minutes and the money returned to my bank account in less than 1 week!
There’s a 7-day free trial for Android and iOS but you need to be extremely careful about the terms and conditions. For example, you’re not eligible for the 30-day money-back guarantee. You also need to cancel at least 24 hours before the free trial ends, or you’ll be automatically billed and locked into a subscription. You can’t reach out to ExpressVPN via 24/7 live chat for any payment issues either, since your account is entirely managed by the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
In my experience, the trial wasn’t worth the hassle or potential risk. I found the 30-day money-back guarantee is a much better way to try ExpressVPN and see if you like it.
Based on my latest testing results — yes. I found that ExpressVPN is consistently faster than NordVPN for pretty much everything. It also works well in countries where a lot of other VPNs won’t work, like China. Plus ExpressVPN’s refund process is easier than NordVPN as it has a “no questions asked” policy.
However, there are some cases where you might find that NordVPN is a better fit for your needs. For instance, NordVPN has a built-in ad blocker.
Yes! ExpressVPN encrypts your internet traffic with AES-256-bit standards, which is nearly impossible for third parties to break through. This level of encryption is even used by governments and militaries around the world to safeguard sensitive information. Not even ExpressVPN will know what you’re doing online — it employs a strict no-logs policy so there’s zero data to trace back to individual users.
Yes, ExpressVPN is a legal service. Depending on your country, it’s also perfectly legal to use ExpressVPN to freely browse the internet. However, some countries do have rules about using VPNs. If you’re traveling abroad and want to use ExpressVPN, I highly recommend checking the country’s laws and regulations beforehand.
While other VPNs might dramatically lower your device’s speeds, I didn’t experience any significant slowdown when I tested ExpressVPN.
It’s normal to get slower speeds with a VPN as your internet traffic needs to be encrypted before it’s then routed through the VPN’s server. However, ExpressVPN already offers fast speeds so I barely noticed a difference when I was browsing, downloading, and even gaming.
This is an extremely unlikely scenario as ExpressVPN is constantly maintaining its servers. Plus I’ve used ExpressVPN daily for nearly a year, and I’ve never encountered any server errors.
But if you do happen to connect to a server that doesn’t work, I recommend simply switching servers. It only takes 2 clicks to change to a new server.
If you’re looking to connect to a specific server that’s down, then I suggest contacting the customer support team over 24/7 live chat instead. It’s a quick and easy way to get a list of updated servers.
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