ExpressVPN is one of the top VPN providers on the market, allowing you to use the Internet your way without any fear of ISPs, cybercriminals, international spy networks, and repressive legislature.
The company was founded back in 2009 in Tortola, the British Virgin Islands, which puts it outside the scope of US and EU mandatory data retention laws usually followed by subpoenas, National Security Letters, and gag orders.
In this ExpressVPN review, we will talk about this VPN’s overall security setup, go over its implemented features and supported platforms, check its ability to geo-spoof various popular services, explore its P2P policy, rate its available server network and performance, and determine whether it provides good value for your money.
Speed & Performance
ExpressVPN has provided its users with excellent speeds since day one, which our tests confirmed many times. What is also important to mention is that we did not experience any sudden disconnects and there were no signs of speed throttling during our testing.
As you can see in our table below, ExpressVPN will affect your overall speed to an extent, largely depending on your location and the server you wish to connect to. Our top speeds were recorded on servers in Miami and Denver while Japan was not as impressive. Bottom line, out of 3,000+ ExpressVPN servers around the world, you will definitely find at least one that works for your current needs. Take a look at our full testing table for more results:
|Location||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
Being the premium service that it is, ExpressVPN offers support for all the popular platforms and services you can think of.
The company features native apps for Windows (RT, XP, Vista, 7/8/10), Android (5.0 and up), Mac (10.6 – 10.14), iOS (10.0 and up), Kindle, Linux (Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Raspbian (32-bit only), and Arch), and routers. On the other hand, manual configurations are available for Chromebook, wireless routers, gaming consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch…), and streaming media (Kodi, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast…). Finally, there are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
The list of supported routers includes:
- ExpressVPN app – Asus RT-AC56(U/R/S), Asus RT-AC68U, Asus RT-AC87U, Linksys EA6200, Linksys WRT1200AC, Linksys WRT1900AC(S), Linksys WRT3200ACM, Netgear R6300, and Netgear Nighthawk R7000.
- Manual setup – Asus (other models), D-Link, DD-WRT, Netduma, Sabai, Tomato, TP-LINK, and Xiaomi.
The official website features comprehensive tutorials that will help you install the app or configure your VPN manually.
ExpressVPN allows up to 5 simultaneous connection (including virtual machines), but you can purchase an additional license to connect more devices. Note that you can install the software on an unlimited number of different devices, but only 5 can use it at the same time. Alternatively, you can simply set up a VPN router using the ExpressVPN app and connect as many devices as you need.
ExpressVPN currently features more than 3,000 servers in 160 VPN server locations and 90+ countries. The official website allows you to filter specific servers by country or city. Note that not all servers have all the connection protocols available so make sure your chosen option supports your favorites. If you are planning a trip to China, you can learn all about ExpressVPN’s potential ability to bypass heavy censorship here.
Apart from bare metal, ExpressVPN has a certain number of virtual VPN server locations. Once you connect to a virtual location, your traffic will be routed through a server located closer to you. The IP will still be located in the country of your choice, but you will enjoy a better and faster connection. The website features a complete list of locations with virtual servers. Bottom line, virtual servers are employed to allow you access to more demanding location while preserving the lauded ExpressVPN connection quality.
Apart from its vast network of VPN servers, Express provides its users with SmartDNS functionality as a nice bonus. Its MediaStreamer service lets you optimize your streaming experience by using it on the ExpressVPN router app. However, you should check and update your router firmware since MediaStreamer only works on the DD-WRT 1.3.1 and >OpenWrt 1.5.1 versions of the router app.
ExpressVPN does not have static or dedicated IPs but rotates its dynamic IPs on a regular basis. The company does not give us a specific number of addresses at its disposal, but the official FAQ states that each server contains thousands of IPs.
Safety & Security
First of all, ExpressVPN utilizes AES-256 cipher, which is also used by the US government and security experts worldwide. This is what companies refer to when they mention “military-grade” or “bank-grade” encryption. In other words, we currently do not possess the technology required to crack the 256-bit keys generated by the software.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN also features perfect forward secrecy, which means a new security key is generated for each individual session. Even if your private key were to be discovered somehow, the trespassers would only be able to intercept your traffic during that specific session. The next session would generate a different key, rendering the previous one utterly useless. The software automatically generates a new key every 60 minutes.
When it comes to connection protocols, Express supports OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), IKEv2/IPsec, PPTP, and L2TP. As we already mentioned in this ExpressVPN review, not all servers support all the protocols so make sure your chosen location has the option you are looking for before connecting. Alternatively, you can let your client pick the best server and protocol for you based on your speed and desired level of security.
As always, we recommend going with the default protocol (OpenVPN) since it is by far the most secure of the available options. ExpressVPN’s encryption settings for OpenVPN go as follows:
- Data channel – Symmetric encryption scheme with key negotiation utilizing the elliptic curve DH exchange.
- Control channel – AES-256-CBC with SHA-512 hashing and RSA-4096 handshake.
ExpressVPN runs its proprietary DNS on every single server encrypted via 256-bit keys. This means that the company does not rely on third-party DNS that might not offer the same level of protection as your VPN. Proprietary DNS on each server is especially useful for Wi-Fi hotspots in high-risk areas like cafés and airports. Finally, ExpressVPN uses the so-called “zero-knowledge” DNS, which means your personally identifiable data will never be stored on any server. Furthermore, the company’s TrustedServer featu
re eliminates hard drives from ExpressVPN servers (they run on RAM only), so nothing is ever written on any hard drives and all data is completely wiped after each reboot.
ExpressVPN also provides you with split tunneling in case you want to exclude certain traffic from VPN protection. This is definitely not recommended if you are handling sensitive data, torrents or downloads.
Finally, all the clients come with a reliable automatic killswitch that will keep your connection secure if:
- you decide to switch networks;
- your signal starts flickering;
- you put your computer to sleep or close your laptop;
- you toggle your connection on or off;
- your ISP experiences a momentary outage.
Logging & Privacy
As mentioned in this ExpressVPN review, the company is located in the British Virgin Islands, which has its own internal legislature in spite of being a British overseas territory. With that in mind, BVI has no mandatory data retention laws, which means nobody can force the company to record and store your sensitive data and request it later on.
ExpressVPN will never log your:
- Browsing history
- IP addresses (source/VPN)
- Browsing history
- Traffic metadata or destination
- DNS queries
On the other hands, the company will collect your:
- Email address and payment method obtained when you create your account
- Apps and activate app versions
- Dates (but not times) when you connected to the service
- Your choices of VPN locations
- Data transfer per day (in MB)
As you can see, the collected information cannot be used to positively identify you as a user and/or connect any VPN usage with your account.
ExpressVPN collects the aforementioned data to troubleshoot potential technical issues, provide its customers with technical support, and enable its engineers to identify and successfully fix any network issues.
Bottom line, the company will never record and store your activity and connection logs, but it WILL keep some information that enables it to provide you with its service and troubleshoot potential problems.
Being one of the best VPNs out there, ExpressVPN enables you to bypass rigorous geo-restrictions implemented by popular streaming platforms. This includes Netflix US, Hulu, Disney Plus, ESPN, HBO, iTV, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. You can also unlock certain websites that might be blocked in countries that implement severe censorship measures (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and many more).
Respectable VPN services cannot allow their servers to overcrowd, so you will never experience speed drops due to overpopulated and oversold servers. Also, the company provides unlimited speeds, bandwidth, and server switching, which guarantees an optimal streaming experience after a bit of trial & error.
Popular streaming services are currently waging an all-out war against VPNs, proxies, and similar software solutions designed to unblock their content in blacklisted countries. As such, servers that can unlock Netflix US today might lose that ability tomorrow and vice versa. In order to stay one step ahead of the blocking measure, you can always contact ExpressVPN’s customer support and find out about the optimal servers for each platform.
As already mentioned in this ExpressVPN review, the company does not limit your bandwidth, speed, and server switching, which makes it an ideal choice for P2P filesharing. Moreover, torrenting is allowed on all servers, so you do not have to worry about not finding a suitable server for your geographic location.
On the official website, ExpressVPN states that its software is not designed to circumvent copyright claims and help people download copyrighted content. However, the company does not really have a way of identifying your P2P traffic since it does not monitor or record your online sessions.
Plans & Pricing
One of the biggest downsides of ExpressVPN software is its high price. However, we are talking about a premium product so the price tag is generally justified. The monthly subscription costs $12.95, but longer plans definitely allow you to save some money. With that in mind, the 6-month subscription costs $9.99 per month (billed $59.95 every 6 months) and the yearly option is priced at $6.67 per month ($80.04 every 12 months).
ExpressVPN does not offer free trials, but it provides a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, which is more than enough to test the software and see if it works for you. The accepted payment methods include credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, Visa Electron, JCB, and Diners Club International), PayPal, Bitcoin, and other methods (UnionPay, Alipay, Klarna, iDEAL, Giropay, WebMoney, Interac Online, Yandex Money, OneCard, Mint, Maestro, Carte Bleue, FanaPay, and more).
If the comprehensive FAQ section and numerous setup and troubleshooting guides fail to address your current issue or provide you with answers to your questions, you can contact ExpressVPN’s customer support by sending an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, filing a support ticket on the official website or talking to one of the support representatives using the live chat feature.
ExpressVPN was the first VPN company to implement 24/7 customer support. During our talks with the staff, we received all the answers we were looking for and we were able to talk to a human in a matter of seconds. Apart from being responsive and friendly, the support representatives are also very knowledgeable and professional.
ExpressVPN Pros & Cons
Finishing off this ExpressVPN review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- Excellent speeds and stable performance
- Solid security setup with AES-256 cipher
- Perfect forward secrecy
- TrustedServer technology
- Zero-logs policy with zero-knowledge DNS
- Proprietary DNS on every server
- Split tunneling
- 3,000+ servers in 160 locations and 90+ countries
- Unlimited speeds, bandwidth, and server switching
- Excellent for streaming and torrenting
- Works with all major geo-locked platforms
- 24/7 customer support
- Live chat
- 30-day money-back guarantee